During my recent trip to Seoul, South Korea, I was introduced to the Korean part of Asian culture. Although I never expected it, South Korea feels like a totally different world compared to China.
The first thing I noticed when I jumped off my plane is that Korean citizens look a lot more like westerners than the Chinese do. They have a higher nose, lots of them have bigger eyes and unusually western looking chins. This might be due to the fact that South Korea has the world’s highest rate of cosmetic plastic surgery and this is no secret as it is advertised everywhere in metro and subway stations.
The second thing I realized was that Korean streets seem to be boringly civilized. After 3 months in China, I am no longer used to cars that stop because I want to cross the road and people watching me weirdly when I try to make eye contact with the drivers or when I start my zig-zag run through the cars to get to the other side of the street.
And believe it or not, Korean people actually stand in line to wait for the bus! If the bus driver feels that the bus will become over crowded, the bus driver will kindly request the other passengers to wait for the next one. In Korea no one would push you or push in to get onto the bus, it was never became full that no one was able to breathe.
The third thing is that Korean phrases seem to be endlessly long. Hello, in Chinese “Ni hao”, is “annyeong-hasimnikka” and thank you, in Chinese “Xie xie” is “kamsahamnida”. You will realize that there are other dialects that exist and make you feel even more confused when they start talking to you.
After this trip, I am really glad to be surrounded by Chinese all the time. In comparison to the length of the phrases, the Korean characters seem to be quite simple and look more like letters of a comic to me. Chinese signs are an art itself with the incredible amount of lines and dots in each character. Since these characters have surrounded me for more than three months now, I think the Korean lettering actually look a little blunt. But nonetheless I guess it is much easier to learn Korean as it uses an alphabet (Hangul) that only consists of 24 consonants and vowels.
Seoul is a great spot for vacation during your time in Qingdao. You can either travel by plane which takes about 1 hour or by ferry, both are amazingly cheap. Here is a cool site which gives you some tips on where to stay in Seoul: https://triphappy.com/seoul/where-to-stay/84746.
The Korean culture was quite easy for me to adapt to. The fact that the people actually love to follow our known rules of behaviour, actually made this trip feel like vacation at home. But after a little while, I realized that I am ready and looking forward to going back to Qingdao. I want a real adventure and I guess this is where China really excels.
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China’s climate is extremely diverse depending on the geographical location. Generally, the North is dry and very cold in winter and warm and humid in summer, the South is mild and humid in winter, hot and very humid in summer. The winter in West China is milder than in the North but temperatures can still drop down to zero, the summers are extremely hot. Of course, the climate also depends on altitude and the distance to the sea, so best is to take a closer look at the city you want to go to.
Now, if you take a look at our office locations we chose them not only because of the beautiful cities but also for geographical reasons. We want to offer nice places all year around, so for winter we would definitely recommend Zhuhai (South) as it is very mild in winters, some even say you could compare it to European spring. On some days the temperature can drop down to about 15°C and in South China you can’t find any heatings, however if you are sensitive to getting cold you always can use the air-condition to warm yourself up. Zhuhai winters are very short and there is no real spring, it more or less changes really quickly to summer temperatures.
Chengdu (West) would be the second choice for winters as the temperature is comparatively warm, however locals say that it is still pretty humid, which makes the temperature affecting you a little bit more. Chengdu winters are not very long, so in March/April you already can go out in T-shirts again.
If you are not coincidentally a Sibirian, Qingdao (North) would not be the first choice for winters, as it is getting really cold (and windy!). However, it is the right place for almost daily sunshine and usually it does not rain or snow. In Qingdao you can find a central heating system, so at least at work you don’t need to wear your long underwear during winters. 😉 Qingdao’s winters are longer than European ones, it often is around 0°C in March, only in April they have a very short spring and in May it is beach-time again.
If you want to come to China in summer, I would definitely recommend Qingdao as a first choice. The temperature is higher than in some european countries (like Germany, the UK or Scandinavia), however the fresh sea breeze keeps you stay refreshed and the beautiful beaches help you cooling down and relaxing by swimming or doing sports on weekends. In Qingdao we organize beach-volleyball every Sunday, where you also can meet other foreign and Chinese locals.
If you are a relaxed person who can take it easy, you are definitely recommended to come to Chengdu – people here are said to be really laid-back due to the extremely hot weather in summer. Beautiful parks and tea-houses invite for relaxing and you can find a lot of strategies from locals to cope with the heat. I personally find it relaxing to visit the panda research base when it is too hot as they have a really thick bamboo forest, which can offer some shade to cool down.
If you like islands and the sea, your place is Zhuhai. However, you should consider that in summer it is extremely humid in Zhuhai and often affected by rain and typhoons. However, you also can go the beach here, swimming and bathing, meeting friends and having beach-parties as rain periods are just very short (but heavy). The air in Zhuhai is very fresh and clean in general and a summer rain surely helps to keep it clean.
To summarize, China is all year around a fascinating place to visit and we always help you to make the best out of your stay. However, if you are sensitive to weather or a certain climate, it can help to take a look beforehand, which place would be the best for you.