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!
When you think of visiting China you immediately think of the famous destinations- The Bund in Shanghai, Beijing’s Forbidden City and the Terracotta Army of Xi’an among many, many others. But if you want to be able to go home and have people saying “tell me more” rather than “I already know that”, then you’ll want to visit some of the amazing destinations our interns have discovered over the years, all close enough to visit in a weekend (which isn’t nearly long enough of course.)
From Chengdu, Emei Shan can be easily reached by both bus and train so it is an ideal overnight trip.
Emei Shan is a well-known attraction to many because of the deep cultural and religious associations with Buddhism. The first Buddhist temple, Huazang, was built here in 1AD, and the largest Buddha in the world, LeShan’s Giant Buddha (which stands at an awe inspiring 71 metres tall) is also located here.
In addition to the cultural, religious and historical importance of Emei Shan, the area is a huge conservation effort. You can find over 3,000 diverse species of plants and trees over a millennium old all around the mountains, as well as over 2,000 kinds of animals.
Emei Shan will leave you speechless- its beauty, fascinating history and religious calm will make this a trip to remember. So stroll up the mountain, take in the view, and relax as the monks from over 30 temples remind you of the spiritual importance of this place.
Kangding, also known as the Land of the Snows, is a trip for those who don’t mind braving the cold in order to experience a fascinating combination of Chinese and Tibetan culture. While you will have to endure a 10 hour bus journey from Chengdu, the sights that will welcome you throughout Kangding will make you forget all about the journey.
You will get to experience true Tibetan cuisine and customs while here- one intern said they felt as if they’d travelled to Tibet without ever leaving China.
Highlights of the trip include the Tagong and Dordrak Monasteries, Guoda Mountain, Hailuogou Valley, the Taong grasslands and the Mugetso Scenic Area. Arguably the best time of year to visit is in Autumn, but whenever you decide to visit, make sure you pack warm clothes!
JiuZhaiGou National Park is yet another area of astonishing national beauty in China… blue lakes only seen in paintings, sprawling mountain ranges, waterfalls and forests to entertain you for hours. Similar to Kangding, JiuZhaiGou will give you the opportunity to experience some Tibetan culture. While you do need to pay admission into the park, you have acres to explore and hours to do so- you can even camp out if you’re feeling adventurous.
If you want to see the park in all its glory, visit in Autumn to be surrounded by every colour imaginable while the weather is still enjoyable.
Located close to Dalian is the capital of Liaoning province, Shenyang. Shenyang is an ancient city filled with great artistic, cultural and historical importance- namely due to the excellent preservation of the Shenyang Imperial Palace. Shenyang is also widely believed to be the birthplace of the Qing Dynasty (which lasted from 1644 to 1911!), so it is a city filled with more than 2000 years of history.
Other notable relics from the Qing Dynasty include the Fuling Tomb, in which the founder of the Qing Dynasty (Nurhachi) and his Empress are interred, and the Zhaoling Tomb, home of Nurhachi’s successor Huang Taji and his Empress.
And if you are interested in more than just the history of the city, there is a curious natural phenomenon for you to play with- Guaipo. The “Strange Slope”, as it is otherwise known, is a sloping piece of land approximately 80 metres long which doesn’t abide by the rules of gravity. Cars, bicycles and tourists alike all have to accelerate to go downhill, yet can enjoy a leisurely roll back up the hill… just a little confusing!
Of course, there is the usual abundance of bars, restaurants and KTV venues to keep you occupied at night.
While Beijing is far from being an “off the beaten track” destination, it’s a popular trip for the Qingdao interns. After all, it would be a little disappointing to go to China without seeing the Great Wall when it’s only a few hours away on the train! If you aren’t aware of what China’s capital city has to offer you, a quick summary would be the Summer Palace, the Ming Tombs, Tiananmen Square, the National Grand Theatre, the panda base, the Silk Market, the Lama Temple and the Forbidden City. Oh, and the Great Wall of China.
Beijing is a city with millions upon millions of people from all walks of life, and with a history spanning three thousand years it’s obvious why this is one of the most traveled to destinations in the world. You’ll have the opportunity to see ancient and modern China with your own eyes all in one place!
You can reach Beijing from Qingdao in around five hours via train, or even quicker by plane, however travelling by train is a whole other experience everyone should have in China!
Qingdao is famous for two mountains- Fushan and Laoshan. While FuShan has the attraction of being located in the middle of Qingdao, LaoShan provides a much more interesting challenge and experience… and who doesn’t love a challenge?
