Archiv der Kategorie 'why not?'

mission accomplished

I was on a rescue mission sunday morning and boy I was lucky…I recovered my lost snow shoe just below the peak. Luckily there wasn‘t too much snow on it so we could see it.
The weather was perfect too so basically a great day.

lucky me with the missing snow shoe

snowy days

Another great Christmas present that I got in 2009 was a pair of snow shoes which came to use for the first time this morning. We managed to get up very early and head for the ‚Rittner Horn‘, an about 2200m high peak just outside of Bolzano. While it was raining in the city at the time we left it was snowing pretty much all the way up. Being so early we were really the first ones to reach the peak by foot to then see a great winter panorama of the Dolomites. The ride down was not the best powder ride I had but it was still fun except to the point when we realized that I had lost one of my snow shoes that were attached to my backpack. Well I went up again and tried to find it which was useless at this point since the clouds had conquered the mountain. I didn‘t see a difference between the ground and the sky and kept falling which eventually led to strong cursing and last but not least I wasn‘t successful in my search either. Up to this point it was a lot of fun and I‘ll probably have to walk up there again tomorrow and restart my search (Max will borrow me his snow shoes..I sure hope I don‘t lose one again :) ).

2010

So yes this is 2010 and I‘m still eager to write here. 2010 – a new year and a new decade. Last year has been extremely ‚rich‘ on new experiences and of course it simply keeps going. If nothing goes wrong I‘ll graduate this summer to see myself once again in the state of decision-making for the ‚what’s next‘ question. Obviously I don‘t know what will be but since it has always worked out so far I‘m not too concerned, yet. But let’s switch back to 2009 once again. Christmas was just a few days ago and I got a really nice present from my brother. It’s a comic book titled ‚Shenzhen‘ and was drawn by ‚Guy Delisle‘ a Canadian Comic Artist who spent 3 months in Shenzhen. Despite the very nice drawing style that I really enjoyed reading I found myself in his stories having experienced very similar situations. As I wrote several times before (I believe it was ’several‘ at least) I‘m not unhappy that I went but the more I think about it and the more time passes I realize that it was a very interesting and extremely helpful time but certainly not the happiest time in my life (except maybe some trips in between :) ). Right at the beginning Delisle writes „I kept realizing that it will be a very lonely time here.“ which is luckily not what I can share with him but I understand what he means. The Chinese culture – to me at least – is simply too different and even confusing that I would not consider spending a long amount of time in the country.
The book is a very nice description of a city that is simply absurd to westerners.

Last but not least two rather general examples of the book that anyone traveling in China will probably already notice:

in the elevator

a very common scene in any public space since Chinese are literally addicted to Mobile Phones


(top-bottom – left-right): ‚I‘m once again in China, this time in the South‘ – ‚Last time I spent in Nanking.‘ – ‚I had forgotten all about the smells, the noise, the many people, the dirt, the monotony.‘ – ‚I realized that only the good sides remained in my memories…the exotic…‘ – ‚Time blurs out bad memories, the impressions remain naively positive.‘

Fischli/Weiß

Alright it’s just another quote story no photos or anything. But well it’s almost Christmas and I‘m ’superbusy‘ (this would be the first quote already, an austrian guy told me that not long ago) so only a little story.
A few days ago a friend invited us for dinner. After the eating part we sat and had a few more glasses when suddenly (I‘m dramatizing today :) ) a book came to the table. I don‘t know whose book it was and where it came from but it caught our attention pretty much for the rest of the evening. The book is called ‚Findet mich das Glück?‘ (‚Does luck find me?‘) and was written by the Swiss artist duo Fischli/Weiß. The book is very simple as such containing ‚only‘ a number of questions that might seem strange in the beginning but make you think after a while, some question that make you laugh and some questions that are simply ridiculous. To some degree I guess it can be considered ‚philosophical‘ although I know that philosophy-lovers among us will probably call it ‚hobby-philosophy‘ in a rather negative sense. Well anyway I guess I should make some examples. So here we go:

‚Is my body a motel?‘
‚Why do I know everything better?‘
‚Should I pull off the muffler of my car and drive through the neighborhood?‘
‚I guess 2+2 equals 4, right?‘

I assume you get the idea of it by now. It’s quite fun to read it and discuss the questions with a bottle of red wine. Of course you also start to come up with your own questions. So the one question that I actually tried to ‚only‘ write about today (my quote of the day) is interesting because it works very well in German but once you translate it to English it’s still an interesting question but the whole play of words is not working out anymore.

