Telebancos por aqui, Chinese dropping the N-bomb and a stuck-up Club (experience)

Let’s talk business, shall we?
Last Monday was my first day of work. My position is Marketing Consultant in Fashion/Textiles for a Spanish consulting firm and my information about this position beforehand was equal zero, since I got this internship from a hired (and payed) agency, the job interview was interrupted 6 times and neither of us was willing to extend it for questions and my questions were not replied via email. So, I trusted the agency that got me this position and was kind of excited about it.

My first day looked like this. I got up at 6.15, work begins at 9.00am and ends at 6pm – I wanted to be rather early than late – for the case that I need to dry my shirt (!) or I don’t find the office. I got to the office at 8am, an hour early and that was a good thing. I now knew how long it takes me to get to work. The building I am working in is called High Tech Plaza which sounds pretty cool and actually is pretty cool. See for yourself in the picture below.

Since I was one hour early and no one in the office yet, I decided to check out the toilets on the 19th floor to get my shirt dry, my tie straight and use the toilet for the first time, since I had a coffee this morning and I was pretty nervous (I’m just being honest here). Despite the fact that the last toilets in a bathroom are the dirtiest (since everybody thinks that people use the first ones and everybody actually ends up on the last toilet) I chose this one. It was a bad decision, because it was a traditional Chinese squat toilet which I had to use and made me almost cry because I thought that such a modern and beautiful building also had modern toilets. My conclusion of this experience is simply that it doesn’t work. It is simply impossible. But I will spare you further details. Ultimately I was looking for toilet paper to dry my hands with in another cabin, where I (unfortunately too late) was looking at a western toilet, as beautiful as can be – This time, they were tears of joy!

At 9am the colleagues finally arrived and I was greeted by a guy that I thought was my guide for the internship, but it turned out to be just another summer intern.
You can picture the office like the following – 30m² room, 11 employees, Ikea chairs equal very uncomfortable environment at first, but I got used to it. Although, there is one thing that still bugs me and will bug me till the end of december. And that would be my female Chinese co-workers talking chinese. I don’t mind THAT, but they use a certain filler word very often and it sounds like they are saying “Nigger” … in every friggin sentence. Try to focus on your work, while people are dropping the n-bomb every 2 minutes!
But all in all, it is a very comfortable environment to work in, I like the atmosphere and the people (7 women, 4-5 Men; mixed chinese, Spanish, Italian and me) and I like the responsibility the CEO gave me from the first day on. I am working together with a very kind Spanish girl that is at the same time my guide, very professional and fun to work with. The internship is not to compare with German or maybe Dutch (not sure about this!) internships where the chances of obsolete tasks and a bad atmosphere are pretty high. I was directly assigned with a huge project including several Spanish companies and invited to go to meetings (as I posted on Facebook, unfortunately, on the day I ran out of Shirts and ties) with the Spanish embassy and people from the chamber of commerce.
The first week ended in a small birthday celebration of a co-worker of mine. Since the CEO was in Beijing and there was no boss in the office, they decided to eat a cake first and then getting out the red wine. Ok, a cup of red wine, on a Friday … that is not really uncommon, you might say. It isn’t. But combining a bottle of red wine, two Chinese dices, 7 hysterical girls and the manual to a drinking game might be a bit awkward for a work-day at 11.30am. One colleague had to do push-ups, another drink 3 cups of wine and I needed to do 15 faces in a minute and drink a cup of wine. It’s all about having fun and recording it on your iPhone (of course with a rabbit ear case!!) .
There is one thing I did not understand though. And that is the dress code at work. While every male employee was wearing either a suit or at least shirt and tie, the women partly dress like they are going to bed (hello kitty tee) …. I am still confused, but I guess they don’t go to meetings that often!?

 

Aaaaaaand another short story about me going out in Shanghai last weekend.

Friday I was going out with an Austrian guy and a new-to-the-city-french girl. Because the French girl was very attractive, she convinced the Austrian guy to go to M1NT, one of the most popular, famous and probably one of the most expensive clubs in Shanghai. I got my booze on at home, since he does not drink and the prices in M1NT were supposed to be very high. It was not enough though. I was excited because I heard the DJ was good and the interior is amazing. But here is how I experienced this club:

-          The club interior IS amazing! 26th floor with view over The Bund (you remember this sight-seeing spot or rather THE spot!), Lightning was amazing too (green lasers on the ground, which reflected from the shoes and pants) and they have friggin 10-15m long shark tank in the entrance.

-          The interior sucked, when we are talking about a club. M1NT did not really have a dance floor. And when you are on “it” as THEY call it, you are dancing next to the VIP’s that rent a table and smoke cigars, blowing the smoke into your face while trying to dance to extremely awful music (the DJ sucked big time!).

-          The people there are … what words can describe them best …. Let’s just say, that the crowd resembles every characteristic I hate about people. Rich people showing off, poor people pretending to be rich, gold-diggers, you name it!