Located approximately a 30- 40 minute drive from Qingdao, visiting Laoshan will mean you can see rivers, waterfalls, ancient temples, beautiful forests and amazing scenery all from one place. The Laoshan National Park covers an area of around 450 square kilometres, so you will have plenty of sights to see on your climb to the top of Mount Lao. Or if the climb seems too daunting, take the cable car to the top, and relax with some local Tsingtao beer or Mount Lao green tea while you enjoy the view.
ZhouZhuang in the Jiangsu province, arguably the most beautiful water town in China, is located near Shanghai and is very easily travelled to from Qingdao by bus, train or plane in just a few hours.
If you want to be transported back to quieter times in China, then a day trip to Zhouzhang will be perfect for you. The opportunity to float along the waterways of this village on a traditional gondola and witness the locals go about their daily lives entirely on the water is not something you can see anywhere else- who wouldn’t want to witness someone doing their shopping from a boat? With the added bonus of being surrounded by ancient architecture almost a thousand years old, which has been virtually untouched by the recent developments in China, ZhouZhuang is the perfect relaxing day trip.
Macau, also known as the “Las Vegas of Asia”, is a fast paced, energetic city that you will struggle to fit into a weekend trip. Unfortunately this trip is only possible if your visa allows multiple entries, so if not it may be best to wait until you are leaving China to spend a weekend here. To visit Macau from Zhuhai, you can take a ferry across the bay or even walk!
Macau will offer you an interesting mix of Cantonese Chinese and Portuguese influences, and it is highly recommended to take time to walk around the city and take in the mix of architecture and cultures surrounding you. Make your way from Sendao Square around the streets, sampling traditional Macau food, visiting Golden Lotus Square and the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the evening, spend some time around the famous casinos!
Foshan is both one of Guangdong province’s oldest cities (5,000 years old!) and one of the most modern. With a history heavily focused on the arts, including opera, martial arts and traditional ceramic crafts, there no shortage of cultural activities in the city for the art lovers among you.
If you want to try your hand at creating some traditional Chinese pottery, you can do so using the Nanfeng Kiln, otherwise known as the oldest kiln in China.
There is a much more recent connection to the martial arts as well- you can visit the house of Bruce Lee’s ancestors! If that isn’t to your interest, then the Zumiao Commercial Street filled with malls, plazas, restaurants and tea houses might be more to your taste.
To continue your cultural development, visit the Ancestral Temple, or the Qinghui Garden.
If you’ve ever held a 20RMB note, then you are already familiar with the mountain scenery that will greet you from the Li River in Yangshuo.
There are several reasons to visit Yangshou, including the incredible change of pace you’ll be thrown into (compared to Zhuhai’s easy going atmosphere). You can start the trip with a lazy rafting journey down the Li River, before visiting the incredible Silver Cave below:
There’s also the abundance of amazing local food, including Beer Fish, stuffed Li River snails, bite size Li River fried shrimp and of course, street barbecues.
If you want to visit these amazing cities yourself, then apply now to experience China yourself!
The iBox is one of the most colourful places in Chengdu. It is next to the Niuwangmiao Subway Station and provides a place where creativity and urbanisation coexist. The design of this area is inspired by the London’s creative BOX – Park. It is an eye catcher for everybody who passes this area. The iBox showcases to the public a unique space with an unique atmosphere and astonishing galleries, designers and fashion from Europe, Taiwan and Japan. The comfortable Café, bars and food options give some space for you to free your mind and relax a little bit.
This weekend a Startup Weekend will take place over there and provide young entrepreneurs an opportunity to make friends, build ideas, improve skills, find mentors and hopefully start a company.
Even if the iBox is not so far from my home I wasn`t so often over there. But once you enter this place you can fell that something is different in there. The first time I came into this area I went into a gallery of an artist who draw some awesome horror pictures. His skills of to draw with a pencil were amazing and the Chinese content immediately caught my attention. I couldn’t help myself and bought a small notebook for my Chinese Characters.
If you are in Chengdu and want to have a rest this one of the places you will find some relaxing moments.
China – the Kingdom of the middle- had a wide influence in Asia. In almost every neighboring country of China you can still find traces of Chinese Civilization from hundreds of years ago. However, you can also discover external influences in Chinese culture – customs, habits, products or even whole lifestyles have been imported from abroad and been integrated into Modern Chinese Culture. One of those neighboring countries which China always had a very special relationship to, is Japan. I had the chance to get a return flight for only 3.000,- RMB to Tokyo so I took advantage of it and explored a beautiful and fascinating place not far from China.
