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SUITCASE 1

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  • SUITCASE 1

  • Buxing jie is a narrow street at the cross junctions of Nanjing lu (Nanjing Road) and Heping lu (Heping Road), and it is no wonder where it gets its name from, for traffic is closed here, making it a street meant for walking and shopping alone.

    bargain buys at pedestrian

    streetSALLY MOK shares tips for affordable and trendy fashion in this bustling shopping district.

    Binjiang Avenues Pedestrian Street ouve probably heard of Shanghais Nanjing lu (Nanjing Road), but Tianjins own Binjiang dao (Binjiang Avenue) pales no less in comparison. With cheap direct flights to Tianjin now available, Singaporeans have no excuse not to come and experience Tianjins most famous shopping area for the affordable and trendy fashion available here.

    According to tjhp.gov.cn, Binjiang dao was founded in 1886 and originally belonged to the French Concession in Tianjin. Northeast to Jinwan guangchang (Jinwan Plaza), Binjiang dao is largely known for its commercialised shopping streets and malls. However, a quick look at the malls there show that they are nothing special; it is at Buxing jie (Pedestrian Street) where the best bargain buys can be found.

    Y

    There are several shopping areas in Tianjin, but I find Binjiang Dao the best.

    14 SUITCASE

    TRAVEL

  • The latest hype of that K-Drama, My Love from the Star, helps too.

    Near a Converse brand retail outlet, groups of students crowd the entrance of a 10 yuan (S$2.10) shop, named Shiyuanshipin (Accessories). If youre looking for affordable, yet trendy items, this is the place to be. Not only are there stylish sunglasses on display, but almost all of your daily needs can be found here, ranging from wallets to beauty products. The quality is satisfactory and the designs of their items definitely suit a variety of tastes.

    Ms Zheng Liu Na, 23, mentions that Korean dramas have a large influence on the latest fashion trends in Tianjin. The latest hype of that K-Drama, My Love from the Star, helps too, adds Liu Na. If youre into Korean pop and fashion, youre in luck; there are indeed several Korean fashion inspired shops that pepper the street. One such shop, Shouerli (Seoul Season), sells clothes from skater skirts to sweaters of exceptional quality at reasonable prices, from 99 yuan to 149 yuan.

    Tjhp.gov.cn also mentions that the walking street is 2094 meters long and 12 metres wide, and also encompasses Tianjin Quanyechang and Jinjie (Golden Street). Both are extensions of Buxing jie.

    Daphne, a chain of womens shoes and bags shops that can be found at every other street corner, currently sells two shoes for the price of one as a seasonal Spring offer. There are all kinds of shoes available: boots, heels, flats, and prices have all been halved. The shop assistants there welcome customers with a rousing cheer of Welcome to Daphne! with every customer walk-in.

    Many small independent stores are situated here along the street, from local products to branded goods, and as compared to Beijing or Shanghai, the prices of the items sold here are definitely much cheaper. There are several shopping areas in Tianjin, but I find Binjiang dao the best, says Evan Deng, 23, a student at Tianjins University of Technology. The clothings here are the most fashionable and are of reasonable pricing.

    HOW TO GET THEREAlight at Yingkou dao station via the Metro Line 1 (Red Line) and 3 (Blue Line).

    Shoebox, a shop that can be found next to Daphne in Jin jie, has a similar sales concept during the same period: two shoes for the price of 299 yuan. These two shops are not the only ones on the road with exceptional Spring offers; it appears the arrival of a new season, gives shops a reason to introduce the best deals possible.

    Here at Buxing jie, people of all ages and background converge together for a day of shopping and leisure. Amidst the numerous buildings and exorbitant shopping malls, Buxing jie is a street that can give you rare gems, if you are able to look closely enough.

    SUITCASE 15

    TRAVEL

  • ARTs

    This is how SHE s ITTAIJI

    SALLY MOK sits down with Liu Xiao Ya, a 17-year-old martial arts champion who talks about taiji, her childhood, and gives advice on how to best master the art.

    aking up early every morning for a three-hour wushu practice at the schools gymnasium, followed by a quick lunch in between, before having another three-hour wushu practice that will last deep into the evening; this is just a brief description of a typical weekday in Liu Xiao Yas life.

