On The Road Again

After returning to Shanghai On October 9, I had three days of catching up with laundry, getting myself sorted and getting over jetlag. I then headed off to Singapore where I’m currently hanging out for the week. The mission is to complete my PR application. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I’m staying near Bugis, a very colourful local area close to where Christoph used to live when he first moved to Asia. There is the Sri Krishna Hindu Temple which is located just two doors away from the Kwan Im Thong Hood Choo Buddhist Temple. And not too far is Little India and Arab Street. I love the melting pot of cultures and religions and how everyone just gets along with each other and life. After so much time spent in China, it is so refreshing for me to meet and speak with such friendly and polite people everywhere I go here. I can chat with just about anyone and language is not a barrier and neither is culture.

However, what is new to me is the recent influx of Vietnamese residents. I was super surprised and happy to hear the southern Vietnamese language being being used. With Teo Chiew, Mandarin, English and now Vietnamese being spoken… I feel like I could very easily fit into the mix :o)

Golden Week

This is now my last weekend in Berlin before I finally head back to Shanghai. I’ve had an epic summer sojourn and have loved being outdoors for most of the summer and catching up with friends and family. Autumn has arrived, the winter jackets are now out and I am ready to get back to my regular China schedule :o)

Catching the last rays of the day during my walk.

Catching the last rays of the day during my walk.

Autumn offers such amazing colours. The above view stopped me in my tracks on my walk today and I could not help but stand and soak it all in. Enjoy the beauty of nature and the magic of the changing seasons.

Summer of ‘19

I am a few posts overdue due to an excellent summer spent in Berlin and Spain. After our Berlin visitors, Christoph and I had a few days together to enjoy outings on our bikes under the sun. Christoph then went back to work whereas I went to Bilbao to start my trip through Spain. My very first trip to Europe was in 2005 and I was able to spend a week in Madrid and Barcelona, both of which I loved. This time round I had three weeks in total and split my trip into three legs. First leg was Bilbao and San Sebastian, second leg was a road trip from Malaga to Valencia and the third leg was Mallorca. I originally planned it as a solo trip but told my various friends of my summer plan and gave everyone an open invitation to join me. In the end, I count myself truly lucky to have such wonderful travel keen friends as I serendipitously had a travel buddy for each leg of my trip! Thank you MP, SS and RR for keeping me company, allowing me to use my bad Spanish and for simply being lovely human beings.

I drove 1,478 kms with SS from Malaga to Valencia with my random route.

I drove 1,478 kms with SS from Malaga to Valencia with my random route.

My two wishes for Bilbao was to visit the Guggenheim Museum and to see what all the fuss was about San Sebastian. I now understand why people visit these two places. The Guggenheim blew me away and San Sebastian was so picturesque. Malaga to Valencia was a road trip so I could discover why so many people retire to southern Spain and to visit the Alhambra Palace. I now also understand why and appreciate the reasons and many ways in which people live in southern Spain. The Alhambra also blew me away, it was magnificent in every way. I felt overwhelmed by the architecture, craftsmanship and history; it’s truly amazing. Finally Mallorca was a rest stop with a couple of visits with contacts RR and I had there. We rented a car for a day and drove the western coastline which was spectacular, had dinner on a little terrace in a little village. Beautiful.

I am now back in Berlin with Christoph who arrived yesterday. China is celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival which gives Christoph a few days off. Summer is over but being together again after four weeks apart makes the time here just as sweet. So while we hang out in Berlin, here are some images from my Spanish trip.

Update: This comes after I uploaded my blog post and I am shocked by the news of the floods in Spain. The areas affected were areas that SS and I drove through and got to meet and talk to people who live there. I hope that they are keeping safe.

Summer Days

Last week we rented a car to visit Christoph’s mum up north of Hamburg. We decided to use the opportunity with the car to do some exploring on the way back to Berlin. We therefore, drove through Lübeck and Schwerin; both wonderful cities.

