EF Nanjing's 2019 Sports Day

At EF Nanjing, the motto “work hard, play hard” rings true for all employees. This June we kicked off our first annual Sports Day team-building event in Jiulonghu Park and it was a great success! The first half of the day involved seven mini activities; Blindfolded Football, Water-Balloon Relay Race, Ping Pong Jumping Sacks, Takeshi’s Castle, Caterpillar Race, Dizzy Ring Toss and Egg and Spoon Race, in which different teams from EF Nanjing competed.

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Blindfolded Football

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The water games were especially refreshing considering the sweltering heat from summer had arrived in Nanjing!

Takeshi’s Castle

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Water Balloon Relay Race

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Egg and Spoon Race

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Caterpillar Race

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Dizzy Ring Toss

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Ping Pong Jumping Sacks

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Every team was encouraged to make their own flag and motto to increase the level of sportsmanship, and the results were fantastic!

The white team’s flag. “White Walkers”

The white team’s flag. “White Walkers”

The Green Team’s smaller, but still creative, flag

The Green Team’s smaller, but still creative, flag

The black team’s impressive flag. “Wolf Pack”

The black team’s impressive flag. “Wolf Pack”

After the small activities had been completed, it was time for lunch. We were able to secure the business of a local Shaokao barbecue restaurant, who came to the park and catered to all 200 of us. The lunch, consisting of fried rice, chicken skewers, and lamb skewers, was delicious and much-needed after all that running!

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After lunch, the top four teams were selected to play capture the flag in order to determine which two teams were going to face-off in the final game, deciding the ultimate winner of the 2019 Sports Day. After two hard-fought games, the Yellow Team and Blue Team had made it to the final game, which was a best out of 3 tug-of-war battle. Each team secured a victory in the first two rounds, but ultimately, the Yellow Team came out on top!

The victorious Yellow Team celebrating with their prizes, high-quality reusable water bottles!

The victorious Yellow Team celebrating with their prizes, high-quality reusable water bottles!

After the Yellow Team’s victory, it was time to clean up and go home. The day had been full of laughs, a bit of friendly competition and some great food but as we all know, all good things must come to an end.

 

If you enjoyed reading about the sports day, you should check out our blog on Football in Nanjing.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Camping on the Great Wall

Do you like camping in the great outdoors? Have you ever visited the Great Wall of China, or did you visit and there were loads of tourists? Luckily, there’s a way to satisfy your camping urges while also fulfilling your desire to experience the Great Wall in peace.

Construction of the Great Wall began in 220 BC and was periodically updated for thousands of years, particularly during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), until its length exceeded 21 thousand kilometres. Nowadays the Great Wall is a symbol of China’s enduring history and strength, with thousands of tourists visiting its most well-known and easily accessible parts every day. However, a quick journey from Beijing to DaFuTuo offers the opportunity to experience the Wall in all its glory, without masses of tourists taking away from the experience.

Getting to DaFuTuo from Nanjing is relatively painless. First, you’ll need to get into contact with Great Wall Fresh, a family-owned business that provides you with accommodation (if you only want to hike the Wall) or camping gear, food and drinks, and hiking tours if you prefer having a guide. Then, you’ll need to take the high-speed train from Nanjing to Beijing, which only lasts from 3 to 5 hours. Once in Beijing, you take the 919 Express coach from the Deshengmen Bus Station towards Yanqin; it comes every 8 minutes and lasts about an hour-and-a-half. From DaFuTuo station, a member of the Chen family (Great Wall Fresh owners) will either personally pick you up or arrange for a taxi to take you to the charming village of Chenjiapu, which takes another 20 minutes. Once you’ve arrived at the Great Wall Fresh farm, the Chen family provides you with a large, tasty, and mostly-vegetarian meal that is made with fresh ingredients from their own garden, which you can eat outside in an idyllic orchard setting with a table set up. At this point, you can plan your hiking route and itinerary!

There are two hiking options on the Great Wall from Chenjiapu: the easy path, which takes around 3 hours and loops back down to the village, or the hard path, which takes a little longer but still loops down to the village. Both routes largely consist of hiking parts of the Wall that are in disrepair, which can be a bit scary but is also quite rewarding, especially for seeing how nature has reconquered the ancient infrastructure of the Wall. The Chens will drive you up to the beginning of the path and set you up with all the necessary gear (tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat) and tell you where to go. It takes a gruelling 40-minute hike to get to the Wall, at which point you decide which route you’d like to take and find a camping spot. Our group chose to do the hard path, so we set out along the part of the Wall that was refurbished until we found a good camping spot. I would advise choosing a place that offers protection from the wind, such as any of the towers.

