Come See China with Me! (Part 2)

Come See China with Me!

Hello everyone!

Wish me luck- I have a driving test this Wednesday to get my full license! (I have been driving for two years now with a learner’s license, so this test shouldn’t be a problem. The hard part is to remember to stop for 3 seconds at each stop sign, and to not drive above the speed limit.)

Today, I want to tell you guys about the second week of my China trip, which I spent in Shijiazhuang. Just a reminder about where this city is in China:

CHINA

If you guys want to read about Weihai, China (a beautiful coastal city), check out my previous blog post here. Shijiazhuang is very different (be prepared).

Disclaimer: This won’t be your typical travel post! Since I was born in China and have lots of family there, you won’t see much touristy stuff here. However, you will likely get a sense of what it is like to live as a Chinese person.

Shijiazhuang, China

We flew from Weihai to Beijing, then travelled to Shijiazhuang by bullet train, which can drive up to 300km per hour! This is one of the technological innovations that the Chinese are very, very proud of.

Blog_Shijiazhuang_City

Another recent innovation? Bike sharing! This is super popular in the big cities in China these days. The yellow/orange bikes (see above) are located all over the city, and are available for rent using a mobile app! One of the neat things is that there are no standardized pick-up or drop-up locations: you can pick any random bike on the street, ride it where you need to go, and leave it wherever you want.

Also, in malls, supermarkets, restaurants, and event farmer’s markets, people pay using their cellphones, which are connected to their bank accounts. Cash is used infrequently, and people don’t swipe or tap credit cards.

On the flip side, unfortunately China has a smog problem. In fact, Shijiazhuang is THE smoggiest city in ALL of China, and China is one of the smoggiest cities in the world :’) If you ever visit a major city in China, you may see people wearing face masks.

On this note, a funny story told by a family friend living in China: When he visited Canada, he began to have breathing problems. “Why do you have breathing problems?” “Too… much… oxygen…” Lol :’)

Blog_Shijiazhuang_Dinner

We ate a lot of good food in Shijiazhuang. One interesting thing I tried was donkey meat. Apparently donkey can be cooked in many ways – steamed donkey, stir-fried donkey, donkey wrap, donkey stew… It tastes kind of like beef, but less stringy. What is the weirdest food that you’ve tried?

In case you are curious about the people in my picture, from left to right: Uncle, aunt, cousin, grandma, grandpa, mom, me, dad 🙂

Blog_Shijiazhuang_Grandma

I spent some mornings visiting my grandma in the hospital (she has atrial fibrillation). No worries, she is doing well now 🙂

Blog_Shijiazhuang_ZhaoZhouBridge

We did do one touristy thing in Shijiazhuang, which was to visit the Zhao Zhou Bridge. Built in the early 600s, this is the oldest bridge in China, and the oldest bridge of its type in the world.

Blog_letschat

Do you have your driver’s license already? What is some of the cool technology in your country? What is the weirdest food that you’ve tried? Any culinary specialties that you love in your culture? Any burning questions about China?!

 

39 thoughts on “Come See China with Me! (Part 2)

  1. Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

    Hello, hello, Sophie!

    The bullet train is soooo cool! Definitely something I’d plan on trying out if I ever visit that part of China. We also a bike-sharing thing going on in Montreal called the Bixi! Although I don’t use it, it seems quite effective for a lot of citizens. 😀 And maaaan, that oxygen thing was quite sad. 😦 I don’t think we’ll ever revert to good oxygen in countries like China where the condition have become disastrous. Did you have issues breathing yourself? 😮 How hard was it to adapt? I already got my license, a couple months ago in fact, and all I can say is that practice is the best way to get used to the road! Best of luck on your exam. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Lashaan! I absolutely loved the bullet train. It is so quiet and steady that it doesn’t feel like you are on a train at all 🙂
      Yes we have Bixi in Toronto too! However the difference is that Bixi has different pick-up/drop-off locations around the city, yes? So you will have to bike from one station to the next. The difference is that with the Chinese system, you can take the bike anywhere and just leave it there. (Each bike has a gps chip, so the company will be able to locate it and bring it back to a central location.)
      Haha yes, the smog is terrible. My throat hurt when I breathe in the air. As long as I wear the face mask it is fine. The locals don’t mind it as much since they are so used to it!
      Congrats on getting your license! I drive to work everyday but I’ve picked up some back habits haha, so I will have to practice driving the right way over the next few days 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

