Now this was probably two of the best experiences I had in Shanghai, the "magic troupe" and the aquarium.
The New Shanghai Circus, it's not so much about the show as about the reactions of the people sitting beside you!
I don't know if we fell on school night or if there are always that many students attending the performances but I would say about 3/4 of the place was filled with kids.
( rest of the story )
On the before-last day I headed out to the aquarium with a buddy. We had the subway system down by then, it's on the "other" side of the river so we could have taken the little under-river tunnel cars again but I think I would have died laughing if I had gone back that way.
( field trip to the aquarium )
Do you want to be epic? So epic that they will put up statues for you? So epic that people will find it boring to take photos of the front of that statue? Then be like Freddie Mercury, be epic like him!
Alright. So by that point I was sitting down on the steps of the market hall in Montreux and I had realised I didn't have a single statue!Freddie photo... so I took what I saw. (here is what the statue looks like from the front)
And then there is another way to be epic and that is to get a postcard sent by Gali from Korea! You know the drill, either fill in the form below, post a comment (they're screened) or send me an email with your address.
If you received a postcard from me from China then I have your address, if you haven't moved since then and you want a postcard, just drop me a line saying so.
Finland did not make it to the ESC finals. People who did not vote for them suck. Yep.
Now that's the update about that... I have no idea who they were up against but as I said, a girl playing the accordion gets a thousand extra points. I have no biases.
And now for the spazzing! The book finally got to my house! I already have the dates where I'll be... first two days in Seoul, three days in Jeju, two days in Busan and then a week back in Seoul.
Now, unless you've been living under a rock, you will know that not everything is super duper calm between the two Koreas. People ask me if it worries me and honestly it doesn't. Maybe it's because I'm careless, maybe it's something else but unless it fully escalates into a terribly violent conflict, I doubt there is much to worry about. Sure, I'll be a few hundred kilometers from one of the craziest regimes in the world but just how much of that is intimidation strategy and how much is real?
Back to the spazzing. I already booked a lovely guesthouse room in what appears to be a traditional environment for my week of bumming around Seoul. Like no beds but sleeping "Korean style" and everything is wooden and all. Hopefully it's not too far from everything... we'll see. I'm so terrible with reading metro maps that I couldn't really tell. I think the metro system is bigger than in Paris and I still get lost in Paris, thank goodness Helsinki only has one line.
In Jeju, there are many places where to rent a bike and I'm going to be do that, if it's not rainig too much. The problem is that my plan to go there by boat seem a tad more annoying than a plane... they have a huge number of low-cost airlines with webpages with everything in Korean and GoogleTranslate isn't helping because almost everything text is written in images rather than plain text. But hey, I now know how to properly spell the names of the Korean airports in Hangul. This morning I also heard about a local speciality which is something along the lines of "milk-crab porridge", basically you take a small live crab, crush it in a bowl, cook it or something with milk and voila. I think I'll skip that one.
Busan is going to be awesome too. I can already feel it. I've only allocated two days for the city, hopefully that's going to be enough. They have beaches there and they have the biggest public baths in the world (apparently). Oh yeah, so going there. I'll be going back to Seoul by bus, it's only like 4 hours.
Wheee! So excited! I do have to admit that it's weird going somewhere for two weeks and not know that I have this and this company/factory/university to visit. I almost feel the need to contact someone from the local unis and visit their mechanical engineering department or organise a seminar to present a few ptts about my work. It's sad, very sad.
PS: The 365days project has been updated in the background (back-dated entries). Up to Day 202 now!
Ah, Montreux. I can see why so many people have picked this town as a place to come for a breath of fresh air. Not that it's that fresh these days with the highway right next door, but it's still rather pleasant.
Yep, there is a long list of famous people who used to live there on Montreux' wiki. Even Mannerheim lived there and has a statue. It seems no matter where I go I can't escape Finland!
|As for most of the trip to Switzerland, the weather wasn't that great. After we visited the companies on the French side, we came back to the train station in Geneva and took the train to Montreux and I was really afraid that it was going to rain the whole time. Thank goodness the evening wasn't that bad, just windy and dark but not rainy, so it was possible to go for a walk. |
Montreux and the towns next to it have this long path along the water with loads of flowers and weird statues (right now it's statues based on the Madagascar cartoon, having never seen it, I didn't quite get what the statues represented).
(and at one point this post was huge but then I clicked on the wrong button and of course the window closed without saving and therefore there aren't any comments on the photos under the cut. Oh well.
( +26 more of Montreux from the first evening there, still no Freddie Mercury )
It's official: Gali is going for mid-summer to Korea!
