Mia’s Forbidden City

We’re in the Forbidden City, and everything means something. Nails on the door in rows of nine by nine, two lions at the gate, water wells, a phoenix and a dragon, marble slabs, numbers, hierarchy, symmetry, symbolism. Getting in wasn’t easy. Each day only 40.000 tickets sell. We tried for Saturday, and the ticket sales […]

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China’s Great Wall

I must have seen the Great Wall a thousand times. In school books, Mulan, Age of Empires, Discovery Channel, murals, and cheap reproduction paintings. But now that I’m actually here (Jinshanling 金山岭), I can barely believe this has actually been built. The wall, despite being so massive, feels like a part of nature as well, […]

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Getting to know Beijing

I visited Beijing before, but never got to know it. In 2019, I hastily went to the Forbidden City, a hutong, and the 798 Art Zone, and it reinforced my idea of Beijing as a historic city, housing the government and tons of museums and landmarks. It’s to Shanghai what Washington is to New York, […]

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Circe review

There’s a timelessness to ancient texts such as the Odyssey and Greek mythology, with the themes and lessons in them still being stimulating even today. Icarus who flies too close to the sun, Odysseus who has to resist temptations, the gift of fire from Prometheus. And Madeline Miller gives a modern spin to this bundle of […]

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Street food in tiny alleys

Just some random pictures from a sunny Saturday and Sunday in Zhangjiang (张江) and Chuansha (川沙), and why I love this area so much more than downtown Shanghai. A 15-minute wait for the crispiest scallion pancake (葱油饼) I’ve ever had. More hole-in-the-wall food. (I trust my stomach is strong enough for the food from these […]

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Neighbors

This is a Sunday night, and I’m now back in Chuansha, after driving 800 km this weekend (Gaoyou and Xinghua). It’s a long time on the road, but it beats staying in Shanghai. Work is in the city, but to me, most fun is found where not everything has been optimized by big corporations. Although, […]

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The pharmacy and its tiles

The 300-year-old Shangchizhai Pharmacy (上池斋药店) in Xinghua (兴化) in Jiangsu, still in use today. The tiles on the floor are said to be imported, I actually found this out later. I did not take a good look at the floor ones and now really regret it. (The ones on the counter caught my eye, as […]

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Visiting Gaoyou, some 750 years after Marco Polo

The road and canal from Beijing to Nanjing used to have 46 post stations, and the 14th-century Yucheng station (盂城驿) in Gaoyou (高邮) is the best preserved one. This was for passing on letters as much as for letting the riders, boatmen, and horses rest. The station with its halls gives a great look back […]

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Where to travel in Shanghai

This question pops up now and then on Reddit and Twitter, and I’ve no plans to fill this blog with travel advice — listing the top ten restaurants or hotels in Shanghai — but I did start to wonder for myself, what places I’d advise to friends coming over to Shanghai for a visit. First, […]

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Starbucksification of old streets

Häagen-Dazs on the left, Starbucks on the right. Big brands are now also coming for these old streets in tier 2 cities, such as Wuxi’s Nanchang Street (南长街), at the cost of local character and diversity. Peet’s, Manner, M Stand, Hey Tea, Dairy Queen, Manner, DJI, and even Xiaomi and DJI. A Luckin is under […]

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