Even though, Japan is geographically located close to China, the cultures are differing a lot from each other. As a German I can see the parallels rather between Japanese and Germans… but then on the other hand, there are a lot of concepts and ideas which are shared by the Japanese and the Chinese and make them very similar from a Western perspective!
To give you an idea of similarities and differences between Japanese and Chinese Culture, I want to share my experiences and observations with you.
Traffic: A lot of foreigners perceive Chinese traffic as more chaotic than organized (see our blog: http://internchina.com/surviving-in-chinese-traffic/). When I arrived in Tokyo, it was the complete opposite picture. Even though, more people seem to use public transportation at the same time, everything was very organized, calm and people act very polite. For Chinese people it seems normal to use their elbows, don’t cover their mouths when they are coughing or sneezing in public and shout into their mobile phone on any possible occasion – Japanese people prefer their little space around themselves, nobody talks on the phone in the subway and avoid under any circumstance to run into each other even if it is crowded. It was very interesting to see that crowded doesn’t necessarily mean chaotic.
***Be aware though, that in Japan cars go on the left side of the street!
Language: Japanese on the first glance seems to be much easier than Chinese because you don’t have any tones that you need to take care of. If you know Chinese, you already can read a good part of the Japanese characters (not the pronounciation though, but you can guess the meaning!) which is very helpful in a country which is not using Latin letters. However, on a long-run mastering Japanese language seems to become a lot more complicated and rather difficult to master as grammatical rules are similarly difficult to German grammar. If you want to make quick progress on speaking learning Chinese seems to be the better choice (see our blog: http://internchina.com/china-vs-europe-reasons-to-learn-chinese-in-china/).
Saving/Losing face: Being in China for three years now gave me confidence to understand the idea of saving or losing face. For many westerners it is something very difficult to grasp and accept as a part of the Eastern Culture. It means a lot of rules, such as avoiding to name problems, not to negate or refuse anything directly or using a very flowery language. In business situations this can cause a lot of misunderstandings if you don’t understand these rules or are not be able to read between the lines. Japanese seem to follow this concept to an even further extent than the Chinese, so I can imagine that for Westerners doing business in Japan is even more difficult to adapt to than doing Business in China. More about cross-cultural communication: http://internchina.com/cross-cultural-communication-in-china-west-vs-east/.
Eating and drinking: Japan offers a wide variety of traditional Japanese dishes, but also international influences can be found. There are many restaurants offering fusion kitchen and the Japanese interpretation of “Western Food”. Very similar to Chinese food, you can offer several dishes, which you can share with your friends. Of course, the best way is to get up very early in the morning and enjoy the freshest sushi in the world at the Tokyo fish market. However, excellent sea-food can be found in China as well – especially in coastal cities (e.g. Qingdao) sea-food will be offered and is part of traditional dishes. In the West we hold the prejudice, Chinese and Japanese wouldn’t drink a lot as they are lacking an enzyme to process alcohol. It is true, that the digestion/processing for a lot of Asians is difficult, but that doesn’t keep them away from consuming good amounts of beer (e.g. Asahi in Japan, Tsingtao-Beer in China) and rice wine (Baijiu in China, Sake in Japan). “Cheers” sounds very similar in Japanese (“Kanpai”) and Chinese (“Ganbei”). More info about eating and drinking customs in Asia: http://internchina.com/how-to-say-bon-appetit-in-chinese/.
Religion/Beliefs: Chinese traditional beliefs are rooted in Confucianism, Daoism and the Buddhism which originally came from India to China. Japanese are traditionally Zen-Buddhists and Shintoists. Shintoists believe in “kami” (= spirits) which live in every tree, stone, house etc. Animism is a big part of Shintoism, which means, that each animal has its own spirit. That’s why you can find in Japan numerous parks with temples and shrines where people can pray to certain spirits. In China, there are only a few places left where Daoists and Buddhists can practice their traditional beliefs, modern culture dictates a very practical approach of practicing Buddhist and Daoist traditions. I was very fascinated by the parallels between Daoist beliefs and Shintoism. In both beliefs, unity and harmony of humans and animals and nature in general play a significant role. Each country though developed their own interpretation of a universal truth. More about Daoism: http://internchina.com/a-visit-to-qingyang-temple-back-to-the-roots-of-daoism/.
