Potluck party

Thanks for coming to our house everybody!

With friends from so many different countries, it seemed fun to organize a potluck party and bring all their best food creations together. Last Sunday we all came together at our house and enjoyed games and various foods. Whilst combining so many dishes could be a risk, it turned out quite ok!

Everybody brought their best dish, our table was soon full of all kinds of delicious meals.

As always, we ended up at the Cuban bar down our street…

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my birthday, Suna had a little surprise for me! Spicy chocolate

My actual birthday was on Monday, so Suna took me out for dinner in the evening! We went to a Mexican restaurant called Maya and enjoyed a nice dinner together. In the end, she had a surprise dessert for me!

A weekend in and around San Francisco

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I flew to SFO from SHA through LAX, good to bring the Kindle and order some coffee on the plane

Spent the weekend in San Francisco, I’ve visited the city before in 2009 but didn’t have much time then. So when I heard I had some business meetings during the week, I made sure to include the weekend for some sightseeing. The flight from Shanghai to San Francisco takes about 15 hours. Due to the time difference, we landed at exactly the same date/time as we left. Therefore I aimed to stay awake during the flight and read as much as I could, to fall asleep in the hotel instantly to avoid jetlag.

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In my beautiful shanghai marathon gear. Picture was coincidentally taken by a Shanghaines

Before I realized it, I had to return to the hotel to freshen up for my meeting with Maggie and Josh (working for Zynga and Pixar), who introduced me to a fine Mexican restaurant. Nice to hear about their life in San Francisco, hope to receive them here some time too.
In the early morning, I went for a run from Union square to Embarcadero. I snapped some pictures with my phone. I was aiming for a small run but enjoyed the weather and sceneries so much that I kept adding blocks to my trial, I ran well over 10km before I knew it.

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Kindly received by Maggie and Josua, while fighting jetlag

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During the afternoon, I explored more touristic spots and for dinner I enjoyed in-n-out burger, their fries and burgers are particularly great.  In the evening I was supposed to go to a party, but happened to walk by a little theater on Bush street. I asked the guy at the door what was going on today,  and before I knew it I had a front row ticket for a fraction of the original price. The story was called ‘death of a salesman’, the story was set in various points in time (actors kept changing clothing according to the 60’s etc) and featured the story of how one bad decision can influence your entire life..

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entire cast on stage

On Sunday, I took a tour to Napa Valley. Napa is one of the most famous wine valleys in the United States. Napa was put on the map in a 1997 Bourdeaux blind wine tasting, when the French jury voted Mondavi’s Californian wine to be the winner, they actually wanted to do redo the competition. Napa’s ground price increased 10 fold instantly…

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Sunday morning, took the bus to Napa valley. View from Oakland Bay bridge

I knew about the area because of Marc who showed that particular story in a movie called ‘bottle shock‘, I can highly recommend it… I also watched a documentary last winter about this particular character.

Had to get up in the early morning to take the tour bus out of town. It was nice to drive by Oakland, Berkeley and other famous area’s in the bay area. Nice to see the countless vineyards as well.

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Just a small drive later, you drive in France-like sceneries

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10 AM, time for a local grown 2008 Estate Chardonnay

The day consisted of visiting three vineyards, a process in the hot sun between the grapes. Very nice experience, met a lot of interesting people from all outskirts of the US.

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Already empty? They didn’t fill the glasses completely though…

I arrived back in San Francisco around 4PM. I didn’t realize the gay pride weekend was going on with a huge parade and party at the Civic center. So I checked that one out as well. San Francisco is particularly liberal (drugs and sexual views), this event has become so huge that it’s considered commercial. The audience varied from transsexuals to gays to straight people, all just dancing and having fun.

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‘intimate’ setting during the pride parade

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SF Civic center… Great location for a party

The music is pretty much international. The small stages featured house music which would also be played at events like Loveparade in Europe. The main stage featured rock music and some national level pop artists. Then the weekend was over, Xander arrived in town as well so we met up at the airport and

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Highway 101, left lane is carpool only. Free road for us! (the sign reads ‘buses and carpools only’

we headed down to Silicon Valley. We resided mostly in places like Palo Alto and the likes. We drove down the 101 highway and noticed that that the left lane was for carpool only. Since most people drove by themselves, and had to drive on the right, we didn’t realize at once that the left lane was ours! Very good initiative. A quick visit to the famous Apple store which Steve Jobs always visited. I was looking to buy a new laptop and was helped by the lady on the left. Considering her age, I was surprised to hear her technical know how.

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At Menlo Park Apple

The best thing about California is clearly the weather and the hard working mentality. It’s not ofter to see that combination. We had great weather all week, this picture I took from our hotel. (view to Oakland and San Francisco)

 

Rafting in Qiandao

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Suna and I went to Qiandao (1000 islands lake) with a group of expats this weekend. It turned out to be more legendary than we expected, a group of people organize this trip annually, this year it’s 5th year in the running.

