Western habits

I am teaching at a Chinese company now for a couple of months. They asked me to help them to practice their English, because they will have to go to a conference in London in November to try to attract new business partners.
I love to teach them as they are very eager to learn and they are curious about the Western life and mentality. I realize that I have much experience now about Chinese habits too and am able to tell them that not all foreigners are used to China, its culture and habits.So, we should always bear in mind that when we are abroad people are not familiar with our way of living.When they asked if they could invite potential business partners to dinner, I also realized that I will have to teach them about the Western style of dining and the table etiquette. I know this is now also big business in China! I love it that we can learn so much from each other’s culture.
At home, we are a bit in the same situation. Our tickets are booked to go to Belgium in October. It’s going to be the second time for my husband, but I can see he is already getting nervous and wants to eat more Western food and want to eat with fork and knife again just to get used to it again.
I, on the other hand, love to eat with chopsticks. Even when I was in Belgium I would sometimes eat the food with chopsticks, because I am so used to it and I love the feel of it. I am amazed to see on how it opened my mind to live in another country and in a totally different culture. I appreciate things from Belgium much more when I am there, but on the other hand, I miss things from China a lot as well when I am there.


I feel that I have one foot in Belgium and one foot in China. My husband thinks of moving to Belgium in the future, but I am not so sure. Although, I do miss the European life, because it is more relaxed and quiet, but I also miss China when I am in Europe. I think once you are familiar with 2 cultures, it is hard to choose which one you like more: you learn to love and hate certain things of each culture. I do think it would be good to move to Belgium for a certain period, so my husband can experience what it is to live in another culture and also so he knows my culture more. But only the future will tell where we will live permanently.

Advertisements

7 day juice fast

My husband and I will start a juice fast for 7 days, which is about our new project.

My husband had a restaurant for about 8 months and he could see what restaurant life was. He was shocked at all the food additives that existed and he got the insight that a restaurant is all about making money and doesn’t care about our health. So, they take the low quality cheap meat and vegetables, load it with food additives to look, smell and taste nice.

This was against his and my values! I was more than happy that he sold the restaurant, because I was against it from the beginning as I know that it is hard for a restaurant to keep high quality and still make money.

Our new project is about healthy, natural food. We are reading books and watching a lot of documentaries about healthy food and maintaining a strong healthy body. Later, we will give trainings in these health matters and we are looking for farmers in China to cooperate with us to sell organic food.

Our body is the most important thing we have. When we don’t keep it healthy, we can’t do anything anymore. Money can’t buy health, but you can buy good healthy foods. Many people, Chinese and Westerners, go to fast food places and don’t’ think twice about what they are putting in their mouth.

With this fast I want to see how I will change over these 7 days. We have been eating unhealthy for a few months now, because of the restaurant, because of being too busy to cook at home. And I can feel it: my skin has pimples, I have less energy and my mood is not so good. Last year, I was jumping out of bed at 6am to do exercise. Now I stumble out of bed after 8am and need more coffee to just wake up and start my day. This is not who I am.

I am taking control over my life again by taking care of my body and giving it the food it really needs. I see so many people around me that are unaware of what they are doing and we want to teach people, Chinese and foreigners, here in China and abroad about why we shouldn’t eat at restaurants and what a healthy diet really looks like!

Tai Chi teacher in China

I came to China in 2008 to study Kung Fu. I was practicing Kung Fu in Belgium and came to China for the first time in 2007 to travel through the country of this beautiful martial art! I visited tourist places, like Yangshuo, Xi’an and Beijing and also went to Shaolin to see some real Shaolin Kung Fu. When I was in Yangshuo, I met a Kung Fu teacher who had a beautiful family style, BuDiZhen, a mix of Shaolin and Wudang Kung Fu.

 

I decided to live in Yangshuo for 1 year, study Kung Fu and then I thought of moving back to Belgium. Little did I know back then that my life would never be the same again…
IMG_2391

 

I stayed in Yangshuo and learned from my Kung Fu teacher for 2 years. I had some money saved, so I was an English teacher just part-time and I focused on learning a lot of Kung Fu.

But, after 2 years, I started to hear more about Tai Chi and how it helps you to cultivate your internal energy. I was intrigued by it and finally found a good teacher to teach me Chen Tai Chi.

From 2010, I started to practice Tai Chi. I loved the slow graceful movements, but also the martial aspect of it. Every movement represents a self-defense technique and it is actually hard work. I practiced really hard and went to a couple of competitions: in 2013, I went to Henan, Jiaozuo, the birthplace of Tai Chi to participate in an International competition and I got a gold medal and silver medal. The year after, I went to the World Championship, but didn’t get a medal there.

 

In 2015, I moved to Shenzhen and I started to teach Tai Chi to expats that I met here. I never thought I could be a Tai Chi teacher in China and I didn’t profile myself like that at first. Some people wanted to know a bit more about Tai Chi and because I could speak English, they asked me to teach them. Little by little, I started to be known as the ‘Tai Chi master’ and more people were texting me to know my teaching schedule.

 

I am teaching almost every month now and am having more and more students. I am thinking of a whole project to teach Tai Chi as a whole lifestyle: the movements, the history and the philosophy.

 

When I tell Chinese people that I teach Tai Chi, the first reaction is almost always: but you are not old! Apparently, for Chinese people you have to be old to practice Tai Chi. I always answer: “it’s because I don’t want to become old that I practice.” Because Tai Chi helps to balance your body and mind, makes your body stronger, you will not become old that fast.

