07/24/12

Getting To Know Guangzhou: Tourist Guide to Xiguan Area

Xiguan Map

Click the map to see a larger version!

Today I want to introduce you to one of the most interesting areas in Guangzhou, the Xiguan district. If you are at all interested in history of Guangzhou and seeing local lifestyle, then continue reading.

Wikipedia article of Xiguan says:

Xiguan is a traditional geographical division of Guangzhou, China. It is situated in Liwan District. The area outside the west gate of Guangzhou is collectively called Xiguan in Ming and Qing Dynasty. It is worth mentioning that the name is still in use nowadays.

After this short introduction we’ll go for a tour and see some interesting spots in Xiguan.

Jin Lun Guild Hall, Guangzhou Silk Industry Museum

Jinlun Guild Hall

The first stop is Jin Lun Guild Hall that includes the Guangzhou Silk Industry Museum. It’s a small museum, but a very excellent one as it’s has a lot of information in English too. It’s free to enter, but you have to sign your name.

Show this to taxi driver: 荔湾区康王南路289号,锦纶会馆,广州丝织行业博物馆

Hualin Jade Street

Hualin Jade Street

Hualin Jade Street is the place in Guangzhou to buy jade. Even if you’re not buying anything, it’s interesting to take a look at the jade jewelry and get the feeling of a buzzing market place from the Qing dynasty.

To taxi driver: 荔湾区,华林玉器街 (上下九附近)

Hualin Temple

Hualin Temple

The history of Hualin Temple dates back to Southern Dynasties, “1654 the temple was expanded and renamed Hualin Temple”. I have visited many temples in China and I believe that the best experience would be to visit with a guide who knows about Buddhism and the history of that certain temple. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to have such a guide and that’s why visiting temples is more for taking pictures.

To taxi driver: 荔湾区,华林寺 (上下九附近)

Yaohua Community (Lingnan style houses)

Yaohua Community

This week was my second time to visit the Yaohua Community, one of my favourite places in Guangzhou. My dream would be to buy a place here, renovate it and live here with my family. But I don’t know even if foreigners are allowed to live here!

Yaohua Community

More information from Life of Guangzhou:

Yaohua community, which is crisscrossed by nearly a hundred flagstone paths, is well-known and respected for its history and architecture. — The commonly seen Xi Guan style (old Guangzhou) residences in the Yaohua community are miniatures of traditional Cantonese architecture. — Feng Yuan Street now has 12 arches, more than any other street in Guangzhou. — The Yaohua Community currently has a population of 5,958 people, 21.8% of which are senior citizens.

To taxi driver: 荔湾区,文昌北路,耀华大街

Litchi Bay (Lizhiwan)

Litchi Bay

Litchi Bay is a must see destination in Guangzhou, no matter if you are a history puff or not. Take a boat ride along the small river, taste traditional small snacks and walk around the beautiful park. From here you can also find the Lingnan Museum.

Liwan Lake Park

Like in any other park, also in Liwan Lake Park (next to Litchi Bay) you can find Chinese people playing, singing and enjoining their lives. I think parks are excellent tourist spots because there you can see how the local people relaxes and uses their free time.

To taxi driver: 荔湾区,荔枝湾

Enning Road

I don’t have any photos from Enning Road because the two times I’ve been there it have been always raining. But here is some information about this road from Life of Guangzhou:

Xiguan people living in Enning Road have retained their way of life. The evolution of the city has seemingly stopped here. Elderly with fans lying next to sliding timber doors, sleepy dogs on the stone-made streets, stalls selling steel pans, coal or repairing shoes, old-style shops for hair dressing and tailoring. Elements of Xiguan culture concentrated in this tiny historic road.

Enning Road has a nice little foot massage place that offers foot bath and massage for 25RMB. Besides foot they also massaged my neck, back and arms for the same price!

To taxi driver: 荔湾区,恩宁路

Shang Xia Jiu Shopping Street

Shang Xia Jiu Shopping Street

Shang Xia Jiu is the place for shopping and eating. I’ve been there many times during my plus two years in Guangzhou. You can find cheap clothing, bags and shoes, food from Western pizza to Chinese snacks.  Here you can also find shopping malls for silver and pearl jewelry. The Jade Street is right behind the Shang Xia Jiu.

To taxi driver: 上下九

07/15/12

Getting To Know Guangzhou: Julong Village

I went to Fangcun area yesterday, which is a part of the Liwan district. I had bought a guidebook the day before, book that introduces historical places and sites in Guangzhou. One of them is Julong Village (聚龙村).

Map around Julong Village

These first photos are from the said Julong Village which I circled in yellow to the map above. First a photo of a sign that offers more information about the small community. Click the image to see it larger.

Information of the Julong Village

Julong Village is a quiet little community and it looks like that only some houses have residents.

Julong Village

Julong Village

Sara Jaaksola in Julong Village

Julong Village

Cat in the Julong Village

The following photos are from the area around the Julong Village, marked in the map with a blue circle.

ChongKou River

ChongKou River

Near Julong Village

Fishing along Chongkou River

Water tower near Julong Village

Near Julong Village

Dog near Julong Village

07/4/12

When you feel learning Chinese is the hardest thing you’ve done (June Goal Check-In)

Chinese is hard

If you think it’s easy to learn Chinese, then there’s no need to read this post. If you became fluent in three months, then skip this post too. But if you feel like learning Chinese is the hardest thing you have ever done, then please continue.

