Archiv für August 2009

boredom, archive and swine flu

Boredom seems to become my main concern at work. I have to admit I don‘t force them to give me a new task but it seems to me that I‘ve done my job for them anyway. Since it’s an interior design office graphic works are more rare than recent. But of course I can keep myself busy with own works that I postponed before. While I was doing one of these works I was searching my personal photo archive for material I could use for some graphics and found the photo below (same happened to the page ’scan‘ in the post before). I took it on a university excursion in 2008 to Munich at the ‚Deutsches Museum‘ (German Museum). Well as pretty much always I didn‘t write down anything about this sign so I really don‘t know when it was made. The sign basically says:

For public health reason it is requested to stop spitting in the train station building, the platforms and on the trains.

I think it is interesting that some years ago they also had to put up signs to ban spitting in Germany/Europe. In China it is nearly impossible to do so since the act of spitting is yet another cultural relic. Spitting is considered an act of cleaning from the inside that keeps away misfortune and promotes health. It is not simply called ’saliva‘ but rather ‚Jade juice‘ or ‚Gold drops‘. Spitting is very common here and probably counts as one of the most obvious differences to our western world. But what sounds rather disgusting to me is as normal as brushing teeth to the Chinese. You adapt to the sound of it after a while but what really frightens me is actually the ’swine flu‘. It’s not that I‘m afraid of catching it myself and if so to have trouble with it but the biggest concern is the speed it can spread here in China through spitting. I guess it won‘t be a problem here in the south but in the north it could become a big issue…

pornography

I mentioned it at some point and found it again ‚by accident‘ yesterday. I copied a page from a book about pornography/prostitution (I forgot to write down the title of it though) at an exhibition in Vienna. The article I was reading was comparing the ‚value‘ of pornography between the West and other parts of the world. When it came to Iran I was surprised to read the text below. This is by far the most absurd idea of prostitution…considering prostitution already absurd.

 


In Iran in contrast the mullahs saw a need to approve ‚temporary weddings‘ that can be arranged – for a certain fee – in buildings made for this purpose that we in the corrupt old West would simply call ‚brothels‘. It is impossible to estimate a percentage of women, who work in these dirty places – not counting the ‚temporary husbands – that get infected by genital diseases such as HIV. If one is pretending that a problem doesn‘t exist, it can certainly not be solved.
If western pornography is a symbol of western decadence then eastern pornography is a concomitant phenomenon of eastern repression. Pornography is mainly the result – or the dramatic indication – of a non-pornographic social defect. It is almost never the cause.

 

(sorry for any mistakes in the translation)

Gustav

Well once again only a music share. This time it’s a piece that my dear brother discovered and showed me a while ago.
‚Gustav‘ is the name of a ‚music project‘ initiated by Eva Jantschitsch from Vienna. Her music is a mixture of electronic sounds with very nice vocal parts – mainly in German. The song below is a very modern cover of the protest song ‚We shall overcome‘.


Gustav – We shall overcome

chinese farmer

every 7th human on this planet is a Chinese farmer (women & men)

I wonder what the percentage would be together with India

uuuhhhright

I‘m finally adapting to the controversy of this country. I just picked up a custom-tailored woolen coat that I ordered about one week ago and they did a really good job, too…So I‘d better be cranking up my A/C tonight to get the right feeling…uuuhhh yeah…. 8)

 

 

sound_travel

We went to Guangzhou [goo ang joe] for one day since it is only about 1 1/2 hours by train from Shenzhen. It wasn‘t much impressive in my opinion despite some parts appearing quite lovely. We soon found out though that the buildings in this part of town were ‚left-over‘ from the British Colonial time. Maybe I haven‘t caught the ’spirit of the city‘ in such a short time but the air was smoggy and most of what you see is very similar to other chinese cities in this size. At least they have some historial places spread around town including several temples, a Mausoleum, etc. compared to Shenzhen which has about..well..maybe none.
But Guangzhou wasn‘t the main reason to write about today. On the train back to Shenzhen I was listening to some recordings I had made with my little MP3 player during the last maybe 1 year. First of all I was quite impressed about the quality of most of the recordings. But secondly I had great fun remembering the situation I recorded a clip. As I usually take many photos and keep filling up my hard drives with incredible amounts of photos since the digital technology reached me this ’sound travel‘ somehow surprised me today. Also because I know that I wasn‘t realizing this back then. And third I just like the way you have the little noises and then people talking – especially in the second clip with the music.