The spectacular view from our camping spot

The spectacular view from our camping spot

After choosing a suitable place to camp later that night, we began our journey through the more difficult terrain of the Wall. Be careful to watch your footing through this part and make sure you have appropriate footwear!

Nature begins to take over the Great Wall

Nature begins to take over the Great Wall

The perilous journey up to one of the oldest original towers on the Wall

The perilous journey up to one of the oldest original towers on the Wall

Not once did we see another tourist or traveller along the Wall, making for an incredibly peaceful adventure. Along the way, we stopped numerous times to admire the views and the wildlife, such as listening to the birds, watching the butterflies, and coming across cute skittish lizards. Finally, it was time to return to our campsite so we could relax, have some drinks, and catch the sunset in time.

Playing some card games and waiting for the sunset at our campsite (featuring two star EF employees: Myles Quinn and Bobby Zhang)

Playing some card games and waiting for the sunset at our campsite (featuring two star EF employees: Myles Quinn and Bobby Zhang)

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Absolutely breathtaking views

Absolutely breathtaking views

At night it began to get a little cold, so make sure to pack some warm layers. As for sleeping, the wind was the only disturbance, although it was more than manageable. Waking up the next morning to the amazing scenery made any annoyances worth it. We made our way back down to the farm within an hour, where we were once again treated to a fresh lunch cooked up by the Chens. In the afternoon they drove us to the Yanqing bus station, and we were back in Nanjing by nightfall! Camping on the Great Wall of China is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that must be done while you are in China.

None of this would have been possible without the amazing service and hospitality provided by Great Wall Fresh, and if you’d like to experience the same amazing adventure, please visit their website for more information: http://www.greatwallfresh.com

After walking the great wall you’ll need to relax, you should check out our blog on Blind Massages.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

The Political Side of Nanjing

Living in Nanjing means living in a city of massive importance to China’s political history from thousands of years ago until today. First and foremost, Nanjing is one of China’s “Four Great Ancient Capitals” alongside Beijing, Luoyang, and Xian. In fact, Nanjing actually means “southern capital” in Mandarin. The reason behind Nanjing’s name and its designation as one of China’s great ancient capitals becomes clear after a quick glance at China’s history: it was the capital of all the six dynasties from AD 220 to 589, then the capital of the Southern Tang dynasty (937-976), Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and more recently, Nanjing was the capital of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864) during the Taiping Rebellion and the seat of power of the Nationalist government of the Republic of China from 1928-1945. When Chiang Kai-Shek, leader of the Nationalist Kuomintang party took Nanjing in 1927, he declared it to be the capital. This marked the beginning of the Nanjing Decade, or the Golden Decade, wherein China was reunified and experienced a relatively stable period of governance until the Japanese invasion in 1937. Tragically, Nanjing was also the site of the infamous Nanjing Massacre, which led to the deaths of 300,000 Chinese people at the hands of Japanese invaders. This event continues to be a contributor of tension between China and Japan today. From the year 220 until today, Nanjing’s political importance has been proved time and time again.

Today, Nanjing is the capital of the Jiangsu province and enjoys the status of being the second largest city in the East China region. Jiangsu is one of the wealthiest and most important provinces in all of China, being one of the leading provinces in finance, education, technology, and tourism. It is the most densely populated province (the fifth most populated province in total), it has the second highest GDP after Guangdong, but it has the highest GDP per capita of any other Chinese province. To put this into scale, the GDP of Jiangsu alone is greater than that of Mexico or Indonesia! Nanjing is one of 15 sub-provincial cities, meaning it enjoys jurisdictional and economic autonomy rivalling that of a province. Moreover, Nanjing is also ranked seventh in the evaluation of "Cities with Strongest Comprehensive Strength", solidifying its importance in the Chinese political landscape.

