maanantai 21. joulukuuta 2009


Lately there has been one story above anything else circulating in the China-blogs. Namely, the one of the Jason Brody. A young, british chap who disappeared in Beijing some weeks ago, and send a lot of material to his friend ( to be published if he disappears. Which he did.

Now, I am a skeptic towards most things I don't know, so it is no surprise I am not immediately convinced about this case. But strange it seems, in deed. There are suicides, murders, old chinese "mobsters", international business deals and what nots. Have a look at yourself and make up your own mind.

sunnuntai 13. joulukuuta 2009

Shanghai Fabric Market, aka South Bund Spinning Soft Material Market

One of the joys of living in Shanghai, for me, is South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market. Most clothing issues no longer require the tedious task of running through 15 shops before finding something remotely fitting. As, you can just go and order which ever style you desire. In your size. In your exact size. And in your color.

Surely, there may still be a problem of not finding the very same fabric you had imagined or the very same color you had wished for. But most of all, there certainly is the problem of... excessiveness. There is too much to choose from, too much to wish for, too many colors. And too many ideas, in my head. And it is inexpensive enough that you (and "you" is an inderct way of saying "I") could pass the opportunity.

Some shops are specialised in suits and coats, some in button-down shirts...

... some are specialised in certain materials, like velvet, denim, leather or silk... Or cashmere.

... or to dancing clothes and paljettes!

There are shops that mainly sell ties, scarves, pashminas...

... or hats, gloves and childrens "Chinese styly clothes".

And then there are shops that make the traditional qipaos (Chinese style dresses). Love them. I have two, though the opportunities to use are... scarce.

Now shopping at the fabric market requires certain skills. Firstly, bargaining. It helps a lot if you know where to aim at. But often you just have to guess, untill you get the hold of it. And still when ever buying something new, you don't know what is the "right price".

Secondly, you have to know what you want. Because you will get what you ask for. And other way around: if you don't ask, they propably won't read your mind and do it. Be specific. Show a picture. Make sure they write it down. Or make a copy of something you already like.

And thirdly, consider properly when you pick-up / try the clothes on. They will make the pants shorter, the skirt tighter, the blouse better fitting, but only if you ask for it. Be prepared to not have the clothes after the first due date, that way it is easier to leave them for a corrections. Just consider it a fitting. That's what you would have in any tailor in any other country, too.

And it helps to find you a regular tailor. Of each sort, that is. As mentioned above, they are specialised. Here are some that I like, but I will not give any promises on their behalf :o) They work well for me, put... And also, they are not the least expensive ones, as there are differencies. In some shops you may get a button-down shirt with 80 RMB, I happily pay 100 RMB when I know it will fit, the fabric won't loose color or change size in laundry, and, above all, that I my ironing is minimised :o)

Thai silk, normal silk: 289
For curtains, evening dresses, tops, you name it.

Chinese dresses: 120 or 264
Coats and suits: 284 Alan's

Button-down shirts: 378
Silk tops: 360 Wu Hong Xia

They often try to make too big tops, but after one correction round end results have been good.

Pants from strech-fabric: 318

Cotton (stretch): Second floor, will add shop number later. I've lost their card...
Make what ever: shirts, skirts, e.g.

Velvet: 170 and 172

(The first digit of the number tells in which floor the shop is at.)

And hit me with a question if you want more info :o)

Shanghai South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market

Address: LuJiaBang Road 399

陆家浜路399 (南仓街口)

You can just say to the taxi driver "LuJiaBang Lu, mian liao shi chang"

maanantai 7. joulukuuta 2009

Christmas decorations

I don't have any Christmas decorations, lightning fixtures or anything Christmas-related (except glögi and ginger bread) in my home in China. Therefore, I suck in all the nice (and the tacky, the excessive, the flashing, and the horrendous) Christmas things around Shanghai. So, you are forced to do that, too.

Here is the Swarovski "Christmas Three" 2009. I have no idea of the price tag, but if you remember, last year's version had a price tag of over 1,2 million euro.

Under construction. Hmm... What it's going to be like..?

It's going to be like this.

And then there will be 100 000 Chinese (and one Finn) to take pictures and stare at awe.

lauantai 5. joulukuuta 2009

Modestly in Beijing

I went to Beijing for a one night trip this week. No biggie, just some meetings. Everything was arranged for us, so ended up staying in a reasonably nice hotel. I love nice hotels. I know it doesn't make much sense to pay a lot if you only have time to sleep in the room. But the nice, plush bed... the soft slippers... the nice (clean) bath-tub with bathsalt... The room service that brings you the parma ham, brie and rocket bruschetta to die for... Yeah, I like it. I don't even bother denying I am spoiled. I've learned to live with that.

Mmmm, bathsalt and privacy.

A spoiled sissy, that's what I am. Unlike the buddhist monks, I thought. They promise to devote themselves to higher things than plush beds and crispy bed sheets. They aspire enlightment from things very much not related to excellent breakfast buffet (which, by the way, is all that it takes to take me to nirvana). They promise to live in modesty.

