Category: Random Facts

Random Facts: Hot and Cold Food

Random Facts: Hot and Cold Food

During our department outing to Moganshan, I learned about hot and cold foods from my colleagues. It has nothing to do with the temperature of the food, but the characteristics or energy of it: each food either cools or heats your body.

The conversation started at dinner when I was digging into the delicious lychees. My colleague warned me: “Don’t eat too much, they are hot. Have some watermelon to balance it.” And so began my questioning about the topic and all the different foods we were eating. I could point at pretty much any food and they could tell me if it’s hot or cold. As it is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine most of my colleagues just grew up with that knowledge. Not all of them really believe in it but they still seem to know all the basics.

Here are some examples (to the best of my knowledge):

Cold foods: Apple, banana, watermelon, tofu, most fish, chicken, cheese, green tea

Hot foods: Lychee, cherry, onion, garlic, mustard, walnuts, beef, chocolate, coffee

Overall, it’s all about balance, ying and yang. If you are healthy, you should make sure you eat both hot and cold foods. If you are sick, depending on the illness, this could mean your body has too much heat or coldness, so you can get better by eating the right foods. My coworker told me to let her know next time I’m not feeling well and then she’ll tell me what to eat to help me to get healthy again. I’ll report back once I try 🙂

Another well known fact in China: Cold water is not good for you, or it’s “not good for healthy” as many people say 🙂 Basically, cold drinks should always be avoided. We’ve mostly adapted to only drinking warm/hot water in restaurants, but on a day like today with temperatures of 36 degrees, something from the fridge does sound really good.

Random facts: how much can you fit on a bike?

Random facts: how much can you fit on a bike?

Level 1: Beginner

Nice effort but I assume this is just the start of collection round.

Level 2: Advanced

This is some pretty impressive stacking.

Level 3: Absolute Pro

You know you’ve piled it to maximum height when you can just barely fit under the power lines 🙂

Random Facts: Scaffolding in Shanghai

Random Facts: Scaffolding in Shanghai

I love the way the scaffolding looks here: it’s made out of bamboo. I’ve seen it used for both smaller buildings and high-rises. I guess it makes more sense to use bamboo since its a renewable resource and maybe also cheaper?

Random Facts: Chinese Birthday traditions

Random Facts: Chinese Birthday traditions

Last week it was one of my colleague’s birthday, so I learned a bit about the differences of celebrating birthdays here.

Being born marks your first birthday, so my coworker will celebrate her 30th birthday next year, though she was born in 1989. That means someone born in China is one year older then someone born the same day in Germany 🙂 For official purposes it is counted the same way we do. I also found out that this is different across China, for example my colleague and her finance, who is from the Hunan province, count differently.

Traditional food to eat on your birthday is noodles. Long noodles = long life.

Eating cake on your birthday is also popular here but (at least in Shanghai) people usually don’t bake it themselves but buy some. Sadly it’s also not expected that you bring cake for your colleagues. Maybe I will try to introduce that 🙂

In China, you celebrate your birthday either the day of your birthday or sometime before your birthday but never afterwards. The same goes for presents: You can give them to someone before the day or on the day but if you miss it, it’s over. No belated birthday gifts allowed.

Random facts: Having kids in China

Random facts: Having kids in China

And another post for the “random facts” category: This one is about having kids in China. No, I’m not pregnant, but one of my co-workers is, and some other co-workers already have a child, so I get to hear a lot if interesting things I thought I’d share:

Getting pregnant

The one child policy doesn’t exist anymore. First, the rule was that you could have two kids if you were both an only-child, now everyone can have two kids. In Shanghai a lot of people still only want to have one, because housing and schools are very expensive.

If you are trying to get pregnant, the man should not drink any coke. I’m not sure why, maybe because it’s unhealthy, but it seems to be common knowledge.

Another thing that is common knowledge and every Chinese girl knows about, is that you are not supposed to drink or eat anything cold, while you are on your period. I’ve heard different things like it could make it take longer or more painful, so you just don’t do it. I thought this one was pretty funny, because I’ve never heard of it and also, isn’t ice cream always a good idea? 🙂

From what I’ve heard there seems to be a lot of pressure on people to have a child as soon as they are married. If you have a baby after 24 it is already considered a “late childbirth”. Good thing I’m not Chinese: 27, unmarried and no kids, what a failure ;).

During pregnancy

In China, you are not allowed to find out the sex of your baby. If you are an expat living in Shanghai it is possible to ask but it is illegal for the doctor to tell you if you are Chinese.

When you are pregnant, you are not supposed to eat spicy food. One of my coworkers told the story that her son had a rash when he was little and her mom said that it was her fault for eating too spicy during pregnancy.

