Category Archives: Work In China

China’s New Silk Road: 12,000 km from the UK to China

News and Travel Editor

Welcome to China Icons’ first ever 4K video, and what a subject to start on!

The UK is the latest country to ‘get connected’ to China’s latest global innovation, the One Belt One Road Initiative. It’s a rejuvenation of the ancient, 2,000 year-old Silk Road, arguably made famous by the traveller and explorer Marco Polo. China and the UK are now connected via one of the most innovative rail links in the world.

Join us as we travel 12,000 km to the other side of the globe from London in the UK to Yiwu on the eastern edge of China.

From electronic equipment to toys and games, the train will be transporting almost anything you could possibly think of.

Find out what it takes to launch one of the most ambitious projects the world has ever seen and re-live the celebrations in London as the train departs to Yiwu.

Don’t forget to check out our other blog on some of the highlights along the 12,000 km route, from the Russian wilderness to the mild climate of China’s eastern coast. This isn’t the only celebration of China’s ‘New Silk Road’, horticultural designers have created a Silk Road garden at the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Check out their incredible efforts here.

A Journey Across Continents: The London to Yiwu Train

News and Travel Editor

Today marks the end of a historic 7,500 mile freight train journey from London, UK, to Yiwu, China. Carrying everything from pharmaceuticals to milk powder and soft drinks, it’s the first ever journey on this route and marks a significant moment for trading relations between the UK, Europe and China. But its not been without difficulty – the train has ventured through 9 countries, from freezing Russian wilderness to the mild climate of China’s eastern coast. This blog visits some of the highlights along its route and looks at why this train journey is so important.

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This is the first ever direct cargo train carrying British goods from the UK to China. This may seem like a modern innovation, but the train is actually reviving the 2,000 year-old Silk Road, an ancient link between the east and west. As well as contributing to the recent Chinese initiative of the New Silk Road, transporting goods to China from the UK via freight train is twice as fast as transporting them by sea and the costs are tiny compared to transporting by air. This is a time and cost effective solution, not to mention it passes through 7,500 miles of glorious scenery.

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Cosmopolitan Western Europe

After leaving London Gateway, the train passes through the bright lights of Western Europe, from Paris and Brussels to Duisberg and Warsaw. This sounds like a great opportunity for a whirlwind tour of Europe, aboard one of the most important freight trains in the world today.

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The Freezing Russian Winter

Just as you’ve got used to the mild climate of western Europe, the train was fully immersed in the gloriously tropical  -40°C winters of the Russian wilderness. Beautiful it may be, there’s no doubt the train driver need their winter woolies.

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The Plains of Kazakhstan and Xinjiang

Here, the journey becomes even more beautiful. The train has journeyed through thousands of miles of beautiful plains of grassland, mountains and deserts. Where do we sign up to be the driver again?

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Yiwu: The Final Destination

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After 7,500 miles, the train has travelled through virtually every landscape and climate imaginable, and has finally arrived in Yiwu, one of China’s manufacturing and international trading centres. We can expect the train to make many more trips over the next few years, with other Silk Road trains making the trip up to 500 times each year! Judging from the photos of highlights along the route, one thing is for certain: whoever gets the job of driving the train halfway across the world is the luckiest person in the world.

 

 

The Lifeblood of the Chinese People: The Grand Canal

News and Travel Editor

The Grand Canal is quite possibly one of the most impressive man-made constructions on earth. It’s 1,400 years old and throughout that time, not only has it been one of China’s most popular tourist attractions, but it continues to be the lifeblood for many of the people transporting precious goods from north to south.

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As a workplace

The ‘Canal People‘, also known as the ‘Chuanmin’ call the canal their home, staying on their barge for as many as 350 days of the year. One lady is reported to have given birth to two twins on her barge – understandable given she only has 15 days on dry land!  For her, the job is more about making memories than money from working on the canal.

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If farmers rely on the weather for a good harvest, then the canal people rely on economics. Although the chuanmin rarely have to worry about a lack of rainfall, they often have to keep track of the price of their goods. They transport anything from oil and coal to rice and other foods.
It’s a challenging and unpredictable way of life, but one that the chuanmin of the Grand Canal seem to cherish and thrive on.

As a tourist attraction

Do you see yourself as something of an athlete or sportsperson? If so, cycling along the Grand Canal might just be for you. Although the journey will most likely take a hefty 20-25 days, some of the sites you will encounter along the way will be second to none. It’s described as one of the best cycle routes in China, and the 1,700km journey should definitely be on your cycling bucket list (if you have one!)

Since 2014, the Grand Canal has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Many canal people including Zhu Bingren, a co-writer of the proposal to UNESCO, wanted to determine the Canal’s place in history and to ensure future generations understood and looked after what has been one of China’s most important waterways. Today, the Grand Canal continues to be vital to the Chinese economy.

Join us at China Icons as we explore China’s waterways, including China’s Grand Canal, from a very special perspective. Our unique drone footage allows you to soar over some of the most impressive natural and man-made features in China. Experience the mighty roar of the Yangtze and the pure tranquillity of the Xun River at the Longsheng Rice Terraces.

