The largest Buddha in the world

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buddhaWe visited the giant Buddha in Leshan, just a two hour busride away from the Xinnanmen busterminal in Chengdu.

The giant Buddha is the largest stone Buddha in the world. Construction started 1300 years ago, in an attempt to calm the junction of two rivers at which the Buddha is positioned.

Most tourists decide to ascent the stairs but we took the boat and enjoyed the view for a bit.

 

Appreciation for the good old post system

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Last October I was send a package to my office in Chengdu from The Netherlands. The shipping fee was about 30 dollars.  The package never arrived, and information from the Dutch post company was cryptic. (contact local post branch)

Just when I considered the package lost, it successfully was returned to it’s origin address halfway around the globe. Three months after originally sending it off. Something as simple as the good old post system still seems to function very well, pretty cool!

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Attended Mirrin’s doctorate ceremony

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We visited Nijmegen, The Netherlands to attend the thesis defense and doctorate ceremony of my Sister, Mirrin. In short, she studied wound infections in an Intensive Care, find her study here. It’s a conclusion of a 10~13 year study, I needed a dictionary (long live the Kindle) to plow through the document. I am incredibly proud of her and wish her good luck with her next step!

Company outing with Dr. Panda at BaiHuaTan

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The Dr. Panda team keeps growing so it was time to do some activities together. Last Saturday we gathered at the Baihuatan park.

We started with a nice barbecue. It was a ‘xiaokao’ barbeque where you could get all the food you wanted from a nearby freezer, and could prepare it yourself. We ate way more then we planned to but it was fun. Once established, the team could pick what they wanted to do themselves.

Some went cycling, others turned to the Mahjong tables, to laser-gaming. I started with cycling but the busy roads felt dangerous. (some cycled for the first time) so we turned inwards at an unintended horsetrail. It was fun getting offroad and exploring the neighborhood. After which we had some beers in the sun whilst playing a game. After an hour or so, we went for lasergaming.

After a packed afternoon, we still had one more activity and that was an amazing buffet at the Sofitel. I liked the grill but some just jumped when the saw the deserts. A great day!

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Moving to Chengdu completed

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movingWhen we moved to Chengdu during the early summer on this year, we carried only the most critical with us and shipped the rest of our belongings with a moving company. However our stuff took way longer then expected to arrive at our house in China.

Originally, I estimated that the shipment would take at most 50 days but it turned out to be exactly 125 days to arrive. Unpacking the stuff yesterday felt almost like we send ourselves a time capsule, interestingly I forgot about a lot of our possessions over time.

So what went wrong? Basically the paperwork were not in order and the Shanghai agent messed up on a few parts. To be clear, our moving company ‘Passies’ orchestrated things to their best intent and I don’t think they are to blame at all. They picked up the shipment and packed it in a wooden crate as promised. Shipment to Shanghai went smoothly, then we experienced a problem. My China residence permit was one day short to fall in the category to be allowed to import household goods. Yes, my residence permit was only 364 days long and I needed one which is 365 days! One day short triggered a lot of paperwork and visits to customs service. During the time the appointed agent BridgeRelo was very unclear about the steps ahead and frankly giving any information proactively to us, this was very frustrating.

We started getting worried that our goods would be stranded in the Shanghai harbor forever. News came out that there are hundreds of containers from expats were stranded as the law was just changed recently.

In terms of the paperwork for the import; Once the legal hoops were jumped and things were arranged, things should have been in control again but the appointed Shanghai agent BridgeRelo arranged a very unprofessional courier service. Not only were they not able to give any ETA, they also supposedly experienced car trouble in Anhui province (?), leading to us waiting for days to hear anything. But finally I got the call yesterday that they were almost there, and we received the goods.

So now we finally feel at home in Chengdu, with all our fall/winter clothes and my bike etc. Someone told me, in China things sometimes look bleak but with patience and diligence problems are always solved in the end. We are very happily unpacking at the moment, it’s time for a celebration!

Hunting for bugs at Dr. Panda

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How do you launch an iOS game with connfidence? When we approached the end of this #drpanda production, which was built with diligent coding and even more diligent professional testers, we threw a ‘bughunting’ party and the whole company + spouces joined in playing the game all evening long in trade of delicous pizza. The QA team set it up and kept great score of the valid and not so valid bugs. They even gave a price to the person who found the most bugs, which were surprisingly little. The winner found three bugs in the game after playing for a very long time. The next day we solved all of them already and have improved further. Generally, a ‘bughunt’ is a nice and fun way to involve and prepare to get ready!

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Exploring Chengdu

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nationaldaysChina celebrates it’s national days with a week vacation so we decided to use days exploring Chengdu. So far we have visited the ‘bamboo park’ (wangjianglou park) where we ate a spicy lunch next to the water side. The next day we visited the Chengdu temple of marquis which features a touristic but nice street full of night snacks. We then went to people’s park, dubbed the noisiest park in the world.

The heat of the summer kept us indoors, but we finally started exploring our new city.

