Beijing Mosque Photos +

Hi again~ This is a continuation to my previous post in which I talked about my experiences as a female Muslim foreigner living in Beijing for a year. I mentioned previously that I would be sharing some photos of some of the mosques I visited in Beijing, so this post shall be a compilation of those photos as well as some others that bear relevance.

The first series of photos were taken at the mosque in 东四 Dongsi. I was in the area with a friend and we happened to walk past the mosque in the evening. It looked closed from the outside but it was the first mosque I had seen in Beijing and was excited to see inside. The groundskeeper then saw us and was also excited about showing us around the mosque so that he could share his appreciation of it with me.

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Signs outside the entrance stating the location and name of the mosque, ‘halal’ and ‘ancient teaching’

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Inside one of the prayer rooms

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Daily prayer times in Chinese

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The groundskeeper giving us a tour

The second series of the photos are from the mosque in 牛街 Niujie, the largest mosque in China. Niujie is known as some as being the Muslim district of Beijing as it has the most Halal restaurants, and shops close together in one area. This visit took place a week or so before the commencement of Ramadan and it was in one of the Islamic shops that I found a Ramadan timetable. Niujie translates to ‘Oxen St’ which I found ironic as the area became a place of significance for myself, and the name reminded me of ‘Oxford St’ in London, the city that I live in.’Ox’ in general now reminds me of Oxford which is where I study. So it made me think of three places I was living in at the time (but not at the same time of course). I happened to visit with the same friend as last time.

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External view of the mosque in Niujie

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Sign on the left introduces the name of the mosque. The poster on the right is a prayer timetable written in Chinese and Persian

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Due to the regulation my friend was given a some cloth that was wrapped into a long skirt to cover her exposed legs

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The gatekeeper granted my friend and I free entry but I purchased a ticket as a form of support

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One of the inner pavilions

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Views into the men’s prayer hall

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Other rooms in the mosque

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Men performing the evening prayer in the hall

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Left: holy scripture. Right: Man attending the mosque for prayers.

The final photos I have chosen to include make up the “+” in the title.

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Photo of me at the Great Wall of China with the flag of Imam Hussain (a.s)

You may have to zoom in to see the details in some of the earlier photos. I was very happy to look back at these.☺️

I wanted to add that a few days after posting my last piece I changed the title from “The Funeral of Muslims” to “The Funeral of a Muslim”. It’s a very subtle difference but I altered the title due some translations I came across for the novel by Huo Da that my post was based on. The title of her novel 穆斯林的葬礼 was mostly translated as ‘The Funeral of a Muslim’, whereas my translation was a more broad interpretation. As I said previously, the title I chose was symbolic to my experiences in Beijing and once I changed the title it felt like an eery fate as the story became even more personal. You could try to explore the significance of the new title in terms of it’s literal and symbolic meaning, but I at least know what it means to me. Lastly I’m thankful and glad that the post was so well received and was able to dispel a few common misconceptions about Islam.

I really appreciate the fusion of Persian and Chinese architecture in the mosques I visited in Beijing. This design was perhaps most prominently featured at the mosque in 牛街 niu jie and I recommend you visiting the area if you go to Beijing. Let me know what you think of the photos I shared and take care of yourself till we next cross paths.💜

If you create a slideshow, good luck 世界.

此致敬礼 – From Xinyan.

 

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Ramune ラムネ

ramune 2 Collage

‘Ramune’ (not to be confused with Japanese ramen noodles) is a Japanese carbonated soft drink. It’s name comes from the Japanese pronunciation of lemonade as this was its original flavour, and it is now a popular summertime beverage in Japan.

Strangely enough, the history behind where the drink was invented has no precise answers, but some say that it was first imported as a foreign drink from Britain. What we do know is that the famous codd-neck design of the bottle was invented by English Mechanical Engineer Hiram Codd. The codd-neck ‘marble’ offered a simple design and so it replaced the original model that used a cork wound with a wire to function as a stopper. The codd-neck design can be seen in the photo below:main-qimg-1e678f0d79480d8f9f2e100c8351a2e2

[Taken from Quora]

Once Codd’s patent rights had expired, Tamakichi Tokunaga (Osaka, Japan) developed his own marble cap model that was eventually used as the Ramune bottle design still existing today. When Ramune was first sold, marble caps were being used less and less by other companies as most drinks used the American crown cap design. However this was too expensive to manufacture for the small companies producing Ramune. Fortunately, the Japanese were enthusiastic about the marble caps as the sounds it made whilst rolling in the neck of the bottle reminded them of wind-chimes. Although the drink was first introduced to the city of Kobe in Japan and then to the rest of Japan, with the rise in its popularity the company eventually the company expanded its market to overseas. Marble caps are still almost non-existent elsewhere in the drinks market, which is why it is distinctively attributed to Ramune.

