Posts Categorized: 6. asides

Beer in China

imageChina has been brewing beer-like drinks for over 9000 years, usually made with rice, honey and grapejuice, but the alcoholic beverage lost popularity during the Han dynasty. It were the Russians that made beer popular again, when they setup a brewery in the country during the 19th century.

Today there is a big variety of Chinese, European, Japanese, American and Singaporean beer available everywhere. Whilst draft beers, lagers and pilseners are common, a recent trip to Qiandaohu with Marc van der Chijs proved that there are still rice based beers for sale here and there. (we knew it was beer, but it tasted odd, a quick peek at the ingredients learned us that is was a rice based beer)
Beer is cheap in China, for a Tsingtao (most popular) one pays about 40 euro cents, a Heineken goes for 70 euro cents. For someone living in Sweden before, I was surprised by the price.

As for the picture; We wanted to buy some beers and dvd’s on Friday night at a convenience store, we grabbed a can but found the beers were warm! We looked closer and the fridge was actually above room temperature. In China, it’s not uncommon to drink beer at room temperature in a restaurant, but 25 degrees C is just overdoing it.

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.”

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!

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.



Special visitor from Netherlands

OMNG22I’ve got a special vistior from the Netherlands over this week. Giel Talsma is a former neighbor of mine and we’ve known each other for over ten years. I ran into him when I was in Holland during the summer and I invited him to China, he was excited immediately. OMNG1After picking him up at the Pudong airport on a early Saturday, we have had a busy schedule. Besides doing groceries at the local market, we have been to a black-market to buy clothes. In the evening, we went to a Chinese hotpot place with Korean, Australian and Japanese friends. First, Giel was a bit intrigued by the fact that there was a sheep-spine being served, but he quickly adapted to the Chinese kitchen.

When your name is announced at the Airport

Imagine sitting at the gate, waiting for your plane from Amsterdam to Shanghai to arrive and you hear your name announced over the speakers. This happened to me yesterday.

Yesterday I took the train to the airport of Amsterdam, and checked in like normal, passed security check and ordered some fruits. When I found a place to sit, I started to work on my laptop. After some time, I suddenly heard my name over the sounds of my earbuds. I took them out and heard my name being broadcasted throughout the terminal… I was shocked! The first thought I had was: “This never happened to me before”, then “Maybe something is wrong with my ticket!”… I quickly packed my laptop and made my way to the service desk. When I arrived – breathing heavily – I immediately enquired what the problem was, the lady behind the counter told me that someone called Zuidgeest (name of friend of mine) claimed to have my keys in his possession, she reached the phone to me and told me that he was on the other side of the line. “These guys can’t have my keys, I haven’t seen them yesterday!” I paused for a second and realized that this friend couldn’t have my keys, apparently they were willing to lie to get in touch with me… so I played along, intrigued with their act. The lady behind the counter that handed me the phone was very supportive and felt intensely for me. She warned that my plane would leave soon, but that when I hurried, I might have enough time to see them and then pass security again. For a black Saturday Schiphol was as quiet as a library, and I decided to go out and buy my friends a beer. We laughed, they like to play a practical joke every once and a while, but I didn’t see this joke coming. Touche my friends, touche..

Greetings from France!

I arrived in Castellane France. I couldn’t resist to publish this picture of my desert yesterday. I learned a few things in France:

  • When the camping has WIFI, it’s hard to resist ^^
  • Badminton battles in the pool often end up in badminton parties.
  • You don’t need a villa to have a good time in the sun, a tent is also okay

For now my schedule is simple: Reading a book, talking with the market sales men, watching the tour, cycling, eating and swimming from time to time. I realized that new years is bad for making resolutions, as I never put any thought in them during the holiday seasons, everybody is just too busy! Instead, I realized that the holiday is the perfect time to make personal concessions. one of them (the least philisophical and corky) is that I want to blog more, here and at Have a great summer everybody!


In Hong Kong for the week

After having lived outside my home country for almost 3 years, I can tell you that working abroad will always bring exciting experiences, reveal cultural challenges and —even though the rent, dishes and laundry— feel like a holiday. However, a foreigner has to comply to some basic rules. Most critical must be maintaining the proper visa for your stay, in my case a valid working visa, an administrative burden had to be completed outside South-Korea. This incentive made me come to Hong Kong for the week, combining the visa, business, meetups with friends and sightseeing in one trip.