 

I recorded this while waiting in line to get some information about a train ticket from Belgrade further on. An old man was in front of me and it must have taken him about 10 min. to find out everything he needed. This was – surprisingly – the most clear recording I had.

 

 

Before I took the bus to Vienna from Belgrade I was in a small cafe and tried to kill time. I can remember that I sat there for quite some time and at some point they started playing the ‚Modern Talking‘ album with ‚Brother Louie‘ coming up – in terms of music the 80s and 90s have really never left the Balkans.
A while back I discovered an entry in my notebook from the same cafe – I suppose same day then – where I wrote down about the menu of this place. They offered „Mafin & Braoni“… Chris suggested that we should start a fashion label with this name after I told him about it :)

emergency access

One of my colleagues asked me to help her with a presentation the other day. In particular she asked me to draw in the walkways and signage on an interior design plan that showed a ‚leisure centre‘ with a huge greenhouse including restaurants and an immense park area and a massage & spa centre at the other end. At one point I had to draw the emergency access ways for fire service and such. The area is basically just a huge square so the emergency ways are simply placed around the buildings. I happened to come across a small pond though. So I asked her if I should draw in something like a detour which she declined. She insisted on leaving it this way and instead told me „make green!“ pointing on the area and trying to explain me that I should use Photoshop to change it the way we need it….simply extending the grass area a little bit and cutting off the water.
Since this was just a map for signage, entries, etc. and not the final construction map I can just imagine what will happen in case of a fire in one of the buildings. Well the fire fighters will stand right in front of this pond then…luckily enough it wasn‘t a brick wall and water is always useful in such cases.

Sometimes I really think we are a little ‚uptight‘ and ‚overprotective‘ in Europe. Anything will work and China is showing us how :)

Up the Yangtze

I was doing some research for my last trip across China before I fly back to Europe in October. I immediately realized that the country is too big and there is way too much to see and do. One part that I was considering a lot was the ‚Yangtze Cruise‘ from the city of Chongqing downstream to the highly critisized ‚Three Gorges Dam‘. The Dam was finished earlier this year and an area up to 175 m high has been flooded sucking up the former living space of around 2 million people. Nobody really recommended the cruise since the landscape and the sights have been thoroughly damaged.
At one point I came across an article about the documentary ‚Up the Yangtze‘ that is set around the famous cruise. It is fairly depressing but basically shows what I had read before. Below is the trailer but if you can get your hands on a copy of the movie I can strongly recommend watching it.

[I know I shouldn‘t write this but I saw that you can watch the movie split up in several parts on Youtube (I couldn‘t check though whether it worked or not)]

smart living made in China

I would like to add two articles that I found concerning the ’smarter, more gracious and more high-class‘ residential space of China [see below].

The first one comes from the british Guardian and talks about Prince Charles‘ effort to preserve the traditional ‚Hutong‘ residential areas in Beijing.

More than two thirds of the courtyard houses that existed in 1949 have been demolished leaving 1,000 today, according to the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Centre.

Guardian: „Charles takes on China to save Ming dynasty houses from Beijing’s concrete carbuncles“

The second one talks about the same problem going a little more into detail and comes from the website ‚Architectural Record‘

The Death and Life of Old Beijing


we took a rikshaw tour in one of the rather central Hutongs that have been preserved for touristic reasons

yeah right…

I have two last quotes for today.

Confucius said:

By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
second, by imitation, which is easiest;
and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.

The second quote comes from an architecture book that we looked through today with the title ‚Chinese Style Houses‘. At one point we really had to smile because the author wrote the following:

The Chinese traditional space is the residential space that is smarter, more gracious and more high-class than the western ones for it is the outcome of five thousand years‘ development.

I guess my statement with the first quote is clear. But for the second one…Well if they would have so many traditional spaces than I could certainly agree [just see the photos below]. If they wouldn‘t have had the ‚Cultural Revolution‘ I would also have to reconsider it but with the background I have already in terms of architecture/interior design/design you cannot take this serious. For interior design and architecture – I just wrote that recently – ‚good design is design that has been considered good already [in the western world]‘ seems to count the most. So combine these two quotes and you may understand more :) .

