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News about Hangzhou and China

News about Hangzhou and China
Pertinent news about Hangzhou and China from the Shanghai Daily

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Weather in China : From Snow in Beijing to Pineapples in Yuanyang (written Feb 25th)

I would like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who advised that we pack for all sorts of weather while here in China. We’ve experienced virtually every type of weather there is. We started our journey with Spring-like weather in Hong Kong and are currently riding on the train from Beijing to Hangzhou through a snow-dusted landscape.

On our first day in China we needed windbreakers and light sweaters on the ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and subsequent tram/funicular railway up to Victoria Peak. We shed layers on our hike along the trail which circled the base of Governor’s Hill and we’d stripped down to t-shirts on the virtually vertical hike up Governor’s Walk to the Victoria Peak Garden.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Hannah's Foodventure Part 2: Hangzhou

I knew that my host sister Sunny and I were going to get along on the first day when she brought me back to her house and then said "Hey, do you want to go explore the 5 story supermarket near my house?" (I said yes, of course). Sunny had a passion for Chinese food that would take us to restaurants across Hangzhou and earn her the affectionate nickname "Food Fairy Godmother". With that in mind, here's the cuisine highlight reel from Hangzhou!!

The Spicy, Stewed, Whole Head of a Duck (except for the eyes)
You read that correctly. Day 2, Sunny and her mom took me to a tiny local favorite restaurant, where Sunny asked me if I wanted to try "something I probably wouldn't see in America". That turned out to be the entire head of a duck, cooked with lots of peppers. It was seriously DELICIOUS. You weren't allowed to eat the eyes, Sunny wasn't sure why, but we ate everything (note: we each were served our own individual duck head) including the brain! It was the coolest way to jump into food in Hangzhou.

Monday, March 20, 2017


As you may know, I LOVE to cook. I asked Sunny if they would let me cook them an American meal for our last night eating in their home. They agreed, and what follows is my Sunday afternoon cooking odyssey:

My first task was to plan the meal. I had to first take into account that despite having not one but TWO small ovens in their apartment, Sunny's family never used them and instead I found they were full of ceramicware and cutlery. Whatever I made would need to utilize a hot plate and a burner. Also, Sunny's absolute favorite food is fish, so I planned to cook salmon, something she said they never really ate because they didn't really know how to cook it. They also told me they wanted to try a salad, but the rest was up to me! I decided in addition to mustard salmon and a yummy salad recipe (which I stole from a close family friend who make's a mean dressing), I would make a daring attempt at Pesto Pasta and some simple stir-fried veggies. The list was set!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Food Blog: Part One

I knew the second my first bite of authentic Chinese cuisine touched my lips that I was going to need to save my food blog for the end of the trip. I needed to spend the two months we had really figuring out my favorite foods to share with you guys, because I love food and I think it’s been a very important part of this trip.

I’ve decided to divide my holy findings into two posts: food I ate during the travel portion of the trip (this post!), and food I ate in Hangzhou.

I did not take nearly enough photos of food during this trip as I should have!

Steamed Scallion Bun
Our hotel breakfast buffets were my first real experience of Chinese food where I could simply try what I thought looked good. On our first morning in Hong Kong, having eaten nothing since landing, I opened a steaming basket to reveal scallion buns; rice buns in a sort of layered, spiral roll, with pieces of scallion sprinkled throughout. A safe choice for the first morning, but seriously really delicious. So soft, warm, and with a very soft spring-oniony flavor.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Mountain Terraces (written March 6)

This post is a belated one, about our day hiking through the rice terraces on the top of the mountains in Xin Jie, Yuanyang county, Yunnan. Yunnan province is almost as far south as you can get in China, and we spent a lot of our travel time in different places in the diverse and gorgeous area. Xin Jie, however, the old town on the peak of a mountain, surrounded by terraces and distant peaks and clouds, proved to be my favorite of all the places we went. Our arrival to this town itself would have stood on its own as a tourism event- riding in the back of our van for hours and it wound up and around switchbacks carved into the side of the mountain, steadily climbing ever higher, the drop offs on the edge of each turn growing steeper and steeper. Each hairpin turn was too sharp to see who was coming around the other side, the road had no lines or markings, and it wasn't wide enough for two cars to comfortably pass each other. The safest method of avoiding a crash was to honk your horn loudly at each turn so anyone nearby would hear you coming. (Car horns in China are generally used more as a method of alerting other cars to your arrival than as a last resort to warn a car or as an expression of frustration. They don’t ask a question, they simply tell other cars “Here I come, no matter whether you move or not” as the driver does just that.)

Happy Birthday to Me!!

What a wonderful couple of days!! Though I usually enjoy my birthday I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of warm greetings from the students, staff and teachers here in Hangzhou. (And of course by my three great DSHS students!) 

