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2/2012

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COVER STORY

ALL HAIL THE QUEEN OF WEIBO 专访“微博女王”姚晨 An interview with Yao Chen—actress, UN honorary patron and China’s most popular microblogger

COVER STORY

34 A RECKONING FOR WEIBO? 实名制之后,微博何去何从? A recently passed law now requires microbloggers to register under their real names. But will users buy into the change and does it mark a turning point for Weibo?

Issue 2/2012

COVER STORY

42 MARCH OF THE QQ PENGUIN QQ上的双面人 How an instant messaging service changed the face of the Chinese internet—and its users

3


KALEIDOSCOPE

18

32队: A RETURN HOME 海南兴隆——难民的归宿

Hainan Island is more than just a resort—it’s the place thousands of ethnic Chinese former refugees call home

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你了解2011年的各种“体”吗?

QUEST FOR THE KHAMPA

Mad-libbing fonts, or memes, was one of the hottest internet trends of 2011

A British writer goes on the hunt for China’s most bewitching lads—the Tibetan Khampas

GUAN XI HU

FONT OF ALL KNOWLEDGE

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寻找康巴汉子

84

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享受“高级待遇”的文昌鸡

“亲,包邮哦”

Don’t feel sorry for Wenchang chickens—in their heyday, they probably ate better than you

Learn the lingo of buying, selling and chatting on Taobao

CHI LE MA PAMPERED POULTRY

4

ON THE ROAD

SOCIAL CHINESE TALKING TAOBAO


1 EDITOR’S LETTER 卷首语

7 NEWS 新闻

8 THE HARD SEAT 多棱镜

9 STRANGE BUT TRUE CFP (Film)

趣闻

街头俚语

14 DON’T MISS 不可错过

17 MADE IN CHINA 中国制造

90 ON THE CHARACTER

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Elizabeth

phung

( O l d W o m a n ) , E m i l y T i t c h ( M o n k ) , T y l e r J i a n g ( F o o d ) , G e t t y ( L a n d s c a pe )

and

13 STREET TALK

CITY STROLL

TWO DAYS IN CHONGQING

by

重庆两日

Photographs

Crammed markets, searing hot pots and hilltop temples are a few of the ancient treasures left in Chongqing

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AUDIO-VISUAL WORLD THE FLOWERS OF WAR 《金陵十三钗》 Some unexpected heroines emerge in Zhang Yimou's take on the Nanjing Massacre

Issue 2/2012

魅力汉字

92 PIONEER 对话先锋

94 ADVENTURES IN CHINESE 我学我行

96 THE GEEK CORNER 高手学堂

COOKING CLASSES Learn how to make dishes from the magazine in Chef Sue's regional cuisine series. See our website at www. theworldofchinese.com for more information.

5


Quest for the

KHAMPA An intre pid tale of car nal desire let loose in the wilds of wester n Sichuan

我义无反顾地踏上川藏之路,寻找悍勇 不驯的康巴汉子

T

here’s a saying in Chinese that goes something like this: “男不入川, 女不入藏 ”( N1n b% r& Chu`n, n) b% r& Z3ng ), which roughly translates as, “Men shouldn’t go to Sichuan (because Sichuanese women are so

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beautiful), and women shouldn’t go to Tibet (because Tibetan men are so handsome).” Like the call of the mythical sirens, the beauties of Sichuan and the studs of Tibet can steal the hearts of any hapless traveler foolish enough to cross their path.

T E X T B Y E M I LY T I T C H P H O T O G R A P H S B Y E M I LY T I T C H & MIGUEL FIALHO


在 路上 ON THE ROAD


Well, there’s no better advert for the place, I thought, and without further ado packed my bags and set off to Ganzi Prefecture (甘孜州 G`nz~ Zh4u), an autonomous Tibetan region in western Sichuan, where the Khampa breed of Tibetan male (康巴汉子 K`ngb` h3nzi) can be hunted without the need for a special permit. First stop: the river town of Kangding (or Dartsedo in Tibetan). Formerly known as the gateway to Tibet, the town once had a bit of a Wild West reputation, but is now a tame modern city that rests five hours from Chengdu and 2,500 meters above sea level. While it may have lost some of the hinterland allure promised in the guide book, it does offer a tempting taste of the Tibetan flavor to come. Along the edges of Kangding glow the pale colors of Buddhist sculptures, carved into the cliffs that tower protectively over the city. Through the middle of Kangding flows the powerful Dartsedo River (康定 河 K`ngd#ng H9), a furious beast that bears on its back the freshness of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau above. But the attractions go beyond

