lauantai 31. tammikuuta 2009

Excursion to Ikea

I am alone again for some ten days, and on Saturday decided to spend few hours in... Ikea. As I've mentioned before, it is not exactly my favorite back home, but here it is a pretty darn convenient place to get things.

Like last week I made cinamon rolls (korvapuusteja, you know), and after the dough was ready I noted I don't have a rolling pin (kaulin)! No rolling pin and the dough is rising! A little later I noted I certainly wasn't the only one in XuJiaHui who fon't have a rolling pin: ANY of the department stores nearby didn't have them either. So I ended up using a roll of cling wrap. It was actually pretty handy, and you don't even need to wash it afterwards, just peel of the outer layer, and thereyougo! It's ready for next baking session. Anyway, I decided to get a rolling pin (kaulin) for next time. I promised to bring my Chinese teacher some "korvapuusti" soon...

I took a taxi, and since I had forgotten how to say Ikea in Chinese (I think it is Yi Jia Jia) but at that moment I saw it fit to act like a total tourist and just showed the driver my old Ikea bag :o)

On the way there, actually in the first traffic lights, we were waiting couple of rounds of red-green-yellow-red-green - you get the picture. And while waiting, in the line next on left, one car in front of the taxi I was in, a red taxi started to slooowly slide backwards. Sliiiiding... sliding... all the way to the front pumper of the black Passat behind it. In 9 months in Shanghai I have learned if ever there is a small fender bender with absolute certainty big noise will follow, in the form of yelling, flailing, fighting and of course the other cars honking horns. And when I saw the sliding red Santana, I was expecting a scene.

But no. The owner of the black Passat (which looked new, by the way!) got off his car, the taxi driver, a woman, by the way, gott of her car, and they checked the damage. To my utter and complete surprise, the private car owner spoke in a calm manner, and waiwed nonchalantly. No harm done. Taxi driver got back to her car, drove a meter forward, and got off the car again, to check the damages more thoroughly.

And then she started yelling to this completely innocent man! My jaw just dropped, and so did the Passat drivers too! The black Passat was completely still when the lady let her car slide and bump to it. The man, still calm, tried to explain and was even laughing in disbelief. At this point the lady in the Passat got out off the car and started yelling to the taxi driver. At some point my taxi driver started yelling to the taxi driver lady. And then we finally had green light and room to go, so other cars started honking, for the lane was of course blocked.

So basically, the fender bender ended as it alway seems to end, but the path to the end was rather peculiar. I guess this is a small example why our company don't let us drive.

In the store the families where enjoying themselves, as usual. Just a couple of families, maybe a half a Shanghai, or so. Sitting and chatting quietly (NOT!) on the couches, taking pictures. Wandering around. And at some point, there was an alarm ringing. Big noise. Followed by an announcement in English and in Chinese. An announcement that I could not make sense of. "Please move to..." What? Could you repeat, please? And in deed, they did. But it was no use: the customers speaking and yelling to each other, and the announcing lady muttering her announcement was unbeatable combination. But the thing was, that NONE of the customers seemed to pay ANY attention to the alarm or to the announcement. So there I was, wondering if the building might be on fire, and whether Ikea keeps their fire doors locked, as so many other shops and restaurants do around here. But no, the building was still intact when I got out from there. With a blueberry-rasberry jam (for crepes) and roe and Dajm chocolade and some other Swedish delicaties :o)

When I got home with my two huge bags, our buiding door was locked. So I put the bags down to get my key card. There was a yong Chinese girl coming to the door as well. So I flashed my key card to the reader, and showed her to go first while I pick up my bags. And in deed she went, and let the door slam shut behind her. So I was exactly where I started. Except ashtonished. I guess I shouldn't be. Put I was wondering if that kind of thing (holding a door to someone with two heavy bags, who by the way just opened the lock for both of you to get in) shouldn't be in persons backbone? Like it shouldn't be up to the upbringing, should it?) I put the bags down again, digged my key card from my bag and went in.

