perjantai 27. helmikuuta 2009

Train to the capital

My friend is visiting China now. I have no idea why anyone (or more accurately everyone) would think we are sisters. (I am on the left, by the way.)

She wanted to travel to Beijing by train. Train ticket, a soft-sleeper one, is almost as expensive (well, it is not really expensive, 514RMB, including delivery of the tickets) as flight tickets (from 540RMB; ours were last minute, and about 600RMB), but I guess train is a bit different experience compared to flying. We took the Z14 train, which leaves 7:20 pm and is in Beijing 7:00 am the next morning. In our cabin there were two Chinese men in addition to us. Which felt strange at first, but then... they didn't speak and didn't bother us, and mostly slept. To say we forgot them would be slight exaggeration, as used a lot of time to amaze the pajamas ALL the chinese passangers were changing into, when the night fall. Most had brownish, but some had patterns in their pajamas. Anyway, I was too shy to take a picture. Well, I tried, but obviously I am no natural born paparazzi.

We didn't have pajamas. We didn't fit in.

For some other trains they also have 2-person cabins. And some trains have luxury cabins, which have private shower and bathroom. But we (I) booked in a hurry, so our's had for beds. And a small table. Everything was clean and ok. I didn't take one focused photo in the train. It trembled.

We had dinner in the dining car, although we had stocked up fruits, cookies, sandwiches and jogurt just in case. To avoid starvation in 12 hours. But that was a fear with no grounds.

Breakfast was... very Chinese. I cannot eat noodles for breakfast. Or rice. Unless I am starving. But I thought I would make my friend's experience more authentic and ordered her a noodle breakfast. With an egg. Yam. She was very thankful for my help. It is difficult for a non-chinese speaker.

All in all, it was quite easy way to travel, all went well, and it is an experience different from flying.

On our arrival to Beijing, after checking in to hotel, we headed to Temple of Heaven. Outside the gate the Beijing authorities kindly reminded us:

I am not sure if well mannered imagination followed from our visit or not, but we tried our best to remain self-restrained.

And now to the commercials:
If you ever go to Beijing for sightseeing purposes, I can warmly recommend Hotel Kapok. The rooms were very nice to say the least, room rate 802 RMB, including one breakfast per room per night and internet connection. And complimentary fruits and some drinking water. And I liked the style of the decor. The exterior of the hotel is not very impressive, but who cares! I would go back anytime. And they were flexible: we checked in 7 am and checked out 2pm. No extra charge, no extra trouble. And, it is only a short walk away from Tian An Men Square, Forbidden City, shopping / walking street, night food market and some other places. And a short taxi ride to Houhai-lake bar area or some local restaurant streets. Of which you will hear more tomorrow...

to be continued...

keskiviikko 25. helmikuuta 2009

Six Harmonies

For a someone, who is called "Six Harmonies", or Liu He in Chinese, this little boy sure looks angry and grudgy. Not harmonious at all.

Besides, he looks like a girl.

If you want to see him, you need to go to Hangzhou.

maanantai 23. helmikuuta 2009


Aatu the dog went back to his own family already weeks ago, but I happened to flicked through some pictures and noticed the ones taken of that "dog". Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my.

A dog with a hair twist.

Isn't he small! And kind of pathetically cute?

Aatu hates rain. The hair on his ears, which he has carefully arranged and combed, gets tangled and curly. That is common for us. Except it is not my ear hair, just my hair. And I have not arranged my hair carefully anyway. And I like rain as long as I have proper gear.


But then...

Aatu and a smile. Believe it or not, but this is what he does
when he is extremely happy. It is slightly creepy, isn't it?

Admit it: you did not see this comin'?

torstai 19. helmikuuta 2009

This and that

You know, I read other expats' China blogs, to see nice photos of China. Many blogs seem to be kept by stay-home wifes, who have better opportunities to take pictures in day light than I do. Or so I think. That's my excuse. I feel bad I have not been able to present better what it is like in here. But the state of the matter is, that for example the past two weeks I have been going to the mill everyday. That means

5:50 I get up, shower, eat breakfast

7:00 - 8:30 drive to the mill: working, some chatting with colleagues, sometimes sleeping

8:30 - 17:00 working

17:00 - 19:00 drive back to Shanghai: usually working. And chatting.

19:00 -22:45 Having dinner, going to the gym, reading, studying Chinese, watching TV, blogging. Or what ever I decide to do. In less than four hours.