“THE MANDALA WERE DELICATE, GLORIOUSLY COLORFUL AND SYMMETRICAL ACROSS MORE DIMENSIONS THAN I COULD COUNT” 52

the natural—every night local Tibetans, mostly in modern dress, dance in a giant circle to folk ditties pumped out from streetlight-mounted speakers. Anyone can join in. I scoured the crowds, but there was no sight of a dashing Khampa hanzi. Food offered an alternative pleasure of the flesh, and I was easily seduced by Kangding’s impressive array of genuine Tibetan fare. Even traditional Tibetan eateries of the simple working-class variety are richly decorated: patrons sit on ornate wooden benches made softer for the travel-weary rear by folded carpets, and eat bent low over low wooden tables. A couple of tasty establishments near the south end of town offered fresh yak yoghurt, sweet milk tea and steamed buns stuffed with yak meat or potatoes, the perfect breakfast to take the edge off a raging libido. While pleasant enough, Kangding turned out to be a little dull, its greatest claims to fame being a ballad written by a love-struck tourist in 1936, and a picturesque hill to the north. So after a few days acclimatizing, I jumped on an early morning bus bound for the real Tibet. All buses heading west leave at the crack of dawn (between 6 and 7 a.m.), as travel is slow and torturous—vehicles not only have to negotiate hairpin bends on sheer mountain drops, but the roads beyond are little more than mud tracks that are regularly hit by elephant-sized rockfalls. The first stop for most people is Tagong (塔 公), which lies just across the Zheduo Pass (折多山 Zh9du4 Sh`n, 4298 m). The pass marks a kind of gateway, on the other side of which, the literature promised, is the real Tibet. My eyes glistened with visions of roaming Khampa hanzi, the dashing Tibetan menfolk of the Kham region, known for their horsemanship, courage and strident tempers. It’s said that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, and, determined not to let my side down in the battle of the sexes, I stumbled around Tagong under the beating heat of the noontime rays. As promised, there were more mad dogs and snarling curs than you could shake a yak bone at, but not a whiff of any Khampa hanzi. No doubt they were all indoors, sleeping off the previous night’s excesses.


Issue 2/2012

53


"OUTSIDE, A RIOT OF PRAYER FLAGS BILLOWED IN THE BREEZE"

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On the edge of the town was the main monastery, whose golden eaves glittered naughtily in the sunlight. The main temple provided welcome shelter from the sun, which shines oven-hot at 3,700 meters, but was not quite the peaceful haven I had anticipated. “Come over here and join us,” one 30-something monk with a wicked grin yelled over at me. He was dancing to some techno bleating from a small tape deck, his maroon robes whirling, arms waving in the air. His chubbier monk friends giggled from their perches on a bench. I watched him dance, and shook my head, laughing, until he was exhausted. At the back of the temple, shielded on all four sides by a curtain, was a magnificent sand painting. These mandala (a symbol of spiritual and ritual significance in Buddhism), as they are called, are painstakingly made by a team of monks funneling sand onto a penciled sketch. They were delicate, gloriously colorful and symmetrical across more dimensions than

I could count. In a few days at a special ceremony, the mandala would be destroyed, an act meant to symbolize the transitory nature of life. The monk swept his arm above the mandala and grinned at my expression of dismay. “We’ll do another one,” he said by way of comfort. “We’ll make many, many more.” At night, Tagong is a bit rough, the guesthouse grandmother had warned. As I lay in bed and listened to the sounds of the night outside, muffled shouts and the endless barking of dogs, I thought: “Disco monks or no disco monks it’s time to leave.” I needed to get further off the beaten track. South of Tagong and toward the Yi minority region is an area known as Minyak (木 雅 M&y2), home to Sichuan’s tallest peak, Minya Konka (贡嘎山 Mount Gongga). Since the mountain has claimed the lives of several climbers in recent years and I had only packed Victoria’s Secret flip flops and a pair of trendy boots, I wasn’t planning to do any


