keskiviikko 29. huhtikuuta 2009


Once a year Shanghai hosts Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition. This year's show was held April 22-28.

I returned from Australia last Saturday evening. I left the hotel at 4:30 A.M. that morning, which meant 2:30 A.M. China Time, and arrived safely at 7:30 P.M. It was a long flight. Loooong. Long, got it? By 8:30 I had fulfilled my belly and curled up to the couch and I was merrily snoring away. Not literally, I don't snore, of course, but I couldn't keep my eyes open for 5 seconds and fell asleep immediately. Which is perfectly understandable, if you ask me. But then, there was J., who had been waiting for me. We hadn't seen each other in three weeks. And who was not tired. But very, very disappointed. "You can home and all you are interested in is food and sleep." "Err... yes. I'm sorry. I missed you too, but I am really, really tired."

Not quite the home-coming one would wish from travelling spouse. And what's more, I had one week, before I was going to be leaving to Finland, for almost three weeks. So, I decided to try and make it up for him. I told J. that on Monday I would leave office early afternoon, and we could do something nice together. "What would you like to do?" And this is how I ended up visiting Shanghai Auto 2009.

It's not that I don't like cars, I do. I might even say I love to drive a nice, powerful, car. But I am not that exited to watch cars. And I didn't think Shanghainese were either. I was going to be wrong on one of them.

We arrived to the site, and I went to get us tickets. The queue was well organised between railings, so that the typical chaos would be prevented. The queue even went quite quickly. But when the railings ended, everyone charged towards the ticket counters, and THEN you had to fight for your right to buy the tickets. I have gained some expertise with the elbow tactics around here, so in no time I had exchanged my crispy 100 RMB bill to two tickets.

Towards the autos we headed! There was a metal detector at the door. And it beeped loudly and flashed red for every single person entering. Not that the guards were the least bit interested. Maybe someone had forgotten to mention that they are suppose to check the belongings and the entering person if the detector-machine alarms...

There were ten halls full of cars and most of all, full of Chinese. I could have done with five. Or two. Even one would have been ok. But no, ten they had. We went through everyone of them, and I think I saw between 20-30 makes I had never ever seen before. Most of those Asian makes didn't offer anything that appealed my taste. And then, some of them had, bloody hell, directly copied London Cab and Rolls Royce. Cheeky, don't you think?

At some point I started a new hobby: taking pictures of men carrying ladies handbags. There were plenty. Only problem was, that with all that crowd, taking pictures was extremely hard: either you didn't have a line to the target, the target was too close, or someone bumped into your back just when you thought you got it. And they didn't just "bump into" you. They push you. They poke you. They step on your toes. They walk in front of you just when you are taking a picture. They try to push you aside to get a better view. And you can forget about "excuse me" or it's Chinese equivalent (if there is one, so far I have never heard it used?).

What was to be expected, but was still a little funny, was that everything was only in Chinese. So much for the international exhibition then... But what was really... Chinese, if you may, was that they had own sound-systems for each stand. Imagine walking into a hall, where you can see two girls playing violin on one stand. A group of dancers dancing on the next stand. And what you can hear, is Celine Dion from a third stand, so loud, that you (or that would be I, in this case) have to press your hands against your ears, if you are to survive there for more than few seconds. Then, the stand with the violin players wants their show to be noticed and turns up the volume. And the Celine Dion stand, which by now no longer has Celine, but some other record playing, responds swiftly and gives it all they have got. Ca-co-pho-ny. I, personally, wanted to tie those idiots' heads to the speakers, so they could reconsider whether the volume might be a little too much...

So, about four hours in this place, and we were both exhausted and headed home. Would I go back? Voluntarily? No, no way. Luckily, J. wouldn't either. Maybe next year I fill my exhibition quota with China International Adult Toys and Reproductive Health Exhibition. Or maybe not.

maanantai 27. huhtikuuta 2009

Towering over Shanghai

Shanghai's signature tower, the one and only: Oriental Pearl Tower

Shanghai World Financial Tower opened its doors some time end of last summer, August if I am not badly mistaken. We, and about 1,000,000 other Chinese wanted to visit the place. Due to some restricting factors, like for example that I have to work on weekdays, our options have pretty much been limited to the weekends.

If we are going to go through all the trouble getting there (it is on the other side of the town), we'd decided to pick a pretty and clear day. But once it came, we were off to the Tower. Which was a great idea, but someone else had thought about that too... The queue was so long we figured it would take at least 3 or 4 hours to get in. And once in, you'd propably be squeezed between all the enthusiastic Chinese. No thanks.