So, basically, it was just a normal day in Shanghai.

perjantai 30. tammikuuta 2009

Spring Festival

Spring Festival, aka Chinese New Year, is just about over. The actual period continues couple of weeks, but holiday is over. Personally, I associate the word "festival" to a... well, festival. People dancing on the streets, music playing, loads of people and things going on all over the place. But nooooo, Chinese spent the spring festival with their families, and Shanghai was, if not dead, at least in a coma for the most important days of the Spring Festival. Most restaurants were closed three or four days and streets were pretty empty. Chinese went to see their families (millions and millions of people living in Shanghai are not Shanghainese) and as I mentioned earlier, most expat flew to some nice, sunny place. Or to their home country. And we stayd here. I am bitter, I am not even saying otherwise.

Everyone has propably heard about Chinese New Year and fire crackers. You can hardly mention the first without the second. Before the festival we got a note that stated it is ILLEGAL to fire a piece of wirework or a firecracker in the city. Now really? Based on the ridiculous amount of those whizzling, banging, fizzing, sputtering thingies flying around, I really doubt anyone was enforcing that piece of legislation.

It was not just one night and it sure as hell (pardon my french) wasn't just firecrackers! It has been SEVEN days and seven nights in a row, and it has been like a war! I kid you not! Of course not as scary, but the noise is amazing!

It started on Sunday week ago (Monday was the first day of the Year of the Ox) and it is still not over after one week. It has been gradually decreasing, though. For example on Thursday night they already started pretty late, around 8 pm, and stopped in about 2 am. Only to start again around 9 am on Friday morning: fire crackers in loooong chains, and constant fire works against the buildings. In the midst of all the buildings the "bangs" and "booms" echo like you wouldn't believe it. The purpose of the fireworks is to evict or drive out the evil spirits. If they have ANY sense, they are long gone by now...

Sorry, there are no good pictures of this madness, but see the video anyway.

Please note the smoke between the buildings. And do put the sounds on: the constant "background noise" is the bombs (firworks, it is) exploding. The loudness does not quite get through via the video...

Almost Thursday link

Ok, it is Friday, not Thursday, so I AM LATE, but here is a link of the week. All I can say, is "only in America".

And from my own behalf, for being late and all, all I can say is I've been on a vacation. Just in Shanghai, doing nothing, so do you think I've had time to look up interesting links just for you? How awfully selfish of you.
During the past couple of days I have read 1000+ pages of contemporary swedish literature, by Stieg Larsson. Strangely addictive! He only wrote three books before his death, and unfortunately I only have one more to go. For that, I have to wait a bit: untill someone kindly brings it to me from Finland. One big (I mean MAJOR) downside in Shanghai is the lack of books and bookstores. Now, I don't mean to be selfish, 'cause there is plentiful of Chinese books. But not in English. The rumour has it that importing books to China is not the easiest there is, if you can believe it...

tiistai 27. tammikuuta 2009

What lies beneath...

... the "the"?

It does not show very well, but in the below picture there is a patch where it says "the". It is not just this one banner, but many of them, so I know it is not because it was broken. I have been wondering for quite some time now, what in the earth was there before they corrected it to be "the".

Considering all the Chinglish around, why was it so important to change it afterwards? It has to be something really badly wrong. But how can it be, considering there is only room for 3-4 letters?

I have no answers, just questions.
That is because of the 24 hour surveillance. I don't dare to try and peak beneath the correction. Puzzling.

perjantai 23. tammikuuta 2009

House guest

We have had a house guest for the past couple of days. He'll stay with us until Friday, while his family, our friends, enjoy the sunshine in Thailand. Good for them. Since we decided not to join the masses who escape the city (Chinese) or the country (mainly expats) for the Chinese New Year (actually I did my very best that we would join the escaping masses) I welcomed the opportunity to have a dog for a short while. Since we miss our Ida-dog a lot.

Here is our guest. His name is Aatu. I also call him Aapo, Aadolf, Arppa, Asko, and hyttynen. With love.

