Saturday, August 30, 2008

Party like the Chinese?

One of my best friends, Anna, is unfortunately leaving Shanghai, so this had to be 'mourned' in the most serious possible way: a girl's nite out in Shanghai!

We started off with dinner at A Future Perfect, followed by some cocktails at a fairly new bar that is called Kiitos (Kiitos means 'Thanks' in Finnish, however, I really wonder if the owner is Finnish coz this place had a huge Japanese crowd and the bartenders also spoke Japanese.... anyways). That Kiitos place is quite nice, not a place to party really, but more like a small, intimate, chill-out place where you can round up a date with someone special. And the bartenders know their stuff.

After Kiitos we felt we needed a more lively place, and decided that instead of going to the pretentious Bund places, that we'd head to something different and more Chinese, like Muse Nightclub (Yuyao Lu near Xikang Lu). This turned out to be the best choice of the evening; I had one of my best nights out in Shanghai ever! This place was everything but pretentious, and the crowd was mainly Chinese... (which is an opposite from places on the Bund where the crowd is mainly western) and they sure knew how to party. We were invited to join a friendly group of young Chinese girls and guys at their table (one of the guys had apparently a huuuuuge crush on my friend Anna they later revealed) and then followed a crazy night.

When people ask me if Chinese people drink I normally say 'no, not really.'
Well now I have to take those words back, because this group of people were bigger drinkers than a bunch of Finns in a sauna (and trust me, to be able to drink more than Finns in a sauna is quite an achievement!) Their table was just like a table at a Chinese restaurant -full of different things, only this time there weren't any spicy tofu or beef with chillies, this time there were bottles of Brandy, Bailys, Vodka, shot tubes and everything else you can think of, drink wise. And how those guys drank?! Geez, we couldn't keep up (no true vikings in us). It was 'gan bei' 'gan bei' 'gan bei!' (bottom up!) all the time, until almost all the booze was gone... and then they ordered more?! I felt like I was on some sort of high school party, where everybody was competing about who could drink the most. Obviously we didn't 'gan bei' as much as they did, and I guess that also showed. By 1am they were all either gone, or too drunk to stand up. Me and Anna (responsible drinkers -and simply not that good at shotting) on the other hand stayed on and danced until dawn with some other people. Whatta night!

Anna's admirer (to the left) and his friend.

Extensive drink selection

Ladies (all wearing shorts -the absolute 'must wear' a.t.m)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Can't buy me love

Bad match

I had lunch with my male friend from Taiwan the other day, let's call him Zhang. Always interesting, especially since he's very open and honest about most things.

For instance, Zhang was really surprised when I told him that back in Sweden, if if I came home 8 kg heavier than last time, none of my friends would make any nasty comments about it.

-Oh, so back in Swe no one comments on your weigh?
-Well, not straight to my face anyways. If you've put on weight u already know it, and u don't need someone telling u it.
-So what about when I comment about your weight? Do you mind?
-Only when you say I look fatter than before....

Good that we got that one cleared out. Moving on to love and relationships, as Zhang is a male in his early 30ies and his is keen to find a chick to spend some time with. He told me that lately he had met some Suzhou and Shanghai girls, both via friends and at clubs, and he had been amazed because all the girls seemed so 'powerful.'

-Powerful? I asked.
-Yeah, like, they want to make the decisions, they want to be in control, they want their man to follow them.
-Ah... well isn't Shanghai girls known for being quite dominant?
-Sure, but these girls I met were 23 years old, straight out from university... how can they be so keen to make decision already? They haven't even moved out from their parent's house?!
-Well, this is the 21st century. I guess things have changed...

Moving on, Zhang told me he'd exchanged phone number with one of the girls he met at a bar. The days after they'd met he'd received various text messages from her telling him how much she missed him and so on. Then, she'd suggested he'd take her out for dinner. Zhang obliged, and when he sat waiting for her at the selected restaurant, she turned up with three of her girlfriends, as if it was the most natural thing. (apparently that is quite common here that girls bring their friends or cousins to a date... just to make sure the guy is OK I suppose?). Only thing was that when they had finished eating, Zhang had to pay for everyone's feast.

