Posts By: Joop

Shanghai metro getting overcrowded

imageTraveling by metro today and I notice that its really crowded. I was waiting at the station and saw the train coming, but got disappointed when I noticed that there was no space to stand. First I wanted to wait a train, but the train that had arrived just wouldn’t move. I decided to try a few doors until I found an area I could cram myself into. According to Shanghai Daily, the recently completed metro line 8 is overloaded 30% at all times and 70 % overloaded during peak hours causing massive delays. CNN Go shangahi reports “city authorities are taking matters into their own hands. Or more accurately, they’re placing the hands. Or more accurately, they’re placing the overcrowding problem into the hands of professional people-pushers.  professional people-pushers. Yes, Japan is no longer the only country with people hired specifically to shove passengers into subway hired specifically to shove passengers into subway cars. The idea is that the helpful shove will reduce delays by allowing the train to close its doors and be on its way.”

wk 5: Clear days in Shanghai & Chinese new year

Clear days in Shanghai looks like it’s going to be a nice clear day today. This view makes me long to the city and always get’s me out of bed. Shanghai experienced some smoggy days lately, reason for me to put the data from the last 10 years in a graph. Somehow, the last two days seem clearer then ever. Perhaps the factory outside Shanghai, that was demolished last Thursday – reducing sulfur dioxide emissions.

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On February 14th, it will be Chinese new years and preparations have commenced, in our compound and at the supermarket there are cheerful red decorations everywhere. Also, I hear more and more fireworks around the city – although you hear fireworks all year round. I made a movie of a few Chinese men firing off some in September in front of my house… on a Sunday morning. I will be spending new year evening in Shanghai, as I was scared it would be too crowded to travel abroad that day. For a good reason, On January 30, an estimated 150,000 people left the city to return to their families for the holidays. Shanghai Daily reports that 25.63 million passengers are expected to travel though Shanghai in the next 40 days. For me, Chinese new years will mean a short holiday!

Cold in Beijing

Mid of last week, we spent a day in Beijng for business. We were furtunate enough to see Beijing’s touristic attractions in a winter setting for the first time! I’m laughing in the picture, but had to get used to the cold. It was -20˚C at night. Chilly!

Buying a christmas tree in Shanghai (howto)

treeTo get into the holiday spirit, we’ve ordered a tree from A tip from Marc.

Whilst the trees are mentioned to cost about 200 RMB, a lady called Camille followed up on my order and notified me that they exclude the costs made for delivery. I’ve agreed on a price of 400 RMB, which is about 40 euro’s, which is still about half the costs for a similar (delivered) tree in Amsterdam. Are we happy? Yes. The tree was much bigger then we expected (I’ve intentionally left included the door on the picture to give you an impression), but for that price, I was hoping for a tree like this. The tree came in a pot, but turned out not to have a root so we think it will start losing nails very quickly. All and all, the price was reasonable, it’s great to have a tree in the house, I especially like the forest-smell. At least we have a place to stash all our christmas gifts this year. Oh, decorations were not included :-) Happy christmas everybody!

Available sizes Price ex transport
80 – 150 cm 180 RMB *told to be sold out
150 – 200 cm 350 RMB *My tree is about 2 meters
200 – 250 cm 450 RMB
250 – 300 cm 600 RMB
300 – 350 cm 800 RMB

Ice Skating Madness at FlevOnIce in The Netherlands

Ice Skating with the familyI’m back in the Netherlands for a short business trip and it’s very cold outside. Sadly, it’s not cold enough to ice-skate on the lakes and rivers yet. Ice-skating is a favorite sport in the Netherlands. Not only are we proud of our famous ice skaters, when there’s a cold winter all Dutch people will go crazy to go ice-skating. During a really cold winter, everyone looks forward to the Elfstedentocht; (11 city marathon race of almost 200 km) that is, if it takes place. I’m a member of the Elfstedentocht union, hoping to skate the Elfsteden tocht some day, but due to global warming, there might never be one again. Due to this heat, many Dutch people travel to cold, cold Austria for the “200 km alternative elfstedentocht” at the white lake/Weissensee with the mountains. But since last year, Dutch people don’t have to drive for eleven hours to have an authentic ice skating experience. Henk Ketelaar, a 66 year old entrepreneur founded a unique five kilometers long natural ice ring, Flevonice Biddinghuizen is still artificial ice, but it’s very close to the real deal. To celebrate a succesful (busy) week, with my American colleges Richard Yu and Lily Tidrow, we’ve met with my parents for some ice skating on this particular track. I’ve seen many artificial tracks, but this track was just something else. It was just 1°C (38°F) degree outside, and with the cold wind and sunny background. For lunch we had hot chocolate and Dutch Pea Soup.

