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A Food Lover’s Tour of Xi’an
By Myra Fong

"Come to Xi’an! I'll show you the food of my hometown." The invitation from my long-time friend Jing was ever present in my mind. This was around March earlier this year, and Hangzhou was just warming up with days of uninterrupted sunshine urging the flowering trees of West Lake to burst open. It was the best time to be here, did I really want to travel all the way to the interior of China and leave the comforts of Hangzhou? But Jing is a food lover, like me; she wouldn’t be in Xian for long, and I knew there would be nothing better than a food loving local showing you the best a city has to offer. With that thought, I promptly hopped on the Z89 train for the 16 hour overnight ride to Xian. There are plenty of direct flights from Hangzhou to Xian of course, but a train is so much more atmospheric and puts you in the mood for adventure, don’t you think?

The train pulled into Xi’an station in the morning. I spotted Jing at the exit waiting for me, and we went to find our hotel. I had booked a hotel within the old city walls so that we would be well positioned to explore. After a little rest, we were ready to go out to graze.

 

Dumplings

Our first stop was Three Sister’s Dumplings (三姐妹饺子) on Jixian Alley near Nanxin Street. We ordered a Dry Mixed Pork and Shepherd’s Purse Dumpling (干拌野菜大肉水饺18RMB). The dumplings were boiled then drained and mixed with a vinegar chilli soy sauce and topped with peanuts, cilantro and sesame seeds. It was just a simple boiled dumpling but why was it so flavourful and the skin so firm and bouncy? "We never freeze dumplings in Shaanxi province. Dumplings never sit around for more than an hour and are usually made fresh to order." I could cry a river for all my years wasted on eating frozen dumplings in China.

 

Muslim Quarter Food Street

Next we headed towards the Muslim Quarter. As the starting point of the ancient Silk Road linking China to the West, Xian was a melting pot for new cultures and ideas. Islam was first allowed to be practiced in Xian in 651AD during the Tang Dynasty. Today there are 70,000 Chinese Muslims living in Xian’s Muslim Quarter and it is a vibrant neighbourhood. The Great Mosque, built in 742AD, is worth a visit as it beautifully exemplifies the mix of east and west, Chinese and Islam.

The Muslim Quarter is just west of the city center, north of the Bell Tower which itself is a lively area with souvenirs stands and pomegranate juice vendors. Walking around the Bell Tower, a delicious smell drew our attention. We walked towards the scent and found the source: Sizzling beef pastries frying in butter! Not the best thing for our waistlines, but we liked to think the calories would be useful to fuel our walking tour.

We reached the Muslim Quarter and headed to the food street Xi Yang Shi Jie (西洋市街) with stalls selling lamb sticks (羊肉串 yang rou chuan), meat steamed with flour (粉蒸肉 fen zheng rou), sesame sauce cold noodles (麻酱凉皮 ma jiang liang pi), meat in buns (肉夹馍 rou jia mo) and flatbread crumbled in lamb soup (羊肉泡馍 yang rou pao mo).

"It's gotten too touristy, and prices have increased." Jing lamented. Nonetheless, it is a good place to try many different local foods. We had sesame sauce liang pi (5RMB) and fen zheng rou (10RMB). The noodles in the sesame sauce liang pi are made from steaming wheat flour paste then cutting it into strips. The soft noodles are covered with a thick sesame sauce and a bit of chilli oil. The meat in the fen zheng rou in the Muslim Quarter will definitely be beef. You’ll find some raw garlic on the table for you to eat with it, and they add a sharp bite to the shreds of beef mixed with dense steamed flour.

 

Noodles

As we were leaving the Muslim Quarter to go back to the hotel for the night, we saw a vendor selling freshly made buckwheat noodles. He put a ball of dough in an extruder, pressed down on it and out came strands of noodles ready to go into a steaming pot with lamb or beef for topping. Since we were quite full already, we could only admire the process and make a note to try this next time we’re back in Xian.

While the sesame sauce liang pi are found in the Muslim Quarter, there are many other kinds of liang pi around Xian. There’s one called gan mian pi (擀面皮, 5RMB typical price) that is rolled flat and chewy and one called mi pi (米皮, 5RMB typical price) made with rice flour. Both are mixed with a sour spicy sauce, shredded chicken and bean sprouts. Liang pi is as ubiquitous in Shaanxi as hamburgers are in America. You can find them on street side stalls for take-away, in little sit-down shops and even in fast food chain restaurants.

