Mandarin Companion: Novels in Chinese that even a beginner can read

Mandarin Companion

When Jared Turner, the co-founder of Mandarin Companion, sent an email to me, I’ve went to check his website right away.

Why? Because, as you can read on the headline above, they offer an elegant solution to a difficult problem. No, I’m sorry to disappoint you but they don’t solve the pollution issue that is affecting China.

But if you’re learning Chinese and you feel frustrated…

A big problem when you begin to study Chinese Mandarin

What’s the biggest problem for people that start to study Chinese? What’s the biggest obstacle to become fluent (whatever “fluent” means to you)?

You may differ with me, but in my opinion is the fact that everyday Chinese sources – newspapers, novels, movies, – are so difficult to understand and, after a few trials, you give up ’cause it’s just too boring. [Read more...]

Shanghai Strawberry Music Festival 2013 (Photo Essays)

Shanghai Strawberry Music Festival

While in 2012 it took me eight months in order to publish the photos of the Shanghai Strawberry Music Festival, in 2013 I did even worse because I’m publishing them only today, 14 April, that is eleven months and an half after the festival.

If this was not enough, I’m publishing this photo essays only because this week I got no time to write the article that I wanted to publish originally. Anyway, I hope you’ll like the photos and the short stories that come with them. [Read more...]

Discovering Taiwan: Interview with Teresa

Live in Taipei

Today we discuss with Teresa Pisanò who, after living for five years in Shanghai, in 2011 moved to Taipei, where she still lives.

Teresa, you told me that you studied at the Department of Oriental Language and Culture of University of Venice, which I believe is the most prestigious department in Italy, when it comes down to Oriental languages. I know it because I receive many inquires from students of Chinese language that would like to move to China but don’t know how to realize their dream. When did you arrive to China and, most important, how were you able to arrive to China and stay here five years?

The first time I went to China was in 2001. I was doing an internship at Beijing Languages and Culture University and, during that period, I spent some days in Shanghai. I liked Shanghai so much that in 2004 I decided to go back with my husband, that at the time was my boyfriend. We arrived without a job, without a place where to stay and without a return ticket. I guess we were lucky because in a few time we were able to make new friends, find an apartment and even a job. Personally I’ve worked in a architectural firm and, later, as a language teacher. [Read more...]

How not to learn Chinese

How not to learn Chinese

If you search the web I’m sure you’ll find hundreds of articles written by people that were able to master Chinese language and are willing to explain how they did it. Even this website features 10-15 articles on the topic.

This article goes in the opposite direction: here you’ll find the best strategies to NOT learn Chinese. In other words, you’ll find out all the mistakes I’ve done during my four years as a Chinese learner.

If you’e looking for tips on how to learn Chinese or a successful case study, this post isn’t for you. But wait! Don’t leave us so soon! Maybe you can still learn something from my unsuccessful experience. Or at least have a laugh before going back to your pressing matters. [Read more...]

The night market of Wushan Square in Hangzhou (Photo Essays)

Wushan Square Hhanghzou

It’s funny, here at SDC we published 139 articles so far and none of them talks about Hangzhou. Why I think it’s funny? Because Hangzhou is the city where I spent more time in China, is the city where I’ve learned to speak Chinese (well… cha bu duo), is the city where I took more photos and is the city where this website was born.

So, after more of two years of article, I guess it’s time to talk a bit about Hangzhou. The problem is that I have so much to say and I don’t know where to start… so today I’ll let the images speak for me.

This article is a photo gallery of the night market in Wu Shan Square (吴山广场, Wu Shan Guang Chang), one of the most touristic place of Hangzhou. [Read more...]

The stories behind the paintings – How some artists find their way in China

the stories behind the paintingsLu Ling’s atelier

I receive and publish this beautiful article written by Andrea Giannotti.

I am not an “unforgivable” and funny writer as Furio, but I have many stories to tell about China. This article wants to raise some curiosity in who is interested, and to silence a bit the common say of who thinks of China, not knowing much about it, as a country of “bad and ugly” people.

Living and working in Beijing since 3 years, even if I haven’t had any Chinese girlfriend, there are good occasions to meet some Chinese people in flesh and bones. I arrived here with no job and no precise ideas, relying almost completely on a fellow architect known back in Rome, Zhai Fei, who was doing his PhD there and by so learning Italian (for personal interest and because in Rome English language is latent also in University).
At that time I was working in Holland, but I wanted to explore the Far East; I visited Japan and after a good sejour in Tokyo I called the good old Fei and asked him: “What if I come to Beijing?” [Read more...]

I broke down my door with a kick and why this is important

broken door

Yesterday I came back home at 3 am and, while I was opening the door of my apartment in Chiang Mai, I broke the key. To be fair isn’t all my fault because the key was built in some cheap metal alloy: I suspect their lifespan is about six months and then they all broke.

Anyway, the result was that I was standing outside my door with three only possible solutions. First, wait till 8 am and get a new key at the reception. Second, going downstairs and look for a blacksmith. Third, solve the situation on my own. Since I don’t like to wait and I had no idea where to find a blacksmith, I broke down my door with an elegant kick.

Problem solving

Now, this is what I call problem solving. I went to sleep feeling so proud of myself. [Read more...]

Your travel guide to Qingdao and its International Beer Festival

Qingdao International Beer Festival

This article is a practical guide to visit Qingdao. Here what you’ll learn:

  • Why Qingdao is one of the most famous cities in China.
  • How to get to Qingdao.
  • Where to stay in Qingdao
  • What is the best time to visit Qingdao.
  • What to do and visit in Qingdao

Why Qingdao is one of the most famous cities in China?

Qingdao (青岛) is a coastal city located in the East of Shangdong province. After Shanghai and Tianjin, Qingdao is the third most important port in China and its nearly eight million inhabitants enjoy one of the highest living standards in China. [Read more...]

Best VPN for iPhone, iPad and Android devices

vpn iphone

I live in China, where it’s essential to have a reliable VPN. During the last four years I’ve tried many VPNs. Today I’ll review VyprVPN, which in my opinion is the best VPN for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

What’s a VPN and why you may need it?

A Virtual Private Network – or VPN – allows you to send and receive data across the internet as if you were directly connected to a private network. But we don’t need to get overly technical. Here the main uses of a VPN:

  • Bypass Internet censorship in China, Iran or other countries that restrict the access to a part of the web.
  • Access to services that are only available in some countries. For example, if you want to watch your favorite TV shows on Netflix or Hulu but you aren’t in U.S., you can’t. Unless you use a VPN to access these websites from an American server!
  • Create your own VPN and allow your employees to access your company’s private network even if they aren’t physically connected to it.
  • Send sensible data (such as banking information) through an encrypted connection.

[Read more...]

Hua Shan mountain: Is this the most dangerous hiking trail in the world?

Hua Shan mountain

Many tourists come to Xi’an to visit the Terracotta Army and then leave as fast as they can. Even if some of them decide to explore my beloved Muslim quarter and the Grate Mosque, few tourists leave Xi’an knowing what is Hua Shan, one of the most beautiful scenarios in China.

In this article you’ll find all the information you need to visit Hua Shan. [Read more...]