I’m staying on the Island side of Hong Kong. My metro stop is called “Fortress Hill”. As Alice puts it: Hong Kong is a maze where you never get lost. You get dizzy from the skyscrapers, but if you let yourself lead though the well designed malls, beautiful parks and street bridges you will automatically walk to tram or metro stops. You never get lost here. It’s much smaller then Seoul, but they tend to build up so it’s still pretty crowded over here.

While Hong Kong is an exciting part of Asia, it’s quite different then what I experienced in mainland China, Japan or Korea. You can go to the spa and eat Cantonese Pigeon for dinner, and go to the Irish pub on the same evening, there is a French bakery on the street corner at the same time. What an exciting mix of different cultures!

I ran into a friend from Sweden the first day I was here, while she was under her way to the airport. She knew that I was in the city and was looking out for me, as she put it on her blog: “I knew Joop was in the city and he looked quite like him but i hadn’t seen him since Sweden so i asked: “Joop??” And it was Joop, so Hongkong is a small city after all haha! We had a drink with him and then we took off to catch our next flight.” What a small world!



Nathan road, Kowloon

Hong Kong’s Nathan Road got its moniker because of the plethora of neon signs that line the street. The area in central Nathan Road can be somewhat sleazy. I snapped this picture while crossing the road. I get drawn to Neon. It really appeals to me!

Look Right

Cars in Hong Kong drive on the left side of the road just like in Britain and Japan. I have to be careful, at every crossroad I look to the right but I cannot help looking to the trusty old left side as well for no apparent reason.

Construction workers in Hong Kong

Accidents on construction sites are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Hong Kong. Working at the great heights increases the chance of severe injury. But the bamboo scaffolds (!) aren’t helping either. Take a lesson from me kids, if your boss wants you to climb the bamboo, your helmet isn’t going to help you.

Adidas MBC Hangang Marathon 2009

I haven’t participated in a sport event ever since the Funda run in 2008 – a fun and fulfilling event, but I had no incentive to continue my healthy habits afterwards. I put my running shoes back on later that year, to find out that I would never reach a peak of runners satisfaction again without a goal. Frankly, I am getting out of shape and the Korean life-style isn’t helping either. Soju, Korean Barbeques (고기구이) and a business culture that considers heavy beer consumption BSA, (business as usual) have slowed me down. With deteriorating condition, the occasional visit to the gym have kept me ‘alive’ over the last half year.

While reading about the training sacrifices, detox weeks and running experiences that Marc van der Chijs made for his Hong Kong trailwalker participation, I suddenly got inspired again. I realized that working towards a sport-challenge in an Asian country could be a great experience. So, I decided to face a challenge for myself; today I have decided to join my colleagues in their concession to run half a marathon (21,15 km) at the end of April. Will I be in shape on time? We will see!


At a Korean PC room, playing Starcraft for two days straight

Koreans love online gaming, example: This is a “PC room“, where one can play multiplayer computer games online. PC rooms like this are extremely popular among South-Koreans, ever since Starcraft came out in 1997. You have a room like this every block! Interesting because the computer and broadband penetration is quite high in Korea. But many young people are going to these rooms to play LAN-based multiplayer games with others online, in private. This particular pc-room was quite big, filled with sigarette smoke and people sitting hours and hours behind their computer screen; quite hectic and depressing place to be. I went in for a few minutes to do some work, but was glad to be outside again. But some people take it quite seriously, last August another South Korean man died just after 50 hours of nearly nonstop gaming. The man only left his online battle simulation games to go to the bathroom and to take short naps on a makeshift bed. The cause of death was presumed to be heart failure stemming from exhaustion. Good grief, I’d rather do something else.

  1. You can access these rooms for about one dollar per hour
  2. I noticed 60 seats but only two girls
  3. You hear guns go off everywhere
  4. Do not talk with your ‘friendly’ neighbor
  5. Older people play casino games
  6. Starcraft is still big, after 11 years