Latest Travel Blogs
Many great questions have been pondered throughout Chinese history. On a hot June day in 2009, four brave women dared to ask: "Where is the toboggan?" Their quest was part of this year's Reporting China assault on the Great Wall of China and a special mission to search out a toboggan ride discovered by the 2008 Reporting China team that provides travelers the option of a little mechanical help in getting up to and down from the battlements, with a few thrills and chills thrown in for good measure. Join them now to see how they fared.
Rio Zhang, 24, visited a dentist for the first time in his life only three weeks ago. Strolling the streets of Yuxian, a city in the countryside west of Beijing, he spied a business office with lots of interesting-looking high-tech equipment visible through the window. When he asked his friend what kind of business this might be, the friend said, "a dentist office." On the spot, Zhang decided to have his teeth cleaned and the experience was so positive he was hooked. “That experience really made me realize teeth are important," said Zhang. "I don’t want to have [false] teeth when I get old.” And so, he plans on visiting the dentist office twice a year from now on. Going to the dentist for a check-up and cleaning is a routine many Americans take for granted but, in China today, quality dental care remains relatively rare and, depending on the work involved, expensive.
Ten years ago, the African elite sent their children to study at universities in America or Europe to ensure their success and financial futures. Now, the target is slowly shifting from the West to the East. “My father’s colleague told him if I studied in China I would always have a job,” said Pitshou Ngoma, 29, whose father is an agricultural minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “So he sent me to Beijing.” Africa’s wealth of oil and other mineral resources has long been of interest to China. China-Africa trade has increased by an average 30 percent a year this decade, reaching nearly $107 billion in 2008, according to The New York Times. In order to solidify China’s hold in the developing economies, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao went on a much publicized African tour early this year, visiting eight pivotal countries. As government ties deepen - bringing Chinese companies to rural Africa to install roads, excavate minerals and construct schools, many African students are seeking to ride the Chinese tide to prosperity in their home countries.
When Professor Gao Yanming began teaching at Fudan University's School of Public Health 10 years ago, the idea of teaching a course with the word “homosexual” in the title was unthinkable. Today, however, Gao teaches “Homosexual Health and Social Science"– the first gay-related course to be offered at a Chinese university. The reason for this dramatic turnaround is difficult to pinpoint, but people familiar with gay and lesbian issues in China - gay and straight, locals and foreigners - voice the opinion that the West's increasing openness about LGBT people and culture has had an impact. "You can't deny that Western culture, which is always pushing the bar, has something to do with it," said Chris Xu, a gay Shanghai man. "I doubt being gay in China would be any more accepted if America [had] made no progress for tolerance in the past couple of decades." Ironically, homosexuality in China is celebrated in the country's ancient art. . . .
Wang Xiaojia would never marry a man who didn't own his own place. "No house, no security," she stated flatly. A 26-year-old living in Shanghai, Wang said she planned to marry in a few years, but only to a guy with the right real estate bona fides. Sitting in the city's People's Park, Wang confirmed the widespread Shanghai view that owning property is a status symbol, and for many men, a qualification for marriage. "'The girls who aren't looking for a house aren't realistic, they're idealistic,” said Wang.
On American indie musician Brian Seymour’s 2006 Web site promoting his tour through China, he promised a "fostering of cultural exchange and creative collaboration." So when he decided to perform at Shanghai’s Cotton’s, a restaurant with a predominately expat clientele on June 22, Seymour’s intentions for his most recent tour in China seemed to demonstrate otherwise. As expected, Seymour’s audience at Cotton’s was a large expat crowd. If the listeners were not Chinese who either lived or were born abroad, they were foreigners. The derailing of Seymour's good intentions is not all that uncommon. Despite hopes for performing for more ordinary Chinese when touring China, foreign indie artists often find themselves playing for large expat crowds. In fact, the economics of touring make it almost unavoidable. Artists and their promoters have a hard time making a profit if they do not tap the expat demand.
"Shanghai is a modern city... compared to most other cities in China, so I came here to learn about fashion,” said Zhang Yujing, a fashion design sophomore at the city's Donghua University. The travel Web site asiarooms.com said Shanghai was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and that fashion was a “booming industry.” The site also said that over the past few decades, fashion here had developed a unique style of its own, attributing the trend to factors like the mixing of indigenous and Western patterns of dressing or “East Meets West”. While the amount of fashion in and from Shanghai that is truly representative of Chinese or Shanghai fashion is debatable, few question that Shanghai is an important global fashion post. When did the city become a big player in the world fashion scene?
It’s no secret the Chinese government heavily censors its country's news media. Controversial topics are ignored and uncomfortable facts are sometimes omitted, particularly when it comes to the Three T's: Tibet, Tiananmen, and Taiwan. Newsroom editors must routinely ask themselves what stories are appropriate to run or risk having officials shut them down for crossing the line. Historically speaking, there is good reason for such caution. Since the founding of the Peoples Republic in 1949, the news media have mainly served as an instrument in the dissemination of government policy and information, and is expected to show support for such policies. Because of the recent commercialization of media, however, that may now be changing. “Commercial media is only a couple of decades old in China,” said William Moss, a specialist in international public relations. . . .
In matters of culture, momentum is not necessarily a function of time. Haipaicai, or Shanghai-style cuisine, has a history less than two decades old, yet the gravitational pull of the city’s food scene is no less effective or transformative than that of time-honored culinary bastions like New York and Paris. The concept of creating a unique culinary identity by adaptating various regional flavors from all over China was primarily a marketing scheme devised by Chinese Communist Party officials in the 1980s to promote Shanghai as a happening place for culture, as well as finance and markets. And it’s worked—today there are over 20,000 restaurants in Shanghai alone, and in one way or another, they all owe their history to this culinary development.
Roughly 5,000 Indian nationals, including entrepreneurs, business professionals and students, live in the East China region, according to the Indian Consulate in Shanghai.
In hopes of becoming the next Bruce Lee, 10-year-old Qiu Bao endures demanding training at the Zhao Changjun Wushu Institute, a martial arts school located in the suburbs of Xi’an. For Qiu and his classmates, the tough conditions represent a test of character in a hoped-for tradeoff for a better future. With a half-dozen ceiling fans pushing around the hot, humid air in the school gymnasium, Qiu does his best to keep up with the grueling daily routine. He dashes down a strip of burgundy carpet, sweat pouring off his face, leaps in the air, sticks his landing and returns to the back of the line to repeat the process. But the heat and exertion take their toll. During a subsequent drill, Qiu falls, hitting the ground with a loud thump. Hastily righting himself, he steals an apprehensive look at his two trainers. Then, in the last group routine before a break, he lags behind the other students, clearly exhausted, with bruises visible on his slim legs. Yet by the end of the drill, he manages to stand straight and tall, ultimately triumphing over his shortcomings... Shortcomings will have to disappear if Qiu hopes to ever prove that he can master this demanding vocation.