Getting married in China

A single generation ago, arranged marriages were common.  These arranged marriages were nothing but financial transactions between the groom and his in-laws.  Today, young Chinese people are often very keen to please the whims of traditional parents.  Not all Chinese girls would accept a Western boyfriend or husband.  And certainly not all Chinese parents would ever tolerate such a match. Continue reading


XiangYang (China)

XiangYang (襄阳) was previously known as XiangFan (襄樊).  It is the second largest city in Hubei (湖北) province and it has an urban population of about 2 million.  It is composed of three districts: XiangCheng (襄城) is the cultural district; FanCheng (樊城) is the business district and XiangZhou (襄州) is the industrial district.  Continue reading

Spring Festival 2016

Spring Festival is a time of mass migration in China.  People leave the big cities and return to the rural towns and villages where they grew up, or where their parents now live.  Foreigners should think twice before travelling at this time.  It is common for people to travel 20-hours or more by train, often with standing tickets (this means sitting on piles of luggage in the aisles and praying there are no sudden stops).  Everybody heeds the call to return home for Spring Festival, no matter what the distance or inconvenience.  Continue reading


Beijing is the capital of the PRC with the second largest urban population in China (after Shanghai).   The city forms its own municipality and it is known for its long history, its politics and its air pollution.  It comprises four inner-city districts: (i) Dǒngchéng has most of the sites; (ii) Cháoyáng is home to a large expat population; Xichéng has a number of lakes and (iv) Hǎidiàn is the university district.  Continue reading


I spent my first day in Xi’an taking in all the sights within walking distance of my hostel.  On the next day I took a Terracotta Warriors tour and discovered the parks to the south of the walled city.  I really enjoyed visiting Xi’an.   A lot of people speak basic English and the traditional, Chinese architecture has largely been preserved.  I’d recommend three full days to see all of the sights.

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