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Weekend Trip to Wenshu Monastery

Wenshu Monastery

This weekend in Chengdu our interns took a visit to the famous Wenshu Monastery. Upon arrival, the beauty of the buildings stunned us. From the towering peace pagoda to the stunning halls, the architecture amazed us all.

Wenshu Gardens

Upon entering the monastery, you notice its layout in the traditional Chinese style. Wenshu is made of 5 south facing halls in a row leading up to the stunning main hall at the far end from the entrance. In classic Chinese style there was maintenance underway including this man precariously perched atop scaffolding on wheels using a jet wash to clean the beams.

Maintenance worker at Wenshu Temple

Having toured the grounds of the monastery we headed outside to an antiques market. Here we found old communist memorabilia, including the famous little red book,  and Mao-ist propaganda amongst other treasures. One vendor was sat outside his shop playing his guitar as his dog kept an eye on the passers by.

Antiques Vendor and his watch dog

After looking around the monastery and the antiques market we headed back towards the temple grounds in search of some food.

The Food

The surrounding area to the monastery is home to some of the most famous food in Sichuan. Not ones to miss the opportunity to eat, we jumped in the line of a famous restaurant. The restaurant was packed full with no space to sit. Upon ordering our TianShuiMian (this restaurants famous dish) we managed to find a spot to sit and dug into to this amazing delicacy. Our interns loved the sweet and spicy contrast to these amazing hand made noodles!

TianShuiMian

After sampling this delight we wanted more and headed to another famous spot near the metro station. As is the case with all well-known eateries in China, this place also had a queue out the front. This time we were queuing for Guo Kui. The menu offered Beef, Pork, Pig’s Snout, Pigs Ear, Noodles and other delights to fill this delightful pastry pocket. I personally chose the pig’s snout, which didn’t disappoint.

GuoKui in Chengdu

Having filled our stomachs with great food and our eyes with fantastic scenery we all headed off. On the way back we stopped by Tianfu Square, right in the middle of the city to snap some pictures and take in our surroundings. All in all a great day out!

Interested in visiting Wenshu Monastery and trying some Sichuan cuisine? Apply now!

Chengdu Blogs, China Business Blogs

Internship Experience – From Perth to Chengdu

Written by Claire Sadler 

From the most isolated city in the world to one of the largest cities in China

Coming from the remote city of Perth, Australia I thought interning in Chengdu would be the perfect opportunity to experience a different lifestyle.

Although when I first arrived, the difference between my coastal life and bustling Chengdu definitely gave me culture shock, this soon subsided with the excitement of being exposed to such an amazing place.

I have only been here for a month but in that time I have already made enough friends to freeload on almost every continent, eaten my weight in Sichuan cuisine and explored many parts of this beautiful city!

Experiening Chinese culture in Chengdu

Exploring Chengdu

In an attempt to explore as much as possible during my stay, I have seen so much of what Chengdu has to offer. Some of the highlights have been the infamous pandas, Dongmen Bridge, the Leshan Giant Buddha and People’s Park.

Exploring the parks in Chengdu

One funny experience of my trip though was how excited the locals at Sanxingdui Museum were when they saw Dominique and I. A crowd of at least 20 people asked for pictures because they had never seen a foreigner there before! All I could think about was how they would have shown everyone the pictures of us.

Seeing pandas at the Chengdu panda research base

My Internship

During my stay in Chengdu I’m situated in Gaoshengqiao, known for the Tibetan culture. It is crazy how even doing day to day tasks I am exposed to this culture, as I even see monks shopping in Walmart!

In terms of my placement I am completing a marketing internship with Inspiration Tech. It has been an amazing opportunity to learn new marketing skills, specifically how to effectively promote a product and create advertisements. I have also gotten the opportunity to write articles and conduct interviews, which has boosted my experience in journalism.

Internship activities with Inspiration Tech

The whole trip has been eye opening, inspiring and rewarding in so many ways. Interning in Chengdu was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget!

Do you want to experience Chengdu for yourself? Then apply now!

