One Day in Zhuhai

Posted on 28. May, 2015 by in architecture, architecture and landscaping, Culture, food, Leisure, sightseeing, travel

Spend one day in Zhuhai.

Spend one day in Zhuhai.

It’s a quick and easy boat ride from Shenzhen over to Zhuhai, one of China’s first SEZs and a popular tourist destination. Take a stroll along the shore, check out the Fisher Girl statue, and explore the walking street at night for food and drink.

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珠海 – zhū hǎi

Zhuhai

操场 – cāo chǎng

playground

情侣路 – qíng lǚ lù

Lover’s Road

渔女 – yú nǚ

Fisher Girl

海滨公园 – hǎi bīn gōng yuán

Haibin park

莲花路 – lián huā lù

Lotus Road

步行街 – bù xíng jiē

walking street

牡蛎 – mǔ lì

oyster

In the (Chinese) Kitchen – Cooking Terms

Posted on 26. May, 2015 by in Uncategorized

We’ve already spent a good amount of time in the Chinese kitchen, learning the words for kitchen appliances as well as dishes, utensils, and more. Now that you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to learn some useful Chinese vocabulary for cooking:

Cooking in China is fun!

Cooking in China is fun!

Preparation

  • peel ( – bō)

  • cut ( – qiè)

  • slice (切片 – qiē piàn)

  • chop ( – zhǎn)

  • mince (剁碎 – duò suì)

拌面 - a cold noodle dish.

拌面 – a cold noodle dish.

Without Heat

  • dressing ( – bàn)

  • marinating/pickling ( – yān)

  • jellifying ( – dòng)

Something yummy's cooking!

Something yummy’s cooking!

With Heat

  • boil ( – zhǔ)

  • steam ( – zhēng)

  • pan-fry ( – jiān)

  • stir-fry ( – chǎo)

  • deep fry ( – zhà)

  • roast ( – kǎo)

  • bake (烘 – hōng)

  • bake in foil or paper ( – jú)

  • braise ( – shāo)

  • smoke ( – xūn)

  • scalding ( – tàng)

Tasty minced beef cooked up with lots of chili peppers.

Tasty minced beef cooked up with lots of chili peppers.

Uniquely Chinese Methods

  • red-cooking (红烧 – hóng shāo) or ( – lǔ): This method involves cooking over prolonged heat with the ingredients completely immersed in a soy sauce based broth. This style of cooking is commonly used for beef and eggs.

  • gradual simmering/double boil ( – dùn): The ingredients are submerged in water in a ceramic casserole, which is then placed in water in a bigger pot to steam for many hours. Delicacies such as bird’s nest soup are cooked in this fashion.

  • high heat stir-fry (爆 – bào): This quick method uses a lot of oil, sauce, or broth to quickly stir-fry the ingredients at very high heat in a wok. It’s meant to deliver a crispy texture without overcooking.

  • stewing (焖 – mèn): This is different from the Western style of stewing – ingredients are stir-fried until partially cooked and then transferred to a clay pot to be slow-cooked. Commonly used for meat and fish.

  • hui (烩 – huì): This is also referred to as braising, but it’s a bit different as it is thickened with a starchy gravy at the end.

However you cook it, Chinese food is one of the world’s most famous cuisines for good reason. Across this vast country, there’s a wide variety in the styles of cooking, the ingredients, and the resulting dishes. For more on Chinese cuisine, check out these past blog posts: China’s Great Culinary Traditions – North, South, East, and West.

Top 10 Places in Beijing

Posted on 25. May, 2015 by in Uncategorized

Beijing is an enormous metropolis with a history going back thousands of years, and it’s usually the first stop for tourists coming to China. There’s enough to do in and around the city to keep you busy for years; trust me, I spent more than four of them living there. For travelers with only a few days to spend in the Chinese capital, planning the trip can be a bit tricky. Do you want to spend your time checking off the famous attractions? Are you looking to dive into the city’s vibrant culinary and nightlife scenes? Or are you more into exploring the old neighborhoods and local parks to soak up the culture? Or maybe you’d rather see the new face of Beijing – the impressive high-rises, luxury shopping centers, and outlandish nightclubs? Whatever you want, Beijing is your oyster.

Tiananmen - the heart of China.

Tiananmen – the heart of China.

Having spent a good portion of my 20s in Beijing, I did my best to explore all aspects of the city – the history, local culture, art, music, cuisine, nightlife, and everything in between. I’m not proclaiming to be an expert on the city, but I can give you quite a few pointers about how to plan and enjoy a trip there. Sure, the smog is disgusting and the weather can be downright awful, but under that layer of haze is a fascinating city with lots to offer. From a hike on the wild Great Wall, to peaceful afternoons in local parks, to wild nights out on the town, Beijing is a city with many faces. To help you plan your visit to the Chinese capital, here are the Top 10 places in Beijing, at least according to one blogger’s humble opinions. Note that each heading is a link to a separate post on that place.

10. Wudaokou

(五道口 – wǔ dào kǒu)

Good times in the Wu.

Good times in the Wu.

Sure, it’s the student ghetto of Beijing and is far away from just about everything, but there’s a special place in my heart (and liver) for the Wu. Some of China’s most famous institutions of higher learning can be found here, such as Peking University and Qinghua. Thanks to its large student population, you’ll also find tons of markets, cafes, restaurants, and bars here. If you’re just visiting Beijing, a stop here can easily be coupled with a visit to the nearby Old Summer Palace.