As I was checking out of this 5-star establishment, so was this buddhist monk. He even was in the Gold / Platinum Card line, indicating he was a regular of this particular chain of hotels. Seems monks can aspire higher... higher what-evers in very comfortable settings.

Of course, there is no absolute measure of modesty.... Live and learn!

keskiviikko 2. joulukuuta 2009

Am I fast or what?

I am running. Or trying, the very least. Thus, I have created myself a training programme at My Asics. I highly recommend, if you are into training programmes, running, and following your progress. No, they don't pay me for this. Actually, they might require some sort of compensation for publicly claiming I use their training helps AND suck this badly.

Except that based on my recent statistics I most certainly do no suck.

Look at this! For the last 100 km (give or, actually, take 3) my average speed is 37.2 km / hour. I dare you: try and beat me next summer!

perjantai 20. marraskuuta 2009

I am...

flying!! Finnair's pilot strike was over just in time from my perspective. They had just enough time to fly the plane from Helsinki to Shanghai, to take me from Shanghai to Europe.

I had a back-up plan, though. Or two. Or something. I lost count. You see, as these were my flights on Wednesday afternoon as I tried to check-in on-line. Whew! Were I gonna be busy taking all these flights within just 2 days...

Thankfully, they only made me take one of them. I happened to pick the one which was 6 hours delayed. But, all is well when end is well. And end is well. So all is well.

maanantai 16. marraskuuta 2009

Mr. President

Obama arrived in Shanghai late Sunday night, his first visit to China since elected as president.

Today he will visit the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in the afternoon, to meet young Chinese and answer some questions. I am not Chinese, and I am not sure I am that young anymore either, but I would have been there to see him, had I been in Shanghai. I would have taken a half a day off and welcomed him to Shanghai. With the bad weather and all, I am sure he would have appreciated a friendly face in the audience. It would have also been interesting to see how the masses behave: according to the newspapers many people are enthusiastically waiting to see this "Change"-man.

Sadly, I am at the mill, and Mr. Obama will continue his way to Beijing already late this afternoon. Had he contacted me during the planning, I could have ensured him that Shanghai is actually much more interesting than Beijing.

perjantai 13. marraskuuta 2009


I guess every foreigner living in China has heard the joke about Chinese president? You know when you ask your friend, preferably a non-chinese, and not living in China: "Who is the president of China?" And when he says "I have no idea" you say: "No, I said Hu is the president of China." Chinese President is, indeed Hu (or who), Hu Jintao. It works the other way around, too. Someone asks you, "Who is the president of China?" And naturally you say:"Yes."

Ok, this may seem like a silly thing. You may think that you wouldn't find it amusing. But when it happens in real life, with no bun intended, I can't help but to crack. Trust me, you would, too.

I had three cases like this, during the week.

Who will be in that meeting? I ask from an invoice handler on Wednesday. "Yes, I think she will." She says. "Yes, but who will be in the meeting?" I try again. "Yes." She looks at me like I am a little slow, propably wondering why on earth they sent such dork from Europe to here. What use can she be?

Another day, another meeting. "And who is responsible for keeping these documens?" I inquire. "No no no, Hu has nothing to do with this process." the controller quickly answers. I try to hide my grin. "Alright, but whoooooo does handle these documents?"

Yet another meeting. "Is everyone here already, can we start?" Asks my colleague from Finland. "Hu is missing." someone says. "Can someone tell me if someone is still coming?"A collague visiting from Finland doesn't realize what is going on. "Hu should still come." someone says. "Who is still coming?" (Hu arrives.) "Hu is here" somesays. It has been rather hectic two weeks, and I could not but crack up. Call me childish. I don't care.

By the way, it is freeeezing here. The meter shows + 8, forecast says +7, feels like +3, and I swear it feels like -3. It's the quick changes, from +20 to this! I can't keep up!

tiistai 10. marraskuuta 2009

Pure water

There are few as important things in the world as pure water. I really, really have learned to appreciate it here, where the tap water smells like... And never mind the smell, I have heard from several sources it contains traces of heavy metal. Thus, in my books, it is totally and completely non-drinkable.
I know the locals drink it. They either boil it, or use some sort of purifying filters. I don't know one single laowai who drinks tap water around here. (Well, except those whose kids made them coffee every weekend from the tap water, untill the parents noted what was happening.) But this all means you have to order 5 or 10 liter bottles of water, and make sure you don't run out water. I am not complaining: I don't have to carry the water from a dwell 20 kilometers away, so all is well. Someone will carry it for me. Not from a well, but from a supermarket, or from the house management office. But then there is always the small question mark, whether it is really pure water, or is someone making "fake" bottled water from the tap water... But let's not get in to that.