Nanjing’s political history is not just an abstract thing, but something palpable that you can witness while walking down the city’s streets and parks. There are many sights worth seeing related to Nanjing’s extensive political history; for the more ancient era, you can visit the tomb of Sun Quan, an emperor from the Three Kingdoms period who died in AD 252, which is located on Purple Mountain. There’s also the ruins of the Ming dynasty imperial palace that was built in 1366 and the Chaotian Palace (now the Nanjing Municipal Museum), which was also built during the Ming era, both of which make for very interesting visits. In the Fuzimiao area, you can visit the Confucius Temple that, for many years, acted as the imperial examination centre during multiple dynasties. The Nanjing Museum, which offers free entry, contains eleven exhibitions with displays from 830-1700, containing many Ming-era artifacts. There are also many sights related to Nanjing’s more recent political history, such as the Presidential Palace, the headquarters of past emperors and the Kuomintang government. It contains the offices of important officials from Chinese history, including Chiang Kai-Shek and Sun Yat-sen - important pieces of history on the Republic of China. On Purple Mountain, there is the tomb of Sun Yat-sen, a beautiful complex in a beautiful area. Moreover, there is also Meihuashan, where Wang Jingwei (president of the collaborationist government during the Japanese occupation) is buried and where the Ming Tomb and Plum Blossom Hill are located. In terms of socialist history, Nanjing is also a great city for political sightseeing. Beyond the propaganda strewn across most streets, you can visit the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, which was the first major and modern project to be built entirely by the Chinese during the communist era. In the Yuhuatai scenic area, there is a cemetery and memorial for the revolutionary martyrs who gave their lives to the communist cause. Since Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu, there are a number of government buildings scattered around the city, such as the Nanjing People’s Congress, Jiangsu Provincial Government building, and the Nanjing Municipal Government building, all of which are adorned with red slogans and hammer and sickles. If you are interested in Chinese politics and history, Nanjing is the city for you!

If you’re interested in coming to Nanjing, you’ll need to learn about transport here, read our blog about getting around Nanjing.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

The City of Education

Few cities in Asia are known for their educational prestige as Nanjing, making it a fantastic city to come teach in. Consistently rated in the top 100 student cities (88th in the world, 17th in Asia, and 3rd in China as of 2018), Nanjing is home to many high-quality universities and research institutes. For instance, Nanjing University has an extremely long and rich history and is among the world’s top 10 universities as ranked by the Nature Index in 2016. The university is also a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities, which is their version of Ivy League universities, as well as being known to be the most selective university in China. With over thirty institutions of higher learning, the city also boasts a significant student population, so large that the ratio of college students to total population ranks #1 among major Chinese cities. When you come to Nanjing, you are coming to a city full of both educators and students so no matter who you are, you are sure to fit in.

If you’re interested in the history and politics of China, check out our blog about politics in Nanjing.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Getting Around Nanjing

It’s no secret that Nanjing is a massive city, with its population exceeding 8 million and its status as the second largest city in the East China region. The prospect of getting around the city can be daunting for this reason, but fortunately, there is no shortage of transportation options.

One of the things that surprised me the most when I arrived in Nanjing was the sheer amount of people whose main mode of transportation is biking. While it’s true that the city streets can get hectic, biking consistently proves to be one of the easiest ways to get around. Orange and blue bikes, called Mobikes and Hellobikes, are incredibly accessible, cheap, and easy to use! With a quick scan of it’s QR code, you can pick up a bike, use it for as long as you like (for a cheap fee), and then leave it wherever once you’ve reached your destination. If you’re looking for a more long-term solution, I’m pleased to report that it’s also very easy to purchase your own bike. A quick download of the Xiányú (闲鱼) app (essentially China’s craigslist) allows you to browse cheap and functional second-hand bikes from Nanjing locals, but make sure to examine them before purchasing!

The more you walk the city streets, the more you will realize Nanjing is built for cyclists. Almost every street has a section devoted to bike paths, which greatly reduces the stress of cycling alongside the many cars and buses. That being said, you will still need to keep your wits about you, considering you will be sharing these paths with loads of fellow bikers and people on mopeds. Moreover, biking is the perfect way to travel across Nanjing’s many beautiful lakes and parks, especially the impressive Xuanwu Lake located in the centre of the city! Wide bike paths hug the length of the Yangtze River, offering a perfect route to get some exercise while enjoying magnificent views.

The Nanjing metro is equally as useful for travelling around the city. With ten lines and 159 stations running a total of 393 km, the extensive metro system can get you wherever you need to be within the urban and suburban districts of the city. Rechargeable metro cards can be easily obtained if you plan to use it frequently, and if not, the average ticket costs a mere 2¥. With the trains running like clockwork, you’ll never find yourself waiting for more than a minute for the next train. Say goodbye to the stressful commute that you’re used to at home! Don’t be surprised when you have to put your bag through an airport-like scanner though, this is just a precautionary measure to keep you safer and provide additional jobs for Nanjing locals.

If biking and public transport isn’t really your thing, I have good news for you. China has its own version of Uber called DiDi, which is just as easy to use and even cheaper than Uber. Download the app, plug in your location, and within a couple minutes your own private car will arrive to take you where you need to go. It’s quick to use and it’s safe, with over 30 million DiDi rides a day. You will also find that taxis are readily available on most of the city’s streets. Rickshaws, or tuk-tuks, can be found around the city, providing a pleasant and authentic way to see the city, but get ready to haggle down the price!

