Sunday, April 29

Joe Hisaishi @ Beijing Concert Hall

Went to see one of my favorite piano artists from Japan who came to Beijing. He has done soundtrack to many awesome movies by Studio Ghibli like: Totoro, Spirted Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Was my first time I went to see a piano concert. Beautiful tunes!!

Summer by Joe Hisaishi

Subway was packed in the evening...
Beijing's concert hall
There were also a few violin and cello players

Saturday, April 28

Getting a Chinese driving license

I should have done this years ago but been delaying it because I wasn't sure what all I need to get a license here in China. It was really easy to find online what other foreigners have done to obtain it. And it's actually not too complicated IF you already have a license in your own country.

So what I need to get it is:

1. Passport and 1 copy of it
2. Visa valid more than 3 month and a copy of it
3. 4 pictures with white background
4. Health check-up at a local hospital
5. Temporary living permission
6. Original driving license
7. Translation into Chinese of my original driving license

Cherry blossom outside the hospital
I went to get the health certificate at Chaoyang hospital, it was smooth and cost me only 10 RMB. And the doctor who did it wasn't too picky about it. I even passed as NOT color blind even though I slightly am. Good that I passed as not colorblind because otherwise I would not even be allowed to drive in China or even apply for a license. The doctor also asked my height, he didn't bother to measure it himself. And then he checked my eye sight. That's it, 5 minutes later I had my certificate. 

Registration area was empty and just took a few minutes

Next week I have to go and give in all the documents and write a test and score 90% right. There are 1000 questions in total which 100 are chosen for you. The questions are really Chinglish and some even incredibly stupid. Will post some of them when I get my reviewing book. 

The office and getting there

The reason why I moved to Dongzhimen is that there is a buss terminal where I can take buss 951 straight to the office. The office is about 30 km away but the buss ride is pretty comfortable. They have new buses going every 5 minutes and it takes the express to airport so it takes about 1 hour getting there. Public transportation in China is cheap, only costs 2 RMB one way.

Some que to the buss but there was no need to stand durign the buss ride, I got 3 seats for myself
 It's great in China when you can open the buss window on warm days

Our office is at the China Customs house just north of the airport. This area is developing a lot and new buildings are being build all over the place. The office is big and spacey and very quiet.

Office room, still needing some decorations

On misty and polluted days can't really see the airport but it's very close

The new Gym

Get a gym card for the coming 12 months for only 1800 RMB. One third of the price I paid in Shanghai although this places isn't as nice. The HOSA gym is less than 10 minute walk from home so getting there is easy. I used to go to the same place when living here over 1 year ago.They used to have a pretty good steam-room but it does not work anymore.
Safety first with Chinglish

And obviously "anyone can do it" here, at least by the looks of this guy.... 

Wednesday, April 25

Living in Beijing - AGAIN - FBCB Annual meeting

The first 4 days in Beijing were extremely polluted. The air was so thick that it could have cut it with a knife. After walking outside for a while my throat was sore in the evening and it was heavy to breath. Best to stay home with all windows shut and air conditioner off. The US Embassy's weather control said it was HAZARDOUS. The highest number i got was 445 on the meter. It only goes to 500...Normally it should be around 10-30 for good air...

Can't be good to inhale this in the long run!! Really does not matter if your a smoker or not in Beijing, your lungs will be dark anyway.
It was almost like a miracle to wake up today with clear blue sky and air quality 20! Air was really fresh after 2 days of rain here. It was like being in Finland suddenly. (picture from my living room)
The CCTV tower that burned down 2009. They are STILL rebuilding it. The could not tear it down because it balances the other CCTV tower so all steel structure had to be rebuild. Dear taxpayers, you just lost a few billion RMB...
This is one of the reasons for bad air, traffic here basically don't move when it's rush hour and it's impossible to get a taxi

I also went to buy a scooter. Got it second hand from a guy who was moving away from Beijing. But the place I had to get it from was very far away. The battery didn't last for the whole way because the guy who sold it to me had not charged it so I had to walk. And in this scooter model I can't take out the battery which makes it very hard to charge since the living compound I live at does not offer charging service like my last one in Shanghai. I had to take it up to my kitchen for charging. The scooter is so big that it took me a few minutes to fit it into the elevator...Very 麻烦

Charging the battery in my kitchen...

