Thursday, September 30, 2004

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The dark side of the mooncake

The story is that I from the beginning stretched the time here to be able to celebrate this festival. Then she doesn't care for doing anything with it. I came early because I wanted to join her at the DND, and it turns out she couldn't/wouldn't let me even come to the after-party... I understand she is tired from all the work and that most of the days we can't do much together.

This festival is for lovi-dovi couples and it would be a great ending for my stay here. But with the festival approaching it turns out that Samantha was totally luke warm for this event. For her it's just another boring Chinese festival and she basically she wants to go and eat in an expensive restaurant instead. Pretty sucky for a guy who is spending most of his time studying the freaking culture of this festival. Considering she's been going around all the cheesy tourist attractions with other guests she has had, she could have joined me to the once in a year, and possible once in a life-time experiance of going to the Chinese gardens during this festival. I'm not forcing her to be my language partner and I'm not forcing her to come with me to Chinese temples and ask her to explain Chinese poetry. Even if I would for sure appreciate that, she got no interest and I don't want to bore her. I'm not together with Samantha to learn Chinese. While being a little annoyed right now, I would say that being together with Samantha doesn't help learning any Chinese.

Moon cakes

We celebrated the mid-autumn festival by going down to the Esplanade to look at some free concerts and fireworks. Couples were sitting by the water and kids were walking around with laterns. The was a really nice evening with a lot of atmosphere.

Monday, September 27, 2004


Today I met up with Jeff, an friend from the year at NTU. He went traveling in Europe this year and we talked some about his trip. For those who know him, he is working for a semiconductor producer here in Singapore. Though he just works half the week and get a pretty decent salary (for this country), he think the job is pretty dead-end. We actually managed to sit around almost all day and chat about this and that. We ate Thai food later on and had a nice beer at the Millennia walk. Maybe sitting around chatting is tomorrows plan too.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Saturday afternoon I went to Samantha's cousin's wedding BBQ. I'm still not sure weather the BBQ actually had any clear connection with their wedding, but I think that it was because the couple wanted to show their clear intention to get married sometime in the not to distant future. Although there wasn't no other westener to be seen the people treated me very nice. We had lots of great food and people was smiling. All of them where conversing in mandarin and I was pleased that I could understand almost everything. I'm not really sure what they were thinking of me and maybe they weren't sure what to think themselves either. When we took pictures before leaving, one of the uncles insisted of being in a picture with me. From Samantha's comments later I understood that he wanted to do this since he didn't get to see foreign white people so often! I guess that was made me write that last comment.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Sightseeing PWC

Today I followed Samantha to her workplace at PricewaterhouseCoopers where she works as a tax consultant. Her workplace is on the 19th floor of the PWC skyscraper down in the banking district. As all banking district there's a lot of glass and concrete. Just perfectly clean streets, clean and nice cars parked at the right places, and since this was Saturday it was only a few people going back and forth to their workplace. Normally I guess there would be thousands of little lemmi... eh.. Singaporeans rushing and elbowing to work. Kiasu!!

Not sure what kind of picture I'm trying to paint now. This place IS rather impressive. Can't say anything else. Things work and people have a good life. The air is clean and all throughout the city you find trees and green spaces. Did I complain that there is no ugly graffiti on the walls?

I sat in her office practicing a couple of characters and watching the view from above. Afterwards she took me to a busy little restaurant nearby and had a great curry fish head. I'm still a chicken when it comes to eating the eyes of the fish, but this time I at least tried the lips!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Samantha street

This is where Samantha lives. It's the second last building to the right. The place is called Gillman Heights and is an area of condominiums (fancy name for apartment) with shared swimming pool and sport facilities. Most Singaporeans live in HDB:s (House Development Board), which is state-subsidized apartments and mostly more basic. No graffiti ever to be seen. Just perfectly clean streets, clean and nice cars parked at the right places, and a few people going back and forth to their workplace. The only people that you see outside is children playing table-tennis or badminton, guest-workers from Bangladesh cleaning up the streets. The Filipino or Indonesian maids that are cleaning the apartments are only seen coming and going. The whole place is fenced in and you have to walk through the guarded entrance to get it. There is no such places in Sweden what I know of. Wonder what they are afraid of. I thought the crime rate in this country was very low.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Walkin in town

Spend the whole day walking in town. Started out with going to Tiong Bahru to have an 'old style' breakfast. Then went on to the Chinese embassy to pick up my passport and new visa. Then I went to Lavender to the Immigration Office to see if I could extend my Singaporean visa. When I got there I found out that I needed a 'sponsor', i.e a Singaporean's signature and IC to hand in the application. So, instead I took the MRT (the subway) to the border, walked out, and walked in again. That way I got a new 14-days visa. What a waste of time.

