Qing Ming Festival

Today, most schools, public administration and some Chinese businesses will close their doors. China starts celebrating a 3 day observance for the annual Qing Ming festival. The day was usually celebrated in Macau and Hong Kong and has become an official holiday in mainland China in 2008.

清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié), literally translated as clear and bright festival is also know as ‘Tomb Sweeping Festival’. You may have noticed, temperatures are raising, trees are blossoming and the spring spirit brings a smooth transition into summer after a rude and cold winter. The festival is the most appropriate moment for family to gather around their ancestor’s tomb and pay tribute to their lives and hope that good fortune will come for the living ones.

At IntuuChina for instance, our employee Irene will set sail for a long journey to the outskirts of Shanghai from 5AM. Apart from cleaning the tomb and offering wine and food to the deceased, one of the most striking feature of QingMing festival is the burning of fake banknotes and small artefacts made with cardboard and paper such as fake luxury bags, ipads, houses, pricey shoes and even houses. After a morning of commemoration, the family will then eat in a restaurant. They will then gather around 青团 (qīngtuán), a steamed gelatinous green bun filled with a sweet red bean paste. The day can be a very intense emotional journey but the family bounds grow stronger. Chinese would also fly kites and attach little paper lamps during the dark hours. Overall, it is a fun day of remembrance and paring respect to the deceased.

Wondering how the burnt paper object look like? As a bonus, here is the art project of Item Idem, a French artist from New York. He composed a stunning video, with Chinese artist Cheng Ran, displaying those objects exploding and catching fire in a dramatic way.

https://vimeo.com/82835468

Smart Airport Transfers in Shanghai

You just arrived from a long international journey and your eyes are barely alert and probably confused by the Chinese signs everywhere. No worries, we have prepared a comprehensive list of your transfer options from Shanghai airports to the city Centre.

From Pudong Airport

Pudong is divided between two international terminals. If you are landing and want to make your way to the city, no need to acknowledge where you are landing. However, if you are leaving from Pudong, make sure you know which Terminal your airline is flying from.

- The Metro – 6RMB

Line 2 will become your best friend. It takes approximately 45 minutes to join the city centre.  Rather than standing in the line to take a metro ticket, buy a shanghai metro card (20RMB = 3euros) and top it up with the amount you want. It is a simple pay as you go card that will save you a lot of time when metro stations machines will be busy. As an indication, a metro ride in Shanghai costs approximately 3-4RMB. Also, do not be surprised but you will have to change  carriages at Guanglan Road to continue to the city centre.

- The Maglev – 40RMB+costs

Ever dreamt of riding the 30 km (19mi) to the city centre in 6-7 minutes? It is possible if you take the Maglev. The Maglev operates between 6.45 to 21.40It does not land you exactly in the city centre but at Longyang Road Station from where you will have to take the line 2 or taxi to arrive at your final destination. The L.E.D. speedometer is an attraction as it quickly reaches the maximum speed of 431 km/h (268 mph). Be aware that the maximum speed is only reached between 9.00-10.45 and 15.00-15.45 due to noise restrictions. A fun way to save time to the centre!

- Taxi – On the meter

Taxi Lines are well organized from Pudong. Journey fares start with a flat rate of 14RMB (April 2014) daytime and 18RMB nighttime. You should pay between 120-180RMB to reach most parts of Shanghai. Taxis in Shanghai are always on the meter!

- Arriving late

Some flights arrive very late and transportation gets very difficult past 23.00. If you are on a budget and do not want to take the taxi, take the special night bus line. The last bus will depart 45 minutes after the last plane arrives. It goes to all these stations: Longyang Road Subway Station, Dongfang Rd Zhangyang Rd, East Hospital (Pudong Avenue), Middle Zhejiang Rd (Yan'an Rd/People's Square), Shimen 1st Rd (Yan'an Rd), Huashan Rd (Yan'an Rd/Jing'an Temple), Hongxu Rd (Yan'an Rd)

From Hongqiao

Hongqiao is more famous for its domestic connections but if you were in transit somewhere else, you might end up at Hongqiao, Shanghai’s first airport.