mountaineering. Indeed, I was looking to mount something else entirely. Though the Minyak are classified as Tibetan, they have their own distinct language and traditionally keep their distance from the warrior-like Khampas. In fact, despite claims in the history books that the Minyak kings presided over a period of great scholarship, they were frequently bullied by Khampa men, and thus, it is theorized, built stone towers to guard against attacks. Many of these towers still stand today, like slivers of medieval castles pointing crookedly into the sky. I only glimpsed flashes of them from my bus window, but it’s easy to find a guide to take you around a few in Shade Town (沙德镇 Sh`d9 Zh-n), a two-hour drive south of the Zheduo Pass. Reading up on the Minyak men, I was somewhat less than impressed, but was honor-bound to press on as I’d been invited to visit by a friend who works there restoring old buildings. When we reached Wayao Village (瓦摇村 W2y1o C$n) it was deathly silent, the quiet punctured only by the grunting of disconsolate sows that lay like great quivering sacks all over the village. An old lady appeared and picked her way delicately across a puddle. “Everyone’s gone off to the picnic,” she explained. We walked around the village, delighting in the quiet and the sense of history that emanated from the ancient homes, which, like the towers, had a medieval feel. The houses stood several stories high, made from closely packed stone topped with wooden beams and small dark slits for windows. The tiny temple in the center of the village had been boarded up as everyone was away for the picnic, so we walked the four or so kilometers through the beautiful wooded countryside to the picnic site. Tibetans love picnics almost as much as life itself and they can last for days. People had put up gaily decorated white and blue tents filled with food and drink along with some sleeping couches. Outside, a riot of prayer flags billowed in the breeze, presiding over dancing, music and singing, as well as running and wrestling competitions. We arrived just as a race was ending. In the middle of a field, a giant teepee had been erected from strings of prayer flags, and everyone was sitting in a circle around its circumference. I was given a rolled up carpet to squat on and a can of Red Bull. A young boy in a purple shirt sidled

The ancient homes in Wayao Village, made from close-packed stone and wooden beams, have been restored to their former glory as part of a conservation project.

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"TIBETANS LOVE PICNICS ALMOST AS MUCH AS LIFE ITSELF AND THEY CAN LAST FOR DAYS"

56

up and sat next to me on my carpet. He was barely out of his teens so I tried to maintain the aspect of a disinterested teacher. One by one members of the audience took the microphone and burst into song, triggering short spates of applause. Next, lines of dancing women got the men whistling, Mr. Purple Shirt included. Someone passed us a handful of sunflower seeds. But the Minyak looked smaller and shyer than my legendary Khampas and I told my companion we needed to head deeper into Kham country. The next day we set off on a two-day trip of bus torture to Seda (色达) in the north of Ganzi County (甘孜县 G`nz~ Xi3n). The journey was only made bearable by the breathtaking alpine scenery and the sight of brooding nomad men in their long cloaks leading herds of dancing yak. Seda is like the end of the world. The small

outpost perches more than 4,000 meters above sea level and is famous for its Buddhist Institute a few kilometers outside of town. More than 10,000 monks and nuns study here, and their homes cling to the hillsides like limpits to a cliff. The day we explored this warren of maroon-clad humanity, it had rained, and the roads were caked in mud. A freak hailstorm, which turned the sky an angry purple, drenched us in seconds. If the end of the world is really set for 2012, as some dubiously interpreted prophecies would have us believe, it just might start in Seda. In town, I was struck by the handsomeness of the menfolk. They winked and smiled but never lingered long enough to exchange phone numbers. Many were dressed in wool-lined coats and wore jaunty red scarves in their hair. Perhaps they could be caught at night? We trawled the town for night spots. The


local disco was empty but another bar was packed and required a minimum charge of RMB200 per person. The live show was a troupe of Chinese performers, all under four feet tall, who sang and told raucous jokes. We fled. The whole town was buzzing with the news of these vertically challenged visitors from Hubei Province. The next morning at a Tibetan breakfast café, a Living Buddha monk arrived and sat down for a chat. “Guess where I was last night?” he asked gleefully. Yes, he had been to see the show. We told him the performers were from Hubei. “Is everyone from Hubei that tiny?” he asked innocently. I had told the attendant in my hotel—a cheeky young girl who loved asking personal questions—to introduce me to some handsome Khampa if any happened to check in. So the next night, my door burst open to reveal a doe-eyed nomad boy, all of 17 years old, standing in the doorway. The desk girl gave him a little push and he stumbled in, awkwardly inviting me to his room to watch a video. Curious, I agreed. The video turned out to be a pirate copy of some trashy Hong Kong series. He seemed awfully shy and unsure of his next move, barely managing to make