I was out of there at 1am, left the Austrian guy alone (I know, smooth) with the French girl, that was constantly looking for a sugar daddy to buy her drinks!
I called Yui and Fiona, they told the cab driver the address of the place they were going to (after they have been on a bikini party) and we met up there. Just a side note and a little tip – never take a cab that is waiting in front of a club. They are very expensive. In my case, I didn’t mind, since I was allowed to smoke a cigarette in the cab (which usually is not the case) and the driver was a pervert hitting on Chinese girls, which I found pretty entertaining at that point.

The club we met up at was “The Apartment” and the interior was pretty run down, subculture-ish. The club was packed but the music very cool. As usual when we go out as three flat mates it ends up in drinking much alcohol. In this night, we took it a bit far … so far that I woke up lying on the floor in the living room, next to Yui and Fiona – Clothes on … (un)fortunately!? This was around 6 in the morning and I didn’t bother to wake them up, so I just went to bed and slept until 2pm, when my phone rang and the Austrian guy reminded me that we wanted to attend the Pudong Beach Party ….. “will this never end?” I asked myself, while jumping into my bathing suit (see what I did there?) and heading to the beach, which is … of course not a natural one, but one with imported sand, right at the Bund, again! Beautiful view, nice weather! 90% Foreign people, 90% of them with tattoos and around 30% of them with swim shorts that were definitely too tight or too see-through. Again, WTF?
But I am tired of asking myself this question so I just ordered some drinks and enjoyed the sun and the music (which was awesome! Some Swedish DJ), while the dance floor was used to get a tan and people were walking by, still drunk from the night before, when they left M1NT (Yep, the same people!’) Shanghai is a very small place, as my colleague said, and she was right … she too was at this party.

I will post the pictures that belong to this post and some other ones as soon as my crappy Internet works properly.

Weird chinese entertainment fetish and very weird chinese club service

Friday was a get-together of all Bestep (company I hired for getting me the internship)-interns. The location was a bar, famous to be widely disputed by Shanghai-expatriots, because it is pretty cheap and I’m not just talking about the prices – service and the cocktails suck.
As human beings here usually do when they see people from their country – they get together and stay in that group. That’s why we had a German, Ukrainian, French, Argentinian and my group (mixed Chinese, Austrian, Canadian and again Chinese Chinese Chinese). But with the increasing amount of alcohol moistening our throats the groups opened up and we formed one that consisted of roughly 10-15 people (the rest went to a KTV, Karaoke – I just felt like clubbing and not nearly drunk enough to sing Chinese songs). Since nobody wanted to make a suggestion for a club I told them that I had a picture of the Chinese address of G plus on my phone and so we ended up there after a while. (Remember, G plus was the first club that I have been to here in Shanghai. Wasn’t bad at all but there are definitely better places to discover)
The night was pretty cool, everybody had fun and it didn’t even took us more than 10 minutes to rock the speaker boxes where later on some performers were dancing, which kept me thinking. Picture this … or better don’t – two blonde western guys in vests made of feathers (open of course), red and tight leather pants (I was told) and friggin High heels on, performing a pretty lame choreography. Those kinky chinese people …. Meowww!

The night ended, after the group went home and I was left with two German girls whose name I was never told having lots of fun till 5.30. (Oh yeah, you heard it, Holland! People are not going home earlier here!)

Unfortunately I promised my flatmate Yui to go with her and a friend from the states (Originally shanghainese) to the textile market at 2pm on Saturday. This is what we did and I am happy that we have been there – Let’s just summarize that afternoon:  An old building, as big as a small mall in Germany, 3 floors, full of tailors that go berserk as soon as they see western people “Real cashmere, real cashmere suit, very cheap, you can have”. Some of them own just a small corner that is not really visibly divided by a wall or something, others have a huge shop or rather showroom. What I didn’t understand is – there were not many people at all. You can basically go to each and everyone of them, hand them a design, name the fabric, cut and whatever and within a week or 2 you got it for a price that is extremely competitive compared with mall-products.
However, the friend of Yui needed a suit for his graduation, so he chose a shop and got measured, while I was walking around and found out that they even make tailor-made leather jackets (sadly, they try to sell you fake leather). Later on I chose the same tailor to measure me and make me a shirt for work – very cool fabric and pattern. I will show you a picture, when I pick it up this Saturday. All in all, the conclusion was – I will never ever go to a mall in Shanghai again, I will go to the textile market. Takes a bit longer, but you can choose everything and get a tailor-made shirt like mine for friggin’ 100RMB = 12,- Euro!

Saturday night started slow, until I got the brilliant idea (after I unsuccessfully tried to reach some people from the night before) to get myself drunk and go out by myself. I did some research and decided to go to Rich baby, a Club that was known to be full of Chinese and not so much foreigners – Love it, try it!
Quite an experience and this club should not be famous for the fact of being a “local one” but for so many different reasons.

Let me go through this step by step.

