Archives For Water in China

It is difficult for most people, myself included, to grasp how large Beijing is. The population density is staggering to most of us, as there are about 22 million people living there and it is still growing! The population growth has led to a few unique problems, and today I wanted to share with you about one surprising situation.

I have heard it said that Beijing is sinking! I know that seems hard to believe, but I can’t imagine this report would be published if there wasn’t some data to reinforce it. So, here is the theory. With the constant growth of Beijing’s population, the need for more and more water is apparent. The belief is that, as more and more water is consumed from beneath Beijing, it is not being replaced by sources. With this void from missing water, the weight of Beijing is actually causing it to sink slightly (less than an inch) annually.

Is Beijing Really Sinking?

I can honestly say that I don’t recall ever seeing a raging stream near Beijing. I can, however, say I have seen several shallow streams like the ones represented in the photos.

Is Beijing Really Sinking?

I have heard of an enormous project planned to bring water from south of Beijing into the city. This plan will tap into the river system in the south, and route the water to Beijing. I have heard that canals would be dug, and I have heard that a pipeline with pumps would be used. This project may be in progress or already completed, but I am not sure.

The two photographs above were taken slightly outside Beijing, and the picture below was taken inside Beijing. The stream in the city has concrete walls to control the water and stop erosion. I think you will notice a difference in the water levels also.

Is Beijing Really Sinking?

I don’t know all that is involved with addressing this issue of sinking, or if it is something worthy of concern, but I do know that Beijing is an amazing city to visit!

If you ever have the opportunity to visit, please take advantage of it!

Yangtze River

July 8, 2014 — Leave a comment

What an impressive body of water! I have only seen the Yangtze River just north of Shanghai, but it is very memorable if you have ever seen the river at this location. There is a HUGE bridge that spans the river and it seems like you will never reach the other end of the bridge once you are on it. You are also extremely high over the water of the Yangtze River, which provides an amazing view! You know right away that this river is no ordinary river. In fact, it is the longest river in Asia and the 3rd longest river in the world. It starts in the Qinghai region of China, where it is fed by glaciers. From there the mighty river moves eastward for nearly 4,000 miles and it helps commerce along the way. There are so many things to see as the river flows farther than you can see. In this area, there is significant shipping industry, storage facilities, and what looks to be an area where ships are built and maybe even repaired.

My apologies for the quality of the picture!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t lower the window of my bus.


Yangtze2The width of the river in this area makes it appear to be a much larger body of water than a normal river.  I would be interested in knowing how many, if any, have successfully swam the width of the Yangtze River in this area near Shanghai.

The largest hydro-electric power plant in the world, the Three Gorges Dam, is on the Yangtze River.  It has become a very popular tourist trip to tour the river and see the dam!



Water, Water Everywhere

Since my grandparents were great gardeners, I observed a few things while watching the Chinese around my campus work in their gardens.

One of the first things I noticed is that my Chinese neighbors would use lots of water on their plants. The diameter of their water hoses was probably four times the size of a standard hose we would use around our houses in the states. These hoses seemed to usually be about the color of rust, not green like we usually have in the states.

I have seen farmers water each plant individually using a metal bowl with a long handle dipping from a big bucket of water. Yes, that does take a long time if there are many plants. Sometimes, the gardeners would just pick up the bucket of water to water the plants.


watering the garden_BeauSides_1


My campus apartment was high enough for me to look across the street and over a neighborhood’s wall, so I could see my neighbors working on their garden. This community garden was interesting to me because there was a well in the garden, but a person had to pump the water by hand. Another interesting thing about this garden is that there was an outhouse near it, and I could watch the people who worked in the garden not let anything go to waste from the outhouse.


pumping well water_BeauSides_2


Everyone living in the compound came to do a little work in this garden. I saw children, mothers, fathers, and grandparents all pitching in and doing what they could do to help their garden flourish. I must admit, they had a very nice garden, and it was fun to watch it grow. I am sure they had many delicious meals as a result from all of their hard labor―and watering!


family gardening_BeauSides_3




To learn more, check out my book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education!

Heaven on Earth

Spring is my favorite season of the year. I hate cold weather (except on the few occasions I find myself snow skiing), so I love the promise of better things to come which spring gives us. I also love the new life that is all around us: the baby birds chirping and the plants blooming.

Beautiful flowers on China campus_Beau Sides

In my new book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education, in the chapter “Beautiful Spring,” the main character, Jan, describes for me one of the loveliest places I have ever seen in the spring: the college campus where I taught in China.

The students told me that people from the city would come just to take pictures of the flowers, but I didn’t believe them. Yes, I was wrong. And yes, I became one of the people taking pictures of the beautiful flowers blooming there. In fact, I was so impressed with all of the vivid colors and majestic blooms that I would walk out of my way just see the flowers blooming.

Koi Pond_Beau_Sides_Lessons from China

I must tip my hat to the gardeners on campus because besides having green thumbs they created the most beautiful landscape settings. One setting in particular, which was one of my favorites, was a lovely limestone waterfall that poured into a koi pond. The pond with its exotic jewel-toned fish sat partly under an arch that was adorned with gorgeous purple wisteria clinging all over it.

One guy, whom I became good friends through English Corners and basketball, was scolded severely by one of the gardeners for trying to catch one of the fish in the koi pond with his hands.


Purple wisteria in China_Beau Sides_Lessons from China

Without many of the tools we westerners would expect them to have, the campus gardeners worked hard. They mostly used wheelbarrows instead of motorized carts or trucks to haul their supplies and tools. Regardless of how they did their work, they were very successful at it.

Now, I want you to enjoy their work as much as I have!



To learn more, check out my book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education!

Don’t want this to be you in China? Well, I don’t either.

stomach ache in China

Hopefully, this image evokes some uneasy feelings of something you ate or drank in the past that didn’t sit too well with your system. You probably vowed to avoid that something for a very long time. Well, tap water is what you’ll want to avoid in China.

Many hotels provide a complementary bottle of water or two each day, so use that for your drinking water and for brushing your teeth. I’m told that the bacteria in the tap water in China will make a westerner very sick if swallowed.

Some hotels even provide filtered water in the room, but I still prefer to consume bottled water. If you have a fourteen hour flight the next day, I truly doubt you’ll want to do that after drinking the tap water! Fortunately, it is very easy to find bottled water for sale (at least it was in every place I’ve visited in China), and it’s very inexpensive. And I always, always try to keep an extra bottle in my backpack.

The lesson here: Don’t drink the tap water.

Send in your stories. I’d love to hear your experiences!


Learn more in my book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education