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Dalian Blogs, Food

Where to Find Foreign Food in Dalian

Living in China is all about trying various Chinese dishes from different parts of country, exploring new tastes and coming back to places where the food is outstanding. But sometimes we miss Western food, whether it is food from our own country or from another. Thanks to a large number of foreigners in most of China’s major cities, we can enjoy Western cuisine from different countries in many restaurants. Today, I want to introduce you some of the best (based on foreigners’ taste buds) Western restaurants in Dalian. Let’s start!

Brooklyn Bar and Restaurant 布鲁克林西餐厅 (Bùlǔkè lín xī cāntīng)

This place consists of everything what is called “Western food”. The menu combines modern creative and traditional authentic American food in a Brooklyn – styled restaurant. There, you can taste fresh home-made bread, sauces and sausages. Western atmosphere is maintained by the American owner – Wayne and English-speaking staff.

184 Bulao Jie Xigang District, Wanda Huafu 2nd floor, north of Huanghe Road, Dalian

大连市西岗区万达华府二期不老街184(不老街万达华府二期)

Indian Hut 印度人家餐厅 (Yìn duó rénjiā cāntīng)

Indian Hut with authentic Indian food prepared by an Indian chief. In this restaurant you can feel like in India not only by the food but also because of the décor. The menu has English and photos, so if you are not familiar with Indian food and the names do not tell you anything, you can choose by looking, though we “eat with our eyes”!

InternChina - Indian Hut

Kaisa Plaza B1, Tianjin Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian

大连市中山区天津街佳兆业底层二楼

Cafe Copenhagen

Here we can find European food, not only from Denmark but also Italian pizza and variety of other European dishes. This is a place good for brunch as well as for dinner, and their choice of desserts is mouth watering!

 

111 Tian Jin Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian

大连市中山区天津街111号修竹大厦1(近修竹街)

Blue Frog 蓝蛙 (Lán wā)

Famous among Dalian Ex pats as well as Locals for its burgers and cocktails but offers much more dishes from American cuisine. The restaurant has a really tempting offer buy one – get one free on burgers and drinks on Monday afternoon and DIY drinks during happy hour.

L40445 Pavilion Shopping Centre 4F, 129-3 Zhongshan Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian

大连市中山区中山路129-3地上四层L4045

Al Bacio 那之吻匹萨 (Nà zhī wěn pǐ sà)

Al Bacio is the most well – known for its real Italian pizza baked in the wood stove but it also has many kinds of Italian pasta and starters. You can combine the food with an Italian wine or freshly made fruit juice. The nice thing about the restaurant is that the kitchen is separated from the dining hall by glass wall, so the customers can watch their food being prepared.

No. 1, Floor 2, Unit 1, 375 Jiefang Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian

大连市中山区解放路3751单元121

Lenbach Restaurant & Bar 兰巴赫 (Lán Bāhè)

Restaurant offers German cuisine specialities in Dalian. Lenbach’s flagship dish is a traditional German sausage platter with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. To enjoy your meal to the fullest it is best to have it with a pint of German craft beer.

L4030 Pavilion Shopping Centre 4F, 129-3 Zhongshan Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian

大连市中山区中山路129-3号柏威年购物中心L4030

Friday 星期五餐吧 (Xīngqíwǔ cān ba)

As Dalian was under Russian rule for a significant period of time in its history, there is much Russian heritage in the city. Besides many Russian accents in Dalian’s architecture, also places with Russian cuisine can be found. In Friday you can not only eat delicious Russian food but also feel the climate of Russia by the interior décor of the place.

208 Bulao Street, Xigang District, Dalian

大连市西岗区不老街208

Aux Petits Plaisirs 小乐趣 (Xiǎo lèqù)

Authentic French restaurant in Dalian with an energetic owner-chef Julien who prepares mouth watering meals as well as maintains friendly atmosphere, so the guests can feel at home. The restaurant has an interesting wine cellar to which guests can have access.

43 Zehui Road, Shahekou District, Dalian

大连市沙河口区泽汇街43

Euro – Bake 欧倍客 (Ōu bèi kè)

Cosy cafe & bakery in the heart of Labour Park – one of Dalian’s best attractions. Great for a bit of rest after walk in this lovely park or time spent on carousels and ferry wheel (underneath which it is located). Euro – Bake is famous for its wide range of cakes, pizza and bread followed by delicious coffee.

