Back in China

Hi all,

I'm sorry for not posting anything lately, but with our trip to Vietnam and Rebecka being here has taken up all my time. I will probably not make a lot of posts in the future as my time in China is almost up but I'll try to make a few updates until it's time for me to depart. Meanwhile you can check out my girlfriend's blog at:

Xiaozhou Village and Redtory

On Saturday I finally went and explored Xiaozhou or "the art village". This cosy little "semi-rural" village is wonderful to walk around in with its little studios and cafés.  It's about an hour's bus ride from down-town Guangzhou. It seemed appropriate visiting an art village on that day since it was Easter back home and during Easter a lot of artists on Österlen display their work.

"On the southern outskirts of the city lies a centuries-old village called Xiaozhou, near University Town. It has become the new cultural center of Guangzhou. Xiaozhou Village features classical Cantonese community landscapesby water, including canals, well-kept ancient buildings, bridges and local folkways.

More and more artists, writers, photographers and college students live, work and visit the scenic Xiaozhou Village. The blending of artistic creativity with the local customs and countryside architecture has sparked an interesting community in this historic enclave, creating a wonderfully romantic place to idle away a day." Source

The local museum

An artist's studio

The village temple

One of the many small and cosy cafés around.

The one and only, Chairman Mao.

Temporary bridge is being repaired.

Unexpected find of Swedish souvenirs.

An old classroom? Now part of a café.

What we all need to do more.

Cosy backgarden


The following photos are from Redtory, which is a "creative area promoting contemporary art" that is is located in some old factories. It's still being built but already it's become a very hip and cool area to hang out at.

Saturday night was spent in one of the fashionable restaurants in Redtory, celebrating Michaela's birthday, the art teacher at school.  The food was ok, especially considering the price but what was really gained praise was the Long Island Ice teas.

Eating dogs?

Guangxiao Temple

Last weekend I was wandering around the Guangxiao Temple or The Bright Filial Piety Temple.

"The Bright Filial Piety Temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in Guangzhou, with a history dating back more than 1,700 years. It is said that it has a longer history than the city of Guangzhou.

The temple holds an important place in Buddhist history. Huineng, the sixth master of the Zen Sect of Buddhism, had his hair cut and was initiated into monkhood there. In the temple there is also a pagoda where Huineng's hair was buried.

The architecture of the temple and cultural relics provide insight into the history of Chinese Buddhism, culture, and architecture as well as the local history of Guangdong Province." - source

I was there a few days ahead of the tomb sweeping holiday I mentioned in my previous post, so it was busy and the burning of paper objects had already started.

A wheelchair with built-in karaoke!

These guys doesn't seem to be too fond of being worshipped.

Throwing coins into this "thing" brings luck.

I didn't know Pepsi made sport clothes..

Delicious ice cream!

A few Chinese were out on the shopping street Shangxia Jiu Lu.

Tomb Sweeping Day

We had a day off from school this Tuesday as it was the Chinese holiday of Qingming or Tomb Sweeping Day. It's a day when families go to the burial sites of their ancestors and relatives to sweep the tombs and offer gifts in the form of tea, food and paper objects, which are usually burned. The burning of paper objects are especially interesting, the burning of "paper money" is widespread but in today's digital age it's becoming more common to burn some "paper Ipads" or "paper laptops", because after all they might not have any electronics retailer in heaven so what are they going to do what all that "paper money"?

Paper Ipads

Paper laptop

Paper money


First of all I must inform you that luckily the government of China has not decided to allow internet traffic only on odd or even days as I made a post about on April's fools day. It would be interesting to see what would happen though, not only in China but the whole world. We take the functionality and freedom of internet very much for granted.

But enough about that, this Saturday I went on another exploration trip to a Dongshuan, an old part of Guangzhou where the military officers and politicians used to settle. It was an gorgeous day, sunny with 26 degrees and now all the flowers and cherry blossoms have started to bloom. Here are some photos.

China will restrict internet usage

As well known China has a troubled relationship to the internet, behind the Great Firewall of China websites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, the New York Times, LinkedIn, IMDB, Flickr, Blogspot and Wikileaks are banned and one is unable to visit them unless one uses a VPN service. Now the Chinese government takes further steps to control and limit its citizens' usage of internet, it will introduce the odd-even rule that has worked well in curbing increasing traffic in larger cities.

The odd-even rule usually applies to car's licence plates so if you have an even number on your licence plate you are only allowed to drive that car on even dates, and cars with odd number on the licence plate can only be driven on odd dates. The odd-even rule will now apply to IP-addresses, if you have an even IP-address you will only be able to use the internet on even dates. There has been an outcry among young Chinese netizens but so far the policy makers stand firm. The rules are expected to be enforced by the ISPs next month.