But he is not quite the kind of dog I'm used to. Firstly, he has no fur. Except in the head and some in the end of his tail. But basically he is bald, so he needs clothes. For the past few days the weather was quite cold (about -3 - -5) and the wind was freezing, so it was an effort to get him to go around the building three times a day. When I took his sweater and prepared to get him dressed for a "walk", he run to the couch and hid behind J.

Where as our dog rarely, if ever, takes more than 5 seconds to get to the door if someone even implys she could be going out. No matter what is the time or what she was doing. Well, except if she's eating. And she does not were clothes, except occasionally to protect her from dirt and mud if it rains. And that's not because she wants to, but because I don't want to wash her three or four times a day. And "going out" means going out: you know, half an hour minimum, up to several hours. Not 5 minutes.

I have not got used the tiny teeny bones our guest has. They are like thin sticks. And there are no muscles! To speak of, anyway.

Did I mention he needs body lotion?

Aadolf also does not obey. I don't think he knows many commands, or then it just that we are not his people. But he knows, is when he's called for a meal. I like a dog with a healthy appetite.

What he does best, is sleeping. When ever possible, he comes to your lap, or on to your chest, or burrows into your armpit. And he sleeps. Preferably under a blanket. Definately not alone. As long as there is someone to crawl close to, that's what he does. I am not sure he should be classified as dog. He definately does not comply with my definition of "dog". But that's ok, there are as many tastes as there are... breeds, I guess.

Did I mention that first three times we came back from outside he bumped into a glass door.

Our babe. We miss her.

keskiviikko 21. tammikuuta 2009


In China it is quite common for people working for international companies to pick an "english name". It is (supposedly) easier for the non-Chinese to remember "Ann" than Wang Zhi Chuo. (I didn't want to use anyones name I know, so that is a propably not a real name.)

But the thing is, that e-mail addresses are often only in the form of the Chinese-name. So, all of us need to remember both the English name, which is used in conversing, documents etc., and the Chinese name. And, to top that of, you never know if the e-mail address can be found starting with Wang, or with Zhi, or with Chuo, or with Ann, if we use the example above. OK, so this is a little additional work, but I guess it is a good practice to activate your memory cells. They say, long term, that helps to keep sharp. (Then again I presume you (and by "you", I mean "I") should be sharp to begin with, to "keep" sharp...)

But why I really started to write this post is the humour these "English names" bring to my life. The thing is, that in Finland we are rather concervative with the names choices. You cannot even give just any name to your kids. It actually should be a name.

In China, the name should traditionally associate with good things. Money, beauty, something nice. Like my Chinese name is something about memory of orchids and a character that refers to "girlie" things, and sounds somewhat like my western name. My colleagues wife suggested it. (I had no idea how to pick a Chinese name, considering I did not know much Chinese.)

Apple, Joy, Venus and Jenny are very popular among the Chinese ladies I've met and can be recognised to be names. But then, many Chinese decide to go creative when they decide their "english name". Or, do you, in the western world know many by the name "Tomato"? "Chocolate"? Or perhaps "Junion"? How about "HiSense"? Think of all the possibilities! Darn, why don't we get to pick an English name. I would follow the path of HiSense and immediately become Nonsense :o)

torstai 15. tammikuuta 2009

A chinese wave

I have made some progress in my chinese-ation. (Adapting to China, that is.)

- I can eat with the sticks, no problem.

- I push the door closing button in the elevator like a real Chinese: as soon as people have entered, or preferably already before. And like crazy, that is. If someone else is still trying to come in, you just keep pushing.

- I don't think just because green light is on you can cross a road safely. It only means there are less cars trying to run you over.

- I don't try to dodge if my Chinese teacher (a lady) reaches for my hand to walk arm in arm.

- But one of the things I don't know how to do in a proper way, is to wave. You would not think that is difficult, would you, but it is. And when I have observed Chinese ladies, I think this is really something I should learn. (For men, it is optional, but recommended.) So, I have made instructions to myself how to practice.

