Saturday, May 31, 2008

SOS -get me outta here!

Last night out at SOS Nightclub in Suzhou was like a scene taken from a bad wild-wild west movie. The only thing that made sense throughout the night was the name of the club… My ears and eyes certainly needed some aid after two hours of loud techno music and smoke machines. Oh, and not to be forgotten: around midnight the bartenders brought out the sparklers… I haven’t held a sparkler since I was 10, so this was kind of exciting.

Sadly tacky were the six strippers/exotic dancers/angry looking girls taking turns at dancing on podiums around the bar. Apparently some managers was trying to fit everyone’s wishes as three of them were pencil skinny, and the other three were voluptuous with belly and thighs. All of them were wearing… hm… well, imagine the kind of underwear that they sell in REALLY tacky porn shops? Like, really tacky?! Yeah, stuff like that! I am talking g-strigs out of this world, latex and fishnets…

Around the same time as everyone lit their sparklers they also put a guy at the podium, and we almost got a bit excited until we noticed that he was 1.60 tall, and that he was wearing a white shirt that showed some of his white belly as he had tied it up in a classical 80-ies ‘show-your-stomach-knot (I am not sure if there is any other English term for this.. but u know what I mean right? Girls in Europe and America used to do this in the 80-ies. In China, some still do).

Yeah, so it was a kinda tacky scene and it did get better. Some guys ordered a bottle of scotch that the bartenders poured in a jug with ice. At one point, a guy asked for more ice and the bartender managed to crush the bottom of the jug (by filling it up with too much ice I assume. I have also managed to do this in my early days of bartending) While the expensive scotch quickly vanished from the bottom the bartenders got angry at… the guy drinking scotch. He said it was a stupid idea of him to ask for more ice. Ahh…. Classic.

The night didn’t go as wild as I predicted it to, I suppose I lost my mood somewhere in between listening to people arguing about scotch and watching the strippers, sorry, the dancers. But well, at least I’m not hangover today! That mean I might get a chance to go to the gym and have a chat with my new friend from Hunan who I find very interesting to talk to. Apparently he got to Suzhou by sitting on a train for 50 hours... Now that is a story I'd like to hear!

And as for bad nightclubs: I’ll be spending most of the next three weeks in Shanghai, working on a project and oh my, I cannot wait to visit all those pretentious bars at the Bund.

Hello, Bar Rouge (sure, putting the bar on fire is tacky too, but well.. at least there are no strippers!)

Friday, May 30, 2008

In Hunan, my name is "You La"

This probably doesn’t interest many of you, but I find it quite interesting. Yesterday I talked to a boy from the Hunan province. He couldn’t pronounce the letter ‘N’ very well. Instead he said ‘L’. The funny thins was that he didn’t realise it, or hear the difference? He thought that when I said ‘niu nai’ (=milk -牛奶) and he said ‘liu lai’ it sounded the same?!

The funniest bit was with my name. My Chinese name is ‘You Na’ (友娜). When he said it, I became ‘You La’. And while I went on and said: ‘not La, NA… You Na Na Na….’ He repeated it: ‘You La La La!’

(Note: ‘la la’ = Chinese slang for lesbian. Anyone wanna know more go to the night club ‘La la land’ in Shanghai).

Except for this little thing I must say that this Hunan boy’s pronunciation was very easy to understand. Much easier than the ‘Suzhou hua’ (= the local dialect in Suzhou) that I am trying to get my head around (Suzhou locals don’t use the ‘sh’ sound but simply the ‘s’… So it’s very hard not to mix up ‘shi’ (ten -十) with ‘si’ (four -四) because when they say ten it sounds like ‘si’ (four) ). And the way he described Hunan to me it sounded so nice that it made me wanna pay a visit. Also, my favourite Chinese restaurant in Shanghai is a Hunan restaurant, so the food over there must be delish: spicy and hot!