Firstly, we were optimistic and decided to try a little later, figuring the first weeks are the worst.

But every time we went back, there were more people than in the Shanghai railway station just before Chinese New Year. So we figured we would have to get there really really early one Saturday morning.

There were many weeks that brough us nothing but cloudy mornings. Then there were weekends I could not get that man of mine out of the bed before it was too late.

So, by early this year we still had not visited the new tower. We'd been to the Jin Mao Tower, which is just beside the new tower, but not quite as tall, and, of course, not as new. So while Jin Mao Tower offers you views from 88th floor, is now comfortable in respect of the crowds, you can get in without queuing, no one wants to go there. Poor old Jin Mao. Actually we took my mother there when she visited, as the queu to the other tower was... longish.

In March when my friend was visiting we decided we have to get her to visit the g** d*** tower. But again, whether was not on our side. Finally we went there on one Friday evening. No queuing at all and the night views were beautiful. I warmly recommend. Taking good photos, however, is difficult, as the windows are bound to reflect...

View from the Tower.

View from the foot of the Tower.

Jin Mao Tower in front, SWFC Tower behind it

There were no queues, but there were still people there. And from what I gathered, mostly Chinese tourists. Why do I thinks so? Well, because they looked Chinese and because many of them were secretly taking photos of us. Not very well secretly, as I noticed what they were doing, but nonetheless. Couple of young men came to ask if they could take a pictures with us. And then some one else came. And then a group of girls. I started to think they took us for someone else. Like, I don't know, someone worth photoing, maybe. ("Photoing" propably doesn't qualify as a word, does it?)

I wonder what they will tell they friends about this picture? "And here we are in Shanghai with two... well, two... two westeners."

tiistai 21. huhtikuuta 2009

Cultural differences

There are so numerous of differences between western and Chinese cultures, that I can only give you glimpses of what it means in practice.

Example 1.

Not so long ago my partner J. travelled to Thailand with his long time buddy. I couldn't go, since I was working, and even if I wasn't, I am not sure I would have gone with them. Perfectly normal to me: good friends travelling together.

But my Chinese colleague said to me: "Isn't it a little strange that those two man [J. and his friend] travel alone?" I had not idea what he meant, and he propably saw the questionmark-like expression on my face. "You are brave to let them travel alone together." What???? I wasn't sure if he was thinking about the abundand thai-ladies who make themselves available either for a monetary compensation or just to find a boyfriend or maybe that they would be somehow partying more than should be tolerable. "Well, I don't know... I am not worried how they will behave" I said, "I think I know what kind of person I have been living with more than 8 years now. And they are there to dive, on a small island." "No, but isn't it a little strange for two men to travel together? They must be really really good friends?" "I don't think it is that strange, I think most people I know have travelled with their friends." "Yes but two men sharing a hotel room?" he still said. I was perplexed, but decided not to ask if he was somehow thinking that two men travelling together would somehow find their hidden homosexual sides if they travel together (I find that rather unlikely concept, J. having started his dating life (with girls!) at the mature age of 13, and all), or what he was after.
I think the whole concept of friends is different in China, because the meaning of the family unit is so much more important than in western countries, friends do not play that important role to adults. Connections are everything, but close friendships might not be. This is just the way it looks to me. I might be wrong, and there propably are variances.

Example 2.

Again my Chinese colleague asked me if I am going to visit the homes of the two Finns positioned here in Melbourn in our company. It sounded more like which day you will visit them. By this time, I had barely met the said Finns for the first time, greeted them and exchanged few plesantries, and my colleague knew that full well. "Well, I don't I will. You know, I don't know them. And I think they have their family things and other things going on and they have travel and spend a lot of time away from their families as it is." "Oh, ok. I thought you would visit them. They are Finns." "No, I think we'll just have a dinner with them on Thursday, as the controller mentioned yesterday."

Again, not a big thing at all, but shows a totally different thinking. I would never ever expect to visit the practically almost strangers' homes, just because they are Finns. If I got to know them or immediate friendship is established, I might expect to have a dinner with them the next time, to cath up. But totally strange people? Just because they happen to be the same nationality? While we are 5 days in Melbourne? I don't think so. But I know Chinese do.

Example 3.


- I know the Chinese business controllers and and co-operate a lot with them. We talk often.

