Friday, December 31, 2004

*** Unforgettable moments 2004 ***


Here is my unforgettable moments during 2004:

JanuarySaga, Stefan, and Toba came to Beijing to see me!
FebruaryFight with Mr. Evil and the great apartment show-down
MarchThe hard break-up with Samantha.
Columbian Coffee with Sandra
AprilThe international festival at Peking University
MayThe amazing trip to Mongolia with Scott
JuneFinding out about "Svante"
Eating sticky rice with XiaoWuzi.
JulyBiking with Sam in Värnamo. Going to Halmstad and Malmö together
AugustWorking in the old people's home. The departure of Svea.
SeptemberEating Kaya toast in S'pore
OctoberComing back to Beijing and moving in with Mr Beijing Bachelor
NovemberVisit DongZhuang Village w WangJun
DecemberMeeting ZhangWen.
Taking part in the psychedelic GongFu-show
The definite break-up

Thoughts about the year

The main event during 2004 have of course been that I went back to China for a second round. It has further stretching my financial situation by delaying my second entry in the work market and I will have to get some income the next year to make it. Staying away means getting more and more distant to friends and family at home and risking a future with a well-paid secure job for a more risky option. Then again, even if I come home and I'll be on the dole eating 'falukorv' (a fat Swedish sausage) and macaroni every day and living in a shack, I won't regret it. This is way right choice for me. I really like having a guy playing 'Erhu' outside the house where I'm living.

A year riding the emotional roller-coaster with Samantha finally came to a stop. In the turmoil some people that I never wished any harm to got hurt. She came to Europe and visited my home, visited me in Beijing, and I went to Singapore. 2 years of constantly being on my mind and in my heart. In the end we caused more harm to each other than happiness. I will miss our good times.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Deja Vu

Deja Vu

Scott is right. I'm reliving the last year. Going to the same places, meeting the same people, doing the same things. I hate him for pointing that out. This stay is supposed to be adventurous and daring, not some old routine...

On the 29th I went to do an advertisement. It was the third shooting job this time around. For the same company that we did last year. Some car repair school close to Tianjin. Last year we faked a huge conference with more than 400 faked business people. This time around we had to
stand next to the Chinese students and teachers and "instruct" them. Felt so stupid. The whole thing is really bordering to fraud. The 20000 students in the school pay RMB 5000 each to take a 3 months course at the school, and I guarantee you that there won't be no foreign instructors there for them.

Most of the foreigners that do these things are pretty interesting though some I have to say are rather sad. Middle aged guy who has married a Chinese girl. His Chinese was limited to counting
to ten, 'hello', and 'thanks' in Chinese after several years in the country. I guess he would only use the last one as a sarcasm. The Polish guy who've stayed 5 years in China and claimed to have given up a $3000/month salary in a Chinese company. Somehow I didn't quite belive
him. Now they were making a living by having a white skin.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry X-Mcs

Christmas came and went. The metropolitan Chinese have all absorbed this tradition making it a craze. Everybody has to go out to drink and eat, choking the streets with cars making it a city-wide traffic jam, and making it impossible to get a seat in a decent restaurant without having reserved weeks ago. A couple of years ago the only one that cared about this Western holiday was the young and the foreign. Now it involves everybody. It has become a way to meet your business partners, to build relationships with your employee, an excuse to get out and get drunk, but most of all an excuse to go out with a girl on a date. As far as I know there's nothing going on in people's homes. No decoration, no gift giving, no cooking food, eating cakes. It has transformed to a new tradition with little in common with the tradition I know, except for the date.

I spend most of the day reading in a cafe and had dinner with a friend. Ok, I have to be honest. We actually had dinner at McDonald's. Yep. Christmas dinner at McDonald's. Raps up the Christmas mood around here. Christmas is one of the biggest disadvantages of being away from home. There is no good remedy and there is just no good way to tackle it.

Apartment fight

First day in my new room and I wake up hearing screams and shouts. The woman I rent the room from and who also lives in the apartment, were fighting with the man who was moving out from the other room. The argument went on for several hours and I was waiting patiently in my room. For I while I was really concerned that it would turn violent. At times they were pushing each other and fighting for something that I think was a key, bumping around hitting furniture and my door. I REALLY didn't want to get involved, but when it seemed to turn really ugly I made a little quick entry to the living room and told them "This is not my problem, but let's act as adults shall we"... They stopped wrestling and I went back to my room pleased with my little contribution to world peace. After all, since last apartment fight, I have tons of experience and know how to deal with situations like that. Not. They continued the argument for another hour or so, until the man said he would go to the police, and she said 'fine'. After a while some mediators, some female friends came storming in and started all over again. After another long while they also left.