Sport

Chinese Basketball Association

This weekend our interns got the chance to attend a basketball game here in Chengdu, and experience the CBA firsthand! The Sichuan Blue Whales took on the Tianjin Gold Lions in what ended up a close fought game. In the end, the local Sichuan Blue Whales emerged victorious.
sichuan basketball

In China, basketball is some what of a religion with hundreds of thousands of fans rushing to any event that an NBA star will attend. This hasn’t gone unnoticed in the US, with teams including multiple stops in China during their pre-season schedule.

About the CBA

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) comprises of 20 teams from all over mainland China. From Xinjiang in the far North West, to Shenzhen in the South East. Each team is allowed a maximum of 2 non-Asian players in their squad, unless they finished in the bottom 5 the previous season, in which case they are allowed a third.

To add further confusion to the rules regarding non- Asian players, teams are only allowed to play non- Asian players for a total of 6 quarters, and only one non- Asian player at a time in the 4th quarter. This means that if a player checks in at all in a quarter that counts as 1 quarter of playing time. Whilst these rules can get confusing, it means that the Chinese players are not crowded out of the league!

sichuan basketball

Foreign Stars

Some notable players in the CBA at the minute include BYU sensation and super hot shooter Jimmer Fredette who plays for the Shanghai Sharks. Former Milwaukee Bucks point guard, Brandon Jennings who plays for Shanxi. Argentinian big man, Luis Scola who also plays for Shanxi. Stephon Marbury who has become somewhat of a star here in China, playing for Beijing Ducks. Marbury has even received the keys to the city in Beijing and is the only foreigner to hold a green card.

Stephon Marbury

There is no shortage of talent here in China! When looking at the contracts these players have signed its clear to see why. The minimum salary for a rookie in the NBA is $582,180 and in the CBA is $815,615. Therefore, it may be a sensible choice for lower pick draft players to make the leap to China to work on their craft.

CBA Tip Off

The CBA is growing in popularity here in China. Games tend to attract crowds of 5,000 fans with much more attending the 7 game finals series. Furthermore all games are streamed live online on Tencent attracting a national audience on a nightly basis. Overall the influx of foreign talent alongside the developing national talent makes for a great spectacle. If you get the chance whilst in China be sure to take in a game!

Inspired to come to China? Apply for one of our fantastic internships now!

Chengdu Blogs, Chinese Traditions, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, How-to Guides, Learn about China

How to play Mahjong – Sichuanese style!

When you hear the word ‘Mahjong’, there’s a good chance you might be thinking of that funny little game on your computer, where the objective is to make pairs out of a big pile of mis-matched tiles covered in Chinese characters, sticks and flowers.
Sadly, this version of Mahjong, or Májiàng (麻將) as it is written in pinyin, is pretty far-removed from the game played daily by tens of millions of Chinese, which is in fact a lot more like the card game Rummy. If you’re wanting to see how authentic Majiang is played by ordinary Chinese people, however, one of the best places to go is Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, where Majiang is not just a game, it’s a way of life. The mellow pace, relaxed atmosphere and relatively simple gameplay of Majiang perfectly epitomise the Sichuanese approach to life: “Take it easy” (Mànmanlái 慢慢来). It’s no surprise, therefore, that you need only go to one of Chengdu’s famous teahouses to see an entire garden full of people of all ages sat playing Majiang, sipping on cups of green tea and chatting away life’s many troubles.

mahjong tiles on a table in front of a teacup

So what are the rules of Majiang, and what does a Majiang set even look like for that matter?

The Tiles

A set is made up of three suits:

list of values of majiang tiles black and white

 

…and there is four of every tile, like this:

four of a kind mahjong tiles black and white

…which means that you have a total of 108 tiles, three suits of tiles numbered one to nine, and four of every tile. Hopefully you’re not getting too confused by all these numbers and symbols, but just in case, here’s a quick example:

Mahjong tiles black and white

 

Getting started

Before you even touch the Majiang tiles, be sure first of all to find 3 good friends (plus yourself) and a chilled spot somewhere. Comfy chairs are also a good addition. This isn’t a game to play in the deadly silence of a library, but a subway station isn’t ideal either.

