Archives For Chinese traditions

I have read that the newly opened sections of the Forbidden City consist of anywhere from an additional 20 to 33 percent, depending on which article you believe. Regardless, the Forbidden City is a huge and amazing facility located in central Beijing on a crazy busy street called JianGuoMenWai.   From this video you can get an idea of how expansive the Forbidden City truly is. Believe me, this only shows a small portion of the entire complex. Hopefully you will enjoy seeing some of the sights of ancient Beijing and where the emperor once lived from the Ming Dynasty!

Colors are Popular

June 21, 2016 — Leave a comment

One of the many things that have always impressed me about the people of China is their use of colors. They like bold colors, bright colors, and multiple colors. I can think of many examples, and I wanted to share just a few with you.

In the picture below, you will see a picture of the Qing Dynasty’s Palace. So, this tells me that the use of many bright and bold colors goes back centuries.



The picture above is from the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Not as much red and yellow on this ceiling, but beautiful just the same!

The Chinese have green thumbs, and they are very creative in combining their enjoyment of colors with their plants. The pictures below were taken at Tiananmen Square in central Beijing.



As you can see, sometimes the use of multiple colors are done on a grand scale! If you have an opportunity to visit China, I would encourage you to take advantage of it! Maybe I will see you there!

During my last trip to China, I was at a store which is much like a Chinese version of Walmart. I almost always do some shopping for the special needs orphanage supported by Global Partners in Life when I am in town and this day was no different. There is an escalator that takes you from the clothes, electronics, toys, office, and home products to the grocery area. Usually the walls in this area are bare or they will have an advertisement for some product like toothpaste on them.

Let me state that I don’t consider myself a speaker of the Chinese language and I definitely don’t know all of the characters commonly used in their language. Having established that, I can’t tell you for sure what the pictures I am about to share with you say, but I think it is like a get to know your farmer program.

As you can see in the first two pictures, a couple of different types of cabbage are shown. China has several cabbages and I must say they taste very good. The larger cabbage is called “da to cai” which translates out to big head cabbage and yes, I probably didn’t spell that correctly.


farmers2 Next we have some things we all will recognize – potatoes and cucumbers. The cucumbers in China are like the cabbages in that they come in many different shapes and sizes.


farmers4My grandparents on my father’s side of the family loved to grow vegetables so I like farmers and I love to eat! I have had the honor to teach the children of many farmers in China. I wish you all could know how humble and hard working they are. In fact, the young lady who was probably my best student was the daughter of a farmer. Also, Global Partners in Life has given scholarships to the children of farmers. They are extraordinarily appreciative of the financial aid given to their child.

Hopefully my stories can help bridge the gap in our cultures and help us to see how much we have in common! Perhaps one day you can join me on a trip and get to know some of the wonderful people of China!

Northern China has very harsh winters! I have seen puddles frozen over in October, and huge snow storms in March. That is a long and hard winter to me.

To protect their vegetation, the city takes many proactive steps. For the smaller plants a cover can be effective to keep the cold out. Believe me, not only is it cold, but the wind can cut right through you if you are not protected. As you can see in the picture below, this city is protecting their shrubs lining a very busy street. You can also see that the lower section of the trees are painted, this is to keep bugs out.

Even though it is very cold, normal life must continue, including driving to work and shopping. For people that use scooters, that can be horribly uncomfortable in the winter if the necessary steps are not taken. As you can see in the picture below, this scooter not only has protection for the hands, but also the body of the driver.ProtectCold2

I don’t think the open air rickshaw business is very good this time of the year in northern China!

At my age I understand there are many things I don’t understand; some because they just aren’t things of my generation. Having traveled a little, I also know that there are some cultural things I don’t understand, and that is to be expected. Having said that, there are other times when you come across something and your mind just can’t get the message.

This happened to me recently as I was traveling in China. Many of the nicer hotels and department stores decorate for Christmas, so I am accustomed to seeing traditional Christmas decorations in China like the ones pictured below.




You can imagine my confusion when I saw the items in the next picture. They were on display in my hotel beside the traditional Christmas decorations, but I am afraid I don’t get it!


