Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Filonov and Pessoa

Like the sky, my blue gaze
Is calm as water in sunlight.
That's what it is, blue and calm,
Because nothing startles it or gives it pause.

New job, Gambei!

Right ok, I did not have a lot of time the last few days to explain that I switched jobs. Well... I took on a job as an advisor for the German Development Cooperation (GTZ) in Changzhou. The GTZ runs a special programme, which promotes harmonious urban planning in Yangzhou and Changzhou (Jiangu province). The company's programme aids the local municipalities of Yangzhou and Changzhou to become so-called Eco- Cities.

An Eco- City is a city, which develops its urban planning on the basis of a harmonious relationships between the economy, the natural environment and civil society. It is certain that such a concept sounds pretentious, however the programme very much tries to put things into practise through its many initiatives (

Enough of marketing and PR now. The job is not only interesting in terms of my diverse set of tasks, it also involves the ability to drink as much as the company's partners (i.e. local Party members) demand of you, the "laowei". Sometimes, its hard to imagine that people can guzzle an entire wine bottle in less than a minute. Gambei!

Party Member 7: "Let us guzzle this good wine for German- Chinese relationship"

Me: "The whole glass? I am not even German!"

Party Member laughs and shouts "Gambei"!

Spending a night/ afternoon drinking with Chinese Party members is like running a marathon. You need a certain strategy to keep from loosing face. One needs to be tactful and concurrently diplomatic, as their aim is to get you drunker than Oliver Reed.

Party Member 5: Let's drink this glass to the beautiful football that the Dutch have brought to the world!

Me: "Thanks, but I can't anymore"!

The Party member looks shocked and responds:

"You must understand Chinese culture, if you are my friend, you must drink this full cup together with me. We are friends!".

*no choice, no choice....* "Gambei!"

And after doing this for a certain amount of time one becomes dizzy and starts feeling ill...

One consequently needs to time his/ her "reverse peristalsis" for the right moment (during a short toilet visit in between the drinking sessions or afterwards, on one's way back home). How much I am learning at present!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hacken - Trip to China

Friday, February 16, 2007

Xin nian kuai le (happy new year) !!

Finally some news again on this blog! I was forced to calm my blog drift for a while, because I started a new job in Changzhou! I took on a job as an advisor for the GTZ (German Development Cooperation) on a project that involves ecological- friendly urban planning. The implementation of the organisation’s initiatives takes places in Yangzhou and Changzhou (two medium sized cities in Jiangsu province). For those who are interested in the project and its initiatives, please visit:

I started only a couple of days ago, but was already very busy organising myself in my new private and professional surrounding. I rented a small flat not that far from the city centre and conveniently close to my work (walking distance). I will update my blog in the coming days with pictures of my neighbourhood, which in many aspects is traditional Chinese.

BTW: It almost is Chinese New Year now (The Chinese New Years starts on the 18th of February) and I really have no idea yet what to expect! Everybody has been talking about it for the last couple of days/ weeks and there is a special ambience noticeable in the streets. It’s a pity that I will not be able to celebrate it in the streets of Shanghai or Beijing. However, fortunately I will not be celebrating it alone. I will go to Wuxi tomorrow to visit some friends and get a taste of the celebrations.

Have to go now, my lunch break is over! I will give you more details in the following posts!

Gong xi fa cai!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Vamos a la Playa

After having finished my classes last week, I decided to go to the Northern city of Harbin. Harbin is famous for its "pluto- like" climate (-20 to -30 Celsius, see picture!) and of course its touristy Ice Lantern Festival. Moreover, its geographical location (i.e. between Vladivistok and Beijing) reveals its interesting political past (

I left Wuxi on Monday and was lucky enough (the plane suffered from massive turbulences and we eventually were forced to stop at Beijing for a couple of hours) to arrive the same evening. The youth hostel was a bit crappy (no water/ electricity for a day and electric shocks in the shower), however its location wasn't all that bad (30 mins away from the centre).

The first day I visited the city centre and the Flood Control Monument. The latter was erected to commemorate those who had fallen in the massive flood of 1957. The water level of the semi-circular pools near to the column mark the level reached by the flood at that time.

Later I visited the Church of St. Sophia, which is in fact the biggest Orthodox Church in the Far East. It was completed in 1907 and initially built to reconsolidate the confidence of Russian army troops after the Russo-Japanese War.

The second day I visited the ice and snow sculptures in the city centre. I just uploaded the pictures on my Picasa website (see the "linx” section for exact address). The same day I also visited “Ice world”, a large event where huge ice sculptures of famous figures and buildings are showcased in a massive scale. Ironically, I was wondering through the sculptures with loud Russian tekno remixes of “Vamos a la Playa” coming from the massive speakers surrounding the park.

I also got the chance to visit the last remaining Siberian tigers in the world (not mentioning those living around the N- Korean border)! It was a great experience, seeing them so close you could smell them. In fact I even could touch them (If only I dared). However, even the Siberian Tigers cuddled together in Harbin’s harsh climate.

I would have loved to stay longer in Harbin, the city is a lot more welcoming than Wuxi. But unfortunately I was forced to leave early to catch the train back home, a journey that took me 33 (!) hours, along snowy landscapes, small villages and other beautiful sceneries.

China can be marvelous at times!


A nice Russian resto, which served Pelmeni, Beefstroganoff and of course tasty Bliny!

Teaching days are over

My teaching days in Wuxi are over! Last week I finished my last class and some days later I gave my students their final grades (38 students passed and 3 failed). However, we had of course also a proper goodbye! I attached some photos of my favourite students, who invited me for dinner last week (with some booze, of course :)). I will definitely miss them, they were all great fun and I even became friends with some of them.

Smile and Seven



And the guys (Loui, Kelvin, Johnson and Kevin)!