Coming up: big nite out

To drain my gym sorrows (I know, I know.. ‘get over it!’ Don’t worry, I will!) I’m planning a big night out. The bf is having a company thing, so I’m free to go as wild as I want with the girls. And trust me, in Suzhou’s nightlife scene, it’s hard not to! Going out in Suzhou is like going out in Sweden in the 80ies (not that I ever did, I was a baby then, but this is how I imagine it being in the 80ies): neon lights, euro techno and people dancing some sort of hip hop (you know the violent kind when you lift your knees really high in the air?) on the dance floor. The average age in a typical Suzhou nightclub seems to be around 21 (which means it is probably more like… 27?) and the bar is a total ‘check out point’. Music is so loud it’s impossible to talk, and if you want to sit at a table you have to buy at least one bottle of vodka to show that you are a big spender. If you settle for buying drinks, be prepared: they are strong on the gin and weak on the tonic, which makes it more understandable why so many Chinese girls spend the night drinking orange juice or coconut milk. In terms of dressing style, it’s kind of mixed. While the guys don’t wear anything special (no, unfortunately no big, baggy jeans…) the women are a mix of those who wear something way too tight and too short, and those who make no effort at all and turn up in jeans and a long-sleeve jumper. Same goes for make up: there are both au-naturals and girls who might have gone a bit too heavy on the eye-liner…

Tonight, however, this sounds perfect to me. I just have to practice my hip hop moves in front of the mirror before I head out. I might be a little bit rusty.

Do’s and don’ts at the gym.

(Warning: people who already hate gyms, do not continue reading).

Rule number one: do not, ever, do a fat-scan test at the gym. Because if you are stupid enough (like me) and want to follow up your ‘improvements’ (yeah right) and do another test one month later, which shows that you have GAINED fat rather than lost it (How, how, how? This is another great mystery that I have to spend the wknd to solve…), despite eating normal and going to the gym 3-5 times/week, you'll be very depressed. (Another funny fact: before, I rarely went to the gym).

Rule number two: Keep a shallow relationship with the Chinese trainers at the gym. Once you get passed the ‘hey how’s it going’ phase they will start coming to talk to you a lot.. and then, without even knowing it, they will start monitoring you. Like the other day when I left the gym, and a trainer came up to me: “Leaving already? Only 1 hour work out today and no cardio? Not so good Jonna!" Aooooch?! Dude, you don’t need to tell me that!

Rule number three: Do not, in any way, let any of this get to you. Like I have done. I am still (more than 24 hours after the fat scan test) trying to figure out how it is possible for me to GAIN fat rather than lose it. (I had also gained 1 kg of muscles –how does that make sense? When you gain muscles, doesn’t that then mean that you lose fat?!)

Rule number four: Do not obsess about this to other people. They will definitely think you are annoying. My bf is a living proof.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What's up with the gasoline?

And that reminds me of why I prefer riding a bike to driving a car..

Anyone know what’s up with the gas in Suzhou? It’s apparently impossible for us normal, mortal people to buy gas and many gas stations have closed. (Every morning there is a smaller riot outside the shell gas station that I pass on my way to uni)

Rumours are suggesting three possible reasons (I find it hard to believe any of them):

* Torch relay. Since the Olympic torch came to Suzhou last Sunday the local Government was so scared of a terror attack that they dried up the gas stations.

* No gas is a result of the earth quake in Sichuan. They are now putting in restriction on gas, as well as some foods.

* The price of gas has gone up and the suppliers refuse to cooperate.

Well I have no idea, I don’t need gas for my bike anyways (because it doesn’t have a MOTOR!) but apparently it is causing some problems for some of my western friends as they cannot drive their cars on empty tanks. Chinese taxis and cars are still driving around though, so I am guessing there must be some sort of black market for it. Isn’t there always?

When smart people turn stupid

It’s now a proven fact. Living in China does indeed make some people a bit dim… Latest victim: my bf. Just look what he came home with the other day.

Yes, it is. And yes, feel free to ridicule it. It’s a bike with a motor. A BIKE with a MOTOR?! (And then he makes fun of people that drive mopeds?!) I was speechless when I saw it, and I still am. What comments can be made about a giant, black, ugly thing that is now occupying space on our balcony?!

To my bf’s defend: everyone from his company ended up buying one, so maybe he fell for the group pressure.
But still

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Many people complain about the service in China. I think that it can be both exceptional and terrible.

I always ride my bike to the gym and the bike parking lot is always a mess. Too many bikes at too little space. It’s close to impossible to squeeze in your bike, but I am a stubborn cookie and managed quite well until one day, when it was simply too crammed. Some people had even challenged the rules and parked their bikes OUTSIDE the assigned area (A big no-no in China) so I did the same thing.

After my work out I came down to find my bike… gone. Well at least gone from the forbidden area. I was looking at the ocean of bikes, trying to figure out if mine was in there, or, if it had been stolen, when a guard suddenly appeared.

