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 […]

Read More

How to survive in a Chinese company

I’ve now been working in Shanghai for over 5 years, and 14 months in a Chinese company using Mandarin as the main working language. So here I list the lessons I took from the past year — many things I should have done better, or things I’ve seen happen in other companies through stories from […]

Read More

Searching for a wall

We walked the entire circumference of the old city wall (South-, West-, North- and East Gate Road), but found not a single brick or remnant — except for names and roads that still follow its former shape: a square around the city of Chengqiao Town (城桥镇). Actually, Chengqiao is still often called South Gate (南门) […]

Read More

A church in Anhui

My parents never forced us to believe, and if they ever told us stories from the bible I don’t remember it. But we did have to go to church. No devotion was demanded of our minds, it was just our bodies that had to be there. We were all three baptized; my sister, brother and […]

Read More

Tidal wave near the Wengjin Line

This was a pure coincidence but near Haining (海宁) we went to the riverside & saw people waiting. A shushu said the tide is coming in. Ten mins later we saw the Qiantang River colliding with the tide from the East China Sea. Sure there’s a metaphor for life in there somewhere. The 观潮-crowd: And […]

Read More

The old Japanese fortress

Cycled to Tongli and stopped by the ruins of an old bunker/tower. Built by the Japanese during WW2 to have a good look at the rail- and waterway. Inside the bunkers, someone graffitied the words 肾 (kidney) and 根治 (cure) — I’m not sure why, not even sure if it’s metaphorical in meaning or anything […]

Read More

The Great Wall of Shanghai

The Great Wall of Shanghai? Sort of. This is the Huating seawall (华亭海塘) in the Fengxian district of Shanghai. 3.9 kilometers of stones are left — built centuries ago to keep floods and Japanese pirates out. Actually, I’m not sure which stones are original. The history is fuzzy and long; different segments built by different […]

Read More

Mountains & hikes near Shanghai

I have no ambitions to become a travel advisor or anything, but here I’m sharing some of my experiences of mountains (or mere hills) around Shanghai. Also the ones I heard about but did not go to yet. I’ve also added some 古道’s: Ancient (Merchant) Roads. These seem to become more & more popular in […]

Read More

Gaoqiao, unintentionally the best-preserved area of Shanghai

We accidentally stumbled on what might be the area with the most preserved old buildings in Shanghai: Gaoqiao (高桥古镇), in the far north of Pudong. Gaoqiao is pretty unknown and has a pretty unimpressive Dianping page: just over 1000 reviews, and a really badly picked photo on the top. The buildings (perhaps a hundred of […]

Read More

Words waiting to be spoken, in Zhelin

A shushu grabs my bag, tries to stop me: “Where are you from?” I’ve no idea where this is going, but I say I’m from the Netherlands, to which the man replies: “Oh, bordering Germany and Belgium. 40,000 square kilometers.” I admit to him that don’t even know that last part. (Later I google it: […]

Read More