Photo Essay: A Stroll at Beijing’s Summer Palace in September

Recently, Jun and I spent a leisurely September afternoon at Beijing’s Summer Palace.

We’ve missed the West Lake all these years living up in Beijing, and found strolling around the Summer Palace to be Beijing’s answer to our favorite destination in Hangzhou.

The Summer Palace is built around a lake (Kunming Lake) with many features recalling the West Lake — from its bridges and willow-lined causeway (modeled after the West Lake’s Su Causeway) to the pagodas and towers perched along the hills that frame the lake.

And did I mention the Summer Palace, like the West Lake in Hangzhou, also includes a number of osmanthus trees, which were just beginning to perfume the air with their heavenly scent?

One wonderful thing about the Summer Palace is that you can enjoy it at your own pace — and even take time to smell the flowers along the way — despite how many people there are.

It took us a few hours to circle the lake, and the experience left us with plenty of good memories — and the hope that we’ll return again soon!

Have you ever visited Beijing’s Summer Palace? What was your experience there?

2019 in Photos on Speaking of China

As we’re days from bidding farewell to 2019, I thought it might be fun this year to share a sampling of some of my favorite photos on the blog from this past year.

No matter where you are in the world, I’ll be wishing you a very Happy New Year. Cheers to 2020!

As many of you know, my husband’s Jun’s case went to trial this year and we were there. Seated at front is our main lawyer Ron Coulter; behind him in a white suit is our second chair lawyer Holly Sutherland, and next to her is our paralegal Crystal Anderson.

 

Earlier this year, I got my first video assignment when China Daily sent me to Hangzhou. We shot scenes by the West Lake in my favorite corner — Qu Yuan Feng He (曲院风荷) — as well as one critical shot on Su Causeway, with a view of Lou Wai Lou on Bai Causeway.

During the summer, China Daily later sent me to Suzhou and Shandong province for another video shoot. On my first day of shooting in Suzhou, we came to Canglang Pavilion, one of the city’s classical gardens which also happens to host a Kunqu Opera troupe. I spent over two hours getting a “makeover” to look like an opera performer. While I could never match the professional moves of the veteran actors, the whole experience proved unforgettable (right down to removing the makeup, which required multiple washes!).

IMG_20190812_145216In the afternoon, we traveled to the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the largest classical garden in Suzhou, for a shoot.

In September, I was part of a video shoot for China Daily in Beijing. We shot some scenes right here in this spectacular hall, and also in one of the theaters as well, during a rehearsal.

Our last day of shooting in Beijing brought us to the Qianmen area just south of Tian’anmen Square, and its lively pedestrian shopping streets.

471573476452_.pic China Daily sent me to Shanghai in November to cover the China International Import Expo as a video reporter. On my first morning at the expo, I introduced the cultural heritage on display at the Meet Shanghai booth. Behind me is a selection of folk paintings done by rural painters from Shanghai.

411573476442_.pic That’s a wrap! Here I am after finishing the second live broadcast on Nov 7 (my final assignment at the expo), along with my colleagues from work.

Wishing everyone the best in 2020!

Photo Essay: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in China

Twas the night before Christmas in China, which in China proved tough.

Because we’d work the following morning, without a day off.

But in a small corner of Beijing, there lived Jocelyn and Jun,

Determined to dance to a Christmas-y tune.

Dazzling lights and ornaments on the tiny tree

Made it, despite the size, a sight to see.

And while live carolers would have been fine,

WKSU streamed their favorite songs online.

But most of all was the holiday spirit within

Which burned brightly in both, and made them grin.

Holidays abroad don’t equal a lump of coal

As long as you keep the spirit in your heart and soul.

So wherever you are, hope your holidays delight.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Watch Me Report from China Int’l Import Expo in Shanghai

China Daily sent me last week to do some video reporting from the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, and those videos have all gone live for you to watch and enjoy! You can see me:

In addition, I did two live broadcasts for China Daily from the expo — one on Nov 6, and another on Nov 7. However, those are only available to watch on the China Daily app (which you will need to download for your Android or iPhone, and then search the app to find — use the search term “CIIE” to find expo-related content).

And I’ve also included a number of photos below documenting my time at the expo, including behind the camera (thanks to my colleagues!).

471573476452_.pic On my first morning at the expo, I introduced the cultural heritage on display at the Meet Shanghai booth. Behind me is a selection of folk paintings done by rural painters from Shanghai.