By Noah Roelofs

Looking for things to do around Nanjing? Check out our blog about the Confucius Temple, or read more about Nanjing in some of our other blogs.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Nanjing: A Green City

Nanjing completely shatters the stereotype of the grey, industrial, and polluted Chinese city that many Westerners mistakenly hold in their minds. In fact, this city is known to be one of the greenest and most beautiful cities in China, with many of the country’s population striving to live here. Even a quick glance at a map reveals a great deal about the city, considering the amount of green areas rival that of the city itself. Nanjing contains an abundance of parks, lakes, and scenic areas in and around the city that are all worth visiting.

Perhaps most notably, Xuanwu lake and Purple Mountain are two massive green areas located right beside the city centre, making it incredibly easy to get a quick escape from the urban sprawl. Xuanwu lake provides the opportunity to rent various boats and kayaks, walk through the large bonsai exhibition, and relax in the many grass fields. Right beside Xuanwu lake is the famed Purple Mountain, which is known for its coniferous forests and the golden-purple clouds which envelop its peaks at dawn and dusk, hence its name. Purple Mountain is also home to the Linggu Temple, Ming Xioling Mausoleum, Observatory, and Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, all sights worth visiting (but keep in mind, Purple Mountain will take you an entire day at least!).

A few kilometers west of the Xinjiekou area (downtown) lies the Stone City Ruins park, which is peaceful and contains the remnants of the stone city walls built by the Chu kingdom sometime between 475-221 BC! A short walk south from the Stone City Ruins park will bring you to Mouchou lake, which was named after a legendary woman known for her beauty, versatility, virtue and loyalty. The lake is quite large, beautiful, and easily accessible by taking the metro to the Mochou lake station. Directly south of the Fuzimiao tourist area, across the Quinhai river, sprawls the Yuhuatai scenic spot, a personal favourite of mine. Here you can hang out at the Terrace of Raining Flowers, wander along a pleasant mountain dotted with pine and cypress trees, and pay your respects to those who gave their lives for the betterment of China at the Yuhuatai revolutionary martyrs’ memorial hall and cemetery. If you’re willing to travel a bit further out of the city centre, there are a number of other scenic green spots worth checking out, like the Laoshan national forest park, Mufushan scenic area, Niushoushan scenic area, Fangshan scenic area, Jiangjun mountain, and of course the two natural hot springs of Tangshan and Tangquan. The choices are (almost) endless!

This being said, the environmental situation in Nanjing is not perfect. Air pollution remains a problem, albeit one that fluctuates. On most days, the air pollution in Nanjing is similar to that of London’s and Paris’, although it can worsen to Hong Kong-like levels on certain days. The good news is the city is taking steps to combat its environmental challenges through the implementation of green initiatives. First and foremost, something you will notice is the majority of city streets, big or small, are lined with rows of trees that simultaneously work to clean the air while offering shade from the beating sun. Moreover, the city is planning on building a number of “green towers”, office blocks, homes and hotels decked from top to toe in shrubbery and plant life. On top of these initiatives, Nanjing has also been in the process of implementing a low-carbon travel public service platform, offering green credit and green store functions in the My Nanjing app. So far, the platform has reached over 2 million participants in total. The future for Nanjing is bright, and also very green!

If you want to learn more about our city, you can check out our page here or read our blog about education in Nanjing.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Confucius Temple (Kind of)

I had just arrived in Nanjing and was told that a must see while I was here was the Confucius Temple. I got to the Sanshan Street metro station and must admit that I was a little bit lost but after consulting my map and walking in circles for a while, I arrived at what seemed to be the right spot. I spotted a beautiful gate down a little side street. Not exactly how it was described but I wasn’t fazed. I put my map away, bought my ticket and walked inside. I was immediately amazed by how beautiful it was, a little pathway with grass on either side, marble statues with gold engravings lined the walls and a green canopy of leaves overhead shading me from the heat. I couldn’t hear the horns or the engines anymore, it didn’t even feel like I was still in the city. Scattered throughout the temple were amazing gardens with huge bonsai trees and ponds with fish and birds. Inside the buildings there were beautiful tapestries, ancient gowns and weapons, although most of the descriptions were in Chinese, which I cannot read, I could still appreciate the artwork and craftsmanship of the pieces.

It was around the 30 minute mark, towards the end of the temple, that I started to realise that it was absolutely nothing like how anyone had described it to me, and that, maybe, I was in the wrong place.

