Christmas in china ( handan)

December 23, even though we wondered how we would occupy our evening of the 24th. To receive a call from the local government (the equivalent of mayor + prefecture in France at our district), Lina and I inviting us to the Christmas party of the economic zone of Handan.

The address was in a restaurant “western”, but the meal was we can not Chinese. Very good, however, judge for yourself in this picture well stocked.

English: Tang Poem: Returning Home As An Unrec...

English: Tang Poem: Returning Home As An Unrecognized Old Man, Nantoyōsō Collection, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said, it really was not going to eat … But to drink, as is usually the case in this kind of meeting. Or to be more precise, to establish and maintain contacts. What happens in China almost exclusively by a meal well watered. Red wine is more fashionable, it is so eating red and white. White by means of course rice wine (usually 52 °). It connects the toast one after the other, either red (glass bottom cul sec or more), white (small glass gulp), or mix the two moments, but it is still more rare – and it is not worse.
Present the borough mayor, vice-mayor, the directors of a number of offices, factories and patterns of economic zone – including our website. It is therefore to strengthen ties around a pretext; here, Christmas, and it was actually very nice!

Especially knowing that my wife was about to give birth, the local government has reserved many ways, including this beautiful teddy bear that will undoubtedly be 2 or 3 times bigger than the baby to come!

Magic shows, music, a cocktail experts who juggled his bottles, and a “laowai” poet, the evening was very busy!

Laowai the poet, of course it was me, because to make a good impression on me was “suggested” to recite a poem during the evening. But not to the banal, with (very) high with Lina, I could instead recite a poem written for the occasion, half an adaptation of the classic poem of Tang sauce ” French alone in Handan, “and the other half for the expression of happiness to be here. Here is the poem in question, Lina thank you again!

handan 2 Chinese growth

And remain in the vocabulary farmer, a lighter note: To prevent the local farmers arrive in town with their clogs, especially the area where we live, which will soon all the most modern Handan, is only a few hundred meters from the fields, we find the following panels against the entry of the city.

I must say that the transition from rural to urban areas is somewhat abrupt. I especially love the bridge over the motorway Beijing Hainan-crossing the city (through the town of 2020, now it is completely outside …) from north to south: it really leaves the fields and villages to dive into a sea of ​​skyscrapers and modern buildings and flamboyant. The impression is that this is quite surreal: a turn of the century a few meters.

English: Beijing CBD 2008-6-9 Jianwai SOHO, Yi...

English: Beijing CBD 2008-6-9 Jianwai SOHO, Yitai Center, CCTV ‪中文(简体)‬: 北京中央商务区夜景(可见央视新址、建外SOHO等) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The art of planning he inherited Chinese emperors or communism 50-60 years? I can not decide the issue, as it is true that the emperors in the past repeatedly been able to create huge cities ex nihilo: Beijing is also a wonderful example, and how we imagine a historic capital otherwise with 4 km ² of the city center is a huge palace and the whole city perfectly squared, if this had not been planned in advance and built from scratch by carefully following plans carefully drawn? At the same time, five-year plans still in force in mainland China are put to the account of the communist tradition – even if we ourselves had in France a Planning Commission responsible for major work during the years of Gaullist.
The Chinese art of planning is that it is so, logic dictates – and this is what gives China an advantage over India, the way – we begin by transport infrastructure . Roads, bridges, trains and highways before anything more. The gossips say this policy of massive investment in infrastructure, sometimes / often only serves to inflate premature Chinese GDP and occupy the masses.

There is probably some truth in there, but with even less doubt many envy seeing thousands of kilometers of TGV emerge in a few years and then it is only logical that first put in an effective network of transport.

So here is against the edge of the city, from the perspective of the “end of the road,” end of course moving day. A genuine policy of the border, where the challenge here is also to extend the frontiers of civilization to the surrounding countryside, and this simultaneously in dozens or hundreds of Chinese cities in development.

I weigh my words here and there be no misunderstanding: the Chinese countryside in a real state of underdevelopment marked compared to cities. And among cities, the so-called “third category” (as Handan) are significantly underdeveloped compared to cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen (the first category), or even provincial capitals (second category). Rural residents earn a thousand yuan or less per month – less gradually as one moves away from the cities, living without heat in old brick houses, and often go seek work far from home them – “migrant workers”. The situation is not necessarily rosy in the cities, but already much preferable to those campaigns. Imagine the Chinese countryside as bucolic green fields where farmers live well heated, connected to piped water and ADSL is a huge mistake. Improving the standard of living in China is necessarily mass urbanization of the rural population, what to use – among other … – All cities in China. I will not in this article on other issues it raises, especially regarding real estate.