Another dinner like that one followed, this time the girl only brought one friend. Zhang paid for them both. Then, Zhang got a text message that invited him to come shopping with the girl. This time it was only him and her. They walked through expensive department stores and the girl pointed at various bags, make-up and shoes:

-Oh, this one I like, and that one I would really love to have... and that one is also nice!

-Did you buy her anything?! I asked, wide-eyed.
-No... Zhang said. But obviously I was expected to. I don't think I'll be hearing from her anytime soon. It doesn't matter anyways, I don't think we were a good match. She was so materialistic and she seemed almost too mature for her age, wanting so many things at such early stage... I almost felt as if she tried to take advantage of me? Isn't she a bit young to be doing that?
-Ehum... kinda... anyways, I don't think you were a good match either. Maybe you should try and date someone a little bit older?
-Yeah, maybe I should.

He should.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dress code at the gym: high heels?

Respect?! (Picture:Xinhuanet/AFP)

I know I deserve this but I can't help feeling a bit sorry for myself. After 3 days of over-ambitious training (we are talking speed running on the treadmill and 30 min of skipping rope... plus weights. For 3 days!) I can barely move. Sure I was keen to get back into my routine but maybe I was a bit too keen? I have promised one of the Hunan guys that I'll join his body pump class tonight (something I've never tried -is it hard? Do I have to be coordinated? Flexible? I am neither of those....) but let's see how that goes. You mainly train your upper body in body pump, right? Because my lower body can't take anymore a.t.m. Even my calves are stiff, and that never happens. (I guess skipping rope can make wonders happen?)

Anyways, yesterday when I was doing 20 min of cool down at the bike I looked around only to see:

* The woman next to me working out in a pair of tight, skinny jeans. She was in her 40ies.

* A young girl running on the treadmill, wearing black pants, sneakers and a quite dressy blouse (?) that was so transparent that u could see her bra underneath. I almost wanted to tell her that she'll ruin her boobs if she keeps running in an ordinary bra... but then again, doesn't she feel how 'bumpy' and uncomfortable it is by herself?

* A girl in heels taking on the step machine (impressive sight I have to say!)

* A girl in a mini skirt lying down to do sit-ups... (that's when I stopped looking).

Don't get me wrong. I think people have the right to work out in anything they want to work out in... but I am just thinking... how can they be comfortable wearing that? I can BARELY manage a whole day in high heels? (although when it comes to wearing heels Chinese women are truly fantastic. They seem to wear them every day at any time and they wear them sooooo well, even being able to run to the bus in them -RESPECT! Maybe I should take a course?)

Well I guess the main thing is that they go to the gym. Not what they wear to the gyms. Still, I just wish someone would explain the importance of a sport bra to the ladies.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Olympic highlight: the basketball final (and everything around it!)

The basketball stadium

Game time!

Sick of hearing about the Olympic Games in Beijing? Well, this will probably be my last post regarding the Games.. But I cannot leave out the best thing that I saw in Beijing: the basketball final between USA and Spain! Not only was this a very well-played game (especially by Spain -their young little point guard Ricky Rubio was a pleasure to watch!) but for once, the stadium was almost full and the audience was really into the game! There was a lot of cheering going on and no volunteers tried to ruin the fun. It was perfect!

Ticket's had 'sold over.'

We had bought our tickets quite far in advance and thank lord for that... when we got to the stadium there were some tourists trying to buy tickets from guys on the street (yeah, all that talk about 'no black market' is bullshit.. there were people selling both real and fake tickets outside every single sport arena in Beijing! How they got hold of those tickets is a mystery I guess... but that 'mystery' always tend to occur over here!) and the price was about to be set to 5000 kuai. Yes you heard me, 5000 kuai. (that's a one-way ticket to Sweden -no way Jose!!!!). I really hope that those tourist got a good seat and a real ticket for that price. For our price of 500 kuai we were seated at the very far back but it was still a good spot and we could see things well.

Argentina-Lithuania game.

USA-Spain game.

Argentina-Lithuania game.

USA-Spain game.

