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The emperors summer palace in Chengde

Hi folks,

last weekend I went again on a little journey together with Wang Yue, my teacher. I forced her to come with me to Chengde, which is famous for the emperors summer palace. As I liked travelling by train so much, we sticked to the well-known method: taking a night train on friday evening and returning during sunday night. I think this night trains are so comfortable, although this one was merely faster than a turtoise. 600km in 12 hours, wow… I could count every grain of corn in the field, while passing by. But it was rather convenient as we did not have to switch trains.

At 5:40 am we arrived and checked in at our hotel. Unfortunately, we had to take the only one left in Chengde, when booking it 2 weeks before, because all the hotels were already booked out. This is why our hotel was rather expensive with about 20 euro per person and night, but the room was also not very clean. However we just stayed there for sleeping, so it was ok.

At 8 am we arrived at the emperors summer palace. A huge crowd of people was already standing infront of the palace. But we got in rather quick, however there were crowds everywhere.. Still I liked it very much, because it is not a normal palace it is mainly a huge park. 2/3 of the park is a huge forest and 1/3 is covered by nice shallow lakes. In the lakes there were huge amount of searoses and lotus flowers. Look at the photos! You might wonder who the man next to Wang Yue is: It is an old style story teller. In the mysterious case next to him, there is different pictures between, which he can switch during story telling. While performing he also can make some kind of music with it and sings along.

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Also at the lake area, there were different groups of local people, some were singing, some were playing instruments. Here are some photos of the local band jamming casually in the park. Because I seemed so interested in the Chinese horse fiddle. The horse head fiddle is an originally Mongolian instrument. It has a weird sound:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If4fBcJE07g

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But not only the head horse fiddle is not originally from the northeast of China, during my trip in Chengde I saw many things, which are clearly from another culture. So I think you can devide China in 3 big different cultures, which were constantly influencing each other: the nothern Chinese culture, the southern Chinese culture and the western steppe cultures (Tibetian and Mogolian culture). In Chengde there could be seen a lot of these Mongolian culture, because the Qing emperors were also not Han Chinese. They are Mandschu and Mandschu is more similar to the Mongolian culture. The capital of Mandschuria, the origin of the Mandschu people, was Shenyang, therefore we also have that emperors palace here in Shenyang, but here you can not really see some relicts of that culture. So I was very happy to be able to see it in Chengde. Another funny fact is that Tibetian buddism was supported by the Qing dynasty. Therefore you could see the influence of the Tibetian culture on Chengde. The emperor even build a small Potala at his summer resort. And as if that was not enough he also build a palace for the Panchen Lama next to it! As we spent 6 hours in the palace of the emperor, we left that for the next day.

As our crappy hotel offered no breakfast, we went to a local breakfast store. As some Chinese are incredibly lazy, when it comes to cooking, there is lots of them. And they are so delicious. Wang Yue had some fullgrain rice noodle soup with some minced meat and I had soybean juice with some fried kind of bread called youtiao. So delicious! I really start to like Chinese breakfast! What I also like is Mantou (steamed dumplings without filling) and rice soup and of course Miantiao ( a kind of spicy noodle soup), which my room mate cookes for me on the weekends.

But now lets head for the Small Potala and Palace of Panchen Lama:

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This is the inside of a Tibetian tent – oh, I like the colours of the Tibetian culture!

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On this roof, there are the dragon sons. There is only one Chinese dragon, which has sons and he is the most powerful dragon. His sons have all special powers, one for example can lift incredibly heavy things.

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After the Tibetian temple, we went to another temple, the Puning Temple. It was also built during the 18th century and contains the world’s largest wooden budda statue.

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Puh, that weekend I saw quit a lot of things, but it was also so exhausting… althought this place is known for being much cooler it was about 36 degrees. It was too hot! And the sights on Sunday were all located on the mountain slopes!

So I was very happy, when I could have a really good rest on the night train:)

See you next time!