I already have all these plans, I'll be staying for almost two weeks and I am so going to visit Jeju and Busan! I've heard so much about these two that I am going to take a ferry to go to Jeju. I am. I'm thinking Incheon -> Jeju -> Busan as the start of my adventures. It's about a 12 hour overnight ferry trip each way and it's going to be awesome!
I plan also on spending my last days just bumming around Seoul, learning more Korean (hey, I can kind of read the alphabet now and I know some essential phrases). Or maybe find a nice park or beach and put on my 80SPF sunscreen and sit around catching up on reading while enjoying kimchi for lunch and dinner.
I'm going to be a bad CouchSurfer and actually stay in hotels because I want this to be a real holiday (with maybe some thesis writing here and there when I get bored). I'm only taking my travel backpack though to stop myself from buying everything awesome I see.
Alright, let me go back to squeeing and making drastic plans. I haven't been this excited in years!
The Expo 2010 is starting tomorrow in Shanghai and since I doubt that everyone can go there, here's what the site looks like at night. Or actually it's what it's supposed to look like. The pavillions are pretty funky there. The Finnish one looks like a huge bowl... I suppose it's to represent IIttala's stuff. The French one is a huge mesh that somehow reminds me of Centre Pompidou. The German one looks as if the designer took some paper and creased it a bit. I can't remember what everyone else is presenting.
Obviously this isn't the real thing, it's the model they have the Urban Planning Center.
( here's what it looks like during the day... and some more from the Urban expo center )
And of course tomorrow is Vappu, also known as Gali's favourite Finnish holiday. This evening we're going to see how the Manta statue gets her graduation hat and tomorrow we're at the picnic in Kaivopuisto with everyone. Yes, we'll brave the rain. We're great like that.
I want some green tea cherry blossom scented KitKats. Why have I other places to be besides Japan these days? I have a feeling my life would be more complete if I tested what they taste like.
Speaking of weird things I quite enjoy, here's some photos of the random stuff that amused me in Shanghai.
Elmo and Tchorny quite enjoyed Pocky sticks, even if they came at extremely high costs. The green tea ones didn't really taste like much but it's the thought that there are green tea pocky sticks that makes me happy.
( DBSK on 2 yuan bags, badass looking guys on juice boxes and other things that amused me )
I'm really not crazy but maybe there is a reason why people joke that I should not be allowed to travel to Asian countries. I want to try all the weird stuff there is. I bet it's the same when others come to France or Finland, although maybe the prospect of trying viili isn't as appealing as trying weird flouverd pocky sticks.
How about some getting to know you questions for this Sunday too?
1. Showers or baths? Showers... because I don't have a bathtub in my flat and overall baths take too much time.
2. Do you have any crazy urges? I have crazy urges to take photos of stuff I find extremely amusing even though it earns me some weird looks.
3. What is one thing we don't know about you? I have completely given up on going to Finnish classes (bad, I know!) because it really stopped being fun. Right now I've also given up on Chinese for a while and I'm starting to learn Korean because there is an actual alphabet. So far, I must say it's been fun and I'm making quite good progress.
4. Exercise..love it or hate it? Love long distance running, swimming or some sports like ping pong. Anything else bores me to death, especially weight training or some repetitive crap like that.
5. Do you think you have a good body image? I have a much better body image these days than a couple of years back. Maybe my increase in terms of ego helped with that.
6. Flour or corn tortillas? I'll be honest, I haven't had enough of either to be able to say.
7. How do you celebrate Easter? Baking paska, joking with peeps about hiding eggs in the garden, acting like a kid and trying to find eggs in the garden, enjoying my mum's food if I'm back in Marseille like I am this year.
8. Hard boiled Easter eggs or plastic eggs? Real eggs! If they're real pysanky then it's raw eggs that are then emptied. Otherwise it's hardboiled.
This was the start of my day yesterday. I had a meeting in the center of Helsinki and noticed that they have cool murals at the HSE (or whatever its new Aalto name is) mini-cafeteria, you can kind of see them in the top left corner of the photo. I then rushed to work and then back home to get my suitcase and then to the airport. I finally landed in Marseille at 11pm local time, midnight Finnish time. By the time I had my luggage and we made it home, it was already well past midnight local time.
Now I'm reading and answering work emails, two computers on my desk and if it weren't for the fancy chair I'm in, I'd say I was at work.
Except that it's sunny here and warm enough for me to wear shorts. Alright, so it's still a bit chilly for shorts but I make a point of wearing shorts if only because this is the last opportunity for some time that I will have because there won't be shorts in Helsinki for a month or two still.
