During the One Child Policy (一胎政策) which finished in 2015, the Chinese government tried to persuade the population not to discriminate against having female children. Unfortunately, the campaign was not successful and has resulted in there being far more males than females in China. Traditional families, especially in the countryside chose to have a male child over a female child.
This is a government propaganda sign in Rural China (Bakai, Rongjiang, Guizhou Province) reminding the local population that males and females are equal.
There is nothing quite like Maijishan 麦积山 in China. The bizarre, haystack shaped mountain rises majestically up over a subtropical zone of greenery and rivers. Other Buddhist sites might have enormous statues or high ceiling-ed painted caves, but the views they offer are often more restrictive and it may be difficult to get up close, due to barriers or hordes of visitors.
At Maijishan 麦积山, the cave art and statues are right in your face and you can almost touch them, though you mustn’t, of course! And, in addition, there is the mountain itself: a honeycomb of caves and statues reached by climbing up a snakes and ladder board of incredible staircases that cling precariously to the side of the mountain.
Lijiashan 李家山 is probably one of the best examples of Northern China’s cave dwelling architecture窑洞风格. Situated in a steep valley above the Yellow river 黄河, it exudes bucolic charm. However, if you are not going to stay the night or go off hiking, an hour or two is enough to see everything and have a cold beer.
Lijiashan (from Margie’s diary 26/8/2016)
Qikou 碛口Guesthouse 13.00
The driver, who had taken us to Qikou 碛口 from Lüliang Lishi 吕梁离石, has convinced us that Lijiashan village is much too far too walk. For another 30 Yuan he’ll drive us, wait and take us back. But first we can have a beer and something to eat. As we fancy the home-made noodles which have to be ordered for three, our driver joins us for lunch. We have cucumber salad, aubergine with beans, plus the delicious noodles with a simple fresh tomato, coriander and chive sauce.
The ride to Lijiashan is not far (5kms), but the road is windy and at times exceedingly steep. It’s also a scorching day and there’s little or no shade from the merciless sun, so we are pleased we took the lazy option. The village is really tiny, much smaller than I’d expected. Our guidebook had written a whole column about it. The setting is nonetheless lovely: the village is surrounded by green hills, some of them terraced, and there are lots of fruit trees and plants.
There are cave-dwellings, mostly abandoned, as well as more elaborate complexes, set around courtyards with cave-rooms at the back. Most buildings are dilapidated, though some Continue reading “Lijiashan 李家山窑洞村”
At last we made it to Harbin. We had wanted to go to Harbin for its Ice Festival for years and at last everything fell into place.
Here is the rundown for this year’s Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Later we’ll be putting up a more personal account. In this post we’ll give you the info you need if you are planning to go this year 2015.
Getting train tickets in China has always been a hit and miss operation, especially if you want sleeper berths for long distance trains. At Chinese New Year, getting a ticket becomes something akin to winning the lottery.
This BBC clip sums the situation up quite well, and shows the growing divide between the haves and have nots in modern China, where just having access to a computer is an advantage。
Jianshui 建水 2006. This photo was taken in 2006 in Jianshui, Yunnan province from the top of the city gate. I have been trying to work out which ethnic minority this lady belongs to for a while now. My guess is that she is from the Yi Minority 彝族, but there are also Miao苗族, Hani哈尼族 and Yao瑶族 minorities in the vicinity of Jianshui. If anyone else can be more precise I’d be grateful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: Sichuan Province, China, in the vicinity of Leshan (2-3 hours)
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.
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.
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.
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?”