Friday 26 June 2015

Dragon Boat Weekend

This weekend I got the chance to witness the famous Dragon Boat Festival which takes place every year in China. The history behind this event is long and fascinating, dating back over 2000 years. In 278bc during the Warring States period, poet and minister, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in protest of the corruption going on at the time. The locals are said to have tried to save him by dropping balls of rice into the river in an attempt to make the fish eat the rice instead of him. This gave rise to both the dragon boat festival and zongzi, a traditional rice dish eaten at the day. 

Dragon Boat Weekend
A friend of mine found out about celebrations going on in Foshan which is located close to Zhuhai. A few of his Chinese coworkers offered to drive us around and take us to the festivities. We got there around 12 meaning that we had 2 hours to spare before it actually started. The Chinese coworkers took us to a local restaurant that had some interesting food. We were served chicken feet and head, frogs, and a lot of other things which I don't know it was. Might not have been the best meal I've had here but it was definitely one to remember!

Dragon Boat Weekend
Seeing the dragon boats compete against each other was really cool. I was surprised at how big they were. Some of them had at least 50 rowers. Unfortunately we had to catch the train back at 5 so we couldn't stay to watch the whole thing.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Trip to Dong'ao Island

Third weekend in China and this time we were visiting a small island off the coast of Zhuhai. Only two hours boat ride from the mainland - this island resort is a popular attraction for Chinese and international tourists alike. Personally I had never heard of this island, or the numerous others which lie shattered outside of the Zhuhai coastline. Because of this, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

Fishing village
The boat arrived at a small fishing village and we quickly found a taxi that would take us to our campsite. Getting there we found out that we weren't allowed to swim as there wasn't a lifeguard present. So we began walking around the island looking for a nice beach - after a few minutes walk next to a Clubmed hotel we found the perfect one. The water and the beaches here were a lot nicer than on the mainland and we spent most of the day there. After a long day of walking and swimming we started to get hungry so we headed back to the fishing village. There we managed to find a small seafood restaurant. Even though I'm usually not a fan of fish or other seafood this was some of the best food I've had here so far. It was surprisingly cheap for a holiday resort as well, and prices were only a bit higher than on the mainland.

Pagoda on top of the hill
After dinner we went back to our campsite to get some sleep. At first we tried to sleep in the tents, but quickly realized that it was way too warm so we decided to move our sleeping mats outside to the beach. This turned out to be a mistake as we were all woken up by rain about half an hour later. After moving back to the tents and finally getting to sleep, we were woken up once again at 5 in the morning by a thunderstorm that poured down on us so much that the tents were flooded. Not left with much choice we decided to pack up all our stuff and set off on a hike up to a nearby hill. After an hour walk, we reached the top where we found a pagoda which offered an amazing view of the sunrise. We spent a few hours there before going back to the boat which picked us up at 11am. Overall this was a good experience of a different side of China. We got to see some nice beaches, interesting wildlife, and try some amazing food.

Sunrise over the island

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Hiking and waterfall visit

After my first week of work there was a planned hiking trip up to a waterfall in the mountains outside of Zhuhai. We found the event on couchsurfing and there was quite a large group of us going - both foreigners and Chinese people. Having been out on the bar street the night before it was a bit of a struggle getting up. Me and my flat mates made our way to the bus stop where a bus was waiting to pick us up. It took around an hour and a half to get to the small village where we began our hike. On the way we got to see parts of rural China which was really fascinating, even just half an hour outside of the city there was a massive difference in people's living standards.

View of the mountain we were climbing

After a quick stop to get some food and drinks we started going up the mountain. After a rainy morning the sun finally came out, with temperatures reaching around 35 degrees. That combined with the humidity meant that it wasn't gonna be an easy task we had ahead of us.

Halfway up
An hour later we finally reached our destination. The view was amazing. We walked up a stream until we finally reached a small lake with a waterfall. Apparently barely any of the locals knew of this place and the group leader and his friends discovered it by accident. Getting into the water after an hour of walking was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. We spent hours swimming and hiking around in the surrounding areas before finally leaving to go back home.

The waterfall
This has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life and I can't wait to see what the next 11 weeks has in store for me.

Monday 1 June 2015

First impressions of Zhuhai

Here’s a quick introduction about myself before I tell you about my first days in China. My name is Patrik and I’m a 21 year old male from Sweden, currently studying for my undergraduate degree in Business at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. Having looked at internships for the summer I came across Internchina which is a company helping to organize internships in China, the name is kinda self-explanatory. Looking for something different to do I thought this sounded like a great opportunity and I decided to apply for it. Few months later and I found out that I had been accepted to do a marketing internship at an outsourcing company called ODM Group. I was beyond excited!

Never having been to China or Asia before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday night. I had done previous research about the city of Zhuhai which I will be interning in but there were still a lot of unknowns about the whole situation. Not knowing the language or anyone else made it all a bit scary. Even though I’ve lived in different countries before this would be the biggest culture shock by far.

To get to Zhuhai I had to take the ferry from the airport in Hong Kong. Everyone was very helpful and their English was good which made it all a lot easier. I knew that I had arrived during the rainy season but I wasn’t expecting this kind of weather. Having lived and studied in Scotland for the last three years I thought I was used to rain but this was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The short five meter walk out in the rain between the terminal and the ferry was enough to get me soaked. It only took around an hour and a half before I arrived in Zhuhai and luckily the weather had cleared up by then. After picking up my suitcase and going through customs I was greeted by Henry and Fanny who are working with Internchina. Earlier the same day I had found out that my host family had to cancel and that I had to move in to an apartment with other interns. This didn’t really bother me as I was meant to stay at an apartment during the second half of my time here anyway. After waiting around for a while we finally managed to find a taxi which took me to my apartment. Only one out of four people had moved in at the time, a girl from New York named Nicole. The two others will move in the week after. I was surprised at how big and nice the rooms were, having lived in student apartments before I expected something much smaller. By the time I got there it was already late and I was tired from the long flight so I just went straight to bed.

View from my bedroom

The next day I was told that there’d be a pool party in the outskirts of the city. One of Paul, the manager at Internchina’s, friends had his birthday there and we were invited. Me and Nicole went to meet up with Mark and his girlfriend Sam from Canada, two other interns she had met the day before for some lunch. We found this small Chinese restaurant right across the street from our apartment, the whole street is filled with them but because the two others had lived here for a while they knew where to go. I’m still not quite sure what I actually ate but it tasted amazing. Even though I’m not usually a big fan of seafood the food here was some of the best I’ve ever had. It only cost us 70 kwai which is around $11 for all of us. After leaving the restaurant we made our way to the bus that would take us to the pool. It was a very long bus ride but we got to see most of the city on the way. Getting off the bus we met up with one of Sam’s friends and started walking towards the pool. None of us had data on our phones and didn’t know the name of the place which resulted in us getting lost and wandering around for an hour and a half. We got to see some less developed parts of the city and got an insight into what the rural areas of the country look like. The people were all friendly and helpful and we eventually made our way there with the help of their directions. When we got to the pool it felt like we were in the middle of the jungle being surrounded by mountains on all sides. After walking around for so long, in temperatures which I’m not used to, it was great to finally get into the water. After an hour or so other people started to arrive. They brought food and beer with them and we had a BBQ on the pool-side. It was nice to talk to other western people about their experience in the country, many having lived here for years. We left pretty early though since a few of us had our first day of work the morning after.

Just arrived at the pool

Even though I’ve only been here for a day and a half I already love this city, the people, the atmosphere and everything else about it. I am glad I made the decision to come here and I look forward to spending the next three months in this amazing place!

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