Memories of the Ming

I lived in Xisanqi, a district in the north of Beijing, between 1994 and 1998. Early on Chinese friends invited us to visit famous sight-seeing spots with us. We went to Badaling to see the Great Wall riding on top the mountain ridges, and in passing we also visited the Sacred Road and the Changling tomb. After seeing so many wonders in one day we hardly realized what we were looking at. One of our friends, Mr. Li, told me the history of the Ming emperors in a few sentences. In Spring 1995 my husband’s company gave us a car, and at the same time both of us received Chinese driving licenses. Having relied on bus and taxi until then, we now looked forward to excursions by car. On a weekend in May 1995 our American friends invited us to a picnic. Driving in a northern direction, the foreign community met in a walled garde; the Germans brought potato salad, the Italians pasta, the French contributed baguettes, the English roast-beef and the Americans burgers. After a pleasant meal I asked for the name of this place. Shisanling, I was told.

Memories of the Ming weiterlesen

Wild China; Beautiful China

From record-breaking growth rates to the smog of Beijing, China often makes the headlines for its economic rise and its environmental problems. But the country is rarely considered for its highest mountains, hot deserts, cold terrains, sceneries of outstanding natural beauty as well as plant and animal life on which China and the Chinese so greatly depend. The nature documentary series Wild China, a pioneering series capturing China’s spectacular array of creatures which inhabits the country’s most beautiful landscapes, aims to put that right. Wild China; Beautiful China weiterlesen

Tempo of Time

Like each other old city in China, Beijing (北京) has one drum and one bell tower. They are situated at the northern end of the Zhongzhou road (中轴线); literally meaning: central axis of the inner city.
Zhongzhou Road is not the name of any particular road; it refers to the trunk road from Beichen Bridge on the northern 4th ring through to Zhonglou North Bridge on the northern 2nd ring (north stretch) and south of Yongdingmen (south stretch). Tempo of Time weiterlesen

Tsingtao Beer (青岛啤酒): A Story of a Century

Qingdao (), the coastal port city of in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong (山东省), is sometimes referred to as ‘China’s Munich’. This nickname is not just down to the German-looking Prince Hotel on the city’s pier, the Bavarian-style castle where Chairman Mao (毛泽东 Máo Zédōnɡ) stayed in 1957 or the railway station in its German Renaissance architectural style. It is very much informed by a beverage introduced by German and British tradesmen at the start of the twentieth century: beer. For Qingdao is today both home to the Tsingtao brewery (青岛啤酒 Qīnɡdǎo Píjiǔ) and a 16-day festival that is the closest thing that China gets to Munich’s Oktoberfest.

Tsingtao beer bottle
Tsingtao beer bottle

Tsingtao Beer (青岛啤酒): A Story of a Century weiterlesen

Soundscapes of Handan (邯郸)

Culture Shock is defined as the feeling or perception of being in a place whose customs are far removed from those experienced at home. Reading up on a country prior to departure can do much to reduce the severity of the shock. The textual nature of travel guidebooks, absorbed with the eye, ensures for a visual glimpse into a country. And yet, visual readings of place cannot prepare the visitor’s ear for shock of the urban soundscape. This was true of my own acoustic experience of China: a cultural shock to the ear that no guidebook can prepare the visitor for. Soundscapes of Handan (邯郸) weiterlesen

Living in Chinese Style

Chinese furniture has a long history. The earliest piece of furniture was found in a tomb from the late Warring States period (战国时期475 to 221 BC). Back then people knelt on mats, so the furniture was low and cater to a lifestyle in which people ate, slept and worked on the ground.

By the sixth century high chairs and tables appeared, and during the Song dynasty (宋朝960-1279) a multitude of furniture pieces was made for all purposes.

Living in Chinese Style weiterlesen

Treatise on Architectural Methods

China’s history of architecture goes back centuries. The professions of architect, structural engineer and craftsmen was not as highly regarded as the Confucian scholar-official. So, little written knowledge about these trades has survived over the years. Architectural knowledge was mainly passed on orally, in many cases from a father to his son. During the Song period (宋朝 960-1279) structural engineering and architecture schools existed. Already in early times Chinese architects started to develop modular systems for their buildings.

Treatise on Architectural Methods weiterlesen

Smellscapes of China

A fragrance of jasmine flower wafts into my nose. I close my eyes and see blossoms in full bloom. It is spring-time, the time of prosperity. Then I open my eyes again and see a mountain of rubbish that is placed across the street. My new nose plugs which I have just bought in the supermarket are certainly effective.

Smellscapes of China weiterlesen