But if they have any -ANY- questions, they talk with my Chinese colleague. They ask things he does not know, and I have told that would be better to asked from me. But time and again, they ask my colleague who then asks me. Whereas a western person (normally) naturally prefers to ask from his own network / friends / people who speak the same language, but if you know they don't know the answer anyway, you ask from the person who does. Even if you need to use English. Which you use everyday in your work anyway.

Example 4.

A westerner (not me) recently had her first performance review discussion with her Chinese boss. And it was what she had expected. Unfortunately. Where as it is supposed to be an open discussion about both sides expectations and opinions, development plans and generally an opportunity to open up to your boss if you so wish, with a Chinese manager it had been nothing but a go-through of objectives that had been pre-defined by the boss (I think the meaning is to design the targets together). To questions those targets was not a question. To questions or discuss openly about some other changes in the organisation was cut down saying this is what management wants. And to end the conversation, the boss told that the number of expats will be cut down. Well, I am not an expat in the sense that I am working with a local contract here. "Well, anyway, we'll let you know about the changes." Like, WHAT? Was he indirectly telling that they will not need her anymore? Now, this only demostrates he is not a good manager to his subordinates. But in many cases the expectations of western subordinates and Chinese managers, Chinese subordinates and Western managers don't seem to go together too well.

I am thankful for having a western manager, and I am thankful for having a "western-understanding" and adaptive colleague. The small differences are needed to remind me to aspire open-mindedness... Seems to be a slow process and occasionally I think I am going backwards :o)

sunnuntai 19. huhtikuuta 2009

Business travels

Last week I sort of kind of implied that I am unlucky and deserve symphathy-points for being here (Australia, if you haven't been paying attention) on a business trip, rather than for the long-hoped vacation. Poor me. What a horrible destiny it is to be here.

...admiring flowers in the parks...

Surely, there is always work to do, weekday or weekend. But I gathered what little I had and took it as an excuse to see around Melbourne: I am travelling with a colleague who has not had that many chances to travel the world. And also, who doesn't have a driver's licence. So he couldn't really do that much alone, could he?

As a sidenote: here on the other side of the world they drive on the other side of the road. I had only done that for about 30 kms or so before Friday, and that was 2005 or 2006 in a smallish town in U.K., so it's not like I am expert driving on the left. Some people said it's no big deal, then again my friend who lived in U.K. for about three years didn't drive there at all. So it might be a big deal. But I like to drive. Plus the factory we need to be going as of tomorrow is a loooong way from the city (they have cow pastures right next to it) and we need to get there by some means. How hard can it be, anyway? A person I don't appreciate too highly commented that driving in the U.K. was so easy for him. Not that I am competitive or anything, but if he can do it, well so can I. And actually: it has been easy [knocking vigorously on wood].

Only issue is that they are quite strict with the speed limits here. But that of course is not a problem for me, as my friends migth know. Not a problem at all. Nope. Not the least bit. Actually, I have never had a ticket. Oops! I thought I could still do April fools. Sorry.

Anyway, this weekend I have been to see Healesville Sanctuary, which hosts a league of Australian species, like koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, and echida.

...feeding carrots to this guy :o) So cute!

This little girl was a lively one for a koala:

On Sunday we drove through the Great Ocean Road, which is a road by the sea (I know I know, you never would have guessed!) with cute small villages, some of the best surf beaches in Australia (so they say), some lighthouses, beautiful parrots and the twelve Apostles, i.e. 12 limestone formations in the sea.

Two of the twelve apostles. And me. I'm on the right.

Split Point Lighthouse

A parrot in Apollo Bay

There were also gorgeous blue and red colored parrots flying in
some of the places we stopped, but I couldn't get a shot of them.

So, compared to other people's business travels... [Deep sigh] Ooh. Poor, poor me.

Seriously: I consider myself pretty lucky.

tiistai 14. huhtikuuta 2009

Myöhästynyt Aprilli-pila?

Ilta-Sanomien (13.4.09) uutisen mukaan Kiinan valtionjohto on heittäytynyt sangen edistykselliseksi. Siinä määrin, että kuulostaa ihan aprilli-pilalta. Kysynpähän vaan, millä he aikovat taata "kaikille puhtaan ympäristön", kun ei siihen ole mahdollisuutta suurissa kaupungeissa kenelläkään?