5 Jiefang Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian (inside the Labour Park)

大连市中山区解放路5劳动公园内

 

Want to check out Dalian’s Western restaurants? Why not Apply Now!

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My Internship in China

Qingdao Citie view from Fushan
Qingdao view over the city from mount Fu-shan

 

All things come to an end and good things even faster, so does my time in China. It is crazy when I look back on nearly a year that passed, and although I really dislike phrases that are most commonly quoted in situations like this, sometimes we cannot help but use them!

Let us just say, I don’t know whether to be happy or sad. Sad because I must leave a city and people that grew to be my friends and home, happy because I return to my homeland and family.

 

Qingdao Beerfestival, saying "Ganbei" to the world
Qingdao beer-festival, saying “Ganbei” to the world

 

My Experience

When I look back on what I experienced, on what I have seen here, felt here, tasted here and gone through here, the impact on me was/is strong. Stronger than I would have thought or guessed in the beginning. When I arrived in February this year in Qingdao, expectations were low. And surprise was therefore even bigger, as I got positively surprised in so many ways!

I have already shared some of these positive experiences in my blogs so far.

I will also never forget my first encounter with the InternChina crew at Mama’s Noodles. I was completely lost and unnecessarily took a cab to get there from the university. The driver just smiled, when we got there I knew why (it was literally 500 meters, and he got his 10 RMB basic charge for only 1 minute of driving). And then I ate the best noodles in my life, joining the first Thursday dinner with meeting the interns and participating first time in the quiz (scored 2 points).

 

Panoramic view with the typical "qingdao-rocks" at the seaside
Panoramic view with the typical “qingdao-rocks” at the seaside

 

My Internship

After my time at Qingdao University I started my internship, keen to get some insights in the work of InternChina and keen to use the knowledge I earned over the years in university. After all, I really must say I could do so, and even more.

I got my daily workload but also time to fulfil my own personal goals. If you think now I sat every day at work in front of the computer, then you do not know InternChina. Every Thursday I helped to organise dinner for our participants. Saturday was reserved for trips and activities, which is a task for interns like me to plan and conduct.

With these activities I saw many different and cool things that I otherwise would not have seen. Furthermore, I could show other people activities and places I like to do and share some of my favourites with them, and try to share my experiences and make new ones.

Climbing up the hill to Qingdao-TV tower in 35℃, or having tough times translating at a tea ceremony. With all these out of work experiences, and also living together with other interns, you start to develop a matey feeling which comforts you.

“More than just an internship” is more than true!

 

On mount Fu-shan with a satturday activitiy from InternChina
On mount Fu-shan with a saturday activitiy from InternChina

 

Time to Leave China

So now this time of learning living and traveling in China comes to an end. There are uncountable things I will take with me – moments, impressions, experiences, memories. Too much to be able to write them down on a paper when asked, but never forgotten.

Maybe a few years from now something will trigger a flashback from a small impression which then will make me think back to a moment I went through, remembering the people I was with. And suddenly having someone around me asking what it is with me, “because you were silently focusing your eyes somewhere else?!” And you put the memory back in your bag of memories. Where it rests until you take it out once more.

 

View from the Lion-Tower in Nanjing, modern and classic in one picture
View from the Lion-Tower in Nanjing, modern and classic in one picture

 

Finally, I just should say the following! Come to China no matter who you are! I will guarantee you will witness two things.

First: The people here are the same as everywhere else on this planet. No heartless working machines, they have the same feelings, fears and hopes that we have!

Second: China will surprise you not only once! Be it food, be it daily life or the people. You cannot be prepared. But this is also what makes it so appealing to go abroad.

The only bad habit I started in China, taking pictures of food
The only bad habit I started in China, taking pictures of food

 

Qingdao Blogs, Things To Do in Qingdao

Qingdao’s Biggest Fan: From Student to Intern

Hi everyone, 大家好! I’m Pauline, the new InternChina Qingdao office intern. This internship will be a great opportunity for my personal experience of course, but it’s also a chance for me to come back to my favourite city in China so far: QINGDAO!

Why Qingdao?

You might want to ask me why Qingdao is my favourite city in China, so let’s try to see how it is different from other Chinese cities and what makes it the best city for me.

I first came here as an exchange student in 2014 and as it was my first experience abroad, I guess I enjoyed it even more. There’s plenty of things to do here- let me try to convince you!

