Month: May 2018

Chinaversary

Chinaversary

One year ago today I landed in China and started this crazy Shanghai adventure. Happy 1 Year, Shanghai, and thanks for all the memories!

I know it’s a cliche to say this but time really does fly πŸ™‚ On the other hand, looking back on everything that has happened it’s hard to believe it’s only been one year. To celebrate this day, here is a little review of the past 12 months in China:

After one year I can definitely say that moving here was a great decision. Now if only our families and non-Shanghai friends lived closer, life would be even better πŸ™‚

Archery Tag

Archery Tag

There are so many fun things to do in Shanghai and a few months back, Morgane and Leyfa took me to Archery Tag. I didn’t know what to expect, just knowing that it is something like a mix of dodge ball and paintball, using bow and arrow. And that’s pretty much what it is.

It’s a ton of fun! Every time we play, there are 28 players and we play in four teams of seven. A game lasts a maximum of five minutes, until all players of a team have been hit, or all targets have been shot. If you’re hit, you’re out, and can only get back in when someone shoots a target or catches an arrow.

To get a spot to play is the first challenge. It is first come, first serve – and being two seconds late for sign-ups gets you a spot at the bottom of the waiting list. The games are on Sundays and are called the ‘Hungover Games’, since some players still feel some effects from the night before, or directly go there from one of Shanghai’s many free-flow-brunches.

In May and June it’s league time! While you don’t always play with the same people during normal games, you do during the league. Six captains drafted their teams, and, what can I say, it is getting quite competitive!

Michael made a nice video to show what archery tag looks like. See for yourself:

It’s not easy to take pictures during a game, it’s indoors and pretty dark, but here are some snapshots:

A bike tour around Shanghai

A bike tour around Shanghai

On Friday, we said good bye to our first visitors. After a 2-week group tour around China, Thorben’s parents stayed with us for a week. Besides celebrating my birthday we also did some other funΒ  activities, one of them was a bike tour through Shanghai at night.

Our guide had to cancel the day before but we still wanted to go, so they sent one of their technicians. Our new guide didn’t speak English but he knew the route and played recordings at some of the stops for some background info. We started at Hengshan Road and biked through the French Concession, passing big villas, embassies and Fuxing park. In Xintiandi, we went into one of the alleyways and learned about community life there. Our next stop was the Yuyuan Garden/Old Street area which is the old center of Shanghai. Now it’s really touristy with lots of shops but lit up nicely at night. We have yet to visit Yuyuan Garden, I think Thorben’s parents have seen more of Shanghai’s sights then us πŸ™‚

After biking through some small dark alleys in the old town, we went to the bund. It was really visible again that Shanghai is a city of huge contrasts: Some people share tiny, old lane house apartments with their extended family, have communal kitchens and bathrooms and sit outside around plastic tables with their neighbors playing Mahjong. A few meters away there are fancy hotels, glitzy, modern high-rise buildings and the Pudong skyline.

On our way back we passed Nanjing East Road, Shanghai’s major shopping street and People’s Square. You can really see a lot of Shanghai in 3 hours on bikes πŸ™‚

Birthday celebrations

Birthday celebrations

Saturday was the most important day of the year – my birthday – and it was the first one we celebrated in Shanghai. The day was mostly about food, surprise, surprise πŸ˜‰

Presents and Brunch

My family sent a huge box of goodies for my birthday, including 4.5 kilos of chocolate – or that’s what the customs note said. Somehow Thorben managed to hide it from me for 2 weeks so it was quite the surprise. I also got 2 awesome paintings, which I’d been admiring at a gallery on our street. After presents we had brunch at Bull & Claw, my favorite brunch place. Or one of my favorites, it’s hard to pick in Shanghai. We brunched so much I had to take a nap after we got back πŸ™‚

A Shanghainese Dinner

In the evening, we had a little dinner party with Shane, Morgane, Leyfa and Thorben’s parents, who arrived on Friday. Thorben hired a Chinese Chef through the app “ε₯½εŽ¨εΈˆ” (good chef). He came to our house with all the ingredients and didn’t stop cooking for over 4 hours. Most of the food was Shanghainese, so it was good Shane was there to explain them to us. It was quite a feast, I think we had 16 different dishes, I didn’t manage to take pictures of each one. But no matter how much you eat, at the end there’s always room for a slice of cake. Or two πŸ™‚

Thanks for all the birthday messages, calls, presents and of course thank you to my party guests for celebrating with me! Turning 28 wasn’t so bad I guess πŸ™‚

Nanjing or why not to travel in China during National Holidays

Nanjing or why not to travel in China during National Holidays

Today is Labor Day in China. As May 1 falls on a Tuesday this year, the office was closed Monday which meant that Saturday was an official working day. I have to say I’m not a fan of the 6 day work week … but definitely a fan of the 3 day weekend πŸ™‚

To take advantage of the extra day we’d planned to spend 2 days in Nanjing and then relax at home (read: do laundry) on the holiday. The fastest train was sold out but we managed to get there in less than 1 1/2 hours. Gotta love train travel in China.

We didn’t do as much as I had wanted to because it was a little too hot, too crowded and the air was quite polluted. This is what we managed:

Nanjing Massacre Museum

Sunday morning we headed to the Nanjing Massacre Museum, or the “Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders” as it is officially called. Just walking inside and seeing the sculptures is really depressing but I’d still recommend going. The exhibition inside is very well done, with lots of pictures, artifacts, information and videos.

Fuzimiao or Confucius Temple area

Next, we headed to Fuzimiao, the pretty area around the Confucius Temple. There are lots of shops, mostly tourist traps, and because of the holiday it was really busy. From the pictures I saw it looks beautiful at night all lit up but we didn’t manage to go back when it was dark.

1912

For dinner we headed to 1912, a little walking district with lots and lots of bars and restaurants. There are many western places but we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant and tried a local specialty: Nanjing Salted Duck.

Purple Mountains

Trying to avoid the crowds a little we got up early on Monday and went straight to the Purple Mountains. Looks like everyone else had the same idea and when we got to the Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum a little after 9 it was already very very busy.

Thorben said that when he went to the Purple Mountains during a business trip a few years ago it was a really nice peaceful place. To get some room to breathe and escape the picture taking (not many foreigners in Nanjing), we decided to skip the main sights and exlore the smaller walking trails. This worked pretty well and we didn’t see too many people after that.

After a quick shower at the hotel we decided not to head back into town for the afternoon but take an earlier train home. The heat and bad air quality combined with the huge crowds and long queues everywhere kind of killed our sightseeing mood. And our air conditioned and air filtered apartment just sounded way better πŸ™‚

Overall, Nanjing is a nice place with lots of great things to see – but like many people said, it’s best to avoid public holidays. From now on I’ll just keep doing what we did before – leave China when there’s a public holiday (or hide at home).