I’m standing at the bottom of the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province. Next to me, the JinSha river rushes its way down the enormous canyon it’s made for itself.
I should be filled with wonder. But I am exhausted. I just wanna go home.
And my way back is a ladder.
A rickety ladder nailed to a vertical cliff.
During my four years in China, I couldn’t help but notice the fashion trends. If you ever feel the need to pass as a local in the Mainland, here’s the lowdown:
Get the T-Shirt
Buy T-shirts with any semblance of English words printed in big letters. This will boost your social cred considerably, giving you that multilingual jet-setter look.
If possible, get something you don’t understand, it will make you look superior to others who don’t either, but assume you do.
A marketing campaign I created for a wellness centre in Hong Kong called Alive Wellness. Taking a cue from the company’s name, I came up with the concept: “Feel Alive” to promote the end goal of the services on offer, i.e. to enable clients to feel their best holistically.
To bring an element of personal interaction to the thus far one-sided approach to marketing, I started with the question, “What makes you feel alive?” This was written on a white board in the centre for people to add their statements to. This created a buzz in the centre and clients enjoyed leaving their mark.
We then re-created what was written on the whiteboard in a time-lapse video and posted it on the website and Facebook:
April 2016. An ad I wrote for a restaurant’s new affordable lunch menu. They asked for a personal tone for the article. I also took most of the photos. The restaurant’s name is SIP. The article was published on WeChat.
At first SIP
I have a sip of water and take a moment to savour my surroundings. My friends are chatting about the holidays just gone by and smooth jazz music joins their sentences. A fleeting aroma of fresh citrus and herbs billows up from the open kitchen. It is getting late in the afternoon and the humdrum streets of China on the other side of the glass seem worlds away. We are finishing off the last remains of a sumptuous and satisfying lunch at Xiamen’s latest sensation: SIP Wine Boutique.
July 2015. An advertisement I wrote for a food and craft market in Xiamen. I created the theme for the event and wrote this and other articles to promote the market. The images were provided by the businesses being advertised. All I was given was the name of the business and the product they will be selling. I created this content for them. It was used as a preview to the market and received 865 views.
A Taste of Europe
A craft market featuring European food – coming up Friday 10th July…
Come by after work and try out some European specialties you didn’t even know were available – right here in Xiamen. Take a taste tour of the continent without having to step foot off this little island. And of course there will be lots of handmade and imported products to see and buy, as well as a slideshow featuring scenes of Europe by photographers in Xiamen.
A taste of what is to come…. Continue reading
Rice: the fuel to the factory of the world.
There is a place in China, where simple rice farming is made an exquisite work of art. Home to the Zhuang people, this ingenious step-irrigation system was built 650 years ago and is one of the most treasured secrets of the Chinese countryside.
By far one of my favourite places in China, as you can probably guess. This is countryside unlike any other. Life in the rice fields is set against this glorious backdrop of peaks in every direction. The karst peaks are…bizarre in that they rise at right-angles directly up from the otherwise completely flat land.
James Hilton’s “Shangri-la” is a mystical harmonious valley isolated from the world by the Tibetan Plateau, and home to people who live years beyond the normal lifespan, in peaceful harmony with the earth. Continue reading
When I first met Anna I liked her straight away. Maybe it was her fluffy hat and dimply grin, maybe it was the bright flowers on her table, or maybe it was because she offered me a free sample of fruit tea, yum! I tried her homemade tea and jam and came straight back for more. She uses whole fruit and flower combinations that just really work well – in a teacup or on toast, amazing! I asked if I could interview her and she responded with an invitation to dinner.
Yes, we all enjoy having a giggle over the myriad of ‘Chinglish’ mistakes we see all around us in China. I myself was posting a picture of a menu offering “catch-up sauce” when it occurred to me: what about the other way around? Do our mistakes in Chinese get laughed about? So I investigated the most common and the most embarrassing mistakes made by foreigners and have distilled my favourites into a nice list below – over which you are welcome to ‘LYFAO’. Continue reading
What could be more simple than ordering a cup of milk tea?
After a few months of being restricted to cafes with picture books as menus, I began to rue the loss of my eloquence as I could only point to things I wanted with a childlike, “这个”（zhège: this one) and “那个” (nàgè: that one). Feeling like an idiot soon became a bore.
So I decided to expand my vocabulary range using café menus as my textbook. One morning I decided to take the plunge and order a milk tea… properly. As I waited in line, I looked up the words I thought I would need: Continue reading
Continuing on from the last article where we dealt with the tempting trap of adding too many articles and too many ‘的’s to your Chinese sentences, this article will look at how to whittle your sentences down to sheer succinct masterpieces, just like a real native speaker. Continue reading
As you begin learning a new language, the most common problem you may encounter is the temptation to translate directly from your mother tongue, and end up saying things the same way essentially, just using different words. It is only when you pick up the natural rhythm and character of your new language that you can truly own it. Continue reading
To a non-tonal language speaker’s ear, Chinese can sound like just a jumble of similar sounds:
“Shi si shi shi si, si shi shi si shi.” Continue reading
When I first moved to China, I was working full time and only had a few hours a week set aside to tackle the language beast. I didn’t have the opportunity to join a class at the time, and just learnt by going through a textbook with a teacher. Continue reading