Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post: Fatal attraction within the palace

Today I have a guest post  by Weina Dai Randel, author of “The Moon in the Palace”. The Moon in the Palace is the first installment of The Empress of Bright Moon duology. The two books describe the journey of the famed Chinese empress, who survives court intrigues, rebellion, and other tragedies to become the woman who controls her own destiny. She was the first and only female ruler in China who ruled legitimately for almost fifty years. As you can see that such setting creates tons of possibilities of bizarre relationships within the palace.



Fatal attraction within the palace

When the thirteen-year old Mei was summoned to serve Emperor Taizong in The Moon in the Palace, Mei knew a few things about the Emperor, and his ten living sons. What she did not know was how suffocating and treacherous the life inside the palace could be.

Or how messed up the relationships was like inside the palace.

She would learn it very soon that being the concubine of the old emperor, she belonged to him in heart and soul. One glance of hers cast to anyone beside the Emperor would bring punishment and even death. It was the truth, the principle that all women in the palace must live by.

The Emperor, however, made his own rules. He was free to take women, anyone he fancied, which we all understand perfectly – he was the Emperor after all, right?

The problem is, the Emperor’s sons, also had the same idea.

The Crown Prince, who lived in the Eastern Palace, for example, was the ruler of his own household. He had a large retinue of tutors, aides, servants, wrestler buddies, polo players, grooms, and musicians. All bowed to his will and entertain his whims, though in what ways you might never imagine.










(Source: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Taizong-emperor-of-Tang-dynasty

Tang Taizong, detail of a portrait; in the National Palace Museum, Taipei.)

Did I make these stories up? The secrets, the affairs, and the backstabbing? I sure did, but let me tell you, the entangled affairs within the palace was as well-known as the prosperity in the Tang Dynasty. Take Emperor Xuanzong for example. The sixty-year-old Emperor met his daughter-in-law, the great beauty Consort Yang, and forced his son to give her up and took her for himself. Not only that, very soon, Consort Yang’s two sisters also came to the imperial palace to serve the old man.

Messed up? I think so, but wait to read this: the great beauty Consort Yang was not an idle woman either. It was said she adopted a general of Turkic origin, whom many Chinese know as An Lu Shan, as her legal son, but she secretly kept him as her lover instead. The relationship would take a dramatic turn as the general grew powerful and eventually led an uprising against the aging emperor, who, forced to flee, ordered to kill the concubine.


(Source: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Yang-Guifei

“Chinese Beauty Yang Guifei, The” The Chinese Beauty Yang Guifei, ink scroll painting by Hosoda Eishi, c. 1800–20. 43.9 × 60.3 cm.)


So you see, the complicated relationship inside the palace is not just my re-imagination.

But really, when you think about it, messed-up relationships happened thousand years ago and still happen today. It existed in ancient China, in ancient Egypt – think about Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, in ancient Rome – Augustus and his three marriages, and in England. You know the six marriages of Henry VIII. And the story of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

And I’m pretty sure this entanglement happen among ordinary people as well. It’s just, we, not a member of imperial or royal families, take the cover of being ordinary and often mute our voices.

About the author

Author photo original

Waina Dai Randel

I am happy to have yet another great author providing a guest post. As I am usually rather clumsy when it comes to giving a short summary about other people I just use Weina’s Bio from Goodreads:

Weina is the author of The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon, historical novels of Empress Wu of China.

From Weina: “I love to see how words form an image that transcends the banal reality or how words join together to create a morsel of wisdom that tickles your mind.”

Born and raised in China, Weina has worked as a journalist, a magazine editor, and an adjunct professor.

She received an M.A. in English from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, where she was inspired to write about Empress Wu of China when she took a class in Asian American literature.

She lives in Flower Mound, Texas, with her loving husband and two children.

The Moon in the Palace is available on Amazon and furthermore you can follow Weina on Facebook and Twitter or just visit her Website.

Try to check also out other posts about The Moon in the Palace by fellow bloggers  such as Nicky Chen from Behind the Story, Amanda from Two Americans in China, Autumn Ashbough at When West Dates East ,Marta from Marta Lives in China and last but not least Jocelyn Eikenburg at Speaking of China.

