Xitang, the beauty of the ancient water town

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Xitang is a small ancient water town which still preserves its ancient traditions and originality.

This town is thousands of years old, and lies in the Jiashan County in Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province.

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XITANG: A quick river cruise, and a great view of the village from the water

 

During my day off after a long week of teaching, I came here with the other teachers and explored the famous Xitang, known for its large number of covered corridors, bridges and lanes.

It was like I’d just stepped into the film Mulan!

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XITANG: Known for the many beautiful corridors, lanes and bridges

 

The town is extremely crowded (with locals and Chinese folk, very very few Western people there to my surprise!) but it is an absolute must if you visit this part of China.

The traditional fishing method, ‘Cormorant Fishing‘, where cormorant birds are trained to catch and half-swallow the fish, is still used in China today, and I was lucky enough to experience watching the ancient skill first hand.

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CORMORANT FISHING: I think he expected a few bob for the picture…

 

How does it work?

Well, the fisherman ties a snare around the bottom of the cormorant birds’ throat to stop the bird swallowing the fish.

Then the fisherman brings the bird back, once it has caught the fish, and grasps the bird to make it spit the fish back up.

It sounds super gross, and to watch, it is a little grim! But I though it was incredible to see, and high five to the fisherman and his fish-catching-bird-training skills!

Watch the video below, and take a look for yourself! Video shot by me, so excuse the wobbliness…

Interview with my fellow English teacher Dom

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Here is a short interview with Dom, who also went to China over the Summer to teach English in Hongda Summer School.

He shares some interesting points on why he chose to travel to China, and what he got up to after the two weeks of teaching.

Drop any questions in the comment section and he’ll do his best to answer them for you!

How tea is done! China style

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After the previous post on what bits and bobs are what in a traditional Chinese tea set, I thought I’d also give you a sneak peek on how tea is made.

Tea is a massive part of Chinese culture, and when I visited a tea market in Cheng Du, I was in tea heaven.

Every single type of tea in the universe could be found there, and it was sold either loosely or in tightly compact disks.

Here in this video, Coco and  I demonstrate the traditional way of making Long Jing tea.

Grab yourself a brew, sit back, and enjoy.

Coco and the traditional Chinese tea set!

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So as you may or may not already know, I am a tea lover through and through,

When I visited China, I never went a day without a nice exotic brew! (No rhyme intended, cough…)

Here’s my good friend Coco, who I spent a few weeks with in China.

Take a look at the introduction vlog to see and learn what’s what in a traditional Chinese tea set.

 

It’s as easy as yī, èr, sān!

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It’s as easy as yī, èr, sān!

Ever fancied teaching?

Nah, me neither!

I always remember the crap we used to put our teachers and supply teachers through back in the good ol’ days… Locking Mrs T out of the classroom in french, shuffling the chairs and desks back a couple of inches every time Mr B turned to face the board in maths and hiding Mr B’s jar of chutney he had prepared for the Christmas raffle . When I say ‘we’, that obviously didn’t included me, I was a pretty good egg…

When the opportunity to teach English in China arose, I didn’t even consider thinking about what horrible pranks the kids would have in store for me. I just thought, what’s the worst that could happen?

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HELP: The little cuteys

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BUT FIRST: Lemme take a selfie

I taught two classes of 38 children twice a day for two weeks, and enjoyed every single moment of it.

(Yes, even the bit where I was almost strangled during a class selfie because all 38 of them wanted to be next to me in the picture. Look, proof in the pictures!)

Both classes were an absolute pleasure to teach, and they quickly caught on that if they weren’t quiet when I asked them to be, and if they weren’t working well, then they wouldn’t get any sweeties.

(They were suddenly fantastic at understanding English when I ever said the word ‘candy’… amazing right?)

Every morning before the walk to school, I’d nip into the local supermarket and buy so so many sweets, and being the only westerner in the shop anyway, and the only person in the sweet isle every single day, buying mounds of sweets, I’d like to think I became some kind of iconic figure.

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BACK TO BASICS: Old school blackboard teaching

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WHAT TO PACK: Vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SO MUCH ENERGY: Dom at his finest

 

 

Handing out sweets was my key to success. It played a massive part in the classes that I taught because they weren’t allowed sweets in any of their other classes or even for lunch! Very strict. It was a two week summer school for goodness sake, but I guess it made me more popular with the kids wheyyy.

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ASIAN SWAG: Me and Dom rocking the snapbacks

Lesson planning was easy peazy lemon squeezy. The most enjoyable classes usually consisted of games, sweets, more games, and loads more sweets. The kids absolutely loved the game hangman, and this was a great ‘oh-shit-5-minutes-left-until-the-bell-what-will-entertain-them-for-5-more-minutes?!’

This went down well in my good friend Dom’s classes too. Dom is my Asian brother from another mother, (and I, his sister from another mister) and we often sat in on each others classes to check out how our teaching styles compared, and obviously to take part in the games too duhh…

It was clear that the energy and passion that we had when we were teaching both influenced and encouraged the kids’ learning heaps, and most importantly they had fun!

Check out the smiles on their faces?!

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TOM CAT UP FRONT: Smiles all around!

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THE HARD WORKING CORNER: Smiles all around!

 

 

 

“Mum, I’m going to China…”

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“Mum, I’m going to China…”

When I have an idea in my head, no matter how weird, adventurous or bizarre it may be, I have to make it happen.

~ There’s an entire jar of Nutella in the cupboard…

Challenge accepted.

So a teaspoon, a cuppa tea and an episode of Suits happens.

There’s an entirely empty jar of Nutella in the bin.

Tada! ~

This is kind of what happened with China. Minus the Nutella… I think…

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THE BAG OF LIFE: I lived out of this for 6 weeks. If I can do it, anyone can!

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AND I’M OFF: A quick pic before heading off to London Heathrow!

I got an email through sometime roughly a year ago, about this scheme that was on offer over the summer with a company called ‘Teach English in China‘.

All of a sudden my brain somehow ticked a gazzillion boxes as to why this would be an incredible experience that I just can’t afford to miss out on! So there and then I signed up to the briefing presentation that was taking place the following week.

I attended the meeting, and decided that yes, challenge accepted. I am going to China.

Of course my mum’s first question was: “Rebecca, how are you going to fund this?”

My response was simple.

“Don’t woz Dib (my mum’s nickname, which she hates, but, me and my brothers think she secretly loves it), I’ll just work my arse off and max out my overdraft [AN OVER-THE-PHONE THUMBS UP].”

My Dad was loving life. I think he definitely has a soft spot when it comes down to me sodding off across the globe. Kenya last year for example, he was over the bloody moon for me (and just last month, he conveniently picked up the 12 month-late bill of £276 from my local GP for my hundreds of pre-Kenya vaccinations for me… Oops. I reckon I probably owe him a pint or three).

So that’s pretty much how my brain registers things and gets things done.

If you are optimistic and believe in yourself, if you have a dream, a goal, or an adventure, just go for it!

Get out there and show the world what you’re made of.

And just remember, it’s your life, not Bon Jovi’s. (There you go dad, one of your faves. Let’s make it just the two pints now then?)

The Globe Trot Time Machine

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The Globe Trot Time Machine

I want to take you back in time to my favourite places in the world.

China in particular.

I hopped on a flight back in July, and sodded off to China to teach English for two weeks and then travel.

From Paris to Berlin…ah, wait…nope, from Haining to Beijing, and every dumpling shop I went in…

The experiences were endless from the word go.

Keep an eye out on this space for regular updates on my travels, with pictures, reviews and lots lots more.