431573476446_.pic Also during my first morning at the expo, I continued to show more of the cultural heritage from Shanghai — here I’m introducing Shanghai-style woolen embroidery, also used to make a dazzling picture of the Shanghai Pudong skyline hanging on the wall.

461573476451_.pic High-tech was a major highlight of the expo, and it appeared in some fascinating forms — such as this device. It’s rideable, and it can also follow you around like a dog. (It even looks like one, with a cute canine design.)

401573476441_.pic On Nov 7, I completed my second live broadcast at the expo from the food and agricultural products exhibition hall. Here, I’m talking to a representative from CJ Foods, a South Korean brand promoting their foods at the event.

411573476442_.pic That’s a wrap! Here I am after finishing the second live broadcast on Nov 7 (my final assignment at the expo), along with my colleagues from work.

I’ll be back later this week with a new blog post!

Photo Essay: The Couple Who Walks Together, Stays Together

Jun and I have discovered our common love for walking and hiking, and it has led to many adventures outdoors in Beijing, from tracing the canal near my office to getting lost in the woods in Olympic Forest Park. This week, I’m sharing a selection of some favorite recent photos, perhaps proving that the couple who walks together, stays together.

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Wherever you are, wishing you a gorgeous autumn!

Photo Essay: Behind the Scenes of Beijing Photo Shoot for China Daily

For most of last week, China Daily website sent me on assignment to shoot some videos around Beijing, which put the spotlight on changes in culture and education around the city. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of the places we visited for the shoot.

We shot a number of scenes at the National Center for Performing Arts, recognized by many for its iconic egg-shaped design.

We shot some scenes right here in this spectacular hall, and also in one of the theaters as well, during a rehearsal.

In Beijing’s Wangjing neighborhood, we visited the Yabin Dance Studio, home to the renowned dancer Yabin Wang, who has appeared at the National Center for Performing Arts on numerous occasions, including in collaboration with foreign artists.

Here I stand with Yabin (right) and one of her fellow dancers in the studio. I later learned that she has also had a career as an actor — my colleagues on the video shoot recognized her as one of the leads in the first and second seasons of Xiangcun Aiqing (乡村爱情).

On the education front, we first visited Peking Union Medical College Hospital, the first Western medical institution established in China. There I spoke with the director of a postdoctoral program, who also introduced the hospital, including this photograph on the wall taken in 1921, during the celebration of its founding.

We went to the Communication University of China, the premier institution in the country for higher education in the media and communications industry, where we had a chance to visit its mobile 4K ultrahigh definition studio (seen in the background), equipped with the same technology you would find in major media outlets. The university is one of the few in the country to have a 5G network, which facilitates the broadcast of ultrahigh definition video.

Our last day of shooting brought us to the Qianmen area just south of Tian’anmen Square, and its lively pedestrian shopping streets.

The videos for these Beijing episodes will go live around the beginning of October — and once they’re available, I’ll share them with all of you online.

Photo Essay: Video Shoots in Suzhou and Shandong Province – Behind the Scenes

Last week I returned from a 10-day trip for video shoots for China Daily, which took me to the cities of Suzhou in Jiangsu province, and Qufu, Rongcheng and Weihai in Shandong province. The videos will publish sometime in the next few months. But in the meantime, I’d like to share a few of my favorite images from the trip in this photo essay.

On my first day of shooting in Suzhou, we came to Canglang Pavilion, one of the city’s classical gardens which also happens to host a Kunqu Opera troupe. I spent over two hours getting a “makeover” to look like an opera performer. While I could never match the professional moves of the veteran actors, the whole experience proved unforgettable (right down to removing the makeup, which required multiple washes!).

IMG_20190811_104538We did some shooting on our second day in Suzhou at the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre, in its spacious lobby.

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That afternoon in Suzhou, we shot at a community center — which also happened to lie in the very neighborhood that Marta of Marta Lives in China calls home. What serendipity that we had the opportunity to meet each other and even spend some time together!

Here’s a shot of me introducing the community center in Suzhou while on camera.

Later that same day, I did another introduction for the camera, this time in Suzhou Industrial Park.

IMG_20190812_112240On our third day in Suzhou, we returned to the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre, where I had the opportunity to meet the founders of the Suzhou Ballet Theatre.