I left the temple and, after a quick bite to eat, I took out my map and set off once again to find the Confucius Temple and, after getting lost a few more times (I’m not very good at reading maps), I found it! It was hectic, even more so, I think, because the place I was before was so peaceful. There were people everywhere, shouting, selling, screaming, smoking, staring. There was something interesting everywhere you looked and even though I just ate, I had to eat again, everything looked and smelled so good.

Turns out the first ‘temple’ I went to was the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom History museum and I would highly recommend it, maybe not for the history itself, because, unless you can read Chinese, the information was a bit sparse, but go for the artwork, the architecture and the peace and quiet.

I really felt like I got to see both sides of China in one afternoon, one side was the beautiful art, tranquil spaces and rich history, the other side was the bustling streets with people everywhere, eating strange food or selling things you’ve never heard of, both were awesome in their own ways. It was a really surreal but ultimately fun experience. I guess it all just goes to show how great Nanjing is, that as you make your way through the city, you will inevitably stumble across something else that you will love.

By Myles Quinn

If you’re planning on coming to China, you will obviously want to see the Great Wall, check out our blog about Camping on the Great Wall.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Building a Community Through Gaming

My name is Calvin Webster. I am a foreign trainer at school 2 in Nanjing, but not only that - I am also the WeChat administrator of soon to be organization Nanjing Video Gamers. A big part of my childhood growing up was playing video games. I’ve always enjoyed video games and what I enjoyed most about it was how it was able to build community and the enjoyment of a shared experience between everyone playing. I started working at EF in the summer of 2018 and I have been living in Nanjing for a little over 7 years. In that time I never really found a community of expats or foreign students who were into it as much as I am. 

One summer my old roommate and I were at a bar talking about the world cup and we came up with the idea of trying to host a PS4 FIFA tournament. After much on and off discussion about the event we eventually decided to go all out on it. Both of us never really had much experience hosting a video game tournament so this for us was a very exciting endeavor. First, we visited many bars and we found a few suitable for our needs. The one we decided to go with in the end was a bar called Tap Planet. Secondly, we decided that before hosting the tournament we will do a few trial runs at the bar as an event called “Open Game Night” where we would bring our ps4s and have people just come and play a lot of couch multiplayer at the bar at the same time collecting WeChat information from patrons who participated. We ran several of these events and posted flyers for our event on WeChat and Facebook. 

Finally, the big day arrived we hosted our first ever video game tournament in November. Even though I myself am not a huge FIFA player, I did enjoy watching the games and the intensity of some of the matches especially in the final rounds where it came down to penalty kicks.  Since then we’ve hosted 4 tournaments - 3 FIFA tournaments and one Tekken 7 tournament. All of which were very entertaining not only for the players but also for the spectators. 

There was a lot I learned and gained a lot throughout this whole experience and I think the three biggest takeaways from this experience were these:

One understanding that if 10 people say they are interested in doing an event expect only 1 of them to actually follow through on it. This really gave me a newfound respect of the CC role at work having to call so many prospective parents only to have 1 show up for a demo.  

The second is community. Finally there is a community of gamers in Nanjing. There wasn’t so much of a community, at least none of that I know of, the 7 years I’ve been here and there is so much potential to do big things around Nanjing with our group. As host of the WeChat group I’ve been taking a little initiative to invite people to my house once a month or so or meeting in a public place to game and hang out together or even trying to “squad up” with random people in the group in games.
  Lastly realizing that this has become a lot bigger for just two people to handle. If I want to be serious and build a more prominent community in Nanjing, I will need help the community to help our group become a large social group. I hope that this year that the group will continue to grow and one of the many gaps in language between foreigners and Chinese will be filled through the shared enjoyment of playing video games together. 

By Calvin NJ2

If you want to learn more about Nanjing as a city, why not check out our blog, Nanjing: A Green City.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Vegetarian in Nanjing

Vegetarianism in China is the equivalent of finding a mythical creature out in the open. You marvel at it and never leave it out of your sight and when you want to tell others about it, they somehow don’t believe you. Firstly, they won’t understand the fact that you don’t eat meat, secondly they will ask if you eat fish and thirdly, even when you can visibly not see any meat, there will most likely be some traces of it somewhere, even in the vegetables.

Many vegetable dishes are cooked in animal stock or animal fat or sometimes even the blood of an animal. So be careful when trying to order something purely vegetarian or vegan. That’s the next point, if you do find something vegetarian, chances are they will use eggs in the dish, so being a strict vegan can be rather challenging. Luckily, China loves their vegetables and adores their tofu, so there will be some amazing options to choose from, but don't expect too many. It’s always handy to have a Chinese friend on your side to make sure it wasn’t cooked in any pig fat or have some pork sprinkled on top, which happens more often than you think. 

