Its been almost 2 months since I have been in China! Personally, I feel that I have really settled down here (life is starting to get mundane haha), not forgetting an exponential increase in workload for our theme projects… Work aside, I had some time to look back over the past 8 weeks I have spent here and below are some things that I truly enjoyed!
ALIPAY aka 支付宝
This has to be the first in the list because it is the heart of living here. Cash is still used in less developed areas of China but for the case of Hangzhou (the city that we are based in), its all about going cashless. Physical cash is a thing of the past. Of course, there is also Wechat Pay but I personally prefer Alipay more as it boasts many more functions. For instance, you can pay for public transport, unlock Hello Bikes, book and pay for your DiDi rides, check on movie timings, book movie tickets, purchase air and rail tickets and even top up your student card through Alipay’s smartphone app. Spending money is just as easy as scanning QR codes :”) The convenience is REAL and PayLah certainly got to up their game.
Basically the ofo or mobikes equivalent here.. BUT they come in the form of electric scooters too! These bikes make traveling to malls nearby really convenient and at a super low cost as compared to taking private hire vehicles like DiDi. Another interesting fact is that there are designated lanes for bicycles and electric scooters on the road (easily achievable with so much land here :”)) which makes it much safer and easier to ride or scoot around!
The café scene is quite big here! Not only is it a place for students to study at or do group work after school, it is also a place to chill and hang out with friends over snacks, drinks and card games. One thing I appreciate about the cafes here is that store owners will never chase you out once you have settled comfortably inside. If the place is full, they will just kindly tell new patronizers that there are no seats available. This means you could actually stay at the café the entire day if your schedule permits! Although the drinks are on the pricier end, they are certainly worth the length of time spent in a warmly-lit, cool interior perfect for completing work or hanging out with friends or family.
This is by far the best part of China so far. There’s just SO MANY food options here! From their local street food which boasts cuisines from different parts of China – 烤冷面，烤面筋，烧饼， 生煎包， 串串, to legitimate food options comprising of loads of different types of noodles and rice dishes – 拌面， 焖面，炒面, 炒饭, 木桶饭, to their whole array of drinks options like bubble tea, fruit teas, ice-cream teas, coffees and not forgetting international delicacies such as pizzas, Korean barbeque, bibimbap and sushi. Mhmm it’s a food haven right here! Prices are also relatively affordable!
My favourite food here has got to be 小笼包 (Tip: go to the more famous and specialised stalls if you wish to be satisfied)，the teppanyaki tofu along our campus’ food street and fried chicken cutlet from the brand 正新.
The fruit stalls here are interesting too. You have conventional fruit stalls like those in Singapore (but some of the fruits are more expensive as compared to Singapore) and stalls which sell a plethora of cut fruits and nuts, seeds, oats, sago, milk, yoghurt which you can choose from and pay according to the final weight of the items you picked out. A much healthier and cheaper option to eating healthy amongst all the yummy but unhealthy food around!
The amount of nature that one can get here in China is never enough. Just a few minutes cycle away from the school campus and natural landforms are already in view. The visit to Huangshan a few weeks back was extremely memorable! The view was absolutely breathtaking and despite it being a tiring hike, I was certainly mentally rejuvenated. The world has so much to offer and I cannot wait to explore more of this beauty country. Keep a look out for more visits to places such as Zhangjiajie National Park and deserts in the upcoming weeks! 🙂
Ancient architecture is a very prominent feature that one would observe when visiting places with deep history such as Suzhou and Hangzhou. During my first visit to China a few years back, the beautiful architecture starkly stood out to me and I can still vividly remember how in awe I was with the view that was all around me. Returning here after a few years, this place still did not disappoint me with the myriad of beautifully crafted shop-houses, pavilions and gardens. Even simple pathways are also delicately crafted!
Of course, 淘宝 can never be forgotten… When you have nothing to do, it’s 淘宝! When you are waiting in line, its 淘宝! Before you sleep, its 淘宝! HAHA I’m just kidding most of the time it’s just window shopping. But have to emphasis that 淘宝 is a really convenient platform to get your shopping fix because you can find almost everything you need there. From clothing, to food, to daily necessities and even pets (yes pets), everything can be found in just one app! Shipping is mostly free too (within China) which means more cost savings to the already cheap purchase! WOOHOO! The best part is that you can get your purchases within 1-3 days which is really G R E A T.
The experience in China was made even better because of interactions with the locals here. The people here are nice, friendly and are really open to help you.
All in all, the past 2 months in China has been a blast! Learning about their culture and history have really exposed me to the way of life of the Chinese. Here’s to learning much more about this beautiful place in the next few weeks!