small-talk. “Are you excited?” he asked. “No,” I replied and legged it back to the safety of my room. The next day my friend and I retired to our favorite Tibetan teahouse. The potato momo (馍馍, a type of dumpling native to Tibet) were exquisite and we knocked back cup after cup of the Lhasa milk tea. It also happened to be a good vantage point for watching the local men. The owner, a smart-looking woman in her late 30s, and now a good friend, came over and joined us. I told her of my quest. “You don’t want a husband like mine,” she said sternly. “He’s good for nothing, lazy and sexist. He expects me to do everything. When we’re at the dinner table he doesn’t even look at me, just taps his cup and grunts to tell me he wants me to refill it.” “Do you still love him?” I asked. She thought for a while, playing with her yoghurt spoon. “Yes, yes I do,” she smiled. After the incident in my hotel room, my resolve had been flagging, but these words were all the encouragement I needed. I winked at the customer seated at the next table and, to my delight, he winked back.

CHINESE YOU NEED

monk

picnic

僧侣

The monks were dancing to their boombox. S8ngl)men su!zhe y~nyu- q@w^.

y0c`n

僧侣们随着音乐起舞。

s8ngl)

野餐 yak

m1oni%

牦牛 nomad

y5um&m!n

游牧民

Issue 2/2012

Did you see that little person riding a yak? N@ k3nji3n n3ge q! m1oni% de xi2og-zi le ma?

你看见那个骑牦牛的小个子了 吗?

57


城市 漫步 CITY STROLL

重 庆 TWO DAYS IN CHONGQING

Searching for so u l a m i d the hotpots an d high-rises of C h i n a’s fastest g ro wi n g c i t y 在“拆”字下寻找山城残 存的自我

B Y G I N G E R H U A N G ( 黄原竟)

64


S

traddling the intersection of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, the southwestern city of Chongqing is so mountainous that when the prominent American historian and academic John King Fairbank flew over the city in 1942 he felt compelled to declare it “a most unfortunate human habitation.” Today, though, it’s hard to associate Chongqing with misfortune. In 1997, in order to better manage the massive human migration associated with the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, Chongqing was made a zhixiashi (直辖 市, a city directly administrated under the central government), the ultimate dream of all Chinese cities. Ever since then, the metropolis, often touted as the fastestgrowing city in the world, has strived to catch up with Beijing and Shanghai. The speed of development is so intense that a new version of the city map is printed every three months. Now, a depressing forest of skyscrapers frames the view of the city from its famous Chaotianmen Dock (朝天门码 头). Only in Yuzhong District (渝中区), the oldest part of Chongqing, does anything of the city’s former self remain, but even here the communities cling on under walls splashed with red 拆 (ch`i) signs marking them out for demolition. However, there is one legacy that will never be lost: good food. In Chongqing, you have to try pretty hard to find a bad restaurant. There are numerous hotpot and noodle places, and any of them with more than five customers is a safe pick. The only problem is that it’s hard to avoid eating greasy, spicy food three times a day, and your stomach will suffer for it. If you don’t want chili, remember to say, “Bu fang haijiao!” (不放海椒!) Another thing worth bearing in mind is how easy it is to get lost in Chongqing’s maze of alleyways, forks and steps. Locals never say south or north when giving directions, but just point or wave vaguely to indicate where you should turn. Try to get hold of a recent map if you can find one!

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DAY ONE

Start the day like a true Chongqinger by breakfasting on a hearty bowl of xiaomian (小 面), the ubiquitous Chongqing counterpart to northern China’s jiaozi (饺子). What on first inspection seems just an ordinary bowl of noodles half-submerged in red oil, is actually a fusion of 20 ingredients (trust me, I counted) crammed into one bowl. The taste is a combination of all the things that make Sichuanese food addictive. Though the Chinese literally means “small noodles,” the portions will by no means leave you wanting, and can be picked up for just RMB4 almost anywhere.