The purpose of the marble inside the neck of the bottle is simply to seal the fizz, although trying to remove the bottle has also become a challenging game too… The science behind the marble is explained by Quora Who stated that ‘the pressure of the carbonated drink (when sealed) pushes the marble upwards against the lid sealing the drink securely without leaking the gas’. The lid includes a removable plastic cap which is used to push into the lid to release the marble. This can be tough to do at first so place the bottle on a flat surface if you are giving it a try.

My friend and I first tried Ramune at one of the ‘Hyper Japan’ events of London. Once she had finished her drink my friend was curious about how to release the marble from the bottle because it was far too difficult to simply unscrew the lid. After some searching online I found a few methods to test out. I vaguely remember what I had done to successfully retrieve my marble (which sounds strange) which I can reveal now, but I would like to warn you not to adopt the same approach for health and safety purposes If you haven’t had experience using tools then it’s not worth the risk of accidentally harming yourself, you can just buy some marbles instead 👍 Inspired by this video I proceeded by softening the lid with fire, grazing it slightly with a knife and using my mini flathead screwdriver (and possibly a plier) to lift the lid.

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I didn’t want to rush, but after a short while the marble was out…and my friend was jealous😏

The drinks are readily available on the Internet with different sites offering a different variety of flavors, as well as different options for shipping. Alternatively you can buy them in store at various Japanese or Asian supermarkets. For instance, at Japan Centre, which is where I took (2/3 of) the photographs in the collage at the start of the post. You may also find them in Loon Fung which is where I had purchased mine from. Both stores have several locations in London, which can be found through the links provided.

Although summer is now officially over it’s still worth trying to a get hold of a bottle if you haven’t tried it before. If you end up trying Ramune, do let me know what you think~

If you try getting the marble out of a Ramune bottle (safety first); good luck 世界。

从欣妍 – From Xinyan.

FYI: The classic bottle is recyclable.

Mukbang 먹방

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As you may have decoded from the hangul[i] in the title, today’s post focuses on a cultural trend from Korea as opposed to China.

简单地说, a Mukbang is a broadcasted live-stream (or sometimes pre-recorded) video of a person eating food whilst interacting with an online audience.

In Chinese it is common for two words to be combined to create a simplified meaning. Like 减压 (jian ya) meaning to ‘de-stress’, which combines 减少 (jian shao) meaning to ‘lessen’ and 压力 (ya li) meaning ‘stress’. Similarly ‘Mukbang’ combines the two words ‘meokja’, an already shortened word for the verb ‘to eat’; and ‘bangsong’ which means ‘to air’, to create the word ‘eating broadcast’.

Whilst Mukbangs have become a popular trend in Korea since the late 2000’s, watching people consume food via the internet may seem like a strange thing to engage in from a Western point of view. Of course there are also Koreans who find Mukbang quite confusing themselves; yet a friend of a friend told me that they watch Mukbangs simply because they are funny and watching other people eat also satisfies their hunger. Mukbangs are appealing to Koreans because their meals are culturally perceived as a social event with people often eating in large groups and verbally/physically expressing the taste of their food. Therefore watching people eat through a computer screen also compensates for the lack of social interaction for a person who may be alone. People have noted that it is common for people to watch Mukbang shows as they transition into a more Westernized solitary lifestyle, as it helps them experience the customary social atmosphere of mealtimes whilst living alone.

The most popular platform for presenting Mukbangs is on an internet channel called ‘Afreeca’ (‘any free broadcasting’), however some Broadcast Jockeys have branched out to Youtube and upload their shows to several portals to attract a bigger audience. Some hosts have started to broaden their genres and even film ‘cook-bangs’, shows where they film themselves cook as well as eat.

