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Life in China ~ Hungry Ghost Festival

17 Aug

My Chinese friend called today asking to hang out. When I asked what was up, she said she intended to go home today but her brother called and warned her not to travel today. Apparently today the province is celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival.

It falls on the 15th of the 7th lunar month. According to my friend, they believe that today many ghosts are able to travel around the country. This is why my friend couldn’t travel- she has to leave the way clear for the ghosts instead. Instead many adherents will go to the graves and leave lots of food for the hungry wanderers to eat.

Our Delicious Dumplings ūüôā¬†

They also make hand-made traditional dumplings out of long noodles. They are long so you can wrap up your ancestral ghosts in the strand and keep them close to you in the future. Funnily enough, we went to the little Chinese garden here and ran into 5-6 grandfathers out with their grandkids. They had been tasked with entertaining the kids while grandma made the dumplings. To participate, my friend and I had beef dumplings at the local street market and she promised to wait until tomorrow to go home :p



4 Year old and her 6.5 year old sister. The older sister starts English classes tomorrow, and they both knew the ABC song!




Twin 4-year olds. They start Kindergarten this  year and are excellent Bubble-blowers!


Upcoming Event ~ “Taiwan Fest!”

11 Aug

Hey Folks!  

Heard from the ACSEA (Asian-Canadian Special Events Association) and they are putting on what sound’s like a really cool event in Downtown Toronto and Vancouver! ūüôā¬†

Each year, this organization hosts the annual TAIWANfest, and this year it’s going to be called “Dialogues with Asia” starting with “A Cultural Tango with Hong Kong.” ¬†The event’s purpose is the “engage Torontonians and Vancouverites in a cultural dialogue to better understand Asian cultures.” But I’m sure they’d love for people of all locales to stop buy and participate! Sounds like a great opportunity to learn more about not only Taiwan (an awesome place – most of my students say that it is actually more like old-style, traditional China than even the mainland) but also other countries in the Asian sphere.

You can see the schedule for August 26-28 here and September 3-5¬†here.¬†Special events include an International Pan Asian Culinary event and “A Cultural Tango with Hong Kong Symphony” Check it out!

Who:  ACSEA (Asian-Canadian Special Events Association)

When: August 26-28, 2016 (in Toronto) &  September 3-5, 2016 (in Vancouver)


Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay W
Toronto, ON M5J 2G8

The Centre / Granville Street / QE Theatre Plaza
Vancouver Playhouse Annex

More Information: Here.

“TAIWANfest returns to Harbourfront Centre and Downtown Vancouver this summer and begins its ‚ÄúDialogues with Asia‚ÄĚ series with ‚ÄúA Cultural Tango with Hong Kong.‚ÄĚ One of the great ways to experience the culture is to take part in the Friendship Picnic ‚Äď a program designed to cultivate new friendships over food. Mark down the dates and get ready to meet someone from Taiwan or Hong Kong. If you‚Äôre a little more adventurous, try the Hakka nutritional beverage called Lei-Cha, made from ground up seeds and nuts. For some great stories, check out the full Experience HAKKA! Redefine your understanding of Asian cultures with exhibits and films August 26-28 at Harbourfront Centre and¬†September 3-5 in Downtown Vancouver.”

Life in China ~ a Party v. the Party

10 Apr


I was asking my students on our WeChat group (like a Group Chat) if they had class Monday night so we can schedule our exams.

D quickly¬†replied “No, I have a party class.” 0_0

Party class? ¬†Say what!?! ¬†And I wasn’t invited? ¬†How rude!

The group¬†erupted with 63+ Chinese-language messages in a matter of minutes as ¬†the class leader¬†started with “What the HE** is a party class.” Another “ooh, class on how to dance.” “Let’s Party!” “Can I come?” “Do you get to drink?”¬†Lots and lots of laughing pictures and emoticons.

At the same time a whole line of students with”I don’t think the teacher will understand.” “Oh, that’s a bad translation.” “The teacher is going to think you want to go party.” “This is very bad.” “You shouldn’t say that. You cannot trust translation my dear.” “Don’t you know to stop and check every three words? ¬†D replies again–“Oh, no! Now I think the teacher will misunderstand me!” (Horror Face).

