Monthly Archives: April 2013

Apr 26

San Yue Jie, Bai People’s Festival, Highlights China’s Traditional Hunting Tribes

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture

At Destination Dali Dali travel guide, I’m highlighting the Dali Bai ethnic festival San Yue Jie. The Bai people have traditionally been hunters, and, at the San Yue Jie horse racing track, you can see their riding and shooting skills on display. Riders rode down the track with a gun and shot at balloons. There is also horse racing, riding displays, and motorcycle jumping, but the shooting was what captivated me the most.

It highlights the hunting culture of some tribes. While guns are banned in China, you can still see gun displays in connection with hunting culture. In the Guizhou village of Basha, as I write about in my ebook, Escape to Guizhou, the local Miao people still own guns, and they put on hunting shows. You can download my ebook for free here to read about it.

Here are some photos of the San Yue Jie riders (and more in this post):
IMG_5941
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Apr 20

2 New Articles About Chinese Education

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture , New Writing

Studying from 7 am until 10:30 pm? Is the Chinese education system too stressful for students? I recently published two articles highlighting those aspects of the Chinese education system. Read on:

It’s Sunday night in Dali. I’m standing outside Tang Dynasty on Foreigner Street, the famous bar street here, where I work as a greeter, waving at tourists passing by and inviting them in.

At around 10:30 p.m. a long line of teenagers in blue uniforms starts walking down the street.

“Hello, please sit down,” I say.

“Don’t say that to them!” my waitress colleague says to me. “Students don’t come to the bar. It’s bad for studying.”

What are students doing getting out of class at 10:30 on a Sunday night?

Students in Chinese high school study hard, and you can see it in Dali. On weekdays, they are in class from 7 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., with breaks from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturdays, they have class from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., and on Sundays, they have class from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. With a study schedule like this, it’s no wonder that China topped the PISA international education test scores in 2010, an event that some American education analysts called a “Sputnik moment” signaling the rise of China.

But is it really good for students to be studying this long? What’s it like for the students?

In Dali, like many small rural towns in China, there is a lot of pressure on the students to advance themselves.

“In Shanghai, it’s more relaxed. We just have class from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said Fancy, a Shanghainese student. “The poorer the area, the harder they study.”

Read the full article: Looking for Freedom From the Chinese Education System
Also published recently: “Fairness” and the Gaokao: The Invalid Argument Against Reform
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Apr 08

Hong Kong’s 32 Classic Film Themes of the Past From 1981-2006

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture

Hong Kong’s classic films and music go hand in hand, with singing sensations doubling as actors and actresses and singing theme songs for the movies. The 1980’s and 1990’s represented a Golden Era of sorts, with some of Hong Kong’s brightest stars like Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung, Andy Lau, and Jacky Chan burning. (I have written an ebook about the era that will be available soon.)

In 2006, Go East Entertainment released an album called The Classic Film Theme Songs of the Past 25 Years.

Here are the 32 songs selected:

长空 by Beyond, from Infernal Affairs II (无间道II)

被遺忘的時光 by Cai Qin 蔡琴, Infernal Affairs

Love Is Hard (相愛很難) by Anita Mui and Jacky Cheung, July Rhapsody (男人四十)
Starring Anita Mui and Jacky Cheung

Pursuit (追) by Leslie Cheung, He’s a Woman, She’s a Man (金枝玉葉)

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Apr 02

Are Hong Kong People Chinese?

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture

Are Hong Kong people Chinese? Excerpts from an interview with Hong Kong lounge singer Mei Mei that will be featured in my ebook guide to Hong Kong lounge singers.

What is the biggest difference between Hong Kong and Mainland China?
“In the past, the character (素质) of Hong Kong people was more developed than that of Mainland Chinese people.”

Now?
“We can’t say Mainlanders are bad, and we can’t say Hong Kongese are bad. We can just say they have different customs.”

Do you consider yourself a Mainlander or a Hong Kongese?
“I am a Hong Kongese. I used to be a Mainlander.”

Do you consider yourself a Hong Kongese or a Chinese person?
“Hong Kong is a part of China!”

Would someone born in Hong Kong have the same view?
“Of course not!”

Do Hong Kongese people make a distinction between those from Hong Kong Island and those from Kowloon Island? Where are you from?
“We are all Kowloon people. … The Hong Kong Island people are more cultured.”

Want to read the full interview? It will be available in the ebook guide to Hong Kong Lounge Singers. Sing up to be updated when it is available.

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Mitchell Blatt is an intrepid travel writer, and an author of two top China guidebooks, who brings his readers deep into the cultures of the places he explores. Subscribe now to get real stories of real people in real places around the world delivered right to your inbox.