Chinese Language Blog

5 Years of Blogging in China Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that old adage must be true, because it’s already been five years since I started writing and making videos for the Chinese Language & Culture Blog. Sitting here now, it’s hard to imagine going back to that place and time when I started here. At the time, I was on my second stint in Beijing, sharing an apartment with my girlfriend of a few months and a couple of strangers. I was still a bit shy with my Chinese, because, well, it just wasn’t very good. A lot has happened since then – I now live in Kunming, I spent 14 months backpacking around the US, SE Asia, and China, my Chinese is much better (but still pretty 马马虎虎), and that girlfriend is now my wife. It’s always nice to look back and reflect on the past, and thanks to the magic of the Interwebs, that’s quite easy in this job! I’ve posted a lot to this blog in the last five years, and I realize that many of our readers haven’t been along for the ride the whole time. To get a glimpse into what it’s been like living, working, learning, and blogging in China for half a decade, here’s a bit of a highlight reel:


A collection of some of my favorite photos from my first year in China.

A collection of some of my favorite photos from my first year in China.

  • Poor Man’s Chinese: This was the first post I ever wrote for the blog, and I still love going back to it every now and then. Take a look to see how I got by with just the words hello, USA, chicken, beer, thank you, and goodbye for my first few weeks in China.
  • Studying Chinese isn’t THAT Difficult: Chinese is an intimidating language to learn – the thousands of characters, the tones, and the various dialects tend to scare people away. In this post, I try to show you how some parts of the language really aren’t so tough after all.
  • Yi Xian Camping Music Festival – Part One: Travel Troubles, Part Two: We Are Rockstars: We had a wild adventure getting out to a camping music festival in the middle of nowhere in the summer of 2010. Read on to find out how I ended up dropping my pants and sleeping in a KTV…
  • Wangfujing Night Market: Tour the funky night market in Beijing with me in this video, in which I devour a fried scorpion on a stick and silk worms, amongst other delicacies:

  • Taste of a Mule: It sounds strange, but a donkey meat sandwich (驴肉火烧 – lǘ ròu huǒ shāo) is one of my favorite snacks in China. Check it out in this silly video:


The character for moon makes perfect sense.

The character for moon makes perfect sense.

  • What’s in a Chinese Character?: To the untrained eye, Chinese characters might just look like hieroglyphs. There is a method to the madness, however. Learn more about where Chinese characters come from in this interesting post.
  • Chinese Websites: There are hundreds of millions of people online in China, so what exactly are they looking at? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Learn about the popular Chinese sites in this post.
  • Green Hats and the Number 250: China is a land rich in cultural quirks and odd superstitions. Check out this post to see why dudes should never wear a green hat and why the number 250 is idiotic.
  • Making Chinese Words: Don’t freak out about learning new words in Chinese. This video shows you how remembering a few characters can help you learn a lot of useful words.

  • Santa Con IV: What happens when a few hundred Santas take to the streets of Beijing for a day of caroling and merriment? See for yourself…


我们在景山公园 (We're at Jingshan Park.)

我们在景山公园 (We’re at Jingshan Park.)

  • Introduce Yourself in Chinese: Before you really start talking to people, you have to learn how to introduce yourself. I do just that for you in this post by introducing myself in Chinese and giving you the vocabulary/grammatical structures you’ll need to do it yourself.
  • Chinese Swear Words: I’m not sure what to think about it, but this post is far and away the most popular one that I’ve written. It’s understandable, I suppose – people always want to learn the bad words in whatever language they’re studying. Just don’t tell anyone where you learned these dirty Chinese words!
  • Guessing Game: This post can be a lot of fun for new learners of Chinese. In it, I give you Chinese words with their literal English translations, and then you have to guess what it really means. Read on to find out exactly what “cowboy pants,” “fire chicken,” and “electric brain” mean.
  • Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base: Get up close with the cute and cuddly pandas in this video taken at the research base in Chengdu.

  • Making Comparisons in Chinese: Making comparisons is an important part of daily life, and it’s quite easy to do in Chinese. Learn how by following this video.


肉夹馍 (pork sandwich)

肉夹馍 (pork sandwich)

  • 3 Day Beijing Tour: Having spent so much time living there, I like to think I’m a pretty good Beijing tour guide, even in Chinese. This post comes in Chinese, pinyin, and English, so you can learn a lot and see a lot of Beijing at the same time.
  • Teaching English in China: I’m always getting asked for advice about teaching in China, so I went ahead and put together this post for anyone interested. I’ve had a great time teaching here, and highly recommend trying it for at least a year.
  • Street Food: Eating street food in China is one of my favorite pastimes. Don’t be scared, toughen your stomach up! Check out a bunch of photos and descriptions of some of my favorite street-side snacks here.
  • Camping on the Great Wall: How would you like to camp out on one of the Seven Wonders of the World? It’s possible at the Great Wall; just watch this video.

  • A Day in the (Chinese) Life: Follow me on a typical day in Beijing to see what life is like for an English teaching 老外 in the Chinese capital, and learn a lot of Chinese in the process.


I love you.

I love you.

  • 10 Must Know Chinese Measure Words: Lots of people get tripped up by Chinese measure words, but they’re really not that tough. Learn these 10 and you’ll be well on your way to speaking more naturally.
  • A Love Letter to Chinese Dumplings: I love Chinese dumplings, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I love them so much, in fact, that I penned a love letter to them while on the road backpacking in SE Asia.
  • Hong Kong to Kunming Overland: This was hands down one of the best trips I’ve taken in my five years in China. See what you can do with a couple of weeks going overland from HK to the capital city of Yunnan province.
  • 20 Most Common Chinese Characters: There are thousands upon thousands of Chinese characters, but you’d be surprised how far you can go by learning just a few hundred. Start with the 20 most common ones in this video.

  • Santa in China: What can I say – there’s just something about playing Santa Claus in China that brightens up my life and makes my soul shine. I had so much fun in the Santa Con events of Beijing that I decided to Santa-suit up and take the train all the way from Kunming to get back there in time for the big day. It’s quite possibly the best and stupidest thing I’ve done in my life, at the same time.


Thanks to Transparent Language for giving me the chance to share my stories, tips, pictures, and videos from my crazy life here in the Middle Kingdom, and thanks to our readers who keep coming back. Here’s to hoping the next five years are even half as good as the first five were!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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