At the moment we, that is me with my husband Michael and 2 1/2 year old boy Lukas, are on Daqingshan, Shandong Province in China for Taiji Fulltime Training.
The three of us have been here together already last year, so here are our experiences with our little boy on the mountain.
There are different hotels in which you can stay. Depending on what is particulary important for you (nearby the restaurant, silence, insolarity), you have the possibility to ask in advance to fulfill your wishes and they will satisfy your request, if there are free resources. As our kid is sometimes very activ during the night and moves a lot, we asked, if we could have mats instead of beds. For us that is better, because like that he cannot fall down. And it was possible, so that we have now a very big family bed, that we can use as a playing area in time of day. The accomodations are very clean and well-kept. There are common rooms, sometimes equipped with fridge, icebox, microwave, coffee machine und coffee mill. Our hotel (Magnolia) has a large terrace, that we are using for coffee time, making music and watching movies under a hilarious starry sky.
The food is incredible good. In the morning there is always a millet- or ricesoup (sometimes with sweet potato), with it comes Mantu and some other kind of bread (youtiao or youbing). In addition there are several kind of vegetables depending on the season (cauliflower, broccoli, salad, leek, mushrooms, sweet potato, eggplant, cuke, onion etc.), for each person one egg, and other chinese specialities, for example a mix of egg and tomato.
For lunch and supper there are mostly one, two or more kind of meat, then again a various kind of vegetables, peanuts salad, soup, Mantu, rice and fish. In summertime there was also fruits for every meal (watermelon, banana or apple), now in autumn the meal is only sometimes accompagnied with fruits – with is matching very well with the seasons.
Vegetarians have to make sure that they will not put meat as additionals into the veggie dishes too often, what is no problem but sometimes needs to be reminded.
Last year, Lukas was only 1 1/2 years old, he didn`t eat as much of the food that was served, so we were worried, if he is eating enough vegetables (he ate in particular meat, fish and bucks, and also rice and bread, only very seldom vegetables). But there was the possibility to order babyfood (vegetables) in glasses with very high quality (that of course we had to pay for our own). There is also the possibility to go in the kitchen and cook for your baby some pulp. But as we liked the quality of the glasses (vegetable pulp) and wanted to save time, we stayed with same.
This year we took our hand blender with us to have the possibility to make some pulp but there is no necessity, as he is eating like us the vegetables, which is served.
All together we can say that the food is amazingly good and so healthy. People used to a sweet breakfast (bread with jam or cereal) need perhaps some time to adapt.
The people, our gongfu-family and the staff, are very kind and helpful. As there is nearly everytime somebody who is training (scheduled times are from 06:00 – 07:00, 09:30 – 12:00, 16:00 – 18:00 and 20:00-22:00), there are people around who willingly do a little pause, playing some football tricks, shooting some hoops or just making some grimace to children, talking chinese – english etc. How many people are staying on DQS is very different. But there are always children around to play and parents to talk to (or rather trying to talk to).
There are about 20 – 30 people (depending on the season could be more), we see every day. After the dinner Lukas likes to take a detour to the office, where he finds Dong Xi and Han Rui. He is climbing all by himself a stair all in the dark and stays there for a little while. I used to wait at the foot of the stairs, learning some chinese. Afterwards we are going “home” under a unique starry sky.
There are only some Chinese people speaking fluently english. But there are different possibilities to get one`s ideas across.
Lukas learned a lot of it: There are different languages (at the table we are talking mostly english, but then there are kids that are talking only chinese. He accepted that without problems, nevertheless he likes to talk to chinese children in german. The other day (we are on DQS now since eight weeks) he droped “ni hao” and a short while ago he said also “shenme yise” and asked “ni hao ma ?”.
That was the most important factor: the nature. It is just gorgeous. We are from Berlin, which is also very green, there are many playgrounds, that are designed very well, nearly all of them have water to dabble, but it is just something different to be in the real nature and not in a constructed green. We let Lukas walk barefoot nearly all the time, from our door to the restaurant, only there he has to put the shoes on. There are (compared to Berlin) almost zero broken pieces of glass. Sure, sometimes you have acutes stones or a dead wasp or bee, but we like to make him this experiences and don`t want to keep all pain away from him. Walking barefoot he has the possibility to come to know the different materials, in addition warmth (stone in the sun) and coldness (stone in the shadow). That was nearly impossible in Berlin.
