Posts Categorized: People’s Republic of China

Feeling of spring this weekend

Right after Lunar New Year Spring Festival (also called spring festival), the temperatures noticeably rose to a confortable 16 degrees C˙ in Shanghai. We both felt we couldn’t stay in so we decided to go to the park. We went to ZhongShan Park. Zhongshan Park was established in 1914 by the Shanghai Municipal Council as “Jessfield Park”. Before then it was a private garden owned by H Fogg, a British property developer. It’s huge and very calm, even though it’s in the middle of the city. We watched people camp out on the field, some foreigners enjoying wine and bread, Chinese people playing with their kite’s, and a lot of kids running around.
Later, we went to Taikang road (arts and crafts enclave) where we enjoyed some coffee at a Japanese restaurant. (café Dan) Interesting concept, you choose your coffee by the country, I picked a coffee from Papua New Guinea, and Suna got one from Kenia, then they roast it, and bring it to your table. The smell of the roasting was something to get used to but it’s very nice to see the process. We sat in the spring sun, Suna was improving her sketches and I took some time to read my book.
We had friends come over and we prepared ‘Raclette‘ for them. Even though we got a hint of the warmer, longer days to come, we like to pretend it’s still mid-winter.

New years eve in Shanghai 2011

On 2 February, it was lunar new year’s eve. So I called Suna and asked her to come to the unitedstyles office and asked her to bring one of our bottles of champagne with her. When she did, we sat with colleagues and popped the bottle, wishing each other a great new year! Later, we realized that we didn’t have any food and most restaurants are closed during New Year’s Eve. So, we all jumped into a cab and drove to the foreigner street on the Hong Mei road.

Arriving at the foreigner street, we noticed that most of the restaurants were closed as well. This, and we decided to eat Indian food because this restaurant was open. Soon, firework was going of in the street and the restaurant was closing. So, we went to a Cuban bar in our street and enjoyed Cuba Libre’s and watch some fireworks go off. A good bye to the year of the Tiger and a welcome to the year of the rabbit.

Sashimi and tepanyaki at hongmei lu

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Just had my first taste of japanese barbeque, together with @chijs, @akinasuna and dirk from @unitedstyles. The Japanese really know how to prepare nice beef. The concept was ‘all you can eat’ but now I know it doesn’t necesseraly have to mean the food is simple.

(Located at the pearl market)

Chinese firework stand opened

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While walking to the dutch bakery with Suna, we noticed a new shop along the way. Hey look, they sell firework! It’s that time of the year again, next 3 to 4 weeks, firecrackers going of from dusk till dawn. Suna told me, let’s go! So no firework for me, just a picture.

Vrij-Mi-Bo

It’s Friday afternoon in Shanghai. Time to celebrate a ‘Vrij-mi-bo’ (Friday afternoon drink). Vrijmibo means that you have a beer inside the office before you leave office. Usually around 6pm. While this this concept is common in Netherlands – many offices even have a bar – it’s uncommon to drink at the office most other places.

It’s sad because there are many advantages for corporate culture to have a drink with colleagues from time to time. Play some music and chat…

Considering everybody goes home by cab anyway, we enjoy a nice beer at the unitedstyles office and cheer to the weekend. Time to introduce some Dutch culture in China.

Have a good weekend!