And there is cheese and other stuff.
Till we can actually eat cheese (after lunch I suppose), I'll be just a zombie because that's exactly how I feel. I'm really a horrible person when I don't have enough sleep... maybe I'll finish watching MW, I started watching that on the plane and I'm not usually one for violent and fast moving films but this was rather nice. The guy from Nodame Cantabile is awesome at playing slightly deranged people, especially when he does the whole "bulging eyes" look.
Right. So the new version of Opera just installed on my main laptop... and I don't know what to think of it. First of all, it seems that I can't access gmail.com at all. Google seems pretty dead also. That would be all dandy except you know that I'm addicted to my email, I need it now!
Don't even bother telling to use Chrome or FireFox or something else, I like Opera, they've been good so far and I love the Opera Link option. I can even access my Opera speed dial and notes on my work computer which doesn't have Opera installed.
In other news, I finally found the ppt templates I was looking for this morning. They were hidden in the Finnish part of the site. I love the internationalisation of Aalto University! Maybe one day we'll have more than 5% of the post-graduate courses in English... maybe!
Finally, let's play "guess what was so interesting in Shanghai that Gali to take a photo of it?"
A photo not focused on the window under the cut.
( here lies the answer )
Edit: yep, it seems it's the new version of Opera that has some troubles with gmail. Let's try restarting Opera.
Edit2: So it seems that when sites refuse to load, you have to restart Opera. I hope it was just a one-time thing though.
|Oh my effing god. Why do they want to make things so complicated all the damn time. |
I'm talking about the uni I work at this time around. If you didn't know, there was a merger between three universities in the Helsinki area and now we're supposed to only use the new ppt templates and the new logo and stuff like that. But I can't find the damn ppt templates anywhere. Apparently they're somewhere on the uni wiki but that wiki was killed off a few weeks ago and was replaced by another system. I found one template but it dates back to 2008 and it's clearly not up to date.
I bet it's located somewhere that's really easy to find but I can't find it. Meh.
Also, I used to complain about the logo and pretty much everyone else complained about the logo but apparently it's seen in the design world as something grand. Professional designers are going all "wah!!!" when they see the A! A? and A". It even uses a special "aalto" font... to me, it really just looks like Helvetica.
Right. So google isn't helping and come on, I know it's there somewhere. There are supposed to be about ten presentation templates, each with a different colour and logo. I guess I'll just settle for using the background from one of our other presentations, it's not like anyone is going to care about it anyway... just don't tell the marketing/communication department that, they're really big on the whole "building a new identity", which I totally understand but I can't be bothered on a Thursday morning.
On an unrelated note, I still have about a hundred photos from Shanghai left and they're all interesting because they all have a story behind them...
One night we went to a Japanese restaurant close to the hotel. They had this "buffet" for 150 yuan which included food cooked in front of you and drinks. It was so brilliantly good!
This was mushrooms rolled in some beef.
( +3 more )
Right. Spring announced itself in Helsinki with snow and judging from the forecast, it's most likely not the last snow we'll see. I just hope this year it's not one of those years where we'll have snow on Vappu (May Day).
At least we had sun today.
Stockholm, part II! Sun, King Gustav and other fun things. I actually like Stockholm quite a lot, I'm almost tempted to choose it as a new "semi-permanent" (e.g. move there for a year or two or three) location eventually... if only they had euros there, but hey, at least the bank I use in Finland is massively present there too.
This is the view from the boat in the morning. The white dot is the Viking ship from Helsinki that follows the Silja ship almost all night.
I suppose not everyone is familiar with what a two night cruise Helsinki - Stockholm - Helsinki is... the boat leaves Helsinki at 5pm (Hki time), arrives in Stockholm at 9:30am (Stlm time) on the next day and leaves on that same day at 5pm (Stlm time) to go back, finally it arrives in Helsinki at 10am (Hki time) on the second day. You're free to choose if you get out in Stockholm or not, some people are too drunk/hungover but I always like to hang out on proper ground.
( a dozen more photos of Stockholm proper, etc. )
On another note, is anyone familiar with Flickr? Can you batch-download your photos (i.e. is it a good solution for photo back-up or can one just download one photo at a time once they've been uploaded)?
|Bid good-bye to Helsinki and the White Church, said hello to Stockholm and its beautiful buildings and perfect weather, spent most of the time on the boat in between... I did enjoy it but boy, am I glad we only do the CS cruise once a year! 47 other peeps came along this time around, big groups are fun, but only for a limited time.|
See there is the White Church in the background!