Our house management decided to make our life easier, though. They recently installed a box like this to every apartment:

"Safe Clean Fresh Water"
Now, I don't know exactly how a machine like that works, but I know it uses infrared to purify the water. Great. I just don't believe infrared does anything to the heavy metal traces. I am not sure, I haven't looked it up, but it just doesn't sound plausible. I am an auditor. I need to doubt things. (I also should investigate and verify things before making accusisations, but this is my free-time, so I can do whatever I want. I can doubt "Pentair" all I want, and never bother to check if I'm right or not. It is not nice to notice you are wrong, and if you don't check, you will never know. And all is well.)
But even it would work, there are some other issues with the machine. I have already too little cupboard space in the kitchen. The kitchen has been designed by someone who does not cook. Someone who doesn't understand I would like to keep the tabletops empty. The kitchen itself is roomy, but there is very little place to keep dishes and things. And now this box is steeling one more whole cupboard from me.
Secondly: it only can store 250 ml of water. Convenient, dontcha think? It takes about 25 minutes to purify that amount. So if I want to, say, cook some pasta and need 750 ml of water, it'll take me a whole hour to get that. Assuming I have not used the water for anything else just before I start cooking.
Thirdly, unfortunately the infrared system heats the water to be about +35 celcius warm. Which is sligthly less than body temperature. Now, I am all for drinking room temperature water (An average Chinese does not drink cold drinks in the autumn, winter or spring. Ladies should never drink cold drinks, just so you know. Not good for the stomach.) But +35? It is not warm enough to use for tea, but it is way too warm to drink. Waaay too warm. Try it if you don't believe me.
So, could someone please tell me why was that machine ever created? And why was it brought to my kitchen?

maanantai 9. marraskuuta 2009

My favourite time of the year!

No, I certainly don't mean the dark, grey, rainy season North Europe and Finland is going through at this time of the year. We, on the other hand, have mostly had nice +20-+25 degrees, except last Monday, when the temperatures suddenly dropped to +4. I almost froze to death! Really, ask my colleagues if you don't believe me. I could hardly function for two days.

Anyway, what I wanted to tell you is this: Christmas is JUST around the corner, because they have already set up the decorations. So it is almost Christmas! Has to be!

And that is my favorite time of the year. House full of guests, delicious foods and treats, candles, fire in the fire places, and, I dare to hope, snow!

I am going home for Christmas. This is how home looked like when I was there last time: beautiful, crispy autumn days.

Maybe it is autumn that is my favorite time of the year?

This view just makes me feel happy... And peaceful. That's just the way it is.
But autumn is gone, and Christmas is coming, so back to loving Christmas!

Oh and these guys! They make wanna run to Finland right now. But that's ok, 'cause Christmas is just around the corner.

lauantai 7. marraskuuta 2009


The other night I was coming back from the super-market when I saw a cat. Or a kitten, really. It was small enough to sit on a palm of a grown man. And it was meowing ruefully. Truly a kitten in despair.

The kitten was sitting in a small area of bushes and flowers between a mall and two big road. I had no idea how it had gotten there.

Some people stopped, and tried to give her (no, I really don't know, but I decided it was a girl) some food. Someone even tried to catch her, but she dove to the bushes and avoided such attempts. And then slowly came back, meowing oh so sadly.

I am not a cat person, by any means, but I am an animal person. I had to help the poor animal. I coud hear J. or my mom saying "do not touch that animal" or "you don't know which deceases it carries". Luckily, neither of them was really there, so I was free to help the little girl. But I needed an action plan. I went back to home, grapped gloves, some cat food*, and a bag where I figured I could put the cat into, and then carry her to our yard, where other cats might help her. I wasn't sure about that part: I have no experience of how cats welcome a stranger-kitten to their pack.

* No, you may wonder why I have cat food, since I don't have a cat? Well, there are several cats living in our yard. Many people feed them. I am not a frequent feeder, but on my way to the gym I check their status every now and then, and if there is a need, I bring them food. Or if they have kittens. So, I may not always have leftovers passable to cats, so I need cat food.

So, I had my equipment, and I returned to the cat. It was still there. There was actually a pile of cat food there, but she didn't even touch it. Well, I had brough some Whiskas with me, and I started tossing, very gently, piece by piece, the kitten with the food. And she started eating. Small piece by small piece. Slowly. And I tossed her a new grain. So we went for maybe 10 grains, and then she was content. She run to drink some water (water from where, I wonder, it hadn't rained in few days) from the ground. And she was like a new person alltogether. No more rueful meows, no more hunching in the smallest of the smallest crouches. Tail up and ready for anything that might come.

She pondered for a moment what to do with her life. And run of. And I never saw her again.

She run on this pole and disappeared into the horizon.

Be well, my friend. Be well.

perjantai 30. lokakuuta 2009

Sure you can!

What's worse than waking up to find your money is gone? It could be finding out that the sexy lady you hooked up with last night is a "ladyboy."