 There is a new Jenny Lou opened just downstairs of the compound, now cheese is just 5 minute walk away!
 Was walking next to Sanlitun and saw this. Someone's bike had started to burn and there were just ashes left and fire department were here. Also some soldiers and police asking what was the cause. I think it was one of those carts that sell smoked sweet potatoes for 3 rmb...

 We had the Annual General Meeting for the Finnish Business Council where the ambassador started with a great speech about China  in 2012. The new communist party that will change this year, China's slowing growth from 10% to 8% and other social problems that China is phasing etc. The meeting was held  in Royal Smushi House which is a Danish restaurant opened a few months ago. Place was nice but food soso...
 Smushi art
 I kiss better than I look :) 
 My traffic card for buss and subway didn't work anymore so I had to go and fix it. The place was on the other side of the city in Xidan and it was really hard to find. I walked around for about 1 hour before finding it. I asked people how to get here but many gave me different directions...Finally found it and the que was long...In 9 days I can go and get my card back again.
An old building close to sanlitun made into a restaurant. Looks nice, should go and try it someday

Trip to Shenyang & Fushun 2 days

The Finnish Business Counsel organized a 2 day trip to Shenyang. The Ambassador and a small team (including me) went to visit new developing areas of Shenyang and it's neighbor city Fushun. Shenyang's GDP has grown about 54% since last year and the whole city if liturally full of new houses, facotries and other facilities being build. Was amazing to see so much development. But this city still has a long way to go to reach even close to Beijing or Shanghai. I saw a lot of horses and donkeys on the streets just outside the city which tells something about the development. 

Shenyang's TV tower
New buildings everywhere
The first company we went to visit was Neusoft. It's a Chinese software company started by some university students. The NEU word comes from North East Universities (of China). The company has grown so much that they run own universities to which they get young talent to apply and later they recruit them. They have about 50.000 employees globally so it's a huge company. They have also developed some health monitoring machines specially made for Chinese rural villages. It's a machine that measures your health and then send the information to the nearest hospital (sometimes up to 1000km away) so that the villagers can monitor their health home and not go to the doctor if they have "small" problems. People in rural places live on a very short budget on about 1€/day so you cannot do much travel or pay doctors with that unless you use up all your savings. Neusoft has been doing a lot of co-operation together with Nokia and other smaller Finnish companies. 
Directors of Neusoft
The also manufactures a car with super tuned sound system, but for what use?
The health moitoring device
The cafeteria in the executive building looked like something straight from Europe...
After the company visit the Shenyang Vice-Mayor took us out for lunch at a really posh place. I had the biggest lobster in my life here. And the rest of the food was also amazing! 
We continued to the Mobile Phone Industry Park where they make SIM cards and other phone components. First they gave us a presentation about the mobile parks development and we also introduced ourself and our company. I was the only Finnish person who did my own presentation in Chinese :) 
They had my chinese name a little wrong "Sai-ba-shi-tian / Nu mai lin
In the there were some really strong chemical smells in the factory and I had a headache the rest of the day just by staying in there for 20 minutes. Can't imagine how those people feel who work there 12 or 16 hours a day...Well, we need cheap phones :)

Making the glass screens for touch phones
Phone assembly line 
SIM card machine
After the phone factory we went to a place where they make X-Ray testing machines. These machines make sure that the X-Ray machines are safe and good quality. It was a bit worrying that they had these radiation signs on the doors...
Fallout 4 - New Shenyang
The "testing area"

The traffic was horrible and it took us very long time to move from place to place. We probably sat in the buss 6 hours so half of the day. They were building a subway network so only half of the lanes were in use. But we had a police escort the whole time who was efficiently making way for us by using the sirens and honking to anybody who came in the way and driving against red lights...In the evening they took us to a massage place and I fell asleep very fast after a 16 hour long day.
Day 2 we drove 60 km north-east to a town called Fushun and went to visit Lapland Foods cheese factory. They gave us a company presentation about their cheese and after it we had a lot of wine and cheese. Was really tasty!! 
Before going to the airport back we had a lunch at another amazing restaurant where they had all soft of dishes. I ate so much good food on this trip! The table was decorated with some "Heavy Metal" fgures. When we asked if they have heavy metal music in Fushun they didn't understand what we meant...
With every dinner and lunch they also served vinegar in bottels. It's suppose to help you drink more alcohol but tasted VERY vinegarish. 
Some scenery when we were driving around the town. Huge statue of Mao
This is how Fushun looks like...
 Looks like HALO (only nerds will get this)

Cups at the airport were funny "This cherry is very tempting"