A lesson taught first hand

Sonntag, 14.10.2012

Chinary 6, Never trust again!?

Slowly settling down

 

Dear readers,

 

I dearly apologize again for taking this huge break of writing to you, but here are so many more interesting things to do than writing a blog :D

Well in my defense I have to say things calmed down here as well. During the week I started to have a routine and even the fancy city of Shanghai becomes more familiar to me.

My university classes are mainly a joke, where the professors speak worse English than I do and are overwhelmed by European students who ask questions at some points.

At least I don’t have many courses, so that I can focus on my daily life and on my long weekend, which starts at Thursday 6pm and ends on Monday half past 1pm.

I have been doing quite some sightseeing within Shanghai already so this is going to be the main part of this brief blog entry.

-          So far I have been to the Ocean Aquarium in Shanghai, which has been pretty decent. It is a like a zoo, but for fish. Main attraction here are long tunnels made out of glass which offer a spectacular close up view on sharks and other swimming stuff :D

I have seen already 2-3 of those and I have to say Shanghai did a poor job, but I could see some fish I haven’t seen before. Downside of this visit has been that Louis and me were squeezed into those tunnels with a million Chinese people and the air felt very thin during the middle part.

-          I also took a tour up to the highest building in China (nr. 4 in the World), the Shanghai World Financial Center. It is with his 492 meters height  since 2007 the tallest. The tour cost as a student only 100rmb (12euro) and was very impressive. I went there in the afternoon so that I can see Shanghai at its most impressive sight, when the lights are turned on.

The tour took me up to the 97 floor, which is at the bottom of the “whole”. The view there has been impressive already. At the 100floor my stomach was a bit uneasy to be honest. The sides and parts of the floor are made of glass… scaarrryyyy^^

I met two nice Germans up there and we went for further sightseeing as a group.

It has been the first time I could successfully use my Chinese :D okok I still supported my heroic speech with intense gestures, but ...

They understood…!

So far I have done most sightseeing with Louis, a belgium guy who is kinda nice.
Even in the future I see us going on trips together since he likes hiking as much as I do J

Let me finish this entry with my visit of “the Old Street”. It is a more than just one road… it is a small district in which loads of touristic shops sell overpriced food, souvenirs  and other useless stuff. BUUUTTT since I am a tourist… it was just fine :D

We went on a Saturday, which means the Chinese are going to invade  their own touristic attractions again… yes… it was crowded… not “aquarium tunnel”-crowded, but annoyingly crowded.

A thing you wish for as a tourist is, that if you visit a temple or a garden, that you can get a tiny bit of the peace and atmosphere the place has to offer… this becomes really impossible if I have to watch an almighty Buddha statue from 2000meter distance…looking over 10000000chinese heads.

The place itself was magnificent.  The temple was beautifully build, which charming areas around each corner. The shopping streets looked really old fashioned with its red lanterns and golden dragons everywhere.

On our way home we met some nice Chinese students from Beijing. They invited us to a tea-ceremony. It was really nice and we had a nice time there. They explained a lot to us, e.g. where the tea is coming from, how it is made and their rituals as well. We sacrificed to the tea god and stroke a frog. The tea tasted amazing.y

Well until the end at least…

I paid almost 70euro for that…

We just got ripped off and I didn’t even notice it. I don’t know why I paid. I don’t know why…
Thinking back it is just my innocence and naivety. I would not get ripped off like that in Germany.

Not in such a nice way :D

Well I learned my lesson… I guess…

STUPID FAKE STUDENTS… I CURSE YOUUUUU

Alright… enough of that.

Next time I am going to write about my first holiday trip to Hangzhou a small city (8,3mio inhabitants) close to Shanghai. University is getting more work now. I have to start writing my papers and so on.

I hope everyone is very well and in addition I hope to see you all soon or at least someday!

Take good care of yourself!!

Sincerely Daniel

Day 5 Chinary

Freitag, 07.09.2012

Just going to shop, or am i?

