A panorama of Chinese history

This  fifth post in the Ni hao (Hallo) China Travelogue series, covers our experiences of various aspects of Chinese culture. Enjoy the trip with us.

The Chinese Flag

The country's flag is red with five yellow stars. The big yellow star refers to the party of the country, the Community Party of China (CPC). 80 Million Chinese belong to the CPC. The four smaller stars represent the different groups in China. In the other post, I mentioned that there are 56 different groups in China, with the Han being the largest.

China is shaped like a rooster on a map.  The three main cities are Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Guangzhou, where we spent the first week, is 2,000 years old. Guangzhou is also nicknamed the Flower City or the Five Goats City. According to our lecturer, Guandzhou is the gateway to understand China.

Words to describe China:

LARGE: because of the size of the country, 56 peoples, 54 kinds of characters and 120 dialects. According to recorded history, China is at least 5,000 years old, although they found relics dating to 1,7 million years ago.

Having fun with a few Chinese guys

SPLENDID: The Chines have an unbroken culture for thousands of years.  Confucious is one of their most important philosophers.

Famous Confucius sayings include:  

"When three people are walking together, there must be one I can learn something from."

"Education without social distinction."

"A promise must be kept and your action must be resolute."

Exchange of gifts at one of our lectures

Gift giving

When you give a gift to a Chinese friend or businessman, you need to pay attention to the meaning of the gift. Here are a few examples of good gifts and taboos:

  • If you love someone, you can give the person a belt.

  • A basket of apples is nice for the sick.

  • When someone opens a business, you can give them a bamboo flower to wish them wealth.

  • Chopsticks are a lovely wedding gift. You are wishing the couple happiness and that they may have a baby soon.

  • The lucky numbers are 6,8 and 9.  8 is for wealth and 9 is for 'forever'.


  • Do not not give sets of four because four is not a lucky number for Chinese.

  • Do not give a clock, an umbrella, a scissors or anything sharp. Do not give a green hat because it means that a man's wife is unfaithful.  If you combine a clock with a comb, then it is fine.

Form of Address

The formal form of address is to call someone by his job title and surname.

Seating at a table

The hosts sits opposite the door. You take your seat from the left. The most important guests sit to the right.

We had fun with this protocol, especially when we needed to find the person who was going to pay for the round of drinks!

Ladies posing with a few of the cast members

Visit to Cantonese Opera

We spent an afternoon watching a rehearsal of an opera at the Guandong Cantonese Opera Theatre. We interacted with the young actors and had loads of fun taking pictures of ourselves in the various cut-outs in the theatre foyer. You would have sworn it was the first time that we visited a theatre.

Having fun

The history of the fan

My fans after some serious work. See my name on the fan on the left.

We had a fun session learning about the fan and were shown the various fan dances. The fan originated more than 3,000 years ago!

Landie is still waiting for inspiration here while Branmal and Andrew (in the background) are hard at work.

The highlight was that we were given our own fan which we could paint and then write our names in Chinese on the fan.  Soft Chinese music serenaded us while we gave our fans our own identity. Seeing heads of schools and education officials engrossed in this relaxing activity was priceless.

Norma and Wayne

Our delegation and the cast of the Cantonese opera.


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