The bronze game between Argentina and Lithuania was quite dull. Argentina dominated from beginning to end, and the spectator support was quite lame. But then came the game that everyone had been waiting for, and suddenly every single seat in the stadium had been taken. The Chinese national basketball team (without Yao Ming I believe) was in the audience, and so was English football hunk David Beckham. (He almost got a bigger applaud than Kobe Bryant. But just almost)

Spanish support

A fantastic game and a perfect ending to 3 great days in Beijing! I am so happy that we went!

A less fantastic experience occurred when we were getting into the stadium area and had to go through a security check. Since we were going straight from the game to the airport we had brought all of our stuff with us. This turned out to be a HUGE problem and we were almost treated as suspected terrorist when the Chinese volunteers found TOOTH PASTE (dam da da DAM!) in our bags, and yes, not only one but TWO TUBES! Very strictly forbidden to bring into the stadium. They also took my bf's razor blade and I started getting terrified that they were going to go through my toilet bag and take all of my stuff too... But the guy who checked my bag seemed to sense my unwillingness to having him checking my bag, so he simply gave the bag back to me. Ahhh..I was so grateful! First of all, I didn't want all my toilet articles spread over a table and second of all, if they would have taken my tweezers or my precious 'bought-in-Sweden-since-they-are-not-available-from-China-lotions' I think I would have gone a bit aggressive. So good on you, young volunteer guy in Beijing who understood that I wasn't there to harm.

Hottest in the audience?

Gold to USA.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Memory letdown

The bittersweet results of a holiday = I'm back on square one???

Oh my oh my... I guess 4 weeks away from China has its pros and cons.

Pros: clean air and water.

Cons: I am back at a beginner's level of Chinese (or at least it feels so).

Yesterday I went to my favorite place in Suzhou, the gym (!) where I was met by one of my favorite trainers: Frank (Hunan boy, alias Rock wasn't working).

-You na! Long time no seen! he said, in Chinese.

He was just heading out to grab some dinner so I went inside to do some cardio. All well. It wasn't that hard to run for 1 hour. (Or OK, it was quite hard. I just have to tell myself it wasn't).

When I had been running on the treadmill for about 50 minutes Frank came up next to me and started asking me about the Beijing Olympics. It might have been the fact that I was running on a 10,5 speed, or the fact that I was extremely exhausted (on second thoughts -it was DAMN hard to run for 1 hour!) but this 10 minutes conversation (if you can even call it that) was the most painful conversation I have experienced during my time in China. I couldn't get one, single sentence right?! I stumbled on every word, I pronounced things wrong, I used the wrong grammar structure, and so on, and so on... It was a disgrace!!! Poor Frank just looked at me, wide eyed, as he saw I was obviously struggling, both with finding words and keeping my speed on the treadmill.

Four weeks in Europe. Is that all it takes to forget about everything u have learned/studied for the last 2 years??!?! (No, I didn't study anything while I was away.. I brought my heavy book and everything but I only opened it once... at the airport... ehum)

Well, apparently so. I guess the only way to not make this story repeat itself is to not to leave China until I master the language.. when I master it I won't forget that easy... right? Or... I simply learn the rules of discipline and maybe manage to open the book next time I'm on a holiday.

(But then again -maybe it was just the fact that I was on a treadmill....)

Olympic frenzy (day 2): swollen feet, Noggy power and joy killing Olympic voluteers

Busy bird's nest area

Me + bird's nest


Water cube

The second day in Beijing was spent walking around in a city that was waaaaaaay toooooo hooooot to be walked around in. Have u ever seen the swollen feet of a pregnant woman? Well, imagine those feet, triple the size of the feet and you'll get an idea what mine looked like. Even my bf (who doesn't believe in my: 'heat makes my feet swell'-theory) was shocked at the size of my feet and asked if I secretly was carrying around a baby. Anyways, at least I learned on thing: Must have in a hot Chinese city that you don't know so well and is likely to get lost in: soft, swell-friendly and comfortable shoes.... Next time I'll try to remember.

