Let’s discover cities through people and encounters!
Whether you call it Paris of the East, the Pearl of the Orient or the cool & confident face of modern China, we need to agree on one thing. You won’t feel and understand the real vibe of Shanghai by just going to the Bund or reaching the top of Shanghai Tower. It is a multidimensional city with numerous faces and it is more than its signature, 21st century skyline (no matter how impressive it is).
Fortunately, back in 2015, a small group of passionate, young entrepreneurs decided that Shanghai deserved more meaningful and deeper form of explorations than just visiting those “cliché” landmarks.
That is how Culture Shock Bike Tours was born and ever since then, they have been putting their best ‘wheels’ forward to help expats and visitors embrace the spirit of this unique city. How do they make a difference?
Their uniqueness lies in getting off the beaten path and seeking as many opportunities as possible to interact with the local people in their daily life. It includes learning Taichi or other peculiar Chinese games with the local elderly. They also usually get invited by the lovely Shanghainese people to their Shikumen accommodation and listen to intriguing stories from those who have witnessed the fascinating evolution of the city.
At the same time, they show respect and appreciation for the Chinese culture and what foreigners can learn from it. Small companies like Culture Shock never cease to remind us that the key to discover a new destination is through genuine interactions with its original inhabitants for the ultimate grasp of Shanghai’s one-of- a kind energy.
We are all witnessing the change of people’s attitude & habits, the way people re-order their priorities and what “relationships” mean in the 21 st century. Whether you like it or not, there is a trend to dematerialisation of these interactions between people.
We believe that the best way to reconnect with reality, with human values and inter-relations is by simply talking to each other, laughing at each other and not being scared by the others.
We all have something to learn from the encounters we do each day and when you join Culture Shock for a ride, you become actor! You don’t just pass by, take a picture and post it on your social media page. They introduce you to locals, they even translate for you when necessary and magic will happen when people who do not talk the same language finally burst into laughers and share unforgettable memories!
For more information or to experience the Culture Shock tour in Shanghai please contact us : firstname.lastname@example.org
Being a traveller’s don’t need you to do big and long expeditions. It can start just at the corner of your home and everyday can be a discovery.
I love when I can take the time to go quietly in the neighborhood to enjoy some local breakfast. My favorite is probably a mix of different steamed raviolis or dim sum. On one side of the room two or tree peoples are preparing them, mixing the paste, rolling and cutting it, inserting the fillings.
On the other side of the room, big waves of smokes indicates where they are steamed. The staff is checking regularly that every layer will be cooked correctly.
The place is an open place. Few tables and chairs a ready to welcome the customers. Welcome is a big word here. Actually, the place is quite simple and is designed for customers to pass quickly, enjoy one or two tray of dim sum, sometimes a soup or a glass of soya milk then go. Some days you will have a table just for yourself, sometimes people will join your table. This is a chance to meet and exchange with the people of the neighbourhood, some old retired person who comes here as if it is a tradition or to a mum and her kid, getting their breakfast here before going to school.
Not much time to create some deep relationship, but sometimes, a sunny day can start with some nice dim sum and friendly smiles.
We aim to bring you out of beaten track, really really out. The idea is really to go in some famous area but passing through the less travelled road, meat the people that are not use to see foreign visitors, so we can create some real surprises on both side and we can have moment of real discoveries.
But before we do that we decided to test our brand new SUV and to check if they can really take us everywhere, and more important, if they can take
When people talk about China, they talk about pollution mainly. And YES , it’s true , we have pollution problems. But who knows that China is the biggest investor in green energy, and far ahead compare to others.
But green project and natural environment protection is not just a government affair . Appart from them, there are also simple people and small associations working on it and doing it with a lot of efficiency. On our side, with my small team we started to act ( Ref previous post ) .
But today a very nice story of an action taken on the Tibetan plateau in Qinhai province (China), was send to me. A great story that inspire me a lot and I hope lot of people will feel inspired too and take the decision to make a step for a positive change, because everybody can be part of the change.
Small streams makes big rivers !
Sorry, no plastic bags in Jianzuo village. This rule equally applies to aeveryone including villagers, pilgrims and visitors, who are coming here. Visitors need to bring their own chopsticks and ensure no rubbish left behind.