InternChina - Qingdao seaside

Food

Do you like food? Well, one of the most important things is that you can find any kind of restaurant here. As you may know Qingdao is a port city, so the local seafood is amazing for sure! But the other traditional Chinese food is also excellent and not too spicy for a first discovery.

You can of course find Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and even more Asian restaurants, or if you feel like missing home and having a pizza, or some cheese for the Frenchies, there is plenty of nice European restaurants!

But you definitely should try the famous street barbecue- doesn’t it look tasty?

Street BBQ food in Qingdao

 

Scenery

Qingdao is also well known for its amazing seaside scenery, where you can easily find typical Chinese temples to rest and admire the view. If you’re up for something a bit more challenging, I’d recommend you go to Laoshan (崂山). Don’t forget your camera because the view from the top is definitely something you need to share with your Instagram followers!

Seaside at Qingdao with a pagoda and skyscrapers in the background

Culture

Are you a fan of Chinese culture and history? You might also want to visit some Buddhist temples, or a typical Chinese park – how about Zhongshan Park (中山公园)? You might as well want to see the German legacy, which you can find when you walk around the Badaguan area (八大关), or in the Old Town enjoying the old churches and architecture.

I am sure you’ve heard about Tsingtao beer before, right ? If you’re a fan of beer, you can check out the Tsingtao Beer museum, where you can taste the beer at the end, and even customise a bottle with your own picture!

German buildings in Qingdao's Old Town

What are you afraid of in China? Scared that all you’ll see is skyscrapers? Here in Qingdao they are not covering the sky. Of course if you look up you’ll see tall buildings, but also mountains and seaside. The climate here is so comfortable thanks to the sea wind, so you’ll never feel too hot! The language barrier can be a problem everywhere, but here, people are well known to be really friendly. I really experienced it when I got lost -just stare at your map and somebody will come to help you!

Afraid of missing your country? The expatriate community is growing fast, with lots of events and social activities to get involved in. You’ll never be alone in Qingdao!

You should join us in, and Apply Now!

Internship Experience, Qingdao Blogs, Things To Do in Qingdao

Alfred’s New Experiences in Qingdao

Do you know these moments in your life, when you are leaning against a railing in a harbour, looking at the waves without really looking? Smelling the salty sea scent and listening to the seagulls screeching, but you don’t listen and smell actively?
In these kind of moments, you will have a talk with yourself and ask in your head with a tremulous voice: “what the heck am I doing here?” At least it was like this in my case.

About Me

I am a 29-year-old German. I worked as a bank clerk for 6 years in Germany. And now after studying two and a half years I landed in Qingdao. How come?

Am I a romantic enthusiast that practiced traditional “fan-tai-chi”? Am I a lover of Chinese poetry? Did I watch too much Kung Fu Panda? Or do I just like to castigate myself learning all the Chinese characters?

Chinese women practicing fan tai chi

No, is the answer to all these questions, it was a reason wedding. But as history shows this can have quite good outcome (not that I recommend this style of marriage). In my case it pumped up the numbers quite high. While I used to ask myself the “what the heck?” question in quite unromantic places, now I can do this on the breath-taking coast of Qingdao.

Qingdao Weather

I am here now since February this year. So, I could witness the change in weather and environment in Qingdao. I was freezing my “lower area of the back” off due to the famous “Qingdao-wind” in winter time. In summer time “Mediterranean” heat let me sweat Niagara Falls out of my body. A big thanks to the inventors of heaters and air conditioners!

Experiences in Qingdao

Although this may sound like advertisement for Air-con, Heaters and Qingdao, it is my utmost honest view of Qingdao. I am now looking forward on all the cool things that I will see and experience here. Why am I telling you this? The reason why is, that from now on, I will try to keep you guys updated and informed about these experiences. Don’t worry, I will not share the hilarious story of how I bought a bus ticket or the tremendously fascinating day when I was doing absolutely nothing.

Alfred standing on a boat in the Qingdao sea

The goal of my articles, blogging and scribbling will be to give you interesting insights in daily life here in Qingdao. As well as providing you with interesting news and hidden highlights.

I hope that the reading will give you an image of China, maybe inspire you or at least will make you sit in front of the screen smirking.