Around 4pm we went to the bird's nest to check out what was supposed to be a whole 'Olympic area' with restaurants, performances, face paintings etc... We got to this crowded place and were met by.... people. People. And more people. Gosh, I know China is heavily populated but lord, there was a lot of people! I guess the fact that the bird's nest was located next to the water cube made matters worse.

With high hopes we strolled off to the designated food ares that were said to have restaurants. Hm... well if your dinner normally is 2 minute noddles I guess you could say this place had 'restaurants.' They also had plastic boxes that contained an artificial looking version of meat and rice. We don't like. So we headed to the second best option which was Mc Donalds. (2 of them even, within the area!) Turned out that we weren't the only ones preferring Maccas over 2-minute-noddles: the Mc Donald's was so crowded that we first missed it completely (there were so many people lining up outside that you could barely spot the sign) and then saw it and decided that not even the most tasty cheese burger was worth lining for for hours.

Fancy a burger? She sure did!

No 1 eatery

We bought some salty crackers instead and those had to do for dinner. By the time we had done all this it was already 6pm. I know, crazy huh? But the area was HUGE! And guess what else we didn't find (except for tasty things to eat): well, face paintings/people selling flags etc... In that huge area, there was only 2 stalls selling Chinese/Olympic/Mascot flags (MASCOT FLAGS?! What the h****). We were deeply disappointed. Sure, my bf looked quite geeky in his 'FINLAND' shirt and I didn't look too fancy either in my 'SWE' cap... but that's the whole point with the Olympics, right? And this night some Scandinavian athletes were actually competing, so we wanted to go 'all in' and dress ourselves in as much crap as possible (and maybe end up on television. I had promised dad I'd have a serious try at it and he had promised he would be watching). But since we found nothing of that, we had to take our seats looking ordinary. Shame!

Fortunately (?), though, we had been seated in between a Finnish crowd and a Bahamas crowd and during the night's competition everyone bonded, exchanged flags, photos and phone number, so it was all good. The Bahamas people learned everything they needed to know about Finland and the Finns learned that you don't have to down 15 beers in order to scream, cheer and have fun at the games.

Finnish supporters

Unfortunately the Swedes (Emma Green in high jump and Magnus Arvidson in javelin) did quite bad and didn't stay in their competitions for too long. The Finns, on the other hand (and there were 3 of them in the javelin final), threw like true vikings and were all placed in the top 6. No one threw as far as Noggy boy Andreas Thorkildsen, however, who made a new Olympic record and also won the gold when he threw a bit over 90 m. Although Swedes are normally very competitive (read: jealous) when it comes to Norway, this night I forgot all about it and chanted 'NORWAY, NORWAY, NORWAY' as if I was a Noggy myself (It's the Olympics, it makes u do stupid things, okay?! Also, this Thorkildsen guy is quite a hottie). The Finns were quite disappointed when their javelin here Tero Pitkämäki (try saying that name fast, 3 times!) only got the bronze, but the Bahamas guys helped them to cheer up.

Noggy gold winner. (Photo: BBC)

Bigger crowd this time

Then came the men's 4x400 m relay final and it was time to go bananas with Bahamas.... which we all did. Especially halfway through the race when the Bahamas runners managed to recover from a bad start and challenged the US. They didn't hold all the way, however, but won the silver! Our little crowd started dancing and singing of joy until a group of Olympic volunteer workers suddenly appeared with worried expressions on their faces, asking us all to 'calm down and please return to our seats.' I thought I was hearing things wrong, because excuse me, but at the Olympic Games you shouldn't be 'calm' should you?! You shouldn't just sit down should you? You should cheer and smile and have as much fun as possible, right?! Gosh, these joy killers! We made their night quite sour as we all refused to sit down and kept dancing and singing. Sure that they want their games to be safe and sound but come on, we had already gone through bag's checks and metal detectors: RELAX! After this little incident at least I understand better why the Chinese crowds in the audience were so calm and sat down the whole time. They probably only did what they were told to do.

Run, Bahamas, RUN

Cheering with Bahamas

Bird's nest by night

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympic frenzy (day 1): muffin bread, beach girls and a lame bronze game crowd

Outside the beach volley venue at Chaoyang Park.

