Category Archives: China

云南 – Yunnan

A few days after I came back to China, I went travelling. I went with three friends from school (Rosie, Anne and Matthias) to Yunnan province for more than two weeks, and it was wonderful! Yunnan is such a beautiful province, it has everything from tropical forests to valleys and high mountains. We decided to go to mountainous North-west Yunnan, to Kunming, Dali, Shaxi and Lijiang. Here‘s a map over our trip.

Anne in the pagoda

It was truly a holiday of moments! Moments at pagodas halfway up mountains, moments at markets, moments eating brunch in coffee shops, moments walking up mountains off the path, moments playing card with the guest-house owner and his daughter, moments climbing along a small waterfall, moments on buses, moments reading The Little Prince out loud, moments reading in a sun-trap outside our rooms in a guest-house in a village surrounded by mountains and fields with donkeys on them, moments eating real Italian food in a restaurant with red-and-white-checkered table cloth, moments cycling to a village with a Korean friend we met the day before, moments eating Tibetan food while sitting on the floor,moments eating Norwegian waffles in a bakery run by an Indian, moments going up a mountain on horse back, moments in the sun and the fresh air, under an unfailingly blue sky.

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杭州 • Hangzhou

As mentioned, Isaac and I went to Hangzhou for a couple of days last week. Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang province and is one of the “seven ancient capitals of China“.  It is famous for its long history and beautiful scenery.

Most famous is the West Lake with its traditional Chinese boats, surrounded by mountains, forests and pagodas. A large part of the lakes surroundings has gardens and green spots ranging from tropical and wild-looking forest areas to beautiful, paved tourist spots.

We rented bikes and biked halfway around the lake. It is possible to rent bikes at a very low cost; you pay a deposit of 300 yuan and get a card. When you had the card back you get most of your money back. I paid 30 yuan for two days. This card can be used at bike stations all around the city. When you use the card it unlocks a bike and this bike can be returned at any bike station. Very convenient!

We had a great time and I have a feeling this was not the last time I visited this beautiful city. We had planed to stay for only one night, but as we arrived late Wednesday night, we decided to stay one more night so that we could have an evening in Hangzhou. This was a good decision, cause how ever beautiful Hangzhou is by day, it can not compete with the way West Lake looks at night, when there are fewer people and the lights are on. Here are some more pictures from Hangzhou:

I’d like to end this post with a story about how God provides for His children:

We took a train from Nanjing to Hangzhou, and when this train reached Shanghai (after 4 hours – this was a slow train), a lot of people started getting off the train and  me and Isaac were convinced that we had reached the final destination of the train; Hangzhou. So we got off.

It took us a while to realize that we were not in Hangzhou. I was surprised that the Shanghai Metro went to Hangzhou, and the train station was bigger, busier and newer then I had expected. It was also very strange that they had named their train station Shanghai South Station…

Finally it started to sink in: we were in Shanghai. We had no idea how it had happened cause we didn’t think our train went by Shanghai. But that was where we had ended up.  It was about 7 pm by now, and getting a train ticket to one of the most popular cities in this part of China in the middle of a national holiday seemed unlikely. But we went to the ticket office, and this is where God enters this story. There were tickets that evening and we only had to wait about an hour. They were, naturally, no-seat tickets, but that’s always an adventure.

So we arrived Hangzhou at about midnight. We had booked a room at Hangzhou International Youth Hostel and I had written down the name and address of the hostel in characters and pinyin, so we assumed the rest of our journey would go smoothly. But it turned out our taxi-driver had no idea where this hostel was, and the address did not help. So we told him to let us off when we got to the right street, thinking “it shouldn’t be too hard to find, we’ll walk the rest of the way”.

Well, we were wrong. After walking around for about an hour, carrying our bags, all we wanted was a place to sleep. Even the benches looked comfortable. As a last attempt to find the hostel, we walked up to a gate leading into a street that we thought might lead us the right way. We asked, in stuttering, tired Chinese, the guard at the gate whether this was the right place, showing him my note with the address. It was not.

We must have looked very lost and tired, cause he asked us if we wanted to sleep. We sighted and nodded, and he took up his phone and called some hotel for us. It was a bit more expensive than we had planned, but it was a place to sleep so we gladly accepted and he said he would take us there. So we walked for a couple of blocks to this hotel. But they did not take foreigners. So this god-sent Chinese door-guard took us to another hotel and when they gave us an even higher price, he took us to yet another two hotels. But they were both full.

All the while he was smiling more than most Chinese I’ve met and he kept telling the people working at the hotels that they should help us and give us young, lost foreigners a good price. We ended up going back to the one hotel that would take us. The door-guard made sure they gave us the same price they had said earlier and then he left, smiling and waving at us. If there are angels here on earth, he must have been one!