At which point, the whole group started posting a series of Chinese phrases that have really bad English translations. ¬†Like “My father-in-law isn’t coming” which translates as “The father-in-law will not be coming to my bed.” It was bad ūüėõ¬†

My response: “Is that a class party? Party during class? Class about how to party?” This sounds fun and now I’m sad I wasn’t invited to the party lesson! ūüė¶ ūüė¶ ūüė¶ ” ¬†LOL

Finally, one of them came back with a screen capture of the definition and translation in the Chinese-English dictionary of “Communist Party”–“It’s this one teacher, not a “party class” it’s THE Party class.” ¬†Ah! Makes Much More Sense. . . . And a much better reason for not being able to make the Exam on time! ūüėõ


Terra Cotta Soldier M&M

1 Mar

I believe we all feel MUCH more secure knowing that this worthy warrior stands guard. My China experience is now better for having met this Terra Cotta M&M! 


22 Feb


According to traditional custom, today is the Chinese lantern festival! It’s a day when they light the paper lanterns and send them up as symbols of hopes and dreams for the future. A beautiful tradition!


Always on the first full moon of the new lunar year.


Lanterns are available for about ÔŅ•5, and come in many colors! Mine was red ūüôā


Lights are shining!


Fireworks blasting!

Happy Lantern Festival!

Discovery of the World’s Oldest Tea

31 Jan

Archaeologists have discovered a huge stash of the oldest tea in the world buried in the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor. The tea (pictured right) was badly decomposed, but analysis showed only the finest tips (bottom left) had been picked and buried with the emperor. Similar tea was found in a tomb in Tibet (top left)¬†Archaeologists have uncovered the world’s oldest set of tea leaves from the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor!¬†

 Living 2,150 years ago in the Western Han Dynasty, Emperor Jing was a major fan of the delicious drink.  Like all the rest of us tea lovers, Emperor Jing understood the power of the tea leaf and its healing/renewing abilities.  

The collection of tea leaves was 42 feet x 8 inches. That is a major tea haul! If you ever tried drinking tea from leaves rather than a lipton bag, you’ll know that it only takes a small amount to go a long way. This amount probably lasted him a long while in the afterworld! ¬†

This particular type of tea, Camellia Sinesis, comes from¬†a type¬†of¬†small evergreen shrub known as a tea tree. The leaves and buds of the tree are used to create a special, expensive¬†green tea. ¬†There are actually two varieties of the tree–one is used to create the Chinese teas (such as White Tea, Oolong, Pu’er, Green Tea, etc.) and the other is used to create Indian Assam teas.¬†The leaves of the tree have long been applied in Chinese traditional medications and as a caffeine provider. ¬†I’m guessing it was pretty easy to bring the emperor over as a tea supporter ūüôā

The tomb was located in Xi’an, China. Xi’an is now world-famous due to the discovery of the Terra Cotta army buried under the local hills and is only about an 8 hour drive from where I live! ¬†I’m really excited; maybe I could see this tea pile ūüôā Emperor Jing’s tomb contained “50,000” terra cotta animals and statues, along with other great treasures.

The extra amazing thing about the tea beyond its age is the fact that it is some of the earliest proof that researchers have about the Silk Road.  It is believed that the emperor may have traded his tea with Tibet where similar tea remains were found dating not long after.  This shows the the Silk Road probably moved thorugh Tibet at the time.  


  1. Daily Mail
  2. Medicine.Net
  3. Wikipedia (Don’t Shoot Me)

When Time Rewinds

19 Dec


Kaifung, Henan, China ~ Traditional Park

48 Hours in Kaifeng ~ City of Chrysanthemums

29 Nov


Where? ~ Kaifeng, Henan, China

How? ~ Fly into Zhengzhou (an international airport). Grab the train or a bus to Kaifeng (takes about 2 Hours)

Recommendation ~ Don’t go later in the winter than November 20th or so. ¬†All the cultural sites will be winding up their activities and events, so you’ll miss all the fun things to do there. ¬†For example, we caught the last showing of the Millennium Park War (a major thing to see).

Cost ~ Please note that the costs below are what was reported to me. To be honest, costs vary from week to week here. So it could be as much as 20CNY higher or lower (about $4) for each place, or it could be what I told you. It really depends on the day.



