Slow Dancing On A Rainy Day

Slow dancing with little Abel on a rainy day in Hong Kong. His head curled up in my neck, while firmly grasping on to my sweater. His right foot is leaning on my hand and I can feel his little toes curling up, trying to grasp onto my fingers. Looking out from our living room window the view reaches out over the Marina bay into the grey distance towards Hong Kong Island that has disappeared in the mist. Below us on the main road I see colourful umbrellas passing by slowly. Abel is breathing softly while sleeping on my chest. It’s raining cats and dogs and the sound of the rain drops hitting the rooftops accompany Abel, Bob Dylan and me while we dance the moment away.  It’s precious. Beautiful. All elements in place. Life is and should always be about this.

Ode to Boterdiep – My Fifth Home

“Dit is wel een erg kleine kamer. Past je grote mond hier wel in?”, said Ruud.

In 2001, I moved to this tiny room at the Boterdiep in Groningen. What it lacked in space, was compensated by an abundant amount of beautiful light and brightness thanks to the three large windows.
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Reminiscence

My earliest memories are engraved in the streets of Groningen. My first flat was in a decrepit building right next to the main trainstation. I would sit by my window, sipping hot Earl Grey tea, looking out over the railroad tracks and watch the constant stream of people coming and going. I never imagined I would be one of those people going, nor that I would go this far away.

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Stationary Tricycles

On the day before Spring officially starts, Beijing surprised everyone with a thick layer of snow. The winter of 2012/2013 has been a very long, very cold and very polluted one. After Springfestival everyone was hoping for the weather to warm up, clear up and clean up. Snow was the last thing we wanted and expected towards the end of March. The city, however, shone as if never before. The snow formed a perfect picture with the clean blue skies and the bright rays of sunlight. It was as if Beijing said to all of us to stop our moaning, and that it really ain’t all that bad. On this day I had a delightful stroll down Beiluoguxiang and I suddenly noticed all the tricycles on the sides of the hutong. You see tricycles everywhere in Beijing, but the moments when you most likely notice them is when they pass you with a dangerously high speed, when they are stacked higher than the courtyards, or when grandpa is driving grandma around. I never really noticed the ones that are not in use, left behind in a corner of the street and assigned a different role than being driven around. So here is a photo serie of stationary tricycles. Some are parked temporarily and others most probably for good. They are what they are.

Bloody hot Beijing

It is a bloody hot summer in Beijing! We have days of above 37 degrees Celsius everyday now, and the sun is so strong. To me, it is just too hot and I prefer to stay inside, where there is airconditioning. I don’t mind at all that I’ll be working the whole summer. I had my holiday beginning of June and finally went to see Yunnan! The province of immense diversity in geography, climates and people. There are 28 recognized ethnic groups in Yunnan, the highest number in any single province. I went travelling there for about 2 weeks, and it was too short to see all that I wanted to see. Took so many pics and vids, that I could use another holiday to sort them all out and write a post about my holiday in Yunnan for my blog. I’ll take it step by step!
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Impressions: Introduction

4 months have past since my last update. I have never before feltmonths passing by at the speed of these last 4 ones. As a way to catchup I have started a series of Impressions. Impressions of things,situations, places, activities I have experienced in the past 4 months.Impressions of my life in China. Images, emotions, sensations, andthoughts that are now consolidated in my memory, and I know that I willcherish them for a long long time. Another year has ended. A new yearwill begin again. And again, and again, and again.

I don’t think it is an art to be able to see beauty, I think it isan art to be able to feel beauty. Not just by seeing, but just by beingin the moment.

Hope you enjoy my impressions.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… again.

Impressions: Last days in Class

The two advanced classes prepared a surprise performance for our teachers to thank them. We sang a song, had a rap battle and a smashing breakdance!

Our teachers:

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Singing the song: you mei you ren gaosu ni

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Rap battle between C1 and C2 class

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Battling whose teacher is the best!

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Breakdance performance
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Graduation day from University of International Business and Economics,
waiting for our certificates!

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Impressions: Studytrips

CHONGQING

The “Gang of Four”, photo by Filippo Leddi aka “Leidi”

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Seminar on the Economy of Chongqing

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Visit to a mobile phone company

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The cups of the workers

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Official dinner

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The skyline of Chongqing

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MA’ANSHAN

Newly opened Crowne Plaza in Ma’anshan, I believe we were the first guests.

