Singles Day in China

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Today is the 11 November, also known as Singles Day in China. If you look at the date, 11.11, it looks like lonely sticks. The Chinese name for Singles day is 光棍节. It literally means “Bachelor’s Holiday”. 光棍 = bachelors and 节 = festival/holiday.

You can however broke down 光棍 (bachelor) further. This literally means “bare sticks”.

The date was chosen by a few students during the 1990’s, because the date of four consecutive ones. Singles Day is usually celebrated in China among the youth, by either enjoying the single life, or trying to get rid of the single life. They go out and have fun. This is similar to Valentine’s Day in a way, but the reverse. Celebrating (or loathing) the single life.

Here are five phrases to say on Singles Day:

我要分手 (Wǒ yào fēnshǒu) – I want to break up. 

哥们,今天晚上我一起去喝酒 (Gēmen, jīntiān wǎnshàng wǒ yīqǐ qù hējiǔ) – Dude, let’s go drink tonight. 

你有男朋友吗? (Nǐ yǒu nán péngyǒu ma?) – Do you have a boyfriend? 

独身的生活真厉害! (Dúshēn de shēnghuó zhēn lìhài!) – The bachelor life is awesome!

我想念我的前女友. (Wǒ xiǎngniàn wǒ de qián nǚyǒu) - I miss my ex (girlfriend).

Experiencing the Dragon Boat Festival

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The Dragon Boat Festival or Duānwǔ jié(端午节) occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar. During this holiday people eat rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves known as Zòngzi(粽子)and race dragon boats. The origins of this festival are most popularly believed to be a commemoration to Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet who was loved by the nation. However the Emperor disapproved of Qu Yuan and sent him into exile. Qu Yuan became so sad that he committed suicide by jumping into a great river. The Chinese people were so shocked by this that they rowed their boats out onto the river to try and rescue him. Reaching him too late, the death of Qu Yuan was said to upset the local people so much that they would throw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river so that, with the fish unable to eat through the bamboo, the rice would reach Qu Yuan in the afterlife. The Dragon Boat Festival has, since 2008, been celebrated as a statutory public holiday. If you are in China at this time, here are some phrases to help you get through the day:

1) Where is the dragon boat championship being held this year?
Jīnnián de lóngzhōu jǐnbiāosài zài nǎlǐ?

2) Are the boats really shaped like dragons?
龙舟就是象 龙一样的船吗?
Lóngzhōu jiùshì xiàng lóng yīyàng de chuán ma?

3) Which team are you supporting?

Nǐ zhīchí nǎge duì?

4) I want some rice dumplings.
Wǒ yào yǒu yīxiē zòngzi.

5) No, I don’t know any Chinese poems.
Bù, wǒ bù zhīdào rènhé zhōngguó de shīgē.

Rice Dumplings during the Dragon Boat Festival



Visiting Tourist Sites in China

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There is a saying in China “人山人海” (Rénshānrénhǎi) which describes a sea of people or a huge crowd of people. This description of China is not only used in a central city but is most often used at tourist sites. Whether you’re in some remote national heritage sight such as Wǔyí Shān or in the centre of the Forbidden City you will not be alone. China has many wonderful tourist sites on offer as their country boasts one of the biggest internal domestic tourist industries in the world. This means one is likely to come across Chinese tourists, hotel owners and guides more frequently when travelling. For this, we have prepared some handy phrases to keep you above the sea of people.

1) Where is the entrance to the Forbidden City?
故宫 的入口 在哪儿?
Gùgōng de rùkǒu zài nǎ’er?

2) Where is information?
Fúwù tái zài nǎ’er

3) How much does a ticket cost?
Yī zhāng piào duōshǎo qián?

4) Where can I find an English tour guide?
Wǒ zài nǎ’er néng zhǎodào yīgè yīngyǔ de dǎoyóu?

5) I am lost! Where is the exit of the Forbidden City?
我迷路了!故宫 的出口在哪儿?
Wǒ mílùle! Gùgōng de chūkǒu zài nǎ’er


“人山人海” in Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Climbing the Great Wall of China

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The Great of Wall of China (长城), which started building as early as the 7th Century BC, is one of China’s most famous landmarks. It spans almost 8, 800 kilometers. The current wall, which many tourists visit was mostly reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty. The most popular area today is called Badaling (八达岭)which is just north of Beijing. Thousands and thousands of tourists flock here every year to experience the amazing construction. There is famous saying, (不到长城非好汉) “You are not a man if you haven’t climbed the great Wall”. Going to Great Wall is good at any time of the year, but remember that summer and winter can be extreme up north in China. Also brings some trainers as the walls get very steep at times. Here are some phrases to help you at the Great Wall.

1) The Great Wall is very majestic.
Chángchéng hěn xióngwěi.

2) Apparently you can see the Great Wall of China from space.
Wǒ tīng shuō zài tàikōng kàn chángchéng.

3) Wait! Slow down. I’m tired.
Děng yīxià, dēng màn de yīdiǎn, wǒ hěn lèi

4) The mountains are so beautiful.
Shān hěn piàoliang.

5) There are too many tourists, I can’t see it.
Tài duō yóukè, wǒ bùnéng kàn chángchéng.