 

 

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Change never stops

Hello there,

only one week has past. And yet so much has happened. Two weeks ago I just worried what to do at my left weekends, but suddenly I had a sms on my screen. Ginny asked if she could move in with me for the following weeks. You might perhaps wonder why: It’s quite simple. Her school closes during the summer holidays for about 5 weeks. And as her dorm is inside the school, the undergraduate students are simple kicked out. But as her home is so far from here, she did not want to go back. She wanted to find a parttime job here. And of course as she is my friend I could not let her down. Two days after her sms she moved in with me. Now we are happily living together as roommates. We love cooking after work and look very stupid Chinese TV shows, but it is so fun.  She is really kind and she takes care about the stuff in the appartment – almost too much.

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The next big change was, that Christian broke up with me. Well, I could not do anything but accept it. But do not worry! I am totally ok with it! I will have a happy time here.

Ok, moving on to the next change: my dog died. But he was old, 13 years already. So I just think it is a pity that I could not see him again. He was always there for me since I was 10 Years old. 

The next thing I want to tell you about is the waterpark I went to. Fushunregao – yes, it is like we imagine in Europe. Too much people on too less space. It started at changing clothes and ended with too much people in one pool. So we went there for 7 hours and spent probably 3 hours queueing for attractions. And we only chose two attractions! And which is also funny: There is no place for swimming. All the pools have perhaps a height of 1 meter.  And, believe me, it is no fun swimming in these pools. So, everybody who goes there have to bring a floating tire. The most funny thing was the main pool, where there are waves. As there was a show going on, me and my friend went just there waiting sitting in our floating tires. But suddenly there was these extremely loud horn for warning. So, I was thinking we are they making just so a bid thing about it. It is just waves. Then there was also some pool attendants saying to some people that they should be not so near to the side of the pool. Another horn and it was beginning. A giant 4 meter tsunami started at the front of the pool, but when it reached me I only saw a wall of Chinese in floating tires moving towards me. I was really frightened and than I was just flushed away like an insect. I just felt water all over me not knowing where was up and down. Only feeling floating tires around me. I lost hold of my floating tire. And suddenly I was sitting on the ground about 30 meters away from where I originally stood. Amazing! This is the most crazy water toy I ever played! I hope it is fun watching the pictures of it:)

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So, the last thing I want to tell you about, was my little trip to the ShiC familiy retreat. It was a weekend at which, families with disabled children met from Shenyang. As the Chinese tend to treat everything, which can not say to stop them very bad. You can see that here with the animals. Fish are kept in small glasses or rabbits in cages just big enough too contain them. You can buy a dog for about 10 Euro. Everywhere – people just sell them, even when they are still too small. It is such a pity and so I saw it as a great chance to see the family retreat. It was mainly organised by americans, but I think they light a small light here and perhaps it will grow bigger. As intelligent and open minded people like Wang Yue also took part. But till that kind of events are organised by Chinese, it will take some time. But I hope the Chinese will soon not only focus on money, but also a little on the life around them. I always feel so pity for old retired people how are just so poor. Because if you do not have a family when you are old, I do not know how you can survive. They are given so few money by the state.

But now back to the family retreat:

Here you can see me with Mike King and an authistic child. Mike King is famous for taking part in paraolympic games. He is also the trainer for the recent gold-medal winner of the USA. I thought he is a great role modell  for the kids.

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The other photo was shot by an almost deaf child. She loves taking pictures. And told us where to stand by pointing, as she got her hearing aid only last year and is just learning how to speak. She is about 6 years old. The other girl in the picture suffers from the same problem. Nontheless they are unimaginably cute! The kids where all so amazing. One of them was also deaf and showing her dancing skills! Really great!

So, I have discribed all I did so far. But today I want to thank you all for what you did for me. Some of my friends had to be there for me a lot during the days, when I was feeling not so good. And I am just greatful that I have you. I love you all so much! And I hope I can be there for you to return the love you gave me, when you go through rough times.

Many greetings! I am thinking of you! 

My chinese modern style birthday

Hello there,

thank you for all your birthday greetings via facebook, mail, telephone and weixin. I am very greatful for that and it makes me very happy to see that so many people care about me, although I forget their birthday often.

I thought you might perhaps hear about my birthday. In the morning Ginny, who has recently moved in with me, and I cooked some Chinese breakfast: This means some ricesoup and vegetables. It seems that I got used to the breakfast here, because after having some yoghurt I already could eat it. Normally the chinese breakfast is too salty for me.