To begin playing, you must first shuffle the tiles face down on the table and each player then builds a wall 13 tiles long by two tiles high. Two players will have 14 tiles in their wall, but that’s normal. It should look something like this:

mahjong table from above four players

 

To get started, each player rolls a pair of dice, and the person with the highest roll becomes the ‘dealer’, and gets to start play. The dealer then rolls the dice again to decide from where to start ‘breaking the wall’ – i.e. dealing the tiles to each player. The total of this second roll of the dice determines which wall, as counted anti-clockwise starting with themselves. So, a total of 3 would be the wall opposite (1 – yourself, 2 – player to the right, 3 – player opposite). The lowest number of these two dice then tells you precisely where to start breaking the wall, counting in from the right. This can all sound a bit tricky, but once you’ve played a few times it will come very naturally.

The dealer then starts by taking a stack of four tiles from the starting wall, and then each player does the same in an anti-clockwise direction until everyone has 12 tiles in their hand. Then, the dealer takes two more tiles to make his hand total 14 tiles, and each other player takes one more tile, so that each of their hands total 13 tiles. The dealer then discards one tile and everyone has 13 tiles – let the game commence!

Gameplay!

Once the dealer has discarded his first tile, the game continues in an anti-clockwise direction. Each turn consists of picking up a tile from the remaining wall, adding it to your hand and discarding another tile (or, the discarded tile can be the one just taken).

The purpose of the game is to keep a poker face throughout, and end up with a hand that contains four sets of three tiles and a pair. The sets of three can be three of a kind (3-3-3) or a run (3-4-5). It could look something like this:

mahjong tiles winning hand 4 sets 1 pair

 

Now, here’s where things get interesting…

There are two special moves you can make:

Peng 碰 (pèng) – If you have two-of-a-kind in your hand, and another player at ANY point in the game discards a matching tile that would enable you to complete your set of three, proudly shout “PENG!” and before anyone has a chance to react, reach over and add the tile to your hand. You must then turn over the completed set for everyone to see and leave it visible for the rest of the game. To finish your turn, you should discard one more tile (to bring you back down to 13) and continue play from the player to your right.

hand picking up mahjong tile from table
InternChina – Henry from the IC team reaches in for a sneaky ‘peng’

The second special move, Gang 杠 (gàng) is perhaps even more fiendish! If you have a three-of-a-kind in your hand, and another player at ANY point in the game discards a tile that would enable you to make it in to a complete set of four, take a deep breath and scream an almighty “GANG!” Grab the tile, add it to your hand and proudly turn over your four-of-a-kind for everyone to see. Take a tile from the wall and discard another.

two kong mahjong tiles on green table
InternChina – Thelma from the IC team boasts an impressive ‘double gang’

It is important to note, it doesn’t matter where the vital fourth tile comes from, whether it’s a discarded tile or taken from the wall, making a set of four is always a gang and you must always turn it over and reveal it straight away. Even if the three-of-a-kind is already face-up on the table, you can convert it into a four-of-a-kind with the gang move.

Winning

When you pick up the final tile completing a winning hand, shout “HU LE!” (胡了hú le) and add the tile to your hand (or turn it over to complete a peng or gang). It’s not necessary to show all of your tiles at this point, as some of the sets may have been completed by taking tiles from the wall, and gameplay doesn’t even stop here! The rest of the players must “battle to the bloody end” (血战到底  xuè zhàn dào dǐ) until there is only one player left.

About now, some of you may be wondering, don’t people usually bet money on Majiang games? The answer is absolutely yes, but since almost every city, district and even household has its own system for scoring and gambling money, we’ll save that for another blog post.

Now you’re fully equipped and ready to go out into the streets of Sichuan and challenge your friends to a fiendishly fun game of Majiang – but be careful, if you find yourself locked in a battle to the death with some well-seasoned local players, you just might leave with a suspiciously light wallet…

To find out more about our opportunities to be an intern in Chengdu, click here.