Government office buildings

As seen in some of my previous posts, large and majestic buildings is definitely something China has its fair share of. I recently came across this photo list where people across China have photographed their local governmental office and posted it. The government officials in each province seem to be in competition to see who can construct the largest and most expensive building possible. There was a publicized case where the officials in the Fuyang province built a mixture of the White House and Capitol Hill, check it out here.

Here are some examples:

A Chinese boyband

Boybands are still a pretty big thing in China, this is the music video from one of the most famous boybands Top Combine: As the name suggest the band is a combination of different winners from the Super Boy TV-show (Chinese version of American Idol) and debuted in 2008.  Their Chinese name is Zhi Shang Li He or 至上励合. The videosite is the Chinese version of youtube, hence the similar name. The musicgenre is known as Mandopop (Mandarin popular music) and although the songs are sung in Mandarin it is a big industry in most Eastern Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Malyasia, Taiwan and Singapore, etc.

A panic of salt

A lot of Chinese fear the possibility of radiation from the Japanese nuclear plant at Fukushima, even to the extent that supermarkets saw a rush of buyers of salt in large quantities. Despite the fact that the salt doesn't contain very much iodine so it's basically useless. Last night in a local supermarket, everyone was fighting with each other over who got to buy the salt, while a single old lady on the side calmly browsed the other goods, even shaking her head and laughing. Someone nearby walked up and asked her why she wasn’t fighting to buy some salt and the old woman laughed and answered: "I still haven’t used all the salt I bought during the SARS incident!"

Starting a business in China?

For a foreigner it might be tempting to open up a business here in China, with its economical power ever increasing. Myself, I have thought about several business ideas that might have worked here but I don't think I have the business sense (or courage) to start something. This article didn't inspire me to do so either:

I'm not saying it is a bad idea to start a company here in China, but I do think it's a bit more complicated than in Sweden. The Chinese like to keep track of how money moves and doing a simple international transaction usually takes a 2 hour visit to the bank just to go through all the paper work. And that's with small amounts and for individuals, imagine what it is like for big companies.

Nancun and Xiogang park

Last Sunday I was out exploring an area of Guangzhou where I have never been before, I had my eyes set on the Xiogang park but also the area surrounding it. It was a warm day (24°C) but cloudy. Here are some photos of the day.

The book fair is in town.

Need a bucket?

Sometimes I wish I was a cat.

A smoker's heaven or hell?  Well, read this. But then again, you wouldn't smoke if you didn't have a wish to inhale 4589 dangerous toxins into your body..


Interesting alien design on this phone booth.

Someone's getting married!

"Outstanding Scenic Spot for Excel Management." Oh yes, makes sense.

Where are the emergency toilets?! I need one NOW!

Cherry blossoms in the background? I'm not sure but they look like Sakura.

I was invited to play some table tennis against these two gentlemen, it was great fun but I'm quite bad at tabletennis.

The Chigang pagoda with the  TV tower in the background.

Macau: where China likes to spend it

You remember my posts about my visits to Macau? Well, it's a very special place and now the guardian has done an article on it:

Nansha Tianhou Palace

Last weekend I went with a couchsurfer friend to Nansha Tianhou Palace which is situated outside Guangzhou. It takes a while to get out of this mega city, I spent 1 ½ hour on the Metro and 30 minutes on a bus. It thought we were never going to get there since we didn't find the right bus on the metro stop my couchsurfer had been told to go to. So after some phone calls we went to another metro station where took a minibus that led to the Palace.

In the entrance of the palace grounds there stands a 15 meter tall statue of goddess of the sea. "The statue is an embodiment of protection of the region throughout the year. Legend has it that the goddess belonged to a fishing background and she arrived during the Song dynasty and died while trying to save others from drowning. The Palace was built to commemorate this act of valour and courage." The palace itself is split into three levels, each of the levels houses a temple dedicated to various deities.

Kung Fu Kid!

View from the second level.

Some kind of dragon god?

The temple's weapons were sadly not for sale.

View from the third level.

Roof decorations, it's the latest thing here and I'm sure it will show up in Europe this spring.

Shrines are made to be colourful and kitschy, no feng shui here!

We even found a beach! In China! Though I wouldn't swim here unless I had a wish to ingest heavy chemicals and other more or less poisonous stuff that the factories put into the rivers and sea here.

Not every beach has their own stranded plastic pirate ship - but this one did!

Six of China’s Most Successful Foreign Businesses

An interesting article:

It's getting warmer

After a tough winter the weather in Guangzhou is finally getting warmer, after two months of degrees below 12°C we are definitely ready for some of those 20+ degrees! Ok, I hope you get the irony as the winter here has been mild except for a few days of really cold, but as I mentioned in a previous post it's not the weather outside that's the problem - it's the lack of central heating and insulation that makes it colder inside than outside. And you can be a Viking when walking to your job for 20 minutes in 0°C but spending a whole day in an apartment/class room that's 11°C is actually worse according to me.

