13/05/19 – 19/05/19
A New Home. A New Culture
The past week has been surreal so far from the new culture, new weather and new people. The culture here is greatly similar to in Singapore yet different in the forms of execution and structure.
The culture of e-commerce and going cashless is amazing and has fascinated many of us at how advanced they are in this area. One literally cannot survive without his smart phone and it is imperative that everyone knows how to use it, even the older generations. Alipay and Wechat are the 2 main payment applications here which can be used to top up your campus meal cards, pay for DiDi(The Chinese version of Grab) and even at corner street food stalls in the middle of the night! It could also be used to pay for WaiMai，外卖(The Chinese version of Grabfood) which is so easily accessible and used by many at any timings of the day, and night. Likewise for transportation, a simple scan of the QR code gains 3 days access to an electric scooter or a bicycle at a small fee.
Though it has been seemingly integrated seamlessly into their lives, there are still repercussions to be resolved, mainly, the amount of trash produced from the seemingly convenient way to get food or shop online. In addition, many locals here are appeared to be too busy rushing to deliver food on time or send their passengers to their destinations or just too busy locked onto their phones. However, in general, the people are friendly and approachable if you are willing to take the first step into chatting with them, especially the store owners when they know you are from a foreign land!
The cuisines here are greatly similar to those in Singapore ranging from korean barbecue to all varieties of noodles and hotpots. We went to the famous Qing Hefang food street （清河坊街） and tried their local snacks like Bingtanghulu （冰糖葫芦）, a traditional Northern Chinese snack of candied Crataegus pinnatifida, also known as mountain hawthorn and their chinese pancakes.
one of the famous pancakes in Hefang Food Street
Being in the district of Xihu in Hangzhou, we definitely have to visit this famous place. It flaunts an area of over three thousands hectares and has a various number of temples, pagodas and gardens within the lake. We visited the Leifeng Pagoda on one of the days which has a height of 72 metres and walked the Su causeway where we enjoyed the great scenery. There was also a ‘Pagoda Remains Memorial Museum’ at the bottom floor of the pagoda where we get to view the history of the pagoda.
Visit to Liangzhu Dream Town
We visited this place which has China’s first Industrial Design Town where it held the first IDA Congress. We were toured around startups and companies which engages in mass 3D printing designing and production as well as design companies with innovative products with special features.
I have signed up the Buddhism theme along with 3 other friends and we enjoyed the trip that our china buddies have kindly guided us along. We visited the three temples in XiHu, named Fajing Temple, Zhongtianzhu Fajing Temple and the Faxi Temple (法净寺，中天竺法净寺，法喜寺). Known also as the temple of Soul’s Retreat, it contains many Buddhism literature and is a great place for those who wishes to study Chinese Buddhism in detail.
Visit to the 杭州市 湖墅学校, school for children with special needs
A small group of the Temasek Foundation scholars went to this school to interact with the teacher in charge for volunteers to understand more about the school and the special needs of the children to help us prepare for our lessons there. It is very heartwarming to see that they prepare the students sufficiently enough to be employable by providing hands-on skills based on their likes and dislikes such as culinary skills or pottery works. A quote in chinese especially caught my eye which I quote, “If you’re employable, respect your job dutifully. If not, respect life to its fullest”. This really encourages me because if there are kind organisations out there which helps these children to reach their fullest potential, we should really be grateful for what we have and live our life to the best too.