-Bike? He said, in Chinese.
-Yes. I said. Where is it?
-I’ll get it for you.

And then he went into the bike area, fiddled around for a bit, before coming out, carrying my bike!

Cheers dude!

Now I thought this was a one off, but it has actually become a routine between me and Mr guard. Now I don’t even bother to try to find an empty spot in the bike parking lot, I simply put my bike outside the area, and let 'them' move it to some mini spot that I haven't noticed inside the area. When I come out from the gym the guard will appear and carry it out for me. The best bit? He doesn’t even seem angry, he even smiles! Take that, grumpy parking guards in Sweden! That is what I call assistance.

Moment of thunder

Yesterday at Suzhou train station a fat Chinese man asked if he could take my picture, as well as pose in one with me. Then followed a humiliating moment when half of the station watched his friend sloooooowly snap the shot.

What’s going on? Suddenly people are taking photos of you everywhere. Sure, the Bund or the Great Wall, but Suzhou train station?! Gimme a break!

In Shanghai the weather was steaming hot. So hot, that during the night came a thunderstorm. And what a storm then?! You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve experienced a thunderstorm in Shanghai. Fortunately I am no scared of thunder. Neither are the Chinese. When I eventually came to Shanghai Railway station to jump on the train home, the farmers were sitting outside the station under some trees, eating 3-minute noodles, laughing and playing cards.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Picture of the day

Ah… all the things you can do if you have a small bum. And if you are not homophobic.

Dress your doggy

Picture from

Those of you who live here, or have visited Chinese cities, have probably noticed the ‘small dog trend’ amongst people in their 50ties +. The reason seems very obvious: their only child has just moved out and the house is empty, so they get themselves a small fella to fill the empty space.

A Chinese friend of mine was once dating a girl whose mom was a widow. The daughter had also moved out, so to fill the emptiness she got herself a small dog. She and the dog became like peas and carrots, and when the dog eventually passed away, the owner mourned it as if it was her husband. She devoted a separate room of her flat to the dog, where she kept an urn with the dog’s ashes, plus a table full of pictures of the dog, and all of the dog’s toys. Later, the mom was asked to relocate to something less expensive, however, first she wanted to consult the ashes of her dog, and because the dog wasn’t ready to leave yet, she stayed in the flat.

A kind of sad story, I know, but really, the small-dog-fever is almost over the top in cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou. If it would end there, then fine, but it doesn’t. People here love to dress their dogs in everything from PJs to small dog shoes, or red diapers?! Or, shaving their fur during summer. This actually isn’t a dog trend only. Even cats get shaved in Shanghai during summer. It really looks awful.

Picture from

Lately it has also become trendy amongst younger people to have dogs, and here the girls are the worse criminals; dressing their pups in hello Kitty dresses and tight t-shirts. Another obvious dog trend? Carrying your dog. (Just like carrying your child). Everywhere.

However, I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining. As long as they keep the dogs from the dinner table I am happy. Although I wish that some people treated their dogs a bit better. Dressing them up I can take but there’s a lot of hitting and slapping going on on the dog walking streets. That I can’t take.

Dog dress shop in Suzhou.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Yesterday when I stepped out of the elevator at our sixth floor I couldn’t help noticing a strange noise coming from a tin jar that was standing outside our neighbours door. (together with bunch of bin bags). Curious as I am, I stepped forward to take a look of what was in the jar… Just to find this:

Nice one. My neighbours keeps a mouse in a jar outside their door. Is this a sign of that it might be time for us to move?!

My moment of stardom

A great deal of Suzhou was there...

Been sick all wknd, but yesterday I managed to get myself out of the door in order to watch the Olympic torch arrive in Suzhou. Unfortunately, I got out too late and when me and my bf arrived at the ‘toch goal’ in SIP the flame had already come and gone. Very typical me. I had been told the flame was gonna be there at 11, my bf thought 12, so we went around 10.30. But they must have had some really fast runners this time.. or something?

Anyways, the spot was still crowded and everywhere Chinese in Olympic t-shirts, ‘I love China’ t-shirts, flags and banderols were singing and cheering. It was a bit like a street party in the middle of the day with no booze?