Another tip is to learn some basic Chinese phrases to make sure it’s a veggie dish and not some hidden agenda meat dish. Once you find a restaurant or a certain dish that fits your veggie standards, hold on to it for dear life and exploit it till the end of your time here.

The best suggestion to make, is to cook at home. There are bountiful markets and supermarkets with a plethora of fresh vegetables at extremely low prices and the range of tofu is plentiful.

A few vegetarian and vegan friendly places in Nanjing do exist and a few places will be mentioned, but first it must be stated that many of these places have the oddest business hours and usually comprise of a two hour nap time in the afternoon. Many of them can be quite pricey too, but always trust that if you see a Buddhist temple (and there are quite a few), they will most likely have veggie options. 

A favourite place to go is Jimingsi Vegetarian restaurant, by the Jimingsi temple. They serve popular Chinese dishes with mock meats so you won’t feel like you’re missing out too much on the Chinese food experience. After eating there, you can take a stroll by Xuanwu lake as it is by one of the entrances. Another suggestion is to be adventurous with Chinese food, as it was said, they love their vegetables and tofu. Rice and noodles are always an option and it can very easily be done with no meat. Many steamed buns and dumplings have amazing vegetable options and are great for snacks or in between meals.

In conclusion, it is entirely possible to be vegetarian in China and Nanjing, some challenges will arise but it is totally worth it when you taste the food on offer. And of course lastly here are some places that are strictly vegetarian or vegan. Wujie Vegetarian, Jimingsi and Tiandi vegetarian. If you type in Sù into any delivery APP, you will also get some options to choose from. So good luck on your veggie journey in China and don't become too despondent when difficulties arrive, there will always be something for you to eat.

By Maxine NJ1

If you’re interested in food and want to learn about some of the best restaurants and dishes in nanjing, head over to Zac’s food blog.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Blind Massage

When wondering the streets of Nanjing, I had seen some signs for “Blind Massage”. If you look really close or know how to read Chinese, the sign –‘盲人按摩’. I had waiting quite some time before actually going into my first blind massage. I was skeptical, not sure how to ask for a massage, but more importantly looking for a TCM practice (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to relieve stress in the hustle and bustle of the city life.

Although blind massage has a long history in China (the first blind masseur is said to be the 8th-century Buddhist monk Jianzhen, who practiced the treatment after losing his sight during old age), it was only in the late 1990s that blind massage clinics began. but it was not until 1996, when “the Chinese Massage Association of Blind Practitioners was established, that professional training became widely offered. From 2006, a government initiative under the auspices of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation saw the number of clinics and training facilities soar, and today there are estimated to be more than 100,000 blind massage therapists across the country” (Liu,2014) One of the reasons why blind massages are popular, is the locals believe that not having your sight, will increase your other senses.

My all-time favorite parlor to go to in Nanjing, is one next to a popular bar called Secco, near Nanjing University. Walking into the parlor, it’s quite understated and not really anything special about it. You can have different services offered and a 1-hour full body massage is 88RMB. A good price for an hour of stress relief. There are a couple of different rooms with two-three massage tables. When I have visited, I have been the only one in the room. The one thing about the massage, they know where the hidden tension is in your body. There is no “soft” phase. It’s a deep intuitive massage.  They will make all the tension, melt away. 

I find these massage to help with the stress relief and my overall well-being. It’s a neat experience and I’m hooked to be honest. If you ever have an hour to spend and want to feel refreshed and be tension free. I would highly recommend getting a “Blind Massage”.  

By Andrew NJ1

Liu, G. (2014, April 17). A touch better: blind masseurs. In Timeout Beijing . Retrieved from http://www.timeoutbeijing.com/

If you enjoyed learning about things to do around Nanjing, why not check out our blog about going to the Hot Spring?

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Zac's Food Blog

Duck Blood Soup @ Confucian Temple.

The Nanjing classic. The legend goes, a man wanted duck for dinner. While killing, he held a bowl to the duck’s neck to prevent a mess. Things got messy, and he accidentally dropped his noodles into the blood bowl. Despite the confusing chain of events, the end result is actually pretty fresh. Search around Confucian Temple or Lao Men Dong for a small shops and ask for 鸭血粉丝汤.

