Is China scary? A look at mundane life

When I was back in the Netherlands last month, one thing I often heard was that people see China as a scary country. And I don’t want this to be some justification for all of China’s flaws — nor whether you should agree with it. If you’re a journalist, China can be scary — but […]

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Up the Yangtze

When flying back from the Netherlands to China, I watched ‘Up the Yangtze’ from 2007. It’s not a masterpiece but precious video material from China two decades ago. (And I’m always looking for more film material from the 90s and 00s.) The documentary follows several stories — the main focus being a poor Chinese family […]

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Chinese New Year banners

I love the Chinese tradition of hanging up New Year Banners (春联). For me (and I guess for many) it’s not really about bringing fortune or warding off evil spirits. It’s more the signal of a season, to take part in something familiar that unites you with your past, as well as so many homes […]

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Things forgotten and learned

I’m in my pajamas reading a book in bed in my parent’s guest room — back in the Netherlands after living in China for over five years now. My mom walks into the room and sits on my blanket for a chat, but I tell her that’s so gross because she has been wearing those […]

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Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains

PVG to AMS flight, another movie: Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (春江水暖) from 2019 — shot in Hangzhu’s Fuyang district (富阳区). A slow but deep film that packs so much about a changing China and culture. Family, money, marriage, housing prices, the rising economy, taking care of elders.

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The name and city of Chuzhou

My phone’s keyboard can auto-suggest names like Amsterdam or Canberra, and names like Spotify or Maserati — but it does not know nor auto-complete the name Chuzhou, despite four million people living here. Many Chinese cities are like that. They exist and they’re huge — multi-million populations — but auto-correct (as well as many people) […]

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Chungking Express

Another long flight, watched Chungking Express (重庆森林) from my laptop. A dreamy movie about loneliness and love — while I’m half the world away from mine, makes me miss her even more. 10/10 cinematography, every shot is an artwork.

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Specimens in the middle of nowhere

We also stumbled on the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History (浙江自然博物馆) in Anji (安吉), expecting some tiny dusty museum in the middle of nowhere — the way rural things often are. (Anji is a county-level city that belongs to Huzhou (湖州) which is a Tier 3 city.) But no, this museum is massive, with a […]

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Out of the city and into other things

I visited a shopping mall downtown for the first time in like half a year, and I felt like so overwhelmed. The noise coming from stores, from greeters in front of stores, people laughing, people yelling into the phone or yelling for their kids. You queue to leave the highway, queue to enter the parking […]

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Rice with a bang

炸米花 (puffed rice) made on the street in Chuansha (川沙). Bring your own oil, sesame, and rice or corn, and put your bag in the queue. Great taste, especially when still warm. Crunchy and a tiny bit sweet. When the rice is almost ready, the pot-thingy opens with a big bang. Eva: “When we were […]

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