On the way back I wanted to visit the Kranji War Memorial. The bus driver probably misunderstood me even though I showed him the entry in the LP, so we went all the way in to town. I fell asleep more than I dozen times during the trip. So no War Memorial this time around.

In town I had chicken biriyani and ice-coffee in Little India. Then I walked over to Bugis and sat down to watch people. Where I sat there came a series of Chinese sales persons. They put up their stands, talked uninterrupted for about half and hour, packed up, and then came the next person. I tried to understand what they said. The first one was selling an ointment made from snake. He had couple of baskets with snakes with him and sold quite a lot. Thereafter came a guy who sold electric knife sharpener. After that a Buddhist who put up a portable table and started to teach. He spoke some dialect so I couldn't understand anything. He's the guy on the picture.

To compensate instead went to a nearby Buddhist temple. It was a very active place and to my surprise was most people praying my age and girls. So I sat there to 'observe' for a long time ;)
They first get a container with a bunch of sticks and shook them until one fell out. Then they had a little wooden piece that they threw up and watched it separate into two pieces when it landed on the carpet. I know very little what that was about. Considering they were Chinese it probably had something to do with wishing for money or a lot of boy babies.

Saturated with traditional stuff I went to Suntec city, a central shopping paradise and later to City Hall MRT, where I met up with Sam. We took a quick stroll down to the Esplanade and sat chatting by the river and looked at the skyline of the CBD (Central Banking District). After having spend an hour contemplating what to eat we decided to go to Newton and eat seafood.

The Newton food court was a lot more touristy and overpriced than I remembered. Maybe it was the same, but now I have spend so much more time in Singapore that I can notice the difference. Another stingray had to be sacrificed to please us.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Hotpot junkies

Me and Samantha has been eating hotpot twice this week. It is so simple and so good. All the stuff you want can be found in the nearest supermarket and of course this time we had a real electric steam-boat to cook our stuff in. No need to put the whole place on fire like we did back home! We did have to go down to China town to find the sauce and unfortunately we couldn't find the majiang sauce. It doesn't seem like they eat that in Singapore. Such deprived bastards they are. One more reason to go to Beijing.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Kopi and kaya toast for the people.

Google Mail

Spend almost the whole night configuring the gmail account that I got from Eddie (Thanx!). Have tried to upload all my old mails with various results. When I started to dig in to it I realized some of the mailboxes had been somewhat corrupted in the process. Not really sure which program or filter to blame. The Microsoft programs causes a lot of problem with their closed proprietary programs and formats (Hotmail, Outlook, Outlook Express). After having exported all mail to a standardized format (mbox) it is now bye-bye Microsoft.

In the evening I had dinner with Samantha and had wonderful Thai food and kopi with kaya toast! Kaya toast is something that I have just discovered here. It's a kind of spread based on coconut and it is just so good! Together with the coffee it is the ultimate breakfast in this city. At the malls they serve this 'old style' breakfast with floating soft-boiled eggs on a saucer, coffee and toast. If I had discovered this when I was studying here I would probably be 10 kg+ fatter.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Glitches and patches

Realized that I really enjoy sitting studying Chinese text in my own pace. So much more enjoyable than being pushed through massive amounts of text and not have time to really learn it and feel confident about it. Reading like that and a lot of conversations should do it. I'm annoyed when I see signs and boards with lots of characters that I can't read. Reminds me that I have just gotten started.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Samantha DND

Samantha is the one who has black hair, is pretty short, has a silly smile on her face, and wear red clothes...

and has a hat.

Tell me why?