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Seminar on the economy of Ma’anshan

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Visit to factory, followed by local tv station

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Meeting with the mayor of Ma’anshan

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Our team leader and the mayor of Ma’anshan

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Party in a club in Ma’anshan

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NANJING

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Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (Father of the Nation) Mausoleum

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XIAMEN

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Seminar on Xiamen, one of the first Special Economic Zones in China

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Visit to light bulb factory

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Local dinner on the streets of Xiamen

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Last night in Xiamen

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TIANJIN

Visit to the Airbus factory in Tianjin

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The rebels of the group – METP FOR BLUES!

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Last chapter of the apartment story

The fax could not give me the permission to pick up the deposit. My former flatmate Xiao Feng therefore decided to come to BJ to help me get the deposit back. The guy from the agency who wanted money from us, Mr. Wang, works for a smaller branch of the company near my house. Yesterday Xiao Feng arrived in BJ and instead of going to Wang’s office, we decided to go to the head office of this company, hoping we could get it back without Wang’s interference. Getting the deposit back didn’t seem to be a problem as we had all the correct papers to get the deposit back. Once there, we were told that Wang had to be there too.  As Wang is the account manager dealing with this apartment, he had to come to the head office to arrange it with us. After 20 min Wang arrived and he avoided me, didn’t even dared to look at me or say hello. I didn’t really feel comfortable and I just wanted it to be over. Luckily it all went well. I got the deposit back, and no word was said about the additional 800 kuai that needed to be paid to Wang. So the story ends well. And hopefully it is really over now. In the worst case we can expect Wang at our door asking for money. I don’t think that is going to happen. We’ll see!

Story of our apartment

One year ago I moved to this apartment in a hutong, surrounded by courtyards. I met a Chinese girl at the real estate agency and I immediately got along with her and we decided to rent this place together. This place is great, and I have one of the best views one can imagine, looking over the rooftops of the old hutong houses, with pigeons flying over, and often a clear view of the moon above the high trees who earned enough respect for people to build their houses around them.

We rented this apartment from an agency that landlords often use to handle things with tenants. All was just fine! My Chinese flatmate moved out after several months, quit her job in BJ and moved back to her hometown, Tianjin. She was replaced by my present flatmate from Amsterdam. In January this year, I was back in BJ for two weeks to finish some stuff including making sure that we would extend our rental contract for another year as I wouldn’t be back in BJ in time to extend the contract. We signed a new contract but heard that the landlord was too busy to sign it. When I flew back to Amsterdam, the new contract hadn’t been signed by the landlord but I trusted the agency to have the landlord sign it. I believed all would turn out well.

When I came back in BJ, my flatmate told me there were strange things going on with the agency and our landlord. We heard contradicting stories about extending the contract. As we are both foreigners we suffer from a language barrier and have difficulties to understand what was going on. My flatmate’s gf helped us a lot with it, as she is native Chinese. We were not sure anymore whether we could stay in this apartment. It turned out that the person from the real estate agency who had my landlord as her client, quit her job and went to another agency. This would mean that she would take her clients with her, but my landlord didn’t want to join the other company. He could not stay with the current company either. We agreed with our landlord that we would sign a contract with him directly. A guy from the current agency came along, and we heard we had to pay this agency a month fee for extending the contract. Which turned out to be very strange as we would not be using them at all anymore, as we would sign a contract directly with the landlord. Afterwards we discovered that the guy wanted the money for himself. He even lowered it to 800 kuai which is evidence of that he just wants to earn some money on the side.

One morning all three of them came to our house, the landlord, the guy from the current agency and the woman who left this current agency. We signed a contract with our landlord,  while the other two went to my room, and closed the door, for some unknown reason, and as it is my room I went in to see what they were doing and they were whispering  to each other. The atmosphere was filled with distrust.

We were happy to have signed a new contract with the landlord, and then him and the woman left. The guy of the agency stayed and he wanted us to pay him money. We refused, as we should still get our former deposit back. He was talking a lot, and none of us could understand him, even my flatmate’s gf, as he spoke very fast and unclear. But to all of us, the underlying meaning was clear, he was trying to convince us to pay him. I told him firmly that I wanted my deposit back first. The fake friendly face of the guy turned into anger and he started to walk away, being angry and threatening us that we wouldn’t get our deposit back if we wouldn’t pay him now. Then all of a sudden he became very friendly again. Probably because he realized that acting angry like that would not help him at all in getting money for himself. It was so obvious.

The problem now is that the receipt of the deposit is on my former flatmate’s name, and as I told you before, she is living in Tianjin, not far away but still not around the corner. She said she would send a fax to the company stating that she gives her approval to me to pick up the deposit. The agency may not know that we signed a contract directly with the landlord, the guy can tell them and then I have no idea who exactly is fucked, but on the other hand I can tell the agency that the guy is trying to get money from us, as I know that his company doesn’t know about this. But what about my deposit? There is still no fax as my former flatmate was too busy to do it, although she knows how important this is. So no deposit back yet.