        A GPS system?! That is crazy hahah I can’t imagine us ever investing money to make it that high-tech. We’d probably see someone break them and steal the chip to sell on the black market or something! Okay, okay. Just kidding. 😀 But that’s definitely a pretty cool property for those bikes. Probably makes it even more attractive as a method of transportation. 😮

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Haha yes! It is pretty crazy! I think it works in China because they have enough people who use these bikes. Each person pays $200 in deposit alone, and with billions of people living in cities, it is a lot of money! The companies then take the deposit money and invest it (at least that’s what people have told me how it works!)
        You would think that people can just steal the bikes! However they work on a credit system, similar to Airbnb or couchsurfing. If you damage the bike or leave it in hard-to-reach places, prices will go up for your next ride! It’s a smart system 🙂
        Yes! There are people riding these bikes everywhere in the city! Few people have their own bikes now 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Zoie says:

    I didn’t know you could drop bikes randomly in the city for bike sharing — it might be something I want to try if I go to China this summer 😊 Oh, and this is super random, but in the picture with you and grandmother, there’s a blue hot water flask on the counter and it reminded me of when I visited my great-grandmother’s home in Hong Kong. She had all these Camel-brand antique hot water flasks in her house that I was so fascinated with because I saw them in the Hong Kong Cultural Museum as well. 😋 And yes, so many people wear masks in Asian countries (especially Japan, Korea, Hong Kong… it’s almost like a fashion statement to wear masks because it’s so popular 😋). It definitely reminds us to be grateful for the fresh air we get when we return back home, right? ☀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Zoie! Thank you for your lovely comment ❤
      Yes! The bike-sharing is something that just popped up in recent years (I think 2 years ago when I went back, there weren’t any!) One thing to be mindful of is that you pay for the bikes using a mobile app (WeChat), but it only syncs banking information for people who live in China. Because I don’t have a chinese ID, I actually couldn’t use the bikes 😦 However if you have a friend or relative in China who are willing to share, you might be able to give it a try!
      Did you mention that you are going to China this summer? 🙂
      Haha yes the water flasks are so common in China- everyone uses them! That’s cool that they are in the museum 🙂
      Yes masks are kind of a fashion statement- they comes in different designs as well! I was very grateful for the fresh air coming back :’)

      Like

      • Zoie says:

        Ooooh okay that’s good clarification to know before going to China! 😄 And yes, I *might* go to China this summer but it’s not set in stone. I really want to go to a place where people speak Mandarin because I’ve been studying Mandarin for a while now, and I feel like I’ve finally reached a point where I can’t really improve unless I actually immerse myself in an environment where I’m forced to speak it. 😋 For now, I’ll just continue studying at home and school. Thanks for advice, Sophie! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Immersing yourself into a Chinese environment is the best way to improve your spoken language skills! My Chinese is pretty bad compared to a local (I am probably at grade 2-3 level haha) but I improved so much while I was in China, since I was forced to speak the language. I really do hope it works out for you that you will travel to China soon, Zoie 🙂

        Like

  3. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    Man that is one cool bridge Sophie! Since I’m writing a book in a world as advanced as our own but without some of the resources we have access too I’m always scoping out the infrastructure around cities to get cool descriptions… those are some cool pictures at the bridge! Honestly I thought we would see the smog more… I guess that is only in sunsets and sunrises?