Mainland China

Mainland China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It begins by building roads in this new set – after first destroying existing villages. The result can sometimes be a bit oppressive, and the huge avenues extending out of sight in what will soon be the new industrial development area northeast of the city.

I walked there by bike: all alone on a 4×4 routes by headwind, tough! Roads are there, the trees are planted, the plants abound. One can imagine the risks in case of reversal of the economic situation, or simply when planning errors. This led to ghost towns, as Ordos in Inner Mongolia for example. This is obviously not what I want to Handan, especially inhabitant myself in a new area, I would like the fill rate apartments surrounding starts to exceed 30% to bring a little animation!

A walk on the banks of the river for residents of 2020
I end with a positive note: the inhabitants of the area are far relatively optimistic and excited about the future. Thus, this friendly family living in a village 200m south of us (where we see towers on the first image of the article), which is a specialty restaurant Hubei (the region of origin of Lina) : They have a blessed evening, insisting nothing to make us pay even though the difficulties of their trade drove them to close the restaurant after our passage. Thank you again for the warm welcome!

Handan China

China is a paradise for planners in search of large areas to conquer.

Handan City, Hebei, China

Handan City, Hebei, China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This truth may seem hollow thrust forward – it is not. We recently stayed at the lobby of the Planning Handan (邯郸 规划 馆) – exposure or planning of the city – to get an overview of past and future projects for the expansion of our beloved adopted city. The level of planning is instructive.

Handan has experienced several periods of development since the 50s. According to the plan 2000-2010, we have now entered in the plan 2010-2020. The photo below taken in the great hall of the exhibition shows a bird’s 3D Handan City as it will be in 2020.

Handan City, Hebei, China

Handan City, Hebei, China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Any party to the right (east) to Hwy-axis TGV represented by the red line is currently COMPLETELY EMPTY. There is nothing, or rather: there are fields and villages. This is also what there taking the photo that adorns the header of this blog: it is the countryside around Handan. It is the same for the whole area to the north, and also for parts of the city center itself, where there are still some “villages in the city.”

The new axis of development for 2010-2020 is very clear: heading east! The schedule foresees a doubling of the population in 10 years to reach 2 million citizens starting from the current one million. 2000-2010 schedule included the passage of 500,000 to 1 million, which was done. In fact, the same area where we live now was not the plan 2000-2010 and was recently added as part of the “Great Revival in 3 years – 邯郸 三年 大 变样.” And what is the population, we can estimate that there is room for the department’s population which is Handan prefecture has 10 million inhabitants, the majority still rural. Urbanization is rampant, it is the least we can say.

the good Chinese name

The Chinese names are much more varied than the French names. In contrast, the French surnames are much more varied than Chinese names, which include only a few decades the vast majority of the population (Zhang, Li, Liu, Wang …). Thus, while in a French class it is common to have two children with the same name but very rare to have two children with the same name in

China is exactly the opposite – and even more common to have two or three children with the same name.

My Chinese name

My Chinese name (Photo credit: devan78)

Thus, it is easier to choose a French name first, and then create a Chinese name based on criteria that is taxed.

So back to Hugo!

Chinese porcelain statue of the Buddha, Guan Y...

Chinese porcelain statue of the Buddha, Guan Yin, from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD) of medieval China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leafing through the book of names of boys, I opted for a half-dozen names delighting well, and have submitted to the sharp eyes of my lovely wife, which was immediately voted: for it would be Hugo! Easy to pronounce for French as for the Chinese, very pleasant to the meaning (of Germanic Hug, intelligence), this would be an excellent basis for seeking a name corresponding Chinese!

Does not decide because a French name but a couple of French and Chinese names, it was first necessary to establish its first Chinese before validating the choice Hugo. What Lina immediately began, leaving me the final validation torque names chosen.

