Living the Great China
We often write about Europe and the Americas, but nearly never about Asia. Time to change it! Today we will talk about the huge and mighty China and how it feels to live there. Our source is Dima, a designer and the owner of a cool Instagram account who has relocated to China.
Hello, Dima! Let’s start with a traditional question – how did you end up in China?
I’ve been working in different fields of design for the last four years and this is what brought me to China. Finding a job here was a result of luck or you may even call it an accident. Basically, I just found a job offer online, done a couple of interviews with the company heads – and here I am on the other side of the world working as a chief designer in a big multinational design team located in the most peaceful place in all southern China, Zhuhai.
Can you tell us more about Zhuhai?
Zhuhai is located close to the Macau border, in the very south of Pearl River delta. As almost everywhere in Guangdong province, it is quite warm here and summers are really blazing. Summer time here lasts for almost 10 months, or at least it would seem so to you if you come from a less hot country. Someone would definitely consider this a plus, while I literally melt on every summer day. Winters are also a problem, as there is no central heating system in most of the apartments. It can be quite cold during the 4-week-long winter, and you might want to buy a bunch of portable heaters for the winter season.
Nevertheless, Zhuhai is really comfortable for living. It is way less busy than Macau, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, or Guangzhou. And of course, people are really nice and helpful here, always trying to show the best example of hospitality. Obviously, not everyone is so kind, but most of the Zhuhai citizens are, especially in comparison with people from bigger cities.
I have heard that Zhuhai is a popular tourist destination for those traveling in China. What’s so good about it? Except for nice people, of course.
Well, Zhuhai is probably not the most popular place amongst Western tourists, but definitely one of most favorite destinations for the Chinese. Zhuhai is kind of a resort city. Everything here is made for people’s comfort. There are a lot of resorts, sports centers, and nice hills that are usually swarming with old Chinese ladies climbing to the top.
Basically, Zhuhai is a really nice vacation place with a few beaches around. I think that’s all you can say about it. If I was a Chinese old man, I’d definitely want to spend a couple of months here during the cold season drinking baijiu and playing mahjong.
But are there any sights in the city?
There are a few. The first one is New Yuan Ming Palace, which is a copy of the YuanMingYuan summer palace in Beijing that was burnt down around 140 years ago. It has amazing architecture and a quiet and peaceful park behind it, where you and your kids can have a lot of fun.
The second is Fisher girl statue that attracts hundreds of tourists every day. There is a really touching love story behind it, and for quite a long time it has been a symbol of Zhuhai (read the full story here).
Love stories can be really exciting, yes! Zhuhai is also not far from Macau, quite a famous place. Is it easy to get there and what is there interesting to see?
It is indeed really easy to get to Macau from Zhuhai. Just don’t forget to make sure that everything’s all right with your Chinese visa. If it is, just go to Zhuhai railway station and cross the border on foot – it takes about an hour with all the queues. After crossing the border, you will find yourself in the parking lot where buses are ready to take you to any preferred destination on the 2 islands.
There are a lot of places of interest In Macau: the Old Portuguese town, the legendary Grand Lisboa casino, the Venetian hotel, casino, and shopping mall, that is a replica of Venetian streets complete with gondolas and fake sky. I personally love staying there for a night and having a lovely walk in the morning around the old town. Hotels are quite expensive, though. It’s hard to find anything cheaper than 50US$ per night.
Sounds like a perfect weekend! And you’ve said that people are nice too, not only places. But how about all this famous difficult cultural adaptation that foreigners face in China? Did you have any issues?
It’s true that life was quite hard for the first couple months of living here. New culture, new place, new language, new food. However, I find Mandarin Chinese basics quite easy to learn. Now I can speak Chinese well enough to feel confident when I order food, buy something or go somewhere. And with anything more complicated I just have to accept as I am a guest here and it’s not really necessary to learn the Chinese way of sneezing, spitting or coughing.
By the way, do not rely on English while communicating with the Chinese. Almost no one here speaks it the way you expect – even in hotels and restaurants. Sometimes the best they can manage is “hello” and “bye-bye”. So it’s best to download a translate app on your phone before going here. Though I have some Chinese friends here that speak really good English, that’s more likely an exception than the rule. Even though the amount of English language schools in the town is really surprisingly high.
And can you say a couple more words about Chinese people? Some say they are quite tricky, others – that they are very nice and ready to help in any situation, so I am really curious.
It really depends, you know. As I’ve said before, most Chinese people in Zhuhai are quite nice to foreigners. Although in Guangzhou – a way busier city – they just mostly don’t care about anyone but themselves. So I guess it really depends on the place and personal culture.
Speaking about personal preferences – which cuisine do you prefer? What are your fav dishes?
I’d say that in Cantonese cuisine I really enjoy dim sum – Chinese shared weekend breakfast. Also, I am really into Muslim food here – little Muslim restaurants can be found all over Guangdong and food there is usually of really good quality. Besides, Zhuhai is a heaven for seafood lovers – there are a few wet markets selling fresh fish, lobsters, shrimps, and oysters which can be brought to a next door restaurant and cooked for you for a small extra fee.
And of course, in case I feel the urge to eat European food, there are plenty of Western restaurants. If you ever find yourself coming to Zhuhai, definitely pay a visit to LaBottega, London Lounge or TheFactory.Written by Olya
All photos kindly provided by Dima