  1. Bend your arm from the elbow, so that your hand is at your chest level

  2. and keep your wrist relaxed

  3. and keep your fingers relatively straight, but do not try to extend them.

  4. Keep fingers quite close to each other

  5. and move your hand, the part from wrist to the tip of your fingers, in a rapid pace.

  6. There are two styles: I am not 100% sure about this, but I think if you wave to your friends, it is more common that your fingers point up, and the movement happens sideways.

  7. Second is more commonly used to wave for example taxi driver to stop. I personally think this is the truly hardcore one, much more challenging than the previous. In this version your hand bends (towards the object of the wave) in about 45 degree angle from the wrist. You start your fingers pointing up, then bend your hand, and then your fingers point forward. Again and again, and so you wave: up and down, up and down.

  8. Which ever version you try, remember this: most important is to keep the wave rapid and relaxed, so that the movement becomes sort of uncontrolled, in a controlled way. You might think that suits well for me, considering I regularly bump into tables, doorways and other furniture, but no. It is really difficult.

  9. Now you try!

keskiviikko 14. tammikuuta 2009

Linkki vinkki

China is considering making internet addiction an official disorder, like alcoholism or drug addiction. According to this article they consider that if a person spends more than six hours online daily, they fulfil the symptoms. That would propably qualify most office workers around here... Unluckily, in here you can only get three days of paid sickleave a year, so no point in applying for a bit of an extra vacation using this new disorder. (This three days doesn't apply to us (expats), which is good because I just used two days, the two first working days of 2009, when I had the food poisoning.)

Oh, how I wish I lived in Jingan! It sounds like an amazing place... Luckily it is only few miles from where we live, and they have some malls near by, so at least I can go and enjoy the atmosphere.
We are propably staying put for the second year of the assignment, but there is a small temptation to move. Especially now, when the winter has set over Shanghai, and we don't have double-windows or warm floors (they are quite cold, actually). And there is no air-con in the kitchen, so that is sort of coldish too. The other day a man was shouting in the reception of our building: "I have slept two nights now fully dressed and I have been freezing! I will not stay in that room for another night! There is nothing to laugh about!" (I guess the Chinese reception clerk was smiling, as Chinese often do when they feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Which can be really annoying, even if you know that they are not really laughing at you.) If you would stand on a table in our apartment the temperature your head level is propably about 30 degrees (celcius) and at your feet level at about 19... But we like the location. I think we like it too much to move.

maanantai 12. tammikuuta 2009

Gone baby gone!

We are well on our way in January 2009, but I think it is not too late to look back to 2008. Reflect what I actually remember from the past year. You know, as free association, of sort. What comes to my mind when / if I think about the respective months of last year. If anything.

Uusi vuosi on saatu jo komeasti alkuun, mutta vielä täytyy palata entiseen ja miettiä mitä siitä oikein jäikään mieleen.

Hmm... Could it be that at this age a person only remembers one year back? I have no idea what happened in January, except that we visited freezing-cold Shanghai to look for an apartment.

I wasn't here (in China) but it certainly hit the news also in Europe when China was covered with snow at the time of the Spring Festival (i.e. Chinese New Year).

Many Chinese can only visit their families once a year. Followingly, Chinese New Year is the biggest human migration every year. (According to the Discovery Channel, that is.) When the year of the rat was about to begin, millions of people waited in vain to visit their families, but trains, buses, cars, all were stuck. That, understandably, can cause a little unrest in the waiting / freezing population.

I visited Istanbul for the first time, and experienced my first earthquake.
I also had a laser operation to correct my eye sight. I still get excited, occasionally, when I realise that I can see without any devices. (It is not like I had very poor sight to begin with, but I needed contact linses (or glasses, but that happened very rarely) to drive, watch TV, and to feel comfortable. It is great to see well, I tell you.

