Beijing (北京): This is the capital of China, though previously it has been known to the western world as Peking due to the system used prior to the 90s of transliteration from Chinese speech sounds to Roman letters. It has quite a variety of places tourists can visit including portions of the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, emperors' tombs from the Ming Dynasty, the Old Summer Palace, the Summer Palace, etc. It's one of the main destinations for most visitors from overseas, whether the purpose is business or tourism, so seeing other foreigners is definitely not a rare occasion.
Ben: Another participant in the program. Research consists of helping obtain footage of the effects of modernization and tourism on a small, rural minority town over the duration of a few years. Also in my Chinese language class. Helped Sunny and me move into our apartment (thank you!).
Carrefour (家乐福): A French chain of grocery stores that have hit it big in China. One of the nicer stores to go to in China. It even accepts foreign credit cards.
Chang Jiang (长江): The longest river in China; literally means “Long River.” Also called Yangzi, which can also be spelled Yangste or Yangtze.
Chengdu (成都): One of the larger cities in China, though not the largest. Located in the central part of Sichuan Province. An inland city, usually the stopping off point for people traveling to Tibet.
Deborah: Another participant in the program. Research is on the bimo, or shaman / medicine man of the Yi people, a minority living here in Sichuan. Majoring in international studies and pre-med, and plans to become a doctor. Chinese American; speaks fluent Chinese as well as English. Also in my Chinese language class because of her unfamiliarity with Chinese characters. Came with me on the trip to Jiuzhaigou.
Dujiangyan (都江堰): A very, very old dam just outside of Chengdu. The gardens, bridges, and temples surrounding it are very nice, but the dam is just not very impressive if you’re not an engineer. Visited 2006-10-24.
Eugene: An SU student that will go on the exchange next year. Helped almost all of us find apartments, as well as helped us move into our apartments.
Exchange rate: Typically, about 8 Renminbi (Yuan) for every USD, at the time of writing.
Guangyuan (光源): Small city northeast of Chengdu. Historically known as the birthplace of Wu Zetian, the only Chinese empress to rule in her own right. Every summer a festival featuring a phoenix boat race is held to commemorate her birthday. Visited 2006-08-31 / 09-01.
Han Chinese (汉族): China’s majority population. China has some 50 minorities, but the Han Chinese have historically proven to be the more powerful, even when China was invaded by neighboring peoples. It is said that, in the past, invaders become “Hanized” meaning they become assimilated by the people they conquered.
Hot pot (火锅): Food concoction that is popular in Sichuan which can have over 20 ingredients, many of which can be exotic to a foreigner. Used to celebrate an occasion, so it is a popular pastime at banquets at which the hosts can show off their wealth by ordering “delicacies” to be put into the hot pot.
Huang He (黄河): Literally, Yellow River, named because of the discoloration from the great amounts of yellow silt it carries from the Loess Plateau. Also called the Yellow Dragon or China’s Sorrow by the Chinese, since its route seems serpentine and it provides both wealth and destruction to the Chinese; wealth in its fertile silt that is delivered to farmers’ fields, and destruction in its infrequent and absolutely devastating flooding that has killed and displaced millions of people in any one event.
Huanglong (黄龙): A river of sorts of salt and mineral deposits that have built up over time. It stretches out in a valley between some mountains. Mineral-heavy streams of water have run down the slope. Over time the salt and whatnot have separated from the water, leaving pools of various hues along the slope. Means "Yellow Dragon" in Chinese, in reference to the shape of this salt and mineral river. Probably the most surreal landscape on Earth.
Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟): Translated from Chinese, it's the "Nine Village Valley" named for the nine Tibetan / Qiang villages located in the valley. It's definitely one of my favorite places in China, and it's China's equivalent to Yellow Stone with many interesting and surreal sights. It's a UNESCO site as well as a sacred area to the Tibetan and Qiang peoples.
Laoshi (老师): Chinese for teacher
Laura: Another participant of the exchange program. Researching the lives of the deaf in China. Majoring in Chinese language. Fluent in American Sign Language, currently learning some Chinese Sign Language. Came with me on the Guangyuan adventure.