IMG_20190812_103539I also got to watch the ballet company rehearse backstage — what a joy to see them practicing their graceful and athletic moves!

IMG_20190812_145216In the afternoon, we traveled to the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the largest classical garden in Suzhou, for a shoot.

In the evening, I joined audiences at the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre for some evening performances from young singers.

IMG_20190813_110831Our fourth day in Suzhou led us to the studios of an exceptional young artist engaged in Suzhou embroidery.

In the afternoon, we took a ride on a bus where you can dine and do sightseeing at the same time in Suzhou.

IMG_20190815_150112My next shooting assignment sent me to Qufu in Shandong province, where we visited a theme park, providing an immersive experience in the world of Confucius, right down to clothing and even desks.

The whole theme park aimed to transport you back over 2,000 years, and it had an enormous staff dressed in the garb of the era, which made for a lot of fun photo opportunities!

IMG_20190815_154946We also shot at a temple built near the birthplace of Confucius.

IMG_20190816_221840We traveled on high-speed train the following day to Rongcheng, a city at the easternmost point of Shandong province.

IMG_20190817_071018In Rongcheng, the hotel breakfast area offered the most stunning views of any other on the trip, with a gleaming blue lake just outside the windows.

First stop in Rongcheng — the easternmost tip of Shandong province and its picturesque ocean views.

IMG_20190817_144721We visited a sustainable aquaculture center in Rongcheng, where I had the chance to ride a boat out onto the gorgeous ocean waters.

IMG_20190817_155258At a tuna fish processing plant in Rongcheng, I couldn’t believe the size of these frozen tuna fish!

Late in the afternoon, I had the opportunity to enjoy a barefoot walk along the beach, letting the cool ocean waters lap at my feet.

IMG_20190818_124623Our final day of shooting landed us in Weihai, where my heart leaped upon checking into my room and discovering this lovely ocean view from its balcony.

We finished shooting in Weihai at the beach, where we snapped this shot of the full video production team. It felt like an enchanting — and ideal — place to call it a wrap.

IMG_20190819_135939The following day, I caught the high-speed train home to Beijing, and traveled part of the way with the video production team. Here’s a shot of all of our luggage together — the video production required some major equipment that the guys had to lug along to every location!

Stay tuned, as I will share with you the videos once they go live online — and then you can get a closer look at all the places I visited on this trip.

What do you think?

Photo Essay: Celebrating 15 Years of Marriage

Just last week, my husband Jun and I marked a major milestone in our marriage. Fifteen years ago on July 26, we stood before a government representative in Shanghai, promising to spend the rest of our lives together. It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since that moment, yet I love Jun just as much as the first time I stood before him and said, “Wo yuanyi!” (“I do” in Chinese — and yes, like most of us in China, I did it more than once for reasons explained in this post).

To commemorate those 15 incredible years I’ve enjoyed with the love of my life, a guy who still makes me swoon after all this time together, I’m sharing one of our marriage registration photos from 2004 plus 15 photos of us together (one from each year of our marriage)!

2004

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This photo was taken just moments after we took our vows in a civil ceremony in Shanghai and signed our official little red marriage books. Can’t you just see that newly-registered glow in our faces? (Or maybe it’s the red we both wore that day!) 😉

2005

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As part of our Huangshan Honeymoon in 2005 (which I wrote about in an essay for the new anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit) we visited a couple of traditional Huizhou-style villages in the foothills of Huangshan. Here we pose before a reflecting pool in Hongcun.

2006

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We visited friends in Chicago in February 2006 and ended up strolling beside Lake Michigan, despite the freezing winter temperatures. Who needs to worry about cold weather when you have the love of your life beside you to keep you warm? 😉

2007

Jocelyn and Jun in the park near Fenshui River.

The summer of 2007, we returned to John’s hometown to make our marriage official (in the eyes of his family and friends) with a big Chinese wedding ceremony.

2008

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Late in the summer of 2008, John and I took off for one last camping trip deep in the Rocky Mountains. What views!

2009

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When John and I went to China for the summer of 2009, we indulged in a month-long trip across the country to take in all of the sights we never visited years before — from Xi’an and Chengdu to Changsha and Kaifeng.

2010

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John and I welcomed the year of the tiger in 2010 as the emcees of a Chinese New Year celebration. What a night!

2011

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Here we are in 2011 celebrating John’s birthday over Thai curries. John never used to think much of his birthday until I came along — but if the smile on his face is any measure, he loves the change!