As I mentioned in the heading, warmer weather is on its way although it's probably going to be cold for a few days here and there for the coming month.

Feeling lucky?

The standardized language/ dialect of China is Mandarin (which is what people mean when they say "speak Chinese"). Mandarin is interesting since it doesn't really have a great vocabulary, instead it's the tone of the words that is important. So a word that an English/Swedish person would pronounce "ma" might mean "mother", "linen", "horse" or "to scold" all depending the tone used - rising tone, falling tone, rising tone then falling or flat tone.

This gives rise to an interesting phenomenon; people try to avoid words or numbers that might have a bad or unlucky meaning. Let me give you a few examples when it comes to numbers:

Number 4 (pronounced: ) is a very unlucky number in China as it is homophonous with (sounds the same as)  “death”, this is why a lot of streets skip the number four and people will go out of their way to avoid using the number in phone numbers or on car license plates.


They skipped the 4th floor in this building and you can only go to 3 or 5.


Number 8 (pronounced: bā) is on the other hand considered a lucky number as it sounds similar to “prosper” or “wealth”. Because of this the number eight is prominent in phone numbers, and the phone number with all digits being eight was sold for $270 000! I suppose that person was already fairly wealthy!


A very lucky number plate!


Another example of the Chinese attitude towards the number eight is that the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing began 2008-08-08, at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm. And you might have been part of this craze if you ever been on the KLM flight from Hong Kong to Amsterdam - named KL888.


The number 13 which is considered unlucky in many western cultures is actually considered lucky in China as it sounds  similar to “definitely living”.

I'm back

I never thought that I would go to Sweden on a vacation but after two lovely and relaxing weeks back home I'm inclined to say that it was one of the best holidays I've had. It was a bit odd coming home to Sweden, even in the centre of Malmö I thought everything was quiet and I enjoyed walking in a city without having to plow through thousands of Chinese on the streets. I loved visiting friends and family, I even paid a visit to the school I taught at before going to China, and I realized how much I miss everyone back home. That's one of the major downsides to be working abroad - even with Skype the sheer distance takes its toll.

I'm sorry I didn't update the blog during the Chinese New Year but I was enjoying warm cups of tea in our cosy sofa way too much and I was making an effort of decreased computer usage while on "vacation". That's one of the things that struck me, how cosy apartment we have. My apartment in China is nice, grand even with its white marbel floor but it's designed as an hotel room and it feels like one.

Now the long haul awaits, 10 weeks until May and Rebecka's arrival but it'll be fine. My job at the school is ok, not too stressful but it keeps me occupied. I only wish I had one more psychology class and one less English class.

Chinese New Year

I'm sorry that I haven't written for some time now. Work is busy and I haven't thought of anything rewarding to post. But it's soon February, which means one thing for the Chinese - the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year. Almost everyone gets two weeks holiday and whole cities more or less shut down as more than 210 million people travel from the large eastern cities to their home provinces. It's the world largest annual migration so count your blessings if you don't have to travel within China at that time.

Guangzhou in 2008, and you think that Ikea is too crowded at times..

So, what's the Chinese New Year all about? Well, it mainly celebrates the beginning the first day of the lunar calendar, which this year is February 3. It's not only celebrated in China but also in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, etc as these countries have a significant Chinese population. So if there is any Chinatown in your city the first week in February is the time to visit it.

As with Christmas and New Year for "westerners" people here buy presents, decorate their homes (with loads of red & golden lanterns), cook huge family dinners and shop clothes. Also important is to do some serious cleaning of the house, in order to "sweep away bad luck" and make way for some of that good luck. The word "luck" in general has a special standing in China as it is part of many positive phrases. This is also why objects that sound almost the same as "luck" are considered lucky, more about that here.

During the spring festival firecrackers and fireworks are very popular and I have heard a lot of bangs since the middle of January, although many urban centres have banned them in order to minimize accidents.

A shop selling Spring festival decorations.

This year is the year of the rabbit, so all babies born this year will have the zodiac sign of rabbit. I'm born 1984 so I'm a rat, that might not seem very uplifting but rats are considered charismatic, intellectual, industrious, and shrewd. However, we can also be manipulative, self-destructive, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, and scheming. Hmm, that sounds a bit too general, as anyone will be all of these things at some point in their life. You can check what you are here.

So Happy New Year 4709! (According to one version of the Chinese lunar calendar).

My behind on TV!

I just found out that I had about 2 seconds of fame on national TV. It's a documentary about two guys creating a room beneath a pier in Malmö. If you live in Malmö you should definitely check it out!

And how do I end up in this documentary? Well, Rebecka and I found out about this place two summers ago and decided with some friends to try and find it as it is somewhat of a secret and difficult to find. Rebecka took photos as she usually does and posted them on her blog. What the director of the documentary must've done is Googled around and found the photos and decided to include them at the very end of the documentary. The documentary can be seen here:

Tidigare inlägg
RSS 2.0