My new life on the other side of the globe... or: moving to China! :-)
Février 2019
600 jours
Partager ce carnet de voyage
6

Yesterday, Saturday 23rd of March, was a sunny and warm day in Suzhou. I took the subway to the old town and, following the recommendations of my Guide du Routard (French guide book), I stopped at LeQiao station. Exit 8 leads to Yiyuan Garden or... the Garden of Harmony.

The Garden of Harmony was built during the Qing Dynasty. The garden borrowed all the stylistic elements of other gardens in the area, caves in the Lion Grove, a stone boat resembling that in the Humble Administrator Garden, corridor like that at Cangliang Pavilion, etc. The entrance ticket costs 15 RMB (note: cash only).

Yiyuan garden 

After this relaxing time, I decided to walk a few kilometers towards the East, until I reached Xiangmen wall, the City Wall of Suzhou. The length of the wall was 15,204 metres, but the majority of the wall was demolished in 1958. The length of the remaining wall is only 2,072 metres. The area around the wall had some very nice trees in blossom. I went for a walk at the top of the wall.

Xiangmen wall 

I then walked all along the Waicheng river, where I discovered some beautiful and relaxing gardens.

Next to the Couple's Retreat Garden 

And some random information about my new life in Suzhou! 😉 I attended two great essential oils workshops, I went to a Winefulness event, I enjoy the sun when I can, and I discovered a French restaurant thanks to Li Song, an awesome Chinese (French speaking) comic! 😀 Dolce vita!

Living the good life 

I am enjoying my new life! 😀

5

It's already been one month (and one day) for me in China! Can you believe it?! Time flies! :O I am very busy with teaching, research, meetings, discovering, catching up, and sleeping (lol), but I thought I would take a bit of time to write about my previous weekend (March 9-10) in Shanghai! 😀

I took the train from SIP (Suzhou Industrial Park) to Shanghai on Friday late afternoon. It only takes half an hour, and costs approximately 5 euros. Not bad! Once I reached Shanghai, I took the subway for 3 RMB (30p basically) to reach Jing'an temple, a nice/international central district. I spent the night in a cosy hostel, Jing'an No. 10 Guest House, for less than 100 RMB. People were extremely welcoming, the place was clean and comfy, and very close to shops and subway station. Still quiet. For dinner, I had some really cheap skewers in the street (see next picture) and some fresh pineapple (yummy)! For breakfast, the hostel lady prepared me something personal and delicious: black coffee, toasts with homemade passion fruit jam, some Chinese pastry (no idea what it was but delicious), some tofu (in a weird sauce, did not like it lol), and an orange. Perfect way to start the day! 😀

Around Jing'an temple 

On Saturday, I joined a wellbeing workshop: R U OK day. It was an awesome day, in a great place, with great people, and with delicious food. From 9am to 5pm, I did: meditation, HIIT (High Intensive Interval Training), pilates, yoga, and zumba! My legs and gluts still hurt haha, but I loved it! 😀

R U OK 

After this intensive day, I took the subway towards the South West of Shanghai, to meet my friend Lake - you have probably heard about this guy if you read some of my old posts! 😀 Lake was my housemate in Hull, United Kingdom, we traveled together around UK and to Paris, and in China. We had a good dinner next to his place, and then rested with a hot tea, catching up about our previous weeks.

On Sunday, we went to a place called Thames Town, basically the Englishtown of Shanghai (and not the Chinatown of London)! I had no idea such a place existed, and it was actually quite fun to be there.

Thames Town 

After lunch, we took a taxi to the Guanfulin site of ancient culture, a massive site with a lot to see.

Guangfulin is an archeological site in Songjiang District, Shanghai. It is estimated to be over 5,000 years old. Artifacts from the Zhou Dynasty have also been unearthed at the site. The site covers 250 square kilometres. Entrance costs 40 RMB (20 for students).

Guanfuling 

I am going back to Shanghai coming weekend, to celebrate my birthday with Lake! 😀 Our plans? Go to Amadou et Mariam's concert, have dinner in a French restaurant, and have lunch at Dongfei's, who took me to Shenzhen two years ago! Yes, I discovered recently that he now lives in Shanghai! Small world!

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It is time for me to talk to you about my new city! 😀 Suzhou, formerly romanised as Soochow, is located in southeastern Jiangsu Province, about 100 km northwest of Shanghai. Suzhou is a prefecture-level city with a population of 4.3 million in its city proper, and 10.6 million in its administrative area. Founded in 514 BC, Suzhou has over 2500 years of history, with an abundant display of sites of historical interest. Its canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and gardens, have contributed to its status as one of the top tourist attractions in China. Indeed, the Classical Gardens of Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suzhou is often called the "Venice of the East".