‚Bin ich glücklich wenn ich Glück habe?‘ – ‚Ist glücklich sein verbunden mit Glück?‘
‚Am I happy when I‘m lucky?‘ – ‚Is being happy connected with luck?‘

I‘m impressed about the length of this entry when I consider the actual content :) .

quote

another day another quote, this time from Paul Theroux:

Traveling is a process of disappearing
a lonely road
on a thin geographical line,
that leads into oblivion.

Erik Spiekermann

I read a very nice quote today from German graphic designer and typographer Erik Spiekermann:

„I cross the road when the traffic light is red even when children are present. Simply because kids need to learn that red doesn‘t mean anything. They need to check for cars and not just walk when the light is green. I could also simply write ‚rain is prohibited‘ because I want sunlight. Nobody will care about that.“

dikkat°

one of my favorite signs in Turkey/Istanbul…

The translation would be:

‚Danger! There is dog.

No wonder the Turkish have trouble with other languages… ;)

Hans

I was out of town once again last week and finally started my photo organization and post-production process (again) today and came across this photo. It’s not that I particularly think that it is a great shot and I ‚Photo-Shopped‘ it quite a bit as well but the content made me smile yet again. ‚Hans‘ is the very Chinese name of a beer that was brewed in Xi‘an and sold for a very low price. Since ‚Hans‘ is a very traditional German male name we had great fun (not only because of the alcohol level) especially because we bought a case of 9 pints to survive the lovely 36 hour train ride to Kunming.
And it’s actually not a bad beer. I had much worse beer before that had a much worse price-quality level.

Star Ferry

The Star Ferry is one of the many means to cross the waters dividing Hong Kong. It was founded in 1888 and is since then been extended several times but the boats remained as one of the historical artefacts in this else extremely modern town.

I just like the animation that’s why it’s on here :) .

Mid-Autumn in Humen

While the People’s Republic celebrated its 60th birthday, the tanks were rolling and the women soldier in their tight dresses marching along I could finally experience the ‚China‘ that my ‚Guidebook to China‘ (I had bought the book before I came here to arrive not entirely stupid) talks about. Mark and I had met Lee Ming in Yangshuo while were lost somewhere in the rice fields riding our bicycles. So we ended up spending our time with him.
Since the government decided to have one week of National Holiday, which ended my work already last week, I sent him an e-Mail asking what he would be doing these days. So after he came to Shenzhen for two days he invited me to Humen, his hometown, to celebrate ‚Mid-Autumn‘ (the second most important festival in China) with him and his family. In between unbelievably delicious meals (which I would say were definitely the ‚centerpiece‘ of the whole stay :) ) I had the great chance to get to know his family and friends and to see where he lives. And really everyone who could speak just a little English tried to talk with me which was the first time to see here in China. My colleagues in the office never tried this hard.
Now I definitely have to reconsider my image of China and leave out the numerous rather negative experiences I had in the city of Shenzhen.


Humen bridge is connecting the city with Guangzhou across the Pearl river


friends and family altogether after the Mid-Autumn dinner


Mid-Autumn is also the day to fly ‚Wishing Lights‘ which we of course had to do as well


Lee Ming is an English teacher (just started this year) in a small Elementary School. He told his students of my stay and invited them to come and meet me. Unfortunately his message was misunderstood so only one girl appeared who was very nervous and too shy to ask me something in English (although Lee Ming told me that she is the best student in the class)…which is of course a normal thing if you‘re suddenly around a tall, blonde, strange-looking foreigner like me :)


She was very sweet though and kept asking questions through Lee Ming. The best question was for sure ‚How can I become as tall as you?‘ That made me smile…


Humen was the key city for the first Opium War so you have memorials and Museums all around town praising the glorious victory against the British as well as Lin Zexu the Qing official who initiated the conflict.

update

I updated the ‚China‘-page on my website a little bit. It’s mainly photos I posted here already but it’s of course a lot more organized.

English & Deutsch

Europe ’89

Plattenbau

Himmelweit is an exhibition project covering the ‚peaceful revolution‘ in Europe in 1989 starting next friday, October 2nd. Since my brother is actively taking part he introduced me to the group in Dresden that will have an exhibition titled brüche – Dresden | 1989 | Dresden. I was invited to design the invitation cards for them. The images result from two of the exhibition topics. See the second card here

I‘ll take good photos once I get a print version of it.