9. 798 Art District

(798艺术区 – 798 yì shù qū)

Old Maoist slogans remain.

Old Maoist slogans remain.

Perhaps nowhere in Beijing can you see the transformation the city has undergone better than at the 798 Art District. Once upon a time, factories churned out military equipment while workers chanted Maoist slogans. Today, you’ll find controversial artists pushing the envelope on what’s accepted in China, including the Gao Brothers and their portrayal of Chairman Mao as a, shall we say, “well endowed” woman.

Yes, that is Chairman Mao with boobs.

Yes, that is Chairman Mao with boobs.

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8. Gulou

(鼓楼 – gǔ lóu)

Vampires are all the rage these days.

Vampires are all the rage these days.

Hop on your fixed gear bike and head to the neighborhood around the city’s Drum and Bell Towers to experience what we like to call the “Chipster” culture. After taking in the performance up in the tower, you can explore the quirky shops that line the street here – fake blood drink from an IV bag, anyone? There are also tons of places to eat and even a few live music venues where you can dance the night away.

7. Local Parks

(当地公园 – dāng dì gōng yuán)

A crowd gathers to sing at the Temple of Heaven.

A crowd gathers to sing at the Temple of Heaven.

To really experience the culture of Beijing (or any Chinese city, for that matter), head to the local parks. At all hours of the day, people gather here for a variety of activities – from early morning tai chi practice to evening square dancing. Although Beijing is notorious for its traffic jams and air pollution, the city also has a wide array of green spaces where you can escape from the daily grind and the stresses of the concrete jungle. You can also have tons of fun in the park; look no further than the Party Bike in Chaoyang Park:

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6. Bei Hai/Hou Hai

(北海/后海 – běi hǎi/hòu hǎi)

Sunset on Houhai.

Sunset on Houhai.

A great way to spend an evening in Beijing is a stroll through Beihai Park followed by a little boating at Houhai (or the Beijing Yacht Club, as we like to refer to it). Watch the sun go down and the neon come up as the area’s many bars come to life. While some of these bars are tolerable, most of them are absolutely awful; head instead to 4corners, a much more chill bar tucked away down a hutong.

5. Qianmen to Jingshan

(前门到景山 – qián mén dào jǐng shān)

View from the top of the hill, where you can see old Beijing...

View from the top of the hill, where you can see old Beijing…

This stroll – beginning at the city’s front gate and ending at Jingshan Park – allows you to see some of the most famous attractions (Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City) and a couple of great museums (National Museum and Planning & Exhibition Hall). In between all that sightseeing, get lost down the city’s old alleyways and munch on a traditional Beijing breakfast.

4. Sanlitun and Gongti

(三里屯/工体 – sān lǐ tún/gōng tǐ)

SLT - one of the best places to party in Beijing.

SLT – one of the best places to party in Beijing.

From the old, historical side of Beijing, we head over to the sleek, modern face of the city. Once a sketchy alley full of dubious characters, Sanlitun is now one of the top places to see and be seen in Beijing, with dozens of high-end shops, spas, restaurants, and bars. Ok, it’s still a sketchy alley with dubious characters when it boils down to it, but it sure looks fancy! Nearby, you’ll find the Worker’s Stadium, better known locally as Gongti. Catch a Guo’an match, and then head to one of the ritzy clubs here where Beijing’s nouveau rich love to show off. We love partying and eating in SLT so much we even put a video together about it:

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3. Great Wall

(长城 – cháng chéng)

Enjoy a nice sunset on Jinshanling.

Enjoy a nice sunset on Jinshanling.

As Chairman Mao famously said, “You aren’t a real man until you’ve climbed the Great Wall.” No trip to Beijing would be complete without a stop at one of the Seven Wonders of the World. There are lots of options for visiting the Great Wall, but I’d recommend making the extra effort to get to one of the more remote sections. For those really looking for an adventure, you can even campout on some sections of the Wall.

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2. Summer Palace

(颐和园 – yí hé yuán)

Panoramic view from atop the Tower of Buddhist Incense.

Panoramic view from atop the Tower of Buddhist Incense.

On a rare blue sky day, there’s no better place to be in Beijing than at the Summer Palace. Head to the top of the Tower of Buddhist Incense to enjoy one of the best panoramic views of the city, take a boat around Kunming Lake, or just pitch a tent and enjoy a lazy afternoon. Of course there are usually large crowds of packaged tourists here, but it’s not hard to escape them and find a bit of peace and solitude in this beautiful and historical place.

1. Hutongs

(胡同 – hú tòng)

Will old Beijing disappear? We sure hope not!

Will old Beijing disappear? We sure hope not!

Beijing’s traditional alleyways, or hutong, are one of the defining characteristics of the city and a vital part of its cultural heritage. Unfortunately, many of them have been bulldozed in recent years in favor of high-rises and shopping malls. Quite a few are protected, though, so it’s still possible to dive into old Beijing by getting lost in the hutongs. Some parts of the city have even sought to both protect and develop these old ‘hoods at the same time, such as the trendy NLGX and Wudaoying hutongs.

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Have you been to Beijing? What are your favorite places there? Leave a comment – we’d love to hear what YOU think!