Five Filipino transvestites accused of drugging foreign men in bars with the promise of sex went on trial in Shanghai's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday, accused of assault and robbery, the Oriental Morning Post reported Wednesday.

The five "she-males," aged between 26 and 30, used their curvy figures and feminine voices to flirt with male expatriates at cocktail lounges on Tongren Lu.

The girlie-men lured their victims to hotels, coaxed them to eat chocolates that had been secretly laced with powdered sleeping pills, and robbed them after the men fell asleep. The alleged theft of cell phones, credit cards and personal belongings netted the transvestites 310,000 yuan ($49,780) worth of stolen loot, the report said.

They said they came to Shanghai from Japan in February 2008 after the financial crisis put the sex trade on hold. After months of joblessness in the city, the she-male said he used his "good-looks" to become a street hooker on Tongren Road.

The bar owners told the Global Times that they couldn't do much to prevent their customers from being seduced by attractive cross-dressers. "Our door is open to everyone. We cannot say who can get in and who cannot," said manager Xie, at Malone's, a favorite expat hangout on the bar street.

Sure you can! Just take example of another expat-favored bar in Shanghai, Zapatas.

keskiviikko 14. lokakuuta 2009

In the Big World

My mom arrived in Shanghai this morning. She visited a year ago in November, but with a friend. Now she is here alone. I tried to prep her. I draw her a map of the airport, so she would find the taxi stand. I reminded her, that taxi from the airport to where we live costs about 160 RMB. (Although it may be a bit more now, after the increase in taxi rates effective last Saturday.) I told her to go straight to the taxi stand. And to call me immediately if she has any questions.
She is always telling that she is an experienced traveller, which, in a way is true. She does travel a lot in Europe. But not alone. And in Europe.
Well, this morning my phone rings. When I pick up, I can hear my mom talking with someone, discussing about prices. She, however, does not hear me, as she has obviously called me accidently, without noticing the call. "Three hundred" I hear a male voice say. "No! No no no no!!!! What are you doing! Mom!!" I yell, but with little use, as no one hears me, save for the nextdoor neighbours.
What is she doing now, I wonder, and close the line. I immediately try to call her back. The caller you are trying reach is busy now, a voice tells me in Chinese. I try again. Please go through, please... This time I get another chinese message, which I do not understand and don't care about. Third time I get through, and find out my mom is already in the (black) cab, on her way to somewhere, hopefully here.
- "No, but this IS a taxi" she saya, when I ask why she didn't go to the taxi stand I told her to go.
- "How much did you agree to pay?" I ask.
- "250 RMB, but they tried to ask for 350" she says. "I was strict with them" she adds. "I told him I don't have that much. When the man saw how much I have, he said, ok 250." Oh for Pete's sake!
- "And you paid already? But remember I told you two days ago it costs 160 RMB?" I ask.
- "Yes, and I remembered it was 140 RMB last year." she replies.
- "So why, oh why, did you pay 250?"
- "Well, I was going to the taxi stand, but the man asked where I am going, and when I said to the city, he said that those taxis leave from here."
- "But in which country do you pay in advance for a taxi?" I still try.
- "Yes, but if only I wasn't so tired from the flight, nothing would have happened."
What can I say? The monetary loss is insignificant, and we all make mistaked. But it is just the principle. The principle that I am not sure how I can let her go around and do things here alone. She is here for two weeks, and I am suppose to be working part of that time. We'll see...
For all of you not used to big cities:
- in a taxi, always make sure the meter is on.
- you don't show your money to anyone
- if someone tries to take you somewhere say NO!
- if someone tries to offer you something, say NO! No, I don't care if it sounds interesting, just say no. No no no. No.
And most importanly: listen to your daughters. They know what they are talking about.

torstai 1. lokakuuta 2009

Educational cartoon

Some days ago I went to pick up J. from the airport in Shanghai. I had time, and there was nothing interesting in sight. But then I noted they had an informative cartoon rolling in the telly. To prevent the spreading of H1N1-virus, or swine flu.

I want to share with you the most important bits and best practices I learned from the video. I apologize for the lack of music, but hopefully you can imagine a childish rap beat to the background. Because that's what the original had.


"The swine influenza comes from America."

Oh, in deed: "What a shame!"

"But it is not only my fault!" Says the pig. No, we have also the duck and the man to blame. H1N1 is mixed, you know.

"It "is very stressful to live in this situation", but still "remain calm".
"It is very important to have "balance of body and mind... no illness"

"Pay attention to you diet at home"
"The meal must certainly be boiled"

"If you have no business strolling outside..."
"...don't be around groups"

It is: "Dangerous"

"No stress, no bother", no swine flu. Also "take care of air circulation, you won't catch the cold."

I really want to do my part to prevent the spreading of swine flu. So, once more to make sure you remember the most important thing:

torstai 24. syyskuuta 2009

Ban flying!

