By Rosa Spence
On the 28th March, myself and four other representatives from the NGO I am interning with, CDNGO06, organised and accompanied farmers from Yunqiao village on an overnight visit to Mao Xian. A district 5 hours north-west of Chengdu and only 40km away from Wuchuan (the place where the earthquake hit in 2008!).
The aim of this visit was to introduce the local farmers from Yunqiao to local Sichuanese Pepper farmers in Mao Xian. These farmers have previously worked closely with WWF to increase sustainable farming of Sichuan pepper. As a result of this collaboration, their Sichuan pepper crops have become organically certified. The farming community has become a co-operative, having received support from Sichuan Rural Credit Union – an initiative established by the People’s Bank of China to provide credit to rural areas in China.
This, in turn, has led to better access to national and global markets. The NGO hopes that the farmers from Yunqiao will be able to learn and adapt some of the techniques, used by Mao Xian farmers, and apply them to their Luo Bo crops (the main crop of Yunqiao) with the aim of increasing quality and production rates.
We left the sleeping city of Chengdu at six o’clock in the morning and traveled in a minibus to Yunqiao village. Two hours north of the City, to pick up the farmers who were coming with us. As we drove for another three hours from Yunqiao to Mao Xian, I was not prepared for the scenery that I was about to witness.
The concrete jungle of Chengdu disappeared and the skyline was replaced with towering mountains, so tall that the peaks were dusted in snow. The cloudiness of Chengdu’s city sphere also dissipated and we basked in bright sunshine and crystal clear blue sky. I think it’s the first time that I have seen cloudless skies and unobstructed sun since I arrived!
Arrival at Mao Xian
On arrival at Mao Xian, the farmers and NGO Staff were taken on a tour and shown how the pepper was produced. The first station was the warehouse, where the pepper granules were stored; next, we were taken to the building where the raw pepper granules were ground down into refined powder and packaged to be sold in the national market. They weren’t kidding when they said it had a kick to it, I tasted a single granule and my tongue went numb for the next 20 minutes!
This farming co-operative has won numerous awards for their work, all of which were displayed proudly on the wall in the meeting room. The meeting between the two communities lasted for over 2 hours, with the NGO workers and the farmers from Yunqiao taking notes about how the Mao Xian farmers’ model worked. My role as the NGO’s photographer was to document the event. The host farming community were really accommodating, with tea being provided throughout and the meeting came to a close in good spirits and a formal photograph was taken.
After the formalities were completed, there was a chance to explore Mao Xian. We were taken to see some beautiful blossom trees, their delicate petals floating in the warm breeze. I got told that these trees and most of the surrounding area had been rebuilt after the area was flattened by the 2008 earthquake. The experience was also very culturally enriching, as the next day we were given the opportunity to observe a Qiang ceremony –an ethnic minority group, with a population of approximately 200,000, located in North Western Sichuan Province.
The ceremony was enchanting, consisting of singing, chanting, dancing, drumming and role play. We were then given a guided tour around an ethnographic museum, where we were told about Qiang history and also got to observe people going about their daily routines – these people still live very traditional lifestyles, making their own clothes and tools. We were fortunate enough to witness two Qiang men forging an iron blade, using two hammers and an anvil, the precision of the technique was mesmerising – clearly, a skill which has been refined over generations!
It has been a fantastic experience, I feel very fortunate to be so included in the work that the NGO is doing for local communities, they are truly committed to helping to create change at a local scale.
Inspired by Rosa’s Experience? Apply Now!
On May 8th 2018 more than 30 representatives from CPAZ, CTC & InternChina visited the Pingsha Experimental Primary School to distribute funds raised at the Come Together Charity Music Festival 2017 and provide care packs to a total of 50 disadvantaged students.
The bursary money totalled 82,500 RMB, meaning over 1500 RMB was raised for each child in need!
This is CPAZ’s 12th year in a row working with families to support the education of those in need in Pingsha, and the 5th year that the CTC – Come Together Charity Music Festival has raised money for CPAZ’s mission. The day started when representatives of CTC and CPAZ distributed a total of 82,500 RMB to 50 local children in need.
