Some Travel Notes

Travel related ideas, views, and news

Tag: china

冷不冷? The importance of warmth in China and how this can positively affect your travels

It is often said that people from the United Kingdom have an obsession with the weather. A phone call to family in another country or even town will likely lead to the question ‘how’s the weather?’. It is also often said that the UK’s weather system is capable of producing all four seasons in one day. So much so, there was a well known song all about this. If you know it, it will now be playing in your head – sorry about that. But between these two facts, there may be a correlation.

I have spent over three years living in China, and during this time I have observed that similar to the British, China and Chinese people have an obsession with temperature. Everything seems to revolve around temperature and there seems to be an inherent fear of cold. I am not talking about a fear of being freezing – we all have this, this is perfectly normal, a survival instinct. What I have seen is that the majority of Chinese people have a fear of, and will go to great lengths to avoid being a little bit on the cool side.

Xinghai beach winter swimming, Dalian

Not all Chinese people are afraid of the cold, illustrated by this swimmer at Xinghai beach, Dalian in mid-winter.

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In Beijing and looking for the best place to swim… how does 6 hours by train to WARM blue seas sound?

Until recently, I lived in Beijing, and during the hot summers, I would search for a pool where I could cool off. Sure, some Beijingers swim in the Liangma river, but I only ever skated on it in the winter.

My first experience of a Beijing pool went like this. I found a public swimming pool that was recommended online, and so after a hour of getting lost I arrived with high expectations. I was met with a grimy pool, people spitting everywhere, not only in the dedicated spit boxes on the sides of the pool. The place was packed with loud kids leaping around, and the changing rooms stank of stale urine. I longed for the time when I lived in Bangkok and I could just jump on a bus and a short ferry to a Thai island for the weekend. I missed those days, and I still do.

However, what I didn’t realise was that, Dalian 大连, a beachside city in relatively close Liaoning province, not only has great beaches, but also has summer sea temperatures that are very close to what you’d find in Thailand. If you don’t believe me, see the following.

Dalian sea is very warm

Dalian’s summer sea temperature is almost the same as Thailand

Koh Yao sea temperature

The sea temperature in Thailand is high, but only marginally higher than Dalian in the summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: seatemperature.org August 6th 2018.

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Dalian’s Oktoberfest inspired beer festival is coming, but why the popularity of German beer in China?

Dalian Beer Festival 2018 starts on 26th July 2018 and runs for approximately 12 days. If you are reading this from outside of China and have never visited, your experience of Chinese drinking culture may be restricted to the world famous Tsingtao beer. In fact Tsingtao or 青岛  – Qingdao – as is actually written in pinyin (the official system for Romanisation of Chinese characters), comes from the city of Qingdao on the east coast of China. It is no coincidence that Qingdao was occupied by Germany from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Presumably because the occupying Germans found the local 白酒 baijiu, rice whiskey, a little too potent, in 1903 they established  the Germania Brewery. This later became the Tsingtao Brewery.

If you are familiar, you’ll know that Tsingtao beer does not taste like a typical German beer. It is in its simplest form a light, refreshing lager, that is typical of mainstream beers throughout Asia. It’s around 4% abv. In China, alcohol content of beer is usually given as an exceeding or equals to rather than an exact figure. Sometimes, it can feel like a kind of beer lottery.

Dalian Beer Festival 2018

The tents of Dalian’s 2018 Beer Festival are up, but not yet filled with beer, July 2018

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重庆 Chongqing: the most fascinating Chinese city you’ve possibly never heard of

There was a certain feeling of certainty as I woke up that morning and recalled peering through the hot steam the night before, sound of chatter and banter and mouthwatering aromas almost beyond the realm of human detection. I got up as usual, took a shower, drew a hole in the steam on the bathroom mirror, brushed my teeth, and went down for breakfast. But so far nothing. Not the breakfast, this was plentiful. But my stomach wasn’t showing anything, any sign of trouble that is. You might wonder why that morning I was expecting stomach trouble.

Chongqing street scene

A typical Chongqing street

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Change in Beijing’s hutongs 胡同

Beijing. A fascinating city, one that is thoroughly enjoyable to live in. But pollution can get even the most hardy of resident down, and like any big city, it can be overwhelmingly busy and hectic at times. Unsurprising for a city in excess of 21 million residents. But what arguably gives Beijing an edge over other similar sized cities, is being able to escape to the relative tranquility of the hutong areas. For those who are unfamiliar,

Rickshaw hutong Beijing

A 三轮车 san lun che rickshaw driver in a typical hutong

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