  1. The interior is CRAZEY!! High ceilings, mirrors everywhere, LED’s on the walls, VIP-lounges where you get lost and don’t find your way back to the dance floor and obviously an exception in Shanghai 2 dance floors … oh yeah, and famous Chinese squat toilets in a small cabin with cushion walls and no toilet paper – whaaat?
  2. This is the place, where the most attractive people gather around. It seems to be not all about the money though. Down to earth people who want to enjoy a night out, while being just pretty.
  3. You will love this one! I hated it, because I had to experience it. They don’t serve beer! Lets quickly forget that fact and skip to point 4.
  4. My first order was a long island ice tea, since I wasn’t feeling the vibe yet. And still asking myself “What? What the hell are you doing here? But there is something special about the order. I’m gonna do this without any build-up.
    The procedure is the following: I go to bar, order menu, go through it and finally ordering beer. Waiter says “nonono beer”, I want to punch him in the face but decide to order a Long Islang ice tea instead and here it is – the waiter uses a lighter to get the attention of another one wandering around in the club. He comes to me and gets the order once again. He tells me the price and writes it down on some sort of form. I hand him 100RMB, and he writes down the change I can expect to get back. After this is done, he wants me to sign this form, he walks away, comes back 2 minutes later, hands me my change, gives the order to the waiter and THEN they start mixing the drink. This got me thinking – either no one is ordering any drinks there or they were just fucking around with me. Since beer WAS on the menu and I saw a lot of people sipping on their drinks, I come to the conclusion they were fucking with me.
  5. Why else should this club be famous for? For the people that definitely know how to get wasted and have a blast? Yes! Body shots on the dance floor – nice to see, but when the same girl gets “escorted” in a piggy-back way of style later after she probably fell into the squat toilet, it is about time. A fat Chinese guy, 1,90m high, 1,90m wide that trips into the toilet and starts hugging me, not letting me go – I was just happy that he got his pants on.

One last thing that I noticed in Richbaby and confirmed by my colleague later was, that Shanghai despite its 18 Million inhabitants and more than 200 bars, lounges and clubs, is small. When I was ordering my second drink at the bar, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was the friend of my flatmate Yui, that I got to know on the very same day. His name is King by the way and I love him for giving himself this name, proudly walking around in New York where he studies at the University. Total Winner-name!

Furthermore, I already mentioned in an earlier post how foreigners act and what they resemble – most of them at least. In the club however, they take it to another level but that’s what everybody would suspect from the beginning. Western men hitting on Chinese girls. Unfortunately, there is not much to it. I witnessed guys dancing like an idiot on random girls and that is …. More or less it. No need for English language skills, as long as one of the two parties can tell the cab driver where to go. The thing is – every foreign man that goes out and acts like this, THINKS that every other foreign man in the club wants to do the same and the only ambition is to hook up with a girl. With regard to this phenomenon, I’ve had my very own experience with some 45-50 year old Caucasian guy dancing with two Chinese girls that he could not handle (his dancing was limited to continuously whistling and screaming like an American Bieber-fever teenage girl). Therefore he grabbed my arm and wanted me to be his wingman obviously, or maybe it was just an altruistic gesture, giving me the opportunity to meet some nice ladies (his holy opinion). I was a bit speechless and did not really know what to do in this situation, but I realized that I had to go, when the Caucasian guy wanted to exchange high-fives.

After I headed to the other dance floor to escape the situation, I was welcomed by some chines guys who wear dancing around a bar table. These guys were the first ones to have a picture with me. Not that I wanted this, but when you hear all the stories of western people in china you kind of expect them to hand  you their child and take a picture of you with it. I didn’t mind, because I had a great time with Seacomb ‘s gang…wait what who? Seacomb … got to love those “American-chinese”-names!

                                                                       Seacomb and his gang

The night ended for me at around 5 when my cab driver threw me out. Unfortunately, through all those cocktails I was so drunk that I almost was ashamed of myself when I was CRAWLING past the security guard from my compound. This was the first time I used the toilet for throwing up and despite all my expectations (because most toilets are filled with a lot of water, close to the edge of it) it did not end up in a total mess. Lucky me!

Before I go to bed, because I’m really tired of doing NOTHING at all this Sunday I will share a picture of something that scares the shit out of me. When I first “heard” it … I was thinking “was that just a swarm of insects flying into one of those electric-insect-BBQ-terminators ?”. I remembered that we don’t have any such device, so it bothered me a bit, since I heard that noise a few more times.
I had no idea what it was until I went smoking on the balcony some day and a monstrously huge flying bug was aggressively flying around in front of me. I dropped the cigarette instantly, got back inside and decided to have a heart attack. Daaamn! Next day, I found this little badboy on the balcony floor and I knew that it was that same “insect” or whatever you can call it.

It is pinky-finger-long and fat!(did not want to put my finger next to it for reference because I was not sure if it really was dead or just sleeping – trust me! A similar bug was hanging around on the wall next to our balcony, obviously sleeping and the following day – gone! Reminds me of the movie Jeepers Creepers…every now and then it goes out and hunts Interns or something…)

Funny thing…and people here warned me about the mosquitos….psshhh…Should I not drop dead, next time I see something like this, I will definitely pretend to be dead!

 

…to be continued. 

Update – Mi Scusi

I just want to quickly announce that I did not forget this blog. It was just temporary out of order because I had too much traffic.
Okay, that’s a lie. Of course. But it wasn’t me being too lazy, it was China and WordPress being to hostile too each other …. and the fact that I kind of lost my log-in data.