These little pointless lies...
Why are they there?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Just a slow day

Had a slow day surfing to figure out the weird VISA regulations in China and trying to find cheap language schools. My guess is that the really cheap schools don't have good web pages. I can only find expensive ones that put prices in $. I know there are really cheap ones, but I don't know if there are many of them. Another thing that seems hard to figure out is weather any particular school will be able to help you out to get a student VISA. My bet will be to go there with a tourist VISA and try to find someplace that will help me switch. Mid-Autumn festival is coming up so I'm a little bit worried that the Chinese embassy will be closed.

I've managed to sit and study for a good 4-5 hours. Later I sat outside in a nearby food court and had HK noodles and another kopi. It rains pretty heavy in the afternoons with a lot of thunder and when it clears the humidity is very high. We have AC in the room and it makes it very comfortable to sit and read.

Samantha said she felt sick today and had a headache. She works all day and comes home very tired. Poor baby. I'm trying not to make her feel stressed over that she can't be with me. I knew she would be busy, but now we have no quality time at all. The few hours we have during the coming weekend has to be maximized to "make it up". Usually a recipe for not having such a good time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Good ol' Singapore

Had a nice afternoon evening by myself walking through one of the numerous shopping centers in Singapore. They are all pretty much the same with similar stores, a couple of food centers, bakeries, a supermarket, hairdressers, and a cinema complex on the top floor. After shopping a few things, gotten myself a haircut (first in like 3 months!), and got a new phone card, a relaxed with a nice sweet "kopi" outside. Kopi is a super sweet kind of coffee they have here. For a Swedish black coffee drinking guy it takes about 6 months to get used it and then enjoy it. I like it.

Samantha is working really late and has dance practice for some show at her upcoming DND ("Dinner and Dance", Singaporeans use zillions of acronyms). I'm not invited. She says no one else will bring their boyfriend/girlfriend, she says her manager things she is to junior to bring her boyfriend, and she says that she thinks there will be a lot of gossiping about her if she brings her white boyfriend. I'm not sure what to think. Maybe I just don't understand what a DND is all about.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Warmth (Singapore)

I have arrived in S'pore and it feels both a little bit exotic and a little bit at home. Since I arrive in Singapore 4am Monday morning I managed to surprise Samantha by calling her from the taxi and ask for the fare. I couldn't get any money out from my cards. She in turn had to wake up her flat mates since she didn't have any money either. Great start. She didn't seem too unhappy though.

Today I slept way late in the afternoon. Met up with Sam after she finished work and had dinner together with some old friends of hers. Sam looks really smart in her office gear and her office is smack downtown in the banking district of Singapore. Lots of glass and concrete.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Train days (KL, Malaysia)

The flight was alright but pretty boring. Can't even remember the names of the movies, but they were really boring too. Did manage to read some.

Had a nice day in Bangkok and I took a stroll around the Chinese quarters and had some good food in one of the many street stalls. The heat was intense and I was completely soaked of sweat when I got back to the station. Took a really nice shower before I jumped on the train down to Butterworth.

We reached Butterworth by noon and instead of taking the next night train to KL I took the first bus I could find with the hope that I could reach Singapore. In KL I was told that I could reach JB, the Malaysian border city, by midnight. By that time there is no public transport to Singapore, so I'm taking the next night bus instead. Tomorrow morning I will be in Singapore.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Off I go

This will be the last post from Värnamo. I will be leaving in 15 minutes. Night-bus to Stockholm and then flight on to Bangkok tomorrow at 2pm.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The flight is booked

Having had my last appointment this morning I booked a flight to China over Singapore. I've now called and written to 8 CEO:s and personally visited five of them. I've offered them to help out if there is something of interest showing up in China. With some luck there might be something concrete out if it.

I will fly this coming Friday. The ticket is to Beijing with a stay-over in Bangkok. From Bangkok I will probably take train and busses down to Singapore. If I can find a REALLY cheap flight with Neverheardofistan Airlines of Death, I might take that.

This summer of old ladies, fishing, watching TV, family, and Samantha on adventure is coming to an end. New year in China is about to start.

Monday, September 06, 2004


Been watching the Swedish version of American Idol, "Idol 2004". I've been on an audition when trying out for the high-school musical during my exchange year 2003. Guess that's why the show caught my attention. They asked us to come out one by one in the big auditorium. Out there was just the director and a woman by a piano. Jesus. I had just been pulled in by a couple of friends and thought I just join for fun. This was way to serious. Thing is, I had never sung alone like that for real. Singing a whole song solo in a absolutely quiet auditorium without any help except a key from the piano. Thought it would be pretty relaxed. Instead the director was sitting in the dark a couple of rows back without saying a word. Well, I sang from the bottom of my heart! Laud and clear(?). Was all red and sweaty when I was finished. They put me in the choir. Bastards.