If you have stopped reading halfway the story, I do not blame you at all.

I wish it could all be over, and you can imagine how much fun it was to be back in BJ and then getting slapped in the face with this issue. Positive thing now is that we can stay in our apartment, and I can enjoy my room and my view for some more time. About the deposit and the guy who wants money from us…That is still an ongoing thing.

Back in the Jing!

And…. I’m… Back!!!

It is Tuesday already, which means that I am already 3 days in Beijing. My flight was alright, transfer in Frankfurt with 4 hours before my plane to Beijing left. Not bad, very doable, had some nice Frankfurter sausages und Kartoffel Salat! The 9 hour trip to BJ didn’t feel as long as it sounds. I was reading a Stephen King book, and damn, I should do that more often. His books are great for travelling long hours in a plane.

The days in Beijing are nice, it is warm but not to warm, around 27 degrees Celsius I guess. In the evenings and nights the temperature is nice enough to be out on the streets. I don’t have the feeling that Beijing has changed, of course I have only been away for 3 months. Oh how I missed the spitting on the streets. 😉 The city is still dirty, especially in my street as they are renovating all the old hutong houses and courtyards. There was a layer of dust and sand on my balcony. Almost impossible to clean it up, and even so it wouldn’t help as new sand would come in anyway. I tried to clean it up a bit, but best is to just keep my door shut to avoid having the sand in my bedroom.

My good old room. Unfortunately there are some things going on with our landlord and the real estate agency we are renting this place from, some kind of conflict which leaves us in the middle, not sure whether we can stay here, and to whom we have to pay rent to now. Hopefully, the answer will come soon, I really don’t like this uncertainty we are in now, whether we can stay or not in our house. My flatmate has trust in that it’ll all be fine, but I am not so sure about that.

Today I went to see the university where I’ll be studying soon. Nice green campus, not very big, reminds me a bit of BLCU. I had to find the office for international students, and I was told it was number 6. Of course, when I arrived all the buildings did not have numbers, but names. So after walking a bit and asking around, I found a nice guy who knew where I had to go to and he showed me the way. I need to arrange my students’ visa now, and tomorrow I have to go to the hospital to do a healt examination, which is required for the visa. I have done this before, and really, it is almost hilarious. Crazy, … haha I might tell you next time.

Anyways, just a little update from me in BJ! Hope you are all doing well!

Goodbye DT!

Today was my last working day at Dutch Telecom! Crazy how three months have passed already!

I had a great goodbye lunch with my project team, and the rest of the day was more or less filled with chatting and having fun with colleagues, as I finished the transfer of my work to my replacement.

I am happy I decided to do this project for three months! I have learned so much, have seen so much, have bumped into walls so often,  have met cool people, and have laughed so loud!

All the best to my former colleagues there! Thanks for the good times! Believe it or not, I will miss you!
And maybe someday, somewhere, we’ll meet again!

Tomorrow I am taking the train to LONDON!!!! Together with Ellen, I am going to visit Job! Lovely!

Being unemployed has never felt so good!

Cheers!

Baking pancakes in Beijing

One evening in November in Beijing…. Weiti (friend and flatmate) and I decided to bake some pancakes with Dutch cheese, bacon and strawberry jam. We live in the center of Beijing in an old neighbourhood (hutong), in an apartment with a little kitchen. For Weiti, it was the first time to actually turn the pancake in the pan. I found this movie again when I was browsing through my external hard disc. Makes me laugh!!

 

Kaki King in concert

Yesterday I went to see Kaki King in Paradiso, Amsterdam. My older brother introduced me to her music, and I was quite interested. She is known for her non-conventional way of playing the guitar and somehow I do not know many very good female guitar players.

 

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Dan Brantigan had a trumpet next to him, and I was waiting for him to play on it. Au contraire, he played the electronic flute, or how to call the thing he played, which reminded me of the asthma inhaler I used when I was very young. He only played trumpet during one song, which was a pity.

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Paradiso is located in a former church in Amsterdam, and the most famous music venue in The Netherlands. It is a cultural icon and according to Wikipedia, Keith Richards once said that the Paradiso concerts were the best live shows the Stones ever did.

It was interesting to see that there was a decibel meter in the concert hall. It is known that 80 dB is the safe and legal limit to which the hearing may be exposed. Regular noise above 80 dB would inevitably lead to hearing damage. I forgot to bring my ear plugs. I will definitely buy some professional ones for in Beijing. They don’t care about the level of dB in Beijing. At least here they show you to what you are exposing yourself 😉

 

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