We also went to London the next day after my surgery, and it wast the coldest Easter in UK in 25 years! So there I was, with a brimmed hat and huge sunglasses, hiding like a celebrity and protecting my yeas from the wind. It was raining cats and dogs. I also needed to add eye drops in every hour or so, and frequently got a small(ish) panic that my cornea (sarveiskalvo) has certainly been detached from my eye! (That could happen after the surgery, because they need to cut it open, then they operate, then they put it back in place, but it is just supposed to stuck there on its own...) A bright idea to have a long weekend right after the surgery. Well, we had fun anyway.

It was found out that a crazy Austrian Josef Fritzl had kept his daughter a prisoner for 24 years in their family basement. Plus had a few kids with her, too. Sicko. And the above living family knew nothing..?

My path in China begun. What can I say? I remember being enthusiastic about my new city. And a teeny-tiny bit lonely, being all alone for here for the first six weeks. I have no recollection about the happenings of the world. Well, excluding the seemingly neverending news about the presidential candidate candidates in America.

Oh my my! I really meant that I don't remember ANYTHING, 'cause I just realized we had the HUGE earthquake around here (in Sichuan province, famed for the pandas and delicious spicy food) at May 12th. Almost 90 000 people were killed, and thousands more were left homeless and lost family members.

Also, couple of days after I started work here, a young woman jumped from the 6th floor to the concrete in my office building. Within one hour pictures of this episode were all over the internet.

I have no recollection at all! I went to Finland to pack the rest of our things, and as we had sold our apartment. Another family moved in. That couple had lived in Shanghai for 5 years, and were returning to Finland, just as we moved to Shanghai. It was a funny conincidence.

HOT! The hottest, humidest (Now, I KNOW it is not a word, but I use it anyway. Just because I can. Tee hee :o) month of my life. And it's not like I am comparing it to Finnish summer :o)

There is only one possible answer, living in China: OLYMPICS. But from the Olympics I mostly remember the fuss before they started, and the little fake singing girl-episode. Hilarious. So Chinese.

Also, I run the first marathon of my life! I hope many more will follow...

And the war in Georgia / South Ossetia. Scary, scary Russia. I think this reminded me that living next door to them is no good. (Technically I think I live in a neighbouring country right now, but it is sligthly different...) They have their own rules, their own truth. And their own "democracy".

In one word? MILK! The scandalous and deadly practice of chinese milk producers to add melamine in to milk so that they can continue the milk with water and still have the needed protein and composition. What a great idea! Except that several kids died and so many got sick because of it. Further more, officials were informed of this already in August, but it was not published due to the... Olympics.

I don't know if it hit the news in the western world, but the main evils behind this scheme were convicted at the end of the year.

Finland had its second schoolshooting 24.9 within one year and within "ever". Where is the world going?

From my own life I have to say I had a good time in Formula One in Singapore. First I have been to.

Visited Bali for the first time in my life (which makes three new countries visited for year 2008).

I was in Finland and loved it.

Madonna is getting a divorce. Well, personally I don't think that is any business of mine, but why is she not coming anywhere near China on her tour? I really wan't to see the living legend, before she looks like Aira Samulin.

Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari won the Nobel Prize! OMG.
Change is here! Or there, actually, in U.S. of America. The first African-American President was elected, and is about to face ridiculously high expectations. Then again, beating the previous one should not be hard.

That is about it. Let see what 2009, year of the Ox, will bring. It certainly started very well, as you can see from my previous posts...
P.s. I noticed all my links were the same color as the text. Which might make it slightly difficult for you to follow my links... Darn. Sorry about that. I have now changed them to a nice reddish color. You'll see.

perjantai 2. tammikuuta 2009


Torstai on taas täällä, ja sitä myöten myös torstain linkit!

Kiinalaista päättäväisyyttä parhaimmillaan!

Jaiks: "A MOUSE attacked an elderly woman suffering from Alhzeimer's disease and bit a chunk out of her eyelid while she was sleeping at a Shanghai mental health clinic." kertoi Shanghai Daily. Katso lisää sieltä.

