Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Blog Greatest Hits: Volume 1 Posted by on Jul 12, 2022 in Culture, Food, Holidays, Travel & Geography

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since I started writing for the Chinese Language Blog. At the time, I was an English teacher (英语老师 yīngyǔ lǎoshī) in Beijing. I had a personal blog (博客 bókè), but it was just for fun. Since then, I’ve probably written thousands of blog posts for various publications. As I’m getting ready to bid farewell, I thought I’d take a walk down memory lane (内存通道 nèicún tōngdào) with a few posts about the Chinese Blog Greatest Hits. In Volume 1, we’ll go back to the early years.

One of our first days in Beijing.
Image taken and used with permission by Sasha Savinov.

Let’s start way back in 2010 and the humble beginnings (卑微的开始 bēiwéi de kāishǐ) of my blogging career. My first post, titled “Poor Man’s Chinese,” details how I went from having “Chinese skills the equivalent of one grain of white rice” to being able to confidently travel around China on my own. It’s funny to look back at this post many years later.

I’ve always enjoyed video production (视频制作 shìpín zhìzuò) and I even went to college for it. I was thrilled when Transparent Language asked me to start posting videos of my experience in China on their YouTube channel. My first video was titled “A Rainy Day in Beijing” (北京的雨天 Běijīng de yǔtiān), where I gave a tour of the Planning & Exhibition Hall in Beijing.

As time went on, I continued to develop my Chinese skills and share my journey here on the blog. I enjoyed writing posts like “Stay in Tone!” to help beginners understand the complexities of the Chinese language.

In addition, I had lots of fun sharing little cultural quirks I picked up on, such as why men shouldn’t wear a green hat (绿帽子 lǜmàozi) in China and why the number 250 (二百五 èr bǎi wǔ) means you’re stupid.

Mmm.. donkey meat!
Image taken and used with permission by Sasha Savinov.

Speaking of quirky things in China, one of my favorite snacks there is a donkey meat sandwich (驴肉火烧 lǘ ròu huǒshāo). I brought my video camera to a local restaurant one day to introduce this delicacy to our audience. It remains one of my favorite videos to this day.

The longer I stayed in China, the more enamored I became with the culture (文化 wénhuà). I fully embraced the culture shock that came with living in a place very different than the one where I came from. Writing posts like “Very Superstitious” was fun to explain why eight is a lucky number and four is the exact opposite in China.

While that was a popular post with our readers, it was nowhere near as popular as my post on “Chinese Swear Words.” Turns out everyone wants to learn the dirty words when picking up a new language! Check it out to find out what it means to “sell tofu” (卖豆腐 mài dòufu) and “hit the airplane” (打飞机 dǎ fēijī) among other interesting expressions.

Tsingtao beer also comes in bags. Image taken and used with permission by Sasha Savinov.

Speaking of airplanes, I did plenty of traveling around China during my time there. Of course, I brought my cameras along with me and shared all the experiences. One of the most hilarious adventures was the time we went to the Qingdao Beer Festival (青岛啤酒节 qīngdǎo píjiǔ jié). See for yourself in this beer-soaked video:

There were too many memorable trips over the years to list them all here, but some that really stand out include:

That last one, in particular, is an experience we’ll never forget. It’s hard to describe in words just how amazing it is sleeping in a watchtower atop one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but I did my best. I also brought the camera along and put this little video together:

Thinking back on those early years in China, one specific event always comes up – Santa Con. A bunch of us dressed up like Santa (圣诞老人 shèngdàn lǎorén) – whose Chinese name literally means “Christmas Old Man,” by the way – and paraded through the streets of Beijing.

We decked the halls, sang carols, and brought plenty of Christmas spirit(s) to the Chinese capital. People weren’t quite sure what to make of us, and some even followed us around all day with their cameras. It remains one of our favorite stories to tell to this day. Here’s the highlight video from Santa Con 2012 so you can see the hilarity for yourself:

Looking back on the hundreds of blog posts and videos I’ve published here over the years, I’m so grateful for all of the amazing experiences I had living in China. I’m also incredibly grateful to have been able to share them with you all here. In Volume 2, I’ll share some more of my greatest hits with you as I get ready to sign off.

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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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