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.

torstai 25. kesäkuuta 2009


Joillain onnekkailla rakkaus todella kestää mitä vaan...

Mutta en ole ihan varman kestääkö Suomen kansa enää.

tiistai 23. kesäkuuta 2009

Where is the soul of Seoul?

I have been in Seoul since Saturday. It is... you know, it's a city. It is more clean, more green, more advanced and more orderly than Shanghai. There is less noise, less running around and less trash.
Taxis are big, black and fancy compared to Shanghai, and they have got working seatbelts. And, oh yes! There are no honking car horns.
The people seem more confident about themselves and their lives in this country. More open and smiling.
What do you mean? Why couldn't I know all this just based on couple of days in Seoul? Sure I can. I am just that good.
But for some reason I have not found the soul of Seoul. I don't know what this city is about.
There's the little stream where Seouliers go to... I don't know why they go there. It is a nice little creek, but it is surronded by concrete walls.
Then there is the garden of the Royal Palace. Oh, it felt like a haven on a hot Sunday afternoon.
And the NamSan, aka Nam-mountain. Mountain may be a slight exaggeration, but it is a green and lush and walking up and down you can exercise your poor calves so you can hardly walk the following day. In deed you can...
Oh, and some of the big malls are open until morning, some are open 24 hours a day. You hear that, all of you in U.K. or Australia? That's the way it should be, not close the doors at 6 pm, so that an innocent business traveller doesn't even stand a chance getting there. Yesterday I was working, today I was blogging, but tomorrow I'll go shopping!
-- Problems loading the pictures... Will add them tomorrow!--

sunnuntai 21. kesäkuuta 2009




Words cannot describe this combination of black windbreaker-fabrik, white lace and neon pink highlights. I wanted to go to the store and wait around to see if anyone tries this on. As this is China, chances are someone will. I don't know what I woud do then. Well, I had other things to do anyway, but I'll finalise my plan later...

keskiviikko 17. kesäkuuta 2009

Flower Market

One of the small things one can enjoy when living in Shanghai are flowers. Okei, so you cannot get them from the nature or enjoy them in the nature, but what you can do, is to enjoy them in your living room, bedroom, bathroom and guest room. That is, if you go and get them from the flower market.

And you should, because it makes you smile everytime you come home and the gorgeous orchids welcome you.

And when, despite the best possible care you gave to these beauties, they at some point die, you just morn the flowers, but you don't have to morn for your financial status, as three branches (like above) are less than 90 CNY (10 euros, so 3,3 euros per orchid). I don't remember buying orchids in other parts of the world, but I do know in Finland you easily end up paying ten times what in here, if you buy one orchid with the pot. Flowerpot, that is.

And this jasmin arrangement... I love the jasmin scent. Including the glass jar, this was 20 CNY, or about 2 euros. Perhaps you could figth it even for 15 or 18 CNYs, but for couple of renminbis, I don't bother.

And these lillies. The picture doesn't do them justice. But they are majestetic. And yet so delicate.

Note to self: if you want to promote something, take better photos!

2nd note to self: Next time, remember to get these

Flower Market:

Hong Jing Lu, Hongqiao

tiistai 16. kesäkuuta 2009

Runaway Bride - A'la China

This is what you get for discriminating girls. Oh, plus rushing to marriage. Plus engouraging people to get rich.

maanantai 15. kesäkuuta 2009

Wedding pics

Any given weekend day, Shanghai is a city full of brides. Any Saturday or Sunday if you decided to go to a park, chances are you will be seeing anything between 5 and 20 "just married" couples taking their wedding pictures. You can just walk Hengshan Road, which, really, is busy, noisy, dusty road and mostly under construction (they are tidying up places for Expo 2010), and you are bound to see at least three couples taking wedding photos.

On Sunday, we went to have a picnic with a couple of friends to Changshu Mountain Park. It was such a warm day, that we were suffocated and swetty after ten minutes walk to get to the picnic area. It's a nice park, although a bit far away from Shanghai.

Most of the time we had people coming very (very!) close to check us and our menu out. This is a rare moment when there are only three people looking at us and from a distance of at least 5 meters.
You see, we wanted to crush the stereotypes all the "laoweis" (foreigners) are elitistic, spoiled and completely lost their moral by bringing a small hairless dog with us and drinking a bottle (ok, ok, two bottles) of the bubbly drink in the middle of beautiful Sunday afternoon together with lamb sandwiches, two kind of salads, meatballs, tomato pie, fruits and chocolate cookies and strawberry cake.
So, as always, there were a lot of brides around:

But look! Look! What is that... what is that girl wearing under her wedding gown?

