My thoughts on the word “spare” while living in China is that sometimes it seems like every spare piece of land has been built on and developed! There are of course beautiful places, where you can enjoy some peace and quiet, but I want to choose this photo for this week’s challenge:

There’s no more space to spare in the center of Zhengzhou!


This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post is “jubilant.” This word conjures up images in my mind of celebration, rejoicing and enjoyment. Here is a photo with me and some students, looking quite jubilant with some balloons… We had a fun afternoon of enjoyment and feeling like kids again! Don’t take life too seriously, rejoice and be jubilant!

(The two boys are good at balloon modeling and taught me and the girl how to make some too.)


Festivals in China 

China has many many many festivals that they celebrate! The Spring festival (Chinese new year) is probably the most famous of these. But there are many other, lesser known festivals that I’m sure you will find interesting. 
Modern festivals:

1) May 20th (I start with this one, as it happened just a few days ago). It’s called 520, “wu er ling” in Chinese, and is like a mini Valentine’s Day, because apparently wu er ling sounds similar to the Chinese phrase “wo ai ni” which means “I love you”. (I don’t know who decided this, but it must have been a shopkeeper, as I’m sure this is just a shopping festival…)

wu er ling!

2) 11/11. Double eleven is Singles’ day, where single people can be happy that they don’t have boyfriends or girlfriends. It also happens to be a shopping festival, with billions and billions of RMB being spent on discounted goods online…

3) Christmas Eve. Not really a Chinese festival, but Christmas has become popular in China in recent years, where people will give apples to their friends on Christmas Eve. This is because the Chinese for apple, “ping guo” sounds similar to the Chinese word for Christmas Eve, “ping an ye”, meaning peaceful night, and apples are also symbolic of safety and peace.

Christmas Eve apples

4) Chinese people have also begun to celebrate “Western new year” (January 1st) in recent years. Although it isn’t as important as their own Spring Festival.

Ancient festivals: 

1) Dragon boat festival. A fun festival, where people will race along rivers or lakes in dragon boats and eat steamed rice dumplings called zongzi. This festival is to commemorate Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet.

2) Winter solstice (on December 21st) has been celebrated for thousands of years. People make and eat dumplings to celebrate this festival. 

3) Mid-Autumn festival. The date of this festival follows the lunar calendar, and usually occurs in October. On this day, Chinese people will eat moon cakes and look at the moon. There is a story about a woman called Chang E who lives on the moon, so I guess people will say hello to her on this day.

moon cakes

4) 7/7. Double seven is Chinese Valentine’s Day, and also follows the lunar calendar. It celebrates the story of a man and a goddess, who fell in love but were forever separated by the queen of heaven, who didn’t approve of them, so made a river form between them. Once a year, a flock of birds form a bridge between them, so they can meet for one romantic day.

5) Qingming festival happens in April every year. This is called tomb-sweeping festival, and families will visit and sweep their ancestors’ graves.

6) Spring Festival, in case you don’t know, is Chinese New Year. It happens on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar. During this festival, people will visit their relatives, decorate their houses, make and eat dumplings, give “lucky money”, wear red (a lucky colour) and set off fireworks to celebrate the new year. The festival lasts for 2 weeks! And really is the most important of the Chinese festivals.
If I think of more Chinese festivals, I will write about them later. 😊

Cassie’s Travels

So, I thought I’d elaborate a little on my previous blog post about the countries I’ve visited. As I’m from England, it was very easy to travel to a few countries in Europe, with family or on school trips. I even lived in France and Germany for six months each, as part of my university degree (of course I was a good student and studied hard 😜). I have family in Ukraine, so was very interested in visiting them one summer with my dad and sister. 😀
I left Europe for the first time in 2008, to visit South Africa and Lesotho with some girls from my university. We volunteered in an orphanage and some primary schools for a month. I enjoyed the experience so much, that I started looking for teaching jobs in Africa when I returned to England and was able to find a job at an international school in Tanzania. It was a great place to live and work, the kids, teachers and parents were lovely (well, with a few exceptions maybe 😜). And I was able to travel around Tanzania in the holidays, my favourite places to go were to the beaches in Zanzibar and on safari! 
After three years in Tanzania, I got a job at a school in Romania for a year, where I had many more adventures, thanks to some lovely people that I met there! Then I returned to live England for a while (squeezing in a trip to America), before coming out to China… 
So, as you can see, I’ve been very lucky to have lived in and visited so many interesting places in just a few years

Countries I’ve visited

For some reason, I have some kind of travel bug… I just love visiting new places, experiencing different cultures, seeing famous sights, cities and scenic spots, tasting interesting food and meeting people from all over the world. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to travel to (and live in) so many countries. Each time I look at a map, I think to myself… Where next?! 😀