Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Going down under


Finally, it's time! We're leaving to Australia today and I don't think I've been this excited about a trip... ever. I'm almost a bit freaked out because I'm scared I'm going to be disappointed due to sky-high expectations. But then again -how could I? I won't bring my computer so unless I manage to convince my significant other how important it is for me to blog while on a holiday (...) there won't be so much blog action going on. Until next year ;) Have a good one!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 -The year that went by


It’s been an amazing year. When 2009 was coming to an end, my friend Malin and I promised ourselves that 2010 was going to be a good one. And that turned out to be a true promise.

I started this year in Sweden, with all of my closest friends that I haven’t celebrated new years with since… 2002! Yeah, I actually haven’t been home during NY since then. Mad.

Celebrating NY with friends

Back in China I went from Suzhou to Shanghai to find a flat. I was kind of in a hurry since I was supposed to start my new job on Jan 11. Eventually I found a perfect crib, moved in, and got settled, the day before my first day at work.

February came with a business trip to Stockholm. Freezing, but beautiful Stockholm. I almost slipped on the roads, became a "celeb" on a plane with a Chinese performance troupe, and longed for Shanghai.

Stockholm

March was a busy month, gearing up for a big fashion project, as well as the World Expo. Then at the end came Easter, and I got the brilliant idea that we should go to Inner Mongolia. Don’t ask me what I was thinking, but anyway, off we went.

Hohhot



Back in Shanghai (now April) it was work, work, work: Ann-Sofie Back at Shanghai Fashion Week, Expo hysteria, and then, BAM: The World Expo opened.

Ann-Sofie Back at SFW
After-show talk with Daniel Glasman

May was Expo Month De Luxe. I met the minister of trade, the Swedish King and our (at that time) deputy prime minister.
Opening of the Swedish pavilion at the World Expo, Minister of Trade Ewa Björling
The King of Sweden

June was moderator month. I first acted Chinese translator (to a Chinese guy who spoke English –just to make it a bit more interesting) at a Nordic film event, and then, some week later, I dressed up to be a princess host at an event that celebrated the marriage of Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria. Nerve-racking but fun! But I never blogged about it, as I decided to take a blog break.

Moderating in Chinese
Princess host -also in Chinese

July came with a well-deserved break. Off I went to Finland, a country that was experiencing the warmest summer yet….

Relaxing in Finland

And in August we went to Sweden, hung out with friends and family and paid a short visit to the island Ven, and another one to Göteborg.

Biking with friends on Ven island
The classic crayfish party
A visit to beautiful Göteborg (here in Haga).

Back in Shanghai I made a blog comeback, and then life went on with more Expo and more events, combined with a quick work trip to Stockholm, and then another one to Berlin. Time passed faster than a Chinese bullet train. And I got a chance to visit my hometown again, where a new nephew had been born…

Catching up with friends in Sweden
Welcoming new baobao Malou to the family

Then came October with event madness: Odeur at Shanghai Fashion Week, Jazz Festival with Nils Landgren and the Funk Unit, dress dramas, The Swedish Crown Princess and her hubby in town, and then, finally, the closing of the world Expo.

Odeur
Backstage at Odeur
Nils Landgren at Shanghai Jazz Festival

November was filled with catching up and recovering, and then we squeezed in a wknd in Suzhou in order to catch up with our old friends and city. Not a place we miss, to tell the least. I also met a famous artist and his mean wife.

Suzhou visit

And that brings us to December, that has been a busy month at work with a TV stunt, a different, but fun, Chirstmas, and that will end with a trip to Australia.

Seeing myself on web TV -weird!

I can only hope that 2011 will be as good as this year (can you make the same promise to yourself twice?). At least I will start it at one of the best places on earth.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Chinese Christmas

video

Shame that I decided to turn my iPhone while filming, but you probably get the point! A different Christmas with gift stealing games, bongo drums, "helan går" in Chinese (Swedish snaps song), and a Chi speaking, drunk santa! We had a blast!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas! God Jul! 圣诞节快乐!

The cutest baobao/kid in the world: Malou and Sam!

Best wishes from a homesick Jonna in Shanghai! (And no, I'm not a single hour too early. In Sweden we celebrate Julafton on December 24).

I miss my family, friends and cute little nephews like crazy today! It's actually a bit depressing to be in Shanghai. I wish I was with them instead. All the best to you guys. Don't get stuck in the snow!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snow chaos in Europe

Xmas 2006 in Sweden, probably "peanuts" compared to now!