Some of my grades from spring semester are out already and I went to the office to check them. I really shouldn’t have. I’ve done very very poorly! Some grades I just can’t understand how they are possible! I went from being the top of my class (20 students in class) last year to being perhaps the worst (3 students in class).

I feel like that whole semester was for nothing, feel very humiliated that I got poor grades. I only saw grades from 5 courses, but I don’t really look forward seeing the rest (4).

What I’m trying to tell you, and my self, is that it is okay to feel disappointed, it is understandable to feel that learning Chinese is hard. If you feel like crap because your Chinese isn’t improving, don’t worry, it is okay, I feel too.

What is not okay is to get stuck or give up. I can admit having a feeling like “I got such terrible grades, what’s the point in going forward?” But that’s exactly what you, and me, should do. We might be disappointed right now, but lets not be discouraged. Lets find the reasons why our studies aren’t going as well as we would like to.

My June Goal-Check In isn’t anything to be proud off. I did poorly on my exams and then let my self to a summer holiday mood (even though I have summer course every morning for a month). I’ve watched countless hours of American TV. I needed to get my brain out of learning Chinese, I really needed a break.

But I can’t let my break to last until September when the new semester begins. Learning Chinese isn’t easy for me, it requires a lot of work, a huge amount of hard work. I have to write by hand (Skritter app) in order not to forget characters, I have to study grammar over and over again, I have to read books and watch TV in Chinese, I have to find ways to improve my spoken Chinese. Nothing seems to be enough.

So if you do feel that Chinese is super hard then don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

07/1/12

Going back to my spring semester’s courses

Chinese characters

At the beginning of my spring semester I wrote about my Chinese as a foreign/second language undergraduate degree courses. The semester is over and I wanted to do another post to share with you what I learned. I hope this is helpful to anyone who is thinking of doing an undergrad in China.

Basic language courses

口语, Spoken Chinese

I was least satisfied with my spoken Chinese course. I have a feeling that I didn’t learn much and that is due to the fact that there were too many students in class, over 20. We learned new 表达方式 ways of expression, for example telling a story first and then using that to back up your argument or opinion. There wasn’t many opportunities to be corrected by teacher, basically not at all.

综合, Comprehensive Chinese

I learned a lot of vocabulary and grammar during this course. The teacher was strict which had a good effect on us students working harder. All in all I was very satisfied with this course.

写作,Writing

We learned to write different kind of opinion essays and also essays of a story or a short movie. I learned a lot during this course and we wrote about 8 essays which were graded by the teacher.

Teaching Chinese special courses

对外汉语技能教学, Teaching Chinese for foreigners(teaching different courses)

We learned basic things about teaching different courses to foreigners. We went over comprehensive course, listening course, spoken course and reading course. We made simple lessons plans and got feedback from them. The teacher was very very strict, but she knows what she teaches. I learned a lot during this course, especially that it’s really hard to be a good teacher!

语言学概论, Introduction to linguistics

This course actually made impossible possible, it made Finnish grammar interesting! We had lots of homework where we had to compare Finnish and Chinese, it was very interesting. Some things were quite hard and I perhaps didn’t learn everything that well, but it was just an introductory course, so I was happy with what I learned.

现代汉语, Modern Chinese

This semester we learned about Chinese phonology and vocabulary. The course was really hard and I often felt that my Chinese wasn’t good enough to study that course. I learned a lot of things during that course and came even more interested in this language.

对外汉语教学引论, Teaching Chinese for foreigners

During this course I thought a lot about which topic I could write my bachelor thesis. I learned some methods to use when writing a thesis if the topic is to compare a grammatical function in two languages for example (Chinese and native language).

Selective courses

中国国情,Current situation of China

This course was mainly listening to classmates’ presentations and free talk about the topics. It was an interesting course and topics run from education and health care to compassion and job hunting. A great class to use your Chinese when talking about an important topic.

现代汉语虚词学习,Modern Chinese function words

Absolutely the most boring course of all! Because of the lack of motivation, I didn’t learn that much during this course. I hope there was something that stuck though.

中级粤语,Middle level Cantonese

I learned new words and phrases in Cantonese, get to practice with my classmates and my teacher. I chose way too many courses so in the end I didn’t have enough energy to put into this course.

中国历史, History of China

This was a very interesting course and I learned a lot about China’s history that I didn’t know before. Excellent selective course.

—————-

I haven’t gotten the grades from my courses yet, but all in all I can say that I learned a lot during the spring semester. The most important lessons might be not to take so many courses!

07/1/12

Getting to know Guangzhou: Guangdong Museum

If you want to know more about the history of Guangdong province, including Guangzhou, then you should head to the new Guangdong Museum in Zhujiang New Town. Their exhibition of the history on this area is excellent, even though it strategically ends to the year 1949.

Guangdong Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9AM to 5PM. Museum accepts 5000 guests every day and you get a free ticket by showing your passport. Address to the museum: 广东省广州市天河区珠江新城珠江东路2号. Closest metro stops are Zhujiang New Town (Metro line 3 and 5) and Guangzhou Opera House (APM line).

The exhibition of the Guangdong history has signs and texts in English too, but sometimes there is more information in Chinese.

I visited the museum at the beginning of this week and would say it’s a must for anyone living in Guangdong province, anyone who has even the slightest interest towards history.

Guangdong Museum

Guangdong Museum

Guangdong Museum

Guangdong Museum

Guangdong Museum

Guangdong Museum(In most cases there is more English than in this sign.)