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FAMILY VISIT I: BEIJING

家庭旅行1:北京



Did you miss me? I am back after two weeks of holidays! I’ve been visiting several cities in China with my parents, my brother, his girlfriend, two aunts, an uncle and a cousin. And C.!

你们想我了吗?在度过两个星期的假期后,我回来了!我和C.,还有我的父母,我的弟弟和他的女朋友,两个姨,一个叔叔和一个表哥一起去了中国的几个城市。

The first stop in our route was Beijing. I lived there for 3 years so the city has a special place in my heart. I like going back and checking how things have changed (or not). This time I noticed there were more trees and the city was way greener than I remembered. The air was filled with that cottony thingie from the trees (I guess allergic people were not very happy about this).

我们的第一站是北京。我曾在那里住了3年,所以这个城市在我心中占有特殊的地位。我喜欢回去看看它是否发生了变化。这次我注意到城里有了更多的树木,城市比我记忆中的更青翠了。空气中弥漫着那种从树上飘下来的棉花般的东西(我想过敏的人对此不会很高兴)。



Our hotel was in Huguosi hutong, a street very popular for its restaurants. It was a nice street, and the hutongs were cute.

我们的酒店位于护国寺胡同,那里的餐馆很受欢迎。那条街很棒,胡同也很可爱。

There were old men sitting on those chairs and chatting with their neighbours almost all the time!

老人们坐在那些椅子上,不停地在和他们的邻居聊天!

I am not a big fan of the Temple of Heaven, but for some people it is a must see. At least it’s quite big so it doesn’t feel very crowded.

我并不是一个天坛的粉丝,但是对于一些人来说,它是一个必看的景点。至少它很大,所以不会让人觉得很拥挤。

I really wanted to revisit the Summer Palace. I think the last time I went there was in 2009. It’s a beautiful place.

我真的很想重游颐和园。我想我最后一次去那里是在2009年。这是个美丽的地方。

We were super lucky with the Great Wall. In the end I decided to go to Huanghuacheng (黄花城), a part I had never visited before. It is located in a very pretty area with lots of greenery and a lake. And there was basically no one else! I had never seen the Great Wall so empty.

我们非常幸运地游览了长城。最后我决定去黄花城,那是我以前从未去过的地方。它位于一个非常漂亮的区域,有许多绿色的植物,还有一个湖泊。基本上没有人来这里游览!我从未见过长城上如此空旷。

The day we went to Tiananmen and the Forbidden City.The Forbidden City is also not one of my favourite places in Beijing, but it’s a must for tourists. It was indeed crowded, with many tour groups, even though it was not a holiday. And I read that from October on they will only sell tickets online, so prepare in advance if you are planning to visit!

那天我们还去了天安门和紫禁城。紫禁城不是我在北京最喜欢的地方之一,但它是游客的必去之地。那里真的很拥挤,有很多旅游团,即便不是假日期间。而且我听说他们从十月份开始只在网上卖票,所以如果你打算参观的话要提前做好准备!

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FAMILY VISIT II: JINAN

家庭旅行2:济南

The second stop in our trip was Jinan. My main obxtive when designing the route was avoiding domestic flights (because they are always late), so I chose places we could reach with the fast train and that were around the Beijing-Shanghai line. And one of the obvious choices was Jinan, which is 2 hours south of Beijing.

我们这次旅行的第二站是济南。我在设计路线时的主要目标是避免国内航班(因为他们总是延迟),所以我选择了我们可以搭高铁到达的地方,以及北京-上海沿线附近的地方。其中一个显而易见的选择是济南,它在北京以南,大约2小时车程。



In the city center there is an old street called Furong Jie which is very popular for snacks. We went there for dinner and it was packed! It was similar to the night markets in Taiwan. We ate stinky tofu (it had a cumin sauce and was very yummy), grilled squid, lamb skewers, spiralling fried potato, rolled frozen yogurt… I think it was quite an adventure and very fun for my family! Behind that street I saw a lot of small bars where interesting music was being played, and also some vintage clothes shops, which I had almost never seen in China.