However…be prepared for another Blogpost about Shanghai. This time it will consist of monstrous insects, me getting filled up by barkeepers at my own expense, my first days of working and much more.

Officially, I am sorry to have let you wait.

First (3) cab rides, shouting chinese people(revealed) and the day I almost died in a restaurant

Back from the weekend, which I mainly used to get some rest and recover from whatever was going on in my stomach. Thus, Saturday was my lazy day and I spent it in my apartment, no sweating, no food that confuses my stomach, just writing some emails and trying to find a private Chinese teacher, because I decided to learn the language as good as I can. This would make living  here easier since people keep talking to me in Chinese as if they expected that I can talk their language or at least understand it  – I hate to disappoint them, but most of the time I get them to laugh in return.

Let me just talk a bit about the last 2 days.
While I wrote the first sentence I noticed that I have forgotten what I did Sunday, or at least though that I already told you. So let’s just pretend Shanghai didn’t have a Sunday last weekend.

Oh .. now I got it. I did …. Something on Saturday but had a lazy Sunday. Something like this. Wow…dizzy!
However, the lazy Sunday as I recall it, ended with an invitation that I, once again, got from my flatmate Fiona. She invited me to go out with her, Yui and roughly 10 friends of them, to eat sushi in a Mall-restaurant at around 19.30. I got a message around 17.30 that she and a friend will be eating an hour early and if I’d like to join – I wrote “Yes, on my way”. Hopped out of my sweatpants into some jeans and a beige tee-shirt. Got outside and to the metro station. The heat wasn’t as bad as in the afternoon but it was still enough to get me soaked after one station (note: there IS air-condition in the metro), so I texted Fiona “Forgot my metro card, will be there at 19.30”, because I didn’t wanna show up sweaty and all. It’s just not my style. So, got back to the apartment, changed clothes and was running late – I thought to myself “take a cab” and that is what I did, because I thought it was a good idea. Turned out not be! Here is why – I took a picture of the Chinese address from google, so I could show the cab driver. It was rush-hour and I was standing on my street to wait for a free cab to drive by. It took me 3 cab drivers till I got (5 minutes late) to my destination. Here again, is why – First one, could not read what I had taken a picture of, therefore had no address; the second one ….. ohhhh the second one…good times. I hopped into the cab and here is a little information for you: Cab drivers have cages around them, that don’t allow passengers to hurt or even touch them. There is just a small little space above the dashboard where you can hand him/her the address. So, what I did was obviously wrong, because I took a seat and reached him my blackberry (with all my forearm on his side) to show him the address. He started screaming and shouting and I think I saw a tear in his eyes. It was too intimate for him and I violated his private space…..learned my lesson!

I arrived at the sushi restaurant, Gatten Sushi, and was greeted by 4 chinese girls, Suzuki (Fionas friend who must be the happiest guy on earth, because he is always joking and smiling) , one Irish girl and a German guy. Dinner was good, although pretty expensive for SH-standard (15,-).
But this dinner helped me to confirm my believe that I recently had about foreigners in Shanghai (pretty sure that I got this impression on Saturday, whatever the hell I did back then…) . They are all Assholes.
Okay, not all of them, but most of them (not those, that learned the language and are trying to be one with the culture like the Irish girl) and you can tell that by their appearance. Despite all expectations, the most evil eyes that I got in my time here, were from foreigners, checking you out and probably trying to see if you are cool or not, if you’re an expatriate or you’re just  tourist. I gotta say, I am pretty glad to have contact with locals that show me around and want to meet up with me, because finding friends, under those circumstances, is not really easy. Especially if you are picky, like me!

I like the idea of listing topics and giving you some more information about it, so here we go.

Why Chinese smoke
What I am telling you now is probably not the main reason why people smoke here, but it might have a bigger influence than some might expect.
Not only are cigarettes extremely cheap, prices ranging from 40 cents to 2,50 Euro,  but the way they are presented is just unique. Tobacco shops in China – doesn’t matter where you find them, in the mall, on a busy street or a small little backalley – look like you are at the freakin’ jeweler. Cigarette Flagship stores everywhere, with cigarettes presented in a vitrine and the sales people (mostly) wear chic clothing. Pretty interesting to see and I will definitely take a picture of one, to post it here.

Chinese people = the human chameleon
When I came to Holland, I sure knew that people love to ride their bike. They do it all the time, when it’s sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy, dutch people just don’t care. The fascinating thing however is, how fast they adapt to changing weather. You can’t count till three and dutch people are already riding their bike with a freakin’ rain poncho on. The same thing is true of Chinese people. They are masters in this. Not only do they ride their bike with rain ponchos on within the first drops to hit the ground underneath them(which is even more difficult, because Shanghai doesn’t need clouds to rain as we have learned from my first post) , they also wear their sunshades right on time. Sometime you see people with rain ponchos on and their sunshades, because the sun comes through every now and then. Another skill they have (We have learned, that Chinese women wear umbrellas when the sun comes out for not getting a tan) is to put up their umbrella exactly when sun shines down on the ground before them, with them NOT EVEN LOOKING. It is hard to explain this scenario but they are impressive when they adapt to changing weather conditions.