The bursary for each child was 1,500 RMB, along with a care package which including a backpack and school supplies. Afterwards, representatives split into groups to visit some of the families who receive the bursary.
Come Together Community
Come Together Community (CTC) is made up of a collection of like-minded fellows who care about the community, helping out, and making a difference. The founders of CTC have collectively lived in Zhuhai and China for over 40 years, and consider Zhuhai home.
InternChina is a proud sponsor of CTC, and also one of the official organisers of CTC’s annual charity music festival each year, Come Together. The aim of the NGO is to help people in Zhuhai by uniting the expat and local communities to fundraise for charitable causes and local philanthropies.
Come Together Music Festival
In November 2017, the 6th annual Come Together Charity Music Festival was held. It was an extremely successful event, with a total of 900+ people attending and raising a total of 255,000 RMB. The event has volunteers, bands and sponsor work alongside food and beverage vendors, the schools, the venue and more local groups to raise money for local children in need.
As CTC firmly believes transparency is of utmost importance, you can view all the income and expenses of the Come Together Music Festival 2017 here to see how they got the total amount of 255,000 RMB.
The Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai (CPAZ) is a registered CSO (Civil Society Organisation) in China. They work to promote social activism and public welfare with the aim of providing compassionate assistance to vulnerable sectors of society. They operate a range of projects with the aim of helping financially destitute, disadvantaged people and particularly young students living as orphans or with single parents.
Want to experience charity events like these yourself? APPLY NOW!
Alipay began in 2004 as the payment department of Taobao (Chinese Ebay.) It has since grown and developed into a global leader in online and mobile payments, offering world-class payment security, privacy protection, 100% reimbursement for unauthorised payments, access to a lot of Chinese facilities as well as a variety of tools for budgeting, transferring money between friends and very importantly, online shopping.
Alipay is a great app and really helpful for getting around China. With an Alipay account you can top your phone up, shop on Taobao (Chinese Ebay/ Amazon), order a Didi (Chinese Uber) and order takeaway amongst other things- and the best news for travellers in China is that you can do this all with a foreign card!
Starting on Alipay is pretty easy but here we’ll talk though a couple of things, just to get you started, from setting up an account, getting your card details onto the app and topping up your phone to a few extra useful tips.
Setting Up Alipay
- Download the App from your app store
- Once Downloaded open the app and click “Sign Up”
- Type in your Chinese Number
- Enter the code messaged to you within the time limit
- Set a Password and you’ll automatically be logged in and taken to the home screen:
You are now registered on Alipay! The home page is filled with all sorts of useful functions and information, and everything here is in English which makes it really easy to navigate!
How to Add Your Card Details on Alipay
Adding a foreign card to this Chinese App isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems; just a few simple steps means you’ll be able to add your card and use useful Chinese services like Taobao and Didi. The only downside is that foreign cards incur a 3% fee, however I find that the convenience of these services usually outweighs the 3% fee.
- Click on ‘Me’ in the bottom right corner
- Select ‘Bank Cards’
- Click the Plus Sign on the top right corner
- Type in your card number and click ‘Next’
- Fill in your details and make sure your billing address matches the address the card is registered to
- Confirm the information then click ‘Done’ in the top right corner
- Your Card is now registered!
How to Top Up Your Phone in China
- Once you’ve signed up and registered your card, go to the App’s home screen and click Phone Top-Up.
- Enter Your Chinese Phone Number into the field at the top (Make sure its right!)
- Select how much you want to top up (10-500 Kuai)
- Check all information is correct and click ‘Pay Now’
- When successful you’ll receive a text within minutes to let you know your phone has been topped up!
- Make sure you let the App have access to you location
- Remember that Foreign Cards get charged a 3% fee.
- Double check all your details and exercise due caution with your personal info
- Enjoy being better connected to Chinese services!
When I was asked by one of our NGO partner companies here in Chengdu to join them on a company trip to Yunqiao village accompanying one of our participants, I became very excited. This NGO are a non-profit Community Service Organisation approved by the Chengdu Civil Affairs. Their mission is to “improve ecosystems by working directly with communities to achieve sustainable development and the construction of an ecological civilization” – the organisation offer internship opportunity CDNGO06.
