Uncle Yum Cha's



The Animal Corresponding to the Hour of Your Birth and other Essential Information You Should Have before Entering into A Relationship with Anyone!!



I don't fear heaven, I don't fear earth; I only fear foreign-devils speaking Chinese.

Where there is no wind, the grass does not move.

He who rears the silkworms seldom wears the silk.

A whistling woman and a crowing hen; neither is good for gods nor men.

Ten Buddhist nuns, nine are bad; the odd one out is doubtless mad.

Paper cannot hold fire.

If you marry a chicken, you follow a chicken; if you marry a duck, you follow a duck

A frog at the bottom of a well sees only the sky.

Men without gods get along right well; gods without men tumble down pell mell.

Ten matchmakers, eleven liars.

A pagoda is known by the length of its shadow; a virtuous man by the number of his enemies.


Traditional Chinese hours are actually double hours, i.e., 120 minutes. This is because the Chinese use the same 12 animals for hours of the day that they use for years in the 12-year cycle.  Each animal therefore represents 120 minutes of the day. Discover which animal is your birth animal.

If you were born between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., you were born in the Hour of the Rat

If you were born between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., you were born in the Hour of the Ox

If you were born between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., you were born in the Hour of the Tiger

If you were born between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., you were born in the Hour of the Rabbit

If you were born between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., you were born in the Hour of the Dragon

If you were born between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., you were born in the Hour of the Snake

If you were born between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., you were born in the Hour of the Horse

If you were born between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., you were born in the Hour of the Goat

If you were born between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., you were born in the Hour of the Monkey

If you were born between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., you were born in the Hour of the Rooster

If you were born between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., you were born in the Hour of the Dog

If you were born between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., you were born in the Hour of the Boar


Before you choose to marry anyone it is essential that you compare your year, month, day and hour of birth. If the matchmaker says these do not match and the marriage would not be auspicious, you have two choices. You can either accept her decision or cross her palm with silver so that she might find a way to alter her decision.

And, don't forget, now that you know the animals in order, the years follow the same sequence: Each year has an animal's name and this continues for 12 years then the cycle begins again. Five times 12 is 60 years and represents one Cycle of Cathay. A very important birthday, indeed. If you are turning 60, congratulations. So, anyway, let us say you know that 1942 was the Year of the Horse as was 1954 as was 1966 as was 1978 as was 1990. Now just find your animal by checking in the same order as for the hours of birth.


Uncle Yum Cha offers you two nitpicking language tips and one game for your trip to China:

1. Beijing is pronounced with a hard 'J' as in Jack. You might think it is pronounced 'zhe' like the 'J' in the French "Je." Why? Because that is the way your local newsreaders seem to like it. Why? Most likely because one of the romanization systems renders Beijing as "Peizhing," thereby leading newsreaders into thinking it must have a "zh" pronunciation." Whatever the case, don't listen to them. Just go on pronouncing the word with a normal 'J'. You're right; they're wrong.

2. When you were in school, did one of the boys in the class deliberately make a screeching sound on the blackboard that sent chills down your spine? Well, that's how Chinese feel when foreigners pronounce an 'a' as a long 'a'. For example, the words T'ang Dynasty and Mr. Wang do not rhyme the English word 'sang.' There should be no long a sound with words such as these. Try this: say the first syllable of the English name "Lonnie." LON. Right. Now add a 'g'. That's it! Now say 'T'ang' with the same sound. You've got it! Now you're a native!

Here is your Uncle Yum Cha's favorite game: a Ch'ing Dynasty game similar to paper, scissors, stone but lots more fun: It is played with your thumb and two fingers. Your thumb represents the husband, your index finger represents his wife, and your little finger represents his concubine. In this game, the husband beats the wife, the wife beats the concubine, and the concubine beats the husband. So, now you count to three and then you and your friend throw out one of those two fingers or thumb. Best two out of three wins. Tip: Don't play around kids because they tend to ask what a 'concubine' is. How to explain that is, as Yul Brynner used to say in "The King and I," a 'puzzlement'.


All right! At last! This is the quiz you've been hearing about! Take it now!


Uncle Yum Cha's Quick Multiple Choice Quiz on Chinese Culture

Test your knowledge of Chinese culture and history and win a free $24.95 book. E-mail your answers to Village East Books: villageeast@hotmail.com. The first person with all ten answers correct will receive a free autographed copy of Hangman's Point. Whenever there is a winner, there will be a new quiz every other month at which time answers to the previous quiz will be posted as well as the winner's name (if any) and city of residence. Good luck!