Once we entered the scene we became aware of the fact that we were close to the only westerners there. And soon, a lot of Chinese people became aware of that too, and started photographing us. Constantly. Some asked, some didn’t. Some posed with us, some just came and stood next to us, some put their arms around us and a lot of people said: ‘Welcome to China!’ I guess this is a pre-taste of how the Olympic Games in Beijing is going to be like. Sure, I’ve done some posing with strangers at the Bund or at the Great Wall before, but this definitely counts as my biggest moment of stardom since we came to China. Since everybody photographed us, I took the liberty to snap back. Here are some picks of the people:

People photographing us meanwhile I am photographing them

Olympic baby.

The three musketeers?

Father and son

Ps. Wanna see more pix from the day? Leave a comment to let me know. I've got tonnes of pix still!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Let me finish first!

It's not like you wanna down these in 5 minutes?!

I find the service at western cafes to be highly interesting, and sometimes even amusing. Like yesterday, at Wagas.

(Note for you who don't know: Wagas is a typical western café selling pastas, paninis, wraps, salads and soups for around 50 kuai. When I first came to Shanghai Wagas was a great resort as it took some while for my belly to get used to the Chinese oil and msg, however, nowadays I rarely visit the popular chain that is pretty much always packed with westerners around lunch time).

I was eating a chicken wrap, which was in fact split up in two smaller wraps, so I took my time eating it.

When I had finished the first wrap I gave my stomach a small break. Instantly a waiter appeared and tried to snap my plate from me!
-I am not finished!, I said, and put my hand over my plate.
She rolled her eyes and walked away.
(Jeez lady, how about ASKING first?!)

So I started eating again, but this time more slowly, and constantly putting the decreasing wrap back on my plate. It didn’t take long before a new waiter appeared and grabbed my plate.
-I am not FINISHED! I said, a bit louder this time (although it wasn’t the same waiter) and grabbed the plate that she had taken from me. Give that back to me!

My friend Anna who was with me found this highly amusing. For me, however, this is how it often goes at Western cafes where the waiters are so desperate to quickly clear the tables, that they often clear some of your food or drinks too. I’ve had so many half empty smoothies, glasses of wine, plates of fries, plates with that one, final pizza slize (that you know you shouldn’t eat because you are already full, however, the chances are that you are still going to squeeze it in because it’s so yummy…) taken from me, in such speed that I haven’t even had time to protest. Also, to be frank, those times when it first happened, it felt a bit stupid to demand your plate back. I mean, there was only a liiiiiitle bit of food left and I was pretty much finished anyways…

But now my attitude has changed because it has started to annoy me so much. I want those staff to give me a chance to nibble on my own leftovers as long as I want. Or, at least ASK me if they can take my plate before they grab it and walk away. Also, the sour attitude when you tell them ‘I’m not finished’ –what is all that about?! If my lunch hour is one hour I want to take my time to eat. Not hurry out so that they can give another customer my empty seat.

Me and Anna discussed it later. We were thinking that maybe all the waiters at Wagas have a competition about who can clear the most plates? The winner gets a pay rise and a bag of muffins? Then, of course, I could understand their eagerness to do their job. If this is not the case, however –which I doubt it is- then I find the plate grabbing a bit unacceptable. Later during my lunch hour, when I actually was finished, a manager (I guess the other waiters told her that it was ‘impossible to get that girl’s plate!’) came and asked me: “have you finished, can I clear your plate?” before reaching out for it. And sure, then it’s a whole different story.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Smell this

So you are taking a walk around Suzhou's lane house area, thinking to yourself that this place it quite peaceful and beautiful. Then you feel the smell. And then you see this. And then you realise that pretty much all 'beautiful and peaceful' places over here has a large mountain of garbage hidden in the backyard. Shame.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It’s getting hot in here

Handle the heat with frozen yoghurt from Shiquan Jie... mmmm...

It’s been heating up outside. Yesterday it was around 28 degrees and today it’ll be around 31. From today on my jeans will have to be replaced with skirts and shorts. I thought I was going to be able to wait for a bit longer, but it’s simply too hot out there! We haven’t turned on the air con in our flat yet, or at least the plan was not to, until it gets unbearable. But then yesterday, my bf came back from a work trip to Finland, and went straight for the air con.

Unbearable! The air in our flat is too moist!” he said, and turned it on.
“Wuss” I said (and turned it off when he went to have a shower).

See. That’s why I don’t go on work trips to Scandinavia and breathe fresh, clean (cold) air. It makes you weak and sensitive.

Tickets have been secured (finally!)!