If anyone has an explanation for these new Christmas decorations, please share it with me. Maybe I am completely missing something I need to know about, or worse, I may find myself committing a cultural mistake!


Happy New Year!

This week China is celebrating by far their largest holiday, which is the Lunar New Year called the Spring Festival. It is based on the moon, so it doesn’t happen on the same day each year. It occurs at the end of January or the first of February. Some of the main customs surrounding the holiday are cleaning your home, eating jaozi (dumplings,) and parents giving their children a red envelope full of money. A couple of the lesser known traditions would involve getting a haircut and taking a shower to wash away anything bad. As you can imagine, in China there will be lots of fireworks all day and night surrounding their holiday.

Many people receive an extended vacation to celebrate this huge holiday. In fact, it is known as the largest annual migration of people when all of the city workers travel back to their rural hometowns to visit their families.

This year is called the year of the monkey, and “hou” is how you say monkey in Chinese. “Chunjie” is what the Chinese call the New Year celebration.

Happy Spring Festival to all of my Chinese friends!

In areas of China where coal is used for heating, cooking, and in industry, it is common to see people wearing an additional sleeve from their wrists to their elbows. The reason for this is to keep their clothes clean. There is a very fine black dust that gets on everything when coal is used in these various ways, so people want to protect their clothes. When I was teaching at a university in China, the students would wear these sleeves over the sleeve of their coats. Since they would spend so much time with their forearms on their desks, their sleeves would constantly get the coal dust on them if they didn’t do something to avoid the dust. Nobody wanted to wash their coat every day, so the external sleeves are a great option.


As you can see in the picture above, taxi drivers use the sleeves during the summer. Actually, many people use the sleeves in the summer, because they don’t want to sun to darken the color of their skin. It is also common to see people walking around in the summer with an umbrella, even when it isn’t raining. Again, this is to protect their skin from the sun’s rays. Many people in China believe that lighter colored skin is preferable, which is ironic because there is no telling how much money and time is spent by Americans trying to get a better tan. You can also see how this driver is wearing a glove on his left hand to protect it from the sun.

If you have read many of my blogs about my time in China, you will remember that I often say you should keep your eyes open, because you never know what you will see next. Well, that is certainly the case for my blog today.

I was walking in a park beside a river and I kept hearing a popping sound coming from under a bridge. Being a curious, or nosy, guy, I wanted to see what was making the noise. To my surprise, I found an older gentleman practicing his martial arts. He was gracious and kind and let me video him.

Hopefully you will enjoy!

As someone who considers himself a fisherman, I often enjoyed the views I had from the area around the campus where I was teaching.  There was a dirt road that ran along the east side of the campus, and the building where I lived was right beside the dirt road.  My apartment was high enough to look out and have a fantastic view of the best sights in the city.

On the other side of the dirt road was a river.  It wasn’t a large river or a deep river, but the fishermen must have had good luck fishing there, because they spent so much time there.  In fact, they set up fish camps and lived out of them.

These fish camps came in various shapes and sizes, and I found them very interesting.  Some looked like enhanced tents, some were just huts, and others appeared to be larger and have a more stable structure.  Here are some of the fish camps I saw frequently while living in China:




As you can see, one camp had an area like a fisherman’s squatters neighborhood.  The people living here were also gardeners, as you can tell from the previous picture.  The large and old bulldozer in the photo never moved.  I imagine it helped grade the dirt road and just died there.

These homes may not have had all of the modern conveniences we enjoy, but they did have an amazing location.  They were right on the river, so their views were wonderful every day, and they had the peace and quiet of being away from center of the city!  I can easily understand why they chose to live in their fish camp beside the river!

All across China each day there are an untold number of morning markets in each small neighborhood.  The vendors come into a common area, set up their booths, and sell their goods.  These markets give people an opportunity to get fresh vegetables, fruit, and meat each day.  The people are quite friendly, and you never know what you might see.

My words could never do justice to the morning markets, so I decided to show you a video of one.  Enjoy the experience, and welcome to China!