torstai 22. huhtikuuta 2010


Shibo, which is chinese (well, pin yin) for Expo, is near. 11 days, said the sign this morning. I have tickets, and IF(!) my guests get to come from Europe, we plan to go.

Only issue is, that we are most likely leaving Shanghai on 3rd of May (to visit Hong Kong before truly returning to Europe). Expo opens on May 1st. All Shanghainese haven been given official day offs for the first few days of Expo.

Do you know what that means? The first few days of Expo... I'll be damned if the place is not packed. Super-packed. Over-packed. Europe airports-at-the-moment-packed. Shanghai-metro-during-rush-hour-packed. This packed.

According to Shanghai Daily, about 200,000 visitors thronged to the World Expo site in Shanghai today for the event's first trial, stretching public transport and services.

Where do you find 200,000 people on a normal working day to queue several hours and test the arrangements? Well, in Shanghai, apparently.

Below is how Shanghai Daily reported about the on-goings. I sure hope they manage to oil the wheels before it actually kicks in, but I'm not too sure about that... Had I chance I think I would opt to visit Expo in the autumn time :o) Now we just have to make best of what is available.

Passengers on Metro Line 8, linking Expo Park with downtown Shanghai, complained that trains were so crowded that doors couldn't close. The trais stopped between stations from time to time and a half-hour ride from People's Square to Yaohua Road took more than one hour this morning. At Yaohua Road station, near the entrance to Expo, jams formed at turnstile exit gates. Several turnstiles broke and visitors had to jump the barrier.Safety checkpoints were canceled outside some Expo entrances because there were too many people waiting outside.

At some gates, visitors waited for half an hour to pass through bag X-rays and body scans. Only a few pavilions were open today, attracting thousands of people waiting in line for hours because reservation machines were not working. The Chinese Pavilion stopped bookings about 10am and announcements repeatedly warned visitors to avoid the area nearby. The British Pavilion was closed at 11:30am because staff could not cope with so many visiors. A minor conflict broke out when some visitors tried to jump the queue, according to

People faced long queues for food and drink, too, with some complaining about high prices. Rubbish was also stacked in public water fountains after visitors threw meal boxes into the basin.

maanantai 19. huhtikuuta 2010

New home

I have about two weeks before returning home for good (or let's say for the immeadiate future) but bacause my lease here in Shanghai was due and could not be continued. They, the management company, claim the building is full, which I find hard to believe. But what do I know about anything anyway. So, I needed a new place to stay for 17 days. About. Thus this past Saturday I moved my remaining clothes, DVDs, books, Orchids and other things to a new place. It is about ten minutes walk away from the office, which, thus, doubled the time I need to get to work :o) Well, not really, since most days I need 1h 20 minutes to get to the mill.

But. Why didn't we pick this place two and hald years ago? Why? I 'm sorry, I don't have an answer to your question.

I love the light in this place! It is 30rd floor, and only downside is it only has a shower with bathtub. I do love a bath, but I don't like to climb to the tub for normal shower. Well, the window in the bathroom makes up for it. Light! Light in the bathroom. Me likey.

I immediately started to want one in home, too. Then I remembered we just bought a house with two bathrooms, one shower-room and two wc's and none of them has a window. Well, maybe next time. Which I hope, is never.

Guest room. Might not get any use if the ash keeps flying in the Northern European air space...

I am an excellent photographer, don't you start to argue with that. So this is a sligthly dark shot? I wanted to emphasize the tranquil atmosphere of the bedroom... No? Didn't think so. I love the almost meter wide window sill.

Plus the door men are were courteous, and when ever I have something heavy looking with me they bring it all the way up. I think I can manage here for few weeks...

What I'm not sure how to manage is how to get my 4 suitcases to Finland. I was sort of counting on people coming to China and helping me with them...

perjantai 16. huhtikuuta 2010

Oh for ash's sake!

I have no idea how many people are stranded because of the gigantic ash cloude which erupted from a volcano in Iceland. What I do know, is that your own worries are always closest to your heart. Thus, yesterday I was seriously p****d off at the Eyjafjalla. That's the name of the volcano. Volcano, which has pretty much closed the North European skies for days. No one knows for how long.
My mother-in-law (technicalities aside) was supposed to arrive to Shanghai today. And it would have been a bright, sunny, beautiful day to come. And I know she had waited for it. And I know it is not likely she'll ever come to this part of the world if not now... I have 16 days left. Eyjafjalla, if you know what is best for you, you start to behave right now!

tiistai 13. huhtikuuta 2010

Getting ready...

... to return to Finland.

Btw! If I ever move again, I will definately get a moving company to do it. It was so efficient, easy and headacheless, that it is definately worth the money. Not that I paid this one myself, but still.