 

Didi Dache

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China is ahead in the whole mobile payment and app sphere. I couldn’t stay behind so decided to install Alipay on my phone, I entered a world of convenience. One of the apps that a lot of people use is Didi Dache, the Uber of China.

I’m haven’t been a big fan of the Uber concept, but I wanted to try mobile payments. Whilst preparing to go to the airport and having some spare time, I thought I would give it a try. I entered the airports adres, hit a few buttons and before I knew it there was a driver waiting for us downstairs. I had to hurry down! If I knew it was that easy, I would have started trying the app after I went outside. I obviously didn’t know how the concept worked, as I was surprised when the driver picked up a second guest. Well, carpool for the win! The drive was about 50% cheaper to a normal taxi and it felt adventurous and new to talk to some strangers on a long drive like this.

The taxi driver – sporting a shirt with “bentley” written all over it – mentioned that he also drives supercars time to time. Apperantly, one can take a lift in the exclusive sportcars that drive around here. We arrived and the driver said goodbye and drove off, I only had to confirm the trip and the payment on my phone with a few taps. That was almost too easy.

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Mia finally saw some real panda’s!

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Sit down at a random corner in Chengdu (city of the panda) and you’ll probably spot a (non real) panda within 5 minutes. Inflatable panda’s, trucks with panda’s on them, statue of panda’s,  Dr. Panda and souvenirs.

It was getting awkward that still after a few months, we didn’t see any real pandas! A dear colleague couldn’t bare it anymore and offered to take us along to the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base. So on the early Saturday morning we drove off to the north east of the city to the panda base.

Upon gazing the animal, my 1.5 yr old daughter simply froze with her mouth open. It was a wonderful expression. Now… you have to imagine what this ment for my daughter as she loves Panda’s. Being surrounded by that many panda’s left and right, just made her repeat the same word over and over! I stopped counting at the 50th “PANDA!” – I estimate she said that word at least 200 times. At the end of the day when we where home and all was done, she dozed off quickly. I bet she dreamed of panda’s.

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[Solved] Moneyou the worst customer service I ever had

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Update 25 aug 9AM: E-Mail from the product manager. They apologised: Tone tone-of-voice of their earlier mails do not fit their profile and will be evaluated, cases like mine will get higher priority in the future. My calling minutes will be compensated and I am still getting (some) interest over my aborted-savings. Happy!


 

Update 23 aug 21pm: Got an email reply (my first inline reply e-mail!) from Moneyou customer service that my account is manually closed. Eagerly checking if this is the case but it looks good!


 

Update 22 aug 21pm: Got a response from the productmanager of the ‘savings’ department! He mentioned both the CEO of Moneyou and Head of Channel Management at ABN AMRO took (internal) action to get this matter solved. Right now it seems that they escalated and will close my account by hand before the 24th of August. Looks good! MoneYou once this is over and satisfactory, I’m always open to give feedback if there is a retrospect!


 

Update 22 aug 8am: 3 days later, no sign from Moneyou yet.


 

I put some savings on a bank called Moneyou. If you are considering starting an account I wouldn’t recommend it.

TL;DR: They asked me to close my account, which I couldn’t, but they don’t do it for me. I want my money.

My horror story started in the middle of July. I moved to China so I updated the admin panel in the moneyou, it turned out to be a ‘honeypot’. They allowed me to enter my adres without any warning but I got the following email the next day:

 

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15 july: “Due to your moving abroad we’d like to ask you to cancel your savings account within 7 workdays. The reason is that we only service customers who are living in The Netherlands. A moving abroad means that the moneyou account has to be cancelled”

By just arriving in a new country and looking for a house, a message from your bank that you have to stop your account is just terrible timing, but their good right. So I logged into my panel and tried to stop my deposit. This didn’t work, and this started my horror story. I then had to explain my case 6+ times to different service employees. They all asked the same questions and came with the same solution, that I should try a different browser etc. When I finally got to the point that all things were tried, they told me to email a screenshot of my broken panel, so I thought we were making progress. Unfortunately, over the past six weeks I have send eight emails and never got any in-thread reply from them.

So I kept on calling. Keep explaining my problems, try to escalate. At one point I managed to talk to a manager and he asked if I wanted a coupon for an e-commerce site. This lack of customer perception is just stunning, I told him I want an written explanation of the problem and a due date to solve this, he did:

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Roughly translated: “here is the confirmation on the 5th of august we received your email and we are updating you on the status. The processing takes more time, we ask your understanding and are aiming to solve your problem by 19th of august.”

I think it’s fair that I am past my patience at this point. We are one month further in the process which equals 20 working days of 8 hours. You tell me that in 160 hours, one couldn’t escalate this to a manager with the proper rights to close my account? The problem with Moneyou service desk is that I keep having to explain my problem from the beginning. If properly setup, I should get a name and conversations would progress.  I made the mistake of checking how long I have been calling with Moneyou:

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So, it’s the 19th Moneyou. Where is my own money, Moneyou?! I have been on the phone with your ‘servicedesk’ for almost 2 hours already in four weeks and at this point, I just don’t think you can close my account Moneyou. Show me some service!