But what ever I decide to do, I need to take into consideration my darling, who came to China for me (which I value and appreciate). And who is working very-very parttime. And who deserves to be entertained and kept company for those four hours that I spent home awake in the evenings. So lately I have tried not to open my laptop in the evenings. Because it is an endless road. It is unnecessary and it easily leads to thinking work which easily leads to working...

I am not complaining. I am just saying, that I don't have that much time to go around and take nice pictures of all the things around me. Well, what about the weekends, you lazy lady, you may think now. And you are right: I should do better. I try to do better. Days just escape me.

Yesterday it was so foggy, I could not see the next building from our office. Good luck to all those flying in our out of the city today. Hopefully that will not continue, my Valentine's date is flying down on Saturday.

While the guys were playing poker last Saturday (J. won some, so his forgiven ;o) me and my flying friend Pigga (above) did some shopping, admired each others dogs (from pictures, as both of those cuties are in Finland) as we always do, and had dinner in Kabb Restaurant in Xin Tian Di area. Pigga's hotel is in Pudong, so she had not been to Xin Tian Di before, and seemed to love the atmosphere: it is slightly polished / touristy, but I still like it. It has dozens of restaurants. And if you feel like it, you can pretend to be in Europe for an hour or two. I'll try to take some photos of it I can actually post. I usually go there in the evening for dinner, and all my pictures are unfocus due to darkness and my photographing skills.

But back to the dinner then: they served Valentine's menu, which was a four course dinner, completed with a glass of Prosecco. The candle-lit table was decorated with rose pedals... the chocolate cake was heart-shaped... and garnished with rose pedals. It was very... romantic.

Ok, no it wasn't but the food was very good, and we had good time.

Oh. Completele unrelated, but I got called "French Beauty" today in a meeting. By a lady. That was unexpected, to say the least. Let us just assume that the beuty is in the eye of the beholder. But people rarely say things like that in work. And secondly, I am not French, I don't even speak French and I have no idea why I would seem French. But hey, I would have NOTHING against being French Beauty, I would very much like that. I just hope it had a little more basis in the real life...

Here is a French Beauty for you.

I think. I ain't no horticultural expert.

Piipaa-autoja ja muita mukavia

Jotain ihmeen kautta eksyin Suomalaisen hätäkeskuspäivystäjän blogiin. Hätäkeskuspäivystäjän työvuorossa näyttää saavan aimo annoksen ei-niin-komeaa suomalaista arkea. Mielenkiintoista luettavaa!

Blogi ei ole pelkkiä tarinoita, mutta poimin tähän kuitenkin muutaman sellaisen jonka parissa ensin hekottelin ja sitten vähän väsyneempänä nauroin kippurassa.

Normaaleja hulluja...

Viikonlopun iloja...

Henkilökohtainen suosikkini: Turhapuro... Mene nukkumaan. Kiitos. Hei.

Ja vielä melkoinen Bondi...

maanantai 16. helmikuuta 2009


I had been avoiding a visit to hair dresser in China for nine months. I have been to hair dresser many times since my move to Shanghai, namely every time I have visited Finland. Bad news for me, or my hair, was that I am not going back to Finland before May. And I cannot NOT get my hair done in 5 months. No can do. It is not that my hair is so perfect. Quite the opposite, actually. But I don't want to make a bad situation any worse.

And it is not that I think Chinese don't know how to cut or colour hair. It is just that Chinese hair is very different from mine. If there is something I generally envy from the Chinese, it is their hair. Majority of Chinese have strong (unlike mine), thick (unlike mine), naturally beautiful color hair (unlike mine). Hair that doesn't frizz at the humidity of the summer months (unlike mine). The local hairdressers are not used to handling our northern European hairtype.

For hair cut or color, I have been going to the same Place for... almost ten years. Which is quite long considering my years. Now I had to face the dragon, and try something new. I decided to do so with a friend who had already been in this Shanghai-place for couple of times. Tiffany's, it's called. I just hate going to a new hair dresser. Anywhere. I hate telling the stylist (or designer, as they were called here in Shanghai) what I want. Of course that was not much of a problem since my chinese-skills don't really enable me to depict in any detail the hairstyle I want... But overall, I want my stylist to suggest what to do, and I want to be able to trust him (her) so I don't have to be afraid while waiting for the result. I want to be able to r e l a x when I am in that chair. And I absolutely want to be in and out in 1,5 hours or less.

