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.
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.
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
Meditation is the answer to so many of life’s problems, so I hear. And it is not just for cloistered shaved monks anymore – more and more people are taking a week off for meditation retreats now and then, sometimes as regularly as twice a year. I was curious, so I took the opportunity to go to the Dipabhāvan Centre in Thailand over Chinese New Year, and I’m glad I did.
The education system in China is strict and exacting, and there is no relief to be found at home for the students either. Their piles of homework are notoriously high, and competition for top-of-the-class is more fierce among parents than the students themselves. I don’t need to explain the negative impact it has on society. It is so ingrained in the culture that I was beginning to wonder if change was even possible. Then I found the Vegetable Community. Continue reading
A Canadian qigong master, a yoga instructor and their vegan cafe in the little town of Yangshuo, China. As I step through the doors of Mood Food Cafe, I immediately get settled. I know I won’t be satisfied until I hear the whole story.
It all started with a decidedly independent girl from Dongbei going to India to learn yoga.
The offer of a free room and free food would be a difficult one to turn down for most travellers, even those not normally inclined to volunteer.