 

Have you visited any of the other World Heritage Sites in China? Or do you plan on visiting the Grand Canal anytime soon? Let us know in the comments below!

Join us next week for celebrations as the first ever London-Yiwu train arrives at its destination after 18 day, 7,500 mile journey.

Panda Triplets & Koala Twins: The Incredible Breeding Team Behind China’s Miracle Animal Births

Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou has become famous for its incredible breeding successes – most famously the world’s only surviving panda triplets and koala twins. Pandas have notoriously short windows of time in which to breed (around 3 days a year) and it was the job of the breeders at Chimelong to interpret when this window was, get the pandas to breed in this time and also check the pandas were actually pregnant!  So it was nothing short of a miracle when giant panda mum Juxiao gave birth to 3 baby pandas in 2014.  Watch their incredible journey to date:

If you thought that they were cute, check out today’s upload about China’s koala bears. We look at the team behind the successful breeding of koala bears. In fact, the programme has become so successful that Chimelong is now seen as the second home of the koala behind their native habitat in Australia.  Chen Shu Qing is part of the breeding team behind the many successes at Chimelong Safari Park.

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She was the first koala breeder in China and after helping the first koalas settle in in 2006, her care and attentiveness prepare her for helping Giant Panda, Juxiao, raise her 3 panda triplets.

It doesn’t stop there. Chimelong is home to the largest elephant population in Asia, managing to deliver 5 calves in one season and hosts 150 White Tigers with only 200 left in the world.  By breeding more endangered species, the team at Chimelong Safari Park hope that it reduces the chances of them becoming extinct, both in the wild and in captivity.

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It’s clear that the breeding team at Chimelong have done so much for the preservation of endangered species so that the rest of us will hopefully be able to enjoy them for many years to come.

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International Women’s Day: China’s Most Inspiring Women

News and Travel Editor

This Wednesday, women across the world will be marking the 22nd official International Women’s Day, as recognised by the UN, and it’s set to be the biggest yet. Whether out marching (as women on both sides of the Atlantic have planned), enjoying free access to museum (like the ladies of Italy), or being getting pampered by your spouse (its a bigger day in Russia than Valentine’s Day), today is the day to celebrate the sisterhood’s achievements.

Here at China Icons, we’ve been lucky enough to film with a whole host of inspiring women from every walk of Chinese life. To celebrate this year’s theme of ‘women in the changing world of work’, we’ve handpicked our favourites from our channel – from exceptional engineers on the world’s largest telescope to architects and actresses on some of China’s most high profile projects.

1) Zhang Ziyi Meets China Icons

Look familiar?  That’s probably because Zhang Ziyi has starred in one of the most successful Chinese films of all time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Zhang Ziyi speaks to China Icons about her experiences as an actress, including how she prepares for a martial arts scene and working with John Woo’s The Crossing.

2) FAST: The World’s Largest Telescope

Probably one of the most inspiring stories on our list features Yao Rui, the chief engineer of the focus cabin on FAST. The telescope was built to better understand the origins of the universe and the Big Bang and could be described as one of the most exciting projects going on in science right now.

Yao Rui’s role is centred on the focus cabin, one of the most important pieces of kit on the telescope. The focus cabin receives the radio signals after they are reflected off the dish. Watch our video below to discover some of the challenges that arise for Yao Rui and how she deals with them.

3)  Hangzhou’s Beautiful Bookstore and ‘one of China’s most promising designers’

Described by Forbes as one of China’s most promising designers, Hangzhou’s popular bookstore was designed by innovative architect Li Xiang.  A massive 20,000 people visited the bookstore on opening day. Watch the video below to follow her journey from initial design.

4) Flamenco Pearl: The Life of a Chinese Flamenco Dancer

This short film documents the life of Zhao Zhen, a Chinese flamenco dancer who travelled the world to follow her biggest passion in life before re-settling in Beijing to start her own dance school.

5) China’s Green Roof Revolution

Ma Liya has designed a green roof in Beijing inspiring children to cultivate the garden and get closer to nature. From hand picking the perfect vegetation for the site to her research into different soil types, she is part of a movement leading China, and the world, to a greener future.

6) Fiona Reilly meets…

This was one of our favourite and first videos – Australian Fiona and the Miao ladies may be from different continents but they had a surprising amount in common.  Fiona’s photo assignment introduced us to the stunning embroidery created by Miao women to the dishes in the region.

7) Coco’s Kitchen: Chinese Dumplings

How can we talk about the wonderful women of China without talking about our very own Coco?  Coco brings some of the most authentic and delicious Chinese recipes straight to our kitchens. It was very difficult to pick, but we’ve chosen her recipe for Chinese dumplings as our favourite. Let us know which you’ll be trying out next!

For us, these women personified China’s innovation, creativity and passion. For more stories such as these, be sure to visit and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Valentines Day and China’s Other Unique Festivals

News and Travel Editor

Today is Valentines Day, you either love it or hate it but it seems the Chinese certainly love it given the fact that the Chinese Valentines Day, known as the Double Seventh Festival, predates the Western version by about 1000 years. The Double Seventh Festival is thought to have originated during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), whereas Valentines Day was made famous by Chaucer in the 14th Century.

