• About Julie

    NJ native without the accent or the big hair. Currently residing in Beijing. Teaching English. Absorbing all things China. Exploring SE Asia.

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    Feel free to drop me a message: juliekhull at gmail

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I’m on vacation

I’ll be spending the next week or so vacationing and relaxing in Guangxi Province with a couple girlfriends.  We’re looking forward to the beautiful scenery and just getting away for a bit.  My Chinese friend Mary teased me this week because I’ve been in China for three years and have never made the pilgrimage to Guilin.  (I finally got around to visiting the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City just this year.  I know – shame on me.)  This is a trip that’s been at the top of my list to take for a while, and it’s probably one of the places in China I’m most looking forward to seeing.  Guilin’s mountains are famous, so much so that they’re on the back of the 20RMB ($2.93) note.

Something that every tourist does: I'll be taking my own picture like this in the coming days!

Southern China has experienced an especially bad drought since the fall, but it just broke in the Guilin area when the Lijiang River flooded its banks on Tuesday after several days of torrential rains.  Right now the ferries and river activities are all suspended until the water levels go down, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to do some of that!  Beijing has spring, but it’s not quite as warm as Guilin should be – in the upper 60’s and 70’s – right before the rainy season starts in May/June. Continue reading

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National day of mourning

Yesterday (4/21) was a national day of mourning to remember the 2000+ people who died in the Qinghai earthquake on April 14th.  In addition to flags flown at half mast, newspapers and online sites honored the victims by going black.  Entertainment, video, and music websites stopped offering their content for 24 hours and featured black and white banners on their sites about the earthquake.  Performances and movie theaters closed their doors for the day.  I had planned to do a review period in one class yesterday and the students asked for a regular lesson instead, saying that the review activity would be a form of entertainment.

Here are some visuals of how China mourned:

the People's Daily, official CCP newspaper

Continue reading

Wanted: eggs & suitcases

Easter is over, but we’re already looking forward to next spring!  We really could use some more plastic Easter eggs for next Easter.  If you see any, would you consider buying them and donating them to us?  Let me know and I’ll give you the drop-off places or mailing addresses in the States.

My Mom and my sister (and Amanda R.) are coming to visit me!  This is good on two counts: 1) They’ll get to see where I’ve been living for the past three years, and 2) They’re going to bring home a lot of my stuff!  Do you have any large suitcases they could borrow for their trip?

Take a look out my window

Very little pollution in Beijing on a good day:

The likes of this hasn't been seen since the Olympics two years ago, although sometimes it's close just after it rains

But then there are the bad days, like Friday.  Visibility is about 1/4 mile and it looks like a thick cloud has descended upon the city: Continue reading

Orange sky blankets Beijing

I really enjoyed seeing the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia back in 2008.  Inner Mongolia is a province of China, not a part of the country of Mongolia, and it’s home to grasslands and lots of sand.  I had no idea that those kind of sand dunes existed outside northern Africa or the Middle East, let alone within a day’s bus ride from Beijing.  I got to do some fun things on that trip, like sleep in a yurt, go horseback riding and four-wheeling, and roll around the desert inside a giant inflated ball.  I steered clear of the camels but some of my friends went for a ride.

11 of us on the trip

The Chinese flag flies high over the Gobi

Continue reading

Only one? Family planning in China

We hear a lot of rumors, and rumors of rumors, about China in the US.  Some of them are true, some of them are half-truths, and some of them aren’t valid at all.  China does have a one-child policy, although how it’s painted in the West may not always be how every city and cadre in China enforces it.  This post isn’t meant to be critical in nature, regardless of the opinions of the author or audience, but to be informational, educational, and offer a balanced viewpoint.  China’s one child policy, instituted in 1979, looks like this: 4:2:1.

That’s two sets of grandparents, one set of parents, and the child, which some refer to as the “little emperor.”  When that child gets married and his parents age, he and his spouse will be expected to take care of both sets of parents as they get older.

One child is more complicated than it might seem.  How would you answer the question “what is the weather like in the United States”?  Well, that depends on where in the US, doesn’t it?  The same is true of many issues in China – it depends on which part you’re referring to because different areas have different laws or enforce them Continue reading

Things I’ll miss about Beijing

In case you forgot, or never knew in the first place, 同一个世界 同一个梦想 (tong yige shijie, tong yige mengxiang) or “One World, One Dream” was the motto of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  I won’t miss seeing and hearing that all the time, but this post is about things I will miss.  “Things I’ll miss least about Beijing” will have to be another post for another day.  I will have lived in Beijing for three years in July when I planning on leaving, and here are some of the things I’m going to miss.

  • Cheap food. An expensive Chinese meal is 25-30RMB, which is $3.60-$4.40.  A really cheap meal is street food, like a bunch of chuanr, grilled meat on a stick, for 1-2RMB each ($0.15-$0.30), or a quarter of a pineapple on a stick, also 1-2RMB.  Or practice your chopstick wielding skills on a bowl of niu rou mian, beef noodle soup, for 10RMB ($1.46).  A meal at the school cafeteria is 9RMB ($1.32) for rice and two sides.  I can cook something with chicken and vegetables to last me for two meals for 6RMB ($0.88).  I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’ve lived in China for 31 months now and I’ve never had food poisoning.
  • Transportation. Beijing has buses (4 mao to 2RMB, $0.06-$0.30) that go everywhere and the new subway lines (with more on the way to make it the most expansive subway system in the world sometime within the next five years) can take you to most corners of the city for only 2RMB ($0.30).  It’s flat so you can bike or walk most places around your residence.  The most expensive taxi ride I ever take is to the airport for about 100RMB ($14.64).  Getting around without a car is super easy and convenient.
  • Travel. Like its food, travel in China is also cheap and easy.  The country itself has a massive railroad designed to move millions, Continue reading