Being home just waiting around is not good for me. I become a pretty nasty irritated person. Concerning my relationship with my parents I have to admit that I haven't been doing my part. I guess that can be explained by partly laziness and partly bitterness and anger. Since I'm an adult and I have put most of this stuff behind me, maybe I should act like one too. Thing is... adults are just big children that are pretending. Really. Leave me here in this house a couple of weeks and I regress back to the disobedient, stubborn, angry old teenage me. Well, a little bit more than usual one if you didn't think that was a change. The solution? I go away. Come back for shorter periods and try harder during that time. Think that is the best way to deal with it.

Friday, September 03, 2004

China this, China that

Last couple of days I've felt pretty crappy. Probably because I still have very bad sleeping and eating habits. Played tennis with Jakob, Johanna's boyfriend, yesterday and today and he kicked my ass. Sucks. Couldn't concentrate at all. It made me feel better today though.

Today's little activity was another appointment. My fourth one now. This guy has been four years in China and been hiring people, setting up factories, and been meeting a lot of officials. It was pretty interesting to chat with him, but I have no idea what he wanted out of the whole thing. We sat there and chatted for a couple of hours about this and that. He never really asked me much about what I could do for him and I don't think he will be very interested. Think he was mostly interested in a way spending his time not working and just sitting around and chatting about good ol'times and drink coffee. I didn't mind either I guess. He gave me a little insight into how it had been working in a Chinese organization. Difficulties to think outside the box, heavy intriguing, and power struggles. Seems pretty hopeless to me for a laowai to get involved in that mess and he agreed on that. He said it was impossible to get project groups to work since that would involve people from different departments, and the manager for that department would feel that his power would be eroded and people would therefore start obstructing other people's work. I've heard about that stuff before from people in the MBA-courses at NTU. Still he was very impressed how well it had worked when people were just doing their thing. One interesting thing was that he besides not knowing any Chinese couldn't speak any good English either. That puts a little doubt on what he actually been doing. How the hell could he get anything done?! Think most of his interacting has been with people that has been trying to kiss-up to him. That shouldn't be too hard I guess. Afterwards we agreed that to understand all the nuances in the Chinese social game you have to be born Chinese.

Think this coming week I will be finish with this calling-around-meeting-middle-aged-guys thing and can take a flight out of here.

Good intentions

My sister Tina send me a mail saying that she was sad to read what I had written about my parents and didn't think it was nice to read at all. I'm sorry for that, but I have chosen this forum to be pretty direct and honest. Stefan also asked me the other day if it was common to bring up so private stuff in a blog, and actually, I don't know. Right now I just read two other. John's and Samantha's. Their writing has given me a lot of insight to who they are and that is something I want to give others too. In the long run I think that will be better for everyone. If someone bothers to read it, I guess that is someone that at least care a bit about me and therefore I trust them with my thoughts. It's a way for me to keep in touch and let people know how I change and develop. If I ever get burned in some way for what I have written, I still think I can stand up for it all. I believe that this might help to clear things rather than cause new misunderstandings. There are things that I won't write here because it is too private, but I try not to censor myself as much as I can. It would actually be too boring to write it and I guess read it if I was just touching politically correct subjects. I have enough of that in the spiritually and mentally suffocating atmosphere here at home.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Calling the list

Yeah, I guess I should start a separate blog about my business activities so maybe one or two bored people actually bother to read this crap. I guess that was sort of the point from the start. I will consider it if it goes on too long. Had my first appointment this morning with a company. Since that went all right, I started to call up the rest of the people on my little list. More on that later.

For me this thinking of career stuff and trying to figure out something to sell has it's been a little of a novelty. I guess I like it, though I find it very tiring to call people I don't know and try to get into some sort of discussion so I can figure out something I can help them out with. It really hasn't been much of a problem since some of them had read the newspaper article and all of them have been to China. So they have been quite interested in discussion anything from "how does a Chinese computer work?" to "isn't it horrible that 25 year olds are already worn down by working in a factory there?"