I was accompanying InternChina participant Rosa on the trip to Yunqiao Village, during the entirety of the trip I was discussing with Rosa about her stay in China and her internship with the NGO. Rosa has been here for about 6 weeks and is half way through her programme; her official role at the company is Ecological Marketing Associate.
Rosa is in charge of writing promotional material and placing volunteer activities on record but she has been involved with a lot more than this, she has actually managed entire visits to Yunqiao. Rosa has also been responsible for applying for grant schemes which has included the creation of projects and allocating budget.
I was happy to hear how much she enjoys her internship, before coming to China she didn’t expect to be as involved in the day to day projects. She has been very impressed with her colleagues’ passion, especially with the Yunqiao Project that she also tries to put her heart and soul into it.
On the day of the company trip I was very nervous as I didn’t know what to expect as well as being a representative for InternChina. Little did I know, how important this day was for the company itself.
My day started around 6 am wondering what the trip would be like, obviously it wasn’t a normal workday. I was informed that 50 students from Baruch College in New York would be joining us, so I was getting prepared to meet the students and talk to them about InternChina and its work as well as gathering my business cards to go.
With my breakfast in hand I headed out to meet Rosa at the hotel where the students were staying. There I met Alina, the students’ coordinator and two of Rosa’s Chinese colleagues at the NGO. After making final arrangements and assisting all the students into the buses, we headed out towards the North West of the city at around 8:15 am.
Two hours later we arrived at a small village named Yunqiao (云桥) in the Pidu District. After arriving we met the Project Manager and he informed us about their work, especially in the area. One of the companies projects is the rehabilitation and protection of Chengdu’s Yunqiao Wetlands Water Resource Protected Area.
But what is so special about this area? Yunqiao is located between the confluence of two of Chengdu’s most important rivers: the Botiao and Xuyan rivers. Botiao is one of the four “mother rivers” of Chengdu city. Along with Xuyan river, they both are the major source of drinking water for the city.
The “Magical Earth” project is an initiative to protect native plants and animal habitats in the Yuanqiao Wetlands. One of the major problems in the area is the alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) which is a non-native species; alligator weed is considered a major threat to ecosystems because of its negative effects to both aquatic and terrestrial environments.
Through the joint efforts of government departments, community organisations, scientific research institutions and entrepreneurs, the recovery and management of Yunqiao wetlands has been gradually and successfully implemented.
Even though the initiative is very important for the village itself, unfortunately only a few villagers volunteer. But several international companies not only provide volunteers, they also provide donations.
What We Saw
This day was a day to celebrate. After the Project Manager explained to us the importance of the wetlands, we witnessed the signing of an agreement between Rosa’s Internship Host Company, the local government and the head of the village. This agreement recognizes Yunqiao village as a natural protectorate, which gives the area an official status of a natural reserve.
We were able to see the wetlands ourselves and get our hands dirty by pulling out some alligator weed. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in our favor. This made it difficult for us to stay longer and for me to explore the area a little more.
The overall experience was very rewarding. Sometimes we take for granted what nature can give us and this trip has been a eye-opening experience. Therefore, I am happy I was able to meet very passionate people within the company who are willing to give that extra push for the environment.
Especial thanks to our partner company and Rosa for providing us the diagrams of the area.
I am a bachelor student in International Business Management at Dongbei University of Finance and Economics. I have been in China for 4 years now and I am very familiar with its language and culture. Since August 2014, I had so many great experiences in this country. I have only lived in Dalian though I visited many other cities.
Living in Dalian for 4 Years
I’ve had tough times in the beginning because I come from a very different culture than China’s. But for the most part, it has been an absolutely wonderful experience. I mean China is great and so is Dalian. This city is full of surprises, activities, great food, nice places and amazing people. I got to love this city and I would definitely stay for a masters degree.