Only some minutes away from our room, we can find a very huge slide, bouncing bridges and carousels.
Daqingshan is also very good for hickes, there are several trails, shorter and longer ones, but also off-trail you can go hicking and climbing for days.
The next city is Wulian, it’s about 15min to go with the car. Here you can get basically everything what you might need, e.g. dipers (12 peaces for 32 yuan), toys, fruits, clothes … We did buy some logs of wood, but anyway Lukas always prefere to play with things of daily use, like tape, toiletpaper and what else he has with him (toy pets, fir cones, …).
Nearly every day there is a car going to Wulian, so one can talk to the people to pick you something up, or you can also join for a ride to the city.
We have been with Lukas several times in Wulian this year, two times in Rizhao and one time in Linyi. Lukas adores it to discover new places and it`s just fun to make a journey in a group. Even if the ride is longer (2 or 3 hours) it isn`t boring. Everybody gives a helping hand if the situation requires it. Our impression is, that the Chinese have a different method to deal with a crying infant. In Germany after some seconds (feeling like hours) people are looking angrily, like: “why can`t you get your child under control”. This impression we never got here. It is rather the other way around. If your child is crying people are coming to you, making some fun to turn the emotions. That this isn`t working all the time is evident, but the point is, the pressure is taking away to get ones child quiet and that makes the voyage so much more comfortable.
Last year we have been to different competitions and also there we have been very impressed, how easy it was to integrate our child. Lukas just walked through the whole buildings, looking at all the stuff, even climbed the competition mats in the break and was very happy.
8) Longer residence
Now we are here since eight weeks and we asked ourselves in Berlin how that will be for Lukas, letting the family and friends behind. First he talked very much about “Halloumi” and “Falafel” (food we liked to eat very often in Berlin). That changed into: “Lukas is going to Wulian and buys Falafel and Halloumi”, followed by “Lukas is going to Wulian and buys forceps and screw-wrenchs”.
He asks us often where his grandpa and grandma and all the friends are. We are reponding: “in Berlin”. He will ask “where is Berlin”. Answer: “That is very far away”. Lukas: “we have to take the airplane, can you show me on the map?” “Yes!”. And then he is happy. There is no sign of sadness or woefulness. Perhaps those are learned concepts anyway, that children – living in the moment – don`t have.
So in that way he got to know the worldmap and without forcing anything he now knows, where to find Mexiko (“there is Lena”), Australia (“there are Adam and Janet”), Greece (“there are Thanos and Thanassi”), Canada (“there are Chen Laoshi and Hugo”) and of course Germany, also Sweden (“oncle Tommi and Marie”) on the worldmap.
Lukas haven`t been ill – so far, not even the runs. If there would happen anything, there is always a possibility to have a driver and go to the hospital in Wulian immediately. Michael has been there because of a quite severe teeth problem he had already before. The treatment was very good, he even got a CT right away, for which we had to disburse 40,- Euro only.
9) Older Childrens (6 – open end)
For older childrens there is many stuff to do, also. Near the playground there is a big climbing-rock, bumber cars, a gigantic slide, there is a lot of space to play fotball, frisbee or whatever. If it`s hot, there is a hugh pool with and slide. Indoor you`ll find table tennis tables, and billiard tables.
And of course the mountains and the incredible nature … 😉
On the one hand it`s very simple to establish a good rhythm regarding eating- and sleeptimes. That we find important, but much harder to realize in Berlin.
On the other hand every day is different, mainly because of all the various people and there relation to the child. For example Lukas did see the fire show of Patricio and Luciano several times and wanted to join in just after they started. Now he often has is own show.
Here are so many people, who have time for the child and the feeling of togetherness is just right.
P.S.: If you have any further questions, don`t hesitate and ask us: micha [at] taiji-shiatsu [dot] de!