Oh yes, my friend: it is a pair of jeans she's wearing. And what's worse, she was not the only one!

A friend of mine is getting married next autumn, I better make sure she's aware of this new trend...

tiistai 9. kesäkuuta 2009

Illeagal alien

Yep, that's me alright... It so happened that my working permit expired. It was completely expected, since it was a one year permit, and I got it year ago. But between all the changes in our life, travels to Australia and Finland I just didn't spend a second to think about work permit. Thankfully my residence permit is for two years, that I remembered.

I think we have a department in this company who is also supposedly responsible for that sort of matters, but when I mentioned that my permit expired.. errr... three weeks ago, they said that yes, they take care of those, but they didn't have my records. Hmm. If you have noted my records are missing, should you ask about it? Huh?

Anyway, we need to apply for a new permit, soonish, if anyway possible. I hope they will make a new permit altogether, as the photo in the current one looks like I am a Russian violin player from the 1970's. (Don't ask why violin, that's just how it looks.)

So I trusted the people in our company hired to take care of this kind of admin issues will handle it. But they soon came back to me saying that a new healt examination is needed. Oh. No. No no no no. I have not yet recovered from the previous one. And that was more than 13 months ago. No way I am going back there voluntarily. They take my blood, for Pete's sake!

"Can you recheck" I asked. "No one else has needed a healt certificate to renew the permit." "Yes, but it is because your permit has expired." The girl (well, yong-looking admin clerk) said. "I'm sure they will understand if you try." I tried. "No we need the certificate." She repeated. "Well, I am travelling again after one week, and I need my passport then. I don't have time to go to the health check, and then this whole process will take at least month more. Do you want me to work here 2 months without work permit?" I tried to reason her, in which time her superior came, and promised to check, but that propably the health certificate is needed. "You know, we don't have good relationships with that bureau anymore." She referenced to her predecessor, who was let go awhile ago. "We don't want to use that kind of relationship, right?" She now said. Wrong! As long as there is nothing illegal, no money or presents or anything like that, please use good relationships to make things work with the officials.

At which point I decided this important matters cannot be left for these people to take care of it. So, I asked my colleague to call to the bureau and ask if it could be arranged that I don't need this health check. Well, he called someone else (Maybe this former employee of our company who has good relationships with the officials. Maybe.), who then called to the bureau, and what do you know! It is ok, as long as they renew the permit within month from the expiry!

Of course, this all happened today (Monday) so I have not yet seen the results. But the learning of the story is:

1) Now this is important: don't believe the people you work with know what they are doing. They often don't go over their way just to help you...

2) Most things around here can be negotiated. So negotiate!

3) If one wall you blocks you, try the next one.

4) And don't forget: it really is all about the relationships, so try and build them. It might save you from a horrible stress and trauma brought by a blood test and a wasted morning in the Entry-Exit Inspection and Guarantee Bureau.

perjantai 5. kesäkuuta 2009

Barbie World

Last weekend I wondered to the Shanghai Barbie House. It has some 6 floors, and boasts a Barbie Spa, a Barbie Cafe, and heaps of Barbie things: Barbie Jelly Beans, Barbie chocolate (and chocolate Barbie, keep on reading...), umbrellas, towels, sun glasses, clothes and whatnots.

...I am a Barbie girl...
... in a Barbie wooo ooorld...
Do you remember the perky Aqua song from the 90's? It is almost unbearable, no, forget the almost, unbearable, and it was played NON-STOP in the Barbie House.

Hi Barbie!
Hi Ken!
Do you wanna go for a ride?
Sure Ken!
Jump In...

I'm a barbie girl, in the barbie worldLife in plastic, it's fantastic!
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere.
Imagination, life is your creation.
Come on Barbie, let's go party!

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. And that is what they play in the shop that sells children's toys :o) Speaking of which: there actually weren't many children present. Most people were clearly out of their teens. A lot of Asian couples together.

I like these different nationality-Barbies. Of course they don't have a Finnish one.
But isn't it great that nowadays Barbie Girls can do anything? Be anything? Of course there have been plenty of options before, but they have been the likes of "Great Shape Barbie Doll (from 1984), Olympic Gymnast Barbie Doll (1996), horse riding Barbie, Art Teacher Barbie Doll (2002) or Flight Attendant Barbie. But now. Now you can be a President! President Barbie Doll.
There is a strange echo in that. President... Barbie... DOLL.
Of course you can also be a TV Chef Barbie.

I bet they have a Reality TV Barbie too.

At least they should.

Then there are vintage Barbies, like the "Original Teenage Fashion Model".