Afterwards we ate BBQ on the lakeside

After a 5 hour bus drive from Shanghai we arrived at the hotel, merely a checkpoint to drop off the bags and head back to the bus to continue the journey upwards to the mountain. When arrived, we had to wear life jackets and a construction helmet (which turned out great for scooping water out of the boat), and off the shore we went. The start was actually a raging torrent of water, after some time we got the hang of it, and even could enjoy a tiger beer along the way. When we came back down, the 2 hr float trip was finished (long enough, water everywhere) and we headed back to the hotel for a great American barbecue.

Arrived at departure point

The Chinese staff aren’t used to so many foreigners staying over (and being so loud) so their son and friends got curious. Before we knew it, they joined the party and brought some drinks for everyone to enjoy. it was a lot of traveling for just a short time in the boat. However, all and all it was great, also to meet some new people.

In search of sunrise at HuangShan, Anhui

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After sunrise, 5:40 am in the morning.

Even though we have been in Shanghai for a while, a trip to the infamous Huangshan (yellow mountain) had never occurred. The mountain range, described by one blogger to “have influenced most paintings in Chinese restaurants” This labor holiday, we had a look for ourselves and scratched it off our todo list. First about the trip: We had our entire provision, including instant noodles, bread and chocolate in our backpacks and left room for one celebration meal at return. The plan was as follows: leave in the early morning by bus in Shanghai and aim to be at the our sleeping place (close to the summit) before the dark. The next day we would get up early to hike to the (200m?) to the top and see the sunrise, and then hike one of the designated paths back to civilization. The trip was quite spontaneous so we didn’t plan too far ahead. We made it a sport to keep costs at a minimum, while still enjoying the outdoors.

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explaining us where to go next

We traveled the 500km by bus and decided to sleep in a tent instead of a hotel. Smell the nature… Going there, In the back of the bus two Huang Shan residents quickly turned out to be quite friendly. One turned out to be an excellent tour guide for his home town. He spent more then an hour filling us in on every detail about our upcoming journey. Due to traffic, we arrived barely on time and had to keep pace up, we arrived at the hotel just before sunset. The tent was already setup for us, so there was no problem. We had a meal and looked around before we slept.

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At the camping site. Simple dinner, followed by beer and potato chips

 

Sunrise

The next morning we got up at 4am. Frankly, we were aiming for 4:30 but our neighbors woke up with a lot of noise, but it was perfect actually, we climbed (with flashlights) to the top of the mountain and could settle a nice place as we were one of the first spectators. After sunrise, we looked around for a bit. It’s tranquility was amazing. Still a few hazy clouds, just hanging on the base of the mountains, creating a bit of a mystical landscape.

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Incredible peaks, beautiful sights

20120430-111007 PM.jpgThe highlight for me was the Lotus peak. Although it got a bit more cloudy and it was a very steep stair climb, we were lucky with the weather and that it wasn’t crowded with people. The view was magnificent. We really are thinking about buying a more serious camera soon.

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On top of lotus peak, 1,864m

20120430-111057 PM.jpgDuring the way down, the sun came out from time to time. Steep, steep stairs down. Careful now!

Afterwards we enjoyed a meal and a footmassage down in the village, before taking the bus back to Shanghai.20120430-111115 PM.jpg If anyone reading this is planning to go, it seemed that our decision to stay the night and see the sunrise saved the day, would highly recommend it. We didn’t have to wait anywhere we came. When we came down the summit it quickly became busy and when we walked by the queue, waiting times were reaching 2.5 hours to go up by cable cart.

At training of Shanghai formule 1 2012

20120413-022824 PM.jpg20120413-022834 PM.jpgJust like last year, I went to the training session of Shanghai formula one. Together with Marc, Grace, Scott Elaine and first timer Suna. We watched the formula one training and saw all the legends race on the foggy, rainy track including Vettel, Alonso and Schumacher. But of-course we were there foremost to see the Porsche asia cup training afterwards. 20120413-022843 PM.jpgUnitedstyles colleague and promising racer Alexandre Imperatori (won 8 of 10 races of this cup last year) and team mate dutch/Chinese racer Ho-Pin Tung (formally reserve racer for renault formula one and making his debut in Asia) It was a very interesting training to see, apparently they were not allowed to change tires, and some cars slide of track. Alexandre became third and Ho-pin seventh after an off track slide. After the race Alex and Marc met up in front of the track, so Suna now had a picture with them (below). Now back to office for rest of afternoon, its promising to be an exciting weekend for the racers. A very nice experience!

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