Eden can be found everywhere

 

Woke up early, Shawn was still sleeping as always. He is quiet messy, but I think its fine with me. I started cleaning and tidying up, to make myself more comfortable. You know how this is right, things are sometimes only clean, if you cleaned them yourself :D

I started looking around for things I needed to live here. So next next would be a supermarket, since I needed some bedding and blankets for the next night. Shawn woke up around 12ish, so I asked him about the shopping possibilities around here. Luckily his answer for everything was Walmart^^

He is one lazy guy :D So I took my bag and started walking. My street, the one I live in, is really nice, it has loads of cafes, restaurants and outlet stores from many brands here. It is a posh area and is called University Avenue or as we say it “ Daxue lu “ (daschue lu spoken). I had to walk about 10 minutes to cross the bridge and get to the middlesized shopping area, where you can find everything for living. So I started searching for my Walmart…

After half an hour I finally found it.

From the outside I just saw huge amounts of people going in and out.

I went in and it was simply amazing! It is just like a big supermarket in Germany, a place where you can find almost everything. First floor is for food, second for dryed food, drinks and other stuff, 3rd floor is for bedding, cleaning and more. I started in the first floor… my favourit!

I loved this place. I walked through stands of huge amounts of articles I couldn’t define. So much food to try out!! AMAZIIIIINNGGGGGGGGG

I first went to the dairy products, which totally lack of variety here and are 4 times as expensive. Afterwards I went to the veggies. It started to get more interesting in here, since even our vegetables look so much different here. For the first time, I thought, it would be best to stick to stuff I know.

From there I spotted loads of fishtanks, so I went over there. There were about 4 huge tanks with big, tiny, dead and living fish or maritime animals. I looked at every one of them. A bit disturbing was to see dead turtles without their shell.

After that I went to the fruit stands. Total different setting then in Germany. They differ between vacuum sealed fruit and normal ones. The sealed fruits are nicely sorted on a stand, the lose fruits are put together like a pyramid on a table for each kind of fruit. Those pyramids are about 1meter high. I bought at least 2 of everything :D

A tasty smell caught me right at away, while I was picking fruits. In the center of the first floor there are stores, which were selling cooked meat!!!!!!!!!!!!! HELL YEAH

I bought some sliced pig-nose and some sliced tongue. Getting hungry writing…

This is paradise! I walked around like a little kid on a playground.

Don’t forget that the market was crowded as hell!

Another thing that is very interesting, there have been half as many merchants from the supermarket as there were customers. They weight your fruits, they help you chose, they just annoy you sometimes.

I noticed, that Chinese people are not very polite towards each other, they don’t seem to say sorry or thank you that often. Also they don’t seem to notice their environment as much as we do.

And god the women talk loud… that’s sometimes so annoying.

After I had already a full cart and didn’t even purchase what I actually came for I forced myself to go to the third floor. I bought some paper, pens and my bedding. The cart was more than full.

Back to the first floor to pay.

Picked up some more stuff on the way down…

The point of sale was the most crowded place. About 15 cashpoints were open at the same time and the queues did not grow smaller.

After I paid, I realized… I def. are stupid. I think many of you already went shopping and realize after, that you cant get all the shit back home-.-

I had a fucking full cart!!!

So I started packing… 30-40kg of stuff… and I had to carry it for about 25 minutes…
FUUUCCK

Well about 20-30 minutes later I arrived at my place… completely soaked with my sweat… it felt like I had multiple layers of sweat. My hands almost became one with the bags and hurt when I tried to release the bags.

Well, the evening didn’t get any more interesting, so I stop here.

I slept well and I have been pretty exited to go to my university the next day.

 

 

 

 

Day 4 Chinary

Freitag, 07.09.2012

New Beginning

Well, good morning and here I am


As usual I did not sleep much either this night, I woke up at 7am to clean my room and get out of the hotel.
An hour later I managed to be downstairs in the lobby, to change money and to call a taxi, which should drive me to my new home. When I arrived with my luggage and unlocked the door a very sleepy looking man in his shorts, totally ripped out of his good-night-sleep stood before me :D He forgot that he gave me the key already and thought it would be a robber. Well, he went to bed again and I started unpacking J

My room is very bright and comfy, its white with a wooden touch and has 2 wardrobes, one desk+chair, a nightstand and a kingsized bed. My very small balcony, big enough to just make one step outside, faces a street. It is quiet though. Loads of greenery is in reach if I look outside the window. The airconditioner is above my desk and is a lifesaver on hot days. The only bugger is my mattress… its hard as a trampoline. Its frame is made out of iron or steel and iron wires cover the whole bed. It is so uncomfortable… atm I sleep on my blanket and use a cloth as a blanket.