Bargaining in Chinese

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The Chinese markets are known to harbour the cheapest goods and knockoff items, but you can definitely find some great buys among the markets. The markets are usually claustrophobic with tight spaces, stubborn and aggressive shopkeepers as well hoards of tourists. You can buy anything there. Sometimes the markets have items ranging from jewelry to tech gadgets on one floor. It’s definitely an interesting experience! Now, how can you set yourself apart from the average tourist and come back home to boast a good bargain? Apart from being as stubborn as the shopkeeper and giving prices as low as possible, some Chinese phrases might get your point across or even warm the heart of the shopkeeper to give you a good deal.

1) How much is it?


Duōshǎo qián?


2) Another shop has a cheap price.


Bié de huòtān yǒu piányi de jiàgé.


3) I really don’t have money.


Wǒ zhēn méiyǒu qián.


4) You are cheating me.


Nǐ piàn wǒ.


5) Forget it! Too expensive.

算了! 太贵了!

Suànle! Tài guìle!

Drinking Tea in China

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Having originated in China, tea is the country’s long lasting claim to fame. Not only was this gem of the east immensely popular for its taste but also for the health benefits that came along with it. With age and history comes tradition and the drinking of Chinese tea has become somewhat of an everyday ceremony conducted as often as possible. The art of drinking tea involves tea-houses, little cups, specific techniques and depending on where you are in China a certain etiquette (in some regions, conversely from the West, it is polite to slurp at ones tea as loudly as possible). There are mainly four categories of Chinese tea which include white, red, oolong and post-fermented tea. One will when travelling undoubtedly wind up in a tea-house in China wanting to partake in this important ritual and in order to avoid a muck up here are some simple lines to get you through the procedure:

Where is the nearest tea house?
Chá zuò zài nà’er?

I would like some tea
Wǒ yào yībēi chá.

This is delicious
Zhè bēi hěn hǎo hē.

What type of tea is this?
Zhè shì shénme lèixíng de chá?

I want to buy some Oolong tea
Wǒ yāomǎi wūlóngchá.

Getting Lost in China

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China covers a humongous amount of land to the size of 9,596,961 Sq Km. This statistic leaves China only slightly smaller than the entire US. Additionally, China also has over 650 cities, 55 of which hold a population of over a million people. It is then quite explainable as to how one can get easily lost not only from one city to the next but deep within their boundaries. Here are some phrases that should guide you out of a sticky situation:

Which way is the museum?
Bówùguǎn zài nǎ’er?

So I must go straight and then turn right at the traffic lights?
一直走, 到红路灯往左拐 吗?
Yīzhí zǒu, dào hóng lùdēng wǎng zuǒ guǎi ma?

Thank you!

I must have taken a wrong turn.
我 拐错。
Wǒ guǎi cuò.

I’m not a spy, I am just lost.
Wǒ bùshì jiàndié, wǒ zhǐ mílù de.

Translation in Chinese: After a Night out in China

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The Chinese have many a way of celebrating, one which is more similar to the western way involves Chinese beers (Píjiǔ) such as Tsingtao and Suntory or Chinese spirits such as Báijiǔ or rice wine (Mǐjiǔ). And however you accompany this drinking tradition whether it be singing Karaoke (Kǎ lā O) or dancing on tables, here are some helpful translations to help you the next morning:

I am hungover


Wǒ yǒu sù zuì

Where is McDonalds


Màidāngláo zài nǎ’er?

I want a Cheese burger


Wǒ yào zhīshì hànbǎo。

I want a headache pill

我 要一片头疼的药。

Wǒ yào yīpiàn tóuténg di yào.

Where is the hospital?


Yījiā yīyuàn zài nà’er?

Translation in Chinese: Hot Summer Days in China

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Any Chinese person will readily tell you that because China occupies many degrees of latitude, the temperature, terrain and cultures within China are vastly different. It can noted that summer in central China (encompassing cities such as Shànghǎi and Wǔhàn) as well as Southern China have an intense heated humidity whereas Northern China is more commonly known for long dry days accompanied by soaring temperatures. Thus, the bottom line that needs to be obtained with this information is that a Chinese summer is hot. To equip any traveller for a hot summer’s day in China, here are a few handy translations:

I want an ice-cream


Wǒ yào yī fèn bīngqílín.

Where can I find a swimming pool?


Yóuyǒngchí zài nà’er?

I want to buy sunscreen


Wǒ xiǎng gòumǎi fángshài yóu.

I want a Coke

我要一个 可乐

Wǒ yào yīgè kělè.

I want a glass of cold water


Wǒ yào yībēi lěngshuǐ.

Translation in Chinese: Shopping in China

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China is known for its shopping. One can always be guaranteed to find hundreds of stalls offering bargains in any City centre and you may want to do some last minute gift shopping with your limited amount of Yuan or buy an exotic scorpion on a stick to eat. These you may buy at a night market (Yèshì) or within the city centre at your average market (Shìchǎng), whatever the case is here are some helpful translations when trying to stumble through the Chinese bargaining etiquette.

How much is this?


Zhège shì duōshǎo qián?

That is too expensive!


Tài guìle!

Can you make it cheaper?


Piányi diǎn er xíng ma?

I only have ten Yuan.


Wǒ yǒu zhǐ shí yuán

I will come back later


Wǒ yǐhòu huílái.

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