On our second day, we went to eat another specialty noodle of Xian – Biang biang mian. Biang biang mian can be found throughout Xian. We went to a restaurant at 80 Nanyuan Men (南院门). I asked Jing, "What does biang biang mean?” "It's from the sound the long band of stretched noodle makes when it hits the table ‘Biang Biang!’"

Biang biang noodles are thick and wide wheat noodles and can have a variety of toppings and sauces. We had the House Special noodle (三合一面(招牌), 16RMB small bowl) with eggs and tomato, meat sauce and stewed pork. It was tasty and springy. A comforting kind of dish. The simplest topping for Biang biang noodles is vegetables, green onion, hot chilli oil, soy sauce and vinegar. "You'll have to come back again to try that." A familiar phrase during my two day visit.

 

Lamb Soup

Our final pilgrimage was to a location just outside the city to eat Lamb Soup (水盆羊肉, shui pen yang rou). The bus passed under the arches of the South Gate as we left the walled inner city. All around Xian there are reminders of its great history. These city walls are the only intact ones in China and were built during the Ming Dynasty. You can get on top of the wall and walk or cycle the whole 14km perimeter. It’s a pleasant two-hour bike ride or a four-hour walk. Bicycles can be rented at the South Gate.

Shui pen yang rou is similar to Xian’s famous yang rou pao mo, but without the bread. In a pao mo, you get a thick piece of bread that you tear into pieces and drop into your soup. Having tried this before on a previous trip to Xian, I found it a bit heavy. So this time we forewent the pao mo and opted for shui pen yang rou. Our destination was Liangji Jinhong Shui Pen Yang Rou at 24 Zhuque Dongfang (梁记锦弘水盆羊肉,朱雀东坊24号).

"Why shui pen?” I asked. Even Jing was flummoxed. She queried the restaurant owner who answered that shui pen literally means water dish and this soup has more liquid than pao mo. You can order the lamb soup Normal (普通, 16RMB) or Quality (优质, 24RMB) depending on how much meat you want. The owner will also ask if you want lean or lean/fat meat. Our bowls of lamb soup arrived quickly. It was a clear soup with rice vermicelli noodles, green onions and cilantro, similar to Vietnamese pho, but heartier. The thin slices of lamb were really good – soft, tender and tasty. There was some spice on the lamb, perhaps cinnamon or cloves. This was one of the most memorable things I ate during the two days in Xian.

 

Getting there

Xian is a great place to go for a city break. Aside from the terracotta warriors, there are lots of tasty local foods to discover. Direct flights from Hangzhou take a little over two hours. The daily Z89 train takes 16 hours from Hangzhou to Xian with costs starting at 337RMB for a hard sleeper to 530RMB for soft sleeper.  

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Get Lost in the Maze-like Concentric Rings of Buildings "Tulou”

Uncover the Secrets of the Fujian Earth Buildings

T I M E 


Tour Signup Deadline: December 20th
Tour Date: December 21st – December 24th

V E N U E 

Xiamen, Fujian
福建,厦门

T I C K E T S 

Price: 1,999RMB/adult
(Min 10 Pax, Max 16 Pax)

There’s no doubt – if your destination is Fujian and the south-east, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you miss these mammoth World Heritage wonders! Take four days to visit the Tulou closed settlements (pronounced “two”-“low”) for an encounter with China’s ancient Hakka culture, then let a local guide you to experience the real heart of life in Xiamen.

Highlights

1. Explore the Tulou and discover why these mammoth communal dwellings were deemed precious items World Cultural Heritage – study their wisdom to get a unique look into Hakka culture!

2. Spend the night in comfortable Tulou tavern room lodging at the Hongkeng Tulou cluster’s Renquan’yuan Lou, ‘Square’ Lou or Wufeng Lou.

3. Get lost in the maze-like concentric rings of buildings inside the “King Tulou”, or seek out the ‘slither of sunlight’ in the Gaobei Tulou cluster. Had enough of Hakka Tulous? Then explore a different mystery in the Da’di Southern Min Tulou groupings in Hua’an.