2012

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To commemorate our wedding anniversary in 2012, we enjoyed a relaxing evening of classical music performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. But before heading out, we posed before the flower garden to remember the evening.

2013

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For Chinese New Year in 2013, John and I whipped up a traditional Chinese feast for the family — from roast goose and ribs to ginger-garlic green beans and stir-fried matchstick potatoes. We’re smiling, but there’s exhaustion behind those eyes because we spent the entire morning in the kitchen! Still, it was worth the effort.

2014

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There’s nothing like finally spending Chinese New Year at the family home in China for the first time in years. In 2014, Jun and I reunited with his family and the country we love.

2015

On my birthday in 2015, Jun and I visited the West Lake, snapping this photo by our beloved corner of the lake near Qu Yuan Feng He (曲院风荷).

2016

Jun and I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Washington DC with family in the summer of 2016, where we had the chance to look upon all the iconic landmarks.

2017

Jun and I took this shot just after moving from Hangzhou to Beijing.

2018

As spring arrived in the park near our home in Beijing, Jun and I took the time to take a walk and appreciate the flowers.

2019

Jun and I are taking a stroll through a park in Beijing on a gorgeous summer afternoon.

Here’s hoping for many more incredible years to come together!

Celebrating 10 Years of Blogging With 10 Photos

Ten years of blogging. I can’t believe that, as of this Saturday, I will have been at this for a decade, ever since May 18, 2009.

To mark this special 10-year “blog-iversary” I’m running 10 photos of me and my husband from the past decade, along with a popular post from the end of each of these past 10 years.

Thank you so much to all the readers out there, no matter how long you’ve followed Speaking of China. You’ve continually inspired me and also helped make this a better blog. I’m also deeply grateful to have made so many wonderful friends in the process too. Know that I’m raising my glass to everyone in appreciation!

2009

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When Jun and I went to China for the summer of 2009, we indulged in a month-long trip across the country to take in all of the sights we never visited years before — from Xi’an and Chengdu to Changsha and Kaifeng.

Post: On the Rarity of Foreign Women and Chinese Boyfriends/Chinese Husbands

2010

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Jun and I welcomed the year of the tiger in 2010 as the emcees of a Chinese New Year celebration. What a night!

Post: China Blogs by Western Women who Love Chinese Men

2011

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Here we are in 2011 celebrating Jun’s birthday over Thai curries.

Post: Dating Advice for Chinese Men from J.T. Tran, the Asian Playboy

2012

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To commemorate our wedding anniversary in 2012, we enjoyed a relaxing evening of classical music performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. But before heading out, we posed before the flower garden to remember the evening.

Post: 2012 Blogs By Western Women Who Love Chinese Men

2013

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For Chinese New Year in 2013, Jun and I whipped up a traditional Chinese feast for the family — from roast goose and ribs to ginger-garlic green beans and stir-fried matchstick potatoes. We’re smiling, but there’s exhaustion behind those eyes because we spent the entire morning in the kitchen! Still, it was worth the effort.

Post: Why Aren’t We Talking More About The Rarity of AMWF?

2014

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There’s nothing like finally spending Chinese New Year at the family home in China for the first time in years. In 2014, Jun and I reunited with his family and the country we love.

Post: 6 Stunning Celebrity Couples of Asian Men & Non-Asian Women

2015

On my birthday in 2015, Jun and I visited the West Lake, snapping this photo by our beloved corner of the lake near Qu Yuan Feng He (曲院风荷).

Post: 4 Habits I’ve Learned from my Chinese Husband

2016

Jun and I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Washington DC with family in the summer of 2016, where we had the chance to look upon all the iconic landmarks.

Post: 5 Unhappy Things I’ve Struggled with as an Expat Married to a Foreigner

2017

Jun and I took this shot just after moving from Hangzhou to Beijing.

Post: 2017 Blogs by Western Women Who Love Chinese Men

2018

As spring arrived in the park near our home in Beijing, Jun and I took the time to take a walk and appreciate the flowers.

Post: Olympic Speedskater Shaolin Sandor Liu Has a Cool China Connection Beyond His Chinese Father

Thank you so much for reading!