This was due in part, of course, to the information in my presentations to the Chinese English classes. In my presentation to the Chinese students I introduced myself, my family, favorite activities plus my educational and work background. I also included my birthdate in one of the slides partly to help them practice saying dates in English and also so that they’d realize that I was still working at an age when most Chinese women are expected to have retired and be at home with grandchildren (or dancing in the streets - but more about that later.). 

Anyhow, what I hadn't really contemplated was that in teaching over 1200 students that meant that they were all aware that my birthday was on Saturday! All over campus I received birthday greetings and at English Corner a group of students arrived with hand-written cards. The biggest treat was arriving for our Friday afternoon cooking class to find that the school had arranged a surprise party for me complete with balloons, a Birthday Girl crown and a beautiful cake made of a sort of angel food cake, cream filling, mangoes, pineapples and another fruit like a small tart apple.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Happy Belated International Women’s Day!

To all my women and girls back home, I hope you had a wonderful day and appreciated all the boss females who make our lives so great!

In China, Women’s Day is a real and widely celebrated holiday. Most women are given the afternoon or even the whole day off for work, and many stores offer sales and deals to women only!

I was very lucky to spend International Women’s Day with Sunny and her mother, Jessica. Since Jessica had the afternoon off, the three of us went to the other side of West Lake to a tea museum and to have dinner. Although the tea museum was closing, we did get to sneak into the “International History of Tea” hall, which described the history of tea spreading out from China and into the cultures of other countries.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Chinese Movie Theaters and Chinese Driving

Hey everybody! So far through my time in Hangzhou, I’ve had many experiences I want to write about. I didn’t think these experiences could be stretched out to fill a whole blog post, so I decided to make this post a collection of short stories. Hope you all enjoy.

Chinese Movie Theater: On one of my free days with my host family, Jason, the student who is hosting me, took some of his friends and I to see a movie. We saw the new Resident Evil movie. I’m a big movie fan, but I had never seen any of the other movies in this series and I never really wanted to. But I never thought I’d have such a strange experience watching a movie.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

600 Students Later ... English Class Presentations (plus Spanish Classes Next Week!)

When we first arrived, I was given a desk and told that I could “rest” for the first two weeks and then present to a couple of English classes if I’d like…. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been looking forward to getting into Chinese classrooms equally as much as I was looking forward to touring China. Consequently, my response to that idea was “Oh, no! I’d be bored stiff! I’d like to teach any class that teachers will allow.”

The next day, I was handed my schedule for the following two weeks….over 1200 students!!! Last week, I presented to all of the 10th grade English classes. (There are a total of 12 sections so that meant 2 classes each day and four classes on Tuesday. ) With 45-50 students per class that meant I saw almost 600 students over the week. (They, of course, half-way hope/expect that I’ll recognize them afterwards so I’ve ended up saying “Hello” a ton of students walking through the halls or around campus.) The high school uniform is a blue and white jacket so I’ve also recognized and been greeted by students outside of school around town.

Ni Hao Folks!

After hearing about Ms. Li’s haircut story from her China trip (as I understand it, she showed them how much she wanted taken off, and they cut her hair to that length instead) I was weary about letting anybody come near my head with scissors. But, I’d been talking a lot about how much I wanted my hair to be short again, and so when the four of us passed a hair salon during an off-campus supermarket run, Ms. Babson and Jenny managed to convince me to give it a whirl.

The woman who washed my hair was very nice, but continued to ask me the same question in Chinese, to which I kept replying “My Chinese isn’t very good!”. She even brought her friend over to watch me look confused as she kept asking the question, and the wash ended with the two of them laughing exasperatedly at my total ignorance. She took me to sit in the chair of a nice young man holding scissors.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Translations Are Hard!

As we’ve made our way across the country, one of the things that has been a huge source of amusement for us is mistakes in transactions from Chinese to English. Executing these translations, to any extent, is incredibly difficult, and props to everyone who does. I know if I tried mine would be far worse than these. Sometimes, however, they don’t quite turn out as planned and the new sentence or phrase makes no sense at all. From menu options to information plaques at museums to caution signs in our showers, here are some of the best bad translations we came across.

The first one we saw was in our hotel in Hong Kong, and started off our search for funny translations. It was a plaque stuck IN our shower reading: 

'Floor have water,Be Careful of Slip'

Monday, February 27, 2017

Our Arrival in Hangzhou and My Apartment

After a 14-plus hour over night train ride from Beijing, we finally arrived at our new “home” early Wednesday morning. The Hangzhou High School welcoming committee were on the platform to greet us and, after introductions by all, whisked us off to the the high school.

Hangzhou is a very cosmopolitan city with lovely architecture and areas of great natural beauty. (As we drove through the city that morning, however, we weren’t able to fully appreciate it until a day or two later.) We drove through the school gates past impressive academic and administrative buildings. Founded in 1899 Hangzhou High School is considered one of the best private high schools in the Zhejiang Province. With over 2,000 students, some 175 faculty members and a rigorous curriculum, it more closely resembles a university or college than a high school.