在市中心有一条名叫芙蓉街的老街,里面满是很受欢迎的小吃。我们去那里吃晚饭,结果发现人满为患!这和台湾的夜市很相似。我们吃了臭豆腐(上面有孜然,非常美味),烤鱿鱼,羊肉串,螺旋炸土豆,冰酸奶卷...我认为这对我的家人来说是一个相当有趣的冒险!在那条街的后面,我看到许多小酒吧,里面播放着有趣的音乐,还有一些老式服装店,我在中国几乎从来没有见过。

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FAMILY VISIT III: QUFU

家庭旅行3:曲阜

The third stop in our trip was the town of Qufu, also located in Shandong province and only 30 minutes away from Jinan by fast train. Qufu is famous for being the hometown of Confucius as he was born somewhere nearby and his temple and family home were later established there. His tomb is also there. These three places, the Temple, Mansion and Cemetery of Confucius are included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list and can be visited within a day. The entrance ticket (for the three places) is quite expensive: 150 RMB! Not many foreign tourists come here, but the place is swarmed with Chinese tour groups as this is a very important place in their culture.

我们这次旅行的第三站是曲阜,也在山东省,从济南乘坐高铁只需要30分钟。曲阜因为是孔子的故乡而闻名,他出生在附近的某个地方,供奉他的寺庙和他的家后来都建在那里。他的坟墓也在那里。这三个地方,即孔庙、孔府和孔林被列入联合国教科文组织的世界遗产名录,你可以在一天之内游览完。这三个地方的门票很贵:150元人民币!来这里的外国游客并不多,但这里到处都是中国的旅游团,因为这里在中国文化中是一个非常重要的地方。

The Temple of Confucius is quite big and it reminded me of the Forbidden City in Beijing. There are several pavilions and hundreds of engraved stone steeles, souvenirs from all the emperors that came here to make rituals in veneration of Confucius. Every time an emperor visited (and it seems most of them did), they would give money so the temple could be expanded and erect an steele.

孔庙很大,这让我想起了北京的紫禁城。这里有好几个亭子和数百个石碑,是所有来此举行祭孔仪式的皇帝的见证。每次皇帝来访(似乎大多数皇帝都来过),他们都会捐钱扩建庙宇,并竖立一个石碑。

Many of the trees here are more than one thousand years old.

这里的许多树都有一千多年的树龄了。

In one of the bigger pavilions there was a performance of the rituals done in honour of Confucius in old times.

在一个较大的展馆里,进行了一场为纪念孔子而举行的仪式。

Near the temple’s exit there was a shop where you could rent emperor style clothes and take pictures. Some people had a lot of fun there:

在孔庙的出口附近有一家商店,你可以在那里租到皇帝式的服装并进行拍照。有些人在那里玩得很开心:



So many stairs, and it was so hot! The ice cream sellers were having a great day though.

这么多的楼梯,还有如此闷热的天气!不过,卖冰淇淋的小贩们今天倒是过得很愉快。

After the mausoleum we visited another spot in the same area: the mausoleum of the first Ming dynasty emperor (who died in 1398 AD). I had never been here before and although the entrance ticket is quite expensive (70 RMB), I quite liked it. Partly because it was not too crowded, but also because some parts of the mausoleum complex were not restored at all. In many cases, in China restoring means knocking everything down and building it from scratch again, and adding a layer of bright red paint so it looks even newer. It was a nice surprise to find something untouched, with greenery growing all over, and it reminded me of the temples in Cambodia.

在参观完这个陵墓之后,我们去了同一地区的另一个景点:第一个明朝皇帝的陵墓(他死于公元1398年)。我以前从没来过这里,但我很喜欢,虽然门票很贵(70元人民币)。一部分是因为这里不是很拥挤,另一部分是因为陵墓群的某些部分根本没有得到修复。在许多情况下,在中国修复意味着拆除一切,重新从头开始建造,并涂上一层亮红色的油漆,使它看起来更新。发现一些没被人工修复的古迹,周围到处都是绿色的植物,我感到很惊喜,因为它让我想起了柬埔寨的寺庙。

You don’t really get to see the tomb itsef, which supposedly is in the hill behind the mausoleum. Actually, I don’t know if the tomb has been found and opened.

你不会真正看到陵墓本身,据说它就在陵墓后面的小山上。事实上,我不知道墓穴是否已经被发现并被打开了。

Another part of the mausoleum complex is the Sacred Way, over 1.5 km long and with many stone statues of different animals and warriors/ministers that protect the way to the tomb.

陵墓群的另一部分是神道,全长超过1.5公里,有许多不同动物和武将/大臣的石像保护通往坟墓的道路。

After quite a long walk, crossing a park, to get to the subway, we headed to the city centre, the area around Fuzimiao. It is a very touristy area, lively and with many shops and restaurants. The type of place locals never go to, haha.