ALWAYS makes my day. Too special

South Memory Restaurant
The South Memory Restaurant was the restaurant that I chose for having lunch today, as I walked through Luijiazui Greenland (very cool) and Century Park (pretty boring, but huge). This restaurant is situated in the Super Brand Mall in New Pudong (where all the financial Skyscrapers are) and I chose it because it wasn’t to expensive for a mall-restaurant.
After I told them that I was alone and wanted  a table for myself, they giggled and lead me to a nice table at the window (view from it in the picture below). It was obviously not usual to come here alone. Luckily the menu was in English, unfortunately the waitress didn’t know any English, which was the reason for me pointing at “Beef with chili” which had 2 of 5 chilis (on a scale from 1-5) and I honestly thought “Sounds good and not too spicy”.
I thought wrong….so wrong again. After the waitresses they served the dish (tea was already on the table) and my 600ml TsingDao Beer.
When I picked up the chopsticks, the waitress came once again and talked to me in Chinese (she already had a pretty monotone conversation about my beer order from before) , so I leaned on the table, a little bit forward, smiled and was about to tell here that I have no idea what she is talking about, when she suddenly ran away. This left me confused and I picked up the chopsticks, when I saw her running through the whole restaurant. By now you can guess what she was looking for – she came back with knife and fork. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of other customers, so I laid down knife and fork and ate like a Chinese MAN!! I thought, I can still use them for the small rest afterwards, so she didn’t run for nothing.
However, the first bite was good. The second a bit spicy. And after the third one, I knew why they serve tea with every dish, to extinguish the fire in your mouth, since beer doesn’t work (with all the gas in it). I thought wrong (made it even worse) and by that point, I had the feeling that they wanted to kill me “What the hell is wrong with this country? TWO CHILIS??? SERIOUSLY???
I ended up eating just the beef and onions. I was glad, when the waitress brought me 1/7 of a water melon for desert. In the picture below, you’ll see the reason why I’m writing this blog post while sitting on the toilet (not even kidding!). I really want to say that it was good, because it was, but I’m just too much of a sissy to stand this level of spiciness.

I seriously cried when I had my 3 bite

 The view from my table

Why people talk so loud in Shanghai
I have the answer to the question that everybody asks himself, when he first gets to Shanghai. People in the streets talk really loud with each other, or while talking on the phone. But why is that?
Well, it has to have something to do with a product that I have been looking for, since my arrival 7 days ago. Q-tips!! I wouldn’t say that I have been to every grocery store in Shanghai looking in every aisle for Q-tips, but basically I WAS!!! They don’t have it. Ergo … we conclude – People can’t get the dust and construction waste or whatever OUT OF THEIR EARS. Means they don’t hear that good and need to talk loud. Simple and at the same time so brilliant, right?

Voice messaging
Just a little side note, Chinese love to use their smartphones. We know that. But they do it differently. They do not just write WhatsApp-messages, they send Voice-messages, which  I find very interesting and also pretty cool. This is obviously very common here.
That is it! Sorry to let you wait, but it takes me pretty long to find the time to write those lines. I will be posting some more pictures pretty soon.
BTW, you remember me writing about the stores on Nanjing East Road taking air-conditioning way too serious?

The Super Brand Mall in New Pudong is leading. I took this picture from a pedestrian bridge. The air-conditioning of this mall (see how small those doors are?) is so strong that it is still cool on the upper stairs. As soon as you’ve reached the bridge and took 2 steps, it’s possibly 10 – 15°C degrees warmer.

Clogged Toilet, Rich flatmates and Cocaine-sniffing VIP’s

Actually, I did not expect to be writing SO soon, but one thing leads to another and I’m confronted with heavy setbacks and revelations.

Referring to my last post, where I broached the subject of employment rate and how high it has to be in Shanghai – I want to give you another example intertwined in a little story.
Yesterday, my two lovely flatmates gave me a little pretaste of Shanghai’s Nightlife. We were a little late to enjoy Xian tin di (?), a small street with lots of bars to begin drinking before hitting the clubs. So, after two “Snow beer”, we took a cab directly to G+, which you can find in the 5th floor of a shopping mall. At this point it became clear to me that Fion and Yui(flatmates) really wanna party and that I’m going out with two women that clearly have a stable income, as they ordered three Long Island Ice tea. Ice tea wasn’t the only thing that greeted me though – two half-naked ….. butts that obviously belonged to 2 western girls that were hired to dance, were wiggling as if they wanted to say “Hello”, but that’s not the point.
All in all, the club was very good. It was just one dance floor but that was not a bad thing, since the music they played was really good.
In that same club, Yui was approached by some rich kid that invited her to the VIP-lounge, which was exactly where MY butt was wiggling when I danced – so much for VIP-status! However, Fion and I kept an eye on her while enjoying us with a lots of expats and people that had the attitude “fuck it, I will never see those people again!”. When Yui exchanged phone numbers for the free drinks she had gotten, she returned to us at which point one of those kids from the VIP-Lounge pulled out some white powder and had fun with it. What I heard is, that you get just a confinement for using it, while death sentence for dealing it – however, bold!!