Very quickly, Yuguo 宇 国 emerged as an excellent choice. Here are some explanations:
– 宇, Yu means the universe, time and space
– 国 Guo means country
– The key to the roof (top) of the character 宇, ​​Yu and key frame (the outer contour) of the character 国 Guo enhance the feeling of immense space, reconciliation between countries, giving the first one appearance substantially “grandiose”
– Yuguo 宇 国 is pronounced almost exactly like its French counterpart Hugo finally as his mother Lina 丽娜 to whom correspondence is even completely perfect.
– The main part is 于 宇, and that of Yu 国 is 玉, Yu also creating a significant rapprochement between the two parts of the name

If we add the name 袁 Yuan (Hugo named after her mother Chinese, his father French), we see that this character 土 includes land, to eat 口 and clothing 衣. This provides a concrete material content for large spaces of his name, and if we add the intellectual attributes provided by the French name and even spiritual by its French name, we see that Hugo is ready for all eventualities, and many equipped to face the 21st century.

Even if in the end the most important thing is that parents love the name, and that everyone gets out the vote!

Choose the right chinese name

The birth of a child always gives rise to long discussions between parents in the choice of his (or her) name (s). A Franco-Chinese baby, it is even more the case, because it must choose both a French name and a Chinese name!

Drawing of an early Chinese soldier lighting a...

Drawing of an early Chinese soldier lighting a rocket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, if one does not speak little or no Chinese and the other no more French, the question is simple: each chooses a name in its own language and avoids any debate. But in our case, Lina and I are very steeped in the language and culture of the other, it is not so simple …

There are basically three different approaches, depending on the desired correlation between the names of the two languages:
– Choose two names unrelated or phonetic or semantic, but being preferred their parents without any constraint language
– Seek a rapprochement between the two phonetic names, which is usually what is done for foreigners arriving in China at the time to give them a Chinese name. We can even try to look for names with Chinese and French pronunciation virtually identical.
– Find a semantic reconciliation between the two names – you can even give exactly the same meaning, but it is difficult because the French names are often not very precise meaning, but several possible etymologies
Let us therefore is: how did we choose the name of our son (Hugo in French 宇 国 / Yuguo in Chinese)?

The baby was brought to live between two countries, two languages, two cultures, we thought it would be better to give two names to the pronunciation very close. As already mix the two languages, at least he will not have to mix in his name, and his family both ends of Eurasia the call in the same way.

English: General Liu Yongfu fighting the Frenc...

English: General Liu Yongfu fighting the French during the Sino-French War. This detail shows Chinese mounted officers. No copyright law existed in China at that time, image in public domain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the meaning of the name, since the choice of each name is a way to give him some benefit, some kind of protection, both on the safe side and enjoy each language to develop skills and stuff!

For the first child, we wanted to aim for a near-perfect correspondence between the French and Chinese pronunciations. Furthermore, considering that it would be in any way different from other children by his bicultural origins, we wanted him to have good typical names in each language, so naturally closer to its future classmates.

The last point before you start looking for how to choose a name that is different in France and China. In France, one selects a name from a list, a list that may contain thousands of names, but in fact only a couple of hundred are frequently used at a given time. In contrast, in China, we create a name by choosing one or two characters from thousands available, and the assembly of two characters (more common than not to choose one) thus provides millions of opportunities.

Changbaishan china

Changbaishan is referenced under the name Wudalianchi, which led to a severe disappointment if you were expecting a volcanic lake in a magnificent alpine setting (I do not disserterai here Changbaishan, but the volcanic lake in question is unfortunately become ultra-tourism, hyper-expensive and super-invisible in case of bad weather … thank you to Jonathan for his epic and sad!).

Now is the photos, starting with the only site notorious Laoheishan (老黑山). The crater is quite impressive, and soon all alone once the rallying point for Chinese tourists exceeded.
A paved path goes around the crater. You can not really sink in, unless bad fall!

For the circular path at the top of the crater.

In fact, the area is completely flat, only ten of the emerging craters created during volcanic eruptions. Some are completely extinct, and others active in theory, as Laoheishan.

Also on the site Laoheishan, a bus takes us into an area covered by lava, where winding paths wood. The walk is very pleasant and impressive when seen for the first time lava fields (this is less grandiose than the Canary Islands Lanzarote, by cons).

In short, lakes and volcanoes, is what there is to see in the area! Needless to say that in case of bad weather frankly it’s not worth the trouble to make the trip … Unless you visit a frozen caves where -5/-10 ° C temperature that prevails throughout the year has enabled the construction of various sculptures. It contrasts with the 30 ° to the surface in summer, and also with the prevailing -35 ° in the same place at the surface in the winter!