Chinese National Day is drawing close. This year, it is the 60th birthday of the People's Republic of China. October 1st is the big day, and this year, because it is combined with Mid-Autumn Festival, we have eight (8!!!) days vacation to celebrate the two. Well, I am flying to Finland, to celebrate the wedding of a good friend.

Also, I have no idea how it happened, but during the eight day vacation, I am WORKING 5 or 6 days. That doesn't sound right, does it? What the heck went wrong? Maybe it has some connection to the fact that of my 4 week summer vacation I have spend just one week... I dunno, have to investigate further.

Anyway, what I wanted to tell you relates to flying. Namely Beijing has banned "flying activities" starting 15th of September, due to the upcoming National Day. It is for security reasons. This applies to sports, recreational and advertising flights. But not only those! They have also banned kite flying, because of security reasons. They have banned balloons. Because of security reasons. They have banned pigeon flying, because of security reasons. (Did someone watch Alfred Hitscock's "The Birds" recently, or..?)

Head of the Public Security Squadron of the Beijing Municipal Security Bureau, Mr. Li encourages citizens to report to police if they see these flying objects.

Pigeons! Balloons, for Pete's sake! Please excuse me while I tremble as I think of these horrible threaths to our security.

keskiviikko 23. syyskuuta 2009

Something wrong

One day I stepped of the elevator in our building and immediately noticed there must be something wrong with the ventilation. Or electrics. Or something.


I don't know... maybe because of this:

And these:

The hallway ceiling was, all-around our floor, punctured with holes. The location of what ever it was that was wrong, was obviously unknown... The hallway makes a full circle, so I walked around it, and every 2,5-3 meters there was a hole.

The next day... what ever it was, was bygones. Leaving no signs it was ever there.

maanantai 21. syyskuuta 2009

Too much to ask for

Sometime ago I was in a small car accident when I was travelling in business. Recently I have been working 11-12 hours a day. Couple of days ago I had to go to a coal warehouse, so I came out covered with black dust, and I felt like my lungs were full of coal, too. (Yes, so I am a sissy, I know that already.) I had not dressed for the ocasion, so I was wearing high heels, skirt, and light colored blouse. I haven't even had the energy to blog. All because of all kinds of work things that are going on. Such is life.
But too much is too much. I needed to go to a harbour area to check some receiving procedures. And they have very detailed safety instructions.
In order to fulfill the consideration and adoption of your surely busy schedules I have highlighted some... well, highlights of the instructions.

In order to fulfill the consideration and adoption of Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 and International Code for the Security of Ships and of Port Facilities, to reinforce the safeguard of harbour, we constitute the regulations according to the relational national laws and regulations as follows: (try to say that with one breath!)
1) Personnel, vehicle and good etc. should show valid certification, be checked and registered by the security petsonnel when they go in and out.
2) After personnel, vehicle have gone into the dock area, they should pass through and stop according to the traffic signs.
3) Within the dock area, Firework is banned. Without permission no photo or film.
4) No entery to the restricted areas without permission. After you've entered the restricted areas such as the petroleum and chemical industry, etc, you can never use mobile telecommunication tools, carry kinelings such as matches, cigarette-lighter etc. Automotive vehicle must bring extinguisher.
5) When the safety incidents occur in the dock areas, you should report to the security personnel and harbour administration department as well immediately.
So I guess I am banned from my cell phone from now to eternity? On the otherhand, it is much harder for anyone to bother me now with questions and problems...

Lucky me!

Chinese government promotes honest, all in books and ledgers, business culture by a lottery. The lottery ticket is actually your restaurant invoice. The purpose is, that the customers would ask for official invoice, get an opportunity to win 500,000 RMB (which is a little less than 50,000 euros) and restaurant will have to include the sales transaction to their reported revenues. Not a bad idea.

So, because I am an auditor and want to do my bit to prevent grey-business, I usually ask for an invoice. And guess how many times I have won in the last 18 months I have spend in China? Let's say I have had about thousand meals in restaurants.

Once. Very recently. And what a win it was!!! 5 RMB. Or 50 euro cents.

I haven't even claimed it yet, because I cannot make up my mind what to do with that sudden wealth. Maybe a Snickers bar and a 0.5 l mineral water. Or two sets of new hair pins from the subway tunnel. Or should I wait for the next win and then get something big with it? Maybe a tin of coke or a blueberry muffin? Yes, I think that is what I will do.

keskiviikko 12. elokuuta 2009

Same old story...

Namely, me being in Finland, and therefore too busy with everything to blog, and not having internet (yet) in our new house. Sooo, please entertain yourselves with this piece about mighty expensive apples.

