Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning Chinese

I spent over 5 months in China and really tried to learn Chinese language on my own but it was really hard. Of course I learned basics, few sentences in mandarin but still I was using my husband in order to communicate with people there. Now, after many months back I decided to learn it hard so by my next visit I will be able to talk to people and which is more important to understand them:) Please cross your fingers for that...
T-Shirt Mens Green " save the planet learn Chinese " Languages LargeFirst of all I have started use my cd with dialogs to learn sentences and repeat them millions of time. Believe me it is the best way to learn accent and pronunciation. Although I know I will never get rid of my natural accent. Lets be honest:)
Second I use nciku.com website (thanks be to Internet) to learn 5 characters a day, well maybe less:) In China it is crucial to recognize some of the characters (i.e. toilet sign) otherwise you will not be able to find anything.
Also I have few sentence cards with me so I can memorize Chinese sentences more efficient.
Last but not least I always try to force my husband to speak to me in Chinese:) I think it is good to have native speaker around you when you try to learn foreign language.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Karaoke (KTV) in China

Karaoke Television in short KTV is the most popular form of entertainment in China and I must say that this is fun. Almost every young person there wants to become a singer and the rest of them just love to sing.
I have been in several KTV's with my husband's friends and even though I didn't know any of the Chinese songs it was still fun watching people having great time.
In Shenyang during the night on almost every street there are colorful lights flashing and inviting to KTV's. Usually those buildings look like hotels with many private rooms and some of them have even little professional studios so anybody can record an album! I know crazy:)
When you want to go Karaoke prepare to be shocked! First of all at the desk you get the number of a room. Later you go to snack shop in order to buy crazy stuff such as mustard peanuts, dry squid, maybe some 'normal' sunflower seeds and of course beer,and after that you are ready to rock!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bargain guide

China (Eyewitness Travel Guides)This post I would like dedicate to all tourists visiting China;) I want to let you know that when buying anything there one pays at least from triple up to ten times more than one should! That is the truth but it doesn't mean that we have to pay so much. When I came to China I was transferring every price to Euro and I thought how cheap it is here but of course it doesn't work that way. The thing is tourists don't bargain so actually it is our fault that we pay more;) That is why I really want to emphasize on this topic here. So don't let people to rip you of even on little things as food!
First of all don't let sales people see that you really like the product. They will use that information against you. The best thing is to have calm face while buying on the market.
Secondly let them know that the product you want to buy is not perfect. For example it is in wrong colour or threads are coming out etc. In this case sales people usually will give some discount. Another thing is Chinese sellers always give higher price to foreigners so it is better for us to ask for 'onest' price at the beginning.
Finally I want to give you the most important advice. Never ever believe sales people! They will tell you anything you want to hear (including lies) just to sell the product. Salespeople can shout and even curse at you but don't give up:) Even if you will not be able to buy the thing you like at one stand you can always buy it in the next one...

At the end there is a story from the souvenir shop nearby the Shenyang Forbidden City. I was there with my husband just to have a look. I wasn't planning to buy anything but I noticed small paper fan which I liked very much. Sales people at the stand were very excited about it and they were telling me the price of it. It was 45 Yuen. I new back then that it is too much even though it is about 4.50 Euro. By the way I could buy 2 lunches for it:) Anyway I said no to that and I wanted to walk away. But the sales people didn't give up and start giving me lower prices. My husband joined me then telling them I don't want it because they don't give me the normal price but much higher. They got a little angry but at the end while we were almost walking out from the market they called us back that we can have the fan for 15 Yuen...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Harbin - Oriental Paris

One of our goals of coming to China was a trip to Harbin city which is the capital of the Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China.

Harbin is one of the sources of ice and snow culture in the world. It is located in Northeast China under the direct influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. Average -20 degrees Celsius is the temperature in winter.

The city is well-known for its Russian and European-influenced architecture. The great example of it is the Russian Orthodox church, St. Sophia Cathedral.

In the city there are many ice sculptures illuminated with colorful lights which really made great impression in the night.

"Ice City", which is other name for Harbin, is well known for its long and cold winter. Normally I wouldn’t want to go somewhere cold but this city is famous for its display of ice sculptures in the winter and I always wanted to visit the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.

In front of Ice City in Harbin

We went to Harbin for two days at the beginning of February although the official start date of the festival is January 5th. It was still the spring festival time but we were able to get tickets for a train.

Ice and Snow World was amazing but it was enormously freezing in there. We had to borrow coats from a friend who lives in Harbin because we would freeze to death I guess. Anyway you can see on the pictures that Dawei is having an army coat and I have a fur (poor animal by the way). The thing is that our friend's mum wouldn’t let us go in our regular clothes:) so we had to wear those "funny" clothes. I am glad she did that although.