Itse aloitin vuoden aivan uusilla kokemuksilla: uudenvuodenpäivä sujui mukavasti ystävien kanssa shamppanjabrunssilla (joskin tuli muistutettua mieleen että tyhjään vatsaan EI kannata juoda, kun lasillisen jälkeen oksetti...) jonne on pitänyt mennä jo moneen kertaan, mutta aina se on jäänyt yrityksen asteelle. Hyvä vuoden alku vaihtui kuitenkin nopeasti ei-niin-mukaviin uusiin kokemuksiin: ruokamyrkytykseeen ja tiputukseen Shanghailaisessa sairaalassa! No, voinen ainakin hyvällä syyllä odottaa, että tästä on suunta ylöspäin... I hope.

How did I end up in China?

Now, this could be a story about why I am in China overall. But it is not. Or well, what the heck, it is such a short story I tell it anyway: our department had an open position in Asia. I told my boss I could go there, except that I don't know any Chinese. And what do you know, almost one year later I am in China. Have been for eight months now.

But now, why am I back here right after Christmas... That is not a short story, so take a cup of coffee before you start.

I pay my taxes in China, to the Chinese government, so I can only spend so many days in Finland. Or the Finnish tax authorities want me to pay taxes to them, too. And I kind of resist additional taxes. Several thousand euros of them, especially. Because I had several business trips to Finland this year, I needed to leave Finland right after Christmas. January 1st I am OK to be back in Finland, but to spend the end of December in Finland could get very expensive for me...

Due to a family reason, I made a decision to stay in Finland until mid-January. But then, my personal voice of reason reminded me about the tax rule. But hey, there is a way out: have a couple of days vacation anywhere outside Finland.

Because even I live in Shanghai, my flights still are "Finland-Shanghai-Finland" (as opposed to Shanghai-Finland-Shanghai). My return from Shanghai to Finland in the tickets I have now is in April. I did not yet know the exact date of my return and had therefore ordered changeable flights. Well, now I needed to change the departure, not just return date of the flights.

I called Lufthansa customer service to change the tickets. Called several numbers (Christmas holidays, some numbers were not operating, some could not help with my problem) and waited about an hour. Only to find out they cannot change the tickets. Travel agency booked tickets must be changed by the travel agent. So I called them.

Because I had ordered the tickets from Chinese travel agency, I had asked in CAPS that changes to the tickets must be allowed. And of course, checked the e-ticket when I got it: it stated that changes are allowed, first one is free of charge and after that 25 euro per change. After the previous, you probably can guess what happened.

One of the first things you learn about Chinese is, that they are very innovative. But only when it helps them. Most of them are very... non-innovative in all other situations. So, the travel agent tells me the airline office is not open. Because my departure is getting awfully close, I don't want to wait 'til the next day. So I tell him, Jimmy he's called, that the airline has offices in just about every country, try another office. Call directly to Germany, for Pete's sake. And he calls me back to tell me Hong Kong office is closed too. [Sigh]. Please call to this number and change my tickets, I say, and give him the German number.

Jimmy calls me back after half an hour, to tell me my tickets are unchangeable. Cannot be changed, at all. I tell Jimmy, that I have ordered changeable tickets, and I have the e-mail correspondence to prove it. I have the e-ticket which tells me my tickets are changeable. I spend the afternoon in phone with Jimmy, or waiting for Jimmy to call. I send him the evidence that I have been given the impression that my tickets are changeable, and my original order. I tell him to call me when he has solved the problem. "Jimmy", I say. "I know your company made a mistake and you know that too. I am not responsible for that, so I should not suffer from that. Take care of the problem, please, and do not call me back before you have done that. OK, Jimmy?" "OK", Jimmy says, but doesn't quite deliver.

He calls me and tells me the tickets cannot be changed. Only thing he can do, is to issue new tickets. (And that he needs approval from my company to do that. No you don't, this is not a new trip, this is you correcting a mistake, I tell him.) But the team handling our company will handle the issuing of the new tickets on Monday. (Note: my flight is leaving on SUNDAY.) OK, I say, but our company will not pay for the new tickets, yours will. I cannot promise that, Jimmy says. OK Jimmy, please let me talk to your manager. Manager will be back on Monday. Are you telling me there is no one there who can make any decisions. I can book the flights, Jimmy says. [Sigh. Sigh. A very deep sigh.]