Well btt:

It has been a great feeling to get here and move in. I felt home very quickly and everything was good.
The flat is more modern than mine in Frankfurt and looks better aswell.

It took me an hour to move my stuff in, Shawn was still sleeping, so I decided to go outside and check out the surrounding. With a smile on my face I went through the outlet-avenue. Adidas, Convers, Crocs, restaurants and bars, a fitness-center… everything I need within 4min of walking distance. If I would need to buy a lot, I could just walk about 10 minutes into one of the bigger shoppingmalls, where I could find a foodmall (a big complex where food is the only good to sell), a wallmart (sells everything, kinda like kaufland), banks, fastfood… just everything.

After about 2 hours I went back and Shawn was still sleeping. I then went to meet up with a german girl, who invited me to have lunch with her and her friends. I ended up with 6german people in a wannabe-western-restaurant and had tiny portions of food for a lot of money. It was okay, but I didn’t enjoy myself so much. At night I decided not to go with the german fraction to the clubs, but spontaneously went with Shawn (flatmate) and his friends (Chinese) to a foreigners bar, which has been also one of the best decisions so far. We drank, smoked, played cards in a really multi-cultural bar, where many exchange students sit and drink. I had a lot of fun with Shawns friends, who treated me well and spoke english most of the time.

I had a great evening and went home very happy…for the first time in Shanghai everything was going well and I fell asleep quiet quickly on the ironbed. 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 Chinary

Mittwoch, 05.09.2012

The Turnaround…

Slow and what a surprise

 

I woke up early again, after just about 3-4hours of sleep the second night in a row.
I was pretty wasted. I went online to look for another flat. I found one online, which I had looked into from Germany already, but whose agent didn’t made a good impression so far. -Well, like the other one- I thought, but messaged him anyway. He told me it is taken.

-hopeless-

I got myself a kick in the butt and stood up and walked to the finance district (the cluster of huge buildings you saw on my pictures, which is the well known skyline of Shanghai). I started walking for about 15 minutes, after I realized that I actually forgot to check which direction I was going… so I went back to the hotel and started all over again. It was not hard to find, since you could see the skyscrapers from far far away. On the way there I came across a small and filthy “road”, which contained many little shops with all sorts of things, even animals. I was interested and went in. Beautiful flowers on the right and left side, rubbish in the middle. Then, my eyes caught some miniturtles in glassboxes… so cute… and DAMN they smell. The merchant lifted the lit of the boxes and I saw why it was so smelly…

Half of them were dead :D

I kept looking but didn’t dare to touch one of them, since the shop lost even more of its value after I saw all the dead turtles. Then, the salesman came very close to my neck, almost as if he wanted to kiss me. I didn’t notice at first, but when I didn’t it was so damn weird. He touched my necklace and inspected it thoroughly without getting disturbed by my look. I pretended to keep looking at the turtles, who didn’t move an inch since I came. It was scary as hell :D Like prey I though it would be the best to better not move, maybe he wouldn’t kill me XD

After about 1 minute he let go of me  XD and gave me a thumbs up for my necklace^^ I smiled and went quickly.

 

After 20 minutes of walking I arrived at the finance district. Ithas been impressive. I ate some weird balls of something, which were really tasty and expensive and drank a bubbletea, well without bubbles… since I ordered the wrong stuff -.-

Well after spending about  10 minutes there I received a call from Mr.Kim the agent who had told me this morning that the flat is taken. I took the next best taxi and drove to him. From the Huangpu River, Pu dong side, to the middle of Yangpu, it took me about 15 minutes and 60Y (8Euro)… I got ripped of again, but what shall I say :D

Hope rose within me…

When I arrived the agent was waiting…

Well a young man was waiting…

“ Hi im Shawn” he said. I looked surprised and went with him to the flat.
We went through a gate which seemed to be locked for foreigners and was secured by a guard.
Passed the gate there has been a nice beautiful garden with loads of trees which has been so dense that you couldn’t see the sky. It was lovely.
We went into the house, secured by another special lock, and went into the house. Room 201.

I didn’t expect to see, what came next…

A modern, shady, luxurious, huge, well equipped flat with still one surprise to come.
“I love this flat” I said to him…”Me too” he responded
“Who do I gonna live with?” “with me!”.. ÖHHH
“You are not an agent?”…

Well he wasn’t and never said he would has been, but his english wasn’t that good either :D
Well even though the flat was as expensive as the other one, I directly agreed on living with him.
My best choice so far!