1. How many female Immortals in the Eight Immortals were (are) there?

A. three B. six C. seven D. eight

2. How many poet/drinkers were in the group known as Immortals of the Winecup?

A. three B. six C. seven D. eight

3. Sun Yat-sen (Sun Chung-shan) was born in a village about 15 miles from Portuguese Macau. The area was renamed in his honor: Chung Shan (central mountain). Previously it had been known as:

A. Old Gold Mountain B. Fragrant Mountain C. Pearl River Mountain D. Horse Piss Mountain

4. Which one of the following is NOT known as a China scholar?

A. A Doak Barnett B. John King Fairbank C. Andrew Adams D. Jonathan Spense

5. A court painter painted the pictures of palace beauties and, based on the painting, the emperor chose which one he wished to spend the night with. The emperor later found that the painter had improved the looks of the women who had bribed him the most. The angry emperor had the painter executed. The painter's name was:

A. Wu Zi-yu B. Dong Zhuo C. Wang Gou-jian D. Mao Yan-shou

6. Luoyang chih kwei (The price of paper soars at Luoyang). When this Western Jin Dynasty writer wrote the beautiful "San Du Fu" it became so popular that everyone queued up to buy paper so they could copy it; thereby allowing paper shops to raise the price several times. Hence the expression, "The price of paper soars at Luoyang." Name the writer.

A. Qi Du Fu B. Tang Luo-ji C. Zuo Si D. Wang Mang

7. This former butcher was murdered in his tent by traitors and beheaded:

A. Liu Pei B. Chang Fei C. Kuan Yu D. Ts'ao Ts'ao

8. Scholars estimate that through battle, starvation and disease, the Taiping Rebellion claimed the lives of how many Chinese:

A. Between one and four million B. Between five and ten million C. Between ten and fifteen million D. Between twenty and forty million

9. Historians often describe 1857 as the worst year in Hong Kong history. Among other things, the following occurred:

A. While the British Navy was off bombarding Canton, a gang of Chinese crossed the harbour from the Kowloon Peninsula and beheaded the Tarrant family at North Point.
B. Chinese in Hong Kong poisoned the water in the wells of the British garrison and managed to kill several British soldiers.
C. Chinese in Hong Kong poisoned the bread taken by British and other foreigners and managed to make them all deathly sick.
D. A boiler in the steam-frigate, HMS Daring, blew up in Hong Kong harbour and over 50 British sailors and marines were killed.

10. Peach Blossom Spring was written by T'ao Ch'ien (T'ao Yuan Ming). The author describes a remote farming community, a kind of Brigadoon, hidden in the mountains which was one day discovered by a fisherman. He was treated well by the inhabitants but, after he left, he was unable to return. Why?

A. Peach Blossom Spring had disappeared.
B. The fisherman's markings had disappeared.
C. The inhabitants had placed a spell on the fisherman.
D. The fisherman woke up and realized it had been a dream.

Our first winner was

J. Achelpohl

at Washington University's (St. Louis) East Asian Studies program. Congratulations!

The answers to that quiz are posted below. It can be done!!


1. Who are the "Three Friends of the Cold Season"?

1. Mao Tze-tung, Chou En-lai and Lin Piao 2. Pine, plum and bamboo 3. Bamboo, plum and lotus 4. Gwan Yu, Liu Pei, Chang Fei

2. Which of these great Chinese poets supposedly drowned while attempting to embrace the reflection of the moon?

1. Li Po (Li Pai) 2. Tu Fu 3. Po Chu-yi (Pai Chu-yi) 4. Wang Wei

3. Which name below is not one of the Four Great Beauties of Chinese history? 1. Yang Gui-fei 2. Hsi Shih 3. Wang Chao-chun 4. Li Ching-Chao

4. In the final years of Mao Tse-tung's life, his main girlfriend was how many years younger than him? 1. Ten years. 2. Thirty years. 3. Fifty years. 4. She was actually slightly older.

5. Which concubine was strangled by soldiers while an emperor wept? 1. Yang Gui-fei 2. Wang An-shih 3. An Lu-shan 4. Tung Hsiao-wan

6. How many "Idlers of the Bamboo Brook" were there? 1. Five 2. Six 3. Nine 4. Eleven

7. People who made a trip to the "Silkworm Chamber" were: 1. Farmers 2. Eunuchs 3. Scholars 4. Mandarin officials

8. How many "Sages of the Bamboo Grove" were there? 1. Six 2. Seven 3. Nine 4. Sixteen

9. Most Chinese restaurants, especially in the south, have which great warrior in a shrine on the wall? 1. Gwan Yu 2. Chang Fei 3. Liu Pei 4. Tsao Tsao

10. The man known as the 'Father of Modern China' (Guofu) is: 1. Chiang Kai-shek 2. Sun Chung-shan 3. Mao Tse-tung 4. Chou En-lai

Question 1. 2 Question 2. 1 Question 3. 4 Question 4. 3 Question 5. 1

Question 6. 2 Question 7. 2 Question 8. 2 Question 9. 1 Question 10. 2



Synopsis & Author Interview The First Chapter


Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior Kingdom of Make-Believe
  In Search of Seri Court




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