Shenzhen views


the small houses in the front row are the ones where I live…I think it looks a lot more dramatic from the roof of our office building than it actually is


facing east towards the city centre


If you‘ve looked close enough you recongize the guy in my new header, he was a construction worker in central Shenzhen living in a container house (although one of the more fancy ones) right on the main road crossing Shenzhen in the centre. The green tower in the back is the ‚Shun Hing Square‘ which is 384m tall and the 9th tallest building in the world (an even taller building with 439m is already planned in Shenzhen) and the 5th tallest building in China


this is no fake I took this photo with my small camera one day on my way back from work

Franz Ferdinand

I definitely listened to Franz Ferdinand too much when they came out with the first albums so I wasn‘t too anxious to listen to their latest release. But just like the Beastie Boys with their latest album ‚The Mix Up‘ (that came out already in 2007) the new Franz Ferdinand album ‚Tonight: Franz Ferdinand‘ really surprised me. It is not as much a change in style as the Beastie Boys did but there are certainly some songs that sound fairly new.
The one song that I like the most is called ‚Feel the Envy‘ which is the last song of the album. It starts off very slowly with an almost dub-like sound at some point adding a nice vocal part (with the very recognizable ‚Franz Ferdinand voice‘) and fades out with a faster rhythm that reminded me much more of the old songs again. I would say it’s a great combination and certainly something new.


Franz Ferdinand – Feel the Envy

yes but

I learned a lot the other day. Not that I‘m not constanly learning in this new environment but I got some possible answers to a few unanswered questions. We met two Germans last weekend working for an architecture or interior design office here in Shenzhen for almost four years already. Of course we came to talk about China and certain behaviours very quickly. They told us from their experience how a big architecture/interior design project is done in China. At this point I guess I should take a step back from my former critique against my boss.
Let’s say a person has the money to build a big hotel. He/She doesn‘t know much about design and since this is all a new topic in China ‚everything is good that has been done before, especially if it was in the western world‘. He doesn‘t start a competition where architects make an offer that he accepts but hires many companies to make designs that have to be at a very elaborate level when presented to the client. So an architect invests money first by creating his design without getting paid anything and certainly without a contract. It’s not that an architect or interior designer gets chosen by the client but quite the opposite they have to do very well in front of the client sometimes even getting in contact with a contractor and telling them that they do better than their opponents. So this person with the future Hotel gets 4-5 versions and then decides for one for some reason that are beyond from being reasonable. Sometimes he even dismisses all the designs and hires another company that wasn‘t in the ‚race‘ before. Sometimes companies also offer the contractor to build the design he likes the most for a lower price than the company who actually created it. Nobody will really understand how and why a certain decision is made then. Of course at this point I was thinking that my boss then cannot really work efficiently even if he would be extremely good. There are way too many aspects that cannot be considered. In the end especially small and more or less known companies work against efficiency investing way more than they get out of it. Sometimes they get a part of the planning or construction phase in the end which probably equals out the money spent at first.
The next phase involves construction companies. So called ‚mock-up‘ rooms are built by several companies to give the contractor the possibility to choose yet again. The construction companies also do not have a contract and try to be better than the opponent to make it in the end. But a lot of money is spent at first that easily turns out to be a loss if you won‘t make it. The market is mainly split up by big companies often being the result of a former state-owned firm.
This whole insight into the business shows one very important aspect. International companies come to China to make their products and benefit from cheap labor but the image – that I had in mind at least – was that China is open for everything as long as you accept certain policies which is correct to some degree. But I assume that the effort you have to build up a company is not worth a try if you start at almost zero. Chinas wealth mainly comes from this cheap mass-production but their inland economy seems very closed and ’suffering‘ from former political structures. China is the Peoples Republic with a Socialist One-Party government with a capitalistic economic system. So much for the theory but is this the reality? I would say no especially after this talk last weekend but I would also say that it goes far beyond my understanding.

quote

I heard a very interesting quote today – supposedly from a movie or documentary (don‘t know which though).

guy: „[…] yeah I‘m traveling a lot.“
woman: „You must be very lonely then…“

that definitely made me think…

Blessed House

Once again ‚only‘ music…I‘ll try to keep it down a little bit in the next days but I found some really good stuff lately. This one is once again from a so-called ‚netlabel‘ that provides really lovely music for free. The label is called Budabeats and is located in Budapest. The song that I found the label through comes from a hip hop duo called ‚Blessed House‘ from Leeds, UK.
So yes good music doesn‘t need to cost a lot of money 8-) .