But are Mukbangs really just videos of people eating large quantities of food? Not always. The Mukbang host known as the ‘Broadcast Jockey’ does their best to interact with and entertain their audience by talking to and answering questions from fans. They also take requests from messages in their live video chat-rooms to eat more of a certain type of food, move closer to the camera, or to dance and be more expressive about the food tastes. What’s more, each Broadcast Jockey has a different style which attracts their own personal fans who can choose to support the Mukbangs by donating small amounts of money through virtual tokens that can be cashed in. If you would like to read about some of the top Broadcast Jockeys, I will leave a link at the end.

Some of the most popular Broadcast Jockeys like ‘Park Seo-yeon’ (known as ‘The Diva’ online) have accumulated so much money from their fans that they have resigned from their day job to take up hosting Mukbang shows for a living. When meeting NPR for an interview, popular host Rachel Ang (known as ‘Aeboong-ee online’) wore a mask to prevent herself from being recognized by fans on the street, thus showing how popular Mukbang has become. The trend has also spread to the Korean entertainment industry as some Korean celebrities (K-idols) occasionally record mini Mukbangs for the entertainment of their own fans. Here’s an example.

Internet personality Simon Stawski noted his observation on the Mukbang phenomenon in an interview with CNBC. He stated that many Mukbangs focus on exaggerated motions and “bizarre eating habits” and “act more as a novelty show than a social sharing experience.” I found popular Broadcast Jockey ‘Lee Chang-hyun’ to be a prime example. Additionally, Gabie Kook a finalist in ‘MasterChef Korea’ tried her hand at recording a Mukbang. Whilst she struggled to pretend to enjoy the food once she became full, she disclosed that she learnt tricks to show how the food tasted. Many have also talked about the potential health risk for the show hosts who commit to large scale binge eating, but Kook stated that Mukbangs conversely leave most viewers to be mentally satisfied. ‘The Diva’ (previously mentioned Broadcast Jockey) once discussed how some of her viewers are on diets and live ‘vicariously’ through her, whilst some are hospital patients who are dissatisfied with their hospital meals. She recalled a particularly rewarding moment of her Mukbang career of a viewer telling her that her Mukbangs helped her to overcome anorexia.

When doing some additional research for the topic I came across a Western netizen who defended Mukbang as being “simple and innocent”. She went on to ask “If you could choose who you eat with on a daily basis, it would be someone interesting, eccentric, or good looking, correct?” Mukbangs received more interest after the popular US entertainers ‘The Fine Brothers’ discussed it in a video. 那么我想问, with the interest spreading online to a wider demographic, do you think the West would be open to its own take on the Mukbang trend?

If you are yet to have your fill of Mukbang, you may be interested in watching a comedy webdrama that I recently saw the trailer for which is based on the phenomena! As mentioned earlier, press here to read about some of the different Broadcast Jockeys that are quite popular. Lastly if you are interested in reading more about Aeboong-ee in particular, you can press here for her interview article.

I’ve said it in a few old posts, but I have been quite busy lately. Starting University next term will also keep me busy but I will keep you posted😝 As you may have guessed, my University course is closely tied to Mandarin, however once I get settled I would be happy to tell you more about the course structure and other details (you can leave any questions if you have any). I hope that the students who recently received their exam results are pleased with the outcome, and if not then remember that a grade or number does not define you and you can always progress; 只要自信你的努力,将来你一定能成功.

Will you be moving away from home soon? If so, perhaps you could watch a Mukbang if you ever need dinner company. I haven’t considered it myself, but maybe with some…

-good luck 世界.

从欣妍 – From Xinyan.

又及: What do you think of the picture I edited at the start?😁

[i] ‘Hangul’ being the name of the South Korean alphabet system.

愚人节 – 만우절 – April Fool’s Day

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你们好吗?今天四月一日就是“愚人节”,也是我十八岁的生日! (请祝我成功) Today is April Fool’s day, and it’s also my 18th birthday! [not a prank哈哈!] So I didn’t want to miss the opportunity for a special post.

Originally I wrote a short introduction about today’s post and planned to complete the post after returning from my birthday celebrations (I will leave it below if you would like to read it). However after a two-day pause, I can now continue to explain a bit about April Fool’s day and how it is celebrated in Korea.