Yes, most people go on the cruise not so much to visit Stockholm (the boat arrives there at 9:30am and you're supposed to be back on before 5pm on the same day) but for the atmosphere on board, especially if it's a cruise leaving on Friday evening.
( +15 of the islands and cheap buffet dinner wine )
Sunny, no really the weather was wonderful, Stockholm in the second and final part... now it's time for some sleep.
March 19th. Check. Fresh snow on the ground. Check. Mini-blizzard last night. Check.
All is good in the land of Santa.
In other news I have a new definition for happiness: putting on jeans the first time after a wash and finding that they fit perfectly or maybe are even a bit loose.
Going to visit the neighbours this week-end, Stockholm be afraid, be very afraid. I just hope it doesn't rain during the 10 hours we're actually going to be in the city.
But of course that means that I'll be able to replenish my stash of weird chocolate on the boat. They have this 300g or 400g Tiramisu chocolate and all these other funky ones. Finns go on those cruises for the cheap(er) booze, I go for the funky (more) expensive chocolates.
And as per usual, fill in the blanks!
1. Today I am wearing black jeans, dark turquoise tank top, black light sweater, light purple cardigan (go layering!) and a green scarf.
2. My favorite childhood food was something I don't really remember, probably "sugary pasta soup" (warm milk + sugar + pasta) and my favorite food now is something that changes all the time, I really don't have a real favourite.
3. A day that I am too busy to check on my usual five must-see websites is a day that I am too busy.
4. The last movie I saw was Humming and the next movie I want to see is... maybe that one film I read about which is about a young guy who becomes a trot star by mistake, I can't remember the name of the film though.
5. My favorite smell is the smell of cookies in the over because I love baking and I love cookies.
6. A weird little quirk I have is that I always try to always have enough money/time on my travel card so that only the green light (lots of money/time left) lights up and the not the green and yellow (less than 6e left/less than 3 days left) together.
7. When I take personality quizzes they always say I'm a logical person who can control her emotions. I blame it on the fact that I take those quizzes like I would take a school exam and logic is needed.
Geek out time! Geek out time over a building covered in PV cells.
(excuse the darkness, it was one of those rainy depressing days)
Alright, so perhaps it was one of the best things we saw in Shanghai, this Suntech building. Basically it's a building they use to show off their major PV skills. They got loads and loads of money from the government to make it happen and they will even have a lot of roof space at the Shanghai Expo 2010 covered in PVs.
( because one photo is not enough! )
In the end it seems that I may have gone through years of mechanical engineering training specialising in environmental sciences for nothing.
|Oh my effing god they changed the layout of the top bar again. I just spent twenty seconds figuring out where the "manage galleries" from the now non-existant "scrapbook" tab is. Gah. Why? Why put everything together? I liked the "scarpbook" tab. |
Someone who actually reads LJ release notes tell me how to get the old tab layout back! Or maybe I should actually read up on that...
In other news, you know what, I used to care about Saint Patrick's Day but the older I get the less I see the point in it. Why does everyone feel the need to celebrate it? I get that in Boston there are many people who come from Irish families but come on, I bet not even 10% of people going head over heels over St. Paddy Day have ever even spoken to someone who has a quarter of Irish blood.
Still, I make a mean soda bread. I don't go as far as putting green coloring in it.
Actually the older I get, the less I care about all those "holidays". Do I get a day off? I do? Brilliant, wonderful holiday. I don't? Does it afffect my family somehow (Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.)? It does? Well, I'll be sending a card and calling home. It doesn't? Alright, then who cares?
Alrighty, how about another story from Shanghai.
On one of the days we drove all the way to Suzhou where they have these fields filled with factories, for miles on end. It's factory after factory after factory. Mind you, obviously they're not the "horror story" factories you can hear about.
Now imagine this as far as your eye can see on either side!
( Supermarkets and Rain stories ahead! )
Got a reply from the LJ help team and apparently the CAPTCHA problem is a bug and "they're working on it" and should be fixed in a new release soon. Basically, I don't have high hopes for it to be fixed before next year.
Just checked the Marseille-Cassis website and of course I missed the sign ups for this year. Ah well. I can probably still sign up later through some sports organisation. My sis is not running it this year because she's running something else that's on the same day... but for me it's kind of like tradition. Maybe I'll attempt the Marseille marathon this year, if I'm not too lazy.
Reminds me, I went for the first "proper" run of the year yesterday, the previous one doesn't count because it was too cold. It was about -7C, 7am just as I like it on week-ends. I have high hopes for runs after work now too.
