La Guía esencial de la lengua china

La Guía esencial de la lengua china

Baoyan Zhao & Francisco Javier López Calvo

Guia Esencial de la Lengua China

La Guía esencial de la lengua china  has been written by my friend and colleague at the Centro Superior de Idiomas Modernas (CSIM) in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Baoyan Zhao and her co-author Francisco Javier López Calvo. As the book is mainly for Spanish learners of Chinese I have left the review in Spanish. However, many of  the tips and advice in the book can be useful for all learners of Chinese.

La Guía esencial de la lengua china es un libro de consulta que resuelve aquellas dudas que surgen durante el estudio del chino. Por medio de una accesible estructura de preguntas y respuestas los autores se acercan a los distintos aspectos de la lengua china, de manera detallada y precisa pero a la vez con un estilo fácilmente comprensible para el lector. Tanto si estáis pensando en empezar con el estudio del chino, si os encontráis en las primeras fases del aprendizaje o si lleváis cierto tiempo con ello, en este libro encontraréis una gran cantidad de información provechosa, interesante y curiosa. Dado que la lengua china a primera vista puede intimidar por su complejidad y por lo diferente, este libro pretende ser el mapa o la guía de viaje que os ayudará a comprender mejor el punto donde os encontráis, y que sin duda hará más fácil y eficaz vuestro estudio. Como apunta el propio libro en su portada, un buen comienzo es la mitad del éxito, y a través de sus páginas encontraréis la manera de que vuestro comienzo sea el mejor posible.

Kaiping Diaolou / Guangdong Province (Visiting the Diaolou)

Kaiping Diaolou

Guangdong Province: China

Diao Lou in Jinjiangli Village 锦江里的碉楼

The Diaolou

These amazing buildings sprout like giant mushrooms from the pretty paddy fields around Kaiping. Some structures are simple and plain affairs, others elaborate and ornate, the best are jaw droppingly beautiful.

Diao Lou near Kaiping

The Diaolou were mostly built by returning Chinese emigrants in the early years of the 20th Century, especially in the 1920s.  Many reflect the styles of the countries where the  émigrés went, like Malaysia, Indonesia, Europe or North America.  Some of the Diaolou are a mix of different styles.  Building a Dialou was a returning émigré’s way of showing the homeland that he had made it.  However, at the same time, one of the principal functions of a Diaolou was defensive. China in the 1920’s was in the midst of the Warlord era. Internal conflicts and instability were rife.

Dialou everywhere

Bandits and remnants of warlord armies roamed the countryside, pillaging and looting. The Diaolou were used primarily as night watch-towers and as a way of sealing off and protecting the family from potential intruders and kidnappers. This was done by providing the towers with heavily fortified entrance gates, as well as the means of closing off each floor separately.

The more elaborate Diaolou were also built to display their owners’ wealth and prestige. Some have commemorative plaques, documenting the family’s history.  There are stories of great patriotic heroism, others are of personal tragedies and incredible hardship. When the Japanese invaded China, many of the Diaolou owners fled abroad and never returned.

Abandoned Diaolou

After the Chinese Revolution in 1949, the Diaolou fell into disuse and were all but forgotten until the 1990s. However, after a long campaign by Chinese history scholars, the Diaolou of Kaiping were listed as UNESCO heritage in 2007. Slowly, the descendants of some of the emigrants have been returning to restore the buildings. There are still over 1,800 Diaolou in the Kaiping region.

To visit the Diaolou, you first have to get to Kaiping, which is  some two and a half hours by bus from Guangzhou.

Kaiping

Kaiping is Continue reading “Kaiping Diaolou / Guangdong Province (Visiting the Diaolou)”

Diao Lou: China’s hidden gems

Diao Lou: China’s hidden gems

Diao Lou Kaiping

These amazing buildings are called Diaolou. They are found exclusively in the vicinity of Kaiping in China’s Guangdong Province.

Diao Lou Kaiping

During the coming weeks and months we’ll be putting up information and photos of the various villages we visited around Kaiping. As well as plenty of other new China travel material.

Diao Lou Kaiping

Luocheng: Is This The World’s Best Teahouse Town?