Chengdu Blogs, Travel

Cycling in China – My Trip to Xichang

Bike trips in China through some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes are popular adventures for both Chinese and foreigners. These aren’t just casual bike rides either, I’m talking about trips that last weeks or months. Cycling routes in China range from the (relatively) relaxing 450 km trip around the tropical island Hainan, to the intense, spiritual 2200 km climb from Chengdu to Lhasa, Tibet. A huge China bike trip is on my bucket list, but over Spring Festival holiday, I settled for a day ride around a city in southern Sichuan called Xichang.

Xichang, the ‘Spring City’

Chengdu can be a little cold in the winter, so over Spring Festival holiday, I wanted to go somewhere warmer. I ended up taking a 12 hour train to Xichang, where the temperature during February consistently gets up to about 20-25 C. The fresh air, sunny skies, and warm weather are invigorating, making it a popular tourist attraction among Chinese, but still not too many foreigners go there. The city sits by the massive Qionghai lake in a valley 1500 m above sea level. Instead of doing a bus tour around the area, my two friends and I opted to bike around the lake.

We rented bikes in the city for 20 RMB each for the day. First, we began in a crowded, touristy part of town, where we had fun weaving in and out of traffic. Soon, though, we made it to the less developed side of the lake where we could relax, soaking in sunshine as we biked.

Biking Around Qionghai Lake in Sichuan, China
The scenery around Qionghai Lake offers a nice change from the big city in Chengdu.

The route around the lake is very bike-friendly, with pedestrian and bike-only paths for almost half of the lake. The scenery is incredible the entire way as you ride between the edge of the water and foot of the mountains. Xichang calls itself a ‘Spring City’, due to its unique climate that gives it a pseudo-tropical feel year-round. We stopped often to take in the astounding views and weather, spending seven hours to complete the 40 km loop around the lake.

Why I Take a Bike, Not a Car

Biking has always been one of my favorite forms of exercise as well as my preferred transportation. It is a convenient way to get around while being able to enjoy your surroundings. The crisp feeling of the wind as you speed down a hill, the natural smell of flowers as you zip through a garden, and that burning feeling in your quads as you power up a mountain slope; it is a complete experience of sensation, something sitting in a car simply can’t compare to.

American cycling on a bike trip in China in Sichuan
In the spirit of Chinese New Year, I sport a red outfit to match my red bike.

One drawback, perhaps, is that it is so easy to stop and take pictures of the beautiful scenery along the way! Bike trips aren’t meant to be rushed, so give yourself more time than you would need to actually cycle the whole way. With the blue water, clear skies, and rolling mountains all around Xichang, I found myself snapping photos at every turn, even taking detours down hidden paths just to see what surprises may await.

Making Friends with the Yi Minority

One such detour made me a new friend. After biking up dirt path into a field, I came across a local farmer. He motioned me over to take a picture of his sheep grazing in the field. We struck up a conversation, and I found out he was Yi minority, the ethic group whom this special jurisdiction of Sichuan was named for (Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture). He pointed to his house at the top of the hill and talked about his family. Also, he was quite curious about me, asking questions about where I was from, why I interned in China, and even if I had married yet. Suddenly, he quickly ran off to shoo away his sheep from some crops they’d begun to chew on. Spur-of-the-moment experiences such as this come naturally with the freedom of a cycling trip.

china yi minority farmer in liangshan grazing sheep
A local Yi minority farmer chats with me while out with his sheep.

With beautiful scenery and countless surprises, China is a great place for bike trips of any duration. Biking offers active stimulation of exercise, immersive feeling in the scenery, and freedom to discover the hidden experiences a tour bus would speed past, helping you get the most out of your China adventure.

