Tourist Boat and Signs

– If we walk along the lake up to the main road, there is a boat you can pay to ride, either one way to another location south of us, or go in a full circle. During the colder months, it had limited hours. Read the first sign carefully, the hours were: “Only on Saturdays, Japan, holidays, and opening up.”  I was confused how they would ever have gotten this translation, but Leah explained that the character for “Ri” which means “sun” is the abbreviation for Sunday as well as the first character in Japan or Riben in Chinese, now it makes sense! It seems they changed quite a bit of the English wording for the second sign, however, for the first option, I think for 50rmb I prefer the “Tour around a circle” rather than “Swim around a circle!” :-) As much as I enjoy reading these signs, I think I will have Leah write up a correct translation and give it to them as a suggestion!  I’m looking forward to a ride one of these days!

Life in China: A Picture A Day, February 20, 2016

Many countries around the world drink raw sugar cane juice and China is one of them. Most often, we see vendors who you can buy a piece of sugar cane from. They cut the outer part off, then you chew the pulp, suck the juice out, and spit the pulp back out once you’ve gotten all of the juice. I tried it years ago and wasn’t crazy about the pulp chewing. Sometimes, you see stands where they have machines to extract the juice, then you can buy a cup or bottle and just drink it. It’s really not bad, and is actually lower than Coca-Cola on the glycemic index! Coke is in the 60’s, raw sugar cane juice in the 30’s -40’s. This stand is at a Food Festival at the shopping plaza near us. We bought a small bottle for 5rmb ( 75 cents usd). Just took a few sips, but I’m going to try it as a sweetener in some baking.

Chinglish Bird Sign

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 14 - Today we went for a 7.5 mile ride by the lake! Farther than we have gone before, so we saw some new areas. China has been cracking down on people hunting songbirds, so I was glad to see this sign posted, and it gave us a good chuckle too :-) someone made a good effort…and we did get the point! Seeing how in 2.5 hrs, we only saw one other foreigner, and he was with a Chinese girl, I guess we should be thankful they even have it in English!

Old and New Architecture

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 10 - I’ve always enjoyed seeing the contrast of old and new architecture in China. I didn’t think we had any right here in Songshan Lake, as it’s a fairly newly developed area, but we found this building yesterday. We rode our bikes down this new road it’s on, which I guess was always a road of sorts since this house is here! We live in the housing in the background, which is across a small inlet from the lake, and there is new housing going up on the other side of the road. I really like that this old house is all decorated for Chinese New Year. They also had a big garden and a horse across the street. If these people own the land this old house is on, they are going to be quite wealthy when they decide to sell it!


Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 9 - If you’ve read what I’ve previously shared about gold and fish… I’m sure you'll understand why goldfish are considered to be “lucky fish!” What better activity for kids (and adults!) at a New Year’s celebration than fishing for goldfish! There is a food fair, with some carnival type games, at our nearby shopping plaza and this “fish pond” is set up there. I’ve seen fishing like this at quite a few other places throughout the year, but in much smaller pools!


Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 1 - Happy Chinese New Year! Fireworks are a HUGE part of the Chinese New Year celebration! Here in Songshan Lake, the real firecrackers started about 10 am on New Year’s Eve and went off every so often throughout the day. Then the frequency picked up about 10pm and just before midnight, they were constant. But, it was nowhere near as noisy as other places we’ve lived. I remember our first Chinese New Year in Shanghai where it seemed like a war zone! The practice of setting off fireworks comes from an ancient myth about a monster named “Nian,” the same word for “year.” He came once a year and attacked and killed villagers and their livestock as the New Lunar year arrived. An old man supposedly figured out that Nian was afraid of loud noises, lights and the color red. So, each year, houses are decorated with red, and fireworks are set off to scare away the “evil spirits”. This morning, I took a walk, and if the red paper left from the fireworks is any indication, the people living here were successful at scaring Nian away! In modern times, fireworks are popular as decorations as well as the real ones.

Chubby Women Sculpture #1

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 5 - I have seen three sculptures around the lake that have caught my eye as something different for China. Usually, women are portrayed as very petite, so I was curious about these. I have been looking for information about them and was so excited that I finally found it! It turns out that they are a part of a well-known series, from 2010, by Xu Hong Fei 許鴻飛, president of the Guangzhou Sculpture Academy. He did the series because he wanted to challenge Western ideals of beauty. “His ‘Chubby Women’ are not limited by their size and enjoy active and fulfilling lives.” The statue series have made a couple world tours and have been loved! So, here is the first one I saw at Songshan Lake, titled “Under the Sun.” As I explore more of the lake, I expect to find more statues!


Street Musician

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 2 -Some things in China really aren’t that different from home. This was a musician I saw performing today, and I thought that he could have been doing the same thing in the USA and fit right in. He sounded pretty good, but I’m not sure what he was singing about since it was in Chinese (Ok…maybe a little different than the USA!). He was next to a bus stop near our shopping plaza, an area that probably gets the largest amount of people here. Guitar case open to collect money, probably trying to raise some extra cash for Spring Festival, so I threw the six 1yuan notes I had in.

02-02 street musician2.jpg

Spring Blossoms

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 30 - Spring Blossoms - As I said before, Chinese New Year is called “Spring Festival” in China. This is perfect for the region we are in, as many of the flowering trees have buds or blooms, but I’m not so sure about northern China…it’s always very cold there during Spring Festival! The flower picture on the bottom is a peach blossom; when I walked by the lake today, there were quite a few trees just starting to bloom. The tree in the center top photo is an artificial peach tree on display at our local shopping plaza. The two side photos, I believe, represent cherry blossoms, the left is plastic beads and cotton with a lotion display at the grocery store, and on the left is an ad in the McDonalds window. Blossoms are important for Chinese New Year because if there are no flowers, there will be no fruit, so, they indicate growth. And did you notice that they are all PINK! Peach blossoms also symbolize romance. Different blossoms have different meanings, and their fruit have additional meanings. I found one place that said you should never show one single blossom in a painting/picture because it indicated early death! Hopefully I won’t offend my Chinese friends with this lone blossom! At least there is a bud next to it :-)