In the early afternoon we went to a bookstore and store for notebooks before going to laoning university for my classes. Wang Yue, my teacher, met us at the bookstore and together we went to the cafe, we normaly have lessons in. Here is a picture of Wang Yue and a small dog, which was passing by our class.

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After the class we went together to a karaoke bar, where my birthday party began. We sang so many songs and we were enjoying ourselfes very well:)

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Perhaps you are interested in listening some Chinese music now – we sang all this at my birthday:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHEOfXOqp1Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frgA4huTTOg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nzFygqgIPo

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After karaoke we went to a nice restaurant, where we had a really great meal in an extra room. My American friends only could come now, because they have to teach on Sundays. But finally they arrived and we had a happy time together.

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You might wonder what we are doing in the picture down below, because we are all shaking our phone like we have gone crazy. But in fact we are trying to exchange our weixin numbers. Et voila, it worked. We are all connected now and they sind me this beautiful pictures of my birthday party. For which I would like to thank them a lot!

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But the restaurant closed so early and so we went back to the cafe. We spent there a nice cool summer evening, playing UNO and talking a lot. We really forgot the time and I had to work the next day:)

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So, that was my birthday told in some pictures:) I hope you liked it, it is a pity I could not see you on that day.

Many greetings!

Photoshooting

Hello folks!

Today I went to a photo company to pick up the photos I shot on June 16th. You might perhaps ask yourself, why the hell I went to a photoshooting. It is very simple: As the Chinese love doing really big prewedding photoshoots, there are great photographing companies everywhere! They are extremely creative and very good at what they are doing.

But first some general information about prewedding photoshoots: When you get married you probably do your photoshoot one year in advance. This means, as soon the appartment is ready, you go there for taking about 100 beautiful pictures.

The procedure of getting the photos done:

First I aks my collegues, if they know a good company and we called the company, in order to ask if they were free during June. When we called the companies, there were some which were booked out till October! Finally we found one and they said we should come the next weekend to fix everything and choose clothes. The companies will give you the clothes for the photoshoot and do your makeup and hair. So we went their and picked the dresses and set the date for the photoshoot as well as signed the contract. Some days before the photoshoot they told me what to prepare: like wash hair, trim your hair, make your nails. So I got my nails done one day before the shooting. When arriving for the shooting they first prepared some easy makeup. After I had put on the first dress, they did my hair and then we picked the locations in the photostudios. Unlike German photo studios they have huge rooms with locations you can choose. Then we shot the photos for this dress. After changing the location for about three times, I had to switch dresses and hair style. It went on like this for one whole day. Finally I did photos in 5 different dresses. This was quite an exhausting day! One week after we had to go again to the photo company in order to choose the 40 photos I liked best out of the total 150 pictures taken. It was quite hard to decide which were very good and which not. And you guessed right, I had to go there a fourth time: Now, 4 weeks later (7 weeks after having the idea) I got the photos. But in China you do not only get the electronic photos and pictures printed out, you get lots of stuff. I got an album, I got 4 pictures for my purse, I got the CD with the phots, 1 huge photo in a frame, 3 normal sized pictures in a frame and 2 pillows. I carried a lot of things home today:)

But now for the best part: Here are some of the pictures:)

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Cooking with friends

Hello again!

Here comes the last post for today and then you are up-to-date again. Last weekend I did not only have to say goodbye to Sunny, I also perhaps saw Lilly for the last time. Depends if we can meet at Shanxi (where her home town is), or not. But that is not sure yet, so I hope it was not the last time seeing her. sniff, all students going back to her home… At least Ginny is not going, because she comes from the very south of China:)

After I prepared all for a nice German pumpkin soup and milk rice as dessert. The girls were preparing some simple south Chinese tofu.

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For cooking it you just need tofu like you know it from Germany. You cut it into slices and make little tofu sandwiches. In the middle you can put cutted beef or chicken, onions and some carrots. Add some chilli, garlic and salt as spices to the filling – if not it will taste boring! Then fry it in a pan till the tofu is golden brown – ready! It tasted really nice, so I advice you to try the recipee!

It was just a nice evening at my appartment. I also took a new phot of my one left fish. I think I bought 8 fish in total, but only this one is still living. I don’t know why – do you have an idea what I do wrong?

