All posts tagged: info

Places To Go: Mt. Jigongshan (Xinyang)

Not far from Xinyang, about 40 km south of the city, Mt. Jigongshan is located. Jigongshan literally means “Rooster Mountain.” It’s been said that looking at the peak, it gives the impression of a crying rooster, and that’s how the mountain got its name. With its peak rising about 814m above sea level, Jigongshan borders in a transitional region between the subtropical and the warm moderate zone, making it an ideal getaway for summer. The constant cooling breeze has made Rooster Mountain such a comfortable place to be in the heat of summer, that it was discovered as a perfect summer resort early in the last century already. Such illustrious people as Sun Yat-sen (the first president of the Republic of China), Chiang Kai-shek and other former high ranking government officials have sought refuge on this mountain. As a result, there are a number of villas and lodgings in various architectural styles which were built on top of the mountain and can be visited today. Some of the buildings have even been turned into museums …

Places to Go: Nan Wan Lake (Xinyang)

West of the city of Xinyang, the Nan Wan Reservoir spreads about 20 miles wide and 50 miles long – a beautiful nature retreat. Surrounded by mountains and woods, and strewn with countless little islands, Nan Wan has much to offer to the visitor – cruises on the lake, cultural insights into the traditions of tea drinking – after all, Xinyang is famous for its tea – and for those who love to get out into nature, the lake is a perfect escape. The most popular pastime for visitors is the cruise to different islands: the bird island, monkey island and the tea island. Each island in itself has its own attractions. The bird island is spanned with a large canopy holding quite a variety of birds, local and foreign. The monkey island hosts dozens of “wild” monkeys, and the tea island with its beautifully landscaped gardens, tea plantations and pagodas has its own charms. Visitors can stroll  all over the island and watch tea drinking ceremonies performed in one of the exhibition centers.

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Places to Go: Qian Men (Beijing)

“Qian Men” means “Front Gate” and refers to a tower right in front of the Forbidden City, just south of Tian AnMen Square. It used to be the main gate into the city and once was part of the city wall, when it still existed. Now, it stands isolated – an ancient tower (in fact there are two towers that together formed the “Front Gate”), a distant reminder of Beijing’s former days. Qian Men not only marks the southern boundary of Tian AnMen Square, it also stands for an old Beijing district that has been renovated and restored in recent years, and has become quite a tourist magnet. Famous for its ancient looking houses hosting countless stores, among which there are many international brands and labels, Qian Men is especially beautiful at night, when all the fronts of the buildings are illuminated with all sorts of lights. There are lots of hotels and hostels in the area and the later it gets in the day, the more crowded the streets get with Chinese as well …

Food Corner: Hot Pot

The power’s out in the teacher’s flat today, and since there’s no meals provided for us, we decided to go into town to have Hot Pot. It’s winter, after all, and there’s no better time to have Hot Pot than a cold winter day. “What is Hot Pot?” you’re asking. Let me enlighten you. It’s a pot, sometimes divided into two compartments – one spicy, one regular, filled with broth. And in that broth, while sitting at the table, everyone is cooking their dishes, as the pot sits on a stove and the broth inside is boiling. There are tons of different kinds of Hot Pot (some fancy restaurants even offer small pots for every individual), and some places fry fish or chicken in the pot before the soup gets added; others pay more attention to the broth that can be enjoyed before the dishes get added to the pot. Hot Pot is a very traditional meal around here, (and definitely a winter favorite among most Chinese I know), and there are tons of ingredients …

Places to Go: Forbidden City

Probably the No. 2 must-go-to place for visitors in China is the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing. Referred to as the Palace Museum by the Chinese, the forbidden City was inaccessible for any common people for 500 years. It served as the home to two dynasties of emperors, the Ming and the Qing, as well as the ceremonial and political center of the government. The Forbidden City first was laid out between 1406 and 1420 by Emperor Yongle. Since then it has been faced with numerous phases of destruction (through fires, etc.) as well as restoration and rebuilding. Most of the buildings that can be seen today are post 18th century. The palace consists of 980 buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms and covers 720,000 m2. It is divided into various sections: throne rooms, ceremonial halls, living quarters for the royal family as well as members of the court, the imperial garden, and more. Today, the palace is open to the general public and visitors should plan several hours for this visit, if …

