Posts Categorized: People’s Republic of China

Shanghai Marathon 2009

(CC) By 2 dogs the whole Seoul Hangang Marathon experience still fresh in mind, I decided to subscribe for half a marathon in Shanghai. This particular run is quite a bigger event, taking place in the heart of the city. Isn’t Shanghai a terrible dirty city to run the marathon? While some might expect that this ‘smoggy city’, once called the ‘opposite of nature’ by Yan Arthus Bertand, would be a bad place to be running *kuche kuche*. Actually, I can see stars at night, and there are a number of great facilities to exercise in the city. Out of curiosity, I compared world records the local ones and it seems that Shanghai can compare itself with the other world marathons. The overall record of men’s Shanghai marathon being 2:09:28 (world record is 2:03:59, ran by Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin) and the record of women’s Shanghai marathon being 2:26:19. (world record is 2:15:25, ran by Paula Radcliffe in London.) So I feel pretty comfortable running here. I am just trying to avoid running on the street as it is a bit dangerous. Perhaps the biggest difference to last time is that besides colleges, both my dad and my girlfriend will be joining the half marathon run as well. I will commence training from this week, if I can find the time to tear myself away from the computer.

The 20 cent workout in Shanghai

outdoor gymA 40 year old Chinese man drives his motor bike with carrier filled with barbells, dumbbells and a radio to the park outside my Shanghai compound every evening. Upon arrival, he marks an area of roughly 40 square meters and unloads the heavy weights. Shortly after, the place is packed with shirtless muscular Chinese men working out. I have seen and walked by this scene on a daily basis over the last few weeks and enjoyed the scene a lot. It’s also really funny to see the trespassers sit down for a while and look at the people working out. gymIntrigued with this Chinese version of ‘muscle beach‘, I decided to ask the guy for the price. He smiled and told me that I could join them for 2 RMB (about EUR 0.20). My official (indoor) gym at Raffles costs me about ¬ 20 per month, if I would workout with these fine men, I would pay just 30% of what I am paying now. I’ll think about it… While the guy is hawking, and most certainly can be closed down instantly, he has shown me that with little budget and some creativity, it is easy to make a few extra bucks.

Pictures from around Shanghai

Old meets new – Taken at the Jingan temple “Temple of Peace and Tranquility” this afternoon.
Wiki: “The first temple was built in 247 AD, at the time of the Kingdom of Wu, during the Three Kingdoms period. Originally located beside Suzhou Creek, it was relocated to its current site in 1216 during the Song Dynasty. The current temple was rebuilt once in the Qing Dynasty. Its most recent renovation was in late 2008.”

Some help please? I’m not particularly proud of this picture, the woman clearly had trouble getting her goods up the bridge. Instead of helping a hand, I decided to take a picture instead. I found out later that a guy was pushing the goods from the back as well. Must be quite hard work to scrape goods around the city…

Firm stands – Chinese police blocking the road at Shaanxi Nan Lu during the opening parade of the Shanghai tourist festival. The streets were so full of people that there was actually nothing interesting to see, except for these cops.

Good morning China

I have experienced some Chinese culture, one of the things that made me interested in the country were the fireworks. In The Netherlands, we can only light fireworks for a number of hours per year, during new years eve. From the age of six, I used to spend every new years eve with my Chinese friends (in a small town Chinese restaurant) to celebrate the new year and to play with authentic Chinese fireworks.

Now I am actually living in China, I decided to live in a recently finished residential compound. When signing off, I knew the place would be clean and new, but I did not consider that recently married couples moving in are accompanied with a lot of … noise. While I’m watching every ‘entry ceremony’ with enjoyment, I decided to record one when I heard firework on a early Saturday morning. The only thing I can think when I start my day like this is: Good morning China!


Want some mayonnaise with that King Cobra?

I have seen some interesting food in Asia over the years. Most interesting dishes were definitely in China. I don’t want to bother you with the cliche stories that hit the blogosphere daily, because eating culture is indeed different here, nothing new, I know.

Instead I want to tell you about how the live-stock, ready-to-be-turned-into-food is displayed in the restaurant. While walking home, a friend showed this restaurant at the French Concession in Shanghai. The place was looking more like a pet-store then a restaurant.