Headline of the day on Wikinews: "Archaeologists: 51 decapitated Viking skeletons discovered in pit in Dorset, England were Vikings". Vikings, really? Maybe you should say it once again.
In case someone was wondering how to write "Swedish furniture and meatballs", you can check out the appropriate characters here:
(bottom right, you can kind of make out the characters... I do wonder what they really mean)
( some more photos of things that caught my interest: buildings, indoor temperatures, safety notices, etc. )
What's the best thing about the rotating plate at the center of the table, besides giving easy access to food that is? Making videos of everyone around the table!
( some more food! )
Now it's time for the story of the epic restaurant visit. On the first day in Shanghai, four of us wandered into town and after a while we decided we needed food. We did what proper tourists do, we went into some side streets and picked a place that looked half-way clean and hoped for the best.
First good thing was that they had some English on their menu. It would have helped if there were also explanations of what was in the dishes because just reading the names sometimes left us baffled. There were rices from about fifteen different provinces or towns or whatever but they didn't tell us what was inside. The waiters also did not exactly speak English... so we pointed at the menu, raised one finger to indicate we want one of those and hoped for the best.
We also ordered drinks. Two cokes and two beers. We had to ask for the drinks five or six times once all the food arrived and we called it "soft drink roulette". I got a 7-up and the other person who ordered a coke got a Sprite... from what we gathered they were out of coke. But it could have just been our way of saying "cokecola" which wasn't good, who knows. In any case we didn't attempt to order any "Spruce" (Sprite?) or "Fantasy" (Fanta?).
The food was ok. It was decent enough, and certainly getting a full plate of rice and filling for 20 or 30 yuan is good enough. As good tourists who just arrived in China, one of us took our a guide book and read out to everyone how does one hold chopsticks. We're serious folk like that, we don't try to hold them without proper education!
The communication with the waiters was another story. There was one girl, the one who took our orders, who was courageous enough to attempt to talk to us. The others just kind of ignored us when we tried to get their attention and made a five mile detour to avoid our table. They did enjoy our attempts at getting understood though, it was the first time we were faced with the "giggle" syndrome. They would start giggling the moment one of us said something. We met this giggle syndrome multiple times afterwards so I think it must be quite common!
At the end of the meal we did get a proper "bye-bye" repeated fifteen times from one of the waiters.
So yes, when written down the story doesn't seem all that epic, it's one of those things you have to live to fully understand. The giggling, the soft-drink roulette, the enthusiastic bye-bye... that's what makes a person a proper tourist.
It reminded me of that time in L'viv when I witnessed some tourists trying to ask for some toasted bread and trying to understand if the "toast" mentioned on the menu was a French toast kind of thing or just plain toasted bread.
That same night we visited the restaurant I noticed that there are many stores related to crocodiles along the shopping streets. I suppose they're mainly meant to resemble the Lacoste logo and they all have different names. The name that I liked the most was "Cliocoddle".
I do hope the name was chosen because of the way it makes fun of Chinglish in the second degree. It's like people making fun of themselves in a way and that's rather rare... and I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the namers of the store and I still continue to believe they are extremely witty!
And now two photos of food from this restaurant we went to close to the FinChi headquarters. The whole area is still in Shanghai I believe but it's basically offices for miles and miles.
|( I believe it's fish and pork )|
|Right. So here is the official Part 2 of Shanghai. Most of it takes place along the main shopping street and on top of the Pearl Tower.|
(all photos clickable)
We found the Chinese equivalent of the new Aalto University flags. The flags that I say were made by the same people who make the IKEA flags.
I can't really explain why I like the above photo the most out of the ones I took that day. There is just something so heart wrenching about all those towers, they rise so fast and yet after having visited some of them, it really feels like they're just empty shells. Empty shells that rose in record time.
( 11 more )
Next up, the epic tale of four girls trying to order food in a restaurant. No really, it was beyond epic.
The face looked familiar when I walked by the billboard. Is that Michael Owen? Or maybe it's some other celebrity I've never even heard of... It seems it happens quite often these days, I see faces on billboards of people whom I should have at least heard of but I really do live in my own little world.
But really, that does look like Michael Owen, right?
I'm having reverse jet-lag right now. There is no way to explain my random sleeping pattern because I always feel dead tired at times that do not correspond to sleeping hours neither here nor in Shanghai. It's not a lot of fun for the moment.
And finally I got around to posting all the days for the 365days project. We did so much every single day that it was hard to pick out just one photo.