God also provided us with the chance to stay another day, a wonderful youth hostel to stay at the next night and train tickets home even though the train station was packed. God is truly a providing God!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-34

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A day in the sun 阳光

One of the days when Isaac was here to visit me, we spent a wonderful morning lying on the grass on a green spot on campus, reading, listening to music and enjoying the sun and the blue sky.

The Osmanthus flower is blooming at the moment, and its sweet scent is all around the city making all of Nanjing fragrant. This is what it looks like:

I was fascinated by how it took four people (using two lawn mowers) to mow the lawn; two people to cut the grass and two to empty the “grass containers”.

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天灯

This last week was a national holiday in China celebrating the national day (October 1st). So I’ve had a week off school (and to make up for that week I had school today – Saturday..) and Isaac came to visit me. We went to Hangzhou together, which I’ll tell you about later. But before that we had a few days in Nanjing. One evening we went to Xuanwu Lake and we saw this guy sending up a sky lantern:

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About the Sky Lanterns, from this page:

Hundreds of years ago, Flying Lanterns, traditionally called Khoom Fay, were launched alongside fireworks during festivals to offer the people a feeling of tranquility and to appease their worries. It was a way for them to send their dreams to the heavens. Armies would take advantage of their high altitude and long burning period as a signaling method.

Traditionally, Khoom Fay or Sky Lanterns were made of oiled rice paper with a bamboo frame carrying a small candle in order to provide the heat to warm up the air. Their invention is credited to Zhuge Liang, a brilliant strategist from the Three Kingdoms era in China. It was one of his most useful and innovative inventions, using the concept of hot air rising over cooler air, which was a novel idea at the time. This concept was not reproduced in Western countries until the 17th century.

If you want to know more, .

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Fashion Lady, Chinese shopping and photo booths

Yesterday was spent in a very “modern-Chinese-girl” way. I went shopping.

When I was teaching in Lishui, I remember many of my students when asked what their hobbies were, answered shopping. In modern China, going shopping with your friends is more for the sake of hanging out with you friends than to buy things. Shopping does not necessarily involve buying anything, and if it does then not more than a couple of items.

First, me and Lise went to Fashion Lady, a gigantic underground shopping center in Nanjing. You can find anything from panda bear earrings and Sponge Bob wallets to the “latest fashion” here, and bargaining is required.

We also found photo booths there. I discovered these last year with some help from Kala. Here’s yesterdays result ^^, :

Me and Lise as birds

Me and Lise as Chinese ... officials?Sheep me

In the evening, I went for dinner with two of my friends from Lishui, Cuty and Jenny. And guess what we did after dinner.. we went shopping. Even though I went shopping more or less all day yesterday, I didn’t really buy much. But I did find this panda bear desk lamp:

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It’s not really strange that shopping is such a popular activity in the big cities of China, cause there is such a variety of things for sale. Just looking at all the strange things they expect people to buy is entertainment enough. I don’t think shopping will be my number one hobby this year, but it’s fun enough once in a while.

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苏州 • Suzhou

I went to Suzhou with my French friend Lise yesterday! We have a few days off from school this week for the Mid-Autumn Festival so we decided to go to the city refered to “Venice of the East” or “a reflection of heaven”. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we did not pay to see any of Suzhou’s famous gardens. But we still found things much worth seeing and we had fun. Here are some pictures from yesterday:

Before we were about to head home, we stopped by an ATM so I could withdraw money. As we were leaving the ATM, I managed to forget to take my bank card. So as we were walking away, a Chinese man came running after us and I got to experience once again how helpful Chinese people are to us “foreign guests”. When we came back to the ATM, it had swallowed my card. So, after calling the bank a few times, talking both in Chinese (with the help of the helpful Chinese man) and in English, I still didn’t know what to do to get my card back. Remember, this was Mid-Autumn Eve and that’s a time for family dinners, not for helping foreigners who’ve lost their bank cards.

After a while a security guard came by on a routine check of the ATM. He called the bank for me and as an important man he naturally got his way. After another 15 minutes of waiting, a bank man came and gave me my card. I’m so thankful that I got my card back and that we had enough time to catch the train. God surly answered my prayers and made this a funny story rather than a nightmare. And I’m sure we gave a few Chinese walking by the ATM a good story confirming that laowai are crazy, as they saw the two of us sitting inside the ATM laughing at them staring at us.

pimp myspace - Gickr

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自行车

I have a bike now! I got it second hand from a bike market. And when I told the seller I didn’t really like it’s pink colour that much, he asked me what colour I wanted, took up a spray can and spray painted it blue for me.

So now I can cruise through the streets with wind in my hair while trying my best not to hit pedestrians walking out right in front of me. And it has a big basket, so say I had a dog, for eksample, then he could sit in it (I saw a lady with a dog in the basket of her bike yesterday..).

PS: My energy is back ^^,

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