*UPDATE: click HERE to read an (German) article and see photos of the exhibition*

Shanghai Pt.3

I haven‘t actually written anything about Shanghai which I will in the next days. For now just a few more photos that I like.


It’s not a lie either, Chinese really can sleep anywhere and I‘m impressed about that…


the Shanghai Tourism Festival started on that weekend so they decorated many parts of the city center with bright colors


don‘t know what this shop is about but I like the photo for some reason…I know it doesn‘t seem to be too exciting :)


another ‚non-exciting‘ photo that I like a lot, I don‘t know the name of the building though

cultural industries

China Daily, an english newspaper about China, published a very interesting article about two weeks ago. The author was commenting on Chinas recent step to ‚vitalizing the cultural industries‘. His main concern was of course the word ‚industry‘. China has shown that it is able to provide the world with manufactured goods. Shenzhen is once again a great example for this. It became rich due to the manufacturing industries that are set up all around town. But what does culture have to do with ‚industry‘?

[…] Culture in its broadest sense is the way we conduct our daily lives. […] Yes, our food is unique, and we all use chopsticks instead of forks and knives. Foreigners around the world are crazy about Chinese food, and there are Chinese restaurants everywhere you go. That is about it. […] At the moment there are probably more Chinese elements preserved in Korean and Japanese culture.

Coming back to the company I work at once again. You can basically see this here. Their ‚design‘ thinking is based on ’styles‘, ‚Western style‘ – ‚Chinese style‘ – ‚American style‘ – etc. They keep pretending that they maintain their ‚cultural identity‘ by simply adding a handful of elements found in Chinese architecture (in the few temples and palaces that survived) and copy the rest together from design books or the internet.
I assume the main problem is not that they wouldn‘t be able to do it different but it has proven to work very well for them. Customers ask for this kind of work and since they are the ones with the money a design office just like ours provides it. And I suppose once this cycle is running it’s hard to step forward and change the whole idea of ‚design‘.
When I realized this very early in the internship and talked with my flatmate and colleague about it we thought that maybe we can somehow show them different and make them question their ’style of work‘. Of course this was absolutely naive and turned out to be completely stupid since money controls the business. It seems that you cannot survive in China if you don‘t adapt to this. And what is even more frustrating is when your hear from the boss (behind your back never direct!) that he thinks you‘re just a beginner and have no experience and idea about design. Well yes to some degree that is true. My boss studied industrial design in Berlin though so he has seen and learned a different way. I assume that this should make a difference but I guess I‘m wrong once again. As I wrote before ‚Shenzhen is all about making money…and it better be as fast as possible!‘.

Johanna was once asked by a Chinese colleague if she could help to find an ‚African style‘ dentist clinic :D

Shanghai pt.1

I like ‚em black & white…more infos to follow.


ok no b/w I had to add this in color – one of the many construction site signs found anywhere across town


kid on the campus of Tongji University


early morning dance session in front of the Shopping malls on Nanjing Road (close to People’s Sq.)


regular Shanghai scenery


Qibao old village far outside of the town centre is one of the main attractions for Chinese – with the usual ‚traditional souvenir shops‘


you couldn‘t simply walk when a car was coming, street guards were always checking that you crossed the road only on green light


the Mao statue in front of Tongji Campus library – one of 4 (at universities) with the arm lifted

I quit!

Within the last maybe three weeks around 5 people told the boss that they will quit working in this office. Since we are around 25 people in total I think that tells a lot about the situation here . And I have to admit that I had plans myself to quit and look for something else to do for the rest of my stay (I didn‘t consider changing my flight as an option). It’s a normal state that people come and go and it happened before. Johanna told me that since she started in February about half of the people left the office (including interns). Of course quitting a job is done very different to how I think it would work (saying that and never having quit a job). Most of the workers don‘t have a contract – I wrote that before – and since this is due to the boss I would just leave the company and tell the boss on the day I leave. Well I know that this is not the nicest way but the reasons why people are leaving are simply because the boss is giving them a hard time (saying it nicely today). But no the Chinese write a ‚notice of termination‘. This seems strange to me but alright why not? When I saw a notice though I was stunned. They are not simply telling the boss ‚Look I will quit working at the end of the month for this and that reason.‘ They start ‚praising‘ the boss telling him how thankful they are about what they have learned from him. They tell the reason why they leave but in a subordinate clause when apologizing for any losses the boss might encounter after they are gone. I will truly never understand their thinking as it is not them who are the problem but the boss.