Luocheng ( the ultimate teahouse town)

Location: Sichuan Province, China, in the vicinity of Leshan (2-3 hours)

Luocheng Teahouse town famous for its boathouse architecture

The ancient town of Luocheng is a gem for those looking for traditional teahouse culture. Luocheng is renowned for its boat architecture: the two sides of its main street narrow down at both ends and widen gradually towards the middle, thus creating the oval shape of a boat.

Luocheng Teahouse Town

Straddling the street and forming, as it were, the prow to complete the boat- like appearance of the town, stands a beautifully restored theatre. It is covered in traditional grey tiles and flamboyantly decorated with historic scenes and smiling Buddhas.

Tea drinkers in Luocheng

However, the absolute highlight of Luocheng is the swell of teahouses lining the main street, sheltered by the overhanging wooden porticos of the buildings. Overlooking this sea of bamboo tables and chairs, occupied by querulous old men in faded Mao jackets, arguing over heated games of cards or Mah-jong, while smoking small stubby pipes carved out of roots, visitors can truly imagine themselves in a time warp.

Teahouse Luocheng

Joining the regulars over a cup of tea, you can really get an impression of what village life must have been like in the old days. The whole place still oozes authenticity and atmosphere; two elements that are often lacking in many of China’s more popular historical places. In fact, Continue reading “Luocheng: Is This The World’s Best Teahouse Town?”

Cursos de Chino del CSIM: 14 Oct 2013 a 31 Mayo en la Universidad Complutense Madrid

Cursos de chino en Madrid / Chinese Language Courses in Madrid 2013 /2014

Universidad Complutense Madrid /Learn Chinese in the Complutense University in Madrid

Cursos de Chino en la Universidad Complutense Madrid (CSIM)

Curso de chino mandarin en Madrid 2013/2014

Como todos los años el CSIM (Centro Superior de Idioma Modernas) te ofrecen cursos de chino en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Las fechas son del 14 de octobre 2013 hasta el 31 de mayo 20143 horas semanales. Todo/as los profesores son licenciadas y con ampliar experiencia en  impartir clases de chino. Para mas informacion clic haz clic en este enlace: http://pendientedemigracion.ucm.es/info/idiomas/cursos/generales.htm

Fenghuang

Sangzi Village Hunan Province: And I thought my Journey to class was bad

Climbing to school (photo from video)

Sangzi Village Hunan Province: Climbing to School

I’d always complained about my journey to work at the University in Madrid. Everyday, having to face the over-crowded underground transporting its cargo of stressed out passengers.  Sweaty and smelly in the summer; germ infested in the winter; it’s standing room only most days. Compounding the misery, there are the strikes and demonstrations, that might delay your journey by up to an hour (and Madrid has one of the world’s best underground systems). Then I saw this video and since then I have I gone into Zen mode. I don’t moan or complain anymore.

School Ladders (photo from video)

I just say to myself how lucky I am. My gripes were nothing more than that of a privileged urbanite who has no idea as to what lengths other people have to go to in order to get an education.

Climbing to School (photo from Video)

It’s an amazing short video.

http://youtu.be/X4JHeuX_KMI

See in English:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9FqEfznQAQ

Chinese Hell 中国地狱/ A photo Video of Buddhist Hell from Chinese temples

Chinese Hell 中国地狱 / A photo Video of Buddhist Hell from Chinese temples

This video is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. The pictures show violence, mutilation, dismembering, and torture. This is the Buddhist Hell; not a pleasant place to spend the rest of your days. The photos were taken in various temples around China, Tibetan areas in China, and in the Dai Minority area of Xishuangbanna.

I must admit that I find the images mesmerizing. Maybe it is some morbid fascination that I have. Or maybe it is because they are so different to what we see in Europe.  All I know is that when I enter a temple with these images I can’t stop snapping.

One of the things that sticks in my mind the most is the young monks in the Octagonal Pavillion in Jingzhen, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, happily laughing and smiling while painting these grisly images.

