Her in Shanghai

I first watched “Her” nine years ago and loved it then: a science fiction movie, yet on a much more intimate level than pew-pew laserbeams or spacetravel. “Her” shows how difficult love is between humans, and how easy it can be between a human and a conscious yet bodyless operating system. When the movie ends, […]

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想 (Wish)

In English: A rabbit wants to become a hare A dog wants to become a wolf A coat rack wants to be a moose A football player who wants to be a champion A chess player wants to be the best a boxer to be the last man standing A book wants to be a […]

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Warcross review

It’s easy to dislike this book (but hard to hate, I guess). Because Warcross by Marie Lu is full of youth-adult fiction clichés, and everything feels just a bit too exaggerated. Plus the pacing of this book feels wrong, first too slow and then too fast. But it’s also easy to like, for Warcross is […]

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Developing Chinese

Developing Chinese: Advanced Speaking Course 2 review

Firstly, I love the HSK system because it’s clever and introduces compound words/characters really well. In HSK1 you may learn 谢谢Xièxiè (Thank you), in HSK3 觉得Juédé (Think), in HSK4 感谢Gǎnxiè (Thank) and 感觉(Gǎnjué). You can forgive HSK for becoming increasingly written language (especially HSK5 & HSK6). And although I cannot really compare HSK1 to 高级口语, […]

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Cities you’ve never heard of make up a huge part of China

Written for Dao Insights Last week, a colleague told me she’s from the same hometown as Zhou Enlai (周恩来 the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China): Huai’an (淮安) in Jiangsu province (江苏省). I had never heard of that place, and it’s the same thing when people tell me they’re from Kaifeng (开封) or […]

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Ready Player Two review

Ready Player Two is a bit like ‘meh’ movie sequels that take the same cast of a popular movie and basically copy the story: old wine, new bags. But I absolutely loved Ready Player One, and so I also loved being back in The Oasis with Wade and the gang, this amazing mix of nostalgia […]

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Characters in the wild

Three characters in the wild: “油坊 Yóufáng” (Oil mill). In the back of the building was indeed an oil press. Eva tells me about her grandpa who also had a 油坊 business, how people can bring nuts or something and then for a tiny fee her grandpa would turn it into oil. The second one […]

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Faces in the fire – Chinese New Year in rural Nantong

The paper faces of Mao and Qin Shi blacken and deform as fire takes the bills. I never knew burning money to be so beautiful, even though this money is fake, burned to honour ancestors. Eva’s dad twists the poke and turns over more unburned ghost money (冥纸 Míng zhǐ) into the flames. Half an […]

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Learning Chinese at GoEast Mandarin

In the summer of 2018, I moved to Shanghai and actually, I only planned to stay maybe two years in China, so I didn’t consider it necessary to learn Chinese. In Shanghai it’s OK to get by without speaking Mandarin. You either point at pictures, or show the translated sentence on your phone. For some […]

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Thrillers & detectives

I loved plenty of crime novels — Devotion of Suspect X, Journey under the Midnight Sun, In the Woods by Tana French, and several Agatha Christie stories as well as Lee Child, some Stephen King — and I’m now reading The Chestnut Man. The main thing I noticed, though, is that even when I absolutely […]

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