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liang shi's travel blog, society & culture »

[ By | 27 Jun 2009 | 2 Comments ]

“What makes a woman attractive?”

I recently had the opportunity to ask this relatively simple question to 20 strangers on the streets of Shanghai, and while the answers went in various directions, ranging from physique to a woman’s timeliness, the most interesting answer, and also the one most foreign to me, was the concept of having “qi zhi.”

Eleven out of the 20 respondents listed “qi zhi” in their top-three picks for what makes a woman attractive, with eight out of the eleven listing the concept as number one. The rest answered that it was the second most important requirement.

From the convoluted reactions I received when I asked what exactly “qi zhi” meant, it appears there is no simple or direct translation into any concept that we might be familiar with in America. In fact, people resorted to lengthy explanations and extensive metaphors to explain the idea to a visitor.

caitlin meredith's travel blog, editorial, international, multimedia, on the street, society & culture, video »

[ By | 27 Jun 2009 | One Comment ]
Sweatin’ with the oldies

The early morning scene in a Chinese public park is part Lollapalooza, part Jazzercise convention and part Karate Kid, with just a tinge of One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest. While youth might rave or hip-hop the Shanghai night away, it’s the seniors who rule the dawn.

On a typical early morning in Zhongshan Park, no fewer than 17 activities share the walkways and grassy enclosures. From badminton, ballroom dancing and tai chi to table tennis, Chinese elders have taken the government’s physical fitness call-to-arms to heart. . . .

blakeley guerriere's travel blog, business, editorial, society & culture »

[ By | 27 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

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.

business, hudson lockett's travel blog, society & culture »

[ By | 27 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
Empty rooms, Shanghai booms

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.

alice ju's travel blog, society & culture »

[ By | 26 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
A private school in Shanghai: New forms of education for a new China

“The needs of the public have diversified,” said principal Yang Yishang of the New Century Private School in Shanghai. “Private schools offer better education for parents who can afford it.”

New Century, founded in 1992, is the city’s first private school, offering instruction in grades one to five. As tuition goes, New Century is relatively pricey. Public schools are free to Chinese citizens, but New Century charges 11,000 RMB (1609.60 USD) per year, not including textbooks and extracurricular expenses.

“The quality of service we provide is worth the cost,” Yang said.

Classes are more comprehensive than at public schools. For English education public schools only use one textbook, while New Century includes supplemental audio and conversational materials, said Yu Chunyan, the school’s curriculum administrator.

featured, natalia ciolko's travel blog, society & culture »

[ By | 25 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
From digital to direct: Online communities make a critical connection

At the top of a five-story Adidas store in Beijing, a gaggle of perfectly styled teenagers and twenty-somethings crowded the escalator landing. Gathered for the opening of an art exhibition, the participants were members of Make Cute Club, or MCC, an online fashion forum catering to China’s style-obsessed Netizens, who were meeting in person for the very first time. Decked out with piercings, fake eyelashes and trucker hats, the MCC-ers hugged and mugged, snapping pictures with their cell phones and chattering in the silence of the otherwise empty store. Welcome to the microcosm of self-expression among China’s youth today. . . .

on the street, simrat sharma's travel blog, society & culture »

[ By | 24 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

The fifty-something woman with curly hair peered into my eyes and asked me in Chinese, “How old are you?” When I told her I was 20, she laughed good-naturedly and immediately drew me into a conversation about her life and family.

Recently retired, she lives in a senior citizen center in Yuxian, a small city three hours’ drive west of Beijing, where her days were filled with dance classes. To my delight, my new friend’s degree of candor quickly escalated. She started sharing the rather intimate details of her children’s lives with me. As fellow members of the center showed off flamboyant dance moves in a performance for our group, the woman told me about that her daughter had three children, a clear abridgement of China’s one-child policy. She then proceeded to outline her daughter’s medical history in surprisingly frank detail. Before coming into China, I had assumed that cultural norms here rarely permitted the discussion of intimate matters with a stranger, much less a foreigner. Her openness was as surprising as it was refreshing. . . .

on the street, society & culture, vianey luna's travel blog »

[ By | 24 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

“Can I smoke in here?” said Wu Jiang, 27, glancing around the lobby of a Beijing hotel with annoyed nonchalance. Without waiting for a reply, the shaggy-haired film student lit up his cigarette with a hint of rebellion.

“I started to listen to rock ‘n’ roll,” he said when asked when his interest in shaking the status quo first began. “I wanted to be a rebel.” While many of his high school classmates prepared to enter university, he waited until a few years ago to enter one of China’s most prestigious film universities — the Beijing Film Academy.

Wu said his parents have rejected his choice of career and lifestyle, preferring that he establish himself in society as a “normal” person without calling attention to himself.

liang shi's travel blog, multimedia, on the street, society & culture, sound slides, video »

[ By | 24 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
A day in the life of Beishe village

Beishe is a village located in rural Shaanxi province, a two-hour drive from the ancient capital of Xi’an. While change has come to Beishe over the years – the introduction of electricity, an increase in motor vehicles and other labor-saving devices, and overall improvement in the quality of life – it has come at a much slower pace than in the country’s booming urban centers. This video offers glimpses of a day in the life of the people of Beishe, who manage to honor age-old rhythms in a time of dramatic national transformation.

dawn jones-garcia's travel blog, society & culture »

[ By | 23 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
A chance encounter with the Book of Changes

The day began at the Beijing Normal University, where I spoke with Chinese philosophy students about the teachings of Confucius. My interest was indirectly inspired by the piles of bricks, both old and new, that I had seen in the hutongs around my hotel. Construction workers routinely incorporate bricks from torn-down structures with new ones to erect the modern buildings now sprouting in Beijing.

Thus, the idea of combining new and old forms made me wonder how traditional Chinese culture persists in the face of the country’s fast-paced economic growth. I wanted to know what metaphorical “old bricks” are reincarnated in the new China. A philosophical conversation seemed like a place to start. As the day wore on, I got schooled in the oldest aspects of Chinese culture. Appropriately enough, the most intriguing lesson came with little explanation. . . .