So of we went, last Saturday. The place was huuuge. And noisy. And I could feel my palms getting all swetty and cold. I decided to try to explain that I'd like some highlights, like the ones that I had already. The girl started to show very very thin (about five hairs) strings, which was not at all what I wanted. I tried to show her that I want wide, but thin section of hair colored, under the top layer, so that it is not so obvious. Nothing too geometrical for me. And she showed me a picture where a girl had a five centimeter wide bright red area in her otherwise black hair. After which I noticed that I had been mistaken: I actually didn't want any highlights. I don't know why I thought I wanted in the first place...

I became sligthly more agitated when they put the color to my hair, and I mean hair, rather than to the roots (which needed the color). As a matter a fact, they left the roots totally unattended at this point, and told they will do something with them after 20 minutes. I made lame attempts to explain that where I come from, we do the roots first and then the rest... but I should have made more powerful attempts: both of us, me and my friend, had red roots and much darker locks. The designer came to see our hair and said "ke yi", which means "It's ok". No, mister, it is not. So, we had to go through another coloring.

End results is ok, but I ended up loosing 5 centimeter from the length of my hair, which was not the plan (don't you people understand what "duan yi dian dian", "shorten just a little", means? Maybe he just didn't want to understand? Artistical freedom and all that...) and three hours, which also was not the plan.

But I got to watch the most amazing things they were doing there: Chinese ladies' heads were wrapped to anything and everything between towels, cling wrap, folio, plastic and some kind of foam plastic, and a mixture of those. Plus rolls. Many of them looked like aliens while in process. Plus the designers were funny to watch: s0 very, very stylish and cool with their shades and drastic hairstyles :o)

But... I don't want to think about what I am going to do after 6-7 weeks when it would be time to go back. It makes me uneasy.

keskiviikko 11. helmikuuta 2009

Blueberries and mangos

I am a traditional girl. I like traditional things. I like blueberry pie, for instance. Sometimes that means that I am not quite as open to new things as one should be. I am working on it, but results are not promising...

I have no problem comprehending apple chips. You know, those snacks made of apple that kind of remind potato chips, in form and color. But in my world, there is just no room even for a concept like blueberry flavored potato chips.

Even if they are natural and cool. There just isn't.

Let me know if you have tasted these, because I get shrills if I even think about buying them. Not to even mention mango potato chips and lychee potato chips. Natural and warm as they are, I just don't feel it.

sunnuntai 8. helmikuuta 2009

Eating out

Last week I tested four new restaurants: new cafe from where to pick great paninis, pieces of pizza or sets of tapas for lunch (I actually tested all the before mentioned, and went there four times in a week! Well, we decided to be supportive for the new entrepeneur. And it is inexpensive, 50 RMB for luch set, including soft-drink).

Then I went to an Indian restaurant Indian Kitchen with friends. Earlier, I've been restricting myself to Vedas, 'cause I like their food, even the restaurant itself is a little cold. I mean the decor isn't their strong suit. We often opt to eat on the lounge side, it has got loads of more atmosphere and character. But I found Indian Kitchen to be worthy of a new visit, soon. I LOVE Indian food. And Indian Kitchen was much more affordable than Vedas.

Thirdly, on Satuday night we went to Chartre. Kind of French restaurant, but, which is quite common here, not purely French, as they also had French fries, potato skins, rice curries and bunch of other stuff available. Chartre is located in an older building, and I, no, all of us, found the atmosphere and milieu really nice. We ate upstairs, which was more quite and private than sligthly noisy downstairs. All the dishes were reasonably priced, and manu was extensive. There were couple of bummers, though: three of us ordered grilled leg of lamb. It had not been grilled, and it was not a leg of a lamb. To be honest, it had an "earthy" taste in it, so it wasn't very good. But fillet of beef was, or so was reported. Another bummer was desserts: four of us ordered chocolate mousse, and they only had one left. Three of us then had to change, but they were also out of couple of other dessert options. But we got our desserts ordered. When they brought them up, they only had one piece of Very chocolate something something cake left, even though two of us had ordered that. I was one of the two, and luckily for me, the other person was a gentleman and let me have the last piece: it was very chocolate, and very good. But the said gentleman was then left without dessert at all. But very nice atmosphere, maybe we'll try them again sometimes.

And lastly, we also went to Mesa/ Manifesto. I've been trying to go there for some weeks now, but always end up somewhere else. I have no idea what is up with that. But now the important first step has been taken, and I will be returnig. I think. I try, anyway.