I'll get myself together before the end of the week. I think...

keskiviikko 5. elokuuta 2009


This is such a great great week! Yesterday I flew to Finland, and got to see my family and loved ones again. Today we bought a house, which, believe it or not, I have never seen! This summer I have bought a CAR and a HOUSE without seeing them first. What the heck is the matter with me? Well, I saw the car yesterday, and it was really nice, and the house should be great. J. of course has seen the house, and I have seen a lot of pictures. It is sort of in the woods (20 minutes from the city center). But then again, anything here is, if you compare it to our Shanghai residence, in the midst of buzzling Xu Jia Hui :o) But, it has got its own pond. I'll show you, later.

And the great week just keeps getting better tomorrow, when I head to Madonna concert with a friend. Friday is reserved for recovery and rest. Hopefully it will be a sunny day. Saturday I'm really looking forward to, as we'll get together with a bunch of girls and spend the day and night at a summerhouse by a lake.
And Sunday. Sunday we will move to our new house. Amazing. I am not sure if I can sleep there, though, without the constant banging from the metro construction site. 'Cuase there is no metro constructions site. There is no metro. There might be an owl or two. Or a fox. Because the deal was made already earlier, it was just waiting for me to get here, so we can sign the papers, we get to move so soon.

So there you go, you pretty much know where to find me for the next five days. After that, you can find me sunbathing by my pond :o) Well, not really, as work starts next week, and I have about thousand friends to meet while I am here, so no time for sunbathing.

keskiviikko 29. heinäkuuta 2009


Last winter I bought a small calendar. One of those that stand on the table. It was probably the best thing I have bought in a long time. (Well, excluding my newish purse, which I love!)

This is August:

Best leaders inspire by example. When that's not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well, too.
And this is October:

I want either less corruption or more opportunity to participate in it.

All the pictures are sarcastic, but October holds also personal irony for me, since during the last 15 months I have spend many a day pondering how to prevent and detect corrpution. Or corruption, either one...

And here is November. Sweet, depressing November.

I expected times like this. But never thought they be so bad, so long and so frequent.
On most mornings, I, strangely enough, find energy and drive from these demotivators. "The harder you try, the dumber you look." Yeah, baby, let's look dumb again today!

But on the rare occasion, I think I've had enough of the world and all the cynicism... then I just turn the page around, and feel immediately better.

In case you are not de-motivated enough as it is, and you are in despair how to lower your performance level these might help: you can find the calenders and some other staff from here

maanantai 27. heinäkuuta 2009


I joined a group of Chinese colleagues to a trip to Suzhou (about 160 km from Shanghai, if I am not mistaken). First of all, I had never been to Suzhou. And secondly, I would have taken ANY excuse that would take me away from the exam materials I should have been reading. As a matter a fact. I should be reading the right now...

The trip was overnight, but I chickened out from the over-night part. When you get a return bus-trip (Changshu-Suzhou-Changshu), meals, water park entrance, other park entrance (70 CNY) and a hotel altogether only 300 CNY's (30 euros), something has to be wrong. Or not wrong, but just... you know: when something sounds too good (too cheap) to be true, it usually is. And, I really, really had to study. So I joined with a separate car from Shanghai for the first day.

Water Park was on the menu, and what a day it was for it! Sun was shining from blue sky, and all was well in the world. Well not really, as that was the day J. went back to Finland, but considering the circumstances.

I mainly hanged out with my colleague and his wife, since the rest of the ladies where not really that talkative in English. Big surprise there, not something I anticipated at all. No, because that's just what always seems to happen: everyone speaks Chinese, no matter there is someone who can only guess 50 % of what is being said and is unable to say anything at all :o)

Well, it's partly my fault, I have no problem practicing with people a) I don't know at all b) I know well, but not with people I sort of know but not really. Thankfully I have a great colleague who has a great wife. One of the kids was very interested in me: he kept poking my feet and stared at me mischievously. At the age of 7 he might not have seen that many laowais yet.

But even he forgot me when they got down to the business: splashing and running and jumping in the water.

That big cone-looking thing was a good one!

Can you find an error in the photo? No? Don't worry, there isn't one. But there could have been, have I not been warned in beforehand that bikini isn't really what Chinese ladies wear when they go swimming. They were something to cover their buttocks and their bellies. I didn't have a swim wear that fulfilled those conditions, so I needed a new one. I had about 10 minutes to get it, so I doubt I will ever wear it again. Except, of course, if I try the Shanghai water park, which, I was told, is so much bigger and fancier, but like, crazily expensive. I have no way of guessing how expensive that is. Anyway, I did see one (out of couple of hundred?) yong lady with a bikini in that park, and noone seemed to discriminate her, so maybe I would have been ok in a bikini. Then again, I rose enough attention just by being a foreigner...

It was an ok park, with three bigger slides, wave poold, childrens climing/splashing pool, a river, showers, actual swimming pool and what not. But by noon it was... crowded. Again, totally unanticipated event in China, but that's just what happened. There was a separate "spa" section that required additional 20 RMBs to enter, but provided about 20 small pools: one with rose pedals, another one was filled with milk, another had lemon (essance?) in the water, another was with dead sea effect (salty, makes you float) another with rose wine, and so forth. It was nice: peaceful, only a handful of people, and some contemporary, western music on the background.

