Photos and stories about my expat experience in China, currently in Bejing.
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

798 Beijing - Taking pictures

Today we took a trip to "798 Art Zone"
It is an area full of art exhibitions, strange shops and coffee shops. One could easily spend a whole day here, as there is so much to see and to do.
'The "photography duo" took hundreds of shots, and after returning home, worked feverishly on their computers, using Photoshop and other assorted software, to present you with their best pics ;) '





Refilling some energy with pizza and big cups of coffee in an American style bistro after an hour or two of attending exhibitions and visiting galleries

"gan bei" means "cheers" in Chinese. (Literally "dry your glass")

"Excuse my sarcastic smile"

I used 1.6 second exposure for this one
This huge monster turned my girlfriend into a dwarf by using a magic spell, or so it seems....

Andy Warhol actually visited Beijing once in 1980, and this coffee shop was dedicated to that visit. They had an exclusive Andy Warhol bookstore, and his quotations and pictures everywhere.

That's 798 for now...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some photos

Last week I filed some 30 job applications for all kinds of things, and for some reason today they all (5) called me. I set up some interviews for English teacher, a business English trainer, immigration interview trainer and personal language tutor. My week is planned full with job interviews now. Meanwhile, some photos to enjoy:

Little bird in Hong Kong

For my girlfriend's birthday (December 10), we two and a friend from Shanghai went to a famous Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant. It is located in a hutong, but easy to find, thanks to the many signs and graffiti on the walls everywhere. "Just follow the ducks"
Inside were photos of all the famous international guests: government delegations from Peru, Israel, America and more countries. Some famous Chinese movie stars...

As this is an expensive and famous place, one roast duck is not cheap. This puppy cost us 16 Euros! It was presented to us before chopping it up. We ate the meat and had them grill the rest (neck, legs, feet, head and of course, the intestines)

... And this is how you eat Beijing Roast duck: take one sheet of that small wrap, put in some meat, leek and cucumber all dipped in that black soy sauce, then roll the whole thing up and eat it. Delicious!

Me and our friend 'Johny' in front of the restaurant. It was a cold and windy night indeed

Back home we ate a birthday cake and had a glass of wine

Just some random photo, taken in the Hong Kong museum of art.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New stuff

I spent the whole week buying new stuff for the apartment. It is amazing how many things we 'need' to survive(rice cooker, water boiler, DVD player, rug for the bedroom...) Anyways, after a couple of day trips to IKEA, Carrefour and the bird & flower market, we're just about settled in our new place in Beijing.

This is our new friend 'xiao pengyou' - he doesn't have a name yet. He is only one month old and eats and sleeps all day. These birds are great fun. Soon he'll be guarding our new place against burglars..
I've been carrying my half PC all across China (I only took the expensive parts with me, such as processor, HD and the screen) so now finally it found a place. In a big computer market I bought a new box and some parts to fix him right up again.
The couch (already being used by our visiting friend from Shanghai to sleep on)
The kitchen is now full of pots & pans, all kinds of knives and assorted cutlery, Chinese sauces and lots of chili peppers of course.
Our bedroom has a lot of light, and a great view over the streets below (we're on the 17th floor)
East view
West view
Westward view from the living room
At 18:00 it's already dark, and the view changes completely

Sunday, December 07, 2008


After returning to Beijing from Hong Kong, I quickly located a visa agent. This one can provide me with a 12 month visa for a reasonable price. This basically solves all my problems and I will apply next week.

My girlfriend and I stayed in a youth hostel for a week or so, and made plans. We looked for a place to live. There are many agents who rent out cheap apartments in Beijing. The cheapest rooms cost 100-150 Euros and are very small or located in old buildings with broken walls and no heating. A decent room costs 200+ Euros depending on the location. Anything within the fourth (!) ring road is more expensive than apartments in far away suburbs. We managed to find a place in the Puhuangyu area (8 subway stops from Tian'anmen Square; not too bad...) on the 17th floor. The size of the place is alright, but what I like most is the view: sunsets every night and we are located on a crossroads, literally on top of a subway station and a hypermart ('Wu Mart'). This means that we don't have to go outside this winter. We had to pay six months' rent in advance, which is not uncommon in China.

This week was spent buying various accessories and bedside tables, etc etc etc. Our apartment came with a bed, TV, fridge (with rotten food inside), desk and couch, but nothing else.

Five minutes after we received our key. Obviously, the place looks different now. Pictures will follow later.
The kitchen, before a 2 hour cleaning session

We're nearly completely settled now; just have to buy some plants and a new carpet. Next hurdle: look for a job (and money as I nearly spent all my savings by now)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hong Kong

My girlfriend's new niece. We went to visit her brother in the city of Luoyang
She is 20 days old, but doesn't have a name yet (and already promoting camera equipment ;)

So I'm in Hong Kong now.

After staying in Luoyang for a few days I returned to Beijing to pick up my 'exit visa' valid for five days and required to leave the country. I then took a train to Hong Kong, which took 25 hours but wasn't too bad. I slept most of the way.

In Hong Kong, I quickly arranged a new visa and bought a train ticket back to China. It is much easier here than anywhere else, and HK is a famous destination for foreigners in Asia who are on a visa run.

After having been in mainland China for so long, coming to Hong Kong feels like going to London; everything is in English, and the general atmosphere is also very Western.
Also VERY commercial and crowded...

I found a cheap hostel, located in a large building called the Mirador Mansion. Inside is a maze of hotels, offices, restaurants and all kinds of little companies. A single room is exactly the size of one bed (I'm not exaggerating) but I am staying in a dorm, which has four beds and has a window (a luxury).

There are many Indian and Pakistani people here, and for dinner I helped myself to a wonderful Indian meal in one of the many restaurants.

Yesterday I climbed Victoria Hill, using the longest escalator in the world (800m) and found a park to relax in.

The day before, the view was obscured by smog. I couldn't even see across the water, but today it was better, although there was still a large cloud of pollution hanging over the city.
Hong Kong Zoological and botanical gardens

Quite a surreal sight. I'm a few hundred metres above sea level now.

There is not much place for nature anywhere else in this city...

Night skyline of Hong Kong Island


There were all kinds of things going on here: A squash championship, a (very graphic but peaceful) protest against the Chinese Communist Party and music and dance.


These drummers were part of the demonstration. They handed out a sort of newspaper with anti-CCP propaganda.

Tomorrow I'll take a train to Shanghai (19 hours) and my friend there will buy me a ticket to Beijing (10 hours, hard seat) and if I survive I will arrive in Beijing on Friday, 8 AM.