- The Metro – Line 2 and Line 10

Both tube lines connect the airport to most places in the city centre. You can also take line 2 to go to Pudong airport.

- Taxi

Same as for Pudong, it is very convenient to take the taxi from Hongqiao. As the airport is closer to the centre, it should cost you around 40-60RMB to join most places in Shanghai.

Don’t forget to note down your final destination’s address in Chinese and print of map of Shanghai’s tube and a google maps prints of the surroundings of your accommodation would not hurt either. However, if you do not want to worry about your airport transfer, why not use our services? Drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that we can give you a quote. Enjoy Shanghai!

10 quick ways to learn Chinese fast

Learning Chinese is not as daunting as one can possibly imagine. The grammatical structure is easy. Of course the two main obstacles are the tones which can prove to hear, let alone reproduce and, of course, the learning of the characters. There is indeed, no alphabet but you will see that after learning a few characters, a logic will emerge and stems, radicals and concepts will help you remember characters in a fun and sustainable way.

 

1. Rejoice, Chinese is not as difficult!

Great news! There is no single conjugation pattern to learn. All verbs are expressed in the same manner. The future and the past are expressed simply by adding adverbs or adverbial phrases such as ‘tomorrow’ (明天-míngtiān), ‘last year’(去年-qùnián, ‘yesterday’(昨天-zuótiān

 

2. But let’s be realistic

It is believed that in order to read the newspapers, one must learn 3000 characters. There are some irregularities, one single character can be pronounced differently, have several meanings and depending if you are from the North or the South, things are expressed differently. This are quite common variations that actually exists in all languages.

 

3. One word a day keeps the boredom away

Learning a language demands discipline. Rest assured, nothing too time-consuming but a 10-20 minutes session everyday will truly help you memorise the characters, as they have to be saved in your long-term memory.

 

4. Use your imagination

Once you have acquired some basic characters, use your imagination and learn how stems and radicals do offer some great combinations in order to produce meaning. Chinese is a real language.

 

5. Use Pleco!

There are some brilliants apps on the market. Pleco (https://www.pleco.com/) is one of them. It contains an impressive range of entries English-Chinese and vice versa. It offers you the ability to test yourself and see statistics of your progression!

 

6. Create colourful memories Chineasy (http://chineasy.org/)

If you are a visual person, attracted to beautiful things, this method will be your heaven. Combining characters with simple illustration Shaolan – at the root of this social teaching initiative – has managed to create simple Chinese flashcards that will stick in your mind forever.

 

7. Feed your Facebook wall

           

8. And on Twitter

  • @ChineseHSKapps
  • @Hello_Chineasy
  • @ChineseHSKapps

 

9. Watch Chinese movies

Time Out just realeased an impressive list of the 100 best mainland China film to watch! Watching movies is a great way to get accustomed to the language, hear patterns and even

http://www.timeoutshanghai.com/feature/1031/The-100-best-Mainland-Chinese-films.html

 

10. Keep faith

Learning Chinese is probably the most rewarding thing ever. You will have access to a complete whole new world of opportunities and it is incredible how helpful this language will prove to you in the long-run. The more you learn, the more friends you will be able to make. This will allow you to create a long-term, sustainable, virtuous learning circle.

Good luck !

10 non-obvious things to consider before moving to China

 

 Totems-by-Alain-Delorme-3.jpg

 

1 – Install a VPN

A VP-What? You may ask. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network aka magic that will make blocked websites such as Facebook, Youtube, the NYT available to you in mainland China.

On MAC and PCs, most of the reliable VPNs are not free. We recommend Astrill. With prices ranging from little as $5.83 to $9.98 per month with plans ranging from 3 months to 1 year. It’s a fast and reliable VPN which even displays the upload and download speed.