And to finish this nice weekend, a good return train travel reminded me of the time I was a student at Beijing … As a transport point of view, this trip was not for me any rest. See for yourself:

– Friday 16:30 bus Handan Airport Shijiazhuang, arrived at 21h (1h which plugs on the highway …)
– Friday 22:30 flight to Harbin, arrived at 0:30, then taxi to the railway station
– Saturday 3:30 train Harbin Bei’an, fortunately berths, arriving at 9:45. Rent a taxi for the weekend, arriving on site at 11am Wudalianchi nearly 2000 km and 20h after my departure.

And the return has not been more quiet, far from it!
– Monday 1:40, but standing overnight train (see photo below cons) to Harbin, arrival 06:30, then bus to the airport
– Monday 10.30 flight to Beijing, arrival 24:30
– Monday 15.30 flight to New York (yes, I enchaînais with a mission to work, so computer and street clothes in the backpack!) Arrived the same day at 17h30 and 12h time difference. Then rent a car to get to Pennsylvania and colleagues find the hotel bar Monday at 21h … rough day!

Anyway, to conclude, Wudalianchi is a site that is well worth a visit if you are traveling in the north-east, but not necessarily more. A day is sufficient and the discerning traveler will depart with great memories! Thank you Jonathan for this weekend, “fighter”, I missed 😉

North of china

I promised a good friend during a recent weekend in far north China that I write an article on this trip – here.

English: Map of Heihe prefecture in Heilongjia...

English: Map of Heihe prefecture in Heilongjiang Province. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wudalianchi (五大连池), which means “five large lakes linked”, actually refers to a volcanic region of northern China, Heilongjiang Province, where the last eruption dates back to the 18th century (1719-1721). There are a dozen volcanic cones and lava flows appear to have helped delineate five lakes interconnected.

I will not dwell on the technical and scientific aspects of the site (see specialized sites like here and there), but only on the tourism aspect.

There are almost no information in French or English on the website from travelers, and stories of Chinese tourists do not necessarily correspond to what we want as a tourist abroad. There are many Russian tourists in the region, but they are especially for spa treatments, a real business is being developed around volcanic waters (but very cold water!). They do not really come to visit, and then all the way Russians are stories out of my reach …

In short, Wudalianchi is a site actually quite interesting, but do not require more than a day of sightseeing. Its great distance from the main urban and tourist Chinese does not justify going there for the weekend from Beijing or later (unless it is to see a friend …).

Where is Wudalianchi?
halfway between Harbin and Heihe in Heilongjiang Province.
1500 km northeast of Beijing
2000 km northeast of Handan … (Hard for a weekend … but doable!)
How to get there?
from Harbin, 5-6 hours by train to Bei’an (Wudalianchi station is barely closer than Bei’an website, but spend less trains) and then by bus or taxi from station
from Heihe, 4-5 hours by train (same train). But unless you are on a long trip in Heilongjiang Mohe or return (the extreme northern Chinese) there is little reason to get there …
How to get around / on-site visit?

English: Chinese between European facades. Har...

English: Chinese between European facades. Harbin, Heilongjiang province. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the easiest way is to hire a taxi for the day since Bei’an. We must get out to 200 RMB (we paid 100 RMB for the ride of one hour between the site and then Bei’an 150 RMB for the day there, but for a single day with return to Bei’an in the evening it must pass 200).
Otherwise, there are few taxis there, but not necessarily when you leave a site.
What to do there?
There are dozens of paid sites to visit, but objectively, to get ourselves visited 4 or 5, only the main site Laoheishan worth. We walk an hour on the volcano, the view is beautiful, there is an electric bus that takes us one hour in the middle of lava fields and lakes … We do not regret the ticket (80 + 25 = 105 RMB, prices in August 2012).
Otherwise, access to sources of two dragons (双 龙泉 if my memory is correct) is free, you can buy souvenirs (the most common being the beauty masks, water-based and other local volcanic) and fill the bottles of spring water drinking directly
In short, if I had been better informed in advance, I just hired a taxi in the morning arriving at the station Bei’an, Laoheishan visited, toured the two sources to dragons, and would be returned to the evening at Bei’an to take a train and have a day to spend in Heihe. Fans!