Articles en français, Avant le depart

Escapade à Chongqing : entre temples et gratte-ciel

La joie du Nouvel An Chinois…1 semaine de vacances! Du luxe après à peine un mois de stage. Vacances nationales, on ne discute pas…

Un calme étrange règne dans les villes après le passage de la foule qui se dirige vers les campagnes pour rejoindre proches et amis. Mais Chengdu n’est pas si tranquille que cela, car le calme qui s’y installe s’apparente à une journée ordinaire d’une capitale européenne. La ville est loin d’être vide, mais l’espace qui se libère autour de nous nous le fait croire.

Avec Tamara, ma collègue et amie à InternChina, nous avons décidé de profiter de ce temps pour s’échapper de Chengdu pour une plus grande ville, donc plus libérée d’espace : Chongqing. Nous préparons notre voyage à l’avance, pour 269km de distance, un aller vers Chongqing devrait prendre environ deux heures de train : faisable. Nous achetons nos billets à bas prix, et nous nous laissons emporter par l’euphorie de la fête qui se prépare autour de nous.

Je n’ai jamais vraiment su organiser les voyages que j’ai pu entreprendre, me laissant souvent porter par une insouciante qui m’a conduit vers des endroits exceptionnels et des personnes surprenantes. C’est avec la même insouciance que j’ai abordé la ville de Chongqing. Dès le premier jour, nous n’avons pu qu’être frappées par le contraste qu’offre la ville.

InternChina – Vieille ville et centre-ville
InternChina – Vieille ville et centre-ville

De nombreux temples se trouvent en plein milieu de l’agitation de la plus grande cité du Sichuan, tandis que le centre-ville moderne s’apparente à un petit (tout est relatif) Time Square à la chinoise. Les repères spatio-temporels sont parfois mis à rude épreuve !

Plusieurs spécialités culinaires nous font envie: traditionnelle fondue Sichuanaise, originaire de Chongqing et très très épicée (!), des nouilles de ChongQing (plus épaisses et goûteuses que la normale), des grillades de viandes ou de fruits de mer, sautés légumes et pommes de terre épicées, gâteaux de riz… de quoi vous faire tourner la tête ! A notre grand désarroi nous n’avons pas pu tout goûter mais nous avons, pour sûr, poussé les limites de nos estomacs !

Pendant le Nouvel An Chinois, le temps semble s’arrêter durant deux semaines pour laisser place à la fête.  Des lanternes rouges de toutes formes apparaissent dans les arbres, sur les lampadaires, sur les fenêtres des immeubles… Le bonheur règne et se transmet ! La nuit, la ville s’illumine et nous donne l’impression d’être dans un monde différent.

InternChina- Hongya Caves
InternChina- Hongya Caves

Chongqing est une ville montagneuse, à la différence de Chengdu où l’on peut se déplacer à vélo presque partout, il faut affronter des pentes bien brutes et renforcer son courage pour pouvoir enjamber sa bicyclette!

J’ai tout particulièrement aimé cet aspect de Chongqing car cela me rappelle ma ville natale, Lyon, qui a la particularité d’avoir deux collines. Les villes avec du relief sont celles que j’apprécie le plus, un sentiment de satisfaction me comble lorsque j’arrive au bout des pentes ou des marches qui sont faces à moi!

Le panorama qu’offre la ville est donc bien différent, avec les montages et surtout le Yangze Jiang, le plus grand fleuve d’Asie, qui parcourt l’agglomération. Les activités touristiques qui s’organisent autour du fleuve sont très variées, avec Tamara nous optons pour la Télécabine qui traverse le fleuve à près d’une centaine de mètres de hauteur, sur 1166 mètres de longueur.

Nul besoin de dire que la vue fut époustouflante.

InternChina - Vue du Télécabine
InternChina – Vue du Télécabine

En bref, ces quelques jours de voyages ont été très enrichissants, et Chongqing est une ville surprenante où l’on ne trouve pas le temps de s’ennuyer!

 

Commencer l’aventure avec InternChina en cliquant ici!

Before your stay, Chengdu Blogs, Chinese Traditions, Comparisons, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China

China, the land of…. a multitude of dialects!

