Day trip to Chongqing

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With the family out of town I decided to take a city trip. Woke up at 5:50am Saturday to take the first bullet train to Chongqing, arriving in Chongqing before 10am.

I took a taxi straight to the three gorges museum.  Across the People’s Square is Three Gorges Museum, well worth a visit for its exhibits on the Ba culture and the area of the three gorges downriver from Chongqing. Also noteworthy are a series of exhibits on life in Chongqing during the Qing dynasty, the early republic, and the Word War II era. free.  

Then I went to Eling park 鹅岭公园

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Quite foggy day (aqi of 70 – so mostly fog)

The park is right in the middle of Chongqing and features a tower which offers a brilliant 360° around the city. I just hang a around there to get a feeling for the city. I remembered that there is a famous metro station based inside a residential complex (李子坝). It’s quite funny, and a station with quite the view over Chongqing and the Yangtze.

I navigated to a high ranked hotpot place to try the local dish. Couldn’t find the place. I ended up walking 20 minutes looking for a hotpot place in Chongqing. Yes, the city is full of them but i managed to take all the roads without any.

Didn’t stay long but overall a city in a mountainous area with lots of lush green zones, spicy food and a cool monorail system, what’s nicer than that?!

A visit to Emei mountain

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Beautiful day at mt. Emei (峨眉山) together with colleges Kai and Mark. We took the 7:20 bus from Xiannanmen bus terminal in central Chengdu. Which took about 2,5hr to arrive at the mountain side. We ate an early dumpling lunch and headed to the mountain.

First we visited the Qingyin Pavilion (清音阁), which means “Pavilion of Pure Sound,” built in 877.

We kept going up and walked the steps to Wannian Temple (万年寺) The Wannian Temple is one of main eight temples at Emei Mountain. Sitting 1020 meters above sea-level, with a Buddha statue over 1000 years old.

We then had to turn back in order to get back home but there are many other sights at this mountain to enjoy.

In the bus back my chair was behind an eight year old kid, tedious at first , turned out he wanted to practice English and had fun talking away, learned some Chinese from him as well.

All and all a great trip!

Weekend in Korea

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Just a nice weekend in korea. We visited the local pool and visited the science museum which featured a beautiful children park where our daughter changed her first car wheel! The science park featured a number of nice ways to combine learning (space, engineering, the body) and play, or daughter (and us) loved it!

Cycling in Chengdu

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With most of the entire city empty due to new years, low pollution and predictions for sunshine, I decided to take my bike and explore Chengdu a bit. I did not prepare anything but some water and a book and head off around 9am.

Cycling gives you a different perspective of a city. First discovery was an old factory converted to an artsy concert hall and coffee bar. I enjoyed an cappuccino on the terrace and explored the environment a bit. Chengdu seemed like a ghost town. Barely any vehicles on the road made my trip much more relaxed.

Continuing cycling eastwards, after 20km, passing the third ringroad, which involved me carrying the bike over an overpass, the suburbs finally seized and suddenly I was cycling in between the ricefields and forests. It was a lot of fun trying to get to a stretch of green with some water I located as my final destination for the day. Most road on my Google map made place for construction and thus I went’off-road’quite some times. However, it was 11:30 and I was getting hungry.

I passed some shops but everything was closed. The villagers had all gathered to play mahjong. Hairdressers and phoneshops had all turned to mahjong rooms for the day. Arriving at the green patch aka ‘Shiling Forrest park’ I made a round on the cycle patch and read a bit. 

It was approaching 2pm and I had enough. Instead of a restaurant I settled for a bag of potato chips and a beer. Found a chair and enjoyed sitting in the sun. Initially I planned for a 6 hour drive but it knew that wouldn’t be the case anymore. Instead I relaxed and took it easy. 

After I entered the city again, I cycled straight to my favorite restaurant, noticed I cycled 67km and had a meal for two.

Appreciation for the good old post system

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Last October I was send a package to my office in Chengdu from The Netherlands. The shipping fee was about 30 dollars.  The package never arrived, and information from the Dutch post company was cryptic. (contact local post branch)

Just when I considered the package lost, it successfully was returned to it’s origin address halfway around the globe. Three months after originally sending it off. Something as simple as the good old post system still seems to function very well, pretty cool!

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Working at Dr. Panda in Chengdu

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Our spacious Dr Panda office is located at Raffles city in the center of Chengdu, China. After HR helped us find a house, I started working daily at the modern (air purified) office, which is a 10 minute walk for home. Working with the Dr. Panda team has been a great experience so far – with product-commited teammates from all over China but also Poland, Sweden, Belgium, France, US, Vietnam, Spain and The Netherlands; some speak only a bit of English, some speak only a little bit of Chinese, some both. For the interested there are free Chinese and English language courses in the office.