My lord, I am so happy?! I looooove basketball, and the final?! It’s simply too good to be true!

Getting those tickets wasn’t painless. We ordered them in the beginning of February (from a Finnish ticket office as the Chinese ticket office seemed a bit messy and the procedure was so unclear) and were told we’d know whether we got them or not in March. March came. No news. April came. No news. By this point I lost my temper and although I am ashamed to admit it, I made a lot of nasty, complaining phone calls, demanding some news… (sorry ticket people!)

We had by that time already booked our flight tickets. So I was extra eager. (They should have understood!)

Last week I was told we’ve got 2 (free!) accommodation options: one is to stay with the Chinese guy who will work as a translator to the Chinese national basketball team (a friend of my Beijing friends!). Apparently his flat will be empty as he’ll be spending all his time with the national basketball team. Or, we can stay in the flat of my old boss. A friendly Chinese man, however, his flat is located quite far out, so let’s see what we decide on. Main point is: we don’t have to spend 1,500 kuai per night for some shitty motel room. Thank lord!

Yesterday we got an email saying we’ve got almost all the tickets we ordered! I mainly cared about the tickets to the basketball game, however, we also got tickets for one of the last days of track and field competitions, and I think during that day there will be 8 or 9 finals (?). Pretty cool! And then, to my bf’d delight, we also got tickets to the women’s beach volley final. I guess that’s the price I have to pay for dragging him to the bball. The only thing we didn’t get tix for was the swimming… Oh well. I am still over-the-top-happy! Olympic Games, here we come! Finally!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"When were you fat?"

One year old and with chubby legs...

Another interesting conversation I had with my Taiwanese friend:

Him: When were you fat?
Me: Fat?
Him: Yes. Fat. At what age?
Me: ehum.. Fat is kind of… when you are very big. I have never been very big.
Him: Yes, but you must have been fat at some point. I have seen so many fat westerners in China.
Me: Eh… I guess I was a bit of a chubby child. Although all westerners are not fat!
Him: You are still bigger than me now.

Sometimes this open conversation about body weight gets too personal. Also, why is it that Chinese people seem to love to compare themselves to westerners –weight wise? We have different body types for crying out loud. Also, my Taiwanese friend is a male. I thought men comparing their bodies to women were a big no-no?

Sorry if I tend to come back to this topic over and over again. It’s not me bringing it up. I am just amazed that they still do! Again and agian and again...

A pom

My Taiwanese male friend is very interested in the Western diet.

Him: -What do you eat for breakfast?
Me: -It depends.. maybe some bread, and yoghurt?
Him: -No bacon and egg?
Me: -That’s the poms!
Him: -Ah, okay…
(Short silence)
Him: -What is pom? Is that sausage?

Asian guys -romantic?

I witness this in Seoul, Korea, during a cold winter night in January… Meanwhile I was downing cups of Korean tea at a cosy café the guy outside the window spent 2 hours spreading out candles and roses, then lightning the candles before disappearing for a short while and then reappearing with his girlfriend (or soon to be girlfriend?). Very emotional, very…. Over the top! But got to give him credit for his effort, no?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday morning thoughts

I’ve started dreaming in Chinese, something that I find extremely annoying because in my dreams (just like in real life) I always have to stop and think about sentence structure, words and tones. In my dreams I make up conversations with people around me; everyone from taxi drivers to men selling pineapple and fruit sticks on the street. (Hm… this actually doesn’t sound too far from real life, especially considering I never tend to get things right, sentence wise I mean….) It’s kinda frustrating because I tend to wake up feeling tired from thinking so hard about what to say, and how to say it in Chinese… Anyone got any tips of how to control your dreams and usher them into some more safe lingual territory (like Swedish and English?)?

Speaking of unreal things, btw. Here’s some shot from what I assume must be a model shoot that I witnessed last Sat in the city center. About 5 meters away from the pretty ladies, this man was taking a nap. Huge contrasts. Very China.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Traditional vs simplified

Why do I always ’save the best’ (worse) for last? Tonight I am stuck with writing a one page ‘essay’ (or home exam they also call it) about my life in China. In Chinese. As you might imagine, it is not going great, and it’s giving me a headache. I just asked my Taiwanese friend to help me out, so now I am giving him a headache too.