Blessed House – Debt Collector

Moby

After all this critical talk I would like to share some more music that I ‚discovered‘ not long ago. It’s the latest album from Moby with the title ‚Wait for Me‘ that came out in June this year. The whole album is very ambient maybe even a little melancholic but very nice again.
I came across this album when I read an article about Moby speaking up against the Music industries. He put a free download of the song ‚Shot in the Back of the Head‘ on his website. The funny thing is that exactly this song was the one that was sold the most once the album was released in Apples iTunes shop. To him (and to myself) this clearly shows that the argument ‚the internet is killing the music industries with [illegal] downloads‘ is not completely true. Another article that I read a while ago stated more or less the same. It was a discussion between an artist, a music producer and a spokesman for a big music label. Both artist as well as producer came to the conclusion that the industries had simply failed to adapt their business to modern times. And once again a company that didn‘t start with music showed how it could work: Apple with the iTunes store that was a huge success right from the beginning.

.

‚Shot in the Back of the Head‘ with a nice animation clip from the amazing David Lynch.

And this is an excerpt of the album as a stream player so without the need to fill up your hard drive with illegal downloads 8-) .

human resource

A friend of mine who studies Business once told me that he was shocked when the term ‚human resource‘ was introduced early in his studies. And it wasn‘t so much the term itself but rather the way it is used in business language. Luckily in Europe there are many policies and laws that protect a human worker from becoming a mere ‚tool‘ in the line of many to raise profits for a company. Back then I could understand what he meant but wasn‘t really aware of it (of course I couldn‘t since I hadn‘t even started studying nor had I any knowledge of how the ‚world of work‘ would look like). During my stay in China I get to understand the term much better and realize its extreme existence constantly in the office I work at.

I didn‘t mean to write about it so early already but with the recent policies that have been introduced against the (Chinese) workers I get more and more angry about the situation and keep loosing any respect for our boss. Although I have to admit that most of what I write here doesn‘t count for us Germans. We still ‚enjoy‘ somewhat of a special status but had our moments of conflict as well.
So here is a list of (un-)official laws/policies that seem completely wrong from my point of view.
First of all what also affected us Germans already: vacation. I know that in Germany and France vacation is a big deal and is enforced by state law. In China it is different of course. If you want to have days off you need to get the approval of the boss and even need to justify why you are not coming to work. But these days are certainly not paid. I guess this policy is more or less ‚common‘ in countries like China and that’s why I started with it.
Another office policy is concerning sickness. If a worker is sick he/she gets paid only 1 day each month for not coming to work. In reverse this means of course that the workers come in even if they shouldn‘t for health reason.
Just a few weeks ago one of the secretaries put up a note stating that everyone who comes in late gets cut off 50 Yuan of the monthly earnings (this is about half of the average day rate; I get about 80-90 Yuan [~9 Euro] ) each day. So most of our colleagues rather run to work than complain about it.
Working on weekends sometimes even sunday is basically required (except for us Germans fortunately) but is not paid. If you cannot work on a saturday you even get money off your loans. The calculation is stupid as well since they divide the amount of money you receive by the weekdays you worked in a month (weekends not included), the day rate is of course higher then so in the end it’s a higher loss for the worker.
But the best policy came out just this month. The secretary (I‘m sure on behalf of the boss) started categorizing the workers according to their status in the team and certain criteria that is mainly a highly subjective decision. Our German-speaking colleague told us for example that he was placed in the category ‚chief designer 3rd (lowest) class‘ which may sound good in the beginning but this means a cutoff of 2000 yuan each month (that’s his rent and the amount of money we get each month). He doesn‘t have a contract which is the next thing I would like to point out. Many workers have no contract and the boss talks it down by telling them that we are still a young and small office so once we grow everything will get better. The office exists since 1996 and due to a lack of leadership (to use a very business-like term) the company is not really growing and probably will never do so. But because the workers don‘t have any contract they have to face these policies without any possibility to complain. Same for social security. You can only get social security if the office registers you so most workers have no social security and even if they have they still pay the monthly rates the office does not pay even a part of it.
Before the secretary started this categorizing he came around asking our colleagues for their contracts so most people told him that they don‘t have one which then of course makes it easy to simply cut the money.
But the biggest problem is that the people don‘t stand up against it and rather accept their fate. And I asked myself already many times why this is so. The only way out is by looking for a new job themselves which obviously might be the same or even worse (who can tell?!). I assume you get the link with the introduction and the term ‚human resource‘ now. Everyone can be replaced and it seems more easy for our boss to change the team or loose the workers in a constant cycle instead of creating a more attractive work atmosphere. The second reason why they don‘t get critical is a cultural reason. Chinese rather pretend to live in harmony together than face a conflict. I knew this before but I heard exactly this sentence from my boss when we had a discussion about the holiday policy (of which he didn‘t tell us in the beginning and which also doesn‘t show up in our contracts): „Let’s not argue we have to work together in harmony. […]“