Suzhou is divided into three parts: the Old Town (the urban core), or Gusu District; Suzhou Industrial Park (where I live and work), in the East; and the New City, in the West. I did not have much time to do sightseeing yet, as I spent a weekend in bed with sinus infection and another one in Shanghai, but I can give you a little overview of my first discoveries! 😀 Egret park is located in Moon Bay, only 2 or 3 kilometres from my place. I cycled there and enjoyed a bit of sun as well as a relaxing park. Apparently, it is where many couples take their wedding pictures - I saw at least five lol...

Egret Park 

During my very first weekend in Suzhou, Lake joined me and we visited the Humble Administrator's Garden, supposed to be the most beautiful garden in Suzhou. To be honest, I did not really like it... It costs 70 RMB, it is crowded, and it is yet pretty small. Also, the sky was way too grey for me. I do look forward to visiting more gardens in Suzhou, hopefully quieter, with some sun, and blossoms! 😀

The Humble Administrator's Garden is a Chinese garden in Suzhou, a UNESCO world heritage site, and one of the most famous of the gardens of Suzhou. The garden is located in Gusu District. It is the largest garden in Suzhou and is considered by some to be the finest garden in all of southern China.

The Humble Administrator's garden 

What else can I tell you about my new life in Suzhou? 😀 I really enjoy the food and the massages!

Food(s) & massage(s) 

Stay posted! 😀

3

The Chinese New Year holiday ends with the Lantern Festival, or Spring Lantern Festival: yuán xiāo jié in Mandarin. It celebrates family reunions and society. It is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. This year (i.e., 2019), it happened on Tuesday 19th of February. It is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's day! 😉

During the Lantern Festival, Chinese people gather to gaze at the moon, to light lanterns, to do riddles, and to eat rice dumplings. These dumplings have sweet fillings made of syrup, red bean paste, or black sesame paste. They can be steamed or fried, but are usually boiled and served in hot water.

How did I celebrate the Lantern Festival? Well, I had the chance to be invited to the local TV, Suzhou Broadcasting Station (SBS), with my new friend Katia! 😀 We learnt how to make sweet dumplings while appearing on TV with several other Chinese and other foreigners. Fun, hey? 😉


Dumplings preparation and live TV broadcast 
Waiting for the dumplings to be cooked 
 Group pictures! 😉

Happy Lantern Festival!

2

As you may already know, China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populated country, with a population of around 1.4 billion.

Beijing is the capital of China. It is the world third most populous city (Shanghai being number one). Combining both modern and traditional architecture, Beijing is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich history dating back three millennia.

I had a big "coup de coeur" for Beijing. However, I did not like Shanghai. See below a few pictures I took during my past trip! 😀 You can always find more on my previous post so-called China 2.0.

Beijing 

Mandarin language is the most widely spoken form of Chinese.

Mandarin uses four tones—level, rising, falling, and high-rising—to distinguish words or syllables that have the same series of consonants and vowels but different meanings.

The renminbi (RMB) is the official currency of China. The yuan (元) is the basic unit of the renminbi, but is also used to refer to the Chinese currency generally.

Today (9th of February 2019), 1 RMB = € 0.13 = $ 0.15 = £ 0.11.

1

Dear readers. As some of you may already know, I am currently ready to start a whole new chapter of my life... in China! 😀 Many of you asked me: "why China?". Before starting this new article, I will thus try to answer your question. Indeed, my response so far had often been rather concise: why not! 😉

First of all, a little story about myself. I recently finished my PhD in Computer Science at Cardiff University, United Kingdom. I spent three years in the UK and did not particularly like the country (bad weather, bad food, and many other reasons you can discover on that article). I got offered a job there but declined it. Furthermore, I have no particular close ties in Europe - nor anywhere in the world.

"Analysing and quantifying visual experience in medical imaging" - that's the title of my PhD thesis! 😉

I then received a very good opportunity to work as a Research Fellow at XJTLU (Xi'an Jiatong - Liverpool University) in Suzhou, China. Therefore I said... why not! 😀 So, here we are! After a few months "fighting" (paperwork) to get my work permit and visa, I am now ready to fly to Shanghai in ten days!

What will I be doing exactly?

I will be working in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering of XJTLU. There, I will be teaching undergrads and postgrads (probably modules such as Data Analysis and Human-Computer Interaction). Moreover, I will keep on with my research in medical imaging and multimedia. You can find some examples of my current work here! 😀

Another question I should answer: have I ever been to China before? The answer is yes! A couple of times actually. The first time was in Summer 2017, when I went to Shenzhen, Macau, and Hong Kong; and the second time was in Summer 2018, when I went to Beijing, Jinzhou (Liaoning), and Shanghai. 😉

People have also been asking me: "but, do you speak Chinese?". First, I would like to mention that que question is wrong: there is no such thing as "Chinese language". Second, to answer, I have actually taken a year of Mandarin back in high school and thus know a few basics. Third, I will be working in an international university, therefore everything will be in English! And, finally, I will learn more Mandarin there!

Long story short, I created this article for my friends and family who want to follow my new adventures in China, and hopefully to get some people interested in visiting! <3

Feel free to subscribe ("s'abonner"), comment, or ask me questions! 😀