Also, do not forget your phones! As we are consuming most of our media on the go, it is important to install those VPNs on your cell phone before you arrive in China. Try Onavo Protect (free) for IOS and VPN unlimited (Android)

 

2 - Fight the language barrier

Everything will be different! The signs on the street, the price tags in supermarkets and even letters in your mailbox! Don’t miss out on anything and install a dictionary on your phones. Make sure you have enabled Chinese Pinyin keyboard and Chinese Writing keyboard in your phone settings and indulge yourself in the Chinese language. It is truly mesmerising. We highly recommend Pleco which will also allow you to save and organise new words and even test yourself on them! A great app on both IOS and Android.

 

3- Communication

Start your China immersion with social media! Download WeChat aka Weixin 微信. It is a cross over between Whatsapp and Facebook. A very communication tool that everyone use in China! It will help you a lot meeting new friends.

Also, if you can, business cards are always a handy thing to have. It is very common to exchange them when you first meet someone. Please remember to receive and give your business card with two hands, thumbs facing the sky.

 

4 – Eating customs

As non-obvious as it may sound, make sure you know how to use chopsticks before coming to China. Little cantine and street food will certainly not cater for forks and knifes lovers. Also, it is not impolite to sip your soup loudly! So don’t be too surprised! ;) 

 

5 – Taking the taxi

Very few taxi drivers speak English. Make sure to give the nearest intersection name rather than the full address to the taxi. For example, if you would like to go to do your grocery shopping at the Avocado Lady on Wulumuqi Road, you have to tell the taxi first the road where you want to go here Wulumuqi Road and the nearest intersection Wuyuan Road. So, you would say: Wulumuqi Lu/Wuyuan Lu and that’s enough for the taxi to depart! Oh yeah Lu = Road in Chinese.

 

6 – Stay safely hydrated

Water is non-potable in China. Make sure you always buy water bottles. It is very easy to find and cheap! Also, when you ask for tap water at the restaurant, you will most likely end up with hot water which is safe but also healthy to drink according to Chinese sayings.

 

7 – Road Safety

Although this is pretty obvious, there are some uncommon features of Chinese road customs. For instance, when you are on a pedestrian crossing and the little man turned green, be aware that vehicles at any intersection will always have the possibility to turn right despite being faced by a red light. More than ever, look both sides before engaging on the road.

 

8 – You might miss…

… deodorant and tampons. Make sure you stock up on those items, as they don’t really exist for the wider public. Moreover they are a weeny bit more expensive in China.

 

9 – Survival phrases

            我要 = wo yào zhège = I want this.

            Please also use your fingers to point to the stuff you want.

            不要/要bùyāo/yāo = I don’t want / I want

不要辣bùyāo là = I don’t want spicy (very useful if you don’t want to eat spicy food)

 

10 – Open your eyes

Don’t forget that you are coming to China to experience another culture. You will be truly amazed by where curiosity can take you. Despite the language barrier, it is possible to meet native Chinese and become good friends with them.  Remain open.

 

Dining Etiquette

A series of rules and etiquette you must have to take into consideration before having a formal dinner in China.

 

1. If you are a big group of people, you will be placed on a round dining table. As many people can be seated around it conveniently facing each other.

 2. Dining might only begin when the host and all his/her guests are seated. The host should take care of all the guests, inviting them to enjoy the meal.

3. The person who sits closest to the drink, should pour it for others. From the other side, when others fill your cup or glass, you should express your thanks.

4. The host should toast others first with a simple prologue to let the dining start. During the dinner, anyone can toast you or vice versa. When someone toasts you, you have to stop eating and drinking to accept and toast in response. If the person you want to toast, you can rap on the table to attract attention rather than shout during the dinner.

5. It is not usual to finish all the dishes on the table since that is considered that the host did not provide enough food. All guests should leave the table after the host.