The point of the whole story was the employment rate, right… Two things – Firstly, when I came into the club, I saw a lady that was cleaning up the floor with a dust pan … no biggy. But seeing her, doing her thang on the dance floor (I mean cleaning, not doing the dougie)?  Too ambitious!

That’s the cleaning lady. Not really good to see though.

The other, let’s just say service, was when I went to the bathroom and afterwards to the wash basin, where a man was awaiting me, holding his finger on the motion detector, pouring soap on my hands and finally handing me a paper towel. THAT is how it’s done! I was definitely in the right club.

At around 1am we took a cab that brought us to the next club (no entry fee) which wasn’t that crowded as the first one (which was still not as crowded as Aspen Valley in Enschede) at first. Yui, paid the second round, also cocktails – I had one with yolk in it, pretty disgusting. One cocktail was around 14 Euro as I later found out. And that was the point where I thought that my flatmates don’t just have a stabile income, but a high one. I felt obliged to pay them back and I offered to pay the next round cocktails and paying the cab ride (which is not that expensive – 15 Minutes ride = 4 Euro) but Yui didn’t feel like drinking (maybe the VIP-kids gave her enough already) and well …. Fion was … I don’t wanna say drunk after the first Long Island Ice Tea, but definitely in a good mood. That was the reason why I just ordered a 7 Euro bottled beer. This was also my incentive to flirt with the promotion girl of the club (western) who, every now and then, distributed free shots of cranberry vodka.
As I’m writing this, I realize that there is no real point to this story, besides that the man on the toilet treated me exactly as the one in the club before AND that this Club plays the best music. I have never experienced something like this – 2h of the finest tunes (Hiphop & RnB) with just 3 songs that sucked (All of them by Katy Perry). Perfect, and totally worth the prices for drinks!! Forget Europalace in Mainz, Index in Schüttorf, The Club in Bratislava (Okay, the people are awesome there) and Karlovy Lazne in Prague – Eden in Shanghai is the place to be and left me with a more than good impression of Shanghai Nightlife.
Club Eden – opened just in May 2012

What else has happened? Well, I don’t know why I’m writing this but if you lend me your eyes, I will share a story with you about me clogging my toilet on the 3rd day. That was yesterday. Never, ever been in that situation and man…what a mess that is. However… I thought to myself “You can fix it” and even more important “You can fix it within a time frame that your stomach full of Asian food will allow”. Thus, I went to the nearby Walmart and bought, what I thought, was Drain cleaner – it had a drainpipe on the label and many Chinese characters on it – Will do, I thought.
I “cleaned” the toilet and poured that pipeline cleaner it the toilet, went to have breakfast this morning at 1am!!! And let it operate during that time.
Unfortunately, when I came back with Fion – the drain cleaner left the toilet even worse than before. Water was close to the edge and did not really flush, so I rubbed my hands and again went to the Walmart to get, or rather to find, one of those industrial acid-drain-terminators and a plunger. I wasn’t excited, although it may seem so. I haven’t used the toilet for roughly 20h now and I just wanted to fix it. As I came back with what I got at the Walmart I was ready to beat the shit out of the toilet with my new-bought plunger. Thing was … the cleaning-ladies (Yes, we do have Ayi’s here) were there and I caught one “poking” the toilet with the toilet brush, which ultimately worked out great. That left me standing there, a plunger in one hand, rubber gloves and some sort of acid-drain-cleaner in the other, while she smiles at me and I understood her saying in Chinese “Been there, bro, been there!”.
Usually, In this situation, you would be happy but the moment I saw the toilet ‘unclogged’ my stomach started to rumble because of – if I got it right, a little pain-in-the-ass-psychological effect of conditioning (You know you can use the toilet now, so you feel the need of it even stronger). The thing was, the Ayi’s weren’t finished cleaning the bath and my room and I had to wait and wait … and wait, sometimes go out on the balcony so fresh air was on my side. I can’t believe I made it with 4 beers, two long island ice teas, a cocktail with yolk in it and Chinese breakfast waiting in my stomach for Houston to give the start signal. And of course, the false alarm during breakfast where I had my first experience with Chinese squat toilets, which made me wanna cry and vomit at the same time.

Point of the whole story – Sometimes you have to let the solution to your problem come to you, or use the toilet brush, instead of buying things that make you look stupid at the cashier point in the super market. Rubber gloves, plunger, acid-drain-cleaner and a sixpack beer.

Well, well … speaking about toilets. For those of you who are interested in how my digestion works on the 4th day of Shanghai – While writing these 1336 Words, I sprinted to the toilet 5 times. So much for “I’m born for this country’s food”.

Anhui traditional meal by Fion

Is this the culprit for the toilet-marathon? I sure don’t hope so, because it was pretteeeey delicious.

Pictures of Shanghai #1

Here are some pictures, that I wanted to post in yesterdays blog. Unfortunately I had to resize them first, because of slow, chinese internet.

Like mentioned in the blog post before, the policeman that has to stand under a sunshade on the Bund, doing something that I couldn’t figure out.

