Our job at Turnkey News Team (TNT) is to provide coverage for what is currently going on within Suoyuan Village. We are a group full of interesting minds with creative thoughts and ideas, which we will utilize to present news to the locals and other Internet followers. We will take frequent photos and videos to present. In addition to our strong creative powers, we will attract viewers with the use of our many members’ varying mother tongues.
Our work includes:
Articles writing about the events which took place during the homestay
“For me, cooking is an expression of the land where you are and the culture of that place.”
A visit to a new place, city or country is not complete without exploring and tasting the variety of cuisines and desserts the place has to offer. Trying different cuisines and desserts might be one way of truly experiencing the culture of a country, but imagine if you get a golden opportunity to learn and cook those authentic food items under the guidance of a well-known local chef of the city. Sounds exciting right?
One of the fun activities that Jinhua Homestay Program organized was a Chinese dessert making class for its participants, where everyone got a wonderful chance to try their hand at preparing a simple and delicious dessert called the Double Happiness Pastry.
Preparing this dessert was super easy as just three main ingredients – glucose, flour and white sugar powder – along with little water and raisins were required.
One needs to mix all the main ingredients together by adding a little water and prepare the dough. Next, make sure that the dough has no lumps and that it is as fine as powder. Then add some raisins to it. Finally, the dough was put into a wooden dough press cookie maker and was pressed well to give it an attractive shape. Now the Double Happiness Pastry is then ready to be served.
From cute Doraemon pastries, to small little hearts, participants gave interesting shapes to their dough to make it eye-catching. This exciting experience of donning the chef hat and cooking a traditional Chinese dessert will surely be cherished by all the participants for rest of their life.
The traditional dessert making was one of the best experiences I’ve had in the Jinhua homestay program. It was a fun activity and getting a chance to learn traditional happiness cakes gave me immense pleasure as it was a very simple recipe and also delicious one.
– Madhura, India
As a participant of 2017 Jinhua Homestay project I participate in various activity but amoung the best activity that I participate is Dessert making. When my volunteere give me clothes to wear for Desert making I was worried because it is my first time to make Chinese traditional food. Even it was my first time but for a corporation with my fellow participant Dustin Van Sloten it take us only fifteen minute to make delicious Chinese dessert.
– Nassor, Tanzania
As I began to mix and sift the flower and sugar together our eyes met from across the room. Just a moment was enough to know the kind of person she was. She walked over and i struck up the conversation. She smiled and laughed, even at the silly things i said. She then proceeded to help me form the little, Chinese pastries. They were sweet… just like she was. I’ll never forget that experience. The sweets still spike my blood sugar to this day, just like her smile once did.
– Brady, United States of America
Although the Jinhua Homestay Program has an ample amount of fun activities for participants to experience the authentic Chinese culture, it also provides a platform for international discussion regarding protection, preservation and promotion of the ancient villages both in and outside China.
The World Outstanding Youth Seminar is a one day seminar conducted by this program which is attended by the municipal officials of Jinhua City and Jingdong District, PhD students of Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the participants acting as international representatives with the focus of protection and sustainable tourism of the ancient villages. This seminar is divided into three parts: introduction by the municipal officials, speeches by international and local representatives, and finally a discussion round. Five participants were chosen to speak about cultural protection in their country which included:
Joyce Sng, Singapore
Thabile Manentsa, South Africa
Shivani Talani, India
Vicki Hung, Canada
Polina Bogomolova, Russia
The itinerary provides for an exchange of insightful ideas and thoughts not only about China but also about one’s own country. Although much more work needs to be done to protect ancient villages, the discussions partaken in the seminar left everyone with a renewed sense of focus.
In a village like Suoyuan, it will be miraculous to find a gym if you are thinking of keeping fit. The best alternative here is to do cycling – in the Greenway. The Greenway is a well-developed and maintained track provided for recreational activities. To promote the use of the Greenway and advocate for healthy living, the rental of e-bikes is available behind the Tourist Centre at Suoyuan Village for better facilitation.
The route along the Greenway is generally smooth, almost effortless except for a few uphill slopes that will require more acceleration. Apart from that, you can just relax but don’t forget to focus on your surroundings as well, as the view is the best part of the journey! If you are feeling tired, take a pit stop along the stream and snap pictures of the magnificent floating lotuses. Also, taking in consideration of the weather, it is recommended best to go early in the morning before the afternoon sun strikes. However, if you want to escape from those strong rays in the afternoon, wandering into the small lanes of the neighborhood villages may be a preferred choice.