The music is by the Chinese punk band Underbaby 地下婴儿and the song is called Everything is the same 都一样。Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnEF3D9NKQ0

Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) & City of Life and Death南京! 南京: Two Films One Story

Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) & City of Life and Death南京! 南京

Two films, one story

Zhang Yimou’s new film on the massacre in Nanjing, Flowers of War (金陵十三钗), is the second major Chinese production to hit international cinemas on this topic in the last few years, the other being Lu Chuan’s City of Life and Death (南京 南京). Having now seen both, I’ll try to compare and contrast them.

Both films are set during the early days of the Japanese conquest and occupation of Nanjing (南京) in 1937; Nanjing which was then the capital of the Republic of China. It was during this period that the Japanese committed the atrocities that were to become known as the “The Rape of Nanjing”. It is estimated that over 300,000 people were killed and thousands of women raped.

City of Life and Death(南京! 南京!) by  Lu Chuan

Filmed in black and white, Lu Chuan’s film conveys all the horrors and brutality of the destruction of Nanjing and its people under the Japanese occupation. Grey scene after scene, tense, gripping, and harrowing scene after scene, the spectator is left numb by the cruelty meted out by the Japanese army. The scene where the Japanese machine guns kill off the Chinese prisoners of war is horrific; yet, it represents the true events that took place on December 18, 1937, on the banks of the Yangtze River.

http://youtu.be/7hMfCfzBQxw

Nonetheless, in spite of the gruesomeness of his film, Continue reading “Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) & City of Life and Death南京! 南京: Two Films One Story”

Langde Miao Village (Video Slideshow) 郎德苗村 Guizhou Province

Langde 郎德

Guizhou Province near Kaili

We hope you enjoy this video slide-show. The photos were taken in the Miao Minority village, Langde near Kaili in 2007. The accompanying songs are traditional Miao folk songs with modern music (again the slide-show is a bit too long: I  promise to get the videos down to about 3 minutes in the future). For more information about Langde and how to get there: Continue reading below the video.

Langde was once the centre of an important Miao uprising against the Qing, which took place in the 19th Century. These days the village of Langde suffers a different kind of Han invasion; that of hundreds of Han tourists, coming to get a feel what has been marketed as exotic Miao culture. Nowadays, Chinese tourists take part in traditional singing and dancing events and marvel at the elaborate dresses and jewellery of the residents of Langde. How things have changed!

Miao Minority in Langde

For the traveller Langde is still a great village to visit. Its setting is idyllic, built on a green hill overlooking an elegant slow bend in the river. Rice fields and wandering water buffalo add to the rural charm. The village itself is a classic collection of traditional Miao two or three-storey wooden buildings, draped in strings of drying chillies and corn.

Langde Houses

We were visiting in the middle of August and spent almost the entire day in and around the village. In all that time only Continue reading “Langde Miao Village (Video Slideshow) 郎德苗村 Guizhou Province”

Danba 丹巴 Festival Video slideshow: Holachina’s first video

Danba Festival Video slideshow

This is our first holachina slideshow video. The photos were taken during the preparations for the Danba 丹巴Festival August 2004. Danba is a small town in Western Sichuan about a 3 hour Bus ride from Kanding 康定. The town itself is small and scruffy but its setting, nestled in a deep valley at the confluence of two rushing rivers and surrounded by traditional Qiang (a Tibetan minority) villages, makes it quite idyllic.  The highlights include stunning villages, such as Jiaju 甲居藏寨 and Badi (not Baidi as I have written in the video) and the Qiang watchtowers peppered on the slopes of the steep valleys.

The year we visited Danba there were very few other foreigners and no domestic tourists. The following year, 2005, the Chinese National Geographic claimed that  Jiaju village 甲居藏寨 (7kms from Danba) was the most beautiful village in China. Since then its popularity among travelers, foreign and Chinese alike, has grown rapidly.

We hope you enjoy the slideshow. Some people may find the music a bit painful. It’s the same music that was being played on the VCD’s on all the buses we sat on during our trip around Western Sichuan in 2004 and it brings back great memories.

If you are interested in going to Danba, click on read more below. Here you’ll find the information we published on holachina.com in 2004. Expect there to be a much bigger selection of hotels and restaurants now. Continue reading “Danba 丹巴 Festival Video slideshow: Holachina’s first video”