Tear yourself away from the martial displays locals now perform on top of Tongyuan Gate and walk along the city wall until you reach

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by

Eric Zhang, Photographs

10:00 CONSULATE LANE (领事巷)

by

If you only have one day in Chongqing, this is the best place start. Though ancient Chongqing was just a small town clinging to a cliff, it was encircled by 17 city gates, most of which overlooked the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. Only two of the original gates remain, and Tongyuan is the best preserved. The initial dismantling of the city gates began in 1927, when Pan Wenhua (潘文华), the first Chongqing mayor, started to expand the city inland, away from the rivers. Fortunately, instead of pulling the gate down, the mayor ordered that a road be built through it, making Tongyuan the sole land route into the city. Qixinggang (七星岗), the area that lies at the foot of the gate, used to be a vast graveyard housing generations of the city’s dead, but was requisitioned by Pan to construct the new town. Some Chongqing elders can still sing a nursery rhyme about the 17 city gates, and the lyrics for Tongyuan Gate recall the burial site: “We hear the gongs and drums from Tongyuan Gate, and we go to watch the burials of the dead.” Get off at Qixinggang Station on Subway Line One and ask for directions.

Getty

9:30 TONGYUAN GATE (通远门)

Illustration

The ancient homes in Wayao Village, made from close-packed stone and wooden beams, have been restored to their former glory as part of a conservation project.

9:00 XIAOMIAN (小面)


Tongyuan Gate 1 通远门 6 2

Eighteen Steps Old Hotpot Restaurant 十八梯老火锅

Sichuan Opera 重庆市川剧院

Consulate Lane 3 领事巷

5

Vintage Market 古玩市场

Eighteen Steps

4 Mountain City Lane

7

十八梯

山城巷

Jintang Street (金汤街). Come down from the wall, and you’ll emerge in Consulate Lane. The alleyway feels like a living legacy of the 1890s, as Britain and France both built their consulates there in the same year after Chongqing opened its ports to the West. The British Consulate was bombed to rubble during World War II, but its French counterpart remains. Nearby is the Chongqing Sichuan Opera Theater (重庆市川剧院 Ch5ngq#ngsh# Chu`nj&yu3n), where you can enjoy super high-pitched singing and

Issue 2/2012

mask-swapping action for RMB30.

10:30 MOUNTAIN CITY LANE (山城巷) Mountain City Lane, a remnant of the rapidly disappearing old Chongqing, runs along a high cliff, circling a row of century-old houses. At No. 55, you can step off the street and onto a quiet wooden path shrouded in trees. Though it’s just a narrow strip, it’s a more worthwhile walk than most of the parks in Chongqing. The

67


route winds through thick bamboo and gnarled white fig trees, passes by a fragment of the Ming Dynasty city wall and offers you a panoramic view over the Yangtze River. The route terminates abruptly at a dead end, and you have to retrace your steps before finishing your descent on Mountain City Lane and emerging from the timeless alleyway into the bewildering bustle of Zhongxing Road (中兴路).

12:00 HOTPOT (火锅)

Hongyadong is a feast for the eyes when lit up at night.

Walk uphill along Zhongxing Road for about 15 minutes until you arrive at the entrance to the Eighteen Steps (十八梯 sh!b`t~). Keep an eye out for a crowded area littered with stalls selling small handicrafts and a dance floor filled with twirling middle-aged women. At the foot of the steps is a hotpot restaurant called shibati laohuoguo (十八梯老火锅) packed with merry locals and kind waitresses who don’t speak a word of Mandarin. When you order, make sure to ask for the weila (微辣, slightly spicy) version, though whatever you say you’ll still end up reeling. It’s not hot in the conventional spicy sense—it burns and explodes in your mouth. As the red, beef fat-covered soup bubbles, the Sichuan peppercorn’s taste will slowly intensify, eventually rendering your lips numb and speechless. Eating authentic Chongqing food is like an exercise in masochism, blending suffering and enjoyment in equal measure. Do try the beef and don’t forget to wash it down with some milk to ease the burning!