In Taiwan they still use the traditional Chinese characters and he’s not too familiar with typing the simplified Chinese characters using pinyin (In fact, he doesn’t even know pinyin, and has to look in a dictionary every time he wants to type something simplified) so every time he wants to change my sentences he has to type it in traditional characters, change things around, then look up the pinyin to the simplified Chinese so that he can finally type it the way I am used to… I am a bit speechless to this fact. I think the simplified is so hard. Then imagine the traditional Chinese characters. No pinyin. More strokes. No pinyin.

Gosh. Headache is getting worse already!

Summer's here: let's cover up!

Yesterday was probably the warmest day of the year (so far) in Suzhou. Around 32 degrees, sunshine and humid… A friend was visiting and we rode our bikes around the city, constantly finding excuses to go and have ice cream/smoothies/ frozen yoghurt (at the end we were on a sugar high!). The summer trend was very obvious; men had rolled up their shirts and women were covering up with jeans, and hiding under their umbrellas, giving our short shorts, and bare arms tired looks. It’s the same here every summer: once the sun comes out, so do the umbrellas. I suppose it is a smart way to protect yourself against UV, however, since I am originally from a country where the summers often rain away, I simply cannot bring myself to take out an umbrella… on a sunny day?!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

This is what a girl's nite out goes like...

So it's Sat night, what are you all up to?

Tonight I stayed in w my friend Anna, eatig choc chip cookies and drinking wine. Normally, however, this is how the nights in Shanghai tend to go:

Getting ready is obviously a big part of the night...

Having a drink in the bathtub.. (all in ordinary fashion)

2 girls connecting the stereo...


Out and about! (this is what happens when the photographer has had one too many -but u gotta love our stockings?!)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gotta love your PJs

Summer is coming to Shanghai. Time to take out your PJ...

It's funny in China, that when summer comes people start to wear their pyjamas on the streets. The do their grocery shopping, noodle eating, and play mahjong dressed in flannel. My biggest concern have always been: how can they be comfortable wearing flannel during the steaming hot summer days? It’s 35 humid degrees outside and they cover up in a fabric that’s supposed to warm you during cold winter nights… Nah, I don’t get it.

I have more understanding for the women who often walk out in a long t-shirt (their night gown, I assume), flip flops and a handbag. Classy? Not sure. Suitable for the temperature? Sure!

Speaking of PJs, here’s a story I’ve got to share with you that a friend of mine told me…

A prominent American company CEO, normally located in China, takes his staff on a trip to the US in order to introduce them to American culture and business.

He books expensive rooms for all of them at a fancy hotel, and they all seem to settle in well.

The next morning, he is sitting in the restaurant eating breakfast, when he sees his staff pouring out from the elevators, dressed in …. Their flannel pyjamas!

He hurries to get up and greet them and tells them to change, adding:

-Why on earth are you wearing your night dresses down to the hotel restaurant?

His employees give him confused looks before someone replies:

-But boss, it is only 7.30am! We don’t start work until 9am. So on our free time we can wear what we want, right?

How feminine can men be?

This is much more OK than plastic surgery to look feminine...

Yesterday on the train I was seated next to a young Chinese man wearing a pink shirt and carrying around a red bag. A bit fruity perhaps? But then you should have heard the ring signal on his mobile phone!

Then I read an article on saying that Chinese men are opting for more feminine-looking faces….The article mainly indicated that young men aged 18 to 26 (mainly Shanghainese) “are turning to plastic surgery to achieve a smaller, more feminine face. Men are requesting cosmetic surgery to look more like popular celebrities, resulting in requests for smaller noses and pointed chins.

Some of the men are turning to plastic surgery as a way to gain a competitive edge in the job market. Statistics indicate that there has been a 100% increase in men who are having some form of cosmetic procedure done.”

The Shanghainese man is already known for being a Chinese woman’s best helper, as he is willing to do both grocery shopping and house cores (something I've heard the northern Chinese man strongly opposes), and this I strongly support. Plastic surgery, however… ehum. Yikes!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

There's a time and place for everything

About one month ago, I was at a seminar at the chamber. The topic was ‘China’s economy’ and afterwards there was a Q&A session in ordinary fashion.

A pretty Chinese girl in the back raised her hand.

-Yes? The speaker addressed her.
-Hi, my name is XXX and I come from XXX. Our company is hosting an event and I would like to know how I can get foreigners to attend it!

An instant, pregnant silence was followed by a confused mumble from the crowd.

-Eh… well, I think these sort of events are good spots for networking, the speaker said. I am sure you can talk to people during the coffee break and tell them about your event. Next….