After some more pondering that night I finally decide to go back to China with my original flights, and promise never to use that travel agent again when I can avoid it (which I cannot, because they are the agent our company uses. But I can use the Finnish branch instead. Well, not when flying in Asia. But I said WHEN I can avoid it). I don't tell this to them, it would not help.

And I go to the airport on Sunday morning. Only to find out that I DON'T have a flight. The lady in the check-in kindly makes some calls and tells me my flights have been changed for two weeks later. Just as I had requested. "But... but they cannot be changed!" is all I can manage. But changed they have been. "Would you like me to check if we can change them back to today?" the lady asks. "Yes, please do." "They can be changed, but they only have business class seats available now, so you need to pay extra 1500 euros." No way I am going to pay that. So I call J. (my J., not the travel agent punk) and tell him that I am here, and I don't have flights for today.

He starts searching for flights and calls back, telling that flights to Dubai, departing in about 4 hours are 600 euros. Great, I'll take those. I go to the airline ticket counter, and tell that I want those flights. For today. 980 euros, tells the lady. "But I just saw them in the internet and they were much cheaper?" No help, their prices are fixed. So, I go back to the departure hall and get my laptop and start searching the flights from the net. Only to find out, that the flight departure is too close, and I cannot buy the tickets anymore from the internet. [Sigh] 15 minutes earlier they were still there... J. already has tickets to Dubai, so he can't come to any other place with me. So I search tickets from Ebookers, Travellink, airline web pages, and he does the same thing. No, it is two expensive to go to Dubai for couple of days with those prices. So I need to go somewhere else. Today. (Remember the tax rule.) I think about Barcelona. Oslo. Prague. But: I would be going alone (which is not a problem) spending anyway closer to 1000 euros for a couple of days vacation. And because I would be alone, and I would know I have some much work waiting to be done, would I be sitting alone in a hotel room finishing up some tests? Not a good idea. But I got to go somewhere. What do I do?

And couple of hours go by... Let me just go back to home. But I can't. But I can go to Shanghai-home... Hmmm. Other airlines flight to Shanghai leaves in about two hours. How much are those flights... 750 euros. Okay, who cares, I need to go somewhere anyway. So I go to the ticket counter again, and order the tickets. You need a visa to China, the clerk tells me, that takes two days minimum. Yeah, I live there, it's okay.

But then, I have another problem: I have two bags and two cabin bags. I was going to fly Lufthansa, and I have their gold card, which allows me double the bags I can check in with Finnair, which I am now flying. So, 300 euro more, tells the lady when I check in. No thanks, is there anywhere I can leave the other bag? Yes there is, that is another 70 euros. Well, I only pay 10, and beg my friend who kind of happens to visit the airport couple of times a week to pick up my bag.

I feel SO exhausted when I get to my seat in the plane, I cannot even sleep. I am just too tired to sleep.

Because my unchangeable-changed flights now depart from Finland on January 11th, because I lose the return (Shanghai-Finland) of those tickets if I don't use the first flight, because I want to be in Finland for my mothers surgery, and because my Finnair tickets would have been too expensive to return to Finland this weekend, I am going / coming back to Finland next Wednesday. And staying five days and then coming back to China again. Recently, I have started to hate flying. It was only couple of years ago when it was still fun, exciting. Then, in 2005 I started travelling twice every month. Now I still love to see new places. And old places. But flying...

And to top up this ordeal: on Monday, when I was already in China I get an e-mail from the travel agent saying: We managed to change your flights. Your departure now is on January 11th. Oh really, you xxxx muppets! I kind of figured that out already. Instead of that I replied: Ok, I need to change the return too, from April 6th to May 2nd. Guess what they replied? Sorry Ms. Eeva, changes to these tickets are not allowed.