around my neighborhood

saturday afternoon walk around the block…


Google translator or political statement? – found on a big information screen

people playing games in one of the ‚parks‘ (small concrete areas between the street canyons) – mainly also for money


one of the cyclo-people offering his services – from relocation to carpentry – oh these multi-talented chinese


kid playing near the car repair shops – reminds me a lot of my walk to Dolapdere Campus in Istanbul


‚trash collectors‘ sorting bottles – for each bottle they get about 2-3 cents

Lili Marleen

Last week I could enjoy the great pleasure of finally going to a ‚chinese style‘ club here in Shenzhen. It was one of Johannas last evenings so we decided to go to a place called ‚Lili Marleen‘. It’s a huge building full of blue neon signs that you can see from anywhere and I think already this would normally make me consider not to enter this place. In front of it two security guards in Army uniforms with helmets were checking who got in. The inside was somehow funny. They really put a lot of effort in the decoration – the side walls were full of LCD screens showing graphics but the rest of the place was decorated in a ‚wild west style‘ rather being rustic than modern. There was no dance floor so you had to dance around your table which was always the ‚home base‘ of a group since drinks were mainly served in bottles (and I don‘t mean only the beer). The music was in my opinion really crappy and consisted mainly of R‘n'B and black music which is absolutely not my taste of music but they had a really lovely addition to that. Around the room they had placed several small platforms where people could dance on or, and that was the interesting part, where live ‚Karaoke-style‘ singers could perform their show. The music performed by the singers was a wild mix of R‘n'B and Chinese-Cheesy-Pop which made the Chinese go completely crazy.
At one point a guy in a Spiderman costume showed up behind the bar and started a short barkeeping-juggling performance. The music then was some really nice breakbeat (the best music played this evening in my opinion) but of course people were too focused on Spiderman and didn‘t dance to it.
I simply started drinking overpriced Heineken and surely got in the mood to dance as well. So in the end people started inviting me for drinks were dancing with me or screaming a drunk but nonetheless heartily ‚Welcome to China!‘ in my ear.
And in between all this chaos the regular cleaning ladies in their work dress armed with shovel and broom were constantly walking around you and picking up anything that was on the floor. What a strange image…


if god is a DJ then Spiderman is the barkeeper…


short recording of one of the many ‚Karaoke-style‘ live performances

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…

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)

 

 

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 :)

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

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…

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.

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

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

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‘

barber shop

I guess everybody knows that the classic ‚massage parlor‘ has a slightly ’sketchy‘ touch to it with prostitution being illegal in most south asian countries as well as China. Here in Shenzhen you can find them basically anywhere in all price ranges and of course they offer you a massage with ‚happy end‘ as well. I read in an article a while ago that in Iran, of course prostitution is illegal there as well, you can find places where you do a marriage for time spent with the ‚prostitute‘ and cancel it afterwards. It’s completely ridiculous but it seems to be legitimate enough for the state not to interfere in this business.
But as the title implies I didn‘t want to talk about a massage parlor or prostitution in general. Yesterday I went to get a haircut at one of the many barbershops close to my house. I decided to take the ‚full program‘ and was instantly taken upstairs where I got a head massage first. As I already learned before a head massage (just like the foot massage I did before) doesn‘t only include your head. They start off washing your hair, then massaging your head. It keeps going with a face wash including massage and all ends with a back/shoulder/arm massage. After some very relaxing 45 minutes you keep wondering ‚Didn‘t I actually come here for a haircut?‘…Of course they cut the hair as well and I think even did a pretty good job for me. After that they wash you hair again and style it very precisely with a hairdryer. So in the end you spend almost 2 hours just getting a haircut for a price where European barbers would just pick up their scissors. It’s a great adventure that I can highly recommend.

nuclear powered studying

The following piece is a text that I copied from a Chinese-German language book (therefore it’s in German…sorry about that for those who won‘t be able to understand it). It really reminded me of a website my brother showed me a while ago called ‚Retro Futurism‘. It’s a collection of really utopian illustrations from the 50s and 60s. The text below talks about the use of Nuclear Power first for submarines and then tells the reader that scientists in America have also made plans to build planes and trains powered by nuclear energy. Quite a lovely idea that fortunately enough didn‘t come true.
The book was printed in 1990 by the way…