What's included

1. 8 Meals (Including Breakfast x3,  Lunch x3, Dinner x2)
2. 3 Night’s Stay in Comfortable Hotels(Double occupancy, for single supplement please add 550 rmb)
3. Activity costs and admission fares for all items on the itinerary.
4. All transportation costs for the itinerary (Airport and Station pickup not included)
5. Full travel accident insurance for the duration of the trip.
6. Full bilingual guide accompaniment.

Not included

1. Transportation costs to Xiamen and Xiamen Plaza Hotel
2. All additional costs incurred by the individual not mentioned in the itinerary above.

Important Information

1. This is a coupled Chinese-foreign tour, meaning your tour group will include both Chinese natives and foreign expats. There is a minimum 10-person (maximum 16-person) signup threshold that must be reached for this tour to go ahead. If you sign up and the threshold is not reached, the cost of the tour will be refunded in the means by which you paid.

2. Want to come? Signup can be completed through the TA mini-program. Once the group reaches the minimum number of attendees you will receive a message from TA customer support confirming that the tour will go ahead.

If after successful payment and signup you become unable to attend your booked tour, your refund will be processed minus deductions as per the following scheme by the Trendy Adventurer Financial Affairs team:

- 14 or 14+ days before the activity date: 1% of the signup cost;
- 7 or 14 days before the activity date: 10% of the signup cost;
-7 to 3 days before the activity commencement date: 40% of the signup cost;
-3 to 1 day(s) before the activity commencement date: 55% of the signup cost;
-Within 24 hours of the activity commencement date: 70% of the signup cost.

Refunds will be processed within 5 working days after the date of conclusion of the tour.
(if the air ticket is included in the itinerary and the air ticket has been issued, 100% air ticket loss shall be borne, because the group ticket cannot be changed or refunded)

Take the Train With Just Your Passport

Standing in line for high speed train tickets is a thing of the past. Just enter the station and board the train by scanning your passport. This is a huge time saver for expats and international visitors who are denied access to the automatic ticketing machines.

This week I bought four tickets for travel between Hangzhou East and Yuhang. I used Chinese language APPs 12306 & Ctrip as well as English language apps Trip.com and China Train Ticket for 铁路12306火车票. Each APP was successful for boarding trains without paper tickets, which was not the case when I did this two weeks ago.

Because the English Trip.com charge a 20RMB service fee, it was a little disappointing that they didn't seem to give the boarding gate information, however it was easy to check the departures board once I was on the station concourse. I contacted their help desk and they said that they’ll pass the suggestion on to their IT team.

BTW, I didn't actually travel on each train - I just waited for each boarding time and went to the gate to scan my passport to check the success of each booking.­

PS - Paper tickets are still available for business travellers seeking reimbursement.

Here’s the current procedure when you arrive at Hangzhou East Railway Station:

1. At any of the station's entrances, expats and international visitors must go to the manual line which is usually situated at the far left.

2. For the security check, place all bags on the conveyor before being scanned quickly by security staff.

3.Trip.com users can check the departures board to see which gate to use. (The other APPs inform you online).

4. To access the platform for boarding, go to the manual line (usually on the right hand side) and scan your passport

Hot Spring Weekend Trip at Wuyi Forest

Wuyi Forest Hot Spring
Weekend Trip

T I M E 
Tour Signup Deadline: December 13th
Tour Date: December 14th – December 15th

V E N U E 
Wuyi, Zhejiang
浙江,武义

T I C K E T S 
Price: 865RMB/adult
(Min 10 Pax, Max 16 Pax)

Tour the scenic mountain forest reserve, admire stunning scenes of peaks and streams, and experience the rugged glass cliff-face and treetop canopy walkways at Niutou Mountain Forest Park. Check in at the in-park Hot Spring Inn and spend a night enjoying invigorating hot spring baths, deep in the forest.

Highlight

1. Explore the Niutou Mountain Forest Parks, long known as the “Jiuzhaigou Valley* of Zhejiang”, experiencing the thrilling glass cliff-face walkway and forest canopy treetop walkway.

2. Spend an away from the cold of winter, soaking in pure comfort in hot spring pools at the Hot Spring Inn.

(Note*: Jiuzhaigou Valley is a National Nature Reserve Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in located in Northern Sichuan, China. The park is known for its many multi-level waterfalls and colorful lakes.)