Of course there are still the numerous hours of checking what will be taken, what will be tossed and what will be given away. It's not quite as fun as Sex and the City (the movie) made it look like, if you know what I'm saying...

And there was the trouble of deciding which things I will need in the coming eight(!!!) weeks. But now it is all done, and all I can do is to wonder how I get all those things I need in next eight weeks to Finland...

maanantai 5. huhtikuuta 2010

Rush hour

I had a "try to be a really good Chinese" day last Sunday. I went to see elementary / middle school ping pong tournament. I bough a kite. A big kite and a 250 meter line, with a shocking price tag of... 3 euros. I flew the kite. I had real home cooked chinese food. And I played Ma Jiang (or mahjong, in real english).

I did all that in a smallish town (well, in Finnish scale it was a huge metropol, with some 1,5 million citizens). So, do you think I blended well in? Nah, not really. I was honestly worried for the traffic safety, as the mopedists and scooter drivers bend over backwards to stare at me with my kite. They don't get to see a lot of waiguoren, I can presume, and they propably thought I was the girlfriend / wife of my Chinese colleague. Which they propably see even less.

It was a fun day! And getting the kite high, high up in the air was really satisfying. But! There were maybe twenty people flying their kites in a very, very small park.

With a modest exaggeration, I can say the air was full of kites. Really, there were so many of them, that you were in danger of getting the lines tangled all the time. I didn't think there would be a rush hour for kite flying, but live and learn!

Well, soon enough* I'll be in the Finnish "country-side" (i.e. our own yard) and surely enough there wont be a kite-congestion there :o)

* 25 days and counting...

sunnuntai 4. huhtikuuta 2010

Rules of the city

The other night I was walking on Hengshan Road. Not much to do (except work, but cannot work all the time, and I had a flu, so couldn't go to the gym), so I decided to spend an hour walking to the bakery and back. Nothing to do with the delicious lemon tarts they do. Oh no, not at all.

Anyway, on the way there, a street vendor was selling kiwis. I veeery very rarely buy anything from the street vendors, and this time was no exception: xie xie, bu yao (thanks, but no thanks), I said.

But uncharacterasticly and without explanation, I started to feel bad for the man. After all, he is just trying to make a living for his family. Can't be easy. I like kiwis. Why don't I buy a few kiwis from him? Why shouldn't I get some kiwis and, at the same time, help this man?

The man was still there when I came back, and handed me two kiwis to try. They were firm and nice, so I bought 8 kiwis for 20 RMB, which is about 1/3 of the price I would pay at City-Shop. Why have I not bought my kiwis from this guy earlier? Stupid, prejudiced me.

I felt good about me, Shanghai, and world, and walked home via the Xu Jia Hui park, where dozens and dozens of dancing citicens made me feel even better.

I got home, and started to put my kiwis on a plate to ripen up. Except that I noted if they ripen up any more, they start walking!! Each and every one of my kiwis was rotten. The man had done the old switch-trick: given me the good ones to try, and while my both hans were occupied holding the two good kiwis, he put no longer edible kiwis to the bag.
Well, I lost 2 euros, but got a lesson. This reminded me never to forget the basic rules (in order of importance):
1) Check your kiwis one by one.
2) Do not get sentimental and mushy (this one should also apply to kiwis, if you ask me).
3) Never trust anything or anyone in this city. They are all there just to get you :o)

perjantai 2. huhtikuuta 2010

If qulity...

... is what you are looking for, Nanjing road's fake market "ONE PRICE" shop is clearly the way to go.

Expo effects

I went to our regular DVD shop today. Since I have paid them a visit almost once a week the past two years, I was a bit surprised when I accidently stepped in to a wrong shop. This place was less than a half of the shop I was going to go, and it only had a few items on the shelves. Chinese music and some sort of binders. This was clearly a new shop, since the neighbouring place used to sell clothes, I am sure of that.

I was ready to turn on my heels but then, with my jaw still dropped, I looked at the sales lady, and realised it was the same shop I was looking for! Only it wasn't! The sales lady recognised me and took me to the back wall between the shelves and knocked. And what do you know: there was a door, hidden behind a huge poster.

And, behind the door, there was a girl guarding the door, and of course, all the fake DVDs and CDs, as before.