Cultural, Food, How-to Guides

TWO WOKKY DISHES FOR YOU TO COOK IN CHINA

So I’ve been roped into writing another blog. Last time I was writing about wacky shrimp-charmers and typical Chinese benevolence but I’m toning it all down a bit in an attempt to brandish my questionable cooking talent. However, do not fear these recipes, for they have earned critical acclaim from seasoned pundits such as my ex-flatmate and anosmic sausage-dog. What’s more is that I present an opportunity to make friends with your local veg-stall owner. Just visit every day and say ‘shēng yì xīng lóng’ after you’ve paid and you’ll be friends for life.
Perhaps I should stop flaunting my credentials get on with what you came here for.

Dish One – Egg Fried Rice

‘It sounds boring!’ I hear you cry. “It’s too easy!” you moan. Pfft. Don’t you remember the social sec from that questionable university rugby club telling you not to knock something until you’ve tried it?

egg fried rice
Egg Fried Rice

Ingredients

  • Egg, obviously. You’re going to need 2-5 of these, depending on how much you hit the gym.
  • Rice. Try to scale this with the number of eggs you’ve used.
  • Some kind of oil to grease your wok. I use peanut oil because it’s the cheapest.
  • Vegetables. Normally I go with a solitary carrot because I’m boring, but you should try adding broccoli, pak choi or cauliflower. If you’re feeling really adventurous then add all four.
  • Soy sauce, obviously. This is China after all.
  • Sesame oil. This is the secret ingredient that sets apart the Jamie Olivers from the normal Olivers.

Method

Start by getting your rice cooker on the go. While she’s doing the hard work for you, chop up your vegetables into little chunks and crack open your eggs into a small bowl. Then, fry the veg in your wok on a medium/high heat in some oil.

Once those seedless fruits are looking nice and cooked turn down the heat to low/medium and throw in the eggs. Be sure to give them a good whacking with a wooden spoon. Beat them until it looks like that scene from Team America when the hero-guy comes out of the pub.

Now you need to add in the rice. Make sure that it isn’t all mushy with water then throw it into the wok. Pour some soy sauce over it and stir it in. Usually you’ll need about 10-20mL of soy sauce, but you’ll soon work out how strong you like your flavours. Finally, pour some sesame oil into the wok and mix that in too. About 3-5mL is all you need.

And voila! That took about 15 minutes.

Dish Two – Chicken Stir Fry

This is my signature dish in China. My old housemates back home in England know how proud I was of my first bhuna and others find my bolognese irresistible. However, China isn’t fond of curry and you’ll pay a lot of money to cook yourself a proper bolognese so I’ll try to keep on topic.

chicken
InternChina – Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • Chicken. Cluck cluck.
  • Rice or noodles. This is a great opportunity because you can disguise this single recipe as two by using either carbohydrate base.
  • Carrots. Feel free to add other vegetables but the carrots are the best thing about this dish.
  • Ginger. You’ll need about 5cm of this, maybe more. Who knows? You’ll find out how much you like soon enough.
  • Garlic. While we’re on the subject, anyone reading who hasn’t been to China might be interested to know that the Chinese like to munch on whole garlic cloves. You’ll need about three for this dish.
  • Soy sauce. You’ll work out how much you need.
  • Oil. Again, I use peanut oil because it’s the cheapest.
  • Honey (not essential).
  • Peanut butter (not essential).
  • Peanuts (not essential).

Method

Choose if you want rice or noodles. Prepare them but wait until later to cook.

Slice and dice your chicken and slap it into a moderately oiled wok. You don’t want to turn on the heat yet unless you like your chicken black. Wash your chopping board if you don’t have access to another and use it to chop your carrots. Slice them into 1cm thick batons, wash them and leave them aside. Turn on the chicken to a medium heat. Then start chopping up the ginger and garlic into tiny pieces. A big meaty cleaver helps with this. The smaller the better. You’ll see what I mean.

Somewhere in the middle of chopping up the ginger and garlic you’ll hear a mysterious voice whisper in your ear: ‘don’t forget to turn on the rice’. This will only occur if you chose to cook rice. Obey the voice.

When the chicken is almost cooked, which is usually when you’ve just peeled the garlic and ginger, put your carrots in the wok. If you’re cooking noodles, boil the water now.

When you feel like you can’t be bothered to chop ginger and garlic anymore, put them in the wok and turn the flame up high. I try to make some room in the middle of the wok and put them there, adding the soy sauce at the same time. I find that the flavours come out better when it’s been blasted with heat. Leave it for about 15 seconds and then stir it all in. After a few minutes I like to pick the wok up and toss the ingredients up into the air and catch them again in the wok. (I actually do this with the lid on but it’s still good practice). Finally, add a squirty of honey and a spoony of peanut butter. Stir it like that rumour you spread about Tom and Lucy back in ‘08.