Entäpä koulutus? Tarkoittaako tämä että yhden lapsen politiikka poistuu? Koska tällä hetkellä peruskoulu on lähes ilmainen vain "yhden lapsen todistuksen" omaaville lapsille.

Uskoo kun näkee, mutta suunta on oikea!

sunnuntai 12. huhtikuuta 2009

Sydney, Sydney, Sydney

I have been busy getting to know Sydney: the first day I spent here, I first walked around the city for five hours, and then continued running for one hour. I haven't been still much after that either.

I first stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton at Darling Harbour. It is a great location: you are wthin walking distance from everywhere. Well, everywhere I have been to: The Opera House(2.), Circular Quay, The Rocks, The Royal Botanical Garden (+ other parks 4.), the shopping (6.). The Sydney Tower. The Sydney Acquarium (3.) The Harbour Bridge (5.). And of course, the Darling Harbour (1.). Good hotel, great location, if you ask me.

There are dozenz and dozens of restaurants at the Darling Harbour. And let me tell you, I have yet to have anything but good food in this country! During the Easter weekend Darling Harbour hosted "one of Australia's largest street theatre and human circus events", the Hoopla Festival. Day or night, whenever I would walk around the harbour, there seemed to be someone performing. Travelling alone isn't great, but it is great to be able to stop whenever you want. To watch a show, for example :o)

I also went to a see a play, The Alchemist (novel by Paul Coelho), playing at the famed Sydney Opera House. I also learned that a teather play in (Australian) English is remarkable more difficult to understand than a movie. Well, for someone who's not native speaker. Not impossible, but required a lot of concentration. It was ok, but not suberb. But I got to see the Opera House from inside, a bit at least. Which was ok, too, but not suberb. I mean, it was just brownish, harsh stone surfaces, as far as I could see.

The Sydney Acquarium (and the Wildlife Center, which I passed, 'cause I plan to go to a wildlife santuary near Melbourne next weekend) is just across the street from my hotel. It was educative: now I know that alligators don't live in Australia, only crocodiles do. And I can tell the two apart. Well, if I'll have time to contemplate their teeth.

I also met some animals I don't think I had met before. The platypus (eli nokkaeläin, suomeksi) and dugongs (ja se olisi sitten merilehmä). Dugong featured below in a messy shot eating salad. Really, he was most enthusiastic about the lettuce that was provided for him. Her? How do I know which? (Oli miten oli, mutta tämä saattaa olla kytköksissä lajin lehmä-nimeen... Asiaa tutkitaan.) I should follow the suit, since my half-marathon is closing by, and I weigh more than last year, which makes it heavier to run. Even couple of kilos make a huge difference, you see.

There were also a lot of other things, like these glowing jelly-fishes.

And sharks. I know animals are not mean or capable of hatred as a feeling, but look at the eye and the expression of this guy. He is just evil, there is no going around that.

I have also spent some hours reading, walking and running in the close by parks: the Hyde Park and the Royal Botanical Garden. To be able to smell the soild. And grass. And flowers. And to see all the green and all the water around! It'll just make your heart sing.

And look at what they say:

After all the Shanghai whistle-blowing (if you dare to step on the grass) this is just a blissful sign. Could I take one home with me?

There were also hundrets (that's my educated guess) of bats in the Botanical Garden. They say at dusk they leave their home trees and fly as a huge horde to eat. Not on human blood and flesh, incase you have recently seen the movie Twilight. I didn't have time to wait around for dusk (I wanted to go see some more Hoopla-shows) but during the day the bats were scrieking and wrestling with one-another. Propably for the best branches.

Night view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Can you see the small dots on the bridge (on the picture below)? Not the fence, but the other ones. They are people. You get to climb the bridge, for hefty 180 AUD, which is about 90 euros. I am often all for this kind of things, but that seemed a bit expensive. So instead I just decided to cross the bridge and do the pylon climb, which will take you to 80+ meters compared to 130 meters of the bridge climb, but it'll also only cost you 9,5 AUD. I actually ended up crossing the bridge couple of times more than planned, since I got lost. I am not sure how anyone can get lost in this city, it is as easy to navigate here as it is in your own home. Really, I mean it.

I try to avoid shopping, since I am suppose to save money for a house, but this is such a great shopping city, that it is hard. I mean, in Shanghai you have all the top-end brands, but the nice quality, nice-style affordable range is somewhat limited. Plus it is off-putting that whenever you go to a shop, someone is following you mere millimeters from your elbow. But here: I have time. There are shops. There is plentiful of nice shops. Atmosphere is relaxed. Ahhh... A shoe-shop called Wittner was a really nice found. I think I have seen it before, but cannot remember where. Anyway: their shoes are modern and stylish, affordable and real leather both outside and inside. That is really something you are hard pressed to find in Shanghai.