I feel so relieved over the fact that I’m not heading home this winter. When I read about the snow chaos in the papers it makes me shiver. I feel for all those people that are stuck at Heathrow as a result of inefficiency and pure stupidity –how can the company being in charge of maintaining the airport (BAA) turn down an offer of help from the military?! Pure idiotic behaviour! London is still in Europe and even though a massive amount of snow at this time of the year isn’t as usual over there as it might be in Scandinavia, it still shouldn’t come as such a surprise. And more importantly: travellers shouldn’t be stuck at the airport as a result of a pure “catch-22” situation.

I’m just thinking about how China acted in 2008 when it suddenly started snowing and simply didn’t stop. Sure, the train traffic was horrendous, but in a big city like Shanghai the local government managed to solve the problem despite not being equipped with snowploughs. People got rid of the snow manually as thousands of volunteers and military soldiers went out to shove snow away from the bridges, airports and roads. A little bit more of that and a little bit less of management meetings would do Heathrow good.

In Sweden (especially in the south where I am from) where the snow is more than overwhelming, the trains and are having difficulties (a lot of delays) and some of the main roads are being closed due to the heavy snowfall, but at least the planes are still being able to take off/land. I feel for my parents that are more or less “snowed in,” and although I feel relieved that I don’t have to get out and battle the weather by trying to fly home, of course I miss them terribly, especially at this time of the year. This is going to be a long, white, winter...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Insects and street food


We have guests visiting and this time, taking them around was kind of challenging. Why? Well because the girl is pregnant and isn’t interesting in drinking (obviously!), eating sushi or shopping. Hm… what to do then in Shanghai? Shopping is the best over here. Suddenly we had to think of other things to do. So, we decided on trying some new things and took them to the insect market, which in fact is a market full of pets, birds, fishes, flowers and insects. I personally cannot handle animals in cages so I found it horrible. Also, cockroach farms and grasshoppers? And bowls of big bugs? Yuk, yuk, yuk. Never going back there.





Afterwards we went to Yunnan street to have a look at what used to be the “Yunnan street food market”… but not so much anymore. There were barely any vendors left?! Such a shame! When we moved here in 2006 that street was buzzing with life. Maybe it’s better at night time, but still.. I was disappointed. Why is Shanghai getting rid of the parts that makes the city so special, like local food markets? Just look at Wujiang lu? It used to be packed with vendors and now it’s just another commercial district with all the boring chains/franchises. Such a shame.

After some mango/tofu pudding at Yunnan road we continued to Tianzifang (Taikang Lu), which is a nice area to walk around in every now and then, even though it’s a bit hyped. Then we had a chocolate break at whisk, followed by a manicure and a foot massage, some walking around, and finally dinner at a local joint. Amazing how much you have time to do over here if you don’t stay for too long at one spot. Still, I have to say that having visitors is kind of like a full-time job, because you have to spend a whole day entertaining them. But all in all it’s great fun, and I’ve taken the time to do some good vendor shopping while we’ve been out: how’s a pair of leather gloves for 30 kuai for instance? Or 3 books (perfect for our upcoming Australia trip) for the same amount of money? Me likey!






Friday, December 17, 2010

A ride to remember

A blonde from the country where the sky is "always" (OK, often!) blue -yes, that could be me!

In a city that has more than 45 000 taxis, you would think that what happened yesterday wouldn’t be possible. I was running late, and caught a cab to meet a friend at Sinan Lu.

As soon as I said the address to the taxi driver, he started smiling and nodding to me:

-You know what!? If it wasn’t for your big nose or your blonde hair, I would think you were Chinese! You speak like a local!

-Nali nail… hahahaha!


I was in a good mood and so was the driver, so we went on chatting. Once he discovered I could talk he wanted to know everything about me: where I was from, how often I went home, how long it took for me to fly home, what I was doing for Christmas, why my parents didn’t live here with me, how many siblings I had, what Sweden was like, how old I was, and so on…

I told him accordingly. Then we arrived at my destination, said our goodbyes and parted.

Ten minutes later, a Swedish friend of mine called:

-Jonna, did you just get off a taxi at Sinan lu?

-Eh.. yes… how come, did you see me?

-Eh… no… but I think I’m sitting on the taxi that you just got out off! I’ve got a driver who simply cannot stop talking about the Swedish girl he just dropped off. He told us she was tall and blonde, spoke good Chinese, has lived here for 4 years, studied in Suzhou, and comes from a country that has a smaller population then Shanghai but where the sky is always blue! She has 2 older sisters who both have families, and one little brother that still studies. All of her family members have been to Shanghai to visit her, but they don’t want to move here permanently. She is going to Australia for Xmas because she thinks it’s too cold in Sweden… sounds familiar? This is SO YOU!