I’m a keen cyclist back home in Suzhou, so I’d love to bring my bike down to Suoyuan and explore more of the cycle paths around the area! The greenway around Suoyuan is a really lovely place to cycle. It connects Suoyuan with other villages around the area and it was wonderful to visit these. On the large river that we cycled past there were many species birds, which was a very nice sight.
– Tess, Britain
Up in the mountains of Jinhua lies Wong Tai Sin Temple (黄大仙祖馆). Named after the infamous Chinese Taoist Deity, Huang Daxian or Wong Tai Sin in Cantonese, this temple is a popular attraction in Jinhua as Taoism is one of the primary religion in China. With the belief of Wong Tai Sin having the power and ability of healing, the temple attracts many tourists and followers of Taoism due to the serene environment and its abundant amenities.
For first timers in a Taoist temple, it may be daunting to be surrounded by an unfamiliar setting. However, it is only right to behave appropriately to show respect in this religious ground. Read on to find out the basics of Taoist etiquette.
Use an upturned open hand gesture to point at anything
Dress appropriately, covering knees and shoulders
Speak quietly, no shouting
Comply to rules/signs, especially when it states, “no photo”
When walking through the premises, remember to look out for a Yin Yang platform (天音祭坛) which is enhanced beautifully by the twelve zodiac animals engraved on the circumference of the Yin Yang symbol. You will be missing out if you just admire from afar or simply walk pass it. So, go ahead and stand in the two circles, facing each other and start talking.
Spoiler alert: You will be hearing echoes. Yes, echoes. Pretty amusing, right? The said reason behind it is because of the fengshui (风水). It is quite complicated, so we will leave the rest as mystery.
If you have deep interest in learning more about Taoism, this temple offers cultural lectures that cover the introduction of Tao, its history and beliefs. After attending the comprehensive lectures by the passionate masters, you will leave the place wanting for more. But good news, they do have accommodation for enthusiasts! With the adequate and comfortable facilities, you may consider staying there for a few days – great getaway from city life.
Amid the calmness in this sacred site, you can find Taoist masters practicing sword (martial art)(太极剑) or performing the art of Qi Gong (气功). If you get the timing right, you may witness or even join a Taoist right in the main hall (三清殿)– don’t fret, no obligations! Disclaimer: it can be tough as you will be kneeling for quite some time.
Alternatively, if you prefer experiential learning, fulfill it by trying out the meditation sessions along with the Taoist master who will be leading them. Meditation forms a significant part of this religion as it is a practice that incorporates concentration, mindfulness, contemplation and visualization through the proper breathing techniques. Ultimately, the purpose is to calm the body and mind, find inner peace and unify the body and spirit. Definitely not as easy task because we struggled a little but it’s worth a try!
The Jinhua Homestay Program participants were given a special performance by the Zhejiang Wu Opera Troupe. The participants viewed seven different performances by the troupe. All were spectacular. Before arriving in China, I had never heard of Wu Opera. However, in the few weeks that I have been here, I have learned many things about this great art.
Wu Opera has a history spanning more than four centuries. It originated in Wuzhou, now Jinhua, in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province. It is popular in the catchment of Jinhua district, which is why locals call it Jinhua Opera. Wu Opera is a hybrid of six singing styles from different traditional genres: gaoqiang, kunqiang, luantan, huixi, tanhuang and shidiao.
These performers are full of glitz and glamor with their delicate make-up, extravagant costumes, elaborate sets, and well-choreographed performances. These performers also display amazing agility with their acrobatics, and their intense facial expressions really capture the audience.
Two of my favorite performances were the Dragon Dance and the Sedan Chair. The performers in the Dragon Dance were amazing. The timing and synchronous movements of this performance had me jumping out of my seat. The Sedan Chair performance was an entertaining and artistic way to tell a beautiful story. I really enjoyed all the performances and I would recommend anyone visiting Jinhua to check them out.
