安静山 in Hangzhou

Hello and welcome to Week 3 of my Chinese adventures in Chinaland! To see the previous weeks posts, click here.

The post-Disneyland feels

Free food while we get to complain, what a good package.

After arriving back in Hangzhou at 3 am, I was immediately volunteered to attend an ALP leader meeting the next day at 12 pm (thank the heavens that it’s not earlier in the day), thanks Kenneth(my ALP Theme leader).

I might sound like I’m complaining because I am, but at least I got free food! The SUTD spirit in me still lives strong. At least there are no event organizers chasing us away this time.

After that, it was just meetings upon meetings and more useless meetings that results in a group of people just staring at each other, wondering what deity they’ve offended to be put in that position.

This is the part where you skip

DIP (Design Innovation Product or something along those lines) is a program that strives to allow it’s students the freedom to explore their imagination and… Oh my God, I can’t write enough bullsh  crap to cover up the bigger, badder crap.

It’s basically 3.007 (our 2nd term design module) all over again. Except this time it’s not my grade at stake, and in a language that I’m not the strongest in.

Wait Dan, you sound like you’re being a LITTLE BIT WHINY

I mean, a design module is hard enough. But design in mandarin leaves little to the imagination right? And while I have excellent professors and proficient teammates, it’s still difficult to convey ideas through a language barrier. I also refuse to converse mainly in English with them because of what I mentioned in my Week 1 blog. (TLDR: I came to China to learn a culture, not to ignore the local language around me)

So what do we do to overcome this? We improvise. I kept forgetting the Chinese words for a motor (it’s 电机 by the way, I even had to use a translation device for this), I guess it just shows how bad my mandarin is.

And you know how sometimes inspiration strikes and everyone in the group chat is chipping in with their ideas and how to improve on someone else’s idea? Well, fat luck to me, by the time I manage to translate, read, think and formulate a response, the moment is already gone. Such moments are rare, and missing them all the time just leaves a bad taste on your tongue.

Yeah, so the main reason why the experience is so unpleasant is that of my poor Mandarin. So it’s actually my fault.

Is there a point to this? I’m about to leave this blog now

International trade is not uncommon, yet with language barriers, one can easily understand how mistakes occur and nuances are lost in translation. Doing a design project with the Chinese students taught me that, even though my conversational mandarin is decent. The technical terms are where I falter.

I always marvel how international students cross borders and languages to work with people who are, essentially aliens to them in culture and language as well. When I first joined DIP, I was determined not to be the ‘Burden Foreign student’, which essentially means that I didn’t want to be the deadweight, even though this was not a graded module of mine.

I guess these ramblings are just a realization of how borders are more than physical ones. They are spiritual, cultural, even spoken. I like exploring these borders, and China is definitely more than a singular culture. Although I know deep down that I’ll probably leave without a masterful knowledge of the Chinese culture, I do hope that I can get as much as possible.

Oh wait that was just a rant with no photos

“Model material” – Kenji 2K18

Ok, so I guess I have to pay my photo debt as well. We went to 虎门山 and the area around there to trek as well.

I missed the chance to go during good weather and all we got was fog, humidity, and a good shower in our own sweat.


At least we got some nice-creepy photos I guess? By the way, 安静山 is not an actual hill, it’s a reference to silent hill. Shame on you if you didn’t get it.


Featuring Mae-sy and her head popping out of the stone structure

I planned the trek to be 12km, and we definitely did it, yup. There definitely wasn’t a delay because we tried to get on the trail by just going by a steep incline, neither did we take too many breaks.


Oh yeah since I’m already lying, I also already have 10 Chinese girlfriends by now, alongside with me being best friends with Jack Ma. And lastly, I finally have 3 digits in my bank account!

Wait the last one was too unbelievable? Rats!

Time to actually be a TFI Scholar

We also headed down to a special needs school in Hangzhou that we were going to do some community work with. The first visit was just an observational one though, and I saw quite a few things.

Oh no copyright cease and desist notices are coming for them now

Yeah, so almost every door is shaped like this. I can tell with my limited prophetic skills that there will be similar, mickey mouse shaped letters coming for them as well.

We’ll be working with them a lot more, and we have to come up with ideas for working with the special needs children, I’m trying to convince *ahem, sabotage*, Wesson, Kenji, and Timothy to teach them how to dance so the rest of us get to profit from their knowledge, hehe.




Alright, that’ll be all for this week’s late post. Hopefully, I’ll have more interesting stories for you guys next week and not just stay in my room all the time


Signing off












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