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Tea and Snacks @ The tea shop on the 5th Floor of Xin Hua Bookstore

No visit to School 1 is complete without a detour here. This cozy little shop brews some of the best Taiwan oolongs currently available in the mainland. It’s located on the top floor of the massive Xin Hua bookshop, which also has a decent collection of books in English. 

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Lamb @ Alading Fengwei Canting

You can order an entire lamb! They wheel it out on a little cart and carve it with a large knife for your table. This is perfect for when you have Xinjiang on the brain, but can’t afford a 3 day train trip to China’s far western frontiers. Make a reservation, they will need at least 24 hours to cook the beast. And you will need at least 24 friends to feast.

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Sheng Jian Bao @ Yang’s 

This is the Mona Lisa of fried food.

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Yellow Wine @ Nanjing Impressions

With at least half a dozen locations across Nanjing, sooner or later you will find yourself here. The food is great, the atmosphere is warm, and the staff is costumed in Qing Dynasty robes. While the seemingly-endless dishes of traditional food are the obvious draw, don’t miss huangjiu, or Chinese yellow wine.  A little sweet and a little sticky, yellow wine is fermented with medicinal herbs, spices, and flowers. 

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Brunch @ Herb Spice

Serving brunch until 4pm, so it’s people-who-don’t-like-weekend-alarms friendly. While everything on the menu is good, don’t sleep on the mashed potatoes. I’ve also heard a rumor that if you press a small white button on the wall near the bathrooms, a secret door will reveal a prohibition-era style whiskey bar. 

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Espresso Shots @ Fish Tank (X Space)

An art gallery filled with sculpture, mostly confusing and terrifying things. They also happen to have the best coffee in Nanjing.

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Dim Sum @ Zifeng Tower

Located at the 47th floor of Nanjing’s tallest building, this Hong Kong style restaurant serves all you can eat dim sum. There is an incredible view of Xuan Wu Lake and Purple Mountain. It’s perfect for Birthdays, New Year’s brunch, and Hungry Sundays.

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By Zac NJ3

Do you want to learn more about the food in Nanjing? Check out our blog about being a Vegetarian in Nanjing.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Animal Foster

I’ve always loved animals, but the saying is true; If you truly love something, you have to be able to let it go.

One month after arriving in Nanjing I became the proud owner of a rescued dog. Alfie was found outside an abandoned apartment building and, little did I know, he would be the beginning of my adventures in rescuing and fostering animals in China. Less than two weeks after adopting Alfie off of WeChat, I found a kitty on the side of the road barely moving. After asking some pet groups on how to handle the situation, I was directed to Ping An A Fu, a massive shelter outside the city that houses thousands of sick and abandoned dogs. They were able to help the poor poisoned kitty and, 5 months later, adopted him out to a new loving home where he is currently flourishing.

More than a year later right before Golden Week I found a kitten outside my apartment building and added another member to my growing family. Alfie had a new little sister named Alara. Her arrival really kicked things into motion. I became the go-to person in various groups to foster or cat-sit last minute. Over Spring Festival, my house began to overflow with pets. I spent the holiday with 1 dog, 2 turtles and 3 cats running around my apartment. Since then I’ve fostered multiple lovely cats who’ve all found new homes or went to Ping An A Fu for medical treatment. I’ve also raised 2 young stray puppies whose mother was unfortunately killed before they were even old enough to eat solid food.

While I haven’t been able to save all those who pass through my home, those who move on have flourished and found loving families to care for them. Even though it can be hard to spend so much time with an animal and let them go on to better things, it allows me to continue taking in the lost, scared animals who might not otherwise get the life they deserve.

Through all of this the local animal community has been a godsend. So many people ready to offer advice on how to feed nursing kittens, where the best vets in the city are and who might be interested in adopting when the time is right. Nanjing seems filled with animal lovers, from the shelter who takes in all pets to the people who keep an eye on the local strays and help them out as much as possible.

The city is filled with people who have the animal’s best interests at heart and who are ready to use their own time and money to make the world a better place for just one small life. As an animal lover, how could I not do the same?

By Alieya NJ5

 

Football

My football experience has always been amongst the youth.  I grew up in a community where the youth were the only individuals  who were actively playing football.   I came to China and it was such a different experience! Here you see both young people and elderly people actively running around the field; kicking the ball.  So interesting and amazing!

I enjoy playing football and I take it as a hobby, so I usually go to the field in yunanlu to join Chinese players on my off days. I remember at first I thought the language barrier would be my biggest challenge if I were to join the football community at yunanlu. However, it turned out to be one of my greatest experiences in China! The players there are so welcoming and they make you feel at home as a foreigner.  Despite the language barrier, when we are in the field, football becomes our language.  We communicate with the ball.