So, now I go changing the water in the fishbowl, so see you next time!!

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Photos from a birthday party:)

Hiii!!!

As I asked my friends from Changbaishan, if they would like to eat Bejing roasted duck with me and Pangs birthday was coming up, we combined going to the restaurant and celebrating his birthday. Although it is unusual for a 20 year old boy to go to a restaurant for his birthday. However we had a lot of fun there.

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Our present for Pang was this cake – looks very nice! Unfortunately the taste of Chinese cakes is very different. I still wonder if the white thing in it is cream. However it served the purpose as you can see below. But first we had the duck. Omnomnom this duck was tasting great, but it is soooo few! I love Bejing roasted duck:)

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Then we got a freee plate of Shoumian for Pang. This is a soup of long noodles, which you must not bite. It is kind of a birthday tradition in China. For me it was very exciting to see it.

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Then we lighted the cake and ate some, but suddenly Zhang was taking a piece of cake and directly putting it in the face of Wang. Of course, there was revenge necessary and soon we all got involved in the cake war. The staff of the restaurant was really patient, the even said no word of complain, although there was cake everywhere on the floor. Instead they also were so nice to take a picture.

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Unfortunatly all students are going home for the holidays, which means I already had to say goodbye to them. I really miss them, they are great and funny. But I hope I can at least see Sunny again. We are writing Weixin regularly, which is the most famous Chinese program, which is really similar to WeChat.

So, if you want me to write SMS to you on daily basis, install Weixin at your cellphone and you will get daily updates of my trip to China!

Byebye!

Dalian – Sea!!!

Hello my friends!

I also went to the sea together with Sunny, but it was not only a normal trip to the sea. For Sunny it was really special, because she was introducing her boyfriend to her parents, which live in Dalian.

In China relationships are very clearly defined: You are allowed to have a boy?girlfriend after passing the hard college entrance exams – which means, if you have a boy/girlfriend in highschool, do not tell it your parents! So Sunny for example got to know here boyfriend in college. Roy is a classmate of her. They are already together for 2 years now and so she decided to introduce him, which is like a marriage proposal, as you only introduce your partner, if you are very sure you want to marry him/her. Of course there are breake-ups also after, but I speak for the majority. When getting to know the new partner the family can also deny a partner, which the couple has to accept and should break up. This is very hard for the couples for example a friend of mine had to watch the wedding of her former boyfriend, she just had to break up with because of her parents. And now she is 30, which means that she is now in the age, where it becomes harder and harder to find a boyfriend here. What is also different is, that a man will never have a girlfriend, if he is not able to buy her a flat. The flat can be tiny, but he has to buy a flat. It’s weird, but there are collegues of me only two years older than me, but they already have a huge loan at the bank, in order to pay for a flat. For example Yujia, who’s wedding I attended has to pay now money back to the bank for 30 years. After the flat there comes the wedding, which you already know how it looks like and then there should be a child soon. This is the scetch for a Chinese relationship time schedule.

But now back to Sunny, Roy and me. We were going to Dalian, which is 600km away at friday evening with the highspeed train. It took us two hours. Because the flat of Sunnys parents is too small, we rented an appartment for two nights. On Saturday morning we were getting up early in order to prepare everything for the barbecue at the beach. At 11 o’clock we arrived at the beach and started to have some nice meat and vegetables. Sunnys parents also wanted to have some insects, but I did not try them. You can see that thing below…  When we came there it was flood and there was nothing special at the beach, but icy water. Later when the waterlevel had gone back however there was lots of seafood just laying on the beach and some Russians. So we walked along the beach just  collecting it and putting it directly on our grill-delicious! However the little crabs were too cute, so we did not grill them. We just watched the people trying to catch them and get them out from under the rocks.

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A very funny detail during the day was the amount of wedding couples doing their prewedding photoshoot on the beach. At one time we counted more than 10 couples in sight. Here is a little hide and seek photo: How many couples can you discover?

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The next day was even more foggy than the first so I did not sew a lot of the city of dalian. But we just went to the beach at the citycenter and some malls. However it was fun to just hang around with such a precious friend like Sunny – of course you are also precious! I miss you all!!

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In the evening we took the express train back to Shenyang, again. I miss the pure air at the sea:)

Tschuessi!