Pictures of 2009 Shanghai marathon

runnersIn early August, Marc van der Chijs threw up a ball whether we wanted to run a half marathon in November. Shortly, a big delegation from Spilgames signed up and started exercising. Today was the day – now the Shanghai marathon is over, I’m looking back to a great event. Besides my father Johan participating, also Peter Driessen came over from the Netherlands. Remarkable to me is my girlfriend Suna running her first half marathon in a remarkable time. I’ve completed the marathon a few minutes faster then the one I ran in South Korea half a year ago. On the picture you see left top to right Richard Yu, me, Peter Driessen, Marc van der Chijs, Eva Lai, Suna, Johan, Chieko Suga and Lucy Zhao. Running a marathon in Shanghai is awesome, besides the skyscrapers is stunning, but the people are just so thrilled and supportive, it’s great! I haven’t seen that in Amsterdam or Korea – Lines of grannies with drums were waving brought a smile on my face and gave me energy to keep going. Also, most of the employees of Spil Group Asia came over to support. Checkout the group of colleagues that were waiting at the start and later the finish!

Five fun things to do in Seoul

I was talking to my friends about my life in Seoul. Our New Delhi cab driver suddenly became excited; he was flying to there the day after! In return, I spend the rest of the drive about the things to do in this marvelous city. He was so grateful for the info that he didn’t want any money for our 15 dollar taxi ride. Since another friend is going to Seoul this week, I’ve decided to list and share a few recommendations:

  1. Start by having a beer in the 63 floor building:
    63 floor building is quite an old skyscraper, displayed on the box of Simcity 2000. You can get quite a spectacular view on the city (from south side to center). Many may argue that Namsan is a better view, but you have to pay to get in, instead for a cold beer. The best part is that a 1.5 dollar cruise leaves at the foot of the building.
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2. Visit a palace, like Gyeongbok for example, for culture, Amazing to see the historic culture while you are in the middle of the city! Especially beautiful in the fall.

3. Jimjilbang in Dongdaemun: Visit Cerestar, close to Dongdaemun or better, the 6 story high dragon hill spa, for about 5 dollar you can experience traditional korean spa. You can sleep here for the night (public place, on the floor floor) Imagine spending a day here in your pajamas doing fun stuff like watching movies, swimming, eating and sweating in the sauna.

4. Shopping in Myongdong: If you like shopping, Myongdong is the place. The KRW is climbing again but Korea is great shopping for low prices. If you don’t like it (like me), stay away as far as possible, very very busy.


5. Shopping you can do everywhere, Korea is about the food. Go to different places throughout the city, including
eating BBQ fish + wasabi, called: sengsan kui (sengsan meaning fish, kui mening BBQ) Eat some Korean BBQ (ofcourse) I prefer Samgyeopsal, either beef of pork. And another recommendation is to go to “all you can eat” fish houses: Ask the tourist office about these unlimited fish houses, there are a number and you can pick the fishes from the aquarium and they get prepared. Also, you can try live (living) squid here!


In San Francisco bay area

I’m together with Silvia Man in San Francisco bay area for the week (My hotel is right in city center), I will be updating this post from time to time and share my experiences. Driving our rented Nissan from San Francisco to San Jose, we’re crashing dinner parties, conferences and visiting companies.



Halloween 2009

PA310371Americans celebrate Halloween. I don’t understand what it is about, or what one is supposed to do. Being an outsider, I was surprised to learn that the spooky American tradition is known and celebrated throughout the International community in Shanghai as well. It’s bit different as:

  1. Ringing the doors of our Chinese neighbors for trick-or-treating probably isn’t appreciated.
  2. Costumes are hard to get by, so you have to be creative
  3. Commercially exploited festivals are a bit shallow anyway

PA310373Instead of going to the Barbie halloween party, or the disco parties, we watched a movie with some Pizza’s with some friends. Our friends really put out a lot of effort, next to pizza’s, decoration and a projector, they found a very scary movie to fit the Halloween theme. We watched Paranormal Activity, a recommendation, for us inspiration to share more scary stories throughout the night. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth watching. After a while, we went to the Shelter (club with one of the worst air quality in Shanghai, but lot’s of people in costumes) I didn’t like the air, CNN Go reviewed as follows “Imagine your grandmother’s basement three months after a summer flood. Now triple that. And throw in a dead pet.”Kuche Kuche. Happy halloween everybody!

Boat trip, Leifeng Pagoda in Hangzhou, China

OMNG4This weekend we made a small trip of 180km out of Shanghai to see the West lake in Hangzhou China, with 6.5 million people not a small town, but due to the beautiful scenery of the lake and the hillside, it’s a favorite destination for many Shanghainese. For me, it was a trip down memory lane, because I had been there for a few weeks during my first stay in China, ten years ago. While at the lakeside, we tried local food, walked around the bamboo forest and had an icecream while looking around. Later, we payed a gondolier about 8 euro’s to take us around the lake by private boat.
While on the lake, we noticed the six story Leifeng Pagoda on top of a hill, a beautiful sight. I was surprised to see it, and wondered if I missed it during my last trip to Hangzhou. It turned out that the Chinese reconstructed the pagoda eight years ago. The original one was build in 975, but collapsed in 1924. The new tower was quite modern, it contains four sightseeing elevators, and modern features including air conditioners.


The view from the tower was spectacular, especially considering the sunset. On one side you can see the city, on flat ground, on the other there is a forest on the hills with a temple here and there. The original base of the pagoda is kept in good condition as well as the treasures discovered in an underground chamber.