And another thing I will miss: David Jones delicacy department. The smoothies they make from fresh fruits or berries, skim-milk and low-fat youghurt. Mmm... Not to even mention the cheece counter which is about 20 meters long. Or the bakery. Or the antipasti counter... Excuse me, I need to go get a tissue to clean the drool on the keyboard.

lauantai 11. huhtikuuta 2009

Oh Sydney, my love

I have always wanted to go to Australia. Maybe just because it is so far, far away (especially so, if you happen to live in Finland). The way I had pictured it, we would be driving around Australia for four weeks. Maybe five. Diving at the Great Barrier Reef (although in my day-dream this is always mixed with fear, since I associate the reef strongly with sharks), admiring koalas and kangaroos, enjoing the great beaches and waterfalls, and the gorgeous cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

I am here now, but the rest didn't quite turn out the way I had planned: I am here on business, I am here alone, and I certainly will not stay here for five weeks. But regardless of that, so far: I love this place.

My trip could not have started better:

First great thing

I needed (or wanted) to pick up my jeans from the tailor (they needed to be shortened a bit) before I left to the airport. Unfortunately, all the company cars were taken, and I had no time for a round-trip to the tailor. So, I decided to take my changes: I took a taxi, told him I wanted to go to the airport, but needed to stop at the fabric market first for one minute, if that would be ok with him? Ok, he said. I have mostly met honest taxi drivers in Shanghai, even so, that they turn off the meter if they accidently take a longer way (which never ever happens anywhere else, at least not to me). But still, you never know. I wasn't going to leave my handback or my computer back to the taxi while I picked up my jeans, but I didn't want to loose my clothes and shoes either. Sigh. Could I really not go to Australia equipped with some other jeans? I got off the cab in the traffic lights before the fabric marker, and told the driver to wait for me in front of the main doors. And of I went, to get my jeans. I was in and out in two minutes, and got slightly worried when the taxi was nowhere to be seen when I came out. Only to find out, that he was still in the lights, and just heading towards me. Great job, I praised him and gave him a 20 yuan note, after he had gotten me to the airport via fabric market in about 50 minutes.

Second great thing

I slept like a baby during the flight. And by "like a baby", I mean that I did wake up every two hours or so, but without changing or feeding went quickly back to sleep. I think I slept seven hours altogether. That never happens. I was happy as a bird and brisk as a bee when I walked to the terminal.

Third - not so great thing, but at least I wasn't evicted

In the terminal I had a little incident. Involving a working dog. And an apple. An ashamed me. In the entry card they ask a lot of questions. You know how it goes: have you EVER been in contact with livestock during the past 30 days? No. Have your EVER been to Africa or South America during the past 30 days? No. Have you got shoes or other items that may contain soil? No. Not really. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Nope. Do you have any food, including dried, cooked, jaba jaba jaba... Yes, I have a chocolate bar and two protein bars in my bag. So I crossed the box. There were several posters reminding us passangers that we can either trough our food items away to the several available bins, or present them at the guaranteen. I didn't want to loose my protein bars, so I decided to go through the guaranteen. I wasn't in a hurry or anything. But before that, I needed to pick up my luggage. While waiting for it at the belt, I placed my cabin bag to the ground. Within a minute a woman with a working dog passed by. Except that the dog didn't want to pass by. "Do you have a dog?", the lady asked. "Actually I do", I said. Never mind that the said dog resides in Finland and I in China, I still find her black hair almost every day. So, the lady was content to move on, but the dog wasn't. So she asked if I have any food in my bag. "I do", I said again, and presented the chocolate and the protein bar. "And that's all?" she said. "Yes it is". I was sure it was all. Still, the dog was not happy to continue, but instead was happily wagging her tail: she had found something. Actually I had grapes in a plastic bag, and I still have the empty bag, I offered and showed the bag. That did not do it either. So we went through my entire bag, full of everything I might have needed during the 10,5 hour flight. Like two pairs of jeans. And we found an apple. Oops. I had totally forgotten the apple. I knew it was there, I just didn't remember it was there. I wondered if I would get a ticket, because that's what they told in all those posters: If you cross us, you'll be fined or even send back to where you came from. I didn't think they would send me back, especially when I wasn't even pass the guaranteen yet, I could have still presented my apple for them. I might have. If I had remembered I had it... But I wasn't sure how big the fine could be.