I tried using my bf's iPhone to blog from Beijing, but as you might have figured out, it didn't work so well. Anyways, I am back in Suzhou, and boy, have I got stories to tell or what?! I will probably spread the 'Olympic experience' over several blog posts so that I don't bore you with one long Olympic 'ra ra.'

But where do I begin?! The competitions? Awesome!! (That basketball final beats anything I've seen!) The venues? Impressive (although I first called the 'bird's nest' the 'bird's shit' I changed my mind as soon as I saw it.. It was really cool, especially by night!). The crowd? Hm... mixed! I wonder if Chinese are ready for big sporting events? The 864983624986298462984623 (++++++) volunteers?? Friendly joy killers... (I'll explain more later!) The security? Not over the top. We had expected it to be quite strict. And it was. But it would have been anywhere I believe? And all in all I have to say things ran smoothly... The food sold at the venues? Quite disappointing. The toilets? Everything from disgusting to clean.... The sky? Everything from clear blue to smoggy. The heat? Close to unbearable.... All in all: I had a fantastic time!

But OK, let's start with the competitions. Like I wrote before, we were there to watch beach volley, bball and athletics.

The beach volley was up first and had an early start on Fri (Aug 22) morning, namely 9am. This obviously was waaaaaaaaaay to early for a majority of the audience, or, they were simply not interested in watching the bronze game between Georgia and Brazil (well, more like: Brazil and Brazil seeing that the Georgians were in fact 2 Brazilian guys), because the venue (located in Chaoyang park) was half empty! I was both surprised and disappointed at how little people rocked up to cheer for the teams. The atmosphere was a bit lame to start off with, but eventually more people came and things got a bit better. This didn't help the Georgians, however, who struggled from the start against Brazil and were defeated only after 2 sets. Not even close to exciting. (I had expected it to be a bit more competition for the bronze, but well...).

Something that apparently was more exciting, and set most of the guys in the audience clapping (and me thinking: "are we still in China?!??!") were the venues hottest things: the beach girls. The beach girls were a bunch of tall, slim, model-look-alike-female-dancers who entertained the crowds in time out and breaks. My bf was over the moon. (If I wouldn't have confiscated the camera from him we would have had 380 shots of steamy dancers in blue, red and green bikinis, and none of the athletes). I was moderately entertained, although I have to say they did a good job, constantly smiling and jumping around (I got tired just by looking at them. Gosh, I really have to get into my gym routine again!). I guess they were more exciting to watch than those two "Georgian" players who seemed to be fighting with each other during the second set? Anyways. Beach girls at beach volley. Makes sense. All good.

Bronze Game: Brazil vs Brazi... sorry, Georgia.

Beach girls shakin' it.

Me, myself, and I!

Lame turn up for the bronze game.

Since the bronze game was over almost before it started (yup, I am not exaggerating. It was as quick as dull!) we decided to kill some time by filling our empty stomachs. The list of food offered for sale didn't look too promising but the fact that the prices did made us decide to remain in Chaoyang park and eat while we waited for the 11am gold game to begin. This turned out to be a quite bad decision. The food available at the venue was everything but tasty. How about some 'bread' (meaning: chocolate muffin-like, sweet bread?)? Sausage (plastic fantastic, looked and tasted disgusting!)? Half melted snickers bars? Cakes? Biscuits (in fact: oreos)? Popcorn? Crisps? Or ice cream? Nope, there wasn't anything substantial (or tempting) to eat, so we decided to skip all that and headed for the more price worthy option: BEERS! For 5 kuai (!!!) per small bottle, this was a true treat, and also, the best tasting thing in the park (and with 33 degrees in the air it went down well!).

Cheap, cheap, cheap, but tasty? Naaaah.... I guess u can't have it all!

May I tempt you with this plastic sausage?

Chocolate bread, anyone?