-Oh my god.. Yes it is. It’s me!

-Anyway, he loved you. I just thought I’d share it.

-Awesome! Thanks!

Hilarious!!! Or like my male colleague said when I told him:

-Oh, a taxi driver targeting tall, blonde laowai chicks! (Because the friend of mine who jumped into the same taxi is as tall and blonde as I am). There you go, some of them choose their customers carefully!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some go to the gym for a workout, some go to the gym for a shower

Lately I’ve been noticing that my gym has been rather empty in terms of people working out. The ladies changing room, however, is still packed with people. Yesterday I realized why. I started looking at the people that came into the changing room around the same time as me (one young girl in sky-high heels, one old lady and one office girl). Did any of these people change to workout gear and join me to the actual gym? Oh no. Rather, they stripped down and hit the shower. So, this explains why there are so many free treadmills at the gym (when I joined in Feb this year I used to have to fight for a spot) but not so many free hair-dryers in the changing room (like I have previously explained it is extremely popular to skip the towel and turn to the hair-dryer to blow-dry your body instead). I would never pay 1800 rmb/year for a shower, but then again, maybe they have their reasons. And maybe they do a workout from time to time.

Another interesting observation made in the women’s changing room was that one of a young woman putting on a corset top underneath her training clothes?! I first didn’t get it at all, until the put a t-shirt on top and I got the point: ahhhh, some extra help of keeping the tummy in. That’s quite a lot of effort some people go thought in order to look good while working out. Can you imagine working out in a tight corset top that only gives you limited breathing support. Uhhhh…

Finally, I have to say that I’m now torn between continuing my membership at my shitty gym (because yes, it is SO SHITTY! It’s dirty, it doesn’t open until 6.30am, they are stingy with the air-con during summer, the people working in there are rude, and so on) or joining a new (more expensive) one. My workmate has started at a new place and surprised me by telling me she joined a spinning class.

-For real? You took a spinning class in China? On free will?

-Yes, it was quite good!

-Without wearing earplugs?

-Yes, can you believe it? The instructor actually spoke, rather than just screamed.

-Wow. Tempting.

I’m still not convinced. But intrigued. The spinning I’ve taken over here has been very uneven in terms of quality. At my gym in Suzhou it was quite good from time to time, but in Shanghai it’s gone straight downhill. The music is so loud in the spinning room that when you step into the room, 2 floors down, you can tell that there’s a class going on upstairs. Not sure if I want to torture my ears with that, regardless of how much fat I'll be able to burn.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 16-year-old clubber

Shouldn't you at least be 18 for this? Or am I an old fart?

Last week I went to a Christmas/mingle/glögg-wine/networking event (take your pick!) and brushed shoulders with a lot of nice people. Since it was Christmas on the theme a lot of people had brought their kids and families. One woman was walking around with her 2 sons: 12 and 16 years old, that politely shook hands with all the guests. I was standing in a group of middle-aged men when the two teenagers came up to us and introduced themselves.

After some small talk it became clear that one of the men I was talking to had a son who went to the same school as Mr 16-year old. In an effort to figure out if they knew each other or not (not by name anyway), the middle-aged man suddenly went:

-Well, OK, maybe you guys are party buddies if nothing else? What clubs do you normally go to?

-Well.. for clubbing I go to Mural. And then sometimes….

-Eh… excuse me,
I said. How old are you again?

-Just turned 16.

-And you go… CLUBBING?

-Yeah, of course! Mural’s has the best free flow of booze!

-Eh… right.

I was looking at my fellow group of grown-ups, looking for some kind of moral support. Nothing. They were all busy giving encouraging smiles to the 16-year-old that just admitted he enjoys a free flow of booze on the wknds.

Not until later that night did one man come up to me, put a hand on my shoulder and said:

-Yeah, they grow up faster over here.

-No kidding.

Silence, until I said:

-We weren’t like that when we were sixteen?

-Weren’t we?

-Well I sure did not go clubbing anyway?! And I never experienced anything like “free flow” before I came to China?! As a teenager you don’t know how to handle things like that?!

Polite smiles and silence, until he went:

-Got any kids yourself?

-Nope.

-Good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

城市一对一


OK, so how weird was that, on a scale from 1-10? Something like 11? Or maybe even 15? Yes, of course I’m talking about seeing myself on Chinese television last night! When I first saw my face appear on the screen I almost turned the TV off, as it simply felt so awkward, and I looked so… different (I’m not sure about the “camera adds 10 pounds thing” but it certainly adds something because I sure didn’t quite look like me? Also, my nose looked gigantic in the profile shots –so now I know what all the Chinese people are talking about when they claim that laowais are big-nosed!)