Excuse me? What did you just say? Sorry, I didn’t understand! Sorry? What? WHAAAAAT??!!

InternChina - China world of dialects
InternChina – world of dialects source

I would assume all of you know what I am talking about. Living in a different country without being fluent in the main language spoken can be very difficult. Mandarin is considered one of the hardest languages to learn in the world with a variety of seven major groups of dialects in China. In addition to that Mandarin is spoken in Taiwan, and Singapor. All in all roughly about 1.3 billion people speak it worldwide. The official national language of China is Pŭtōnghuà, a type of Mandarin spoken in the capital Beijing, according to the Order of the President of the People’s Republic of China.

Mandarin dialects are spoken by 71.5 percent of the population, followed by Wu (8.5 percent), Yue (also called Cantonese; 5 percent), Xiang (4.8 percent), Min (4.1 percent), Hakka (3.7 percent) and Gan (2.4 percent).
Jerry Norman, a former professor of linguistics at the University of Washington author of “Chinese (Cambridge Language Surveys)” (Cambridge University Press, 1988) once said that “The Chinese dialectal complex is in many ways analogous to the Romance language family in Europe. To take an extreme example, there is probably as much difference between the dialects of Peking [Beijing] and Chaozhou as there is between Italian and French.”

How big do you think China is compared to Italy and France combined? Don’t worry, I had to look it up myself and the answer is 10x! So, considering how massive China is compared to European countries it makes perfect sense to have a multitude of different dialects in one country, don’t you think?

I can tell you a perfect example regarding the differences in dialects from first hand experience. Prior to my arrival in China I had no knowledge of any Chinese and that is why I am attending a weekly class where they teach me the Beijing dialect. I live in Chengdu which is in the Sichuan province which means that they don’t quite speak the Beijing dialect. Far from it actually because the two dialects differ in phonology, vocabulary, and even grammar.

 

If you want to experience a different culture, learn a new language and live across the world, click here and find out more about InternChina and its amazing opportunities to make your dreams comes true.

Cultural, Events in Qingdao, Qingdao Blogs, Qingdao InternChina Events, Things To Do in Qingdao, Travel, Weekend Trips

InternChina – Visit to Qingdao Municipal Museum

Qingdao has a history of more than 120 years, and the museum is as a great place to learn more about the history of the city. As last week’s InternChina event, we decided to visit Qingdao Municipal Museum.
The museum has exhibitions about several different aspects of Qingdao, and the themes of these exhibition includes Qingdao local history, ancient coins, ceramics in Ming and Qing dynasties and Qingdao local folk customs.

We started with the history of Qingdao exhibition. Although Qingdao city has only existed for about 120 years, there were some people who lived in this area around 6000 years ago. Unearthed vessels and tools were exhibited to display how ancient people lived their lives. There are some collections of models that shows the historical stories vividly, for example, the wars that occurred in Qingdao and the scenery in Qingdao hundreds of years ago.

InternChina – ancient vessels and tools
InternChina – How Qingdao looked hundreds of years ago

Afterwards, we continued our visit with the coins and ceramics exhibitions. The oldest ‘coin’ on the exhibition looked like a knife with a hole at one end, people used the hole to collect and carry the coins on strings. Also, there were lots of ceramics there. They were made in different dynasties, and therefore styles and techniques used were totally different.

After that, we experienced a traditional folk custom called woodcut painting. This kind of painting is mainly made for Chinese New Year celebration. Traditionally, the paintings are about characters in Chinese myths. They are believed to be able to protect or attract fortunes for the family. To make this kind of painting, the wood should be cut into moulds according to the picture you want to paint. The mould is then coloured and used to print the picture onto paper. In the museum, they had some moulds already and we just did the painting part by ourselves. We followed the steps taught by the ‘teacher’ in the museum; eventually, we made our own pictures successfully.

InternChina – woodcut painting work

We experienced lots of ancient Chinese stuff during this visit and it was a great opportunity to get ‘closer’ to Qingdao.

 Want to know and experience more Qingdao? Apply now!