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by

Photographs

Stagger out of the hotpot restaurant and head for the Eighteen Steps (十八 梯 sh!b`t~), a dirty, jammed goods market that climbs up a set of wide, shallow stone steps. The old market seems frozen in time, at once nostalgic and startlingly real—there’s a videotape theater just a few steps down, something familiar only to people who grew up in the 1980s, where you can watch an old Hong Kong kung fu movie on a projector for one yuan. Barbers still offer shaves, and tailors work with antique sewing machines out on the pavement. Three streets—Eighteen Steps, Houci Street (厚慈街) and Shoubei Street (守 备街), form a web where rich and poor intersect, a bridge between the mansions and the gutters. In 2010, Chongqing invested RMB500 million to give the area a facelift and turn it into a “new traditional community.” Nestled in the alleys is a vintage market (古玩市场), selling old Republic of China notes and crispy, yellow postcards and photos. Though it’s still a packed neighborhood, television signals have already been cut off, and the whole place seems weighed

Fotoe

13:30 EIGHTEEN STEPS (十八梯)


down by the thought of its impending doom at the hands of the earthmovers. Get there fast, while you still can.

“HONGYADONG WAS SYNONYMOUS WITH STRUGGLE; HOME TO THOUSANDS OF POOR DOCKWORKERS, PORTERS, SAILORS AND LAUNDRY WOMEN”

15:00 HONGYADONG (洪崖洞) Take a taxi to Hongyadong to witness a living example of Chongqing’s ability to reinvent itself. In the 1940s, Hongyadong was synonymous with struggle; home to thousands of poor dockworkers, porters, sailors and laundry women, the area was filthy, overpopulated and prone to flooding. Despite the crushing poverty, the community was so tight-knit that it’s said people didn’t even need to lock their doors. But that’s all over now. In the 1990s, the government shipped out the existing community, dismantled the diaojiaolou (吊 脚楼, local wooden-bamboo structures that supported the houses) and erected a brand new shopping center, complete with elevators, mock traditional restaurants and a theme-park style area apparently modeled on “Pirates of the Caribbean.” At night, the whole mall is illuminated, and photographing the golden outline of its reflection in the river is a favorite tourist pastime.

17:00 CHAOTIANMEN DOCK (朝天门码头) From Hongyadong you can walk to Chaotianmen Dock. Yuzhong District is shaped like a tongue, and Chaotianmen is at its tip. In the past, it was the biggest port in Chongqing, but nowadays it serves more as a square for locals to fly their kites. Do try the suanlafen (酸辣粉, sour-spicy rice noodles), douhua (豆花, tender tofu) and xiaociba (小糍粑, a kind of pastry made of sticky rice) on sale from peddlers.

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The view across the Yangtze and Jialing rivers on a rare clear day in Chongqing.

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DAY TWO

9:00 HUGUANG CLANSMEN SOCIETY (湖广会馆)

At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911), Sichuan Province (which at the time included Chongqing) was so riven by war that people in the province were “as rare as stars in the early morning,” according to the Sichuan Chronicle. This trend was slowly reversed by the steady migration that would span the following century. This was referred to as “Huguang filling Sichuan” (湖广填四川 H%gu2ng ti1n S#chu`n), as a quarter of the migrants were Huguang people (from today’s Hunan and Hubei provinces). Even to this day, many Sichuan people say, that because of the population shift, they consider themselves to be “descendants of waidiren.” When the migrants grew homesick, or wanted to make merry with their countrymen, they made a beeline for their clansmen societies or “huiguan” (literally meaning “assembly hall”). Huguang Huiguan (湖广会馆), located 600 meters


to the west of Chaotianmen, actually includes four huiguan’s. These elegant wooden structures date from the Qing Dynasty, and extend layer-upon-layer up the slope of a hill. Here, the displaced people could worship their hometown gods, watch familiar operas and attend charity meetings to help organize disaster relief in their home provinces. One of the theaters is still in use, and is well worth a peek for the RMB30 entrance fee.

10:00 FROM DONGZHENG JIE (东正街) TO THE YANGTZE RIVER CABLEWAY (长江索道) Exit Huguang Huiguan, turn right and then right again to find an upwards sloping alleyway called Dongzheng Jie— another peaceful, quiet old neighborhood that’s slated to be demolished. This will take you to Datong Jie (打铜街), which was once famous for its coppersmith workshops, and is now a lovely street market. Continue the walk by taking a left on Xinhua Road (新华路) and walk 200 meters to the Yangtze River Cableway (长江索道 Ch1ngji`ng su6d3o). The cable journey offers a fleeting chance to try and get your bearings. The city takes on a different character when you’re floating high above it, and when the cable car slowly glides over a block of old, tall buildings, it’s like flying through a forest of colorful drying clothes.

