Posts Categorized: People’s Republic of China

Shanghai Expo visit

Suna and I visited the Shanghai Expo last week, it was our last chance to go and see the country fair as a visitor besides the work or delegation visits we have made in the past. During the week we don’t have time so we went on a rainy sunday. “Who knows, maybe it’s not that busy now, people might stay inside with this weather? we’ll see”. When living in Shanghai you can’t go around the expo, you can see the Shanghai expo mascotte ‘haibo’ everywhere so we felt we had to pay a final visit. When talking to friends outside China they don’t really know or care about the Expo. The Shanghai expo didn’t make much news in Europe either, besides some reports that the Chinese organizers would never reach the aimed 70 million visitors. However, on the day of our visit, the event passed this gigantic number of 70 million, we were there with 700.000 other visitors alone! So much for the ilusion it wouldn’t be crowded. We decided to go to go see Asian pavilions, for one, I heard that the Saudi Arabians are showcasing the biggest IMAX screen in the world. However, waiting lines were up to four hours – which is four hours too much if you ask me – and we decide to pass on the big screen. Then we realized most pavilions, Japan, South Korea had waiting lines for over four hours, and don’t even think of trying the China pavilion, the China pavilion is fully reserved until the end of the expo! So we went to the only pavilion we could find without a line, North Korea. The expo is impressive by its size, it’s a huge project and very well set up. We sat down to watch the people for a while, but most people were just busy taking pictures with the pavilions. It felt like being in a theme park without any rides to go into. Now I think of it, I hate theme parks because of the lines. Needles to say, we stayed for about one to two hours before we left the expo, no regrets,

Birthdays in China

Chinese seem to bring a birthday cake on own initiative. Good time to celebrate the first (of many) birthday in a startup! Shanghainese bring cake to the office and eat noodles as a sign for longevity, of-course followed with restaurant and then clubbing or KTV.

Day at the beach in Jinshan

We swam in the East Chinese sea today, something I didn’t expect to do this summer. Rather spontaneous we decided to hit the beach of Jinshan. I’m telling you, nothing like a fake beach with screaming Chinese kids to relax on a Sunday afternoon. Now, nothing bad about the beach. We had a great day. Found this tip on ChinaTravel. Here’s what they had to say: “With golden sand imported from Hainan Island, a powerful water filtration system that turns the sea a surprisingly appealing shade of blue, and even a light sea breeze, it certainly beats sweating it out in the city.” In my humble opinion, I found It’s not too crowded, and the facilities are pretty good. There is stadium for beach volley (could watch a match), quad for racing on the beach and jet skis for rent out in the open. Didn’t do any of that as we came for the 1km long beach. It’s nice to be in the water especially when it’s so hot outside. Last week at the Mandarin city, the water was simply too hot to really cooldown, so today had a better experience.
 Oh, the food was ok… I was craving for fries but we went for rice and BBQ instead. Not bad at all in the end. We noticed that safety is quite tight as there is a lifeguard on both sides want on the beach and one of about 20 m into the water, aligned each 10 m from each other. Chinese that cannot swim have inflatable tubes to float around. I thought it was a bit extreme because besides all this protection, I figured you can actually stand everywhere if you are 1 meter 60. Thing I noticed is, that contrary to Koreans, there are a lot of Chinese that like to tan on the beach. In the end, I noticed that people around the world all spent their summer day in the water the same. Running in the water, kids building castles and catching crabs, joyful times.

Chongming island offers park/camping outside Shanghai

Today we visited the Dong Ping national park just outside of Shanghai. I’m sure this island will be the next hot spot for Shanghai (and China) travelers and company outings; Why? It’s green, featured great (clean) facilities and we received friendly service for a good price. A quiet forest with lakes, but also activities like rock climbing, gocarts racing, BBQ, horse riding etc. and camping area’s. We spent our day walking around the park. It’s not all peaches and cream, don’t expect offroad tracks (I did), it’s all asphalt route, besides this, the project manager made sure that the visitors know their Chinese sing alongs, but more about that, first the location:

How we got there: We took the traditional ferry from Wusong Port in the early morning (accesable by Metro). you don’t have to buy a ticket in advance. There are two ferry’s going there (well today), one at 7 and one at 8:10. We took the one at 7 and were at the Chong Ming park one hour later. Address of the port: No.100, Songpu Road, Baoshan District (021-56671202), or see the map below. Bus However, these days the island is also available through a bridge just outside Shanghai. But we wanted to take the ferry as we were traveling light. Total duration about one hour. We took the bus back at the end of the day and spent about 1.5 hours, but ended up in the center at the Shanghai Circus. We were a bit shocked of the 70 RMB entrance price. Wasn’t sure to expect a funpark or a national park. Upon entrance of the park, we saw loads of Chinese renting bikes, which all rode off to the actual funpark (o really?!) which was just a few km away. We decided to walk instead and try to avoid all the hectic (which was the point of going there in the first place). We stumbled upon a teahouse where we basically spent the morning trying tea and enjoying the sun, which just started to break through. After that, we got a bit hungry so we wondered off again. Oh, I mentioned the music right? The project manager indeed made sure that people can sing along with today’s popsongs. Every few meters there is a speaker featuring the tunes. At one point there were game sounds and explosions. After about 2km, I smelled the hint of meat being roasted. Unaware of this, I told Suna it would be awesome to do a barbecue that day, but I honestly I didn’t expect the serviced barbecue in the park. It was well done, area’s for camping (20rmb for 1 tent) and chalet style houses where we could rent a barbecue and buy some meat. We kicked back with a beer and watched Chinese schoolkids play games in the grass.
At the teahouse drinking tea and relaxing in the sun. Serviced barbecue. Rent a BBQ for 30 rmb and order the meat on location.