走了很长一段路,再穿过一个公园,我们乘地铁前往市中心,也就是夫子庙周围的地区。这是一个旅游胜地,很热闹,有许多商店和餐馆。不过当地人从不去那种地方,哈哈。

The second day the weather changed, as I said above. It was cold! I think it was the only day we really needed to use the jackets. We visited the Jiming Temple and it was lovely, even in the rain. I loved the bright yellow buildings and the pagoda. I didn’t love so much the profusion of shops selling super expensive Buddhist trinkets. From the back door of the temple you can access directly the Nanjing city wall and that is what we did. This city wall is one of the best preserved in China. Most cities had their walls torn down in the 50s. After walking for almost 2 km on the wall, we left through another gate and went to have lunch in one of my favourite restaurants, Bellagio. It’s a pity we don’t have this restaurant in Suzhou yet!

第二天变天了,就像我上面说的那样。天气很冷!我想那是我们唯一需要穿夹克的一天。我们参观了鸡鸣寺,即使在雨中,那里也很美丽。我喜欢那些明亮的黄色建筑和宝塔。不过我不太喜欢那些商店里大量出售的超级昂贵的佛教饰品。从寺庙的后门你可以直接进入南京城墙,我们就是这么做的。这堵城墙是中国保存最完好的城墙之一。大多数城市的城墙在50年代被拆除了。在城墙上走了将近2公里后,我们穿过另一个大门,去我最喜欢的百乐门吃午饭。可惜在苏州还没有这家餐馆!

There are many more things to see in Nanjing, like all the museums, the Presidential Palace and the Massacre memorial, but we didn’t have more time. Our Nanjing visit ended after lunch and we headed to the train station to get to our next destination: Shanghai.

在南京有很多东西可以看,像所有的博物馆,总统府和大屠杀纪念馆等等,但我们没有太多的时间。我们的南京之行在午餐后结束,我们前往火车站去我们的下一个目的地:上海。

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FAMILY VISIT V: SHANGHAI

家庭旅行5:上海

The last stop in our China tour before going to Suzhou for the wedding was Shanghai. Our mini Shanghai adventure started in Duolun Cultural Street, which, to be honest, I had never heard of, but it was mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide so we went to have a look. Duolun Cultural Street is in Hongkou district and during the 1920s and 30s many writers and celebrities lived there. Now it is a pedestrian street where you can see the houses from that time and statues of the writes who used to live and meet there. There are also some antique bookstores and even an al fresco “free reading space” with books.

去苏州参加婚礼之前,我们中国之行的最后一站是上海。我们的迷你上海之旅始于多伦文化街,老实说,我从来没听说过,但孤独星球网站的指南曾经提到过,所以我们去看了一下。多伦文化街位于虹口区,在20世纪20年代和30年代,许多作家和名人都住在那里。现在它是一条步行街,在那里你可以看到那个时代的房屋和曾经在那里生活和交流的作家的雕像。还有一些古董书店,甚至还有一个露天的“免费阅读空间”。



The next day we visited the Yuyan bazaar. I had not been here in years! I always avoided it when I lived in Shanghai because it is very touristy and crowded. But in the morning of a weekday it was bearable. The bazaar and small malls are a bit like Taobao, as you can find anything there. Once, when I had just started working in Shanghai, I went there with my boss and another colleague to buy Christmas decorations for the office. There was a whole mall just for Christmas decorations, it was crazy! (And I hope it is seasonal, because I don’t think many people buy that kind of thing the rest of the year). In Yuyuan there is also a garden, but we did not visit it this time as it is basically the same as the gardens in Suzhou. I bought a dress in the bazaar and we visited the small City God Temple next to it. Our last meal in Shanghai was in one of the favourite restaurants: 外婆家 Grandma’s Home. This restaurant has several branches in Suzhou but I never go because there is always a ridiculously long line, as the food is good and cheap.

第二天我们参观了豫园。我已经很多年没来过这里了!我住在上海的时候总是尽量避免去那里,因为那里游客很多,也很拥挤。但是在工作日的早晨,这还是可以忍受的。市集和小商场有点像淘宝,因为你可以在那里找到任何东西。当我刚开始在上海工作时,有一次我和我的老板以及另一个同事去那里为办公室采购圣诞装饰品。那里有一整个商场都是卖圣诞节装饰品的,太疯狂了!(我希望这是季节性的,因为我不认为会有很多人在其它的时间里买这种东西)。在豫园里也有一个花园,但是我们这次没有去参观,因为它基本上和苏州的花园一样。我在集市上买了一件衣服,参观了旁边的小城隍庙。我们在上海的最后一餐是在最受欢迎的餐馆之一:外婆家。这家餐馆在苏州有好几家分店,但我从来不去,因为那里的食物又好又便宜,总是排着长得离谱的队。