    At just 17 years of age, she is one of the few Chinese martial arts students who were chosen by Tianjin University of Technology based on her trainers recommendation. With her slicked back long hair tied up into a high ponytail whilst donning a red and white sports jacket, Xiao Ya definitely looks the part of a martial arts champion very well. Originally from Hebei province, she has come to Tianjin in hopes of improving her martial arts skills and to broaden her experience as a wushu performer.

    W Its my dream to be able to go overseas and perform for others, says Xiao Ya. The school will be taking my friends and I to Romania in October to perform there.

    Unlike her other friends, Xiao Yas expertise in wushu is taijiquan, which she has chosen to specialise in after five years of wushu training.

    According to english.cntv.cn, taijiquan is considered to be a quintessential symbol of China. A traditional Chinese martial art, it is a wushu style that can be used as means of self-defense or a way to improve health and well-being.

    As stated in nccam.nih.gov, taijiquan can be literally translated into supreme ultimate fist, and is prominently known for its slow and relaxed body movements that are also referred to as moving meditation.

    You have to be very calm and at ease while youre doing taiji, advises Xiao Ya. Its something you have to train yourself to do right from the beginning.

    Still, Xiao Ya says she feels a sense of satisfaction after finishing every set of taijiquan movements each time, such as the 42-form stylesion.

    I am a c i t y girl,

    Born and bred in

    the city

    22 SUITCASE

  • ARTs

    Even now, if I practise for too long, I still get body aches. Its always my friends who give me the motivation to keep going on, says Xiao Ya.

    Indeed, it is the warm environment in the university that keeps her from missing home too much. She stresses that the people she has met here have been exceptionally nice to her, though Tianjin to her is different from what home is like back in Hebei.

    I am a city girl, born and bred in the city. Hebei is also much bigger than Tianjin. In Hebei, I had my loving family my parents, who doted on me, and an older brother, whos since gone away to another university to pursue wushu there, explains Xiao Ya.

    Her older brothers specialty is sanda, a form of wushu competitive fighting style. Although Xiao Ya has been training since 12 in Chinese martial arts, her older brother had an earlier exposure to it, and has been training ever since he was six.

    I guess you can say my whole family is very influenced by martial arts, says Xiao Ya. My father frequently practises taijiquan himself.

    By the age of 10, Xiao Ya knew that she wanted to do something wushu related in her life. Currently, other than her wish to travel abroad, her lifelong dream is to become a wushu trainer and groom other Chinese martial arts champions.

    With a six-hour practice regime everyday for six days a week, it will not be hard to see her accomplish her dream.

    My schedules quite packed, says Xiao Ya. So I enjoy any free time I get. Other than wushu, my other hobby is singing. I enjoy singing karaoke with my friends a lot.

    Liu Xiao, 18, one of Xiao Yas friends and also a Chinese martial arts student, echoes that thought. While Xiao Ya specialises in taijiquan, Liu Xiao specialises in changquan, and trains alongside Xiao Ya during wushu practices.

    Ive always seen Xiao Ya around competitions, but I never got close to her until we both enrolled into this school, explains Liu Xiao. What I like most about Xiao Ya is probably her innocence, and how she calls me jie jie (older sister) because Im slightly older than her. But at the same time shes rather immature, and I have to be the adult for her.

    Its easy to see why they are friends Liu Xiaos just like Xiao Yas older sister who keeps her in check.

    At the end of the day, both Liu Xiao and Xiao Ya give a piece of advice for those who are interested in starting out taijiquan, or wushu, in general.

    Always remember to go slowly, says Xiao Ya. Thats extremely important for taijiquan.

    always r e m e m b e rto go

    SLOWLY

    SUITCASE 23

  • THEArt

    of ateach

    er

    ARTs

    Carving, cutting, singing, teaching at 70 years old, Mr Wang Xiu Yan is having the time of his life, join SARAH RACHEL TEO as she has a chat with him.

    n 1989, I went to Japan for a business trip with my colleagues to represent the company and to learn more about the technologies in Japan. We had to exchange gifts with them. Other people bought things, while I decided to use my knife and carve seals for them.