Something that has always confused me was how today got its name, so I guess it makes sense to clear that up. As expected, there are varying accounts regarding the origin of this infamous holiday, some associating it with the New Year festivities of Roman, Hindu and Pagan traditions. April Fool’s day has featured in entertainment and literature which dates back as early as 1392 with its reference in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ (coincidentally we analysed sections of this text last year). The most common story behind April Fools is that April 1st was declared by Pagans as the start of the new year due to the beginning of Spring (which brings new life to nature), however this was ridiculed by Christians and non-pagans who called them ‘fools’. This version is usually alluded to in contemporary media (such as the ever factual ‘The Simpsons’) and has been accepted as the truth. Now the holiday has become a day where people get pranked and called ‘fools’. I don’t usually get pranked myself, but when I was younger I did question whether the nurse was joking about my date of birth…as I’m sure you would too😋

When I started this blog I noted that my general interests span from across East Asia (fashion, entertainment, culture etc), which is why today’s post will be focused on Korea instead of China. Moreover when I was reading up on how ‘April Fool’s day’ (愚人 ‘yu ren jie’ in Chinese) is celebrated, I noticed that Korean students were getting the most recognition for their pranking efforts in comparison to other East Asian countries like Japan and China. You may agree that this is quite fair after you read what they’ve gotten up to…

April Fool’s day has become increasingly popular with young people in Korea. If anyone is familiar with the rigorous schooling students receive in East Asia, it makes sense why students will take April Fools as an excuse to de-stress. For instance in gender-segregated classes in South Korea, boys and girls have swapped classrooms to confuse teachers and have even swapped uniforms. However Westerners may see some of their pranks as a bit extreme. Like the prank where students fake their death as they pretend that exam stress has driven them to suicide. Bear in mind that the following photos are just pranks:

korean suicide prank

As already mentioned, education in countries like China and of course Korea is particularly strenuous, and so students use this to their advantage by planning many classroom based pranks. A prominent example is when Korean students transport their classrooms to a different location to confuse their teachers. They also rearrange classroom furniture, wear their uniform backwards, or even model ‘invisible students’ in front of their desks…to freak people out:

korean class loc prankkorean backwards clothes prank

Not only do the students celebrate April Fools day, but the teachers have also been known to prank students! In the first picture below you will see a teacher casually laying on his side on his desk as he reads the class textbook, as if to match the efforts of his students who are sitting on the floor with their desks faced sideways. The second shows a teacher writing sideways on the chalkboard.

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All in all I’d say that the Korean students deserve an A+ for creativity, but don’t think such pranks would be as well received in the West.

I thought I’d also show you a few videos of April Fools day being celebrated in Korea by non-students (not sure if that’s a word yet). In the first video a Korean teacher explains popular celebrations and explains how the Korean name for ‘April Fools’ is taken from Chinese characters! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PuBZrMkGdM The second is a light-hearted interview of the American/Korean singer ‘Eric Nam’ interviewing himself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUwV_NUMBeM Lastly, heres a short clip of a group of Korean second graders getting pranked by their teacher (cute but evil) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Py48smOPI0 .

Have you been pranked, or pranked anyone for April Fools day? I’m quite good at prank phone-calls and have even pranked someone using Mandarin…but this isn’t restricted to April 1st 

If you decide to prank someone on April 1st, good luck 世界。

从欣妍 – From Xinyan.

P.s. The Korean prank pictures are taken from “Drama Fever” and ‘’Soompi” 🙂

Original post: Today’s post is going to be in a slightly different format because I plan to, in effect write it later in the evening when I return home. My plans for today do involve some orientalism (not an actual word btw) so I could perhaps share some photos later on or write a mini review of the restaurant we’ll be going to. However if anyone still remembers, I originally noted that my general interests span from across East Asia, so if you check back later I can tell you a bit about how ‘April Fool’s day’ is celebrated in Korea. April Fool’s day is a typically Western holiday/festival, which is why it is not largely celebrated by the Chinese. 如今在亚洲大多数的年轻人喜欢愚人节! Most of the young people in Asia enjoy April Fool’s day but it isn’t really celebrated by the older generation (unless that’s a prank in itself). When I was reading up on how pranks are enacted by these ‘young people’, I must say that Korean students take the prize for putting in the most effort! As I said, I will hopefully have more for you to read about later in the evening, but till then good luck avoiding/planning pranks! 从欣妍 – From Xinyan.

Exhale.