Experience with InternChina
This year is my last and I am going to graduate in June, so I decided to use my classroom knowledge into the real world; that’s how I got in touch with InternChina. The team found an internship for me at Felpa Group, a Pakistani trading company in downtown Dalian as a marketing intern. I learned a lot and developed research, creativity and communication skills. That was the first internship I had outside of my country so I was a bit overwhelmed but with the constant help and support from Colin and InternChina, I got through my fears.
After that great experience, I wanted more, so now I am on my second internship at the InternChina Dalian office and I’m loving it. It’s a really great experience and I recommend everyone to join us! Thanks IC <3.
As is often the case during the transition of relocating abroad, one of the most daunting factors within this process can be the change in diet. Coming towards the end of my second month here in Chengdu and third year collectively in China I can safely say that it is indeed that little bit of comfort in the form of a meal that offers that much needed taste of home. Therefore, as a self-confessed ‘foodie’ to make life a little easier I am going to layout where I feel are the best places to go, how to get there and how they compare in terms of price and quality:
Peter’s Tex Mex
Although this is possibly the oldest and one of the most well-known western food chains in Chengdu as well as Beijing, do not be fooled by the fact that there are several locations across the city. This was in fact the first place I visited for a western meal and I can honestly say that I left needing to be carried home bearing a full smile which is a rarity. From nachos, to pizza, to Mexican food and even all things sweet I was very impressed with the quality and variety of food here which came to roughly 400 RMB between me and a friend allowing us to have a nice banquet. If you are keen on a tipple, there are also some western lagers and the freshly made margaritas pack a real punch!
12 East Tongzilin Rd/桐梓林东路12号
To say these burgers are good is an understatement. Out of my three years in China, the burger selection is definitely one of the best I have ever had. Redbeard (an American expat) sources high quality ingredients (Aussie beef namely) for his seriously decadent menu that plates up everything from gargantuan buffalo burgers to classic beef delights layered in different kinds of cheese. He also offers seriously decadent smothered fries and you can wash them down with craft beers.
I find it hard to pick a favourite (although the ‘mutton chops’ comes close) and I’ve tried a fair few. The burgers are definitely on the pricy side but you really know where your money goes – servings are huge and quality is outstanding. They are also now available for delivery !
29 Zijing Donglu, Chengdu/成都紫荆东路29号
Although this is quite a popular chain across China, I feel that avocado and brunch is continuing to prosper amongst us and it is on that basis that Wagas deserves a try as well as the reasonable prices. To put it simply, the elegance and nostalgia associated with a poached egg done properly when thousands of miles away from home really is a welcomed luxury over here, especially when factored in with the ‘lighter’ choices including kale, feta, and so on for the more health conscious.
Located in the scenic area of TaiKoo Li, Wagas offers the chance to sit back, relax and take in the wonderful surroundings with the outside seating area and a wide selection of juices to compliment it !
TaiKoo Li Chengdu, L1/ 1345 中纱帽街8号成都远洋太古里L1 – 1345
Mike’s Pizza Kitchen
No matter where you are from and where you may be in the world, I think it is fair to say that the overwhelming majority of us all speak the language of ‘pizza’ due to the liberty of adding your own personal touch. At Mike’s, not only do you get the option of base, toppings, sauce and so on but every single element is of the highest quality.
The quality is in fact so good that you will be unable to eat here without a prior reservation and can only order delivery at an allocated time relative to your location. Nevertheless, when in Chengdu if you’re talking pizza then you must be talking Mike’s because I am yet to have tried one as good in the UK, let alone China.
4 Tongzilin Lu Ste. 7/桐梓林路4号附7号 – Just look for the Big, Blue « M »
“From the Heart of Tuscany to the tastebuds of Chengdu” is a perfect fit for the motto of this wonderful restaurant as you are taken on a culinary journey from the southwest to the more hills of Tuscany. This is nicely complimented by an array of stunning Italian wines that also reside there in the form of Bucciano’s own « The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne » brand.
As I’m sure you can imagine, although the choice of food and wine is endless rest assured that the majority of dishes are served with a generous lashing of Tuscany’s finest extra virgin olive oil coupled with traditional bread and vegetables to tick you over while you take in the ambience. From pizza to pasta, meat or seafood- you will not be disappointed !
