大家好· Hello everyone, this week was packed with an amazing camping adventure on the Great Wall, more food discoveries on campus and many 汉字(Chinese character) dictations in class.
In China, the Great Wall is known under the name 长城(cháng chéng) and stretches over 21,196 km across China. However, the stone and brick walls are not entirely connected but split into several pieces of fortifications that are held together by natural adhesive materials such as rammed earth 夯土(hāngtǔ). Last weekend, we got to camp on this historical site to experience both sunrise and sunset with an amazing view onto this architectural wonder and the city of Beijing in the background.
Fun fact: Beijing in the background is translated into Chinese with 北京背景(běi jīng bèi jǐng), which is a great example of the importance of tones in the Chinese language!
Even though I have been living in Beijing for just three weeks, I feel accustomed to the major components of the Chinese lifestyle and am amazed at how customer-friendly most of the daily necessities such as (ordering) food and buying household items are accessible in China. Once your bank account is set-up and connected to 支付宝zhī fù bǎozhi (Alipay) and 微信支付wēi xìn zhī fù (WeChat Pay), there is virtually no need for cash or card payments in the majority of places across China.
Good to know! You better have a good battery life or carry a portable charger with you at all times, since you don’t want your wallet to die off while you are riding a cab or want to pay your bubble tea bill.
Apart from experiencing the beautiful sceneries around the Great Wall, I also explored more canteens on the PKU Campus and tried several dishes, which are unfortunately mostly undefinable due to my low reading comprehension level. Therefore, ordering food in the canteen mostly goes like this:
Me: 这个 (This!)
Me：对啊 (Yeah correct)
Me：对米饭。谢谢。(Yes please, thanks.) *happily receiving the dish I was pointing at*
Lately, I upgraded my ordering skills in Chinese when it comes to asking for less spicy/sweet food or even naming certain dishes by their name ~ yay! While this seems a very small improvement, every successful application of the Chinese language is incredibly rewarding and motivates me to keep on trying more every day.
This week’s odd discovery
I would like to share surprising, unexpected or odd things that I experienced in China from my mostly western-culture-influenced perspective with you.
While shopping at Carrefour – the Chinese call it 家乐福 – I came across a dishwashing liquid that had an interesting name: Vegetable cleanser. Upon trying to decipher the description in Chinese, I found out that it is common to wash your vegetables and fruit with a special type of soap before cooking them to get rid of any excess pesticide or dirt. Interesting and definitely unexpected!
There is a fantastic restaurant called 宝源饺子which sells a unique specialty: colorful 饺子(dumplings). Hence, Chinese dumplings stuffed with all kinds of fillings and a dumpling skin that is prepared with natural ingredients such as sweet potato and spinach to turn the dough into orange or green colors. What a delight!
To add more flavor to the colorful jiaozi, the restaurant kindly provides whole garlic cloves on the side, to go with the dishes. I have never seen this before in a restaurant and discovered that the Chinese kitchen often includes garlic in its recipes, and apparently also raw on the side – a whole new dimension of garlic fandom was introduced here at Bao Yuan Dumplings.
These were my odd discoveries this week, please take them with a pinch of humour as I am trying to capture my list of unexpected discoveries in China as long as my foreigner-point-of-view lasts. As time flies by and myself adjusting very quickly, I am worried the list will soon be challenging to fill with new discoveries. So stay tuned for the next episode of curious discoveries in and around Beijing!
See you soon ~ 待会儿见！