 

This shows how chinese treat tourists and can handle the weather – an icy sprinkler on the Bund (tourist attraction) pretty cool!

Cloud 9 Mall seen from the balcony. Disappointed that thos lights turn off at 22.00 in the evening.

View from my balcony at night. Right now, it is still one of the best things that Shanghai has to offer…for me – drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette, hearing cars honking and enjoying the view.

To get a picture of the heat – this is me after I went groceries shopping to Walmart – took me 8 – 10 minutes from there to my apartment and I was halfway dying.

Shit in Ikea, loose your life to a scooter and dont wake up your cab driver!

I am writing these first lines 36h hourse after my arrival in Shanghai. And I can say that I have had so many experiences  that I already know – This is the city where I definitely wanna live for a longer time… but wait, the frickin weather is KILLING me.

When I had my lay-over in Abu Dhabi, we got out of the plane and into the bus. Those 5 meters felt like you were walking into a hairdryer. And it is the same here in Shanghai.
I would lie if I said that I didn’t know that the shanghainese summer is gonna be hot but I wasn’t prepared for this.
It takes exactly 7 minutes, or 2 songs on my iPod until my shirt is soaking wet. And it takes about 30-45 minutes to get dry in a mall or a shop (because every shop has airconditioning). The problem is – I never knew that I could sweat that much. But it has advantages – when exploring the city, without cooling down in shops or restaurants my body is covered in sweat which makes it IMPOSSIBLE for pickpockets to steal my wallet (well, suck on that!!)

Still, the only thing that is giving me a tough time in Shanghai is the heat. So, what I learned to do is – avoid the sun (if it gets through the smog and sometimes clouds), go into the mall or shops every now and then and if you walk through streets – do that close by the shops. Why? Because they air-condition like a motherfucker (excuse my French! And I know it’s not a verb). Be aware though, that you gotta walk through puddles from dripping air-conditioners that hang on the outside of the buildings.
I am still wondering why I don’t have a cold yet. If you’re walking outside in 40C° and go into a shop, and I am NOT kidding, the temperature is about 20 if not below 20C°. Flagship stores of bigger brands have it so damn cold, that you get goosebumps from walking by a shop for just 2 meters. CRAAAAAZEEEY!
Enough said about the weather … no, not quite yet.
Shanghai doesn’t need clouds to let it rain. I don’t know where it is coming from, but it’s definitely there sometimes – and sadly it’s not really cooling you down.

I don’t wanna bore you talking about weather, so I’m gonna give you a small list of things that I have learned in those three days in Shanghai. Sometimes even with a little anecdote.
But before I come to that I wanted you to know, that I have prepared myself pretty well for this trip by watching youtube videos and reading blogs, so the culture shock wouldn’t be to big. This automatically resulted in me, sitting on the plane, not even being nervous, which kinda sucked. I don’t know why, but it felt like no biggy. The thing is – on my day of arrival (12.30am) I experienced almost ALL the things that China was known for, which luckily made me a little nervous, because it shows me that this place is so multifaceted that it will never get boring and I will get to know new things every singldnle day.

 

Sleep
People sleep everywhere. Something I knew beforehand but I couldn’t believe that it is SO popular. I’m impressed by that because they sleep on streets (in the heat), in shops, behind the counter, on boardwalks, on bikes and my personal favorite – one of my cabdrivers slept while the traffic lights were red. Not really comforting but yeah…whatever, no seatbelts, sleepy driver…pshhh ;)

Honking
Traffic is crazy in Shanghai and I personally don’t think Asian are bad drivers. One thing they really love the most is honking. ALL THE GOD DAMN TIME! It doesn’t even bother me, I even think it’s funny and I laugh a lot because of the fact. The streets of Shanghai can be compared with german streets, let’s say if Germany would have been world champion in soccer this year. It’s basically Autokorso everywhere. At first you might think, they honk without reason but If you look close – and that is what I did – you get it. Totally reasonable! Here are a few reasons for honking in Shanghai.

1 Saying “hello”
2 Saying “goodbye” (both not really weird reasons)
3 Saying “I’m coming and I’m not stopping for you”
4 When someone wants to go into a lane
5 When they see a beautiful lady on the boardwalk
6 When somebody got an itch on his back or … well … between the legs (experienced that twice! They honked…and instantly scratched their back or the other thingy)
7 When somebody wants to overtake another driver
8 When the same one notices that he or she is not fast enough to do so
9 Of course, if somebody is in his way (Remember the bulldozer scene in Austin Powers 1? That was my experience today. I was honked at, from more or less the same distance, because I was obviously in the way of a sight-seeing train which was approaching me with 3km/h)

Traffic and your LIFE
As maybe already mentioned. Traffic is crazy and honking is probably not even that bad when you consider that people don’t really care about traffic regulations and drive when the traffic lights are red (especially cab drivers). Walking with your iPod and listening to music is something that I stopped doing to save myself from injuries of even death. Within the first 36h of my time in Shanghai I was almost run over 3 times. And I am not even including scooters.

