World Bicycle Day

Happy World Bicycle Day! 世界自行车日快乐!

Statues of bicycle riding taken at Suzhou Dushu Lake Higher Education Town. Image @LiangWANG

Acknowledging the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation, fostering environmental stewardship and health, the General Assembly decided to declare 3 June World Bicycle Day.

The UN

Do you have a bicycle? What do you use it for? Read the story shared by Haiying LIANG (梁海映), a Queen’s graduate, from Beijing recently.

In Beijing, you can always see people riding bicycles of various colours on streets, which has become beautiful scenery in the city. These colourful vehicles are a type of newly emerged business known as shared bicycle service that has become one of the important aspects of daily life for many people in Beijing, as well as in many other places in China.

Shared bicycles also play an important role in my daily life. While conducting field work in Beijing for my doctoral research, I also take a research assistant intern at Tsinghua University. Its campus is so large that it takes over half an hour for me to walk from the office building to my favourite cafeteria. You may imagine that without a bicycle, I would have spent about two hours for a meal. So I really think that a bicycle does a great help as I can ride whenever I want. Moreover, unlike finding a car park, I can leave the bicycle at the designated parking area nearby, which makes my travel very flexible.

Shared bicycles are indeed a very convenient means of transport in densely populated places where traffic jams are not uncommon and finding a car park is far from easy. In addition, they are not only environmentally friendly, compared with cars, but also very economic – the price of a 30-minute ride is only one-tenth of the price of a single bus ticket in London – which is 1.5 yuan (about 0.15 pound), as this screenshot of the App shows.
Image @HaiyingLIANG

Despite the great advantages, the lack of designated parking area for shared bicycles can also cause the problem of occupying space such as pavements and lanes. As shown in the photo, the intensively parked bicycles have caused traffic congestion and inconvenience for people who are walking on this road. When building the roads and pavements decades ago, engineers didn’t expect that there would be so many shared bicycles in the near future. Therefore, in the new urban planning, the parking sites for shared bicycles should be well planned, and roads and bicycle lanes can be expanded to accommodate more vehicles that may appear in the future.
Image @HaiyingLIANG

Did you know that in Belfast there are shared bicycles as well? Have you ever used them? Share with us your experience in the comment box below.

A person about to use a shared bicycle parking opposite Queen’s McClay Library. Image @LiangWANG

Useful vocabulary and expressions in Chinese

  • 世界 shìjiè – world
  • 自行车 zìxíngchē – bicyble, bike; 自 zì – self, 行 xíng – moving, 车 chē – vehicle
  • 单车 dānchē – bicycle, bike; 单 dān – single (person)
  • 共享 gòngxiǎng – shared; 共 gòng – together, 享 xiǎng – to share
  • 停车场 tíngchē chǎng – (car/bike) park; 停 tíng – to stop, to halt; 场 chǎng – an open space, field, market, etc.
  • 收费 shōufèi – to charge; 收 shōu – to receive, to collect; 费 fèi – fee
  • 便宜 piányi – cheap
  • 方便 fāngbiàn – convenient

A spring tour to the City of Springs

It’s not to do with the spring season, nor with trampolines, but the fluidity of the waters.

In late spring, our alumni and volunteers Xiaohui (小惠), left, and Zhenru (珍如), right, who have found jobs in different places of China, joyfully reunited in Ji’nan (济南 Jǐ’nán), the provincial capital of Shandong (山东 Shāndōng). While having enjoyed the beautiful scenes of the city which is famous for its artesian springs (泉水 quán shuǐ), they would like to share their findings with us.

Do you know which city has most springs in China? The answer is Ji’nan, which is known as the Spring City with 72 springs altogether. Among them, the most famous one is called Baotu Spring. During Qing Dynasty’s Emperor Qianlong’s southern tour, Baotu Spring was regarded as the “No. 1 Spring under the Heaven” because of the mellow and sweet taste of tea made from its water.

Zhenru and Xiaohui

About Baotu Spring

If you ever pay a visit to Ji’nan, you will find that Baotu Spring (趵突泉 Bàotū Quán) is located in the city centre. The spring pond is 30-meter long and 18-meter wide, accommodating three outlets with streams gushing out from the ground. There is large stone masonry around the Spring. We would definitely recommend you to lean on the railing for a better feel to observe the streams gushing in the pond from underground limestone caves.

The entrance gate of Baotu Spring (the name should read from right to left). Image @Xiaohui LIAO

The famous modern playwright Lao She (老舍, Lǎo Shě) once wrote that “the waters gush up from the spring’s eyes, and rise half a meter above the surface of the water, constantly rolling like boiling”. We were there eager to see this wonder – the “boiling” scene. However, we felt rather disappointed that we didn’t see any “constantly rolling” waters; only three streams were there rippling mildly. Maybe it was because the waters were exhausted after running for hundreds of years.

The grand view of Baotu Spring with a waterside pavilion and two carved stones on each side. The left stone displays its name ‘趵突泉’ and the other marks it as the ‘No. 1 Spring (第一泉)’. The three rippling circles on the water surface at the bottom left corner of the photo are the streams through three outlets. Image @Xiaohui LIAO

What was astonishing was that we found two baby seals in the pond, playing with each other, as seals normally are seen in the sea. It turned out that the waters are specially treated to be in line with sea water quality to accommodate the creatures, according to the local authority that manages the scenic sites, despite the disputes arising from some tourists and people who were concerned with animals right and protection.

One of the reasons to introduce two seals in the Spring is to do with the double puns in the mixture of Chinese and English contexts.

The name in Chinese of seals is 海豹 (hǎibào), literally meaning ‘sea (海 hǎi) leopard (豹 bào), the second syllable of which echoes with the pronunciation of “趵 (bào)” in Baotu Spring (趵突泉 Bàotū Quán). “突 ()” sounds similar to ‘two’ in English. So today people jokingly refer to Baotu Spring as the spring having two seals, though “趵突 (bàotū)” originally means jumping and rushing out and forwardly.

Image @Zhenru SHANG

So, what do you think of the idea of keeping seals in the waters? You may share your opinions in the box below and read more detailed report here.

Learn the words and phrases

  • 济南 Jǐ’nán – Ji’nan, the provincial capital of Shandong; 济 – the river of Ji; 南 nán – south
  • 山东 Shāndōng – Shandong province; 山 shān – mountain, hill; 东 dōng – east
  • 泉水 quán shuǐ – spring, the waters; 泉 quán – spring; 水 shuǐ – water
  • 趵突泉 Bàotū Quán – Baotu Spring; 趵 bào – jump; 突 – out and forward
  • 第一泉 dì yī quán – The No. 1 Spring; 第 一 – No. 1
  • 海豹 hǎibào – seal; 海 hǎi – sea; 豹 bào – leopard

If you would like to share your cultural experience in China, you are welcome to contact us by filling in the comment box below with your name, email and proposed topics.

An edible ‘landmark’ of Wuhan

Whilst it rained with ice balls in Northern Ireland only a few days ago, people in China have already turned to ice-creams for the cool taste. More popular than the tastes are perhaps the variety of shapes of ice-creams that resemble those local features and places of interest. Here’s what Xuewei YANG (杨雪薇), a QUB alumnus, brings to us.

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