Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The (temporary) end

I've decided to give blogging a break for a while. It was fun while it lasted (especially between 2008 and the beginning of this year), but lately I've felt my blog posts have lacked in terms of quality and content, much because of my limited amount of free time these days. So, I've decided to give it a rest for now. Who knows, maybe one day I can find my way back to writing inspiring new blog posts. Until then, enjoy the archives! I bet there's enough to publish a book one day, which has always been my long term dream and goal.

Wish you all the best! 再见!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chinese celebrity party

Last night I went to what I suppose can be described as a “Chinese celebrity party.” The magazine “Femina” celebrated 2 years and that was done by throwing a big bash at a club in downtown Shanghai. All the concepts for success were in place: famous models, catwalk, dress code (“a dash of green”), singers, TV-personalities, photographers, flashing lights and a whole Femina editorial team dressed in green! Me, in my modest attempt (some green jewellery) have never felt more underdressed.

Now, the one thing I understand about these kind of events is that celebrities are crucial. The more the better. As soon as my workmate and I walked in, we were greeted by our Femina contact, who kept gushing about how many celebs that were there. Not that we really got to hang out with them. They all kept to the VIP room “backstage,” carefully guarded by some of the biggest Chinese bouncers and security staff I’ve ever seen (the Swedish king’s security force was nothing compared to these beefcakes. Then again, maybe the King’s security guys were Ninjas?).

The night went on with everything from speeches, singing performances, fashion shows and dance. Most stuff took place on the second floor’s terrace, which would have been lovely if it wasn't for the fact that it was raining.

My personal highlight of the night was when Taiwanese male model Godfrey Tsao came strutting down the catwalk. Some girls did the whole fan-shrieking, and the whole situation felt very celebrity and unreal-like.

Unfortunately I don’t know the names of the other celebs, maybe someone can help pointing them out to me? Overall I thought it was a fun night. A limited amount of laowais, and it was fun to watch how the Chinese socialites and “somebodies” were partying.

Note to self: work on some kind of do-able photo pose. I felt like an idiot every time a photographer approached, not knowing how to stand or how to smile (should I smile? Is a smile considered cool enough?!), and as I result I'm pretty sure I'm blushing on every single shot. The Chinese guests were MUCH better than me, keeping a very professional and high-end profile, and posing as if it was their daily job every time a cameraman came near. Me must learn if I ever want to go to this kind of event again.

Not sure who this singing babe is

Hunky Godfrey Tsao
Godfrey Taso, 2 girls I don't know who they are, as well as a male TV personality (at least I've seen him on TV several times)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Best of spring: videos

Starting off with Shanghai Fashion week featuring Swedish designer Ann-Sofie Back!

(Ps. due to the insane slowness of blogger, I cannot post any more videos at this moment)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Le Meridian, Sheshan

Back in Shanghai after a wonderful wknd in Sheshan! On Sat morning we caught metro line 9 from Xijiahui to Sheshan station (quite a few stops, but overall very convenient). I was quite surprised when I saw the surroundings, this was like a real suburb with cute little houses and hills.

Eventually we made it to our destination: Le Meridian hotel! Although it wasn’t the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at, it was definitely still one of my best hotel wknds ever. And why? Well because the hotel had a good outdoor pool at which we hung out, pretty much all the time. Saturday came with overcast so it wasn’t even that hot and the pool was everything but crowded.

Due to the heat and all the pool fun, I kind of forgot the importance of eating a substantial lunch. So, when dinnertime came I was completely starved, ready to start chewing my own arm. And as a result of me feeling as if I could eat a whole restaurant, we made the mistake of going for the buffet. Big mistake. I ended up trying pretty much every single dessert they had, and afterwards I felt like a walking pudding. Not to be recommended (besides, buffet desserts are never even that good?! Well at least I kept away from the chocolate fountain). Not even a super soft Le Meridian bed could save the day: I slept badly, basically being on a sugar rush all night.

I decided to turn it all around the next day. Got up quite early and went straight to the gym where I did 6 km (34 min) on the treadmill followed by a swim in the outdoor pool. Amazing! Now that’s what a holiday is about for me!

Sunday at the pool was a bit more crowded. A big Shanghai crew arrived for the famous Le Meridian Sheshan brunch and people became a bit catty about sun chairs and umbrellas at the pool. But except for that, it was a nice day. Way too hot to be in the sun all the time, but nice to sit in the shade with a good book.

Caught the metro back sometime around 4pm, and arrived home feeling as if we just spent a week in Thailand! Tanned legs and faces, and relaxed bodies and minds! Can tell you it was the first –but not last- time I went to Sheshan! It’s a perfect weekend resort if you live in Shanghai.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Going to Sheshan 佘山

上次去呼和浩特了,现在去佘山! Last time it was Hohhot, this time I'm off to Sheshan

You can tell that summer’s in the air! People are starting to feel restless, are starting to move, keen to get away from the city’s hustle and bustle. I’m no exception. I was over the moon when my significant other revealed that he’d booked us a wknd in Sheshan, leaving early tomorrow morning.

Sheshan is in fact a hill, located some 30-40 km outside of Shanghai. It’s supposed to be quite nice with a church, a national park, and so on. I’m very excited about going, even though it means I miss out on the National Day celebration at the Swedish pavilion on Sunday (June 6 is the real national day of Sweden).