-lichen Treibstoffvorräte wegfallen, die heute auf längeren Reisen mitgeführt werden müssen. Das Gleiche gilt auch für Atomflugzeuge. Die Belastung der Maschine durch einen etwa 60 oder 70 Tonnen wiegenden Reaktor wäre durch den Wegfall des beträchtlichen Gewichts der bishergen Treibstoffmenge durchaus erträglich. Der Atomantrieb kommt vor Allem für Großflugzeuge, zum Beispiel für die auf Transatlantlikflügen eingesetzten Maschinen in Frage. Nach amerikanischen Entwürfen soll als Brennstoff Plutonium verwendet werden. Der Dampf, der durch den Reaktor erzeugt wird, treibt vier Turbinen von insgesamt 56 000 PS an, die auf die Propeller wirken. Das Plutonium, das selbst nur wenige Kilogramm wiegt, soll für 5 Millionen Flugkilometer ausreichen. Es wird bereits an Plänen für Flugzeugatomreaktoren gearbeitet von denen man sich für Non-Stop-Langstreckenflüge mit Überschallgeschwindigkeit viel verspricht. Ebenfalls in den USA sind bereits Pläne für den Bau einer Atomlokomotive ausgearbeitet worden, die eine Leistung von 7 000 PS entwickelt und etwa 52 Meter lang sein soll. Sie würde nur 5 ½ Kilogramm Uranbrennstoff im Jahr verbrauchen.

tropical beaches

If you look hard enough and with a little luck you are really able to find very nice places around Shenzhen. Yesterday Mark and I had another attempt to get to ‚Dapeng Fortress‘ an old walled-town that was a key battle site in the Opium War. A few weeks ago Johanna and I failed to find it since we forgot to bring our guide-book and couldn‘t explain other people about it. This time I just showed the bus stewardess my book and she came back to me with a nice little booklet (in Chinese of course) that described how to get there and had a ‚collection‘ of beaches and walking trails on ‚Mirs Peninsula‘ where the Fortress is situated. In the (new) city of Dapeng we had to switch busses and fortunately enough a nice Chinese man though not speaking a word of english explained us that he was going in the same direction by showing us his working ID of the Nuclear Power plant and pointing it out on the map. After visiting the old city we tried to get to one of the beaches that was described in the little booklet. We had to ask around a bit but found the right bus and were immediately surrounded by a group of young Chinese happy to be able to speak English.
At the beach we had the curious sight of the below. Since it was one of the few public beaches where you didn‘t have to pay an entrance fee it was used by photographers for (kitschy) wedding shootings. But it wasn‘t only one or two couples half of the beach was full of them. There were about 20-30 wedding couples in white and sometimes very colorful dresses. The Chinese we met explained me that it was very common to do this as the sea or the ocean is a very strong romantic symbol. And since there are about 1.3 billion Chinese it can be seen just normal too to see the couples as numerous.


view off the coast on ‚Mirs Peninsula‘


Dapeng Fortress


wedding photo shootings

democracy

I found a ‚nice‘ entry in my notebook today where I wrote down the encounter with a strange but funny guy in Turkey. I was in Trabzon, far east on the Black Sea coast, and was traveling without a guidebook so the tourist information was usually the first stop on arrival in a new city. In Trabzon I was asking my way to it with the help of my extremely poor Turkish to then meet a guy who would speak German really well. He was the Head of the Tourist information and for some reason had studied German for many years (though has never been there). The cheap hotel that fit my wallet was right next door so he took me there and even negotiated a price for me (even though that might sound suspicious the price was really fair so I didn‘t care). The morning of my departure he came again to say goodbye and ask me where I would go next. So I told him that my plan was to go towards ‚Van‘ stay there for a few days and then get on the train to Tehran. ‚Iran?‘ he asked me pulling up his eyebrows ‚Why do you want to go there? You know in Germany big democracy, Turkey..hmm…little democracy, Iran no democracy.‘
Sadly enough after „the most free held [elections] anywhere in the world“ (Ahmadinejad earlier this week) his statement proves right.

Locust adventure

We found this tough little guy up on the rooftop of our office building in the 26th floor yesterday during lunch break. In the back you can see the skyscraping office towers including the China Merchant’s Bank Tower (the tallest building in the row).


“Nobody owns marijuana, man.”

I already posted this on ‚freeunibz.net‘ today but I figured I could as well just put it here. So here’s to you my dear brother who always thinks designers don‘t do anything except getting stoned…“Nobody owns marijuana, man.”