Well, I wasn't fined, and I got to keep my protein bar and chocolate. I even think the guaranteen-officer tried to flirt with me. Which leads me back to my original topic: every one, or, shall we say, every man I have met in this country has been so polite and gentleman-like that I have just been taken aback with that. I dropped a pillow in the plane, and before I had time to do anything, it was handed to me. An elevator at the train station was broken and I started to carry my bags up, only to note they were taken from me and carried up. I dropped my cardigan, and a yong man run it for me. That just does not happen in China.

I don't know yet if it is only the long Easter-weekend, but people seem so relaxed, friendly and nice, that you cannot but like this city.

Also, there are abundand options for good food, there is a lot of water and waterfront areas, sky is blue, sun is shining, and shopping is good. The city center is easily walkable, and it doesn't feel unsafe even for a lone woman. My head is spinning and I think I may have found my soulmate.

More to come, as soon as I get photos loaded to my laptop...

tiistai 7. huhtikuuta 2009

Sticky and sweet

The past weekend it was time to sweept the dusts from the anchestors' graves. And for that reason Monday was a national holiday. I of course don't have any anchestors here, thus no grave stones to clean, but I welcomed three day weekend warmly.

For it was Qing Ming "festival", according to Shanghai Daily, more than two million people in Shanghai went to the graveyards during the past weekend to pay homage to the anchestors. Took them flowers and fruits. And another 2 million went already the weekend before. Traditionally also (fake) money should be burned at the graves, but at least my colleague told me that it is nowadays strictly forbidden in many places, to prevent bush / forest fires. So people will have to settle burning money elsewhere. Personally I prefer to burn my money shopping. It is really a really safe way to do it.

Chinese have a different snack for every festival. Or at least so it seems to me. For this one, they like to eat little green monsters. That's not relly what they are called, but they are sticky and sweet green slimeballs. Like big green snails.

Actually they are some sort of rice glutein, colored with a type of grass, and they have red bean paste inside. The taste is mild, sweet and indeed "green". Not bad, actually. But the texture feels like something you are not supposed to eat. It is soft and elastic, hard to bite. One of these is more than enough. Really. More than enough.

On a different note: guess who's going to see something else in the theme of Sticky and Sweet in August :o) I think I like that one more.

torstai 2. huhtikuuta 2009

Long life in China

You can leave your money as a heritage for you children, but in China, you may also leave your ATM / debit card for the future generations.

keskiviikko 1. huhtikuuta 2009

Shanghai Baby

I don't find any inner burning to read each and every book that has been written of my native home town, Tampere. But for a reason or another, now living here in Shanghai, I am quite intrigued about books, movies, and what nots about Shanghai. I guess it is one way to learn more about the city. To feel more Shanghainese, less like an intruder. To have another viewpoint to the life in this buzzling, multi-polaris city. I am especially interested, if it is something that has been banned in China. Literary forbidden fruit.

Recently, I bumped into a novel "Shanghai Baby", by Wei Hui Zhou. There is a strange mood in the story. It is not violent, but it is a tad oppressive. I had nightmares if I read the book at nights!

Within the first 20 pages you can see why it was "banned and burned in China": If you remember, I told you at the beginning of my stay, that any physical intimacy, even if not that explicit, had been cencored from the romantic comedy I went to see to the movies. In this book the sex is explicit and über-realistic. And rude, at times.

I kept reading, 'cause I wanted to finnish the story. I wanted to be released from it. It is not an easy reading though: sadness, death and betrayal present at all times. To be honest, the greatest satisfaction comes from possessing and reading a book that is banned here. That's my inner rebel!

You didn't know I have one, did you?

A movie of the book was made in 2007. That hasn't received too high scores from the public, either. I haven't seen it. My friend said "if the book is not good, the movie is just poor, plain and simple". So I'm not sure I am gonna see it either. But got to keep trying: I have "Se, jie" (Lust, Caution) awaiting: "An espionage thriller set in WWII-era Shanghai". I'll see tomorrow if it is any good. Should be, based on the reviews. This one, too, was cencored (or heavily edited) for Chinese markets. C'est la vie dans Chine.

(I don't speak French, so please just forgive me any mistakes, will you.)