What's included

1. Round-trip shared transfer
2. Pickup and drop-off from designated meeting points
3. One night's lodging in the Hot Spring Inn(A standard room)
4. Breakfast of Day 2
5. English-speaking Tour Guide
6. Travel Accident Insurance
7. All taxes, fees and handling charges
8. Explore the Niutou Mountain Forest National Park – the glass cliff and forest canopy walkways, and bathe in the Dream Spring hot springs. (includes scenic area entry ticket, glass walkway shoe wraps, hot spring entry ticket, sightseeing bus costs, etc.)

Costs does not include: other meals and personal purchases.
Note:You must bring your own bathing suit.

Important Information
Concerning the Hot Springs


1. Senior citizens over 70 years of age, pregnant women, women in menstruation and individuals weakened by sickness are all prohibited from entering the hot spring baths.

2. Minors or senior citizens with reduced mobility must have a guardian or adult caretaker present when in the hot springs.

3. It is recommended that individuals do not bathe in the hot spring baths for excessive periods of time.

4. Individuals who have suffered from or currently suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, frailty of health or alcoholism are urged not to use the hot spring baths.

5. Wherever the above-mentioned cautions are ignored and an individual who has entered the hot spring baths meets with an unforeseen incident, hot spring management will not be responsible for payment of compensation.

6. Before using the hot spring, please review the relevant hot spring usage notes and bathe safely.

Additional Info

1. Children must be accompanied by an adult
2. Please advise any specific dietary requirements at time of booking
3. Minimum numbers apply. There is a possibility of cancellation after confirmation if there are not enough passengers to meet requirements. In the event of this occurring, you will be offered an alternative or full refund ( ONLY FOR GROUP TOUR)

Private Departures for This Tour

If the dates we have available for this tour don't suit your needs, or you are not sure travelling as part of a group is for you, maybe a Private Departure would be more ideal. Based on exactly the same itinerary as the group tour, our Private Departures give you the freedom to choose your own departure date and simply enjoy your holiday with your family, your partner, or your friends. On Private Departures your tour will be led by an English speaking local guides in each destination.

Notes

1. Pricing for children under 12 years old who do not require an individual bed is 560RMB per person; Pricing for children above 12 years old share the same price as adult.

2. Breakfast cost for accompanying minors is 30RMB per person. (paid on site)

After signing up, for insurance purposes attendees are required to provide their name, phone number, Passport/ID Card number and passport information;
After making payment and signing-up, if for any reason you become unable to attend, refunds given will be subject to following loss expense rates:

A. 3 days or more prior to departure date – 1% of the total tour cost
B. 2 to 1 days before departure date = 55% of total tour cost
C. On the day of departure - 75% of total tour cost

All refunds will be paid to the relevant accounts within 10 working days of the conclusion of the tour event.

Caring for Your Skin During the Winter Season

Your skin is the largest organ that you have in your body and it is one that has multiple uses. It not only covers and protects everything inside your body, but it also helps your body stay at just the right temperature and allows you to have the sense of touch. Your skin, however, is often the one organ that we do not look after-especially during this time of year.

The winter and spring are particularly vulnerable seasons for your skin. The winter in particular can play a huge role in the way your skin reacts. This is especially the case in the northern parts of China where the weather is harsh, cold, dry, and dusty. People with sensitive or dry skin are particularly prone to problems during the winter season.

A common condition during the winter season and one that we treat often is dry, itchy skin. If you are suffering from this condition it is often easily treated, but remember to see your dermatologist or doctor straight away to be properly diagnosed.

By following the tips below, you will be able to beat dry itchy skin before it even starts this winter.

Tips to help you get your skin through the winter season

Do not take more than one shower/bath a day
Over washing removes the natural lubricant that skin produces and makes skin dry and flaky.

Do not shower/bathe for more than 10 minutes
The longer you stay in the water, the drier your skin will get.

Do not shower/bathe in hot water
Heat increases the rate that water evaporates from your skin leaving it dry. Luke warm water is a better choice.

Avoid saunas and steam baths
Like hot showers, they increase the rate that water evaporates from your skin leaving it dry.

