Wednesday, February 29

Gone for a while, starting with Hong Kong

A lot of new things have come up and I'll be traveling around for about 2 weeks now. First stop starts today to Hong Kong! It's been over half a year since last time. Getting to Pudong airport when living on the Puxi side always takes some time. There are basically 3 ways to get there.
1. Subway all the way but that takes almost 2 hours.
2. Subway/taxi to the Maglev station which goes to airport
3. Taxi the whole way but it's almost 200 rmb.
It's a lot warmer here than Shanghai! Around 20 degrees so no need for thick clothes, finally. We checked in at Bishop Lei hotel. They didn't have the smoke-free room I ordered with 2 beds but the cleaners came to take the bed we had apart and problem was solved. Went to a Mexican place in the bar/restaurant district and they had pretty much every spicy sauce in the world. Also all the Tabasco sorts there are, HOT!
Best spice in a row
View from the lobby porch is also amazing...If it wouldn't be so misty.

Monday, February 27

Rainy rainy Shanghai

The weather has completely sucked whole last week and this week it's cold! I haven't seen the sun for over a week now and so many things have been going on the past 10 days that I haven't even had time to write anything. I tried to make this blog a few days ago but the VPN has been working pretty bad. But here it comes!

Rainy Bund
The weekend was busy with all kinds of happenings. On Friday the Nordic Chambers her organized a Stand-Up comedy show. There were 4 people in turn on the stage but only the first and last were any good. The rest pretty much sucked. I liked the first guys comment: "You know why it is so great to have a Chinese girlfriend? Because then you will have tons of stuff from Taobao! Anybody who spent some time in China will know what that is. I think I did a story about it around 1 year ago. It's Chinas biggest online market, a lot like Ebay but so so so cheap and easy to use if you know any chinese. WWW.TAOBAO.COM
Went showing some friends around town who were visiting from Finland. We went to one of the biggest LV stores in the world. In China the taxes for luxury goods is very high so buying from here is around 30% higher than Europe.
The new Shanghai Tower, will be done in a few years and about 700 meter high!
Saturday was Mr. Manners birthday. We started with a nice dinner at Apartment followed by Geisha and M1nt. Think I came home around 4 or so followed by a whole day of sleep on Sunday. What a week really, work has been much busier than normal.
Few days ago in the middle of the night I heard a loud POW outside my window. 2 taxis smashed into each other on a total empty crossing. Seriously, how bad driving skills can you have??

Monday, February 20

A weekend i Korea - Visiting North Korea DMZ

The Manzhouli trip was just for 2 days and the next evening I took a flight back to Shanghai. The transfer in Beijing was very tight. The plane was 25 minutes late in Beijing and landed in terminal 1 and my next flight left from terminal 3 which is a 20 minute taxi ride. The driver was really pisst off when I told him to go to the other terminal but still agreed. I arrived in the terminal 19.55 and the plane started boarding at 20.00. The check in was easy with the online computer stations at the airport and security check fast as well and then I ran to the gate and was one of the last passenger on board! Pweh! Really close call...

Classic engRish @ airplane food
Friday's here and I'm off to Korea! Been in China over 4 years now but never visited even though it's less than a 2 hour flight. We landed at Incheon airport and there was 2 ways to get to the Gangnam area, subway and buss. They told us at the airport that the buss would be a better option. But it wasn't really. Buss got stuck in traffic and it took 2 hours to arrive to Yeoksam station where our hotel was. With subway we probably would have avoided the traffic...Next time subway. The buss however was awesome! Benches in the buss were bigger than in a movie cinema.
Huge benches, going "America"
Hotel was also beyong my expectations, we only paid 100 euros for the whole weekend nad had a huge Jacuzzi in the room. Rooms were also big and warm with super fast WiFi and huge Tv. And there was a subway stop just outside the hotel.

The first night we just waked around the hotel and went to restaurant where I had so far the best Korean food so far! Absolutely amazing! Found some funny signs and other things the area as well :)
Awesome foooood!
This bar was called....WHY...
A small bar just next to our hotel
Hey, I'm duck!
Koko pelle, means the whole idiot in finnish
Rock bar, the coolest bar in Seoul!
This place wasn't too great
Saturday morning we set out for the a tour trip to the North Korean border! The trip started from the Lotte hotel which seemed to be the most fancy hotel in town. We took a buss ride to the Demilitarized Area, also called as Joint Security Area. The war between south and north korea never ended officially, they are just in a "seize fire state". Last year a war almost started when North Korea fired at some soldiers on an islands with a ship...The 2 parts have been very hostile towards each other since then....

Miles and miles of barb wire, the colorful things are prayers the South Koreans put out for safety for the North Koreans
Ooops, I had to take a picture
North Korea on the other side of the lake and a lot of watch towers on the way
Like a warzone....
The boarder is amazing, something out of this world. There are guards walking around with rifles 24h and from the North Korean border they watch every move we made with binoculars. We also saw the "Freedom Bridge" which was used after the war for war prisoners who were able to choose which side they want to go to. Sucks to be them who chose the north...Not much of a life when you get thrown into prison because you don't cry enough when the president dies like happened 2 months ago when Kim Il Yong died.
Joint Security Area, AKA JSA. The building behind is North Korean. In the blue house the seize fire agreement was signed in 1953.
JSA bulding which actually was a tourist gift shop
Armed soldiers, he is actually standing on North Korean soil
I'm standing on the North Korean side!!!
This train was shot over 1200 times when it crossed the border. Full of holes!
Shrine at border
Downtown is really nice! Clean, fresh air and lots of cool buildings. Also a lot of old historical buildings here and there. The whole city architecture is really modern.
Looks like an ad for rat traps :)
Snow white looks stoned
City skyline
The subway network is huge in Seoul, just look at this map!
The last day we visited the old royal palace which is over 600 years old. It was destroyed once by Japanese forced but rebuild to it's former glory. Reminds me a lot of Forbidden City in Beijing!

Entrance gate
The frozen lake was beautiful
They also have Japanese styled toilets, seat warmer, water washer so no need for paper!
Spray, dry, water pressure? Going to the toilet has never been so much fun before

Thursday, February 16

Going Arctic again

The flight left really early in the morning at 7.35 so had to get up 5 am. Luckily the plane was half empty so I got 3 seats for myself to sleep on :)

Sky is clear almost everyday, nice view from the hotel

Manzhouli was much warmer now compared to last month. Normal Finnish winter with around -25 degrees and beautiful clear blue sky with sun shining both days. Thanks Luke for the awesome hotel upgrade and a great stay at Shangri La again. Gym was empty both evening and morning when coming here.

City was more alive now than last time before the spring festival. I never feel like being in China when coming here, it’s something between an Asian and Russian town. Hopefully I’ll visit some summer. I was told that Manzhouli is like a “forever weekend” place and there are parties daily with dance shows and Russian bands playing in many clubs. There was a band playing at the hotels Russian restaurant. We were only 4 people eating, the band must have felt very appreciated with this small audience.

Seat-belts are always in the way, so why not do like this?

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