I took the cab to the Hotel, very relieved and happy. I didn’t even care about the fact that I got ripped off by the taxi driver again and had to pay 15 (2euro)more to get back.

I ordered some food in the hotel because I still tried to avoid the face to face contact to Chinese people on the street and was willing to pay 3 times the price for it.

I spoke with my loved ones via skype and after still couldn’t sleep well that night.

-Tomorrow ill move to my new home- I thought and fell asleep soon after



 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 Chinary

Mittwoch, 05.09.2012

Although my second day in Shanghai is already far in my past, I try to re-imagine it and bring you as close to my experiences and feelings as possible:

 

Day 2:

 

I woke up very early even though I didn’t go to bed until about 4am in the morning. Usually I can not sleep well it I am busy in mind. My motivation was cracked through the interesting, but still frustrating first day, which showed me that I underestimate the difficulty of not being able to speak Chinese.

I organized a meeting with an agent to visit a flat in Yangpu, which is the biggest university district.
For breakfast I ate stuff I bought from the “supermarket” the day before. Mainly things I found interesting or revolting XD

Dried meat, cooked and vacuum sealed meat, guts in small vacuum sealed plastic, chicken feet and some rice-dishes which would’ve been tasty if they weren’t all dried out. So in conclusion I had loads of stuff I didn’t like and little food which didn’t made me full. Great yeah

10:30am I had the meeting. At 9:30am I started preparing for it. I looked up the street and the route, wrote down everything on a paper, just to be sure. Things I need to take with me if I go out are: the hotels card, which contains the Chinese address and phone number, so that I can get back wherever I wil be stranded. Additionally a map, my Chinese phone and money.

After finally getting my taxi driver to understand where I want to go, I arrived at the main gate of my compound in time. Here In china many flats are bound together in a smaller district, which is secured form all sides by fences or walls to keep people out. Those compounds can be quiet huge and can contain up to 20 buildings (as far as I have seen it). They are secured by some “security” but let almost everyone pass ^^

I had to wait an hour until my agent arrived, who was the one who told me to come earlier-.- asshole

But because of that I had some time to look around:

It has been another hot day, about 32C which made you sweat after 5 minutes, the heat isn’t the same as in Germany, it is not as intense on your skin but warmer in total. E.g. it has been very hot in Germany for a week, but the next day the temperature goes down about 10C.. the air is still very warm, the ground aswell, but the sun isn’t. Got it?

Well the other buildings in this compound looked scruffy. Buildings with about 10 floors, hundreds of airconditioners on the outside of the buildings and laundry hanging everywhere. Many Chinese people were walking around in their weird compositions of clothing. But as old and dirty the surrounding may look, the Chinese people know how to use plants as decoration. Almost every street and most compounds do have palms/trees and gardens which are so beautifully made, that you always see some beauty someplace.

Well he arrived on an old scooter… yay professional and trustworthy

Here merchants really try to be dominant and try to force you desperately to buy stuff, but arguing if you don’t speak Chinese… aiaiai

“I many other want this, you buy now”

“no, best price china… 3400Y(almost 500euro) is the best” me: “2800”

“no cheaper, it’s best china”… me: “my mother is Chinese you know…”
“ok 3100..”  (jerks)

Well the flat was a one room apartment in a building from about 2008. It had a security guard at the main building entrance and was set up like a hotel*. It has been clean, but it looked very old and worn out. It included a matress, an electronic portable cooker and a minibar-fridge. I wasn’t happy with it, but I was desperate aswell since it has been one out of two flats available for me.

This day I didn’t buy the flat… one of the best decisions I could’ve made within this 6 month.

Still I didn’t know that yet.

 

Back home I got a bit depressed. I called the other flatowner, who told me that the room was taken, ergo I had no other option left.

I didn’t want to go out. I stayed in my hotelroom with almost no food left and watched tv.

I called my parents, friends etc. to get some social contact.

Well this day ended worse than it started. I couldn’t fall asleep either and I did not know where things would end. I knew I couldn’t stay in the hotel, because even though it was nice and western standard, I could not settle down. For me it has been emotionally challenging, since I had no place to go and no secure future or plan. At 4am I fell asleep.