How I made a friend from Hangzhou and joined him to China at age 16

Last week I was in Netherlands and I met a friend of mine. I had joined him at age 16 to a holiday to his home country – China. From my preschool days, I still remember when the teacher said that a Chinese family was moving into our small Dutch village to start a Chinese restaurant. Their eldest son was placed in my class. I already knew about the Chinese but had never met one, meeting this boy from far away intrigued me and soon we started to become good friends. 10 years forward, I had experienced unique Chinese culture at a young age for a Dutch boy; I learned to eat real Chinese food with chopsticks and was influenced by Chinese culture by observing them and their TV and had been thought my first Chinese words. My parents took pride in their son opening up to new cultures and had gained an interesting role in this Sino Dutch/Chinese relationship as well. My dad teaching my friend to cycle, play soccer and my mom was unofficially involved as a junior high school counselor, reading teacher’s notes. My parents were also intrigued with this family and soon they were also invited to intimate family gatherings like Chinese new years. One day when I was 14 years old, the parents of my Chinese friend asked me if I wanted to come for a holiday in China some day. My enthusiasm was calmed when I reported to my parents at home, China being far away and dangerous and all. However, two years later I was allowed, saved enough money, and got my parent’s agreement since the two families gained trust I got my visa and joined the family to China. This was in 1999. We spent a two weeks in Beijing visiting the forbidden city, the peace palace, Great Hall of the People. Then Hangzhou for another week, we also visit Qiandao. A trip that I will never forget. It all breathed an energy I had never experienced in the Netherlands. 11 years later I find myself living in Shanghai for these exact same reasons.

Christmas dinner with Marc and Grace

Yesterday Suna and I were invited for Christmas gourmette in the house of Grace and Marc. Funny, with long office hours at unitedstyles.com and temperatures rising up to 20˚C earlier this week I didn’t realize the holiday season is around the corner! Marc and Grace got us in the christmas spirit with a great dinner, decorated room and christmas music. This Monday, Suna and I will fly to the Netherlands. I have a few appointments in the beginning of the week but am meeting friends from Wednesday – around the weekend Suna’s parents will arrive in the Netherlands and we’ll be sightseeing while traveling around the country, hopefully it will be winterish and dry.

Shanghai Marathon 2010

Just finished the half marathon of Shanghai 2010. Unfortunately I didn’t beat my last years time of 1h 44m but ended at 2h 02m. Although I did successfully train to beat this time. Besides I also did a detox week to further improve my health but it didn’t work. However, it was a great marathon experience. Instead of last years ‘run to the factories’ this year was a tour of Shanghai’s tourist scene’s. I studied the elevation of the run the night before and noticed this year had much more variation then last year, bridges and tunnels, so my strategy was to save my energy to the last bridge and then run myself to bits. Prepared the night before, I got up at 5:45 and took a cab to the city center at 6:45, didn’t meet my friend Richard but had some time to look around and noticed that this year’s run is much busier then last years. At that point, but soon the temperature rose to a good 18˚C. Too hot for running I think, with the sun on your face but nice climate. Like always, there is a dedicated block for runners in front of the start line, but it was all filled up, it was so crowded that I just gave up on pushing people aside and enjoyed the excitement around, people from all over the world joined in. The race started on Nanjing dong lu (南京路) and for the entire road, up to the bund, I wasn’t able to run due to the busyness. But then we turned to the bund and it was beautiful, the rising sun, the clear sky and the pearl tower and such on the other side of the water made me run with a big smile on my face. Awesome to be running in an area that is normally dedicated for cars only.
There was the Fuxing tunnel (复兴东路隧道) which is 3 km long and goes under the Huangpu river (黄浦江). As this was the first elevation I tried saving my energy. Half way in, there was the climb, it became hot and sweaty and many people forfeit and started walking. By the time I was up, I was also hit hard and decided to run slower phase for a few kilometers. At 15km I could pickup my speed again and this was when we passed the EXPO site. Then there was a clear straight run over the bridge, after which I could use all my energy. I ran together with a Chinese man, we kept motivating each other, he gave me some energy food as well which was nice. The end was at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center (上海东方体育中心) stadium:
Typical Chinese ending to finish in an unfinished stadium. Dusty and filled with surprised (but still busy) construction workers. We were forced into a tunnel into the parking area of the stadium, people were drilling and it was very dusty. My main goal was to get out if there as that was the last thing I wanted to be. Then I met Anja at the exit and together we waited for Richard for a little while. Both of us agreed that this years run was a lot more fun then last year, more interesting course and nice weather. Also good to see the Pudong side of town, I hardly ever go there!