“Base ‘lights up’ pot-ential through creative reuse.”

Base, an award-winning international design firm, announces that its concept packaging design for marijuana cigarettes will be featured in the upcoming issue of PRINT Magazine, on newsstands in mid July.

The magazine’s design challenge was simple: “What would a pack of marijuana cigarettes look like after legalization?” In response, Base has come up with a clean and simple design strategy that recycles mass-produced everyday items popularly used by smokers to transport their secret stashes. The design proposal suggests that anything – from a film canister to an Altoids’ tin – once painted white and marked with the iconic five-blade leaf sticker could be transformed into packaging. The bold, black-and-white design frees the containers from their previous commercial branding.

By re-contextualizing existing containers, Base subverts the environmentally unfriendly cycle of disposable packaging, offering instead a “greener” message more appropriate to the world of marijuana. By offering many types of packaging, Base takes into consideration the many ways people roll marijuana cigarettes and the equally wide variety of people who smoke them. “There’s a whole ritual and tactile experience that goes with smoking, and we didn’t want to detract from that,” said Tom Greenwood of Base. Driving home the point that the design’s intent is simply to be honest to the pre-existing individuality of the product, Greenwood added, “Nobody owns marijuana, man.”

I found it on Lovely Package

cantonese market

We go to this market pretty much every sunday since it’s just a few minutes away and extremely cheap for European measure.
I think it really isn‘t the worst market you can have in ‚Canton‘ but it sure is interesting to see all the treasures offered especially in the meat and sea-food ‚department‘.

I didn‘t bring my big camera so the quality is only ‚reasonable‘ but I still like these photos.

the cockroach massacre

Disgusting isn‘t it? Well if you thought that this is here in China you thought wrong I actually took this photo in Bolzano right in front of the university. I found this lovely cockroach right next to my bicycle one day. But of course we have them here, too. And the number is not too low. You can find them running in the streets in front of restaurants at night. We didn‘t have much trouble with them in the flat and as we keep the flat reasonably clean it really was alright so far. Well yesterday we had two and we could only kill one. I‘m sure the second one will show up again but where is the important question. It’s not that I like them I do think they‘re nasty little animals but I was completely freaked out not by the appearance of a cockroach but rather by the hysterical shriek of my flatmate. So I decided to get the ‚chemical disaster‘ today. I wasn‘t sure whether I should get the facial masks along with the practical half a litre spray can but couldn‘t find them right away so I ended up with the spray only. We‘ll see how that will work out but I sure hope that I don‘t suffer a heart stroke because of my flatmates phobia or die of cancer caused by the chemicals.

weeeeeeeee

It is true I ‚redesigned‘ my portfolio website. I really liked the old one but it was a pain in the ass updating it since it was all hand-made. This one is a little ‚dull‘ compared to the one before yet offers a lot more to me. No special design though more content…I like…It will probably still take me a while to upload all the photos I would like to see online but for now it’s already a lot.

And I could even register the domain ‚heile-welt.net‘ a while ago so now my website can be reached through this domain as well as ‚jankliewer.net‘.

comments/critics/etc are more than welcome

When you open this blog with the famous Internet Explorer (unfortunately this is still the most-used browser worldwide) you can see this little note underneath the menu on the right. That’s where the counter is supposed to be which doesn‘t show up but instead tells you to get Firefox. I think that’s quite a funny way to convince people of something else than IE.

CCTV

The new CCTV (China Central Television) headquarters has been openend together with the Olympic Summer Games in 2008. Due to its shape the building is called ‚the trousers‘ and it sure is a really impressive piece of architecture. But unfortunately it is not liked by too many people of Beijing and therefore someone decided to put the office tower right next to it on fire (that’s my own assumption maybe it was also just an insurance scam or maybe I‘m completely off and this was really an accident caused by some very bad coincidence who knows?!).
The Tower burned out completely it even seems strange that the whole facade is somewhat melted since Beijing has a efficiently-working fire squad…
Now the CCTV tower is closed until the burnt building is torn down which of course takes some time since there is an investigation about the cause of the fire.

*21.8.2009: I had the chance to talk to the architects of the burnt building. They told me that they tried to visit the tower one week before the fire happened since it had been finished back then but couldn‘t access it. They also told me the cause of the fire which happened to be fireworks of the Chinese New Year party celebrated by the employees of the building…*


the building next to it completely burned down