Smoking
Of course, this has to be mentioned. I am a little disappointed because people are not really allowed to smoke everywhere, which I falsely believed. BUT … Shanghainese people don’t give a shit, they smoke all over the place (Hint at the honeybadger, anyone?). If a restaurant (one of several MILLIONS) does not have any ashtrays, they still smoke and use the floor as an ashtray. And that is not limited to Chinese restaurants or bars – Starbucks isn’t save either. Gotta say, LOVE the attitude!

Commercial
Something I find interesting. Commercials and banners and posters are of course all over Shanghai and an interesting thing is – they advertise with western people/models.
I think this has something to do with shanghainese aspirations (people from here are know to be a little bit more materialistic and “golddigging” than, let’s say in Beyjing.

Ikea
I went to Ikea yesterday, to get some sheets for my … cough….king-sized bed (yeah you heard me!). This was, and still is the only place I feel familiar to, because the interior and the smell is exactly the same as in Germany or Netherlands. Gave me a good feeling until a certain point where I smiled at a little Chinese kid, which then began to squat and … well … take a dumb on the floor. In the Ikea!! Maybe he wasn’t too satisfied with his parents’ choice of curtains. But that’s just me guessing.

Apple
Apple Apple Apple … Hate that brand. I thought dutch people were pretty loyal to Apple but Chinese are again … going crazy about this. If you don’t own an iPhone4 – YOU ARE NOT CHINESE! It never disappoints people here and it is their only pride. That might also be the reason, why there are roughly 50 employees in the apple store on East Nanjing Road. That is almost 2 employees per customer.

Hallo / Scammers
I’ve been twice to the above mentioned street, which is the home to scammers of Shanghai. I cannot say for sure that three people of all the people that approached me were scammers or “interested girls” or just promotion-people, BUT they seem to think that “Hallo” is English, which kept me thinking. I heard of the fact that many german people are living here and my personal experience – I saw more german and dutch people than americans or britains. May that be the reason for this?

About scammers … either they are ugly, male and sometimes fat (which is rare) or they are stunning beautiful and comfort you just by talking english to you. BUT, I kiiiiiinda, eventually, maybe got the feeling that they don’t want the best for me. Of course, they ask me if I want bags, followed by glasses and when I say “I don’t need that” they are like “Oooooh I see, you want massage he?”.
You might think now, that this is very kind of them, but the last girl that approached me to provide me with some bags (Why the hell, I was carrying one!) ended up saying “ehhhhhmmmm….sex? We can get girls even younger than you! (Yes, even….what does that even mean?) . 18?17?”
That was the point where I thought “Hmmmm…they want me to get the death sentence? Get the fuck out of here!”

Shops
Shops are cool here. They really are if you ignore the fact that people here really want to sell you things and help you to find the (the most expensive) products – not like in Germany where they are pissed if you asked them if they have a certain item in a certain size.
The thing about the shops are – as soon as you enter one, you find yourself in a mall. I am not joking. They have malls EVERYWHERE. I’m not even sure, if my apartment isn’t connected with a mall. Most of them (you should’ve known that by looking at the building from the outside) 7-9 floors high. Really amazing.

Food
Haha, a few friends of mine thought  that I would get sick from the food for the first week(s), but I did not….yet. Really comforting that I obviously have a thing for Chinese food (or rather Asian food) and for eating with chopsticks (did that 3 times and I think I have a talent for this). Anyhow … my first meal was in a korean restaurant, where they also sell dog meat (which is not that easy to find, and no! I did not try it). Followed by thai food in a restaurant that my lovely flatmates brought me to (Good, but spicy!), Yesterday’s dinner was unexpected Japanese food that a friend (Suzuki!!) of my flatmates  cooked(AWESOME) and lunch was Chinese Bapao (?) with soup (BTW: first meal with chopsticks, in front of a dude that was smoking while eating and tapped the ash of the cigarette on the floor (the cook didn’t even care).

Umbrella-ella-ella
What I came to know by reading blogs is, that tan is not wanted in China, because it resembles the working class and you automatically get associated with poverty. I don’t know how that works out for indian or black people here but that’s a different point.
Anyways, that is the reason why roughly 70 percent of women walking through the streets wear … wear?? Is it “wear an umbrella”?…whatever, they “wear” an umbrella when the sun is shining. And of course when it’s raining. I like this, because it looks kinda fancy. Something that doesn’t look that fancy are some sort of rainbow-colored shields that women were when riding a bicycle. But still interesting!

Employment / Police
The unemployment rate must be very low in Shanghai. That’s what think at least. There are so many people whose task are pretty much needless – maybe it’s just what western people think. An example is the usage of police agents or security people. They are not really respected in Shanghai (as I was told) and you understand that fact, when you see a police agent at an intersection, whistling when somebody wants to cross the road when he’s not supposed to. Also, the guy on the picture below, stands under a sunshade and I tried to understand what he was doing, but it just looks like he’s text messaging. (This was taken at the Bund, probably the most famous tourist attraction in Shanghai)

That’s it for now, Im tired of writing. Stay tuned for some updates. I took some pictures but not as many as I should because I don’t want to feel like a tourist (I know, weird!) but I promise to share some more pictures with you in the future. Right now, it’s not possible because internet sucks here!