-Wait, I am not finished! Said the Chinese girl. I would also like to know how foreigners think and how they are different to us Chinese in their way of thinking.

The crowd's mumble was replaced with amused laughter, and eventually someone stepped in and offered to consult the girl once the seminar had finished.

Still, I have to say. That pretty lady had some guts!!

BMW = 别摸我 -bie mo wo

Yeah, you all know BMW, the fancy car.

But do u know what BMW stands for in Chinese?

别摸我 -bie mo wo means 'don't touch me.'

A Chinese friend of mine explained that the 别摸我 was especially suitable for BMW cars because the cars are so fast, that no one can touch them...

So how do you then reply to a 'BMW'? Well... with another Chinese acronym of course, MSN -摸死你 = mo si ni = 'I insist on touching you.'

And apparently the these two acronyms are supposed to be a dialouge, so funny (?) that you can even get it as a t-shirt print.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

China's crack down on fake goods...

Every now and then you read that "China is cracking down on fake goods, including fake bags, clothes and DVD:s"

But are they? Really?

It sure doesn’t look like it.

An ordinary scene from a small sock shop in Shanghai.

Also I am thinking, if they crack down on fake goods, then where are all the tourists going to shop?

Friend in Chengdu tells about the earthquake

My friend Paul works in Chengdu (located only 60 miles from the epicentre in Wenchuan county) in the Sichuan province, and yesterday he sent an email saying he’s fine (thank god!). He also told me about the scenes going on down there.

When the earthquake hit, Paul was teaching in a classroom on the third floor of the English department. The ground shook very suddenly, and then began to rumble and sway violently. His students began to panic and scream, and he told them to stay clam, leave their belongings, and exit the building in an orderly fashion. As they walked down the hall to the stairwell, the ground continued shaking and debris from the ceilings began to fall. Everyone began to run and stampede towards the exits. They reached the outside of the building safely, at the same time as thousands of students could be seen pouring out of all of the classrooms. The school did not collapse, but the one of the laboratories (of the chemistry department) had caught fire during the quake so after a while, fire trucks arrived to put out the flames. An ambulance soon followed that went to help a teacher who had jumped from the third floor of her building in a state of panic during the quake. Paul later learned that she had fallen head first and died.

Many of the school’s buildings suffered severe damages from the earthquake so all classes have been cancelled for now. Paul describes the scene in Chengdu as a bit uneasy, due to the death toll steadily rising. However, he also said the government has been quick to respond to the emergency situation, especially in the more remote areas outside Chengdu that suffered the most from the quake.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's all about details

Speaking of shopping (sorry guys, you’ll be bored with today’s posts). Check out those glittery shoe laces my Chinese friend picked up for me at a street vendor?! I don’t care that my brother claims they make my shoes look like alien-shoes, I think they are so cute! Five kuais for 2 pairs of shimmering laces, although my friend was disappointed with this price:

-2 kuais for 2 pairs is more like it, she said.
-Uhu… I replied. Knowing that I probably would have ended up paying double what she did for just one pair!

Where to shop: street vendors (no, not the ones selling the fake stuff, obviously!)

Retail therapy

Every woman's dream?

Two things I try to think about when I am sick to make myself feel better: holiday and shopping. Have I told u guys about ‘Hot Wind’? It’s a chain store around China, selling mainly shoes and bags, but also some clothes. I adore this shop due to 2 reasons: First of all, they have size 39 in shoes, which is something that barely any other shoe shop has. The most common shoe size over here is 36, something I had when I was in 4th grade (yup, I am a big foot) so for me, finding shoes in China is kind of critical. (although Zara also have big sized shoes and lately H&M have started selling shoes –so I guess there is hope for the future!)

OK, the second reason why I love this shop is because they offer lifetime guarantee. For SHOES! Yes, baby, you heard me. If your heel drops off –bring the shoe back to Hot Wind and they will fix it. Receipt? Nope. Don’t need. They claim they recognize their old models. I am not so sure if I believe that but who cares. Lifetime guarantee –yey! You can also hand in your shoes simply to get them polished (although obviously the staff doesn’t look so happy when u do).

As for guys, I think they have up till size 43… My brother managed to buy some shoes there and the big foot thing runs in the family…

This photo was taking during winter, if anyone wonders about the hat... But look at those babies in my hands? Ah... they didn't have size 39 though so I never bought them.