Lübeck is home to Christoph’s favourite chocolate-covered marzipan and due to it’s location at the mouth of the Trave, has a rich trading history. The old town is UNESCO Heritage listed due to the extensive brick Gothic architecture. When we walked through the old town, you could really see how wealthy that city must have been back in the day. Buildings dating back to nearly 1,000 years are still standing, have been restored and are presently used for businesses and dwellings. One of the oldest buildings in the city is the Holy Spirit Hospital (built in 1286) which is believed to be one of the oldest social institutions in the world. Another highlight was the European Hansemuseum which has been restored and updated. It shows us how important architecture is in helping us keep the stories of times long forgotten alive.

Lübeck is a small city so it didn’t take us long to walk around the historic centre. On our way back to our hotel, we then had the luck of stumbling into a beer festival hosted by one of the local breweries. There were loads of people in attendance, food and drink stalls galore and best of all, a band playing on a floating pontoon. The artist playing was Florian Künstler and he was really good! It was such an unexpectedly nice way spend the evening; sitting by a river, drinking a G&T and enjoying great live music.

Top left and clockwise: Lübeck’s Holstentor Gate (built 1478), Christoph enjoying the music, Schwerin Palace and getting eggs from the source!

Top left and clockwise: Lübeck’s Holstentor Gate (built 1478), Christoph enjoying the music, Schwerin Palace and getting eggs from the source!

After Lübeck we drove to Schwerin. We had no idea what was there and so Christoph drove in the direction of the city centre and parked the car. There was not much around us and we thought…hmmm…Schwerin doesn’t look like much. So this is when your mobile phone comes in handy. I looked up the city and directed us towards the Schwerin Palace. We parked again and went by foot towards the castle. This turned into a magnificent walk through a picturesque town and around a fabulously restored castle and town centre. Beautiful! The first spot we parked at was only three blocks away from all the beauty the town had to offer! We were so glad we didn’t give up after the first stop. The Palace (also known as the Castle) was first recorded in history in AD 973!!! Amazing!

The afternoon drew close and so we hopped back in the car and hit the road. I had wanted to pick up some fresh eggs for a recipe I have and so was constantly keeping an eye out for chicken farms. We found one and after I collected my eggs from the sales point, I went over to thank the chickens for their hard work. Have you ever seen happier or healthier chickens? These ladies were all clucking away and free-ranging as chickens do. Happy Days :o)

Berlin Summer

Happy Swiss National Day everyone and greetings from Berlin! It’s great to be back in our neighbourhood, to catch up with our local friends as well as our visiting friends.

Top left and clockwise; Christoph and I joined the party on Christopher Street Day, I finally got to hoon around the city with friends in my little Hot Rod, sharing the fun of bouldering with little AG and Christoph giving AH a lift when she was visiting us with her dad, CH.

Top left and clockwise; Christoph and I joined the party on Christopher Street Day, I finally got to hoon around the city with friends in my little Hot Rod, sharing the fun of bouldering with little AG and Christoph giving AH a lift when she was visiting us with her dad, CH.

Despite the unpredictable weather, we’ve been thoroughly enjoying being outdoors, on our bikes and sharing our love of Berlin with our wonderful friends. We have another few days with our current visitor, BF, and then we’ll head north to visit Christoph’s mum.

A good friend told me a long time ago that the three keys to happiness is to have someone to love, something to do each day and something to look forward to. We try to keep that in mind whenever we make plans and I can tell you that so far, this summer has been a blast! Hope your summer (or winter, for those in the southern hemisphere) is too! Happy Days!

Peppa Pig To The Rescue

It’s been two weeks since the implementation of Shanghai’s new garbage sorting regulations and so far we’ve had a number of companies, garbage collection points and residents getting fined for not sorting their trash correctly. We’ve also had lots of arguments and one reported case of a garbage regulation volunteer being attacked and choked for reprimanding a resident.

You may have some difficulties too because some of the regulations are not too clear and from what I’ve heard, are already being reviewed by the authorities. However, in order to simplify the rules for kids, we’ve had Peppa Pig come to the rescue!