The Ancient City of Kaifeng ŚľÄŚįĀ¬†(kI fuhng) lies in the heart of central Henan Province, China and trails just south of the Yellow River. ¬†The local Henan¬†people¬†speak of Kaifeng, the capital of six different dynasties and a town filled with beautiful flowers and famous dishes,¬†with the greatest respect and awe. ¬†


“Open and Shut”

Dating to 364BC, a small city of canals and waterways linked to the Yellow River was created. This little town would eventually morph into a thriving business and merchant city, now home to almost 6 million people. The city would be destroyed, abandoned, and re-built many times in the following centuries, and remnants of these cultures can still be seen at the local cultural sites and the city museum.  In fact, for about 114 years, Kaifeng was the largest city in the world! The tour guide compared it to Tokyo, New York, and Paris in its time.

The characters in the name Kaifeng represent the phrase “Open and Shut.” ¬†Officially, this name represents the fact that Kaifeng represents open and shutting doors. ¬†Kaifeng has always been open to new ideas, new theories ~ a center of business, technology, and politics. ¬†But it is also closed, remaining true to the traditional values and beliefs of its ancient inhabitants. ¬†This is why when you visit, you can find both Ancient villas¬†that appear unmarked by the intervening centuries and modern Shopping.

Secretly, our guide says “Open and Shut” is the name because if you open up the windows in Kaifeng, you’re blown away by the winds. ¬†Perhaps true, it was seriously freezing and the wind could have cut through a sheet of glass. ¬† Continue reading

One Thousand Hands and Eyes

26 Nov


This beautiful statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy lies in Daxiangguo Temple in Kaifeng, Henan, China.  Gold-plated, it is a memorial to both propriety and filial piety, two of the great Chinese Confucian virtues.  The story below is a combination of the story told by the tour guide and some local conversationalists who were happy to relate the story to me.  

Many centuries ago,

An old emperor of China grew very, very ill and saw that his country was suffering as well.  Realizing that the country was troubled and needed heavenly assistance, the worried king called out to Buddha and asked for guidance on how to appease the heavens and reclaim the blessings from above.  

Buddha responded that the country and its king had done some very wicked things in the past and that now a sacrifice would be required to repair the damage.  Buddha asked that the Emperor offer up to the heavens one arm and one eye from someone within his family. If he did so, Buddhas said, the country and emperor would be healed and would live in peace once more.  

The Emperor was very saddened and worried, because the only family he had left were his three young daughters.  The Princesses though were very concerned about their father and finally convinced him to share what Buddha commanded.  Upon hearing of the sacrifice required, the sisters were quite upset.

¬†The eldest daughter went to her father ~ “My king, although I love you and would do anything else that you asked of me, I cannot do this for you. I am a new mother, my baby is still nursing. If I only have one arm and one eye, how could I possibly care for my baby the way a good mother is supposed to?” Continue reading

Chinese Cultural Beauties ~ Moderation

11 Nov


The local cafe has recently acquired a new employee devoted to customer happiness ~¬†Gordy, the resident Koi fish ūüôā

Adorable little guy, he swims around in his bowl quite contentedly, entertaining children and adults alike.

Having attempted to keep koi fish myself and discovering a problem wherein they kept dying, I asked the owner how they have kept him alive so long.

One of the beauties of Chinese culture is how often they answer simple questions with ancient proverbs or philosophical explanations.

The owner’s enlightening response was that the key lay in finding moderation. ¬†The Koi fish are like people~they are a little strong and a little weak.¬†They have particular environments that they need to survive. If it is too clean and easy, they will be lazy and unhealthy. ¬†If it is too dirty and difficult, they will be depressed and find it hard to breathe.¬†They need balance to survive.

So every day, he changes¬†Gordy’s water. But where I would change the water completely, they balance clean and dirty water. They dump out half of the old water and add half with new/fresh water. ¬†This way, the water is a lot like the local ponds that¬†Gordy¬†comes from ~ a little fresh water (from rain and connected waterways) and a little dirty water (from algae, dirt, and other natural dirtiers). ¬†In this natural environment,¬†Gordy¬†grows both strong and happy.

Go Gordy! Live Long and Prosper!

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