The gold game, between USA and Brazil, was much better than the bronze game. The first set was even (US won), and so was the second (that Brazil won) so we were quite excited when the third set started... The third set, however, was so quick that we barely had time to finish our ice creams. The US dominated the set completely and won a quite easy victory and the gold medal. By this time the crowd had grown both bigger and better and the atmosphere at the venue was great. The beach girls kept delivering dance moves and the commentators were above expectations. Only complaint is that it was so hooooooooot and our spot was right in the sun. We got completely burned (we hadn't even thought of bringing sunscreen. I never thought the sun would show in smoggy Beijing? But it sure did! And it sure showed on us later that day!) but that's no one's fault but our own, so all in all: a good sporting event!

Once the game finished we grabbed a cab (it took some walking and some waiting but actually, traffic wasn't that bad, cars seemed to stick to the rules and the roads were notably less jammed, making taxi drivers smile) to the city centre and spent the rest of the day chatting with other spectators, drinking beer (none as cheap as at the beach venue, however), sweating in the sun, getting a bit lost, trying to read some 'Olympic map' that didn't make any sense at all, taking photos and meeting a friend for dinner. All in all: a great (but hot!) first day of the games.

Can't get enough of those beach girls...

Better turn up for the gold game.

Gold game: USA vs Brazil.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beijing Olympics -here I come

OK, I could have planned things better. Just when I got back to our flat in Suzhou, unpacked my bag, had a meal and a good night's sleep, I am about to take off again. This time, however, the flight is not as long, and I really think it will be worth while, because the time has finally come for me to go to Beijing to watch the last 3 days of the Olympic Games!!

My parents are almost childishly excited about me going. For my bday earlier this month they gave me enough 'Sweden' hats and t-shirts to dress up a whole football team. (Never mind the fact that I despise these sort of clothes, especially since there won't be any Swedes competing in the beach volley or basketball final -which I am going to watch).

From looking at the competitions going on at the moment in Beijing (watching the men's long jump on TV at the moment) Beijing doesn't even look too bad, humid and heat wise.. Right now it's raining and people are wearing surprisingly thick clothes, but apparently it's going to be sunny tomo so I don't know. I guess I'll be bringing a little bit of everything with me (clothes wise) and just hope for the best (as long as it is not as humid as it currently is in Suzhou I am happy!). I won't bring any computer so I don't think I will be able to blog, unless I find myself some Internet cafe (I'll look for one, promise!) But I'll bring my camera so expect plenty of photos online on Monday. Except for the bball and the beach volley finals I will also be watching the second last day of track and field... yey! Hopefully there will be some Scandinavian dominance in the javelin final (on Sat) which I am going to watch, so that I don't have to feel completely out of place in my yellow-and-blue clothes.

As for the bball games.. I am soooo excited. Shame it won't be Argentina and USA in the final, but fortunately I will still be able to see both teams play, since the ticket I bought for the gold game, also gives me a seat to watch the bronze game. Nice!

As for the beach volley -I don't know if I have told u all already- but anyway, the reason we bough tickets to this event is because my boyfriend argued that if I could go and watch the men's bball final, he should get a chance to watch the women's beach volley (mmm guess why...). I firgured this sounded fair and we ordered tickets. Only thing is that the tickets to the women's final had sold out so we got tix to the men's final instead. Ah! The look on my bf's face when he saw those tix. And the look on MY face?! Priceless! :)

Anyways, I should get going but I'll try to find a place to blog from. Except for watching sports I will also indulge in some yummy Beijing food and hang out with my best Beijing friend, Panda (not an actual Panda -but a Chinese girl -she got her name 'Panda' from voluntarily working as a Panda care taker at the Beijing ZOO when she was young).


Slowly getting there

Looking forward to all the hard work at the school bench paying off..

I had a real 'ah-I-am-in-China' feeling already when I stepped on the plane in Helsinki and found my seat (and the seat next to mine) to be already occupied by a young Chinese couple that had made themselves comfortable. Despite the fact they had already drank what was supposed to be my water, and used 'my blanket' I couldn't help smiling. (People taking my seat is the standard I have gotten used to every time I take the train from Shanghai to Suzhou)

-Sorry guys, I said in Chinese. I think you're on the wrong seat.
-Oh no it cannot be possible,
said the Chinese guy in English.
-What's your seat number? I asked, still in Chinese.
They took out their tickets and looked. When they realised I was right they literally jumped from their (or mine) seats and apologized about 100 times (in Chinese now). Once they started moving their computer games, IPhone and snacks to their actual seats the guy started chit chatting about what I was going to do in China, where I lived etc, since I obviously knew Chinese (Something I got a lot of compliment for).