Throughout my life, I have watched various art performances from Europe, Asia, America and even from my home continent, Africa. Most of the performances I have ever seen is a musical, drama or comedy. And among all, the Wu Opera from Zhejiang Province in China was one of the best performance in my opinion. I have only watched it on television but not live performance. But I was glad we had the chance to watch it with the best performers on stage. It was just so beautiful and attractive that I could not get enough of it.
The beauty of Wu Opera is based on the various popular stories in the past that provide the current young generation the knowledge on how the past generations lived. The best story I saw was the performance named “Broken Bridge” where it is a classic Chinese love story of characters Xu xian and Lady White Snake.
Not only does Wu Opera provides entertainment, it also teaches us the Chinese language and culture. Through Wu Opera, I feel really interested to learn more about the language and culture as I find it beautiful and not too difficult to learn.
– Nassor, Tanzania
I was entralled by the performances of artists and the voice of the artists just left me amazed. I learn Indian classical music so i was just able to connect myself in some or the other way with the artists and their performances. I would definitely love to learn this piece of art in my near future.
– Gauri, India
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
This famous quote by Joseph Campbell best describes Double-Dragon Cave (雙龍洞), situated some 8 kms away from Jinhua City in Zhejiang Province. Embracing a history of more than 100 million years, these lofty caves span over a total area of 1,200 square meters (13,000 sq ft) and are 66 m (217 ft) high and 33 m (108 ft) long.
As per an interesting story, the caves were discovered by the villagers in the Ming Dynasty when they set out to search for their missing sheep. Describing the caves, the Ming Dynasty explorer and adventurer Xu Xiake aptly wrote, “A stone curtain hangs in the cave; by water and on foot, one can enjoy the wonders of the cave. And the light and shadow of the cave forms unique scenery.”
The name Double-Dragon Cave was inspired after two huge rock formations at the entrance of the cave which look like dragon heads. The cliff around the cave has its name雙龍洞written in beautiful Chinese calligraphy. It is believed that these characters were written by a calligraphist of the Tang Dynasty. Also, there are two more inscriptions on the cave walls – one created by Wu Lin, a calligrapher of the Song Dynasty and other by 20th century calligraphist Yu Youren.
As soon as one arrives at the Double-Dragon Cave, the lush green surroundings and small but alluring waterfall will leave you awestruck. Take a few steps ahead and you will be amazed when you arrive at the gigantic cave, decorated with multi-coloured, rainbow lights.
But the most memorable and thrilling part of the visit to Double-Dragon Cave is the entry into the cave, where one has to lie on their backs in a boat being pulled to the other side of the cave’s main entry point with a clearance of around 30 cm (12 inches) above the cave’s water level. When you are lying down, don’t even think about lifting your head as the ceiling is a few inches above your face.
Preserving its natural essence and beauty, a visit to the well maintained Double-Dragon Cave is an experience one would remember for a lifetime.
The Jinhua Homestay Project gives participants a glimpse of the two major religions practiced in China: Buddhism and Taoism. Zhizhe Buddhist temple, situated upon Jianfeng Mountain (尖峰山), provides for a serene and calm environment for visitors to experience the true nature of Buddhism.
Though Buddism in India only worships one deity, in China major disciples of Buddhism are also worshiped for having attained enlightenment. At Zhizhe temple, the monks told the stories about how these people attained enlightenment.
A vegetarian lunch is served at the temple. Like the monks, the meals are humble. Cooks file through the lunchroom, scooping portions from buckets into metal bowls set in front of the eater. It is to be consumed in silence so to just focus on the act, and dishes must be hand washed afterwards.
For people believing in the concept of spirituality you must surely visit this place for it will provide you with the right knowledge to get you closer to connect with your spiritual self.
Suoyuan Village was the place to be on July 6 if you loved food, especially Chinese food. A cooking competition/festival was held in the village and it was simply spectacular. Professional chefs from the region showed off their culinary prowess and took part in a competition to see who was the “master chef”.
I was fortunate enough to be a judge for the food competition. The food these chefs brought out was quite amazing. The plates kept coming and coming, and I excitingly kept grabbing and grabbing. There were amazing meats, vegetables, and desserts that were delightful to my eye and my palate.
Cooking is also an art which makes visual presentation a big key in determining the winner. These chefs took pride in their work and it showed in the results. I came in a little worried about the different things I would eat, but I came out wanting more. It was a truly enjoyable experience and I learned a lot about food and presentation.