And look at these ladies:

Beyonce and Marilyn have their own dolls...

...as do Elvis and Pricilla. I can fully understand that they do. Legends that they are (maybe Beyonce excluded).

But why, of why, has Hershey's Chocolate its own Barbie? What a manipulative, corruptive world we live in. To lure all those children from the beginning.... how sad.
Of course nearly all Fashion Houses like Versace, Donna Karan, Armani, Vera Wang, Caroline Herrera and even Hello Kitty have their own Barbie designs... No doubt they, too, have some reasons to do that :o)

This might be my favourite one, surprisingly dressed in black gown by some real-world fashion designers whose names I forgot in a split second. It was Badgley-Mischka, I think.

Aren't they pretty in a very plastic-unrealistic kind of way? It is funny: I think these dolls give girls totally wrong image what should be aspired in life (I think I've became old and petty and hypocritical!), and how thin one's waist should be... But on the other hand I so wanted to buy one when visiting this place. I had heaps or Barbies when I was yong, and I think only one of my problems can even remotely be connected to playing with Barbies. Namely the delusion that I need a wardrope with about a dozen or so evening gowns and about 30 dresses. And preferably a new outfit every week. Or two. But then again I might have inherited it from my mother, too.

Yeah, I am pretty sure that was it.

Edited 10.6.09:
You can find the House of Barbie:
Huai Hai Zhong Lu 550
(By metro: Huang Pu Road Station
or Shan Xi Road Station)
PSFK told in their website:
Mattel has been hyping their massive flagship store in Shanghai for a while now and this past weekend, the $30 million “House of Barbie” finally opened to generally rave reviews. Malcolm Moore of The Telegraph covered the opening, getting right to the point: “I’ll say it straight away - I think the store is the work of a clinical marketing genius and that it will be a huge success in Shanghai. “

keskiviikko 3. kesäkuuta 2009

Anniversary restrictions

All of you not in China can make a quick Google search and check what happened on a fourth day of the sixth month, two decades ago in one square in Beijing. We, here in China, basically cannot, because the birthday of this event is just around the corner now, and the almighty officials in the aforementioned capital (Beijing) have done good job in blocking many websites. For example, without our company proxy I could not access this blog. (Of course, you can also download a free proxy from internet, or buy one for a small charge.)

But proxy or not, all the communication lines seem to have been slower lately. My guess is, because of all the checks they have in place. For example, it is not a good idea to write Tian and then An and then Men, plus square, and add to that a 'killings' or 'uprising' or, as some have said, "massa" together with "cre". Or "Butchers ororororor of ororororo Beijing", like Bill Clinton said at the time. Just testing here how intelligent their search programs are :o)

For the past week news I have been trying to watch from CNN / BBC is missing a piece. You can pretty much tell, as the screen goes black. But sometimes the guy pressing that blocking button is couple of seconds late, and you see what it is about that they sensor. Like just now the news anchor almost finished the first sentence before the screen went black. I wonder if the guy responsible for the blocking will loose his job for such gross oversight...

The remembrance events of this un-named incident (twenty years ago in Beijing, if you didn't get that), have been arranged in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is, naturally, the only place China allows that sort of events to take place. Hong Kong people are used to being able to express their views more freely than mainlanders, and who on earth would give away that right once you have had it? (Oh, except the Russians, who seem to quite like their charismatic, cold, dictator-like, undemocratic, free press muzzling Putin, who has taken things backwards in that vast land of vodka and oil.)

I asked my colleague what is in the Chinese news about this coming 20 year birthday party. Nothing. Of course. What did I think? I asked what does he know about what happened there 20 years ago? Not much. His cousin was there, but still he doesn't know what really happened there. Well, fare and square, who does? But at least we know many a student were killed that day, whether hunders or thousands is irrelevant.

He didn't even seem very interested or upset about the events, as he is with some government policies. There is nothing anyone can do about it anyway, is the feeling. There are more urgent things to worry about, like how to guarantee your own and your family's well-being and comfortable life.

Things have evolved and improved, but I wonder how much... Those of you who cannot see CNN cannot also read this blog right now, but nonetheless, here is a piece from an article from CNN.com: (sorry, it is a bit muzzy)

maanantai 1. kesäkuuta 2009

Trouble in my neighborhood

This is what they are planning to do to me: Open a Godiva Chocolatier less than 50 steps from our front door. Whilst I am alone in China? They have really done their demographics well...

And what would go better with quality chocolate than luxury-brand coffee? Like the famed "Louies vuitton Coffee". You haven't heard of it? I think that just shows you are not keeping up with the world. Ought to be shamed of yourself ;o)