To my great surprise, however, there was no voice over when I spoke and the Chinese characters were in harmony with what I said: so in other words: the film crew must have understood my Mandarin. YAY!

They had been editing the footage quite a bit, however, so I “only” answered three questions, rather than seven that I did on the day of the shoot (we shot for 2,5 hours but the end product was “only” 50 min). However, they definitely took away some of my idiotic answers –thank god for that!

Anyway, towards the end of watching the show I got used to seeing my face on the screen and it felt kind of… fun! I’ve been on a TV show, haha! Would I do it again if I got a chance? Definitely (with some more time to prepare, though!)!

OK, I promise I won’t go on anymore now about this TV thingy. Thanks for all of your comments (you who watched it –can’t believe some of you did –even from Malaysia!). I made a little camera recording of myself when I spoke about Swedish food (yes, for real -I filmed the TV! And yes, I know, I'm a total nerd!), but I cannot find my camera cable today so I night as well spare you, hehe!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Panel discussion debut on Chinese television


Haha, I just love life in China! It never turns out to be the way you thought! Remember how I told you I was going to be in the audience of a TV show? Well, as it turns out, I ended up being in the “Swedish panel” –answering questions in Chinese instead.

The Swedish panel consisted of three guests. When one woman suddenly had to cancel, the TV team (that I had met during our initial meeting) called my colleague and told her that they wanted me to take her spot. I was something between terrified and exhilarated, and said yes. I was then given a script and three questions that I needed to prepare answers for.

The program was being filmed in Changxing, as it was a program about the friendship between the Chinese city Changxing and the Swedish city Kalmar. Changxing is located some 2 hours drive from Shanghai, so it took a while to get there: the TV team sent a bus that they packed with Swedes that they picked up from several different companies.

We arrived one hour late and I was taken straight to a room where a rehearsal was taking place between the Chinese guests and a producer, acting host. Since I could speak Chinese I was allowed to participate and we went through our answers. I soon, however, noticed that one of my questions wasn’t asked and raised the issue with the producer.

-Oh, the questions we gave you are just something we put together. What the host will actually ask you we don’t know. It depends on his mood!

Right.

The host was in fact a minor celebrity host (Ji Xiaojun) from CCTV. I realized this by looking at my Chinese colleague who got rather hysterical when she saw him. Nice.

Going through the program took a while, and then it was suddenly just 20 min before we were going to start shooting. I had neither done my make-up or my hair, nor had I eaten since 11.30am (it was 6pm). Dinner was just being served. I was starting to feel stressed.

I prioritized looking good and threw some rice into my mouth before I headed to the hair & make-up room, which was a large room full of pretty little Chinese girls aka make-up artists. When I stepped in they freaked out. First came a war of giggling, and then no one dared to come up to me. Not until I said to one girl in Chinese that I they didn’t have to be scared of me did a girl work up the courage and started applying thick lawyers of make-up to my skin. I’ve never had TV-make-up on before and I have to say that it’s a kind of special feeling. My workmate who later saw me reacted pretty badly: “my gosh Jonna, what have they done to your face?! Rubbed it in clay?!”

I did my hair myself (simply brushed it, no time for anything else) and then I ran up to the stage and took my spot at the most uncomfortable wooden chair I’ve ever sat on. I then sat there for 2,5 hours, while we shot the program. It was completely over there top with a guy warming up the audience, telling them when to smile, when to clap, and so on. Fortunately it wasn’t being sent live because the team had a lot of difficulties with the sound. All in all we were 6 guests on stage: 3 Chinese and 3 Swedes, + the host and then the mayor of Changxing made an appearance every now and then. There was also a phone interview made from a TV studio in Stockholm.

Now, as for the questions I had to answer… eh…. Well, let’s put it this way. All my preparations and practice was in vain: I didn’t get to answer anything I knew how to answer. Instead, I got questions like:

-So, Little Youna! (the host nicknamed me 小友 “xiao you” because he thought my name was funny), what do you know about the local culture in Changxing? Do you know anything about our traditions!?

And there I was, thinking I was going to speak about Swedish design, Kalmar sightseeing and crystal glassware? I had to improvise, big time! (Well at least I got the audience to laugh twice, without the “audience warmer’s” help. Touchdown).

Although I was really nervous at first I eventually calmed down, and in the end it was kind of fun. I understood everything that was being said, and although my Chinese was probably quite shitty at least the host understood me and we could keep the conversation going. All in all I’m pretty proud of myself!