That's what Expo does for you! It closes the bar streets (Tong Ren and Da Gu roads), it gets a whole lot of streets paved again, it gets the highway bottoms painted, it gives many buildings a new facade, and, it gets your DVD shop to go undercover. Fortunately Chinese are inventive.

keskiviikko 31. maaliskuuta 2010


My days in Shanghai are numbered. There is actually a countdown clock in the middle of XuJiaHui, which is telling me how many days I have left here. I was very impressed they set that up for me, but then someone told me it might actually be because of the EXPO. Hmp.
I had some guests from Finland last week, and it was nice to go see "all" the places: SWFC Tower, champagne brunch, walk Nanjing Road from end to end, the small shops of Taikang Road, my favorite restaurants, People's park with the parents advertising their kids for marriage, the Bund, the fabric market, the night clubs, even the fake market (I still haven't bought anything fake, excluding DVDs, but it was pretty close. Have to say I was tempted to get a "Peak" outdoor jacket with 10 euros). The whole Shanghai-deal.
I still have 30 days. It's better be good, while it lasts!

perjantai 19. helmikuuta 2010

Did I tell you about...

...Whisk? Cafe Whisk? I think I did, but just so you don't forget: Go to Whiskies and have some of their AWSOME chocolatie things. Anything from their dessert list. Anything from their ice cream selection.

Also the sandwhiches are good, pizzas not so much.

Just be aware: they are so good, if you don't have a reservation, you better be prepared to wait a moment for a table. But go there! Now!

1250 Huai Hai Lu (near Changshu Lu)
By metro: Line 1, Changshu Road Station

keskiviikko 17. helmikuuta 2010


Let us pretend I haven't been away, so I don't have to come up with some lame excuses, and you don't have to read them, ok? :o)

I was in Guangzhou just before the Lunar New year. Didn't get to see actual Guangzhou city that much, as our premises are about 40 minutes from the city centre. But it was nice and warm! Sun was shining and temperature was nice +20-25. It made me want to move there.

One day we called it a day already at 4:45pm, and headed to the city center. We took the local bus, and that was the FIRST time I have used a public bus in China. Think about that! It was a pleasent experience. The ticket was 8 RMBs (yes, less than 1 euro) for about 35 kilometers / 40 minutes trip. In a clean, airconditioned, non-crowded bus.

We walked around Guangzhou with three of colleagues for couple of hours. The whole city center seemed to be under construction! They have a nice river there, and we walked on the river banks.

Well, there were a lot of dead fish floating in that "nice river"... Like, every time you look at the water, you saw a dead fish. Not good...

If you didn't look at the water, you saw boats decorated with flashing lights.

Or chinese climbing on bridge archs.

Another "new" experience was McDonalds. I mean, that Big Mac can be good? It's been maybe 5 years now that I cannot have even thought about McDonalds without feeling at least slight nausea. I have very, very rarely stepped over their door-step. But, suddenly, compared to the local lunch, which, for example, included duck with skin, bones, and, don't ask me how, hair. Not human hair, but animal hair, fur. From a DUCK? What kind of duck is that? How does it look like? They also served beef. With bones. Without beef. Beef bones, that is. Compared, I found Big Mac a feast. I went TWICE during one week. My personal record for this millenium.

It is also a great way to get attention, if you are in need of attention. Just look for a McDonalds from a small industrial area and go there during the lunch time. I guarantee there will be at least 15 people who forget to chew their food, as they are so interested to see what you are eating and how you behave. Well, ok, it also requires that you are non-Chinese. Maybe even non-Asian. Might also be that it helps to be a woman. I couldn't test how they react to a caucasian man, as I didn't have any of those handy for testing.

Our hotel was good. Five stars for less than 40 euros a night. And I really enjoyed having a quiet, nice and safe place to run outdoors. Even if it was just around the hotel bond and around the hotel premises (which was, huuuge, by the way).This was our hotel:

Looks quite nice, huh?

Also the first picture of the post is taken from the balcony of my hotel room.

Alright alright alright, it was a little over the top, but Chinese like it that way. It's their prerogative.

When we had left Guangzhou, my colleague said: "Too bad they didn't ask me if I have any comments when we checked-out from the hotel." "Oh, what did you want to comment?" I asked. Surely, I could have commented that the breakfast was a little on the boring side, and that the waiters take your plate before you have had a chance to finish what ever was on it, but nothing big.

- "Well, they should do something to the cockrouches."

- "What?"

- "Yes, didn't you see them in your room?"

- "NO!"

- "Oh, and then there was the rat."

- "A rat?"

- "Yes, there was a rat on my balcony."

Suddenly I lost sleep retrospectively for the whole week! How can I sleep in such a place? I could feel the cockrouches walking up my leg... Ohhh! And I suddenly remembered the rustling noise I heard from within the wall. At the time I though it was the neighbour. Ugh... Of course, it was a bit too late, as I don't think I ever have to go back there again.
I think I need to train my colleague to TELL me right away if there are such creatures lodging in the same hotel with us. I think. Or maybe ignorance is a bliss...