Use a mild formula soap or shower gel and don't exfoliate

Apply moisturizing cream right after you shower/bathe while your skin is still damp

Moisturizers lock water into your skin but do not help add water so the best time to apply them is straight after your body has been in contact with water. For very dry weather, a thin moisturizer that is applied after a shower is not enough; in this circumstance, some thicker and greasier creams will do a better job.

Avoid wearing nylon or woolen clothing because these materials can irritate your skin
Loose fitting undergarments made out of 100% cotton are best when your skin is dry.

Air-conditioners, over-heated rooms, and windy weather all make the environment dry, which in turn can make your skin dry
To combat this, put some plants, fish-tanks, or humidifiers in your office and home.

Apply some extra protection if you have to go out on a windy day

The sun is not as hot or bright in winter

however, if you are outdoors for long periods of time, your skin can still get sunburned, particularly in the snow
Be sure to apply sunscreen in these cases.

Avoid spicy food as it can make your skin dry and itchy

Drink lots of water and limit your intake of alcohol


Dr. Eason Zhong is the Dermatology of United Family Hangzhou Clinic, he speaks English and Mandarin. To make an appointment with him, call 0571-89705148 or scan the QR code.

Clinic Hours:
8:30am -5:30pm,
Mondays – Saturdays
(Closed on Sundays)
0571 8970 5148

Learning about IGCSEs at Wellington

Time
9am to 11am, Tuesday, December 3rd
9am to 11am, Tuesday, December 17th

Venue
Wellington College International Hangzhou 
 杭州惠灵顿外籍人员子女学校 
2399 Xuezhi Road, Xiaoshan District, Hangzhou 
杭州市萧山区宁围街道学知路2399号

Wellington College International Hangzhou is pleased to announce the opening of admissions for their first ever cohort of Year 10 students to take the IGCSEs in the 2020-2021 academic year.

What are the IGCSEs?

IGCSE stands for International General Certificate of Secondary Education, which is a globally recognised qualification taken in Years 10 and 11 (Grades 9 and 10) and carries the same weight as the GCSEs that are offered within the UK. The IGCSE is one of the most sought after and recognised qualifications in the world, because it helps students develop core skills and competencies, including investigative skills, problem solving, teamwork and critical thinking. These skills are highly sought after by universities around the world, and as such, students who have completed the IGCSEs are generally regarded as highly competent candidates to enter such universities.

IGCSEs are also the most popular international qualification in schools around the world, with more than 4,800 schools over 150 countries doing the Cambridge International Examinations version of the IGCSE alone. Enrolling your child in the IGCSE programme at Wellington will provide them with a vital boost to their academic career, which will not only help them build on their study skills, but will make them more competitive and prepared to enter their senior school programme, whether that is offering A Levels or the IB Diploma Programme.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, Wellington College International Hangzhou is accepting an extremely limited number of applicants into Year 10 and is seeking students who will be able to achieve the world-standard results expected of them at Wellington.

In reflection of the importance of this first cohort, Wellington College International Hangzhou is proud to announce a range of scholarships, including an academic scholarship for Year 10 that includes significant reductions in tuition fees for the duration of the two-year IGCSE programme, with the option for this to be extended throughout the two-year A Level programme, subject to a favourable academic assessment.

This is an exciting opportunity for talented students in Hangzhou to receive a significant tuition reduction, allowing access to the world-class holistic education which Wellington has to offer.

As well as meeting the admissions requirements for Wellington College International Hangzhou, and being able to demonstrate significant academic potential as determined through the admissions assessment process, other traits that Wellington College International Hangzhou seeking from their Wellingtonian pupils include;

An international outlook and a desire to be a global citizen of the future

A willingness to work hard with a positive attitude towards learning

A desire to develop all Wellington Identities, to take full advantage of the opportunities on offer at Wellington and show a commitment to making a positive contribution to the wider Wellington community

An aspiration to live by the Wellington Values

To learn more about the IGCSEs and the academic scholarship programme, we encourage prospective parents to join Wellington for their IGCSE Parent Information Sessions being held on Tuesday, December 3rd and Tuesday December 17th.

To register to attend an information session, please scan the QR code below, or follow the link at the bottom of this post.

If you would prefer a private tour, please contact the admissions team at your convenience via phone at (+86-571) 8239 6366 or by emailing admissions.wcih@wellingtoncollege.cn

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