314 Block 3, Building B, Poly Center, 1 Jinxiu Road, Wuhou District ( Near to the Ping’an Bank, Yulin, North Kehua Road)/ 锦绣路1号保利中心B座3楼314室(玉林、桐梓林、科华北路、武侯区、平安银行附近)
Check out the full gallery below !
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Since the first day I arrived in Chengdu I have loved every moment. From my first ride on an ofo to my last. From sweating through my first hotpot to a little brow mop at my last. Chengdu has shown me a completely new way of life, laid back, relaxed, slow paced. When you think of China you think of the crazy hustle and bustle of giant cities. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Chengdu despite being the biggest city I’ve ever been to is also the most relaxed.
My initial fears of relentless spice and unbearable huajiao, have ended in me wondering if I’ll ever find a comparable flavour back home. The range of delicious food that can be found here in Chengdu will be one of the things I miss the most.
Alongside getting to know this fantastic city I have also made some fantastic friends! The InternChina family welcomed me with open arms. The office environment is nothing but great fun on a daily basis with great team spirit. As well, all the interns I’ve met in my 3 months have been fantastic in both helping me get to know the city and sharing great stories and experiences together.
My internship has allowed me to pass on the great experience I had previously on my internship in 2015 with the interns I’ve met here in Chengdu. Organising great activities and some extracurricular events have helped me form truly great friendships.
The skills I’ve learnt during my internship are so varied and extensive there is no doubt that I will be able to use them later on in life. From the daily tasks I’ve completed to meetings and marketing, I’ve gained a wide range of transferable skills.
InternChina has given me a platform from which I can only excel. This has truly been an unforgettable experience that I’m sure I will tell stories about for the rest of my life!
What an unforgettable life-changing experience? Apply now!
At age seventeen, I was awarded a one-year scholarship to study in Tianjin, a two-tier city around 100km from Beijing. Five years later and here I am, my fourth time in China, and interning in a brand new city, Qingdao.
Tianjin was an amazing place to live and is where my true appreciation and understanding of Chinese culture developed. After my Tianjin experience, how could I turn down another opportunity to live in another fast-developing tier two city? Even though they are more than 500 km apart, I have already noticed some similarities between the two cities.
Tianjin and Qingdao, throughout history and up until now, are very important treaty ports. This meant that in the past they were very desirable to foreign powers. The cities are unique as there still remain numerous European-style buildings, such as churches and villas, which stand as legacies from the time of foreign concessions during the Qing dynasty. A direct contrast to the new modern buildings found in every Chinese city, they are an absolute must see when visiting either city!
In true Chinese style, food culture is huge in Qingdao and Tianjin. Due to proximity to the sea, the seafood in both cities is particularly fresh and delicious. A must try Qingdao dish is spicy clams (蛤蜊), which are pronounced as géli in standard Putonghua but in local Qingdao Hua are pronounced gála. Although Tianjin is known for its seafood, Goubuli Baozi (狗不理包子) and “Cat can’t smell” dumplings (猫不闻饺子) are also some well-known delicious dishes.
Before I arrived in Qingdao, I was under the impression that Qingdao locals would have a southern accent. I realised very quickly that this was not the case as the accent is just as northern sounding as it is in Tianjin, with plenty of er’s(儿)! Tianjin was the perfect environment to not only learn Pǔtōnghuà, but also the local dialect (天津话). The locals were always enthusiastic and patient with me as I bumbled my way through sentences in my early days of learning Chinese. The locals also became especially excited whenever I tried out some Tianjin Hua. For example, instead of saying hen(很 )for very, locals will say bèr(倍儿). Qingdao also has its own dialect (青岛话). For instance. here they pronounce hē（喝）, meaning to drink, as hā. So, it’s dōuhāshui!
As much as Tianjin will always be my home in China, Qingdao is rapidly becoming my Chinese home away from home! I can’t wait to see what else Qingdao has to offer!
Tempted by the two-tier city life? Join us! We have branches in four fantastic tier two cities!