And to conclude this already very long text I have another story to tell. The (very much disliked) secretary started putting up notes more or less frequently since he has started working here in late May. The last note stated that our German-speaking colleague is responsible for the creation of the new website and has still failed to finish up this project. This behaviour casts a dark shadow on the work of the office and cannot be accepted. He forgot to mention though that I was on vacation (I‘m doing the graphic design for the website and have everything on my computer) and he was occupied with translation work for a project our office and a partner company started with the Technical University Stuttgart and was responsible for the interior design of two appartments as well.
My response note would have looked like this:

‚The Behavior of Mr Secretary with his constant denunciations lead to a very bad work atmosphere and is counter-productive in terms of efficiency and productivity. In the long run this will also affect our customers. I suggest an immediate dismissal if this doesn‘t stop.
Putting a smile on the face could also help.‘

Congratulations if you got this far you know much more about the work situation in my office.

Pearls of Joy


Pearls of Joy – Gloria

yet another song from the Comfort Stands Label that just came up in ‚random‘ mode in my playlist while I was writing the entry below. I think it has a little bit of a melancholic melody that fits the topic before…
The song is part of the compilation ‚Wakka Chikka Wakka Chikka‘ (click to download).

abandoned places


from this angle you don‘t notice much; just walk a little further and the place reveals its real character

One morning I was walking along the beach on Phu Quoc island and came by this Hotel which never seems to have been finished. It immediately caught my attention so I just walked up to see what it was exactly. There was still a security guard who saw me but didn‘t care about me walking around taking photos. A French professor who owns a Hotel a little further down explained me later that the main investor of the ‚Resort‘ apparently changed just recently so he figured that they probably ran out of money. The main structure and facade is more or less finished and you can as well just walk by without noticing anything but when you have a closer look you realize that there are no windows and the inside is still in the first construction stage with only grey concrete in use.

For me the whole place seemed very surreal yet had an aesthetic of its own. I would definitely say that places like this Hotel attract me and was trying to figure what it really was. So when I was back I stumbled across a sentence that I think explains a lot:

„Swimming pools are signs of spiritual optimism, economic prosperity and the hedonistic good life, so the image of a pool dried up and cracked or half full of dirty water becomes a symbol of disappointed hopes and dreams. A sign on the wall by a pool that was filled in with grassy sod says, ”No lifeguard on duty,” which is funny at first, and then starts to sound like an ominous judgment about modern American life.“ – Ken Johnson (NY Times)

It’s an extract of an art review for a photo work by ‚J. Benett Fitts‘ titled No Lifeguard on Duty‘. His photos are much better than mine but I think the ones below give an idea what I mean about ’surreal‘ showing the controversy of this building at such a paradisiac place.


moss is growing on the bare conrete stairs that lead into the first floor of the main building


the pool is dried out and the artificial pond that you cross when entering from the beach side is full of water lilies


I assume this was meant to become the restaurant facing the pool and the beach

Some weeks earlier this nice collection of abandoned places in the world has been posted on freeunibz.net showing some nice photos of places all round the globe. I‘ve been to ‚Varoshna‘ in Cyprus in December last year . It is a formerly well-established beach holiday town that became a ‚ghost city‘ with the separation of Cyprus in 1974. It’s still controlled by Military and only a few people can access it.

