Every culture is interesting and has its own unique aspects, but what makes Chinese culture stand out? Perhaps, the majestic martial arts or the illustrious ancient wonders of China?
As you may know, traditional Chinese architecture is eye-catching and is known for its vibrant colourful patterns. There are many Buddhist temples in China which are painted red, gold and blue with hints of green- the colours that Chinese people consider to be ‘lucky’.
A few years back, one of the most striking architectural styles that I had encountered was in Beijing. This was the historic ‘Temple of Heaven’ which consisted of the Hall of Prayer, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. All these parts are unique yet share many things in common as they are all circular and are built on levels of marble stone. The circular mound altar differs slightly as there are pillars with carved dragons which appear in the tales and legends of ancient China. For all you philosophers out there, you’ll love this architectural gem as the features of this temple symbolise the connection between heaven and earth, influenced by ancient Chinese philosophy.
One of the other things that I appreciate about Chinese culture is the spectacular theatre. Chinese theatrical performances consist of opera, acrobatics and martial arts. Speaking of martial arts, my favourite show was ‘’The Legend of Kung Fu’’ at the Red theatre in Beijing. This show is perfect for anyone who would like to watch an inspirational story with a mixture of graceful ballet and impressive Kung Fu skills.
During the show, I really loved the atmosphere created by the classic fighting style and enchanting music with powerful drumbeats. The plot is about a young boy who wants to become a Kung Fu master but has to overcome his own fears and obstacles that get in his way. This story shows that only we are the ones who can fulfil our dreams and choose the right path.
What comes to your mind when someone mentions Chinese food? Perhaps, sweet and sour chicken or king prawn curry? Well, believe it or not, traditional Chinese food is completely different compared to the food offered at the Chinese take away in the United Kingdom.
As I’m the only British person on my course, I have many Chinese friends from my class who invite me over for lunch regularly, so I always get the chance to try new traditional recipes. One of the most popular dishes amongst Chinese students is the ‘hot pot’ which is a Chinese cooking method and involves laying out a range of raw foods on the table, then cooking the ingredients in the pot whilst sat at the table. The one food that I found rather unique was the lotus flower root which was crunchy and had a sweet-tangy flavour.
Another food that I tried was ‘Mooncake’ which is a traditional dessert and is a round pastry filled with different types of pastes. It also contains an egg yolk in the middle which symbolizes the moon and is associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival. My friend offered me the one that contained lotus seed paste and an egg, accompanied by wild rose tea. Although, this cake may sound absolutely bizarre, I found it rather tasty and it was much sweeter than some English desserts.
Back when I was in Beijing, I went to Wangfujing night market which had a lively atmosphere and was very hectic. What surprised me the most was the fact that they were selling spiders, starfish and fried scorpions on a stick. I didn’t eat any of these as they didn’t appeal to me, but I did try the pineapple steamed rice which was delicious!
Two weeks ago, when I went back to my friend’s house and she began to listen to some Chinese zen music, some of my memories of China came flowing back.
I started imagining the waterfalls and scenic landscape of Sichuan created by the sound of the ‘Guzheng’- a Chinese zither where the performer plucks the strings, producing a lovely sound of ‘vibrato’. There was also the clarinet-like sound, produced by the ‘Hulusi’- a wind instrument which is made of bamboo pipes. This music is peaceful and if you’re wanting to relax after all those assignments or escape from exam stress, why not listen to some Chinese zen music?
By Tyler Leck, Travel Editor