If your choice was noodles, start cooking them now. They need about one or two minutes. If you chose rice, it should be cooked by now. Put it in a bowl and add a little bit of soy sauce. I like to add the noodles to the wok and stir fry them with some extra soy sauce.

About now everything should be ready. Just serve it up. Garnish with peanuts to add extra protein and a new crunchy texture.

And that’s it! Another just-satisfactory blog that has slipped through the editor’s occasionally slippery net.

Articles en français, Avant le depart

Stage en Chine – Quelle ville choisir?

Bonjour à tous!
Vous n’arrivez pas à vous décider sur la destination de votre stage? Voici quelques infos sur Qingdao qui pourraient vous aider dans votre choix!

Ces derniers mois, quand on me demandait où j’allais faire mon stage en Chine, la plupart des personnes en entendant Qingdao n’avait pas la moindre idée de l’existence même de cette ville. C’est seulement en mentionnant la bière Tsingtao que le nom semblait alors familier à quelque uns. Mais il ne faut pas se fier à ce que les français connaissent de la Chine mais plutôt à ce que la Chine a à vous offrir !

InternChina - Tsingtao Beer
InternChina – Tsingtao Beer

Il y a quelques années faire un stage en Chine était encore quelque chose d’extraordinaire et réservé aux personnes ayant un intérêt particulier pour la culture et la langue chinoise. Désormais de plus en plus d’étudiants et de jeunes travailleurs voient en ce pays une belle opportunité pour commencer leur carrière. Les grandes villes chinoises sont donc aujourd’hui pleines de 老外 (étrangers). Il est alors nécessaire de se démarquer notamment quant au choix de la ville où vous vous rendez en tant que stagiaire !

Qingdao est un bon exemple de ville chinoise économiquement très développée mais encore peu connue des étrangers (ça ne saurait tarder). Ça peut bien sûr paraitre assez effrayant de partir à l’aventure dans une ville dont même le nom vous est inconnu mais avoir une expérience professionnelle en dehors de votre zone de confort est un atout indéniable ! En effet, après avoir effectué un stage et vécu dans un environnement aussi différent du votre, vous gagnerez en assurance et vos capacités d’adaptation et d’intégration seront d’autant plus grandes !

InternChina - Quartier des affaires
InternChina – Quartier des affaires

Il ne faut pas oublier que Qingdao est une ville portuaire et a donc eu la chance de voir son économie ne cesser de se développer grâce aux activités d’import/export notamment, depuis l’ouverture de la Chine à l’international. De plus en plus d’entreprises de tous genres s’installent à Qingdao. Les opportunités y sont nombreuses dans la mesure où le marché est en plein développement et encore assez jeune, ce qui laisse la place aux grandes comme aux petites entreprises de s’y installer et profiter des avantages de la ville. Les entreprises à la recherche de stagiaires sont donc très nombreuses, et aujourd’hui ce sont notamment les entreprises chinoises à la recherche de stagiaires anglophones qui font appel à InternChina.

En dehors de ces aspects économiques, Qingdao est également une ville très agréable à vivre. C’est une bonne alternative aux grandes métropoles chinoises et offre une sorte « d’entre deux » qui réjouit les expat’. Malgré leur affluence, la ville a su garder un côté authentique qui permet de vivre l’expérience chinoise à fond, tout en ayant accès à quelques centres commerciaux et restaurants occidentaux, toujours utiles en cas de mal du pays !

Cependant, ne pas profiter de la richesse culinaire qu’offre Qingdao serait une grosse erreur ! Les chinois ont l’habitude de dire 入乡随俗 : quand vous êtes à Rome, faite comme les romains ! Vous pourrez bien sûr profiter des plats chinois typiques ainsi que de la « street food » présente dans toutes les villes de Chine, mais Qingdao est aussi et surtout connue pour ses produits de la mer. Entrez dans un restaurant en bord de mer et appréciez des produits frais accompagnés d’une bière Tsingtao, évidemment ! Qingdao étant très proche de la Corée, vous aurez également l’occasion de découvrir notamment les fameux barbecues coréens ou le Dagkalbi (plat à base de poulet et choux, cuisiné sous vos yeux dans une espèce de grand plat à paella).

