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Have received my placement and accommodations today   (published in Ethiopia)

June 8, 2013 by   Comments(0)

Today I've found out where my placement will be and where I will stay when I'm in Ethiopia.

This makes the trip become more real and I'm very excited.

the preparations are really starting now and I'm really curious how it will be.


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Have received my placement and accommodations today
Have received my placement and accommodations today

Dragon Boat Festival   (published in China)

June 8, 2013 by   Comments(0)

The Dragon Boat Festival is one of Chinese traditional holidays, but is also celebrated throughout other Southeast Asian countries as part of the process of cultural sharing withChina. It got somewhat forgotten (and banned) during the chaos of the Second World War and the madness of Mao’s revolutions, but after China’s political reforms in the 70’s and 80’s, its popularity was on the rise and in 2008 the Dragon Boat Festival got recognized as an official holiday in mainland China.


The festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar (which is based on the lunar calendar), so that means this year the Dragon Boat Festival will be celebrated on June 23rd. Celebration involves preparing and eating rice dumplings called zongzi (粽子), drinking xionghuangjiu (雄黃酒, realgar wine) and racing dragon boats.


A number of theories exist about the origins of the Duanwu Festival, but the best-known (and generally accepted) theory relates to the suicide of Qu Yuan, a well renowned poet in the third century BC. Popular legend has it that villagers tried to save him after he hurled himself into theMiluoRiver; they rushed to him by boat, but it was too late and he had drowned already. In order to keep evil spirits away, the villagers beat their drums and splashed the water with their paddles. They threw rice in the water as an offering to Qu Yuan’s spirit and to keep the fish from scavenging his body. One night however, his spirit appeared before his friends and asked them to wrap their rice into three-cornered silk packages (zongzi) to ward off the dragon.


The act of racing to search for his body in boats gradually became the cultural tradition of dragon boat racing, which is held on the anniversary ...

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Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival

JinshanBeach near Shanghai   (published in China)

June 8, 2013 by   Comments(1)

As temperatures will get out of hand soon, the time has come to start looking for ways to cool down. Surely, locking yourself in an AC cooled room is a commonly practiced option, but there are better and more fun alternatives.


Located in the southern suburbs of Shanghai,Jinshan Beachis one of those alternatives. The 1.3 km long artificial beach has golden sand imported from Hainan Islandand has its own filtration system to make sure thatwhen you go for a swim, your body doesn’t soak up  polluted River Delta water.


All types of action (beach volleyball, the bar scene and even scuba diving) happen at the western end of the beach, whilst sunbathers and bibliophiles are better off at the more quiet eastern end. You can even stroll along the adjacent boardwalk. If you don’t like crowds at all, you are better avoiding going to Jinshan Beach during the weekend or public holidays…


A ticket will cost you 30 RMB during the week and 50 RMB over the weekend, the beach is open to the public from roughly 9am till 9pm, but opening hours can change for no apparent reason.


Take subway line 1 to Jinjiang Park. Outside the metro station buses (10 RMB one way) leave for/from Jinshan Beach frequently. The beach is about 20 min walk from the bus stop or you can flag one of the waiting rickshaws to take you to the beach.

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JinshanBeach near Shanghai
JinshanBeach near Shanghai

CHINESE CUISINE –Hunan Cuisine   (published in China)

June 8, 2013 by   Comments(0)

One ofChina’s Eight Regional Cuisines (or Eight Culinary Traditions of China),Hunanfood is famous for its (dry) hot spicy flavour: dishes are quite generous on chilli peppers, shallots and garlic. Compared toSichuancuisine, which is hot and numbing,Hunandishes are often spicier, include more fresh ingredients and are soaked with oil. They vary according to season with cold vegetables and meats to keep cool in summer, and different types of hot pot to ‘heat the blood’ during winter.

Want to try yourself? How about Dong’An Chicken; the first recipe is believed to date back to the eighth century AD (as early as the Tang dynasty).

What you need (4 people):

- 2 Chickens

- 250ml Water, 500ml Chicken stock (to add extra flavor)

- a piece of Ginger (about 12cm long)

- 6 green Onions

- 3 Star Anise Pods

- 2 hot Chillies (small ones)

- 200gr Shiitake Mushrooms, thinly sliced (you can use other types of mushroom if you want)

- 4 tablespoons of Peanut Oil (or lard in case you’re allergic)

- 1 teaspoon Sichuan Peppercorns (the numbing ones)

- 2 tablespoons of Shaoxing Wine (or dry sherry)

- 4 tablespoons of Black Vinegar

- 1 teaspoon of Potato Starch mixed with 1 tablespoon of cold water

- 1 tablespoon of Sesame Oil

How to make it:

Bring the water and/or stock to a simmer in a large pot and add the two chickens. Use half the ginger, slice it thinly and add it to the pot. Chop roughly up three green onions and add them to the pot, together with the star anise and bring everything to a bare simmer.

Whilst waiting for the chicken to simmer, seed the chillies and slice into very fine slivers lengthwise. Do the same with the remaining green onions but don’t mix it with the chillies and ginger. Peel and cut the rest of the ginger into thin ...

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My First Weekend in Senegal   (published in Senegal)

June 8, 2013 by   Comments(0)

My first weekend in Senegal was very nice. On Saturday I went to a place called Oasis with other volunteers. Oasis is a hotel with a restaurant and pool located just off the beach in a less busy part of Saint Louis. We took advantage of the free wifi and the relaxed atmosphere. To my surprise the pool was pretty chilly but very refreshing. We stayed there for most of the day and left just after sunset. We intended to watch the sunset on the beach but it was not the best day for it, so the sun just faded away. We left l’Île de Barbarie, where the beach is, on a bus crowded with others going back to town. The bus constantly stopped to pick up more people I never knew so many people could fit on one bus. After what seemed like a long time we arrived back at the bridge and took a taxi back home.

The next day Judith and I, and some other volunteers went to Touba. Touba is a city in Senegal about 2.5 hours from Saint Louis. It is a religious city that is very important to the Senegalese people. I am sad to say I cannot remember all the details of its history but it is well known for its grand mosque. I woke up at 6:00am Sunday morning so that we could be in town by 7:00 to be picked up by the other volunteers and our host. Our host for the trip was a host father to one of the volunteers. We left Saint Louis a little after 7:00 to make our way towards Touba. We stopped along the way to eat breakfast at our host’s sister’s house. We enjoyed bread with butter and coffee. Next we changed into the traditional clothing she provided for us for Touba. Since it is such an important place women must cover up completely – headscarves and all. A little while later we finally arrived at Touba. We were warned that Touba is usually much hotter than Saint Louis ...

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My First Weekend in Senegal
My First Weekend in Senegal

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