What you should do is hang up a picture of a really cute baby in a place where you look often. It is supposed to make you feel happy and the happy vibes will be good for your baby. This is the picture my colleague got as a gift. In size A3.

In general, to me it seems like people make a much bigger fuss around pregnancy here than at home. People seem very concerned and worried about your well-being all the time. For example, my coworker told me that when she got to a restaurant, she was immediately given a blanket to shield her from the air conditioning and a pillow, so she would be more comfortable. When she was pumping up a gymnastics ball (the big ones to sit on) in the office 2 people ran to her help and later on she got asked a few times if it was safe for her to sit on it.

After birth

Once you have the baby, you are supposed to rest and cannot do anything for 30 days. You are not allowed to cook, clean, take care of the baby, or even shower. Basically you have to stay in bed and recover for a full month. Usually, either your parents or in-laws will take care of you and your baby. If they are not around, you hire a full-time Ayi to do that.

Last week, a colleague from another department gave me a box of cookies with the words: “My son is 30 days old.” I was confused, so another colleague explained: 30 days after giving birth, you have a big celebration marking the 30-day-birthday of the baby. You announce the birth to everyone you know – coworkers, friends, family, neighbors … – by giving them a present, usually food. For this occasion you can buy the already wrapped gifts as it is a very mature industry.

On the right it says: “Celebration” and “Our family has a new son.” On the left: “Here comes the baby crying with a sweet smell. Luck will come to the family with good virtue. Celebrating for our new child. Please accept this humble present.” Thanks Pearl for translating!

Maternity leave starts 2 weeks before birth and then you have 16 weeks off after the birth. If you are having twins or have to have a c-section, you get an extra 2 weeks. Right now, it’s not possible to work part-time (at least in our company, I’m not sure about others), so after 4 months women come back to work full-time. The retirement age in China is 55 for women (60 for men), so often your mom or mother-in-law will take care of your baby during the day.

Random Facts: How the Chinese drink

Random Facts: How the Chinese drink

We’re starting a new category with just some interesting, random and/or funny facts, stories or pictures we come across. The first one is about drinking in China.

How the Chinese drink

Some of you might find it surprising to read about Chinese drinking habits in a post by me. I am a little surprised myself, but being sober when everyone else isn’t, gives you a certain edge for observations.

So here it comes.

To me it seems like you never drink by yourself, it is always through a drinking game or together with another member of your group. I have watched several drinking games being played all over the place. In bars, on private events, even in clubs.

Tiger, Tiger, Chicken

This is quite similar to rock, paper, scissors. There are: Tiger, Chicken, Stick. On the ‘count’ of ‘Tiger, Tiger, Chicken’ you say one of the three. Tiger eats chicken, chicken ‘destroys’ stick, stick beats tiger. Makes sense, right? I have heard there used to be four: Tiger, Chicken, Worm and Stick. Chicken eats worm and worm eats stick, but that would be to complicated for a drinking game, I guess. And the most important rule: The loser drinks.

Four x Five Fingers

Both players hold their hands behind their back. On the count of three, both players show their hands, either showing zero, five or ten fingers and have to guess the total number of fingers shown. Zero, five, ten, fifteen, or twenty. Easy enough. If you guess it right, the other person drinks.


We have not really been clubbing, but we have been inside a few. And literally everyone was playing with dice. They were all sitting at small tables, having loads of alcohol on the table and a cup with a hand full of dice. You roll the dice, not looking at them, and say something like:

There are at least three dice showing two pips!

The next player can either increase the number of dice or pips:

Hmm, there are three dice showing three pips!


There must be at least four dice showing two pips!

At some point, you call the bluff by checking the dice under the cup: if the claim stands, you lose. If there are not enough dice showing the pips, you win. Loser drinks.

This game is usually played by younger people, while the finger-game is played by older folks. A lot of people in clubs spend the whole night drinking, that’s why on some occasions we have been offered free alcohol – hoping to get us to dance and encourage others.


Gānbēi is the Chinese word for ‘Cheers’, but it can imply all kinds of things. Here are some of the observations I made:

  • Make eye contact, say Gānbēi, and you both drink
  • Make eye contact, say thank you for something, and you both empty your glass
  • At a large table, say Gānbēi very loudly, everyone drinks.
  • At a large table, make eye contact, say Gānbēi, you both drink. Life saving tip: touch the table with the bottom of your glass to encourage everyone else to drink as well, otherwise the others will take turns to make you drink.

Disclaimer: The behavior is not very consistent. I have seen all kinds of combinations, depending on the size of the group, where the people are from, how big the glasses are, what it is you are drinking… The most important thing is to not drink alone. You are also never wrong to empty your glass, because first, it is supposed to show respect, and second, that is the literal translation of Gānbēi: empty glass.