In Taicang: Porcelain shards of history

The museum in Taicang (太仓) shows the city’s history, how 1000 years ago — during the Yuan and Ming Dynasty — it was one of China’s richest cities, thanks to its position next to the Yangtze River. But the link between that city and today’s Taicang remains unclear to me, apart from some excavations and […]

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We’ve lived 2021

We’ve lived 2021. In the future, you’ll remember the big accomplishments from 2021, but will you remember how they felt? The worries you felt were significant, the little joys that found their way, the hopes you had. Historic events will be reduced to paragraphs on Wikipedia, your feelings dulled by time. Write them down before […]

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A God in Ruins review

I loved ‘A God in Ruins’, so here comes a list of superlatives. Yet some people will surely feel this is a boring book, 468 slow-paced pages, which you need to read at an even slower pace to understand, to feel. Who likes such books anyway? It has over 50,000 ratings on GoodReads in 2021, […]

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Life in a café

“Did you grow?”, “No? What do you mean?”, “Well, I meant you maybe have grown fat.” A lady pruning flowers with all the patience in the world. She puts them in a vase before deciding they should be cut a bit shorter: “This is too high over the edge.” Another lady wears a green hat, […]

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BUT!!!!!!!!

“可是”, which means ‘but’, was my filler word in Chinese, until Eva started making fun of me I started to change it. Every time I said 可是 she screamed “BUT!!!!!” Like: “It’s not perfect 可是 we can still go there” “BUT!!!!!” “This thing is that 可是 that thing is this” “BUT!!!!!” “It’s raining 可是 it’s […]

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My first speech in Mandarin

My first speech in Chinese after learning for 3 years with GoEast Mandarin! I didn’t speak perfectly, but I’m pretty satisfied! It’s a bit above my language level, and I rehearsed pretty hard for this, the new vocabulary and sentence structures. This speech was given Saturday 4th of December 2021 in Shanghai — during the […]

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An interview with Shanghai artist Banana

Together with art collective RunShi (润识), GoEast is exhibiting Banana Wang (王香蕉)’s colorful bulldog paintings. Here we sit down with Banana to ask her about her work. Jaap: Do you think art should have a higher meaning or purpose? 你认为你更高的艺术理想是什么? Banana: Hmmm. I want to put myself in the history books. As for the message, […]

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Description + telephone number

Description + telephone. In our increasingly complex society, I really like this type of simple advertising. Three numbers for a 船中介 (Shipping company) in Kunshan — all sorts of things in Beijing — and 有事买 & 打深井 & 卖空调 (Stuff to buy & dig deep & sell air conditioners) in Nantong.

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In Kunshan: I’ve seen the future of China

Kunshan is where the high-speed way train stops to unload passengers, where people refuel their car, or where an English teacher first starts working in China before realizing there’s nothing to do there and moves to a better place. Kunshan’s biggest benefit is often described as; “well, it’s close to Shanghai”, or; “yeah, there is […]

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Spitting on the ground

Most talk about cultural differences is pretty superficial. So in the Netherlands, it’s rude to keep your coat on while visiting people’s home, while Chinese people don’t like to shake hands as much as Dutch people do — let alone how French or Italian people touch cheeks. You should not wear a green hat in […]

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