 

I find it a shame that Chinese people don’t want to practice Tai Chi anymore. The new generation is not putting much value on it. I heard that in my country it is becoming very popular. The West is discovering ancient Chinese philosophy: Chinese medicine, Chinese arts and Chinese martial arts are all becoming very popular. But, in China they are becoming less and less popular. Do we, Westerners, in the future will have to teach the Chinese about their traditional culture?

 

Boating on the sea during a typhoon

Again an item I can check off my bucket list, although this one was definitely not on it in the first place. But, being married to Eric, I could have known this would end up on my list…

So, what happened? Eric got an inflatable boat and knew about an island 4km off the coast of Shenzhen. His plan was to row to the island and camp there for 1 night. We had a lot of stuff with us: tent, water and snacks, fishing net,…

After 1 hour on the sea, the weather changed and it started to rain. Not much, just a shower and so we continued, even though for the half hour it rained, we couldn’t see any land anymore. The second rain shower lasted a bit longer and we had to scoop water out of the boat. The waves got a bit higher. But again, we continued, as we were halfway and we thought we could reach it in just one more hour.

After that, 1 paddle broke and the waves started to get higher. All of a sudden, the heavens broke and it started pouring rain. The waves became scary high and it rained a lot. We had to keep on scooping more water out of the boat. The rain didn’t stop for 2 to 3 hours. We saw a container ship and started waving our paddles. Eric’s phone didn’t work because of water damage and I didn’t bring mine, just because I thought it might be damaged.

The ship was not far from us, but didn’t pick us up. After what seemed like a lifetime, the rain started to pour down less and we started to see the contours of mountains. After a while, we could see land clearly again. I started to get courage again and started paddling like crazy towards land, afraid that another shower would come and we wouldn’t see it again.

After 2 more hours, we were closer to land and it started to rain heavily again. The waves started to build up in strength and we were again at the mercy of the sea. We were being put closer and closer to land. At that point, we had to make sure that our boat wouldn’t be thrown onto rocks. We started to keep the paddle in our hand to use if a rock would be too close to us, but it was useless. We were going up and down on the waves and had no control over the direction.

In the end, we went closer and closer to land. Eric got out of the boat to try to steer it a bit, but the sea was too wild. A few minutes later, a big wave swept under the boat and I flew out of it and was thrown on the rocks. The last I saw was Eric being caught between a big rock and the boat. I started shouting as I didn’t see him the first minute. He came out of the water and I could feel my own body: my knees and hand were hurt, but not too bad.

We got all of our stuff by wonder, because the waves were smacking on the rocks. We packed everything and we had to walk another 3 km over rocks, through water, mud and a small forest back to our car.

Eric’s comment: we wanted to eat free fish, but we almost got eaten by fish!

Yeah, I guess that is going to be my life story with him. He already thinks of trying to do it by kayak next time.

My Chinese driver’s license

I have been living in China for 9 years now, but didn’t feel the need to drive a car here. I lived in Yangshuo for more than 6 years and went around by bicycle because of the beautiful environment there and because it was so small that I never had to cycle very long.

Since 2015, I live in Shenzhen. The public transportation is very convenient, so I didn’t feel like getting it there either. But, my husband has a car and he felt it would be nice that I would have my Chinese driver’s license.

I have my Belgian license and… it seemed I got very lucky. Belgians are one of the few nationalities that don’t need to do the test. I just had to get my Belgian driver’s license translated into Chinese by a recognized translation bureau and had to get all the papers of my visa etc…

Since March this year, I finally got my Chinese driver’s license and my husband immediately got me into the traffic. There was no first trying to get used to the car. The next day I got my license, he told me to drive and I had to take place behind the wheel and drive into the hectic Shenzhen traffic. It went much better than I thought. But, I had to have eyes everywhere. Cars are coming from all directions, changing lanes all the time and buses or trucks don’t care, they just drive into your lane, so I have to stop and let them go through first.

After a couple of weeks of me driving (my husband is taking it easy, he doesn’t want to drive anymore), he told me I had to use the speaker more often. He didn’t know the English word, so after a while, I understood what he wanted to say: I had to honk more.

Slowly, I am learning to get my way through the traffic. I honk, I change lanes many times, I go from the outmost left lane all over the other lanes to take an exit. I am starting to become a real Chinese person in traffic and I must say it, I enjoy it. There is a flow to it. Once I understand the rules of: buses and trucks have the most power and I can’t hesitate, I just have to keep moving, everything goes well.

I now realize how much I have missed driving a car. And it must be said: most drivers are honest. Just a couple of days ago, we had parked our car in a small parking lot. And someone hit our car from behind. We didn’t put our phone number visible at the windshield. We didn’t see the dent in our car. When we wanted to leave the parking lot, the guard told us that someone hit our car and they had the phone number of that person. We could phone him to get this settled in the best terms. This is also the honor code that people have in China, which I admire very much.

New features

Hello everyone,

This has been my personal blog for a while now. I have written about my personal thoughts, my experiences and the personal development I went through. Especially, living in China.

My life has changed so much recently and I have decided to change my blog a bit. I will write about my life with my new Chinese boyfriend. Because I have moved with him to a big city, Shenzhen and we have our cultural differences, I will mainly write about our everyday life and our experiences.

My boyfriend is quite adventurous: he is into running marathons and ultraruns, mountaineering and rock climbing. I came to China to learn martial arts. My main focus in life were these sports. Read about what we are doing and if he can change my mind into following him more on his adventures.

I also have a health blog, which you can follow here: https://healthybodymindblog.wordpress.com/

Enjoy the reading and please feel free to comment on my articles and share your experiences in a foreign country.