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It is an interesting and fun experience for me! Having to play football with the youth, together with the older generation who amazingly display a sign of physical fitness. Also, despite the language barrier in China , one is able to engage in activities he likes in a welcoming and enjoyable manner!

By Njabulo NJ1

If gaming is more or you than football, why not check out our blog about our gaming community here in Nanjing?

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Hot Springs

From the outside, Tangshan hot springs doesn’t look like much. It appears to be an average hotel that hasn’t been updated in awhile. However, what you’ll find inside tells a very different story. When you enter into the lobby you’ll be greeted by friendly staff ready to give you wrist bands and meal tickets. First you’ll need to get comfortable for lunch so you’ll take a quick shower and change into the floral patterned pyjamas provided. Lunch is served buffet style. You can find lots of Chinese classic dishes as well as fresh fruit, salad, and even kimchi! The dining area has a serene view of the hot springs so you can get a glimpse of what’s to come. After lunch, you’ll change into your swimsuits and head out to the hot springs area. If you go in March or early April you’ll be dazzled by newly blossomed redbuds. There are a couple dozen hot pools infused with healing herbs. Our favorites were the rose water, ginger, and peppermint. If you’re not too ticklish you can also try the flesh-eating fish pools. Don’t worry, these tiny little fish only want your dead useless skin! You’ll be surprised how soft your skin is after this fishy descaling. After you’ve soaked to your hearts content you can return inside for a massage or you can rinse off and call it a day.

By Charlie — NJ5

If you want to check out other things to do around Nanjing, why not check out our blog on Football.

Or if you’re interested in becoming part of the EF Nanjing team click here.

 

Onboarding

February 2019 Onboarding Blog Post

By Faz NJ1

Well done for making it this far! You've waded through the avalanche of paperwork and finally, you can breathe Nanjing.

Perhaps you know it already, but Nanjing doesn't have the reputation for being the most enjoyable cities to live in - for no reason. It has awesome tangible history, tightly-knit traditional communities, dazzling shopping malls, epic landscapes, sci-fi towers and labyrinthine alleys to explore. And I've not even mentioned the food. Woh the food. All of this you can lose yourself in, at the pace that suits you, because the EF onboarding process is so thoughtful and well administered.

From the start, those small gestures, which actually turn out to be huge, help you navigate and function at your best. Things like getting picked up from the airport at godknowswhatime, to going straight to a comfortable hotel in town, to having a support pack  filled with snacks and toiletries, to being taken for a welcome dinner and having all the administrative stuff sorted. It's all massive, particularly if you're arriving with no money, language skills or much of an idea why you're here!

The help doesn't stop within the first week, and EF will aim to support your interests outside of work. Whether it's tradtional or indeed cafe culture, visiting art galleries/museums, playing sports or music etc there's advice, encouragement and often a shared love for your passion. I wish you smooth onboarding and wonderful voyage beyond.

March 2019 Onboarding Blog Post

By Luke NJ4

My onboarding experience began weeks before I arrived in China. I was in constant contact with representatives of EF, who made me feel at ease before I had even stepped foot on the plane. I received new information via email each week to make sure that I was ready to kick start my training as soon as I arrived. When I arrived in China I was met by Bobby who is awesome and made me feel even more relaxed, answering any questions and making sure I was settled in my hotel before leaving. The next day I was taken to have my medical, buy a SIM for my phone and open my bank account. Later that day I was taken to look for apartments near the school I would soon be working at, after a few viewings that week I'd found one that I liked and received plenty of help from HR to have everything sorted.

I started my training with Jahf the same week, who is honestly one of the nicest people I've had the pleasure of meeting. I received in depth training about all the courses that are delivered at EF and how to execute them. I have been lucky enough to visit the majority of schools in Nanjing for training to understand the different locations and how lessons are to be delivered. Further training included observing teachers, which helps to identify how a lesson should run and how to manage a classroom of students. I was lucky enough to arrive before the launch of Small Stars 3.0, this was delivered over 2 days and it was interesting to understand why and how the changes are occurring. After moving to my school I was greeted by my Director of Studies (DoS) and my fellow teachers, training continued with a plan created by my mentor. The training at the school consisted of further observations, teaching EF Extras (1-on-1s), teaching life clubs and taking part in marketing activities. Near the end of training we were taken on a city tour by Bobby and had a great time, seeing the unforgettable massacre museum, the Nanjing wall and the Xuanwu lake. The staff throughout the whole company are friendly and very welcoming, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first few weeks at EF and I can't wait to continue teaching and see what the future holds.