The Ice City in Harbin

Dawei in the Ice City

I am on a huge chessboard in the Ice City

A Castle in the Ice City in Harbin

As you can see on pictures the place was huge and it had illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of ice. We even went to a huge ice slide which was a bit scary for me, specially finishing part when a seat made from metal went suddenly up and I landed on my back. Anyway worth to try;)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spring Festival in Shenyang

This year the Chinese New Year of Ox began on 26th of January. In Shenyang you could hear firecrackers every evening one week before that event. At my husbands home everybody was cleaning and preparing all the food and decorations such as red lanterns, papercuts and red signs with short poems which are hung around the door. Also outside you could and still can feel holiday atmosphere. In almost every window there are red lanterns and flashing lights. More over it was snowing a couple of days before so snow covered everything. I almost felt like on Christmas Day.

At the New Years Eve we had family reunion dinner in our grandparents place. At midnight we ate dumplings, drank and enjoyed family atmosphere in front of TV. In TV program there were songs about China and even Chinese astronauts said wishes for New Year which was funny but hey nobody cares as we have New Year!

Before midnight we went outside to let off some firecrackers like many people at that time. I must say that we polluted the whole area in front of our building but the fun we had you cannot compare to anything.

Also at midnight my husband and I had to bow to elder family members and give money as a present to children. There is a funny thing about giving and receiving money as you cannot accept that kind of present and on the other hand you have to insist on giving it. In general the whole family members scream at each other and in the end you give it and somebody has to take it:)

Now we will celebrate New Year of the ox for another 15 days. Guo nian hao 过年好 everybody!!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Zoo in Beijing

Another thing that I wanted always see in China is the Giant Panda so Beijing Zoo was on our list.

The Giant Panda (dàxióngmāo, in my translation: big bear cat) is a mammal classified in the bear family, native to central-western and southwestern China.

It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. And of course everybody knows that it eats mostly bamboo.

When I first saw this amazing creature I felt so happy. After a while I felt sad that this beautiful animal is endangered and it can disappear from planet even though scientists work hard not to let that happen.

The Giant Panda lives only in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces.

In recent decades the Giant Panda is a national symbol for the country. Chinese government sends Pandas to other countries like Japan as a sign of friendship etc. Even in last Olympic Games one of the mascots represented Panda.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Temple of Heaven in Beijing

As we were staying in Beijing we wanted to visit many famous places. Unfortunately we had to choose few only among loads of sites which are worth to see over there. We picked The Temple of Heaven (天坛). In order to get there we took a subway from our hotel. We often took a subway in Beijing as there is huge traffic.

This complex of Taoist buildings was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest.

In order to get to the Temple of Heaven the ticket needs to be bought. More over to see all buildings in the complex 3 tickets are required or one, more expensive, for all the places there.

Anyway the Temple consists of three main groups of constructions and it is surrounded by a park. In this beautiful park there are a lot of people hanging out. It is so nice to see people despite of their age exercising, dancing or playing Jiànzi 毽子 (kicking shuttlecock - picture on the right). I have never seen that in Poland or Ireland on that scale:)

The Temple of Heaven from the North side

The main building is The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿). It is a circular building, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails. It is very impressive. It looked for me like floating in the air.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. We checked that and it really works. You can hear clearly a person from the opposite part of the wall. It was very exciting!

The Echo Wall in the background

Friday, January 16, 2009

Forbidden City in Beijing

The Forbidden City in Beijing was the most impressing site I have ever seen in my life. It is vast and beautiful, and well preserved. I am not surprised that Emperors lived there. The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dyansty. It was the home of the Emperor and his household and the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government.

The palace which was built in XV century covers 720,000 square meters. It is surrounded by high city wall and a wide moat. The wall is pierced by gates on each side. To the south, there is the most famous gate called Tiananmen Gate, which is decorated with a portrait of Mao Zedong in the centre and two placards to the left and right: "Long Live the People's Republic of China" and "Long live the Great Unity of the World's Peoples". The Tiananmen Gate connects the Forbidden City precinct with well-known Tiananmen Square.

Tiananmen Sq in Beijing

We began our visiting from the Tiananmen Sq like many other tourists. We passed many gates, halls and even gardens inside the museum. Many of them names I don’t remember but there is a handy way to know them all when you are over there. You can rent a small device, a guide, for only 40 Yuen. They have this guide even in Polish which was a huge surprise for me.

Anyway, if you want to see ALL in there prepare yourself to spend all day on this visit. We had been there only a half day and we had to choose places where we want to go. For example I really wanted to see an exhibition of terracotta soldiers in one of the halls as I don’t know when I will go to Xi’an so after all we selected only few halls to go into. We skipped some of paintings exhibitions.

Forbidden City in Beijing

Inside the Forbidden City

I loved the Imperial Garden over there very much. It was small but it consisted of various landscaping elements (trees, rocks, water etc). It was a very relaxing place although there were many people.

The other thing that will always remind me of The Forbidden City is the roof decoration on the roof ridge. The more creatures on the roof the highest status of the building is like on the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Very beautiful creatures they are;)

Imperial Garden in the Firbidden City

Roof decorations in the background

The Forbidden City is surrounded on three sides by imperial gardens. One of them is Beihai Park on the north-west side which is centered on a lake. We planned to go there after visiting the Forbidden City but we changed our mind and took tricycle in order to see Mongolian Hutong area of the city where Genghis Khan used to live.

Beihai Park