2012 - Year of the Black Water Dragon

Year of the Black Water Dragon

2012 is the Year of the black water Dragon. These special Water influenced years are notoriously erratic in their outcomes but nevertheless considered fortunate time periods. In 2012 this Dragon year begins on January 23rd and continues until February the 9th in 2013. It indicates a transformational time for world events and important turning points for individuals as well as a high degree of luck. The calm perceptive nature of the Water Dragon will make it a good year that should also incorporate a few surprises.

Read more: 2012 - Year of the Black Water Dragon

Religion in China

Chinese temple, China

Modern China is not generally thought of a particularly religious place, so you might be surprised to learn that they have their own fair share of gods, deities, creation myths and other religion-related concepts - and they go back ridiculously far into antiquity (given that it's China, you might have expected that part). Believe it or not, ancient China was chock-full of different gods and diverse belief systems, but the particular bit we found most interesting was something almost all religions have in common: the myth of creation. For China's most prominent creation myth, social class plays a role.

Read more: Religion in China

Chinese inventions

China's four big inventions

There are myriad common misconceptions about China that foreigners are bound to hear (and maybe repeat - by the way, you can't see the Great Wall (长城, chángchéng) from the moon), but one of the more frequently-uttered discusses how countless cornerstone inventions of the modern industrial world have their origins in ancient China. Oddly enough, this one is sort of true: everything from metallurgy to navigation to weaponry has seen massive and crucial contributions from Chinese inventors, and it's clear that without ancient China, much of our modern world would look radically different from a scientific perspective. Let’s take a closer look at what came from China (and what didn't) to find out how important ancient China has been to the science and technology world!

Read more: Chinese inventions

Where can I learn to speak Mandarin - A Guy Tai responds

Learn Chinese, Shanghai, China

A couple years ago, I took two (@CNY11K) every-weekday-for-12-week courses from Miracle Mandarin (the Fuxing Lu / Shaanxi Lu facility in Puxi and loved it.

Each day was an hour of each of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. They moved fast and forced you to learn/use it quickly. It was "modular" in that you could choose to do either the read/write, or the listen/speak, or both (the two were taught by different teachers). Classes were "up to 9 students," although most of the time it was actually 6-7, which seemed like "just about right"--everyone expected to participate a lot, but with time to think/absorb while others are called upon. The first two weeks were pinyin and then it moved on to hanzi. Most of the learners were really students--recent university grads from mature-economy countries using the MM-provided student visa to search for a job. MM is one of at least a half-dozen private providers of such courses--Mandarin Center, ACLS, Red Carpet Mandarin, etc.

I know some folks who've taken analogous courses from one of the local universities (many offer them--Fudan, Donghua, Jiaotong, etc.) and said they were larger (up to 25 students), thus had less personal attention, and cost a bit less. I found (paradoxically) that the class made you learn faster than individual instruction (because you couldn't dawdle).

Among the tutor-offering companies, Mandarin House seems to specialise in the "tell us what you need, where you need it, when you need it, and we'll provide it for a fee."


Our Guide to Chinese Movies

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The movie

Not sure what it's like back where you live, but here in Shanghai winter is still with us so it's the perfect time of year to ignore the outdoors entirely and kick back with your flat-screen! Before, we touched on the often-bizarre world of Chinese television, but today we're talking about the big screen. Here in China foreign movies are widely available and very popular (both in legal and illegal formats), but there's a long and rich tradition of homegrown Mainland cinema, so we'll take a quick look at the fascinating realm of Chinese movies.

Read more: Our Guide to Chinese Movies

Latest events

  • Thu 17 May

    Lunch meeting @ T.G.I. Friday's, 16 Fucheng Lu, Lujiazui.


    Thu 19 April

    World Expo Museum visit, Shanghai.


    Thu 19 April

    Lunch meeting @ Shanghai Beer Factory, 757 Mengzi Road, Puxi.


    Thu 29 Mar

    Shanghai Auto Museum, 7565 Boyuan Road, Anting district.


    Thu 15 Mar

    Lunch Meeting @ BISTRO BURGER, 1F, Mansion, 21 Fumin Lu.


    Thu 18 Jan

    Lunch Meeting @ TOCK'S - A MONTREAL DELI, 221 Henan Zhong Lu, near Fuzhou Lu.

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