Once I arrived in the countryside, I succumbed to the charm of the country and its people. In the remote parts of rural China, the curious locals would ask where I’d come from but would not know of Belgium. Enjoying these friendly encounters, I finally told them I was from Paris (“Oh, romantic!” would be the answer).
When I travelled by night train, another traveler asked me to exchange an euro banknote as he dreamt of owning one. The 20-euro note represented my last tangible link with Europe.
This link was dissolved in the most beautiful way, as it opened the doors to another. My new friend, a biology professor, then insisted on inviting me to his home in Guilin to have tea with the family.
This simple gesture of monetary exchange turned into a friendship, and then had also led to dinner. And I ended up staying two days in Guilin.
A pleasant surprise
September - October 2011
- The modern word “China” most likely derives from the name of the Qin (pronounced “chin”) dynasty.
- Fortune cookies are not a traditional Chinese custom. They were invented in 1920 by a worker in the Key Heong Noodle Factory in San Francisco.
- Toilet paper was invented in China in the late 1300s. It was for emperors only.
- The Chinese invented paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing.
- Despite its size, all of China is in one time zone.
- The number one hobby in China is stamp collecting.
- In A.D. 130, Zhang Heng, an astronomer and literary scholar, invented the first instrument for monitoring earthquakes.
- China invented ice cream, and Marco Polo is rumored to have taken the recipe (along with the recipe for noodles) back with him to Europe.
- A civil servant named Su Song built the first mechanical clock between A.D 1088 and 1092.
- The Chinese were the first to invent the waterwheel to harness water in A.D. 31—1,200 years before the Europeans.
- y the fourth century B.C., the Chinese were drilling for natural gas and using it as a heat source, preceding Western natural gas drilling by about 2,300 years.
- By the second century B.C., the Chinese discovered that blood circulated throughout the body and that the heart pumped the blood. In Europe, circulation wasn’t discovered until the early seventeenth century by William Harvey (1578-1657).
- The Chinese were using the decimal system as early as the fourteenth century B.C., nearly 2,300 years before the first known use of the system in European mathematics.
- China has the world’s oldest calendar. This lunar calendar originated in 2600 B.C. and has 12 zodiac signs. It takes 60 years to complete.