 

 

 

 

Day 1 Chinary

Sonntag, 02.09.2012

Day 1

Hey folks, first i want to apologize for my delay, but the explanation will follow.

Today is Sunday, the 2012-09-02 so I have already been here for 4-5 days and I feel great, but lets start at the beginning, in Germany.

My departure was set at 11:50am, my lovely parents drove me to the airport, where I checked in without a problem, armed with 23kg in my main luggage and 8kg in my bag.

I flew with Etihad, one of the main Arabic airlines, which had been very comfortable on the first 6h of flight until I had to change the plain in Abu Dhabi (same airline, but worse plane). The rest of the time, another 9h of flight, had been a pain in the ass. Too little space for my small feet and my knees didn’t even fit between the seats. Has not been comfy for one sec…

Anyway I arrived in Shanghai at 11:50am on the 29th. 35Celsius but endurable J

relieved, that I went through all the securities in no time, i changed euro into yuan/renminbi to get over the first couple of days.

Got out of the airport and took a taxi to my hotel in Pu dong, close to the river Huangpu.

The ride to the hotel, which has also been my first actual impression of the city, has not been that glamorous at all. Small buildings, grey, old, poor.

When I arrived at the hotel after being awake for over 26h I just wanted some privacy and rest.

Well… I did not go quite like that….

First I could not check in, since the reception never heard of neither my father nor Ms. Monica, who he had been talking to, so nothing was set, except the reservation.

Secondly I wanted to pay the deposit, which I could not, since my credit card had its day off… -.-****
I had to call my father and so on blab la bla…

Another hour later I finally went up to my fancy room in the 41st floor (out of 48). It was amazing…
2 walls were made out of glass, so that I could see at least 2 districts of Shanghai, on of the the main district, which includes the famous skyline. Just amazing…

(you can see the pictures online)

So after a shower and some changing cloth I haven’t been tired at all, so I took my bag and went for a discovery mission. It was darn hot… it is not that kind of heat, which you can not endure, but you feel it and start swetting in minutes.

I still cant pinpoint a fitting description of the city and its flair… it is scuffy, poor, modern, dirty, clean, unorganized, organized, empty and insanely crowded, cheap and expensive… but one thing is for sure… Shanghai is huge.

Well back to my first trip:

I just walked about 10 minutes away from the hotel, so that I can still find my way back, through small and middle sized streets with shops and restaurants at the sides. Not the kind of shops we would know in Europe. They are dirty and filthy, okay most of them are, they are not bigger than 2 meters wide and 4 meters deep, but there are loads of them and loads of the same type. First I went into bigger stores, who seemed more organized, which had a cashier and stuff. Paying was not a problem here.

After about  1h I got hungry and so I had to start facing the barrier of language…
I found a tasty looking “restaurant” or “imbiss”, where I could select raw food from a fridge, put it in a basket and afterwards give it to the owner to let her cook it. Well in my mind it went like this:

Food->basket->go to the woman->smile->nod->5min->cooked food-> stomach full-> pay-> go

Not quiet in reality:

Food-basket-got to woman-smile (kinda)-nod-woman looks at me-opens her mouth-PANIC OMG OMG OMG SHE TALKED TO ME-im pointing on the food-gesture for “one time please”- smile

Response: She just started pointing at me, laughed and talked to the other customer (Chinese) loudly and for quiet a while with the finger still at me… I just went disturbed to my table^^

 

Well… I got my food for only 18Y, which is about 2euro. I couldn’t even finish my meal… it has been delicious and a lot.

After I went back to my hotel with loads of Chinese delicacies like vacuum sealed anything :D

Precooked chicken legs, hearts, wings. Rice in palmleaves with meat…tasted like dry mud. And 2 apples… yey

I did not sleep until 4 am

Conclusion of the day: For me the first day was exhausting but nice. I was excited and satisfied. I noticed that the barrier of speech was a bigger problem to me, than I thought before.

 

Let me know if it has been to detailed so I can adjust things for day 2

If I made some really bad mistakes you are allowed to tell me :D not that I checked for errors

 

 

Bald geht es los

Sonntag, 02.09.2012

Dies ist der erste Eintrag in meinem neuen Blog. In Zukunft werde ich hier über meine Erlebnisse im Ausland berichten.