InternChina - Resto chinois
InternChina – Resto chinois

En résumé, il est difficile de s’ennuyer à Qingdao ! Après avoir visité les grands sites de la ville comme la vieille ville ou le musée de la bière, les montagnes et les plages environnantes vous donneront de quoi vous occupez agréablement pendant toute la durée de votre séjour !

InternChina - Qingdao
InternChina – Qingdao

Si partir à l’aventure vous intéresse, venez découvrir la Chine! Postulez ici.

Leaving Blog, Qingdao Blogs

Zàijiàn Qingdao!

So the time has sadly come to say goodbye to Qingdao and InternChina. I came to China only intending to stay for two months, then two turned into six, and now eight months later I am (somewhat reluctantly) going home.
I was incredibly lucky during my time in China. Not only did I get to live in Qingdao, a beautiful city on the East Coast, but I got to experience working in Chengdu in the West for 2 weeks as well. I got to work with an amazing international team of people, and made friends from all over the world in every city I visited.

I think I managed to squeeze in a lot of travelling during my 8 months here. I managed to successfully navigate my way to Beijing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Suzhou, getting to experience not one, but two, Walls in the process- the original Great and the lesser known Fake in Luodai.

Exploring Qingdao would have been enough even if I hadn’t decided to travel about the place. I would happily spend every weekend exploring the Laoshan mountain ranges and probably not do the same route twice- even if I got bored of Laoshan, there was always Fushan with its German bunkers and tunnels. Old Town provided plenty of history with the Tsingtao Beer Museum and the historical houses, while Taidong Night Market and Jimo Lu fake market provided entertainment with an IC scavenger hunt (which may I add, my team won). Calligraphy classes, go karting, roller disco, ice skating and visits to tea houses all made sure my weekends here were never boring.

My time in Chengdu let me tick off a bucket list item of seeing the Panda Base, as well as getting to pick tea and cycle around Pujiang on a tandem bike (add that to the list of things I didn’t expect to do here). I also visited the “fake” wall of China in Luodai, and tried some of the best food I’ve ever had… the thought of chuan chuan alone might be enough to bring me back!

Street barbeque until 5 am in Qingdao, my beloved lanzhou lao mian, deep fried aubergine, biang biang mian, crispy sweet and sour pork, tudousi and rojiamo… I am definitely going to miss the food here. I don’t think I’m ever going to be happy with Western “Chinese” food again, and I’m certainly not going to find somewhere to buy a bag of beer in Belfast!

The other interns definitely made my time here a lot more enjoyable- without their collective enthusiasm it would have been much more difficult to motivate myself to do all of these amazing things. It isn’t much fun climbing a mountain or travelling alone compared to doing it with a mixed group of five or six other equally clueless people. We got lost in Shanghai, avoided the scorpions on a stick in Beijing, ate street barbeque in Chengdu at 6am, hiked across two provinces along the Hui Hang Ancient Trail and turned the steps at the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum in Nanjing into a slide. Countless selfies with the locals, bus rides perched on makeshift seats and several amazing nights in bars and hostels across the country meant I was able to create amazing memories with people I’d maybe only known for a few days or weeks!

If you want to see the real China, all while gaining that coveted international work experience then I can think of no better way than through InternChina. Gaining essential life skills, an amazing internship and the confidence to go anywhere in the world- why wouldn’t you want to come here!

If you want to experience everything I did and more, apply now!

qingdao experience

Comparisons, Travel

A Tale of Three Cities

Type ‘China’ into any search engine and a bewildering mishmash of skyscrapers, shopping centres and super-sized monuments flood the screen. From photos, at a casual glance, one city can look quite similar to another. But in a country that spans 9,600,000KM² and what should be 5 different time zones, there’s a wider variety of cultural differences than first meets the eye. So what sort of local culture can you expect to encounter doing an internship in Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai?
Lucky for me, I’ve had the opportunity to visit or live in all three cities now. From my internship in the central western metropolis of Chengdu, to living and working in Qingdao out on a peninsula on the east coast of China, and finally visiting Zhuhai for business in the far south coast bordering Macau. I’m starting to develop a real sense of the local flavours in terms of food, culture and general attitudes to life. Let me see if I can summarise it for you:

InternChina – Sauteed Clams

InternChina – Hot Pot

The Food (in my opinion the best way to get a feel for any Chinese city)
Far east Qingdao meal times are all about, yes you’ve guessed it, the famous local brew Tsingtao Beer. Whether the Qingdaonese are eating out in the late evening at the street BBQ round the corner or cooking at home, there’s a jug of Tsingtao on the table. Interns here over the summer months often see people winding their way home with a few plastics bags full of beer swinging from the handle bars of their E-bike or scooter. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a plateful of sautéed clams or BBQ chicken wings.