TianMengYuan, the woman who rents the apartment is really nice. She seems to be very easy going and her roundish boyfriend also seems to be very friendly. Since there is only three rooms, two bed rooms and a large living-room, she stays in a tent (!!) in the living room. The surprises in this country never ends.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The new place

The new place

Since it seems like I'm staying in Beijing and might start working I decided to move. Using the reliable Peking University BBS, I quickly found a suitable one. I'll be sharing it with three people, one will be living in the large living room. TianMengYuan in the picture is the one who has the contract and is working as some sort of hiking guide. The third person is yet to be found. It's got TV, furniture, washing-machine, 24h hot water, western style toilet, balcony, kitchen, is newly renovated and clean. It will set me back 1000 RMB/month, not including the 98 RMB for internet connectivity plus some 30-40 RMB for heat, water, electricity.

It is pretty close to Wudaokou, where the subway and my school is. It is close to where Samuel was living for a while. Walk down 政府路 to the east, past the subway in 五道口, turn right opposite to 语言学院, walk straight then ask somebody for 展春园.

I live in 展春园9号3门501

Welcome by if you are in the neigborhood. I'm moving in tomorrow.

My 300 RMB room

My 300 RMB room. This has been my bed for the last three months. I'm still having the mosquito net up since the last mosquitoes managed somehow to live on in our room until really recently. On the table is plates with food that my room mates eats from time to time. Often he cooks every three days and then eats from it during the coming two days. He's got a little rice cooker next to my bed where he heats it up. I have to be careful not to hang up things close to that part of the bed since they will smell like the food from the cooker. On the table you can also see the bottles of various skin products that the guy sprays on himself during the evening. I have no idea what it actually is and I think it is rather rare among Chinese guys.

The heater is very warm and easily compensate for the very think windows. We sometimes have to open up a little to make it more comfortable!

This is how it looks when coming in from the outside door. I live on the 3rd floor of one of the common rather depressing looking soviet-style apartment blocks. The kitchen is right ahead, my room to the left, and the other room to the right.

Even if it is the 3rd floor the guys still drags their bike up. Probably a good move since otherwise they would be stolen rather quickly. It doesn't really make the place more cozy though. The most compelling thing about the whole place is that there is a piano there!! I have no idea what it is doing there.

This is where I fight for some space to wash my face and brush my teeth during the morning rush. In the window you will find slices of meat, vegetables, oils, eating utensils, toothbrushes, washing powder, and ErGuoTou (Chinese rice alcohol).

The cooking spot. I don't think it has ever been cleaned. This is the saddest part in a pretty sad apartment. I'm not really sure how Chinese perceive this. My flatmates, their guests, and their girlfriends don't seem to think twice about it, but for example WangJun said she wouldn't want to live in a place like this. I'm still wondering if it has to do that it is Chinese males or that it is people that come from the country side. Maybe it takes both. Maybe I shouldn't generalize. It would be pretty easy to clean it up.

Where the the three other guys are eating, sleeping and watching TV.

This is the toilet and shower. It smells BAD and is freezing cold. The shower has to be turned on 30 min in advance if you want hot water. When showering only a small spray reaches desired place because the water leaks out in all directions! In the corner is the common "trash corner".

If you wonder why I live in this place, read my previous post.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Preparing project

Spend the whole day surfin, trying to figure out a little about the telecom market in China. It seems like my professional career in China will start out with a little freelance project for the previous mentioned company. Not really what I wanted, but at least something. I'll have a meeting on Thursday. Guess I will find out more then.

Gongfu action

Gongfu action

Performance of our exchange-students-made-gongfu-artist show in the 100-years-anniversary-hall at Peking University

We made the lingdaos scream, the girls faint, and DaWangLaoShi cry. Man, we were good. Scott, you pathetic looser, you should have been there.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Lucia mingling

Lucia mingling

ZhangWen, Me, and my best buddy the ambassador.

Lucia at the embassy

Lucia at the embassy

Yesterday was the Swedish Lucia festival. I went down to the embassy
to watch the students from the Swedish school sing some songs, eat
"lussekatter" (yellow bun with saffron) and "pepparkakor" (ginger
cookies), and drink glogg (a hot, sweet drink).

I mingled with the other expats, expat's wives, students, students'
Chinese girlfriends, and Chinese studying Swedish. It's quite a mix of
people coming to these events and I've got a feeling that most of them
know each other. I'm starting to recognize quite a few of them too.

Got a job?

