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


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

Takeshi’s Castle


Water Balloon Relay Race


Egg and Spoon Race


Caterpillar Race


Dizzy Ring Toss


Ping Pong Jumping Sacks


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!


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)

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.