Helpful Peppa Pig (Image source, That’s Shanghai)

Helpful Peppa Pig (Image source, That’s Shanghai)

Food Waste; Can Peppa Pig eat it? Residual Waste; Would Peppa Pig want to eat it? Hazardous Waste; Would Peppa Pig die if she ate it? Recyclable Waste; Can Peppa Pig make money from it? These four simple questions actually help me!!! hihihi

Hunchbacks of Our Time

When I commute to my various activities each day, all I see around me is everyone's eyes glued to their devices. I'm sure it's not happnening only here in Shanghai but in most countries and cities.

99% of train commuters are staring at their devices, people drive while looking at phones in their hands, scooter riders staring at their phones and people walking while staring at their phones. All this screentime while moving about in sometimes dangerous situations makes me cringe. It'll be very interesting to find out how many accidents occur on a daily basis due to 'not paying attention to what you're doing because you were staring at your phone'.

Can’t get enough.

Can’t get enough.

I was coincidently walking behind the girl above for about two blocks towards the subway station. She was staring at her phone the entire time without a clue as to what was happening around her, she crossed the road while still staring at her phone! If we would have been anywhere else but in Shanghai, with all the CCTV cameras, it would have been super simple to mug her and run off without her even reacting. I overtook her on the sidewalk as it was really annoying being stuck behind her lacklustre walking in narrow laneways. I then saw her come down the stairs at the subway station and immediately plopped herself down to stare at her phone some more. This moving with blinkers on evokes a sense of sadness in me to see how cut-off we poeple have become from one another and our surroundings.

The hunchback generation.

The hunchback generation.

I went to take a seat to wait for my friend and saw these three. They look like they’re asleep or something like that but no they were not asleep, they were just on their phones. Gone are the days of drumming up casual conversations with strangers or even just acknowledging the people in your vicinity. On more than the one occasion, I’ve noticed how people would not be able to describe the person sitting next to them other than it was a man or a woman. But to give a useful description of a person would be impossible for many.

I hope we are able to recognise how regressed this all is and make a real conscious effort to engage with those around us; even a little eye contact with a nod of acknowledgement would be a step forward (or backwards to the ‘good old days’).

Recycling Revolution

Shanghai residents are all gearing up for a massive recycling overhaul. Since this past month, the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau has been releasing official domestic garbage sorting and dumping guidelines to the general public. It will take time for everyone to naturally be conscious of their garbage habits but I hope this initiative will be followed through with an effective positive outcome for the future.

The new regulations will come into effect on July 1 and we are seeing every building and garbage collection point getting themselves ready for the change. Friends have also told me of neighbourhood door-door knocking with brochures in hand to help clarify the guidelines for residents. Have a look at the charts below and see if they are clear enough. Individuals can be fined up to 200 rmb for failing to sort garbage. Last year, residents were fined for not slowing down at yellow traffic lights and for honking, so garbage sorting should eventually work as well.

It’s quite a detailed chart no? With very specific Asian ingredients.

It’s quite a detailed chart no? With very specific Asian ingredients.

Now I know were to put my hair but I’m not sure if slag is saliva or something else? 

Now I know were to put my hair but I’m not sure if slag is saliva or something else? 

The English translations have been very well done overall. 

The English translations have been very well done overall. 

I’m really hoping that the recyclables will really be recycled. 

I’m really hoping that the recyclables will really be recycled. 

With larger items like sofas, mattresses, fridges etc. There will be collection points where people can drop those off. I’ve also been told that I won’t be able to discard any leftover food in the public trash cans and will have to keep it with me until I come across a food waste bin. Shanghai has been trying to reduce food waste in restaurants this past year and so this will hopefully help with that as well.

New bins at Ikea today. 

New bins at Ikea today. 

This will be a very interesting exercise to witness and participate in and by the time we leave Shanghai, this city is perhaps going to green clean.