Guest Post: Top resources to Learn Chinese

Hi all, once again I have a great infographic from Learn Mandarin Now. I remember when I was asked about my top resources and I am glad my feedback was used for this work. I must also add that I am still a defender of the basic vocabulary/ character flash cards hand written (by my wife…)! But I also like to use other means to study as well in order not to get stucked with just one source.


Learning Mandarin Chinese is becoming more and more popular—and can be very rewarding. To help you along your way, we recently asked 50+ bloggers about the top resources they use to Learn Chinese, via our blog Learn Mandarin Now. Amazingly, we received so much feedback that we’ve put together a colourful Infographic of the results—and we’re happy to share this with you today.


But, firstly, thanks to Timo for his contribution and for letting us sharing the Infographic with you in his blog: Crazy Chinese family. If you’d like to know about Timo’s suggestions and get an insight to other tips about learning Chinese from 50+ top bloggers, check out our post: How to learn Chinese: 50 blogger’s top resources.

Final_Learn Mandarin Now Infographic

We hope you enjoy our Infographic and our post, and that they help you learn better Chinese!


What are your methods to study Chinese or any other language?

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Guest Post: Mandarin Phrases and Tradition for Chinese New Year

Today it is time for the first Guest Post of the year on this blog. As there is so much talk all over the other blogs about one certain topic we shall join the party and thus this Guest Post will be all about the Chinese New Year!

Of all Chinese holidays, Chinese New Year, sometimes referred to as the Spring Festival, is the most important.  It is a celebration of prosperity, tradition, family, and good will.  If you want to learn Mandarin, the following phrases are a good start.

Mandarin Chinese_1


(1)恭喜发财/恭喜發財(gong xi fa cai) “bless happiness, and prosperity”

This wish for prosperity is typically only used during Chinese New Year.  The greeting is offered before gifts or lucky money is given by the host.

(2) 新年快乐/新年快樂(xin nian kuai le“Happy New Year”

This is the same generic greeting that is used during New Years in the West.  It can be used as a greeting, a parting phrase, or both.

(3) 学业进步/學業進步(xue ye jin bu)- “”Progress in Studies”

This greeting is offered to students of all ages to wish them well with their studies.

(4) 生意兴隆/生意興隆(sheng yi xing long-“Prosperous Business”

This greeting is offered to business owners for prosperous business in the year to come.  It is typically reserved for business owners that you know personally.

(5) 龙马精神/龍馬精神(long ma jing shen)-“Spirit of Dragon and Horse” This greeting is used to wish an elderly person the energy of a horse and the longevity of a dragon.

(6) 万事如意/萬事如意(wan shi ru yi-“10,000 Things According to Will”     

This greeting is a wish that the year to come will go according to the desires and plans of the recipient.

(7) 心想事成(xin xiang shi cheng)”Accomplish That In Your Heart”

This greeting is a wish that the person will achieve anything they want.


Chinese New Year Traditions

There are a variety of traditions observed during the Chinese New Year.  These vary by location, though there are a few traditions that are nearly universally observed among Chinese people the world over.

Mandarin Chinese_2


Spring cleaning – Before the holiday, people thoroughly clean their homes and change their ritual decorations.  Red paper bearing 4 character auspicious sayings are hung in pairs surrounding the doorway.

Dinner – The night before the holiday calls for the extended family to sit down together for a large meal.  Traditionally, the meal is hosted at the home of the family’s oldest living patriarch.  This is such an important meal that some Chinese will travel long distances.

Visiting – Many Chinese people spend the New Year holiday visiting relatives and close friends.  Gifts are typically exchanged and lucky money may be given in small red envelopes.  Parents give the envelopes to unmarried children, and in some regions, lucky money may be given to extended family or unmarried friends.  Children or others who may receive lucky money will greet the host with gong xi fa cai (bless happiness, and prosperity) while clasping their hands and moving them vertically.

Remember different areas have their own special New Year stories and legends. Wish you have a happy Spring Festival. For more Chinese learning tips, you are welcome to visit our blog Learn Mandarin Now.


How will you spend this New Year?

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