Out west in Chengdu is renowned for its tongue numbing SPICE. Moving here most interns learn to develop and iron lining to the inner stomach pretty quickly, but the flavours make it absolutely worth it. The locals don’t just leave the restaurants to the visitors either, the Sichuanese love a regular family night out. They can spend hours around a pot of Ganguo (Dry Pot) or Huoguo (Hot Pot) chatting noisily, chilling and drinking copious amounts of beer to quell the numbing thirst.

Down south in Zhuhai the flavours are much more delicate but just as mouthwatering. Meals here usually start off with the careful observed tradition of rinsing your cups, bowls with the hot water provided. It quickly becomes a habit that you miss when visiting other cities. The best thing about Zhuhai though is the breakfasts! Arrays of Dim sum (variety of small stacks mostly consisting of steamed shrimp and meat dumplings) accompanied by a warm bowl of rice porridge that sets you up nicely for the day to come.

InternChina – Chinese Chess

InternChina – Playing Mahjong

The Elderly
I always think the elderly are of the best indicators of local culture. China’s ageing population are noticeable wherever you go. The Chinese love spending most of their morning practising Taiqi and their days with their grand kids, but all three InternChina cities have their fair share of elderly Chinese Chess (Xiang Qi) players and card sharks too.

In Qingdao you’re more likely to find these groups in the peaceful parts of Old Town, congregated under the shade of big trees planted in the German colonial period. With the grand-kids running around them the scene looks pretty idyllic but I’m fairly sure at least some games of Baohuang (Protect the Emperor!) and Gouji (High Level) end badly for at least some of the players involved! Both are local card games invented in Shandong province.

Over in Chengdu it’s the tea houses that draw in the Sichuanese senior citizens. A fellow intern once told me of a disastrous time they bet against the grandmother of her host family in a game of Mahjong. Trust me, they won’t go easy on you, the only way is to learn their tactics the hard way! It might be hard on your self-esteem but it’s not a bad way to practice your local Sichuanese accent outside of the language classroom.

Down in Zhuhai, it’s a fair bet that they take no prisoners either when betting on card games like Tuolaji (Tractor) and Doudizhu (Fight the Landlord). With such close proximity to the world’s largest gambling centre Macau just over the border, it’s no wonder the gambling spirit has permeated Zhuhai’s local population too. At any rate, when their not at the cards you’re likely to find most of Zhuhai’s pensioners wandering along Jida Beach and Lover’s Walk.

InternChina – Qingdao Facekini

InternChina – Chengdu shopping

The Stereotypes
People from Shandong Province where Qingdao is based are renowned for having a hospitable nature. However there’s also a strict and disciplined streak in there. Qingdao-ren get things done! That’s why Qingdao’s port is one of the busiest in the world. Weekends are often spent fishing from the shoals or relaxing in a tent on the beach make up for the bustle of the city centre.

Chengdu people can have a bit of a spicy temperament, just like their food. But in day to day life the locals are extremely easy-going. They like to take things slow which is a direct contrast to the booming development of the city growing up around them. For the younger generation, resident foreigners and visiting students though, Chengdu is fast becoming a party capital for China.

Zhuhai-ren is also incredibly laid back. They also have a reputation for pragmatism, a pinch of ambition but also a warm dose of hospitality. The truth is that very few Zhuhai people are originally from Zhuhai, due to its location bang in the middle of Hongkong, Macau, Shenzhen and Guangzhou it’s attracted people from all over the country as well as many a foreign face. This also makes Zhuhai a hot-spot for big corporations from Hong kong breaking into the Chinese mainland market.

InternChina - Zhuhai Lover's Road
InternChina – Zhuhai Lover’s Road

The first cities that usually come to mind for people in search of a competitive work environment, where you can learn new skills in China are usually Beijing or Shanghai. But if you’re really up for a new encounter, and a chance to get immersed in a different culture whilst discovering what makes China’s economy tick, then find out more about some of the internships on offer in Qingdao, Chengdu and Zhuhai. Apply now!

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