Kings of Convenience

Not just that a new ‚Whitest Boy Alive‘ album came out earlier this year Erlend Øye seems to be working on a new album of the ‚Kings of Convenience‘ as well. The two songs that they have on Myspace already sound great and I‘m definitely looking forward to the new release planned for this October.
For more information and free downloads of live recordings etc. check out kingsofconvenience.org the official ‚appreciation page‘.


Mrs. Cold


Boat Behind

Vietnam

Less text more photos this time…


he was our cyclo-guide in Saigon…he was really funny and I think the sentence he said the most was

‚Many countries different Buddha but always sitting on the Lotus flower…!‘


‚Notre Dame‘ cathedral in Saigon is of course a relic of the colonial times


just the normal Cyclo-people in Saigon


it is really relaxing getting pedaled around


because of the rain season rainwbows were almost normal, here in Ben Tre a small town in the Mekong Delta just about 2 hours outside of Saigon


small channels split up the countryside in the Mekong Delta


I like the writing ‚Tourist‘ on the hat that we got on this boat tour


coconut ‚factory‘ in the middle of nowhere: a whole family is opening and peeling coconuts for further production of coconut candy or else


Mr. Lanh our boat guide was great (as you can see here) he was by far the most funny Vietnamese we met


traditional fisher boat near ‚Can Tho‘


floating market near ‚Can Tho‘…


…the Mekong Delta is highly fertile so everyone who owns a little land plants fruit and vegetables which are then transported by boat to floating markets


the offered fruit/vegetable is tied to a stick so you can see from far where you need to go to


This was the first sight on the morning after the rice wine. It’s a butcher shop that gets the meat early every morning. In the side alley you have a huge pile of bones (spines, legs, etc.) that workers cut and break to small pieces. A really bloody job…


‚Bai Sao‘ beach on Phu Quoc island with the whitest sand you can imagine


small fishers town on Phu Quoc island


‚Ong Lang‘ beach on the western side of Phu Quoc


we rented a small motorbike one day and Johanna took this picture while we were driving on the sandy (and fairly tricky) dirtroads on the island

Paul Kalkbrenner

„Music is like a good meal, best when shared.“

Thank you Andi for this lovely quote and of course for the great music.
Paul Kalkbrenner is a Berlin-based minimal/house/techno DJ and actor. He happened to be at the Fusion Festival as well but in 2001 which was just a few years before I got interested in it…8-).
The song below is the opener of the soundtrack album of the movie ‚Berlin Calling‘ directed by Hannes Stöhr that came out in 2008 and ‚covers‘ the electronic music scene of Berlin with Paul Kalkbrenner himself in the leading act. I haven‘t seen the movie but the music is really great.


Aaron [Original Mix]

the rice wine debacle


well that’s how it goes, the old guy disappeared at some point I guess he’s had a little too much then

I have to start off telling from Vietnam with one little story that somehow ‚overshadowed‘ almost our whole trip. I don‘t know what it is but I tend to have these disastres with alcohol while on trips. Last time it was with the lovely turkish drink ‚Rakı‘ that became a little killer this time, of course, we ended up with rice wine. And it all started very nice. Since we only had about 9 days in Vietnam we decided against our inital plan to go up north and instead went from Saigon into the Mekong Delta towards Phu Quoc island on the ‚far-western‘ coast. One day we were staying in a very nice guest house typical for this particular place. They are called ‚homestay‘ and are usually run by one family who started setting up simple rooms/bungalows in the middle of the bush (at least from my point of view) on an island across the river from Vinh Long one of the bigger towns in the Delta. The following morning we decided to take a short walk before heading towards the coast. After a little while we came by a house where the people called the usual ‚hello‘ towards us. So we replied back but saw that they were inviting us to their house. It was around 9 or 9.30 in the morning but we of course couldn‘t insist on the rice wine they offered us immediately. So there we were sitting with four vietnamese men drinking one glass after another. The problem was that we only had 2 glasses so it was always one of us drinking with one of them which was not the best calculation for us. At one point we agreed to go (by moped!) and grab some food. I believe at this point we already had altogether almost 2 litres of rice wine. In the little shack that they called ‚restaurant‘ we had another half a litre (or more I cannot recall). After the lunch we tried to tell our (drunk) driver that we needed to get to the ferry to get back into town and catch a bus. So we went back to the guesthouse to get the backpacks but now were to heavy to stay all on one moped. So Johanna went first and I walked up to the road where another guy picked me up and offered to take me. We were driving right behind them even passed them and waited again but at some point we lost them. I first thought that they must have been much faster being in this drunk state. We arrived at the ferry and they weren‘t there. I decided to walk back a little and see if they ‚just‘ fell into the bush at some point but couldn‘t find them. So I went back to the guesthouse to maybe find the driver again but nothing there as well. I kept going back and forth between the ferry and the guesthouse and started to get really worried. I even went across to see if she was back in town already but always nothing. So at some point I had the glorious idea of renting a moped myself. Luckily I didn‘t get one but at least a bicycle in the city so I went back on the island and rode once again towards the guesthouse. At some point the guy passed me on his moped and I just started yelling at him (quite bad to be honest). He stopped and pointed into a direction we had to go. So he drove behind me and took me to yet another guesthouse somewhere off the main road where he and Johanna went. He slept a little bit and Johanna staying in a hammock had some trouble from the alcohol herself. I was happy to have found her. After that we went straight back to Vinh Long to return the bicycle (for some reason the crank fell off all the time so I just put it outside grabbed my passport and we left fast enough) and catch a bus but it was already early evening so we couldn‘t get to where we actually wanted. In the end I can really only laugh about it since nothing happened and I‘m sure nothing really bad would have happened we were simply really drunk; all of us.
I keep thinking how great it is that you do pretty much anything to get in contact with the locals…
I checked my camera afterwards and I think the outcome of this day is not too bad.