Libo: Also called Nancy. An SU student who will be on the exchange next year. Helped me look for an apartment, as well as helped me purchase my bike.
Matt: Another participant of the exchange program. Researching frog populations in Sichuan, would like to find a new species. Majoring in biology. Also in my Chinese language class.
National Geographic Land: The stolen bike market that takes place in a very poor part of town where people live in dirty abandoned buildings.
Peter’s Tex-Mex Grill: A little bit of America in Chengdu. Serves Tex-Mex (or rather, “Chi-Mex”), along with other American comfort foods and drinks. Serves imported American drinks, including beers and sodas. Also serves American desserts such as apple pie, and milkshakes. Since it has free wireless internet, this is my office away from home.
Qingchengshan (青城山): A Daoist holy site with strings of long staircases that go all the way to the top of the mountain. Several temples are located along the way commemorating people the Chinese had deified in past centuries. Visited 2006-10-24.
Qingdao (青岛): (the "q" is pronounced like "ch") Coastal city, a former German concession, home of Tsingtao Beer and probably the only Chinese city with an international beer festival. It's a seaside city with an annual international sailing competition, plus a cherry blossom festival. It's probably the only place on Earth with old-fashioned German architecture, painted in "beach" colors, in a beachy atmosphere. The place I went to during the May 4 holiday week.
Sarah: Another participant of the exchange program. Researching the content of the pollution here in Chengdu, and is also interested in the health effects. Majoring in chemical engineering.
Sea of Bamboo (竹海): A large forest of a variety of bamboo trees more towards the south of Sichuan province. A few farmers actually inhabit parts of the forest. Not as "touristy" as most places in China, so it's usually quiet and not very busy. Parts of the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" were filmed here (you know, that one scene with people floating through trees).
Shanghai (上海): This city reminded me a lot of NYC, even though I've never actually been to NYC. It's even a sister city to NYC. It's definitely one of the most metropolitan cities with crazy sky-scrapers, huge malls, and an international feel. It definitely has a higher percentage of foreigners (of any nationality) than most other cities in China. Day-trips from Shanghai can consist of a cruise, a climb up a mountain, or visits to Hangzhou, Suzhou, or various water towns (think: Venice). The place to buy silk and pearls, it is among the cities I would return to if I revisit China.
Sichuan Province (四川): Province in which I’m living. Known for really spicy cuisine. Located in southern China next to Tibet. Chengdu, located in central (and very flat) valley of Sichuan, is the capital of the province. The outermost edges of province are made up of somewhat intimidating geological features as the Himilayas are along the western boundary and portions of Chang Jiang flow through the east. The province also contains a few national parks that most western tourists haven't heard of (Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, etc) as well as the Woolong Panda Preserve. Very humid, it can be really hot in the summer.
Sippy: Nickname for my bike. Full brand name is Sipalding, which is a knock-off of the American sports brand Spalding.
Sunny: Another participant of the research program, and is in fact both my roommie and research partner. Majoring in psychology, thinking of majoring in Chinese language. Korean American, fluent in both Korean and English. Also in my Chinese language classes.
Tang Dynasty (唐代): 618 AD – 907 AD. Ruled by Han Chinese, considered to be China’s Golden Age, during which China was militarily, artistically, economically, and literarily at its best.
Trustmart (好友多): Somewhat China's version of Wal-mart.
UW – SU Exchange Program: The year-long research program I’m participating in, in which there’s a direct exchange of students between UW and Sichuan University. Other UW participants this year are, alphabetically: Ben, Deborah, Laura, Matt, Sarah, Sunny.
Xi'an (西安): A large city in central China. One of the most ancient cities of China, as well as the capital city for many of China's imperial dynasties, so it has many sites of interest for archaeology and history enthusiasts. The tomb of the first emperor of China as well as his terra cotta army are located here, along with various other tombs such as the one belonging to Empress Wu. And the location of a pretty cool Muslim market. I'd equate this area to some parts of California or western Texas.
Xiongmao (熊猫): Literally “bear-cat” – the Chinese term for pandas.