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A TEMPLE IN CHANGSHU

常熟的一座寺庙

Last Sunday we went to Changshu, a small city one hour north of Suzhou. Well, small for Chinese standards as it has a population of over one million. I had never heard much about this city and I was expecting the usual normal-going-to-ugly Chinese mid size city. I love when I’m wrong! It reminded me of Hangzhou and a quick search told me there are several interesting places to see, like a mountain-park, several gardens, temples and even a square pagoda. I made a mental note for next time, as our visit was going to be brief (we were having lunch with C.’s colleague) and it was quite sunny and hot (not my favourite weather to be outside).

上个星期天我们去了常熟,一个距苏州一小时车程的小城市。嗯,对于中国的标准来说太小了,因为它只有一百多万的人口。我从来没有听说过这个城市,我以为会是一个普通的中国中型城市。但我发现我错了!它让我想起了杭州,通过快速的搜索,我发现有几个有趣的地方可以参观,比如一个山间公园,还有几个花园,寺庙,甚至还有一个方形的宝塔。我在心里规划了下次的行程,因为我们的时间很紧(我们和C.的同事一起吃午饭),而且天气也非常晒和闷热(这不是我喜欢的户外天气)。



We’ll have to go back to Changshu and see the rest of the views in the autumn!

我们一定会在秋天回到常熟,并看看其他的风景!

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MY CHINESE MOTHER IN LAW – PART II

我的中国婆婆——第二部分

A long time ago (5 years!) I wrote a post about how nice my mother in law was. At that time, I still had people who would sometimes tell me that she was okay because we were not married / did not have children, and that she might completely change after those events. I was scared that she would want to organise my wedding and invite 300 of her friends; I was afraid she would start nagging me about having children one minute after getting married; I was fearing she would go crazy when I got pregnant and try to force me to eat weird things or follow strange customs; I was terrified she would pester me to do the Chinese postpartum; I was dreading she would try to raise my baby as if it was hers… because that was what other people told me happened to them.

很久以前(5年前!)我写了一篇关于我婆婆有多好的帖子。那个时候有人会时不时地告诉我她很好,因为我们没有结婚也没有孩子,不过她可能会在那些事发生之后完全改变。我害怕她会对我的婚礼指手画脚,邀请她的300个朋友;我害怕她会在结婚一分钟后就开始唠叨要孩子的事情;我害怕她会在我怀孕的时候发疯,试图强迫我吃奇怪的东西或遵循奇怪的习俗;我害怕她会缠着让我去做中国的产后护理;我害怕她会试图像抚养她的孩子一样抚养我的孩子....因为别人告诉我,这些事情就发生在他们身上。

Guess what… None of that happened.

不过你猜怎么着...什么都没发生。

My mother in law didn’t even try to do anything regarding our wedding arrangements. (Maybe I should be offended? Haha!). I don’t remember if she invited any friends, but if she did, it was just a few. She invited more for the baby’s 100 days party and I was completely fine with that. My Chinese wedding was organised by my husband (and a wedding planner) and I loved it.

我的婆婆甚至没有试图对我们的婚礼作任何的安排。(也许我应该生气吗?哈哈!).我不记得她是否邀请了什么朋友,但就算她邀请了,也只是几个而已。她邀请了更多人参加我的宝宝的百日宴,我对此完全没意见。我的中国婚礼是由我的丈夫(和一个婚礼策划人)组织的,我很喜欢。

My mother in law didn’t nag me about having babies, even though I was already over 30 years old and at that age many Chinese believe it’s already impossible to conceive because your womb is old and almost mummified. I think only once she mentioned that “we should start thinking about the big decisions of life”. She didn’t even want to say it directly.

我的婆婆也没有对我唠叨要孩子的事,尽管我已经30多岁了,许多中国人认为在这个年龄已经不可能怀孕了,因为你的子宫已经老化了。我印象中她只提到过一次“我们应该开始考虑人生中的重大决定”。她甚至没有直接说出来。



I feel really lucky. Without her, my mum life would definitely be way harder. Turns out, there are good mothers in law too.

我觉得自己很幸运。如果没有她,我妈妈的生活肯定会更加艰难。事实证明,也有很多好的婆婆。

How’s your relationship with your mother in law?

你和你的婆婆的关系怎么样呢?