12:30 FOUNTAIN CHICKEN STREET (泉水鸡一条街) I recommend staying at Tushan Temple for a RMB5 vegetarian lunch with the monks, but if meat is more your thing, you can take the 10-minute walk to Fountain Chicken Street. All the restaurants on the street offer a dish called “fountain chicken,” which is a whole chicken cooked in spice, red oil and local fountain water.

14:30 LAOJUNDONG TEMPLE (老君洞) One kilometer from Fountain Chicken Street is Laojundong Taoist Temple. With temple halls scattered all over the hillside, this offers a great chance to squeeze in some exercise and walk off your lunch. When you make it to the highest hall on top of the hill, you’ll see a cluster of miniature high-rise buildings shrouded in white mist, which you might just be able to recognize as Chaotianmen.

Photographs

by

Fotoe

17:00 MOUNTAIN CITY LAMB RESTAURANT (山城羊肉馆) Located at 9 Minsheng Road, Mountain City Lamb Restaurant is said to be “as well-known as the Eighteen Steps.” Try their yangroulonglong (羊肉笼笼, steamed lamb), yangrouchuan (羊肉串, lamb kebabs), and yangroutang (羊肉汤, lamb soup).

Issue 2/2012

STICK-STICK ARMY In Chongqing, members of the “stickstick” army (棒棒军 b3ngb3ngj$n) are instantly recognizable. They can be spotted near the docks, toiling up the steep winding roads with their thick bamboo sticks balancing goods like a yoke, or trolleys bearing massive weights, all bound up with rope. The porters are famous for their ability to carry immensely heavy loads relying solely on their muscle, and have plied their trade in the city since imperial times. It’s said that as long as Chongqing has steep roads, the locals will always need bangbangjun, but their numbers have fallen drastically in recent years. The back-breaking nature of the work and the meager fees of only around US$1 a delivery simply do not appeal to young people, who increasingly prefer to seek factory jobs.

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社交 汉语

SOCIAL CHINESE

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Navigating the niceties of China's lar gest online mark etplace

Illustration

by

Liu Ling

上“淘宝”,游刃有余地淘宝

I

f you work in a Chinese office, you are almost certainly an expert (i.e. waste hours of time) on Taobao, the popular shopping site that’s been heralded in the foreign press as “China’s eBay.” But this nickname is actually selling the site short. Taobao is China’s largest

Issue 2/2012

online marketplace by a considerable margin, and while the site doesn’t stock anything that you can think of— we can think of some pretty far-out things—Taobao’s offerings run the gamut from the usual clothes and foodstuffs to more arcane items like pet monkeys and written-to-order

university dissertations. In 2010, Taobao’s total turnover amounted to RMB400 billion (over US$60 billion), and it would be fair to say that Taobao has become China’s go-to internet shop. But shopping on Taobao isn’t quite as simple as asking “How much?”

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Shopping on Taobao is not as intimidating as you would expect, especially if you have experience on eBay or other shopping sites. Follow these six simple steps to attain Taobao enlightenment.

6 Complete the Payment The system will automatically transfer you to a Zhifubao payment page (a Chinese service similar to PayPal) if you have set it as a payment method so you can complete the purchase.

SALES

4 Request Information Chat with shopkeepers via a chatting tool called Ali Wangwang (阿里旺旺) about availability, price (if you want to bargain), size, color, shipping fee or estimated delivery time.

-50%

5Add to Cart When everything is set, select the “treasure” and click “Add to cart” before you check out. You can also click “Buy immediately” to submit your order directly.

3 Search Shops or ‘Treasures’

You can either type the name of specific goods or shops you are looking for or some general categories in the search box.

2 Select Online Bank

Click “Register for free” on the home page. After filling in and confirming your account information, enter the verification code sent by the system to complete registration.

Illustration

by

Liu Ling

Set the online bank card you want to use to pay for your purchase by choosing a Chinese domestic bank and selecting your card type (credit or debit).