The spacious Dr Panda office is located at Raffles city in the center of Chengdu.

Meeting colleges outside office hours is normal in China, which is pleasant as a foreigner moving in. The office turns into a ‘cafe mode’ in the evening, some will go for dinner together, others keep on working (deadlines are fierce) but others just play board- or video games or play ping-pong in the after hours. Besides cozy evenings the mood is generally great at the office, free fruits, guess-where-we’ll-rank competitions for each app launch, and every now and then we have ‘happy hours’ with food and drinks.

At Dr. Panda, we make kids feel familiar with life through role playing games. I’m proud to be working on our next title. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been pitching new concepts and idea’s and now we are making actual playable prototypes. Today we delivered its second iteration at a product demo, we keep iterating and testing with kids until we get it right. Looking forward to the next steps.

Mia likes Dr. Panda too, product demo's and playing pingpong.

In the DonaldDuck

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Working at the Kids and Teens department is always interesting; The editors and the drawers of DonaldDuck get their jokes and inspiration from all sorts of places, even around the office. They ‘used’ me to make a character in an actual duck story; I’m a geeky guy who drives around a celebrity – how cool is that! If you want to read it, get a copy of the latest TrosKompas!

Mont Ventoux, je ne suis pas fou

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If you wanted to watch the Tour de France in the 70s, you had it rough, it was a daily 20 min B&W summary filmed from a single angle. However, my dad did become an avid fan and took up cycling himself. Together with his friends they climbed the famous mountains like Alpe d’Huez, Col de la Madeleine and the steep Mont Ventoux themselves. Their sport bonded the group and they are cycling together to this day.

Moving on to may 2015, my dad was picking a cottage for our yearly family get-together, unsurprisingly he picked one at the foot of that very Mont Ventoux. Our whole family took the opportunity and enjoyed surprisingly good weather, French baguettes and French wine. Then my dad asked me if I wanted to join him up the mountain; I had to consider, I cycled up Col de Madelaine in 2004 but I am totally untrained at the moment. I agreed to a small ascend to halfway point as a first training.

We started off and I felt pretty great, the mood was good, lot’s of “bonjours”, waves and there was an American girl cheering us on and offering cold beverages, that was fantastic! With the 7~10% climb I was cranking energy fast but all was good… until a man dressed like Lance Armstrong rode by and called me to my place “hey, c’est la folie, you are crazy” and carried on*.  I yelled something back – too little too late – but actually found a renewed strength; “I’ll show him!” After a good hour we left the forest and we could see the moon-like summit. Breathtaking.

At halfway point I told my dad I wanted to keep on going, as the weather was exceptionally cold that day. But actually, being there with my dad really kept my nose to the grindstone and I didn’t want to let him down. Then I hit my limit. Closer to the top, I got into trouble but I made it! Thanks to my dad staying by my side and motivating me. A lovely Dutch woman with a SLR camera snapped my last meters, seen in the shot above.

At the top, we cheered, took some photos and had a cold drink. Then we turned around and breezing off the mountain, I was carrying such a big smile that I felt embarrassed for the people still climbing but I couldn’t stop. It was an absolutely perfect day.

*note: I did carry a helmet but only wore it during the descent; it was a remark regarding my endurance or my bike. Also; Generally French people are nice!

Long weekend in Shanghai

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It seems to be a good tradition to visit Shanghai now and then. We met up with friends and ate the fruits and dishes that we craved.

Arriving during Friday’s traffic rush, we had some trouble hailing a taxi from the metro station. A friendly passerby explained that you can bid for taxi’s with an app these days, but instead I called a friend to pick us up.

On Saturday we enjoyed a south Chinese lunch (小南国), haggled for presents at pearl city (didn’t do that for a long time!), and ate a modern Shanghainese meal (Lynn) with different friends.

However good and rich the Chinese kitchen is, the next day we enjoyed Japanese foods like okonomiyaki, shabu shabu, and soba; as those are all also hard to get in my home country. Afterwards we left for a stay at the sofitel Sheshan, a bit outside the city; again amazed by the size of Shanghai, and the ghostly quiet rows of skyscrapers, block after block with each probably capable to host all the people of my small town of Culemborg.

Shanghai is such an energetic city and there is so much to do; we both think it was worth coming here, if even for a short time! Leaving at 5 am to the airport, the G20 was already busy with cars (day and night) and we realized the smog also continues day and night. It has been getting worse and breathing it is the price to pay to live here, I guess one can’t have it all.
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