What about picking a nice goose, some birds or rabbits to go round with your friends? Or what about the enormous King Cobra to still your hunger? That’s right, for 30 euro’s one can enjoy this feisty creature, other wise known as the world’s longest venomous snake… to the bone. Want some mayonnaise to go with that?

Now to make this clear. Eating various types of meat can be dis-, or approved with, that is personal. The dishes displayed in this post are not rare to find in China; I haven’t eaten things like this before, but I believe it is cultural. Reason to post this is that I thought the method is a bit interesting. It is a bit ‘live’ to display reptiles, domesticated animals, birds, fish or whatever – ready to be picked – next to the dining table isn’t it?

Chinese do not pay attention to red traffic lights anyway

I decided to buy a simple (20 euro) bike at the Carrefour last week, as there are many more bikes and bike roads in Shanghai then in Seoul. Finally I feel free in the city! Is it dangerous to cycle through Shanghai? My first response would be that it’s certainly not easy to cycle here. First off because there are many electric bikes here, these bikes have a high velocity but emit zero sound. These bikes are potentially really dangerous! I have to say that after some close encounters, I got became very aware of traffic while commuting, otherwise I’d better leave my bike at home. There is another big difference in commuting here that is worth noting:  Red traffic lights in most of Europe means that you stop. In Korea, a red light is interpreted differently. One has to slow down to see if traffic is approaching and continue. In China, I’m not even sure if people pay attention to the traffic signs. Traffic, including city buses just keeps going on some places!  I sat down and looked at this phenomenon for a while; Shanghai traffic from an outside perspective looks like a beautiful flow of bikes, scooters cars and buses intertwining seamlessly. From the ‘participating’ perspective, it means paying attention and drive defensively. Awareness is key, and being aware – not dozing off like I just to do on my bike in Barcelona – forces you to your peripheral view and create better overview of traffic situations. Last Friday I was cycling home and the traffic lights got my attention. Both green and red are burning! This picture is not photo-shopped. The mixed signal confused me; should I stop or continue? I thought it was funny because a Shanghainese would interpret almost any stop sign like this. Did city hall just gave up?

Empty eight lane roads in Zibo

This week I was in Zibo (map), a 1.5 hours bus drive from the nearest airport of Jinan. There are about 4 million people living here. The city is known for material arts and it’s rich resources. Due to the resources, the city is characterized by smog, due to coal mining and farmers. To facilitate the mining, the prefecture-level city has a grid of 8 lane roads with trucks driving over them.Asking about the empty broad roads, I was told that the 8 lane roads were even more quiet in 2006, solemnly used by trucks. China’s rapid economic growth, taking many families to middle class has effect on the people here as well. According to this source, almost every family owns a car in this city.


Apartment in Shanghai

My apartment

The hotel was nice to stay for a week, but it’s still a hotel. I found a decent place to live, close to my office, and I am moving in this Wednesday. While settled down in a comfortable place, I am prepared to dedicate myself to my job to the fullest. Good times!

In Hong Kong for the week #2

I like this city so much that I decided to upload some more pictures to give you first hand about what I think is beautiful around here. Hope you like it!  You can go up any skyscraper in Hong Kong, (which I almost did) but you can see the city best from the Victory Peak. Simply take the tram up the hill, and you will see this magnificent view of the city. In real life, the city lights are also dancing around over the scenery. Very pretty thing to look at, almost as hypnotic like a fire or water. I view to remember!
Art gallery building in Macau, China

Don’t be fooled by these buildings, the whole area is full with artsy shaped casino’s. Macau was both the first and the last European colony in China. In 2006, gambling revenues from Macau’s casinos were for the first time greater than those of Las Vegas Strip (each about $6 billion), making Macau the highest-volume gambling centre in the world. We lost track of time as well, amazing place to be!
The metro in Hong Kong, or the MTR are much simpler to commute in then for example in Seoul or Osaka. However, if you are staying on the island as a tourist, one might as well take the tram. They are cheaper and more fun to ride as you see more of the city.

Buddhistic statue praising and making offerings to the Tian Tan Buddha.

Sheung Wan is a public market with whole floors devoted to fish, or fruit, or tiny restaurants. The variety is wonderful! It reminded me of those marketplaces in Southern Europe. If you have the chance, order some squid and let the sales men prepare it for raw eating. Little bit of sauce… delicious!