We chatted for a bit and I got approving nods from both him and his girlfriend for the fact that I was from Sweden (they had just visited Sweden and said they loved Stockholm). When we stopped chatting I put my bag in the luggage space and looked around before I sat down. I must say I was surprised to be met by approving looks from all the business-looking men seated all around me. Even the guy who was waiting to sit down next to me, gave me a huge smile and almost immediately asked me where I had learned how to speak Chinese so well, saying it was impressive to hear.

Ahhh... I get it. All those people going to China -not knowing any Chinese at all- hearing me speak to a Chinese couple, thinking I am fluent? I can't help it... I love it! (Never mind the fact that the conversation I had with the Chinese couple was very basic). Just give me another 1.5-2 years or so or I will 'deserve' those impressed looks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm back!!

Thing to love about China: you never know who (or what) u r going to bump into on the streets...

You know you are back in China when....

- You are waiting for your luggage and the man behind you starts trimming his nose hair.

- The black car you ordered to take u from Shanghai to Suzhou suddenly costs 400 and not 350 kuai. (A price change that started pretty much today I assume?)

- You take a shower and still feel dirty.

- You catch yourself frowning and thinking; 'what's that smell?!'

- Internet is slower than a snail.

- There's fireworks outside your window.

- A thunderstorm starts (without the slightest warning and from an almost clear sky) in the middle of the day.

Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!! It's SO GOOD TO BE HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel like I can never leave again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So long, Sweden!

I'm off to China!!! Finally! Now I have 2 hours (flight) + 5 hour (waiting time) + 9 hours (flight) + 2 hours (car ride) to 'look forward to' before I arrive in Suzhou. Then I have one day of rest (more than plenty) before I do it all over again (almost) in order to get to Beijing and watch the last days of the Olympic Games. Stay tuned! 

Monday, August 18, 2008

What can't u do in parks?!

Family nap

Daytime games

Something I have noted about Chinese people is that they really love hanging out in parks. In fact, it seems to be one of the wknd highlights to many (I bet if u would ask some of those park people to choose between the pub and the park they would all choose the park), and it’s not like they come there alone… oh no, here we are talking family, friends, babies, dogs, rabbits (?), and neighbours. Wknd get-togethers in parks are essential, and, actually, quite fun to watch? You may not think so, but just have a think about it…


Parks in China are top-notch spots for almost everything: people take wedding photos in parks. They eat in parks. They fly kites in parks. They get married in parks (or, maybe they don't -but I often see huge groups following around a wedding couple in parks... it might be related to taking wedding photos in the park however...). They sit on benches and watch laowais in parks. They play cards in parks. They sell shirts in parks. They take naps in parks. And they play daytime games (that involved carrying a cup on your head) in parks. In fact -I have watched many people enjoy themselves in parks. Often I have been amused (and sometimes astonished).   


Then I started thinking about what me and my friends/family (back in Sweden) do for fun in parks (or garderns that are popular choices since many here are lucky to have em)... well. We like to play a Swedish version of softball or another game called 'KUBB,' but these sort of game often involves drinking a lot of beers. Then during midsummer we put up this stupid, big, flower-dressed midsummer tree, drink ourselves silly and jump around the tree pretending we are little frogs (This might not sound appealing –but trust me, many people find each other over a frog-jumping-session. Nine months later Sweden has its yearly 'baby boom' period....).. Sometimes we also sing. Or yell. And play 'tag.' And drink some more. And I guess you could say that some people also ‘sleep’ or ‘take naps’ in parks…


After thinking about this I realised that we are not that different after all. We just have different ideas of 'park fun.' After this summer in Sweden I am actually not sure what kind of park I prefer… but the thought of flying a kite and being far away from a beer is actually very appealing.


Tomorrow I am flying back to China! Yey -I cannot wait!!!     

Playing KUBB

Midsummer frog dance (soft version)

KUBB throw