And then there was a pool with small fish, which eats the dead skin from your feet. Or any other part of you, depending what you offer them. First few fish come a have a try. Once they have concluded it is all ok, they come by hundreds. I guess. Oh lord. You could not help but laugh, so much did it tickle. I sat there for 4 songs (I didn't have a watch, so I had to measure time by songs) and only then I started to get used to it. I still giggled by myself, but at that point I was able to keep my feet steady. I don't know how much good it did, pedicure-wise, but it was such a good laugh, that I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

Now, would I go back to Suzhou for this? Maybe not, as there is suppose to be a better one right here in Shanghai. But it was a nice day and a nice experience. And I am definitely going back to Suzhou for... the wedding district. No, not getting married, but they make the most gorgeous dresses there, for any party, and they say a fancy wedding gown only costs you about 60-100 euros. So a more simple party-dress should really be affordable... I'll keep you posted on that.

keskiviikko 22. heinäkuuta 2009


I would like to start by stating, that the weather has been really clear (and HOT and HUMID) here in Shanghai for the past days. Blue skies every day. And that is not given in Shanghai, with all the pollution and staff. But it has been really good for about a week now. But now to the topic of the day.

Today, Wednesday 22nd of July, about 9:30 in the morning, a "natural wonder" took place. It was "the greatest astronomical event in 3 000 years". The solar eclipse in lasted 6-7 minutes. That is one very long eclipse, say those who are in the know. Longest in the 21st century.

Some people have prepared for this for months. There were several hotels in Shanghai arranging special events to watch the eclipse. And there were trips from Shanghai to the near by island. I didn't plan to do anything extreme, but I purchased special glasses you should use to watch the eclipse and planned to go out to the roof and watch the thing.

That was actually a tough call, 'cause it sure would have been nice to see how people in the less developed areas react: had they heard about the eclipse? Where they freaking out? Anyway, I had no idea where to find people who are totally oblivious of what is going on, so I settled with watching the thing myself.

Anyway, the eastern part of China / Japan are the best places in the world to watch the eclipse. "The Chinese city of Shanghai is being touted as one of the best spots to watch the eclipse, with tourists coming from across the globe to view the phenomenon, during which the sun's corona -- the sun's outer atmosphere -- becomes visible." said
See Shanghai Daily for some good shoots.

Yeah right. From the early morning you could see that the skies were heavy with clouds, even the weather lady at CNN at the same time tried to claim that weather in Shanghai is clear at the moment. It was all a grey, thick blanket. Changes to see anything were... slim. Less than that.

Then, about 15 minutes before the climax, it started raining. Just pouring down. So no roof. No sun. Just darkness. Darkness for 15 minutes. That's all I got. So, all of you in the other continents: you didn't really miss much.
But think about all those solar-tourists...

maanantai 20. heinäkuuta 2009

Good choice

Did you know that as a teenager I thought I wanted to be a doctor when I grow up. A medical doctor. They do valuable work, sometimes even noble. Save human lives in hard conditions. And it is a "good profession" . And they make good money. And I didn't know many things a person could do.

But I never aspired that career. I got a Master's Degree in Accounting and Business Administration instead. Ended up as an auditor. That is SO not what I thought I would become. Even while studying I wasn't one bit of interested in auditing. I didn't really even took the audit related courses. Well, I still wouldn't want to be an external auditor, that's a whole another thing. But hey, good news is, I think it worked out for the best.

Let me tell you why. Firstly, on most days I truly enjoy my work. And still, I learn something new in ever audit. From selling of waste ash to treasury functions, and everything in between. And, my work takes me around the world, and I like that too. Occasionally, I am really really exited about my work.

Which is all swell. But why I really think it worked out for the best is this:

- When I know I have to go give a blood sample, I start to hold my forearms, in the area close to my elbows, to protect the area where they draw the blood. I do it even if I think about blood samples. I am doing it now, too.

- I nearly lost conciousness when a dentist took my wisdom teeth, when hearing the cracking sound of the bone breaking. After the procedure, in home, I was sure I am going to pass out from the blood loss, and J. will not come home before 6 hours later. Don't even get me started how well I handled the eye operation I had last year to correct my sight. The doctor said after the operation she was sure I will pass out in the middle of the thing, so white was my face.

- When I had a tic in my eye in May, I was sure I had a brain tumour (Google was a great help in arriving to this conclusion). I was nervous for a week and then when the panich grew, I went to see a doctor. Turned out I should be just fine, and the tic disappeared pretty soon after that. When my friend, who actually is an MD, had an epileptic seizure for no obvious reason, she was just bummed she could not drive a car for a while. Other than that, business as usual.