Under Sanjiangyuan Ecological Environment Protection Association’s guidance and training, Jianzuo villagers and a Tibetan Lhama have founded the Dejia Ecological Learning Centre. The center aims to build Qinghai Tibetan Plateau’s number one zero waste community.
Jianzuo village is located in Sangjiangyuan source of the Lancang River. An average elevation of 4100 meters, belong to Qinghai Province, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Nangqian County. The village mainly practices animal husbandry. Sanjiangyuan is the birthplace of the Yangtze River, Yellow River and the Lancang River. The region serves as the headwaters for the population of 20 billion people in China and Asia.It is also one of the most sensitive areas for the global climate change response. The total area is 366,000 Square kilometers, its ecosystem services, natural landscape; biodiversity has a national and global interest of the being protected.
Jianzuo village used to face garbage crisis
Before 2016, Jianzuo village had faced some environmental challenges and crisis because of consuming cheap products and running unregulated industries, which caused many wastes and damage the local environment. Local villagers also did not have much awareness in protecting the environment, consuming organic food and using Tibetan sustainable traditional objects. A villager recalled his memory about the wastes caused from consuming too much junk food. He said “during the Tibetan New Year, if one family bought a box of energy drinks, the other family would compete to buy two boxes to show their wealth. Many plastic bottles and plastic packaging were discarded everywhere, which polluted the land and headwater sources. Another villager stated that his four or five yaks would die from eating plastics annually.
Today Jianzuo village has deeply changed and is closer to meet your idea of paradise: no garbage, no signal, away from the noise pollution, groups of wild animals, uninhibited grassland, hidden between these big Three Rivers.
The impact from setting up Dejia Ecological Learning Centre
A Tibetan Kunbu (doctor) named Jiangyan Xiran from Jianzuo village. He practices both Buddhism and Tibetan medicine. He teaches Dharma as well as offers free medicine to the local population.
In 2012, this Kunbu has been introduced tothe Sanjiangyuan Eco-Enviromental Protection Association (SGR)’s global Healthproject. In 2013, Kunbu became an environmental protection member of SGR and Alxa SEE.
Kunbu has realised that the increase of commercial waste has threatened Tibetan Plateau’s fragile land and wildlife in the Sangjiangyuan area. Waste produced from generation to generation, which cannot be degraded in a long run. As a result of this, it polluted the natural environment, impacted nomads’ living environment and health. Therefore, he is determined to lead and support nomads to return to the traditional lifestyle they know.
Kunbu-Jiangyang Xiran’s water protection work in Jianzuo village
Kunbu brings Dejia Monestery, Dejia Nunnery and 54 nomadic families together to found the Dejia Ecological Learning Centre on the 25th April, 2016. SGR also provided guidance to support the centre by providing relevant trainings and setting up three core values for the centre; build a zero waste community, benefiting others, and consuming organic food. Through promotion of Dejia Ecological Learning Centre, villagers are encouraged to realize these values.
Since the Dejia Ecological Learning Center has been founded, Kunbu has formed and led a team in person to clean up rubbish on the grassland, picking up every piece of waste into garbage bag by his ownhands. In 2016, the Dejia Ecological Learning Center has cleaned up 25 trucks of rubbish in local areas. Kunbu finds out that cleaning and burning rubbish is not anwering the root cause. The fundamental solution is to band plastics and junk food in the community.
The local nunnery starts to planthydroponic organic vegetables.
Building a Zero Waste Community faces many challenges
Zero waste, zero plastics sound easy but hard to achieve. Villager Tashi said “to achieve a zero waste community means rebuilding the community. For example, my family owns 45 kinds of objects made from plastic. It would take time and money to replace with Tibetan traditional objects made from wood and fabric. “
Although, gaining knowledge from the Dejia Ecological Learning Center and Kunbu’ s persistent in environment protection as well as Dharma teaching and SGR’s training, villagers are committed to build a zero waste community. During the cleaning of plastic, Kunbu collected in total of 740 plastic objects from the families and two local monasteries. After that, local people are started to reuse Tibetan traditional objects they used to have.
Kunbu’s encouragement in reviving Tibetan traditional objects
“Nowadays we use fabric bags to purchase rice; local people no longer use plastic bags. All the local shops have banned the use of plastic bags”, said a villager.
