Shanghai: Guyi garden and tea city

On the way back to Shanghai, at 20km distance, the new Shanghai Tower was already visible

On the way back to Shanghai, the new Shanghai Tower was already visible

Did Shanghai Change over the last year? – To celebrate my exact one year return to Holland I decided to go to Shanghai and see what had changed over there. Upon arrival (Again, our KLM flight didn’t dock at Pudong) I decided to take the bus to the city. A lot of people ask me if I think the city changed during the last year. I met quite a few expats that were let go over the last year or had trouble keeping their jobs. I also noticed more south Europeans trying their luck in this euphoric city. Construction is still going on, with expanding highways, railways and many new malls opening. On a side note, travelling outside the city, including Sheshan, I still noticed those huge apartment blocks are still largely vacant. The restaurant prices had risen over the year, some over 30%. Contrary of what I read online, I noticed most (rich) Chinese still carry iPhones. Xiaomi is gaining popularity. Anyway, I was here as a tourist so I wanted to share a two destinations with you:

Guyi King lotus

Guyi garden 古猗园 – A Shanghai friend offered to take me to one of his favourite gardens. Together we drove to Nanxiang, just out of town. Guyi garden, over 500 years ol seemed a lot less busy and was quite big. Enjoy the serenity of the garden and have a seat. You will notice all the little details of the garden. Very neat. We left and ate some xiaolongbao just outside the garden. The garden is located in Nanxiang town, about 20km outside Shanghai. Here is a wiki page with information: Guyi garden.

Tianshan tea city entrance

Tianshan tea city entrance

Tianshan Tea city – Another great destination is the tea city at Zhongshan lu in Shanghai. While we were living in Shanghai, we got used to drinking loose leaf tea.  My wife used to buy all our tea at a particular shop inside this tea city. We were almost running out. Visiting our regular shop resulted in a hour long tea sampling session.

Swimming in Shanghai: Maya Playa water park

maya_playa_mapFor a bit of holiday feeling, I’ve visited the new Maya Playa water park in Sheshan town, Shanghai (上海玛雅海滩水公园). Proclaiming to have over 30 rides for visitors to enjoy. It was a lot. They feature a lazy river, steep slides and bigger slides that you take by boat. The water park is huge and there are also slides for kids. maya_playa_sliderI really, really had a fun time there. There are some great slides and just looking at people picking up surfing was a lot of fun as people cheered for the ones staying on the board for over one minute. Since I was visiting in the last weekend of their summer season it was very quiet in the park. As in, one hour in I’ve met all the other visitors that day. The park is build for thousands so you can imagine, there was no line at all at any of the rides for me. bodysurfing at maya playa shanghaiEven though the park is just a few months old, it did look old. I’m not doubting the water quality but more how everything from the paint to the buildings already looks a bit worn out. It was a bit dirty. At a certain time there was an entertainment show. A few dancers on the main square dancing to some songs and a very loud announcer. Entrance was 150 RMB, 50 RMB for the locker, which includes 30 RMB deposit. Then they also charge 20 RMB for a boat. Lunch was about 30 RMB, KFC style burger with french fries. I couldn’t find any coffee or icecream sales point. How to get there: Take subway line 9 to Sheshan station (佘山站) and then I got a taxi there, on the way back I found that there seems to be a free shuttle service as well.

Running

20130826-104007.jpgI forced myself to run in 2008 to get in shape for a fun run. I didn’t like it at all. However, soon I enlisted in a half marathon and the habit of training and running a few kilometers stuck to me. Runs that stand out are the Marathon in Seoul [1], Shanghai [1] [2], and small runs on holiday in Hong Kong and San Francisco. After arrival in a different country, running can be a great way to get over a jet lag and to explore the area around your hotel. Back home, I’ve made it a habit to run a few kilometers every weekend. I don’t necessarily join big events but run because I like it. Especially early Sunday mornings; as there aren’t that many people out yet and I found a perfect round from my house straight to a river dike (I am in the Netherlands after all). Looking over the Lek river in either sunny, stormy or rainy weather is always serene experience. When I finished my Sunday jogging session today I noticed that I’ve already logged a moderate 800km on dailymile. I haven’t logged all my runs on this site, but try to do so to keep track of my progress. It’s fun to see those numbers accumulate over time.

logged 800km with dailymile. They provide some nice captions as well.

Logged 800km, or calories equal to 300 donuts with dailymile.

Celebrating summer

camping
Due to Suna’s business trip in the UK, I’ve decided to have some time off with friends. So we organized a ‘back to basic’ evening where we would camp outside. It was fun setting up the camp, go for a swim and build a fire to prepare food on. We chatted away into the evening and I was so tired I slept very deeply. The next morning I woke up by the sound of birds and a ship that was passing by. Even though of all the trouble, I was very relaxed from the camping experience!

We took it easy in the morning and headed back, actually just in time because a huge thunderstorm broke loose as soon as we came home. We enjoyed this summer storm with a coffee at the shack in the backyard. When my friends left I went to see a football match in Amsterdam with my family; the first half was quite boring so I nearly fell asleep but the second half was very exciting!

The Week We Ordered a Cow

A new habit. Instead of going to the supermarket, Suna and I decided we wanted to buy fresh meat from the farmer. We had three reasons for this:

  • Horse meat scandal: Over the last year, European supermarkets sold horse meat to customers intending to buy beef. It seems like supermakets have no idea, or do not care about where their food comes from. The farmer we located has his cows graze 10km from our house.
  • Price: This one is a bit hard to calculate but I tried. I took the price of 1kg of ground beef from the supermarket compared that to the stack we had. Turns out, the price of our meat is about 20% less of the supermarket’s. It’s a hard calculation but i’m pretty sure it’s cheaper generally. We had to portion the meat ourselves and purchase a freezer to store it in.
  • Changing eating habits: After half a decade of restaurant food, the last year was full of making dishes in our kitchen. Now that we are cooking every day, we found that there are a few dishes we can make well. We found that we tend to vary our vegetables but not our meats. Our farmer source delivered various parts, from soup bone to round steak. It forces us to cook a diverse meal every day.

I put the story above on Facebook and got mixed replies. Some responded with repulsion, others got curious and wanted to try ordering for themselves. It seemed to me that my friends who grew up on a farm were least appalled by the idea of sourcing your own meat. Perhaps some don’t realize that eating meat means killing an animal. It’s a sad thing but it’s true. Yesterday Suna and me watched cows graze while we took a walk, we agreed that at least our cow was able to walk freely outside.

Office Moved During Weekend

The sanoma Amsterdam branch moved to Hoofddorp last weekend. From now on we will work at the beautiful headquarters.

A Story About a Korean Baseball

A colleague visited a baseball game in Seoul, Korea in 1995. During match break time, a legendary LG Twins player signed a baseball and hit it into the crowd. What were
the odds of my Dutch colleague to catch that very ball? He took it back to Holland and kept it proudly at his house, not knowing who that player was. Until one day 18 years later, the colleague mentions this very story to me and we both became curious. The next day, he brought the ball to our office and we were staring deeply at the autograph to decipher the origin, but we gave up after some time. Then we decided to take a picture and put it on Facebook. A few hours later, people (Mostly Korean men) found out that the player was 김재현! In fact, the discovering commenters was bright enough to notice that we had actually been holding the ball upside down! So far for our own search but again solved thanks to the power of social media… The mystery is solved for now but now the next question is, what is the ball worth?