20 cent gym part 2: bench press

Remember the 20 cent gym I blogged about? It was about the Chinese ‘muscle beach’:, a bunch of people assembling in a Shanghai park to work out every day. Frankly, the Chinese men pulling heavy weights while looking angry can be quite impressive (but why do they take their shirts off?), I decided to show the scene to a foreign visitor yesterday. After watching the spectacle together for a few minutes, one of them came up to me and dared me to do some bench presses.

Some parents really step up role in children’s dating game

P1210844While walking around Shanghai last weekend, we came across the most particular scene at the People’s Park. Hundreds of elders had gathered and were having a market like situation where a few were adverting something and others were inquiring. We found out that they had eagerly gathered to exchange information about their children/grandchildren in search for their perfect life mate. P1210847These pamphlets with information were often hung on tree leafs or a washing line, and included information such as: -height (seemed exaggerated), -age, -telephone number and income. (!) These attempts are not always performed with their children’s consent! It seems that most Shanghai men and women enjoy their single life and strive for career first and consider marriage later. It seems that the ancient arranged marriages made place for arranged dating. Is this killing romance?

The 20 cent workout in Shanghai

outdoor gymA 40 year old Chinese man drives his motor bike with carrier filled with barbells, dumbbells and a radio to the park outside my Shanghai compound every evening. Upon arrival, he marks an area of roughly 40 square meters and unloads the heavy weights. Shortly after, the place is packed with shirtless muscular Chinese men working out. I have seen and walked by this scene on a daily basis over the last few weeks and enjoyed the scene a lot. It’s also really funny to see the trespassers sit down for a while and look at the people working out. gymIntrigued with this Chinese version of ‘muscle beach‘, I decided to ask the guy for the price. He smiled and told me that I could join them for 2 RMB (about EUR 0.20). My official (indoor) gym at Raffles costs me about ¬ 20 per month, if I would workout with these fine men, I would pay just 30% of what I am paying now. I’ll think about it… While the guy is hawking, and most certainly can be closed down instantly, he has shown me that with little budget and some creativity, it is easy to make a few extra bucks.

Want some mayonnaise with that King Cobra?

I have seen some interesting food in Asia over the years. Most interesting dishes were definitely in China. I don’t want to bother you with the cliche stories that hit the blogosphere daily, because eating culture is indeed different here, nothing new, I know.

Instead I want to tell you about how the live-stock, ready-to-be-turned-into-food is displayed in the restaurant. While walking home, a friend showed this restaurant at the French Concession in Shanghai. The place was looking more like a pet-store then a restaurant.

What about picking a nice goose, some birds or rabbits to go round with your friends? Or what about the enormous King Cobra to still your hunger? That’s right, for 30 euro’s one can enjoy this feisty creature, other wise known as the world’s longest venomous snake… to the bone. Want some mayonnaise to go with that?

Now to make this clear. Eating various types of meat can be dis-, or approved with, that is personal. The dishes displayed in this post are not rare to find in China; I haven’t eaten things like this before, but I believe it is cultural. Reason to post this is that I thought the method is a bit interesting. It is a bit ‘live’ to display reptiles, domesticated animals, birds, fish or whatever – ready to be picked – next to the dining table isn’t it?

Empty eight lane roads in Zibo

This week I was in Zibo (map), a 1.5 hours bus drive from the nearest airport of Jinan. There are about 4 million people living here. The city is known for material arts and it’s rich resources. Due to the resources, the city is characterized by smog, due to coal mining and farmers. To facilitate the mining, the prefecture-level city has a grid of 8 lane roads with trucks driving over them.Asking about the empty broad roads, I was told that the 8 lane roads were even more quiet in 2006, solemnly used by trucks. China’s rapid economic growth, taking many families to middle class has effect on the people here as well. According to this source, almost every family owns a car in this city.


In Hong Kong for the week #2

I like this city so much that I decided to upload some more pictures to give you first hand about what I think is beautiful around here. Hope you like it!  You can go up any skyscraper in Hong Kong, (which I almost did) but you can see the city best from the Victory Peak. Simply take the tram up the hill, and you will see this magnificent view of the city. In real life, the city lights are also dancing around over the scenery. Very pretty thing to look at, almost as hypnotic like a fire or water. I view to remember!
Art gallery building in Macau, China

Don’t be fooled by these buildings, the whole area is full with artsy shaped casino’s. Macau was both the first and the last European colony in China. In 2006, gambling revenues from Macau’s casinos were for the first time greater than those of Las Vegas Strip (each about $6 billion), making Macau the highest-volume gambling centre in the world. We lost track of time as well, amazing place to be!
The metro in Hong Kong, or the MTR are much simpler to commute in then for example in Seoul or Osaka. However, if you are staying on the island as a tourist, one might as well take the tram. They are cheaper and more fun to ride as you see more of the city.

Buddhistic statue praising and making offerings to the Tian Tan Buddha.

Sheung Wan is a public market with whole floors devoted to fish, or fruit, or tiny restaurants. The variety is wonderful! It reminded me of those marketplaces in Southern Europe. If you have the chance, order some squid and let the sales men prepare it for raw eating. Little bit of sauce… delicious!