A nomad said he is feeling proud to see his village becomes the Number One Zero Waste Community in Qinghai Plateau. This is how the zero waste community started. Since then, the local environment conditions are getting better and have made rigorous progress in protecting the land. In addition, local people have found back an original healthy life as well as a revived cultural heritage.
Do, repeat and repeat …..again. If we want to have an impact today, there is not much choice than repeating and repeating so people will notice what we do, question the interest, the value and hopefully..adhere.
We try to act regularly on the ground, make some changes, talk to people , explain why we do what we do, and why thing s must change. Then we share on social media and try to spread the idea around. But who really read the post on the social media. People look then like, look then like, look then like, look like, look like. ..event sometimes without really opening the photo or read the text. Repeat and repeat again so we can touch at least one person here and one person there and help change some habit, and help people reconnect with some positive thought and actions.
So this time again, we went back in the nature, along the river, in a place that should be a real nice place for some BBQ. Should be, yes, should be , because many people came here and left this place in a shameful condition. I even wonder how people can find some pleasure to come here and make BBQ. Pic Nic is nice, I love it , but to find pleasure you must do it in a nice environment. How can they?
So we went there during our lunch break and we clean this zone. Some people around saw us. Maybe it will tilt in their mind. Maybe some other will notice some change and be more careful. But I guess we will have to come here again and again so more people will see and notice and change their behaviour.
The good point, or I would say , the great point, is that we got 2 new comers in our small team. They did really great. They worked under the heat with big smiles and they were able to collect more than expected. Another good news…. on the way back to our office, one of them asked me …When do we do it again ?
We are willing to bring you on tour out of the beaten tracks, really out. The idea is to go in some special places, using the less travelled roads so that we see places that no other or few other peoples went and, meet locals who are not used to see travellers so that we can create surprises for all.
To make sure that we can pass on any roads, but also that we can bring you there in a safe way, we went to experience our new SUV on some very challenging roads. We did pass in heavy deep mud, got stuck because of some hidden big stones, climbed some stiff hills, took some bumped trail that left our tire up, slide from the front & back wheels. It was such a fun day and I can tell you …the cars were able to pass really everywhere on that day.
Here we can see the most difficult part of the test. Was a little tricky, but in the end it passed really well 🙂
Finally, we couldn’t do this test without enjoying the discovery of some villages and have some encounter with some villagers. Summer holidays are ending soon, but kids are still going around in the village and were really happy to meet some foreigners and try to talk with us. The grand mothers gave us some big smiles when we tried our Chinese skills with them. ” Oh Laowai ( foreigners ) can speak Chinese !!! ”
Is there a better place to meet people and exchange with them than around a table during a meal ? So Imagine the opportunities we had to interact during this amazing food tour in Beijing.
We had the chance to stroll along the old Beijing streets with our private Tuk tuk to go from one table to another. We visited 4 places for salty food and one for dessert. The last place was an amazing Brewery, the only Brewery in Beijing own by a local.
For the food side, we did try , some noodles, a Mongolian BBQ, some Salty pancakes that we filled with different meat and veggies, and a delicious emperor style “meat cake” the dessert was a kind of sweet cheese, cooked in Chinese wine. A real positive surprise.
The big interest of the tour was also all the encounter we had on the way. First of all, its a join in tour, so we had the chance to meet first other persons who came with the same willing than us, trying some food, and enter some of the most local food places and if grab any opportunity to talk and share some smiles with real Beijinger’s. And we got it, we saw so many smile of happiness from the people we meet. We felt a kind of pride and happiness from the locals to see that we were coming in their favorite places and try their favorite dishes. We had to “Ganbei” many times with them before drinking our beer straight, with big smile and lot of laugh.
The last stop in the pub give us more opportunities to connect. All the beers on the black board have different strange names, a good chance to ask advises from the aficionados of the place. Some even let me try their beer in their glasses and share some advices about the different flavors and what to get. The night ended quite late and I was happy to find easily, for once, a Taxi, who brought me straight to my hotel.
If you also want to connect with people and share inspiring moment, this is a real experience to do.
Thanks to Lost Plate, for the tour .