    Funny your family pictures remind me of a show where they celebrated new years… It was in a red room with a round table with the family almost deliberately arranged in a specific order! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Dani! Your story sounds so interesting! I can’t wait to hear even more about it and I hope to be able to read it one day! This bridge is apparently an “open-spandrel segmental arch bridge” (according to wiki). The small arches (the “holes”) in the bridge have important purposes: they save material, they can let water through in case of flood, they add to the structural stability, and they look good!
      To be honest that was a good day, and the bridge is far away from the city so there was less smog!

      Haha yes red is such a popular traditional colour in China. Funnily enough, we actually didn’t purposefully arrange ourselves in that way, it kind of… just happened. I didn’t notice until you mentioned it :’)

      Like

  4. MichaelK says:

    A nice insight into real life on China, thank you Sophie! And you are blessed with a nice family!
    Good luck with your driving test! I know the pain of STOP signs (usually inconveniently placed) and speed limits. I’ve got my licence and been driving since I was 18 (no learner’s license here) so I’ve got quite a few kilometrrs under my belt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marie says:

    Thank you once again, Sophie, for taking us with you on your trip! I love your pictures and I did not know about that reaaaaally fast train ahah, that’s quite cool 🙂
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your driving test! I hated having to pass mine, but I’m really glad that it’s done now ahahah 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lois says:

    Good luck with the driving test. I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colours. I really need to work on getting my licence, but the cost of lessons is ridiculous these days and with my Canada trip coming up I can’t really afford to have a consistent weekly driving lesson. It’s frustrating cause I know how much of a difference it will make once (if) I pass.
    Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. I can’t say I’d try donkey myself but at least I know it’s edible and beef life haha. I also love getting the non-touristy insight into China.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Lois!
      Thank you- it will be snowing tomorrow, so I need all the luck I can get :’) Hope that your driving lessons will work out and that you will be able to get your license!
      Haha yes I wouldn’t be eating donkey on a regular basis but it was fun to try 🙂
      When will you be visiting Canada? Hope that you will like it here!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        That’s great that you will have plenty of time to explore! Ottawa is well-known for the tulip festival, which takes place May 11-21 next year, and it seems like you will arrive just in time for it! I remember going when I was small and enjoyed the event. There are also some parks that are nice to visit. Montreal and Toronto are not too far away, and could be a nice weekend trip!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Brilliant post Sophie, I loved seeing all your photos and hearing about the second half of your trip. Wow those are two very different cities you visited while you were in China, the one thing they have in common is that the photos of food look incredibly yummy! 😀
    I can’t believe how old that bridge is, it’s great it’s still standing and able to be used you know? Also I’m in awe of how fast that train goes! If my train went that fast on my commute everyday travelling to work would be so much better! 🙂
    Good luck with your driving test on Wednesday, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Beth! Thank you!
      Yes those are two very different cities! The food is amazing in China- everywhere I go, there is something that I haven’t tried yet. Food is one of my favourite aspects of travelling haha 🙂
      I am also amazed by the bridge (although I think they patch it up from time to time). The bullet train was a great experience- it was so smooth and quiet that I barely felt like a train!
      Thank you- it will be snowing tomorrow so I think I will need all the luck that I get 🙂 Hope you and your novel are doing well, Beth ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Cas @ Lovely Paranormal Books says:

    I think I’m able to get a learners’ license next year and really hope my parents would let me (I keep telling them I want it for emergencies and I’d only rarely drive a car anyways but they’re not convinced). Also, I love bullet trains, they’re really efficient and I wish we had them here because they make travelling around China so much easier. Ooh I didn’t know about bike share! It’s interesting because I didn’t actually see any bikes around last year, maybe I didn’t notice?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Cas! I think it is a great idea to get your license- there is much more freedom (and convenience!) when you have a car. Hope that it will work out for you 🙂
      Yes bullet trains are awesome! Bike share must be new (I was in China two years ago and didn’t see it then), and according to my family it is in most major cities in China, so it could be that you will see these bikes the next time you are there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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