Balanced Subtleties of a Chinese Banquet

Writing by: Chris

Editing by: Lance Crayon

I recently went to a party, well, it was more like a house warming event of sorts, that turned into a marathon drinking session.

My third uncle on my father’s had driven back from Nanjing with his wife and mother (my grandmother).

Zhigong (Strive for Achievements) invited our family to his son Dale’s (Big Happiness) newly decorated home located at Hongze county.

We – my mother, wife, daughter and me drove to the party held at the county from Huai’an city, but missed the first procedure for such a celebration – seeing the new house. Read more

Omtitolt: a disease suffered by many Chinese people

After a careful inspection for about half an hour, the only staff of this mobile phone repair store, who is also its boss and in his early 30s, told me to come back the next afternoon. He said he would need a part which is at his home, to make my phone detect SIM cards.

This is the only mobile phone repair store on the bustling street of Huai’an I live by, and on its wall hanging a notice, saying “even if you choose to not repair your phone, you should pay 10 yuan for disassembling it.” The handwriting is crooked, just like the face of the boss, and on the opposite wall there is a calligraphy, which writes “天道酬勤” – “God rewards the diligent” and is just as awkward.

Anyhow, we’ve made a deal that the repair fee is 90 yuan. Read more

Living in the throes of development

“These are the throes of a developing city,” read a message on a local online forum. Many citizens of Huai’an are having a hard time sleeping at night with the sounds of jackhammers and cranes running in the background. If modernization has a sound, then this is it.

In July, massive construction projects began inside the city’s Economic Development Zone (EDZ). Prior to this the sites under development had been deserted for years.

Supposedly, the development is meant to ease pressure on the local housing market. Last year many older homes in Huai’an were demolished. And although the people who lost their homes were financially compensated, they were still without a place to live. Without much to choose from, many of them turned to the EDZ to buy a new home, with their new money.

Huai’an Ecological New City

The EDZ is a relatively new district. It sits close to the Ecological New City, an area where the new municipal government building and other so-called modern architectural wonders sit.

The migration of the municipal government brought superior medical and educational resources, and in turn, increased housing prices. Read more

Huai’an: Warped behavior in the modern era

When it comes to e-commerce, China is the undisputed leader. In small cities like Huai’an, WeChat and Alipay have become so ingrained in everyday life that if one of those platforms crashed, widespread chaos would erupt.

Anyway, a few odd customs and traditions remain in today’s modern era, and they can be a little surprising. Last week my wife purchased some milk powder at a local store. After close inspection I discovered that it was from a factory in Heilongjiang Province. For those of you unaware, it’s an area of the country not exactly known for its green pastures and lush vegetation.

When taking into account the potential risks involved with giving a baby milk powder made in China, I felt it best to see if I could go back to the store where it was purchased and exchange it for something a little safer.

milk powder store

I voiced my concerns to the store owner, and he said I could exchange it, but that I would have to come back in the afternoon. He said exchanges were only conducted in the afternoons, and that’s where his explanation ended. Read more

Huai’an effort falls short once again

Huai’an did not make it past the 5th round of the country’s “National Civilized Cities” competition. The unfortunate news, delivered on September 14 by the National Central Civilization Office, made it official that the city had failed once again to achieve its overall goal.

A poster for the “Building a National Civilized City” on Huai’an street has served as an indicator on how long the city has entertained the idea of winning the national title.

The “National Civilized Cities” title is the most difficult to obtain within the arena of establishing the image of a city. It is the highest form of recognition a city can receive in China. The process involves an analysis of a wide range of factors related to a city’s economy and environment, along with sanitation facilities, citizen behavior and overall satisfaction with the quality of life that comes with living in such a place. Read more

Huai’an: a city with more human touch than big cities

After years of living in Nanjing, I get very surprised and even unadaptable to some actions of Huai’an people.

For example, when I went to a toilet in Wanda Plaza yesterday, I was very embarrassed to see an elder female cleaner in it. She smiled very friendly at me, asking me to go upstairs or downstairs for another washroom as she was doing the cleaning, and then she even patted on my back.

I was used to see indifferent cleaners in big cities, who just follow their procedures – putting a warning sign outside the washroom when they are cleaning, and asking if there is anyone in the washroom before they enter. They wouldn’t say an extra word to you, not to mention smiling at you or patting your back. Read more

Meeting with USA teachers in Huai’an

About six years ago, I came across two American girls on my way back to Huai’an from Mount Tai. They were lost and didn’t know how to get back, and I became their guide back home.

When we finally get off our taxi, it had been late at night. But we got touch again several days later, when I invited them to dinner, together with two of my colleagues.

They told us that they are sisters and had just graduated from universities, they came to China to see the world outside and make money to repay their education loans. Read more

Huai’an: a city eager for a real hill

Located in a floodplain of the ancient Huai River, Huai’an has no real mountain or hill, except some hills at Xuyi county.

When I was little, I was so eager to see what a real mountain or hill looks like, later I saw it on a bus near Nanjing, and I was told that there were wolves in the hills, but that’s certainly not true.

China do have countless mountains and hills, the nearest metropolis – Nanjing has a lot. But for Huai’an people, it’s a rarity.

People in Huai’an city are so eager for hills that they’ve built several rockeries in the urban area. The most famous one is Bochi Hill, or translated as “Bochi Mountain”.

Mount Bochi in Huai'an

Located in the downtown of Huai’an city, Bochi Hill (钵池山) is a large park with an artificial hill. It’s often jokingly called “Idiot Hill”, because the pronunciation of its real name – “Bochi” is almost the same as “Idiot” in Huai’an dialect. But disappointedly, this biggest “hill” in Huai’an city is more like a red rock and is unclimbable. Read more

Huai’an Municipal Library not open 1.5 years after completion

Huai’an Municipal Library, a large building as a part of the new government architectural complex in the “Ecological New City” (生态新城), was completed and finished internal decoration in April 2015, more than a year and half before now, according to online report of the local official news website.

Huai'an Library

However, eager readers in Huai’an haven’t even set their feet in it – it hasn’t been opened so far and there is no sign of it. Read more

Profile of Huai’an

Huai’an is a prefecture-level city in Jiangsu province of China, more accurately in Northern Jiangsu (苏北), of which the economy is known poorer than Southern Jiangsu (苏南).

Huai'an Introduction

As a result, many people from Huai’an have more connections with bigger Jiangsu cities like Nanjing and Suzhou than their hometown city. Read more