    Mr Wang Xiu Yan is a folk artist. He first played around with woodcarving at the age of 9, and has since never stopped. Chinese folk art comes in various forms, such as paper cutting, eggshell carving, calligraphy, and the painting of Chinese characters with bird and flower patterns. Fondly known as Wang laoshi (Teacher Wang) to his students, he does them all.

    Looking back at the past 70 years, its quite funny how things turned out to be the different changes in my life.

    I After that business trip to Japan, he realised that Chinese name seals were of great interest to people from other countries. When his time at that company ended, he started his teaching career.

    First teaching electronics to normal students in Tianjin University of Technology (TJUT), he later moved on to teach at the Technical College for the Deaf. Wang laoshi then noticed that the hearing impaired students had skilful hands, which were perfect for intricate designing.

    I suggested a fashion design course (for them), to work on their strengths. The school then sent me to Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts to learn fashion design, so I turned from being an electronics teacher to an arts teacher. That was how my path changed.

    Wang laoshi retired at the age of 60. 10 years on, he still keeps himself occupied by teaching folk art at TJUTs School of Chinese Language and Culture, singing in the tenor section of an oldies choir and creating even more art pieces.

    There are no boring moments! he exclaimed excitedly. I do my paper cutting, carving, all for fun! They are not work to me, but enjoyment. His passion for teaching and continuing this dying art form is very much alive.

    it's quite

    TO BE

    funnyhow things

    turned out

    24 SUITCASE

  • Seal carvers are disappearing quickly. They are going to be gone, so I want to carry the art on. I am always finding followers to teach them, and to continue this traditional culture, to preserve this form of art.

    However, he emphasises that one needs to persevere in order to achieve success in this area of the arts. Many cannot handle the difficulty level; it is very hard when you first start.

    When I was at the Technical College for the Deaf, I met a group of students who wanted to learn how to carve... The sign ups for the class were many 200 to 300 students. But in the end, only one or two stayed on and were able to master the skills.

    Wang laoshi proudly continues, by giving an example of his student going on to becoming a teacher himself.

    After graduating, he went back to his hometown to teach in a school for the deaf. When they (the villagers) saw his works, they wondered, How can he carve so well? And he answered them, I met with this teacher, Wang laoshi and he taught me how to carve.

    I have quite a few hearing impaired students, who still keep in contact with me, and they have gone on to become young entrepreneurs, opening their own shops. Others have gone on to become cartoonists, and are very grateful towards Wang laoshi. They say, If not for Wang laoshis guidance, I wouldnt be who I am today. As a teacher, it makes me very happy when a student praises me in that way.

    I am very happy, as a teacher. Watching a student progress from being someone who cant talk to becoming an entrepreneur, it is quite good (an accomplishment).

    His students still visit him during big celebrations and maintain a close relationship with him. He smiles, recalling the times his students visited him. The student-teacher relationship between my students and I is non-existent... I am more like a father figure to them.

    A staunch Buddhist, he mentions that training these hearing impaired students is like doing a charitable act, by giving them a better future. Just like Buddha said, if you do good things, good things will come to you.

    Wang laoshi also believes in achieving inner peace, living a simple life and being humble.

    Despite having appeared on 6 videos, produced by China Central Television (CCTV), one of Chinas main television broadcasters, he claims that he is not well known.

    He says with a tinge of humour in his voice, I dont get inter-viewed often. I wouldnt try to find people to interview me too. I dont mind talking to students like you for a while. But others, I dont want to talk to them

    Some of them are reporters, who bring their whole reporting crew, and Ill tell them, Dont come, my house has a dog. It will scare you!

    He gladly shows this journalist the 6 videos recorded 10 years ago and takes out his very own paper cutting pieces, explaining how he cuts them and the different types of paper cutting. It was as if Wang laoshi was brought back to the classroom, talking to one of his very own students.

    Why do I like being a teacher? Its because I am able to see my students become artists. This

    i am more

    figure to my

    like a

    studentsFather

    SUITCASE 25

    ARTs