2017-03-04

Exploring Old Guangdong: A Rainy Day in Dapeng Village

The front gate of Dapeng Fortress
I went on a day trip to Dapeng(大鵬), a subdistrict in Shenzhen about an hour and a half away from the city center. Aside from being conveniently close to the coastline, Dapeng is a great place to visit to explore the history of the area before Shenzhen's formation.

Signage is in English
and Chinese
My day trip was slightly interrupted by the rain, but I was able to throughly explore Dapeng Fortress(dapeng suocheng; 大鵬所成)and Dongshan Temple(dongshansi; 東山寺). 

I took bus E11 from Shenzhen North Station(shenzhenbei; 深圳北), and got off at Dapeng Station(dapengzhan; 大鵬站). Then, I walked to Dapeng Station #2(dapengzhan er; 大鵬站二)and took but 928 directly to the fort. Travel time was about two hours, but the scenery was interesting at many points so it didn't bore me. Plus I had a great book in tow. 

Dapeng Fortress was build in 1394 to protect citizens from pirates. Almost 200 years after it was built, the fortress was attacked by the Japanese. Nevertheless, the complex is largely still intact. A beautifully antiquated place, the fortress has clearly been restored, but it still retains it's age regally. 



Old homes

探險廣東:下雨天在大鵬

大鵬所成大門口
有英文的指路標誌,
對我門外國朋友很方便!
我去年去大鵬,當天來回的旅行。在大鵬,人不僅有機會看美麗的海邊,而且可以了解深圳地區的歷史。我下雨天去大鵬,但是我全面地探險大鵬所城和東山寺。

我從深圳北地鐵站出發,上了E11號公車,在大鵬站下。然後,我走到大鵬站二(只要大概五分鐘)上928號公車,在大鵬所城站下了。坐交通的時間一共差不多兩個鐘頭。對,很張的時間,但是有很多有漂亮景色的地點,所以沒有無聊,並且我帶來了一本很有趣的小說。

大鵬所成是1394改了為了保戶住在裡面的公民。雖然十六世紀日本軍隊襲擊了大鵬所城,但是它保存完好。真的是個漂亮的名勝古跡。很清楚,是以前恢復的地方,可是有古城的感覺。

老房子

2017-02-16

A Rainy Day in Shibuya and Harajuku (Part 2)

Forty years of deliciousness.
Takeshita Street
The modest Harajuku Station.
Map of Harajuku — click to englarge
Source
After visiting Meiji Shrine, I made my way deeper into Harajuku to have lunch and do some shopping. Of course, I spent quite a bit of time on the well-known Takeshita Street, which is right across the way from the small, humble Harajuku Station.
As it was rainy, cold, and not peak tourist season, Takeshita Street wasn't unbearably crowded, though there were quite a few people. There are several shops on the street where you can buy some of the latest Japanese fashions for cheap, or eat a yummy meal. 


Marion Crepes
Part of the yummy sweet and savory selections.
Although there is a wide variety of cute, interesting eateries on Takeshita Street, a stroll down Harajuku's most popular lane would arguably be incomplete without a visit to the well-known Marion Crepe, which has been in business for nearly 40 years—quite impressive!

Unlike Western-style crepes, Japanese crepes (which, in terms of style and fillings, are more or less identical to Taiwanese crepes often seen in night markets) are hand-held, cone shaped treats. Like their Western counterparts, Japanese crepes can be sweet or savory, but the combinations solidly deviate from the original treat (i.e., pizza and cheesecake...yes, a crepe with a piece of cheesecake in it!)

I visited Marion Crepe for lunch a few hours after a small breakfast, so I was hungry by the time I made my way there. At any given time, they offer tens of flavors, some of which are limited or seasonal. Generally, I don't like super sweet food—especially on an empty stomach—so I choose one of their snack crepes, which are savory and perfect for a lunch on the go.


2016-11-22

Album Review: Metafive - EP METAHALF (2016)


Takahashi Yukihiro & Metafive - Source: Natalie.mu
After releasing Meta (2016), which can arguably be deemed the best Japanese alternative/techno album of this year, Metafive have made their rounds this year performing a several Japanese music festivals including Summer Sonic and World Happiness. Behind the scenes, the band was also recording new music, and nearly two weeks ago, they dropped an EP or mini-album—Metahalf.

Metahalf (2016)
Source: hmv.co.jp

If you've heard Metafive—or any of the six member's solo works—it goes without saying that they're a group of highly skilled musicians. Nonetheless, Metahalf just does not deliver in the same way that Meta (2016) did. That's not to say that Metahalf isn't a quality EP, it just lacks some of the magic that it's predecessor had. That being said, Meta (2016) is a rare album in that all tracks contain something special, a feat that's quite difficult and somewhat rare for an artist to produce back-to-back. 

It's usually better to get the bad news out of the way first, so let's start with the last two tracks of Metahalf, the weak links: "Peach Pie" and "Submarine". 

2016-08-14

Reading in Chinese: Choosing Materials and Tackling Unknown Vocabulary

Pages from the popular Japanese comic Card Captor Sakura translated into Chinese.
Source
Last month, I finished teaching a summer Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) course. At the end of the course, I asked students if they had any general questions for me regarding English learning. Some asked pretty much the question many other English language learners I meet in my daily life ask:

"How should I study vocabulary? Should I memorize? I heard memorization is the best method."

Indeed, in China and other Asian countries, rote memorization is used not only to cram for tests, but to tackle any content thrown at students in the variety of classes they take. I believe there is a time and place for rote memorization (i.e., math formulas), but if you want language to be memorable, memorization is the wrong road to take. 

As an English teacher who loves to use the principals of cognitive linguistics or logic to tackle language, I believe vocabulary, grammar, or any other facet of language is only retained when it's contextualized, and/or when we know the etymology or background. Whether you're learning English, or Chinese and Japanese in my case, this rings true. I remember words and phrases from memorable conversations or interesting books. Naturally, when words and phrases are heard or read in context, they make more sense. 

I'll make a post about listening to Chinese in the future; this one concerns Chinese reading. (I don't know enough Japanese yet to read books, only short comics and signs!) Again, no matter the language you're learning, I think these tips will help you. 

Record five unknown vocabulary words per page

Recently, an employee at my local Walmart (yes, they're here in China!) struck up a conversation with me. He asked the typical memorization question, and I told him a better way to brush up on English is to read and write down about five words per page that you don't understand to check the definition later. 

"But what if there's more than five words I don't understand on a page?" he asked.

I replied, "Ignore them!"