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Places to Go: Summer Palace

One of the finest sights in Beijing without doubt is the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan), to the north-west of the city. Its extensive grounds and buildings served as a summer residence for the royal family especially during the reign and lifetime of Empress Dowager Cixi, although it had been a royal garden long before that. The palace consists of four major areas: court reception, residences, temples and extensive gardens. Three-quarters of the park are covered by water – the Kunming Lake. Quite special for the Summer Palace is its Long Corridor (Changlang) which runs for about 728m alongside the shore of the Kunming Lake and is richly decorated with paintings of mythical scenes. Throughout the centuries, the Summer Palace has faced several periods of destruction and restoration, and even now it is constantly under construction to preserve the rich cultural and historical relics that can be found here.

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Places to Go: Great Wall – Huang Hua

Probably the most spectacular tourist attraction in China is the Great Wall. While there are many places where the wall can be accessed – it stretches from east coast all the way to the Gobi Desert in the West, after all – the most popular point from which to approach it certainly is Beijing. The most popular place for tourists is Badaling, without question. But I would like to take you to Huang Hua today. Huang Hua is a well-preserved section, where the wall was kept rather genuine (“Wild Wall”), with only little work of restoration being done – just enough, so visitors can climb it without risk. About 60 km north of Beijing, the Great Wall at Huang Hua clings to a high hillside bordering a reservoir. It perfectly portrays the Ming defense period with high and wide ramparts. Only few tourists find their way to Huang Hua, especially compared to famous Badaling where souvenir shops, restaurants and amusement park rides draw crowds of visitors, and vendors offer their goods every couple of steps …

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Places to Go: Xi’An City Wall

Xi’An is one of the few cities in China where the old city walls still are visible, and in recent years they have even been restored. With a circumference of 14 km, they form a huge rectangle in the heart of the city. Each side of the wall has gateways, marked by three towers on top of the wall. At each of the four corners is a watchtower, and all along the top of the wall there are defensive towers. The wall is 12m high, 12-14m wide at the top, and 15-18m wid at the base. Riding the Wall In recent years, great efforts have been made to restore the wall to its former glory, and now it is accessible for visitors during the day time. The best way to explore the city wall is by renting bikes and riding all around this ancient structure. You get to enjoy a great view of the center of Xi’An and there is lots to discover along the way. There are several places on the wall that offer …

Image from fotocommunity.com

Winter Solstice Festival

I never got to tell you about the Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice Festival) or the Dumpling Day, as we commonly refer to it around here. Dongzhi literally means “arrival of winter” and it is one of the most important festivals in the Chinese calendar. It usually takes place on or around December 22, when the daylight is shortest and the nights longest. As with all the Chinese festivals, there are several traditional activities connected with the Dongzhi Festival: In the south of China, people traditionally make tangyuan (balls of glutinous rice) and eat them on this day. In the northern parts of China it is the dumplings that are made and eaten – thus our “Dumpling Day.” Ancestral worship is also part of the traditions observed on this day. At our school students usually get together with their classes at night and make dumplings which they will eat afterward. And in most cases those dumpling parties turn into huge flour battles among the students, resulting in everyone being covered in white at the time the …

Places to Go: Yuntai Mountain

Mighty mountain ranges, deep gorges, hidden valleys, countless springs, waterfalls and lakes – all this is Yuntai Mountain. Situated in the northern part of Henan Province right near Jiao Zuo, the spectacular scenery of this area draws people from near and far. Corel Peak, the highest point, rises about 1308 m above sea level, but it’s not only those who like to climb mountains who get their money’s worth. Since Yuntai Mountain was turned into a national park, the area has been greatly developed and is now conducive to lots of outdoor activities. The park offers countless opportunities for tourists, and visitors who like to spend more than one day exploring the scenery can stay in one of the various accommodations on site. Those planning on visiting Yuntai Mountain, should know about the two downsides involved, though: On the weekends and during the main season, the park is really crowded, requiring visitors to spend long hours waiting in line in some areas; Admission fees tend to be on the higher end of the scale (at …