Afterwards I was interviewed by Changxing’s local news, and I also had to translate for another Swedish guest who was being interviewed. I got a lot of compliments for being able to speak Chinese, and although it was a long (and hungry!) ride back to Shanghai I was filled with happiness when I eventually came home. What a day! And how much fun is life here in China?! You never know what to expect! I love it!





These performers were in the audience. I thought they were so cute so I later asked if I could take a picture with them

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pampering


I’ve had a lovely, relaxed weekend: treadmill running x 2, hot yoga class, swimming (yes, for real, I went to a pool!), massage and facial. I feel like a new person! I was actually so inspired by “living a healthy lifestyle” that I even cooked (something healthy!) for myself this wknd. And that doesn’t happen on a regular basis.

If Shanghai is great for something –it’s for all the pampering you can do here! It obviously wouldn’t be fun if you did it every day (and trust me, I don’t… I tend to forget about all the stuff you can do for your body/skin over here), but when you do it from time to time it’s great: manicure, pedicure, massage, foot treatment, facial…

When I worked for a magazine back in 2007 I sometimes had to do spa reviews and therefore had to try a bunch of strange stuff: try bathing on moist wood for instance? Or slimming massage (what a load of bulls***!)? Or why not a slimming wrap, where they wrap your whole body, except for your boobs (“Because those ones you don’t want to slim, right?!”) in a hot clay and then add plastic foil to that? You can get claustrophobic for less…

Now I feel ready for a new work week: only 3 more working weeks and then… we are off! Although I feel real sad about not seeing my lovely family this Xmas I cannot deny the fact that Sweden’s minus 15-20 degrees, snowstorm + traffic problems does not feel as appealing as Leighton/Cottesloe/Scarboragh beach + 35 degrees in WA…

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fast paced society calls for fast paced actions

Making an appearance on a TV show in Suzhou, June 2009

Two days ago at work, we were contacted by a TV station that wanted to do a 1 hour documentary about a town in Sweden. We invited them in and sat down to discuss the outline of the program, that mainly centred around a panel discussion:

TV team: We obviously need a celebrity for the panel.

Us: Right, what kind of celebrity were you thinking?

TV team: That doesn’t matter. We have know idea of who’s famous in Sweden. You tell us.

Us: Right… eh… so when are you shooting this program?

TV team: On Tuesday!

Us: This Tuesday?! In 5 days?!

TV team: yes. And except for the celebrity on the panel, we would also like some famous Swedes in the audience! Can you get some flown in for us?

Don’t you just love this?! Not even when we said that there was no way a person could get a visa, much less make it to China, within the time frame that they were giving us, did they seemed worried:

TV team: well, we expect you to come up with something for us.

Again, got to love the attitude. Here’s a TV team that’s taking no responsibility what so ever of what they are doing, much less plan their own programs. Think if the same thing would happen in Sweden: a team like that wouldn’t even be able to get a meeting booked: no one would take them seriously!

But over here it’s different, and of course we did our best to help them. Hopefully they will get a celebrity interview by phone on the day of the shoot (because we simply couldn’t go around the visa issue).

As for celebs in the audience –my boss asked me to do a stunt. And how could I decline?!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Feeling arty?

In the mood for some art? The city has a lot to offer...

When in Shanghai, one must check out some of the cities art galleries/museums. Shanghai’s art scene is far from mature, but there’s a lot of things going on, and a lot of potential. Let’s just hope it can grow with time.

One place to check out is Shanghai Art Museum, (上海美术馆) which currently hosts Shanghai Biennale (until Jan 23). Shanghai Art Museum is located in the center of the city (325 Nanjing Xi Lu), covering an area of 18000 square meters. It is an English-style building set up in 1930s, which was originally a race club. The interior is stunning, and when it comes to visitors, there are a lot of seniors (that get free entry to museums in Shanghai –I think that should apply to everyone!) and art students. Admission: 20 rmb.





Another place to check out is the new kid on the block: Rockbund Art Museum: absolutely stunning! Shame that the crowd hasn't found it yet.

The museum have free movie screenings every night, showing everything from Bergman to more recent titles. Admission to the museum is only 15 rmb. Make sure to check it out: Rockbund Art Museum, 20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District (near the Bund).









There’s also MOCA –Museum of Contemporary Art, a small museum located some 500 m from Shanghai Art Museum i Shanghai n People’s Park. It’s not as impressive as Rockbund or Art Museum, but the interior is neat and nice, and it’s more intimate as the space is quite small. Admission: 20 rmb




To be continued…