- Last time I was in Finland I went to pick up a dress from a seamstress. She, for some reason, started to depict to me IN DETAIL the blood disease her husband had gotten. The way he is bleeding INTERNALLY. How the blood is not coagulating (hyytyä, in Finnish) at all. How the inside of his mouth becomes black. I was standing there feeling horrible while she was finishing my dress. I couldn't run, but I wanted to.

I tried to concentrate on the sweet, soft ears of my dog. That usually helps for anything. But she kept going on and on about the blood. The skin getting dark brown spots, when he bleeds unders the skin... Oh Lord have mercy. Finally the dress was ready and I had to leave running out of the door. I reclined my car seat and sat there for 15 minutes breathing in and out. In and out. In and out. Then I drove home with an open window for fresh air, but still feeling very wobbly. This is one of the most traumatic events in my life. Ok, at least this year.

- But this might be my personal record. I watched the Simpsons, you know, the CARTOON today. Homer was suffering from heart problems. The heart was shown to pump in an erratic, frantic pace. And then he gets a heart attack. And I get dizzy. And nauseous. I have to lie down for a while. I certainly will not watch the full episode.

Now you see what I mean? It all worked out exactly the way it should.

sunnuntai 19. heinäkuuta 2009

Fancy rubber boots

I did not see a single pair of boring rubber boots in Seoul. Look at these: leopard pattern and checked.

tiistai 7. heinäkuuta 2009

Strike, while the iron is hot

Chinese are fast to pick-up business opportunities, that is already known. And I am not sure there is anything as hot as Michael Jackson, right now, business wise. So, couple of chinese made book, a Michael Jackson biography, in 48 hours. An instant book, that's what they call it.
High quality stuff, no doubt.
Jackson's memorial will start in two hours. J., mid-night Beijing time. I guess that must be watched.
Blogging has been a bit slow lately. I have been alone in China since May, but J. is now here, so I've been busy. He is fully and completely jet-lagged, and comes to bed couple of hours before I need to get up. Like 5 am this morning.

tiistai 30. kesäkuuta 2009

Optimus Prime and Maximus Irritation

Freedom is the right for all sentient beings, says Optimus Prime. Well, there seems to be no freedom of choice if you wanna go to the movies around here. We went to our neighbourhood movie theater, which has 11 screens. The ONLY movie they were showing was Transformers II. They have 11 screens, the shows start in every three hours. Quickly counting, that makes about 33 showings of Transformers every night. I did know Sanghainese were big Transformers-fans, based on the abundand Transformers-bumber stickers in every other car, but this big? Are you serious?

Well, maybe it should have told me something, that some colleagues from the office, whom I rarely... I mean NEVER talk with, have asked if I have seen Transformers. I never talk with them, but they consider Optimus Prime important enough to start talking to me :o)

But back to the movie theater. Oh, my Lord. For Pete's sake what was I thinking. Why did I do that to myself? The theater was full. Full of people, who kept eating through the movie. 400 people eating chicken wings, burgers, and all kinds of fried snacks, you know, normal stuff... In China. 400 people who needed to go to the restroom (or to smoke in the hallway, if you want my guess) three times during the flick. But never mind that. What really, really bugged me, was the talking. I should know by now, but O M G the talking! Oh, how I wanted to shut the mouths of those talkers. This guy just behind us kept explaining the movie to his mother. And not in hushed voice! Nooooo, nooo, so that noone could miss what ever important comments he made. To his MOTHER!

Life in China has certainly flexed my nerves, and there are many things I have learned to just shrudd of. But this continuous talking during (such important and culturally important) movie experience! I just wanted to stand up and start yelling. "Shut the F*** up! Shut up shut up shut up!" Or throw my popcorn at this loudest, closest terrorist. (Popcorn, which I, by the way, brough from home, because they only sell SWEET popcorn in the theater, but that is another story.)

I made it through the movie without organazing a public scene, but I am seriously considering signing in to one of those anger managing classes...

maanantai 29. kesäkuuta 2009

Enjoy... classifieds

We got into talking about Shanghai Enjoy Classified's personal ad's with my friend this weekend. She asked why I read them. Why? Why??? See for yourselves. Because it is a lot funnier than most comedies they broadcast in TV.

Now, it may seem I am laughing at their deficient english. Which is partly true. But no offense intended. And I am kind of allowed to, since mine is far from perfect, too. And I really doubt they read my blog anyway.

But there is one pre-requisite: do not read on unless you are tired. I mean really tired.

Special quality:

So did your boyfriend run away? Why are you telling so much about yourself? That won't help us identify your boyfriend if we happen to run into him?

Are you the one? Do you "take seize the day to the principle of value"?

Are you her marrage object?

Bill Clintonian definition of what is "not sex"...

Some are very particular about the nationality of the true love they are looking for:

Who do you think you are fooling you pervert???

"I was a strong muscle guy from U.S"? That's great but what happened? I think your possible clients are more interested what you are now.

Oh, and the pics from Korea will appear as soon as I buy a new memory card reader. So before Christmas, I promise.