Okay, what is the point of this lengthy narrative of what I have gulped down during the past week? The point is, that this city is so full of amazing restaurants, where you can eat with remarkably less than in Finland. But with this remarkable restaurant-scene two things follow: at any given moment I could think of at least 5 restaurants I have not been to, and would like to try. Most of the time it is closer to ten, than five. (Like now: one Japanese, its name escpaes my mind at the moment, beed-place Moon's, Italian restaurant Casanova, and I want pizza at Velvet Lounge (some say it is the best of the city), Whisk, acclaimed for its chocolate cake, Vue, a high-end place with gorgeous Bund views and House of Hamilton and... about 1000 Chinese restaurants. I could go on and on, you know.) At the same time, I would also like to go to the places I have already been to, and that I liked. Or loved. Or drooled at.

But biggest problem of them all: I have no idea how, after Shanghai, I am going to be able to go back to living in my hometown Tampere, which, with love, and all, has only a few decent places to eat, and even fewer of them have any distinctive character! Well, I have more than a year to enjoy Shanghai.

perjantai 6. helmikuuta 2009

Maden Dino

(Almost) English subtitles from a TV show I have been watching today:

- A den in the day, it's all about her.

You can propably guess it really was -> at the end of the day, it's all about her.
Curiously enough, the same line was, in another scene, subtitled:

- Remember, another day, it's all about her.

- Just because she and me now alone...
Spoken line:
-> Just because it's you and me alone now...

- I have a little Babylon, here.
->I've got a little problem here.

- I din't know nice is an exaggerate world.
-> I don't know if nice is the exact word.

- Hanke is father a legand father.
-> Hank is the father. Alleged father.

- Right a child I will love it as my own.
-> I'll raise the child and I'll love it as my own.

- All right Mars...
-> All right Marcy...

- I hope you are right
->... or hump your leg // ANd would some one please tell me how they came up with "I hope you are right"?

- Great old guy got to the coma.
-> Great! Old guys go to Tacoma.

- Tell me I will send you. // Like how could that even be a sentence?
-> Tell them who sent you.

- It is my pleasent.
-> No time like the present.

- This is the Maden dino what is shake you
-> Well if it isn't the madre of my bambino. What's shaken sweet duck?

These are just random picks, from one episode, so it was no effort to gather these, really. And there were plenty more.

This kind of humour just remarkably amplifies the viewing pleasure of ANY programme :o)

I wonder what they pay for the translators around here...

torstai 5. helmikuuta 2009




Why do they keep changing the directon of the escalators?
Not just these escalators, but others too.

keskiviikko 4. helmikuuta 2009

News from China

Recent news from Shanghai Daily:

Can you believe that? Less than 40 euros! And she was gone five years, if I correctly understand? One year before the husband informed police, and police investigated four years. That is just unbelievable. But true. They say.

Isn't it great I am here to keep you informed and up-to-date on all the important stuff? I am sure you can appreciate that ;o) What do you think they would have gotten in Finland? Maybe two years in a low security prison, released after one because this is first sentence... Wife would have gotten 1 month parole. Finnish legal system is pretty useless. It doesn't keep the criminals in (in order to keep the other people safe and to prevent new crimes), it sure as heck doesn't prevent most crimes and it doesn't appear to correspond with the general sense of justice of most people I have spoken to (which of course is not a statistical sample of any sort. Actually, I would think someone has researched that..?). Sigh. I fell so much better already.

Today, I was told, is the first day of spring. That makes me happy :o)
We were wondering with a friend of mine about the weather: later than this time last year, it was snowing and pretty darn cold in Shanghai. And now, already last week one day we had a temperature of + 18 degrees (celcius). Ain't that something. Most days the temperature is now around 10-12 degrees, but you can hear birds singing, and my friend insisted she had seen some leaf buds (silmuja puissa). It took us a day to realize (we both figured it out, separately), that the Chinese calendar makes all the sense, much more so than the western one: spring festival last year was in mid February, now it started 25th(?) of January. So the spring should be here earlier, and it is. Western calendar only tells us it is February, but it doesn't tell whether it is wintern or spring. Chinese calendar, lunar calendar that is, is so much better!
I read from City Weekend that in Suzhou, which is a close by city, the famous plum tree blooming time is beginning soon. I think I have to pay a visit there when Susku comes from Finland to visit us in few weeks...