Lately I've been checking out the That's Beijing's website for job ads and I've send in my CV to a couple of 'em. I pretty soon got called to another interview. This time it was an American consultant company and after some consideration I realized I needed a suit. Problem was that the interview was this last Thursday and we had our "cool" gongfu performance on Wednesday. So during the 3 hour break in the afternoon I went to buy a suit, shirt, tie, and shoes. After a quick taxi ride, a quick run around a shopping mall, and 3000 kuai poorer, JiaBao the power shopper arrived back just in time for the performance. (JiaBao is my Chinese name)

Next day after too little sleep I managed to get up, put on the gear and get into a taxi. The place was hard to find since I had only been given the English name of the building, but after running a whole block I made it just in time. The company is called Alliance Digital and is specialized in introducing software and telecom companies to the Chinese market. When talking to the manager it all sounded like I was back in the times of the IT boom a couple of years ago. Maybe this will be a ride on the greatest bubble of all time, the IT bubble on top of the Chinese bubble! God knows how much the economy here is hyped and pumped up by foreign investment and speculation.

The American guy I talked to was really nice and the small company could possible be a great opportunity. He started out by asking my a bunch of the traditional interview questions, but pretty soon we started talking like I've already got the job. We discussed what kind of position would be suitable and when I could start. When I left I was absolutely sure I got the job. Now I'm not really that sure. I'm waiting for them to get back to me. I've mailed with a couple of questions. Guess we will see in a couple of days. Best case I well start working in a couple of weeks.

Gongfu masters

Gongfu masters

Wednesday I participated in the show that the exchange students at
Peking University put up. In the end it wasn't as horrible as I had
anticipated. Looking at a video recording of it, I felt a little
stupid for complaining about it. The obvious mistakes that you easily
spot being on stage didn't really matter. In fact, I couldn't spot
myself at all! Not even a waving hand! In the final performance I
jumped and waved hands like crazy with the hope that someone would
spot a little movement in the background. Guess if you take a bunch of
people, make them all wear same colorful clothes, make them do
syncronized moves, add some smoke, and put them on a decorated stage,
it will look alright in this kind of galas that are mass-produced in
this country.

Or maybe I have spend to much time in this country and the tackiness
has turned to normal... My hope is that it is not a permanent damage.

CCTV Stars

CCTV Stars

Just like last year, after our performance in the great memorial hall
of Peking University most of the troup got asked to go to CCTV and
record the spectacle. It turned out to be pretty much the same show as
last year with a lot of the acts being roughly similar. It was a made
more professional with the addition of well-known TV personalities
togehter with some really good foreign Chinese speakers. The show this
year was made into a very well-rehersed faked game-show, an
improvement from last years serial of (bad) performances from various

We were made to sit on the stage and on command come up and dance with
the various acts. As obidient little foreigners we are, we took part
in the stupified propaganda event, and clapped, jumped around, and
looked as happy as ever. China is after all a self proclaimed
"peace-loving" country, so how can people be anything but happy here?

Oh, I almost forgot. I've finally sen HIM! The man, the legend, the
immortal, the DaShan ("Big Mountain"). DaShan is a Canadian guy that
speaks very good Chinese. He might be the most famous foreigner in
China and he has hosted numerous talk-shows on TV and sold his face to
numerous advertisments. He wasn't in our show but I saw him in the
hallway outside. Waiting outside was a whole bunch of other supposibly
famous people (I was told), well-trained little children, and white,
skinny, model girls. 90% of the population judging by frequency of
their kind appearing on television.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Looking out the window

I've been here before, sitting looking out the window trying to find a way to escape the feelings inside. It's the stillness and hurt after having removed something that has been so close to me. She was a part of my daily life, my daily routine, and all the time with me in my thoughts.

Again all the reasons and excuses for my worries and anger seems futile and stupid. Again my shortcomings are painfully exposed.

The distrust and frustration have finally taken its toll on us. To love someone that you don't trust is a curse. We both failed something that could have been so good.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Break up

Me and Samantha have broken up after being together for almost two years.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

I've finished my first paid modeling job during this trip. We headed
off with taxi at 9.30 pm, picked up some other beautiful foreigners,
and headed to an newly built luxurious apartment complex. Got some
make up, put on a suit, and voila, I'm a happy successful business
person mingling with my fellow happy resident friends in our happy
luxury 10000RMB/m^2 home. Most attention seems to go to what color
there should be in the fake drinks and to replace the lemon slice of
the happy Chinese girl that are the main figure, together with her
happy expat guy.

The highlight of the evening was when a translator guy came up and
told us to be 'more intense', immediately starting jokes from the
famous scene in 'Lost in Translation'.

As expected we got home later then expected and with less money then
expected. I was in bed around 4.20 am with an addition of 500 RMB to