1Create an Account

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and promptly exchanging money for goods and services. Taobao has enfranchised a generation of internet shopkeepers, a group that has come together to form its own “Taobao culture.” Like all subcultures, this one has its own distinct patois. In order to make a successful transaction, this lingo doesn’t necessarily have to be mastered, but it can serve to make the whole experience a lot smoother. Despite it all taking place in the ethereal world of the internet, the same social dynamics exist on Taobao as in most sectors of the service industry. Just like establishing a rapport with your waiter in a restaurant reduces the risk of errant spittle finding its way into your soup, being friendly to a Taobao seller helps ensure that your order will be well-packaged and dealt with promptly. Before we proceed, a warning: diabetics beware. Communication on Taobao is very saccharine—everyone calls each other “dear” and all items are “treasures.” If bunny rabbits and anthropomorphized, smiling suns make your blood boil, Taobao may not be for you.

from Taobao’s roots as an eBay clone. Once they have placed their “bid” (p`ixi3 拍下), the customer then goes on to pay through an internet banking service.

M2iji`: Q@ngw-n zh- ji3n b2ob-i y6u hu7 ma?

亲 (q~n) - dear (buyers)

M3iji`: Y6u de o, q~n p`ixi3 ba.

Not unlike a genial old tea lady or overenthusiastic barkeep, most Taobao shopkeepers tend to refer to their customers as qin (“dear,” “dearie,” or if you prefer the British slang, “ducky”), whether they’re young or old, male or female. While in real life, this may be deemed inappropriate, the friendly qin is like a ray of warmth reaching out across the cold wastes of cyberspace.

卖家:有的哦,亲拍下吧。

BASIC TAOBAO VOCABULARY:

It’s customary to talk your intended purchase over with the shopkeeper via Taobao’s online messaging system before any purchases are made. Such dialogues usually go something like this:

掌柜 (zh2nggu#) - shopkeeper Taobao sellers are referred to as zhanggui, meaning “shopkeeper.” The all-purpose laoban (老板, boss) is also used.

宝贝 (b2ob-i) - treasure (any item for sale) The tao (淘) in Taobao (淘宝) literally means “to dredge out” or “to pan for” (gold, etc.), and here it is used figuratively to mean “search for”. The bao (宝) means “treasure”—so by the site’s very name, navigating Taobao’s digital marketplace is akin to searching for a valuable trinket in some labyrinthine oriental bazaar. Just in case you had any lingering doubts as to the quality of what you are looking at, all Taobao shopkeepers refer to their items as “treasures” (宝贝 b2ob-i).

Buyer: Are you there, shopkeeper?

买家:请问这件宝贝有货吗? Seller: Oh, yes it is, feel free to bid, dearie.

Buyer: Is shipping included? M2iji`: B`oy5u ma?

买家:包邮吗? Seller: Yes it is dearie, remember to leave good feedback after it arrives! M3iji`: B`oy5u de o q~n, sh4ud3o j#de g0i h2op!ng o q~n~

卖家:包邮的哦亲,收到记得给 好评哦亲~ FEEDBACK:

Giving feedback after a sale is completed is an essential part of the Taobao process. Feedback comes in roughly three forms: positive (好评 h2op!ng), neutral (中评 zh4ngp!ng) and negative (差评 ch3p!ng). Sellers live and die by their reviews, and anything less than positive feedback can be a death knell for their business prospects. Examples of positive feedback: The genuine article at a fair price. Hu7 zh8n ji3 sh!.

货真价实。 The shopkeeper shipped very quickly, and the express delivery was really something. Zh2nggu# f`hu7 h0n ku3i, ku3id# h0n g0il#.

掌柜发货很快,快递很给力。

拍 (p`i) - bid/buy

M2iji`: Zh2nggu# z3i ma?

Nowadays, most transactions are not auctions but straight, fixed-price purchases. Back when Taobao had a larger number of auctions, prices were routinely inflated by fake bids made by friends of the sellers. Despite the change, the initial act of making a purchase is still expressed using the verb pai (拍), “to bid,” probably a holdover

买家:掌柜在吗?

I’m very happy with it, and the seller provides very thoughtful service! Great!

Seller: I’m here, dearie!

W6 du# b2ob-i h0n m2ny#, m3iji` f%w& y0 h0n zh4ud3o! Z3n!

Issue 2/2012

M3iji`: Z3i de, q~n~

卖家:在的,亲~ Buyer: Is this particular “treasure” in stock? (followed by the name or hyperlink of the item in question)

我对宝贝很满意,卖家服务也很 周到!赞! A common complaint would be that the item received differs from the

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The World of Chinese, 2012, Issue 2: Social Media  

Real-name registration, Chinese memes, and how to dig for treasure in cyberspace.

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