All in all it was a very interesting trip to Japan and I am sure to come back at a later point to enjoy the blossom of the Sakura trees (cherry trees) as it is said to be one of the most beautiful events in the world!
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An introduction is in order: my name is Dina, and I come from beautiful Canada. I lived there with my two sisters and three stepsiblings for the first eleven years of my life, after which my parents opted to sell our house and everything we owned, pulled us out of school and moved us onto a boat in the Caribbean where we lived for the duration of two years. Although the experience was a little traumatic for the young eleven year old girl I was, those two years were definitely the building blocks of my now love and obsession of travelling.
We started at the top of the Caribbean and worked our way down, island by island, until we found ourselves in the jungles of Venezuela. We lived there for almost a year, and from there sailed back up the Caribbean islands. I guess my parents decided a new adventure was in order, because suddenly I found myself flying off to the strange and cold land of Denmark, which would be the place I would call home for the next 7 years.
The Danes love to drink, so all we pretty much do back home is party, but I’m happiest when I’m on a beach somewhere with a good book. The hotter the weather, the better. I’m really laid back and like to go with the flow, usually my friends and I just hang out, watch movies or go out to get something to eat. I usually travel a lot during my school vacations; I like to get away as often as I can. I have a lot of family in Egypt that I visit yearly, as well as a house in Florida, and then I try to convince my friends to road-trip around Europe with me whenever I can.
In Denmark I am currently doing a double BA in International Communication and Multimedia – a programme I now wish I had done more research on before I enrolled, as I love the Communications, but what I thought would be an exciting Media degree in Web Design, Graphics and Advertising soon became a realization that I would spend the next four years sorely coding and programming. The amazing thing about my programme is that come fourth semester, all students must complete an internship abroad or study abroad to pass the semester. The school offered to help us get into other European schools, of which I was accepted into the university of Milan on a Communications scholarship, but soon after realized that what they were giving us was an amazing opportunity to go abroad, try something new and crazy, and get real life experience. So I did just that – I ditched the semester in Italy and applied for an internship in the farthest away, most exotic and culturally enriching country I could think of: China.
After a gruelling 25 hours of traveling from Copenhagen to Zurich to Hong Kong, I finally arrived in beautiful Zhuhai. The first thing that hit me was the incredible heat and humidity – having straightened my hair before I left Denmark I could suddenly feel my natural curls spring back to life with that first step off the boat. As I’ve only been in China for about a day and a half, I haven’t seen much, but what I have seen thus far is a beautiful and clean city, with extremely friendly people and exciting things all around. My first day was amazing, the weather was beautiful, blue sky, sun shining, and I got to meet the Zhuhai team and was taken out for a fantastic welcome lunch at a local restaurant just down the street from the office. I was able to go home after lunch and have the rest of the day off, to which I had planned to walk around and get my bearings, however having slept for two hours the night before I went up to the apartment to leave my laptop and instead fell asleep almost instantly. From then I had the pleasure of going to dinner with ten other interns and was able to enjoy my first dinner in China with a room full of enthusiastic and interesting interns with similar life experiences. Although I’ve regularly been to other third world countries before and consider myself a seasoned traveler with all the little tricks, I still have so many things to learn here in China; how to use chopsticks without feeling like a fool, for example. I’m really excited for my future adventure in China.
Hey there, this is Jamie, the general manager of InternChina and I’m currently visiting Xi’an! Xi’an, formerly ‘chang an’ used to be the capital city of China and is arguably still the middle kingdom’s cultural capital. Xi’an is most famous for the terracotta army which was created and buried to defend the city and tomb of the former qin emperor Qin Shi Huang. The army is spectacular and its baffling to believe that only a small part of the entire archeological site has been discovered since local farmers discovered it in 1974 when sinking a well.
Xi’an has a more weathered feel to it than other more modernized Chinese cities. Plenty of cultural sites remain, such as the big goose pagoda and ancient city walls. Xi’an is also particularly cheap in terms of food and transport. Buses cost as little as half a yuan (about 5 euro cents) and taxis cost 6 yuan (about 70 euro cents) for the first few kilometres. Food is both cheap and delicious here, for example; xi’an is home to the ro jia mo (肉夹馍), the Chinese hamburger, which in my opinion tastes awesome and usually costs about 5 yuan. Another great local dish is liang pi (凉皮), cold noodles with vegetables and peanut sauce and chili sauce.
There is also some beautiful countryside close to the city which is great to explore. This will give you a welcome break from the chaotic and overcrowded city centre, where the traffic is a complete nightmare!