Photo Essay: Hangzhou Video Shoot – From West Lake to Wondrous Food

I just returned from my trip to Hangzhou to shoot video footage for China Daily Website as well as the Asian Cuisine Festival set to take place in the city from May 15 to 22. While we followed a very demanding schedule that meant being out of our hotel around 12 hours a day for shoots, the experience was unforgettable and worth the effort.

As I’m still catching up on pretty much everything (please bear with me!), in lieu of a written post I thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes shots from the experience, giving you a look at where we went as well as what things looked like before the cameras.

On our first day, we arrived in the afternoon at Hangzhou and the headed to the West Lake, where the production team scoped out the area for shooting.

The following day, we went to Hangzhou’s legendary restaurant Lou Wai Lou on Baidi. Part of the shoot took us to the top floor, where I sat at an al fresco table with views of the West Lake. It probably ranks as the most breathtaking seating I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant — if only I could have enjoyed it with my husband!

And of course, as you can probably tell, most of the dishes aren’t even food that I could eat, as a vegan. We had to get really creative in the shooting process, so it appeared as if I was sampling everything. Am really grateful the production team was so accommodating on this.

But make no mistake, as beautiful as the setting looked, we had work to accomplish. And that kept me quite occupied!

But still had enough time to grab this selfie with one of the team members!

Still, we did manage to enjoy a delightful lunch at Lou Wai Lou — and our director gave the food a hearty thumbs-up.

In the afternoon, we went to Zhiweiguan, another time-honored restaurant in Hangzhou, to do a shoot. It was delightful to meet several of their chefs, including these very talented young women.

Zhiweiguan really impressed me with their snacks and desserts, including the dish at the very bottom of the photo — longjing wencha — where dough is fashioned to look like the leaves of Dragonwell tea, steamed, and then served in a clear broth with shrimp. If you didn’t pay close attention, you might think they were just cups of green tea!

On Thursday, we visited a food street and found ourselves in a restaurant overlooking a stream leading into the Grand Canal, which links Hangzhou and Beijing. It meant more food, and of course more shooting too.

Here’s another angle during a shot in the restaurant.

In the afternoon, we shot scenes by the West Lake in my favorite corner — Qu Yuan Feng He (曲院风荷) — as well as one critical shot on Su Causeway, with a view of Lou Wai Lou on Bai Causeway.

We returned that evening to the food street to revel in the evening atmosphere, perfect for the video, and dined at one of the restaurants on the strip. Yes, even during the meal we were working!

On Friday, we did shooting at Hangzhou Restaurant, which took us to its sixth floor, where we could dine beside stunning views of the West Lake while shooting video footage. Oh, how I wish I could have been there with my husband too!

On the sixth floor of Hangzhou Restaurant, the windows are like screens — and pulled back they reveal a glorious scene of the West Lake. (Sorry, it was a bit rainy and cloudy, but during clear weather it would certainly look enchanting.)

In the afternoon, we arrived at our last location — Charen Cun, nestled in the most prized tea fields in the city, where Lion’s Peak Dragonwell tea grows. This restaurant had the most dazzling traditional decor, hands down!

Immediately, the restaurant served up a hot cup of fine Dragonwell tea. As this is the one and only tea I drink to start my day, it was a welcome sight on the table.

Upstairs, I changed into my qipao to interview the restaurant owner about Dragonwell tea as well as the story behind his restaurant, Charen Cun. It was my favorite interview of all because of how much I adore Dragonwell tea.

Then the owner took me into the tea fields to show me how to pick Dragonwell tea. What a delight and honor! I wished I could have stayed much longer…too bad the weather turned cold, otherwise I could have kept my qipao on! 😉

That evening, we dined with the owner and it proved the finest meal of our trip, with a delicious sampling of dishes that emphasized freshness and rural, home-style flavor. Some even reminded me of my mother-in-law’s cooking.

Again, how I wish I could have shared this dinner with my husband, who would have really appreciated the food and company. The owner was very warm and hospitable, inviting us all to return again in the future.

But even the finest meals come to an end. I had a plane to catch later that evening, so we all headed home to the hotel, where I packed my things and then got a taxi to the airport.

I smiled upon finding my seat on the plane, knowing I would be reunited soon with my husband, with tales of my fascinating experiences in Hangzhou, the city that first brought us together so many years ago.

Overall, I gained some valuable experience and at the same time discovered another side to Hangzhou and its culinary heritage. I’m looking forward to seeing how the videos turn out — and once they go live, I’ll definitely share them with all of you!