How to go to Hong Kong via Shenzhen

I spent some time relaxing and buying clothes in Hong Kong yesterday. Previously, when I visit HK whilst being in mainland, I would fly to HK airport but recently I found out it is much cheaper through Shenzhen. I saved half of my travel expenses. If you are not interested in saving money at the cost of time (or like to see beautiful HK airport), this guide is not useful for you. I bought my plane ticket one day before my trip. The 900 RMB flight to Shenzhen was much cheaper then the 2200 RMB flight to HK. I was flying from Shanghai, but also from Beijing, Chengdu etc. this should be cheaper. You land in Shenzhen, take the bus, change bus at the border and arrive in the heart of HK city. Shenzhen airport – when I landed in Shenzhen, I found the bus companies selling tickets at the exit of the arrival hall. Bus rates varies from 100 to 150 RMB. There is also option to take the turbojet boat. I would advice to take the elements bus company. They have options to drive directly to Kowloon, central (100 RMB) or Kings Cross. Total driving time: 1.5 hours. Crossing the border – Passing the customs is a breeze, you exit the bus, just follow the customs tunnel and enter the bus on the opposite end. Both sides I was surprised it was not so busy. It took me about 15 minutes to pass. Note that mainland residents still need a HK/Macau entry visa to cross the border.
Arrival in HK and the way back to Shenzhen – I decide to get of at Central and take the metro from there. When I wanted to go back, I took the metro to metro stop ‘Kowloon’. Get of at exit c2 and find the elements bus terminal.

Spilgames outing 2010, Moganshan and Nanxun

I’ve spend last night at Mount Mogan 莫干山, the destination of the Spilgames spring outing, is about 250km south-west of Shanghai, close to Hangzhou. Build by missionaries in the early 1900s as a retreat from the Shanghai heat. These days Moganshan is experiencing a true revamp in tourism, particularly contributed by Mark Kitto’s permanent establishment there. After a early bus ride from Shanghai we arrived around noon. Whilst it was a misty day, the calm river streams and the bamboo forest were a great place to be. Some pictures. That night, there were presentations from the Chinese and Dutch management team in a huge room. It was so well organized, I felt like I was at a conference. The next day the weather cleared up and we packed to drive back to Shanghai. The drive back to Shanghai was quite a long run, I was happy we made a stop at Nanxun. The town is quite well preserved and not as crowded with tourist as most water towns around Shanghai.

Dutch day at the Shanghai World expo

A few weeks ago I was asked by the Dutch ministry of Foreign affairs to help with a special project. During the time it was a big secret that during the Dutch National day at the World Expo in Shanghai (18 May), the crown prince of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander would visit with his wife, Maxima Zorreguieta. A very exciting thought to help out with a royal event like this! I can’t really disclose what I did, but as complimentary gratitude, I received tickets for the event. The day started with a reception at the Expo site and ended with a special show of the “Netherlands Dance Theatre II” in the shanghai theatre.

We visited the expo for the first time. At around 3pm, we arrived at the dutch pavilion. The Dutch pavilion has an open architecture – you can walk through. (So one of the few without lines on the expo) and instead of a hall, allows people to walk by. (Hence the name Happy street) It shows typical Dutch artifacts like the process of making cheese, ice skates, Miffy, but also modern things like Armin van Buuren (dutch DJ) and our princes Maxima. They also put stone sheep everywhere which proved to be useful as seats as well.

For the day, the whole area was closed down to the selected people that had an invitation. It felt like the entire dutch community from Shanghai was present. Also some VIP’s including the earlier mentioned Dutch royalties, but Suna and I also ran into Dutch rapper Ali B. Funny to meet him here.

The catering was superb. from Champagne to special dutch kroketten that included Beijing duck filling and Chinese shrimp. I still prefer the classic dutch croquette’s. After the reception at the expo, there was a show by the Netherlands dance theater in the Shanghai Theater. The contemporary dance was interesting to watch. There were expressive scene’s with two intermissions. The royal members were welcomed with a big applause. I wonder how this royal appreciation was received by the Chinese. It was a special day which I won’t forget soon!

Celebration of Dutch Queen’s day in Shanghai 2010

Whilst Shanghai is upside down due to the opening of the Expo with many world leaders flying in, the dutch in Shanghai held a separate party: ‘Queen’s Day’ a Dutch public holiday celebrating the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands and supposed to be a day of national unity and “togetherness”. To celebrate, Suna and I visited the Millennium hotel. The honorary guest at the reception was Jan Peter Balkenende, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Balkenende is visiting to open the Dutch pavilion at the world expo tomorrow, we talked briefly and he is a very friendly patient man. Similar to when I met Maxime Verhagen (demissionair minister of foreign affairs), I noticed politicians are much relaxed meeting people abroad. Suna wondered whether something like this would be possible in any other country. In Korea for example, people wouldn’t be able to even ask these kind of things. Happy Dutch Queensday everybody!