so with the guy above and those three we just kept drinking (they were always pouring the glasses and insisting this hospitality is impolite…)


don‘t know who this guy was he showed up at some point and I really cannot tell whether he is laughing at me or with me


his dad was smart enough not starting in on this drinking

Phoenix…yet again

I know I mentioned Phoenix not long ago just when their latest album came out. And the song I put back then ‚Lisztomania‘ really is great but I have the two following songs on my MP3 player since then and I got ’stuck‘ listening to them on the last trip (nope no iPod with 100000000 songs yet). I really like them…


Lasso


Armistice

Macau

I had to leave China last week to renew my visa so my first stop was Macau before moving on. Once again it seems odd that half of my stay here is already over. Well anyway I was a little disappointed in the beginning that I only got a double-entry visa for 2 times 90 days but now I guess it’s not so bad after all. Johanna, my flatmate, came with a tourist visa and is filling up her passport with Chinese visa (since february) and I think is up to 12 pages and still has to get one last visa before flying back home. I have it a lot easier although I cannot go to Hong Kong until the end of my stay but that seems a reasonable restriction. For my one and only ‚visa-renewal-trip‘ I didn‘t choose to only go to Hong Kong where I will fly back from anyway but instead visit one of the South-East Asian countries nearby. So our choice came to Vietnam since the flights to get there were cheap (from Macau).
But first to Macau where I could spend at least one day. Johanna and Mark, who was visiting me here, went one day earlier so I met them on friday. Macau seems like a very relaxed town. Similar to Hong Kong you immediately get the feeling of arriving in a different country though just crossing the border or like in my case taking a one-hour ferry. To the world Macau is known as the ‚Las Vegas of Asia‘ and there are really very many casinos. But of course there is more to the city than that. Unlike Hong Kong Macau still has a lot of signs of their portugese colonial heritage. The city center is a big pedestrian zone that could be anywhere in Southern Europe. The Portugese also brought many churches which also add up to a rather strange feeling of not being in Asia. We spent the day walking around the city and visiting the main sites and went up the ‚Macau Tower‘ for an unfortunately cloudy sunset. The view was nonetheless spectacular and we stayed up there for quite some time. In the evening there is of course nothing better to do than visiting the glamourous world of casinos. Of course my ‚green side‘ kept me thinking a lot about the incredible waste and exaggeration of these places but to be honest I was very impressed as well.

the ruins (facade) of St. Pauls cathedral in the centre of Macau

The ‚Grand Lisboa‘ Casino is the most recognisable building and can be seen from almost anywhere..

…just like here from the old Portugese Fortress

three languages combined in one sign in Latin writing….wow

one of the many small alleys that criss-cross the main part of the city: Macao Peninsula

city centre and pedestrian area ligned with very european looking buildings

night-view of the city from the ‚Macau Tower‘