This is Zhang Chunwen, Beijing’s Clown Delivery Man. He’s been in the job several years now travelling all around the city and will deliver flowers to anyone from your partner to your favourite teacher. Although, not everyone looks too pleased with this unusual method…

Although Valentine’s Day is traditionally celebrated on the 14th February in the West, the Chinese have their own version, known as Double Seventh Festival, or the Qixi Festival. The festival falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Why on this particular date I hear you ask? The answer lies with the legend of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu. One day, Niu Lang, a cow herder met Zhi Nu, a fairy from heaven and, although some would say she was out of his league, they naturally fell in love. The story of their love soon got back to heaven, with the king and queen demanding her return. When Niu Lang tried to follow her, the queen created a wide river between them but was so moved by their tears that she allowed them to visit each other one day a year, the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. The date for your diaries on this year is the 28th August, as if you wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2 times a year!

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As well as the Qixi Festival, the Chinese have a few more quirky festivals up their sleeve, celebrated throughout the year. Some of our favourites are below.

The Festival of Hungry Ghosts

Admit it, this one sounds awesome. According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar calendar is when spirits of the ancestors roam the earth – Could this also be why Niu Lang and Zhi Nu meet in the seventh lunar month?! *jaw drops in fascination*. Many Chinese people will appease these ghosts by burning fake money or leaving food out for the ghosts to use in the afterlife. If you find yourself wandering the streets during this month, make sure you don’t sweep up any offerings left out, unless you want some serious misfortune befalling you…

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Monihei Carnival

This festival is best summed up by the image below.

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Image courtesy of http://www.yunnantravelguide.com/Line/show.asp?id=726.

 

Interested? Thought so. Monihei Festival celebrates the discovery of a local herbal medicine in Yunnan Province which is rubbed all over your body. During the festival, mud is used to the same effect as a representation of the medicine as people run around trying to get each other as filthy as possible.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Held at Pak Tai Temple in Hong Kong, the Cheng Chau Bun Festival coincides with the Buddha’s birthday and every year, 3 60ft towers are constructed from bamboo around the temple are are covered in buns. The most entertaining part of the festival is the ‘bun snatching race’, where men and women race up the tower grabbing as many buns as possible. The more you grab, the more luck you will have to share with the rest of your family.

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Dragon Boat Festival

Zigui County is the centre for this amazing spectacle. The festival commemorates the life of poet and adviser Qu Yuan. Legend has it that Qu Yuan lived around 2500 years ago during China’s Warring States period and committed suicide by drowning in a river, when his leader was defeated. Watch our exclusive video below.

 

Living the Dream in China: A New Year’s Resolution

News and Travel Editor

Happy 2017!  As we fast approach the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rooster, it’s the perfect time to reflect back on the past year, as well as think of a couple of those dreaded New Year Resolutions…

Fear not! Here at China Icons, we can think of one that’s a bit more exciting than heading to the gym everyday for a week before giving up until next year. If your resolutions include travelling or even relocating, there’s never been a better time to make China a part of your itinerary.

Whether you want to go to China to teach, be an entrepreneur, study at a Chinese university, or simply travel, China has it all. It’s a country where the ancient and the modern coalesce  The most popular destinations for many travellers include Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, where old traditions and fast-paced modern life intertwine perfectly. This is probably why it’s estimated that 600,000 foreigners currently live in China, as well as having 328,000 foreign students in 2012.

We have the perfect insight into travellers who have followed their dream in China, with many opting to permanently settle there. Many  of our China Icons videos explore the stories of these people, from Pol, a Turkish Games Designer, to Lee, a Television Presenter and Writer. We want to share the very best with you and to hopefully give you some inspiration on how you can follow your dream in China.

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A Games Designer in China

Turkish Games Designer, Pol, based himself in Guangzhou at the heart of the gaming development community. Go behind the scenes with Pol and find out more about what you can get up to in Guangzhou when the sun goes down.

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Lee’s Life in Beijing

Lee is a British Television Presenter and Writer and moved to Beijing when he was 26 years old. Lee explains how he started his own TV series analysing film reviews.

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Marion’s Life in Tibet

Now we head away from the big cities with Marion, who moved to Tibet from France and trained herself to become a mountain climber and even had the chance to take on the awe-inspiring Mt. Everest. Marion explains what attracted her to Tibet’s fascinating landscape and culture.

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Stunning embroidery of China’s Miao People

Fiona is an Australian ER Doctor, but moved to China to become a food writer and photo blogger. Watch below to find out more about Fiona’s journey to visit the Miao People and their amazing traditions.

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War Horse Theatre Director Alex Sims

War Horse has become a worldwide phenomenon and British Theatre Director, Alex Sims, has taken it to China. Go behind the scenes of the National Theatre of China and one of the biggest theatre productions in the world.

 

Do you fancy your hand in any of these professions? Are you travelling to China this year and have these videos persuaded you to maybe stay a little longer? Let us know in the comments below!

Check in next week for an insight into this year’s, world famous, Harbin Ice Festival and take a look at some of the stunning sculptures making an appearance this year.