Most of my friends are going away this wknd though, some catching a flight to Hong Kong, others going to Macau (where I still haven’t been –HAVE to go at some point!). When I lived in Scandinavia I used to feel happy about the fact that it was so easy to go for a long wknd to another country (and frequently went to visit friends/family in London and Brussels) but in China it’s actually almost the same. Spend a few hours and you get to a completely new place, however still in the same country. There’re so many places to explore over here. Love it!

What's your best wknd-getaway in China? Share! I might need inspiration for next weekend too... hehe!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Nordic Lighthouse

Nordic Lighthouse model, picture borrowed from china-briefing.com

Not everything is happening within the Expo park in Shanghai. Some countries have chosen different approaches to the 6 months tourist/exhibition frenzy, one of them being Denmark.

Sure, Denmark made a pavilion, and flew over the world’s most famous little mermaid sculpture and put here in their pavilion pond, having thousands of people lining up to photograph her every single Expo day. But they also built a lighthouse outside the Expo area, in Shanghai’s Yangpu district. The lighthouse goes under the name “Nordic Lighthouse” and you don’t need any Expo ticket to enter it. Not a bad idea if you ask me.

The building is in fact a newly renovated warehouse. Although it’s been given a good makeover, the building still has a rough edge to itself, which works nicely with simple, Danish interior. It consists of three large floors. The first floor features exhibitions, and the second and third floors are designated for business meetings, conferences and exhibitions. They have quite good catering possibilities over there, with renowned Shanghai restaurant Laris being in charge of the food business.

I went to visit the lighthouse myself the other day, and I really enjoy the setup. It’s located next to the harbour in Yangpu, just on Huangpu river. So if you sit on the terrace on the third floor, you get a pretty nice river view.

Currently, there’s a Nordic landscape exhibition running, probably most interesting for those ones that are into city planning, landscape architecture and design. All Nordic countries (including Iceland and even Greenland!) are represented with a project of their own.

Later this month, I’ll get yet another dose of the lighthouse, as one of the projects I’m currently working on includes hosting a reception at the lighthouse. Oh, and did I tell you I’m going to be the moderator –welcoming guests in Chinese? Yeah, we thought it would make the event a bit more interesting (or well, someone came up with this idea –and no, I wasn’t me!) so they decided that a Chinese guy should speak English, and that I should speak Chinese. Since I gave a speech during Shanghai Fashion Week’s press conference in April, I’m not that nervous about this, but sure, it’s still a bit scary. But also fun!

If you’re keen on checking out the lighthouse or the Nordic landscape exhibition, you find the address here

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Countdown to the forest days

Nothing beats a run on these trails...

Yesterday after work I felt hungry and tired, but still decided to go to the gym and give the treadmill a go. It proved to be a good idea, as I not only managed to run, but also managed to do 10 km within 58 minutes. Seeing that I did the first 30 min on a steady, 10km/hour pace, I'm quite proud of the fact that I managed to finish on such time. I'm currently in a "I love running" -phase, although 1 hour on the treadmill is a bit too long for my liking. I seriously cannot wait for going home this summer and taking on the forest laps of Finland and Sweden!

Ah, I'm gonna run pretty much every single morning while I'm over there, not wasting a single day, may it rain or snow (you never know, it's Scandinavia?!). I leave for a holiday on July 14, let the countdown begin!

Speaking of running, yesterday I saw a tiiiiny girl all wrapped in plastic foil running on the treadmill next to mine. She only managed for about 5 min, then she had to sit down and almost couldn't get up. Are they wrapping that plastic too tight? I almost felt like telling her that she'd get more out of running without some tight plastic around her arms. Who knows, maybe she'd even enjoy it?

The plastic-fantastic theme at the gym continues to astonish me.

...then you finish off by a dip in the lake! Ah, heaven!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bored businessmen

Chinese businessmen continue to astonish me. Last summer, I went to a big business event in Finland and was surprised by the somewhat inappropriate questions I was asked. Back in China, the behaviour of these men in suits continues to make me wanna go: “what?! Did he just say that?!”

During the last few weeks I’ve been to numerous events, seminars and signing ceremonies where I’ve seen a very non-business-like behaviour. I’m not going to blame all these bored businessmen, speeches that go for more than 5 minutes are boring! But one of the parts you have to play when you’re in your fancy suit is to listen to them still, right? Well at least that’s what I always try to do.

Chinese businessmen, on the other hand, don’t try that hard. Or OK, let’s not generalize, because some really do. Some are great. But then there are the ones that fall asleep, talk on their phone, or use their mobiles to play computer games/ watch movies. That’s a step in a direction that’s too far away from normal business behaviour if you ask me.

I think if you ask them why, their answer would be simple: they’re bored. But what does that mean for future business events in China? Well maybe a new norm needs to be set in order to keep people’s interest?

At the most recent signing ceremony I went to, one of the men (a tall, fairly young guy from northern China) spent most of the speeches chasing me around the room, trying to take my photo. I discreetly tried sneaking away from him, I even spent 10 minutes in the bathroom with a locked door in order to get him to give up, but he was persistent and seemed to enjoy the chase-game. It was just slightly embarrassing when his camera went “click, click, click” (and always with a flash) and people turned around to see what was more important than the mayor’s speech, and saw me, looking uncomfortable and trying to get away from a man in a suit, armed with a camera.

Not blaming him for being bored. Just saying something ought to change.