Credit Crisis / Credit crunch US, UK

We’d been hearing about this for ages, without anything actually happening. To be honest it was starting to get a little boring, until now, where suddenly lots IS happening, and generally nothing positive.

For those interested, but confused by the whole thing, the Youtube video below may help. It is centred on America unfortuantely, but seeing as that is where most of the problems can be traced back to, its all relevant stuff.

I wrote a quick blog about the Design industry in the UK and whether it has been affected. Can someone please let me know?? Thanks. If i were to return to the UK, i would need to be sure that i could get a decent contract fairly quickly, plus organise a mortgage too. That can’t see that being possible at the moment, but perhaps things aren’t as bad as i’ve heard.

Suggestions needed for my next book

To my surprise, i am actually really enjoying reading the book that my sister sent to me for xmas. Without UK television here i am happy to get away from my computer and read for a little while each day. I spend my whole day on computers at work, and an opportunity to get away from that really appeals. As such, i am looking for suggestions for my next read already. I find the Russell Brand autobiography both amusing and also his difficulties remind me a little of my teenage years, except far more colourful :-)

I find it interesting to read frank accounts of people’s psychological issues and if you know of similar books that tackle the same type of topics then please let me know. At the risk of sounding incredibly poncy, i think that the more that you understand about others, the more you can understand about yourself.

I think i shall stick to celebrities for now, but only those with a modicum of integrity and an autobiography to match. For those with just stories of success to tell, i will become bored very quickly. Struggle, failure and self-destruction make for a much more interesting read.

[ Suddenly, Oliver Reed has just popped into my head :-) ]

Today in Shanghai

As i opened my curtains this morning i reminded myself just how far i have come, geographically and culturally. As i looked down on the streets below from my 20th floor the people’s lives seemed alien to me. My flat serves as a cocoon of western culture at the weekend, a santuary where i can take a break from the unfamiliar. It is only punctured by Ruby’s selection of TV programmes. So come Monday i have gotten used to my own things again, or at least as best i can.

Perhaps because its Monday, or for whatever other reason, i am feeling fairly self-reflective and introverted today.

No sooner had i got ready for work did i hear a lady banging at the door. I believe she was after 38 yuan for the water bill, but the numbers for 8 and 100 are kind of similar so i was a little confused. I believe i agreed to pay her tonight, and in return she will not cut off my water, but i am not sure on this.

She already has released a warning shot, with Internet down. My issue with paying bills is that they are written in Chinese, so i can never tell whether it is a bill, or a receipt and for which utility it refers.

I perhaps am starting to grow a little weary of the constant language diificulties. I do wonder how some people have lived in the UK for years without learning English. I have resorted to western food all weekend after some stomach issues from the indian food last week. That certainly seems to have done the trick, although my appetite for bread has somewhat diminished after dropping it from my regular diet. I can now see how Chinese people find it so filling, as are not so used to it.

Myfootballclub – I have become a Football Shareholder!!

Myfootballclub is an interesting scheme that i am going to sign up with today.

Basically, for those who don’t know about it, people from around the world have got together to buy and run a football club, with all important decisions made in a purely democratic fashion between the thousands of shareholders, through online votes.

The system seems to have worked surprisingly efficiently and decisions have already been made on things like the kit sponsor, team transfers, wage caps and TV coverage. It feels much like a real world Championship Manager, and so i am keen to be involved, for atleast one year. It is an interesting venture which i would like to follow closely, particularly when contrasting so much to the rich Premiership where things don’t really seem real, and fans now have very little input.

Others seem to feel the same, too, with membership reaching 33,000 or so from over a hundred countries across the world.

For my 35 pounds, it is worth a go, and perhaps, if successful, this myfootballclub project could trigger a new style of club management, but we’ll have to wait and see.

This weekend, apart from signing up for myfootballclub i shall continue to work on my painting shop and also go through a batch of DVDs that we purchased earlier. The paintball was unfortuantely cancelled due to lack of numbers. The weather is sunny today and although still cold, it is a little more positive around the city, with people skating and playing frisbee in the neaby park. We joined in with some Badminton, until Ruby lost the shuttlecock in a tree!

Xujiahui Trip, south Shanghai & buying from Craigslist

With paintball and a BBQ planned for Saturday, it could be an interesting weekend, as Sunday is now planned too.

I have been meaning to get Ruby a laptop recently so that she can practice her English during the week. It is already very good, but greater exposure can help her to expand her vocabulary and also get used to different types of accents, be it American or regional English.

I am after just a second hand one to serve this purpose, as i do not have great amounts of Yuan to throw around currently, and her appartment is also not secure enough to store an expensive new model safely. Oh, and im a bit tight, too ;-)

Via Craigslist i made contact with a seller, a westerner, and plan to meet him early Sunday morning in Xujiahui, south Shanghai. There are many scams from Craislist, as there are many scams in China and on the Internet. So, i will be very careful. However, there is something more comfortable with buying from a westerner here. The style of the ad, plus his responses to my questions also give me a good gut-feeling, but i will still meet with the expectation that all may not be as it seems.

Xujiahui is an area in central Shanghai that i have not visited much previously. For this reason, i think we may as well take a look around whilst we are there. Xujiahui has its own page on Wikipedia, so i should be able to find a few things to do easily enough.

McDonalds delivery in Shanghai

McDonalds – not, in my opinion, anything that the West should be proud of. They represent alot of bad things, and their food is certainly not to my taste. Its been many years since i ruled them out as a takeaway option, with Burger King & KFC just about passable.

As of this week though, McDonalds is back! And i will make no apologies. Organising dinner after a long day work can be a pain, particularly when you dont speak the local lingo. I have many days here when the simpler option defeats the better quality food option. Most food deliveries though sting me 3 pounds for delivery, which over the course of the week begins to add up. McDonalds, with all their plastic burgers and floppy vegetables though, only 70p and can bring it all around quickly so everything is still warm – great!

For the time being i am putting health & fitness issues aside and just getting on with stuff. If i was entirely worried about my health, i wouldn’t be living in Shanghai, i guess. I’ll have plenty of time to reverse this behaviour in the future, so for now will stuff my face with junk food and enjoy it for what it is. I think being health conscious all the time, is a little dull.

[ For the record, try Sherpas for a bit variety, if you haven’t already. Hell, maybe even try cooking something yourself ;-) ]

For any Wai Guo Ren searching for how to order McDonalds in Shanghai, find information below:

Step 1
Call 4008 517 517 from your home phone or mobile

Step 2
Press ‘2′ for English (or press ‘1′ for Chinese)

Step 3
If this is your first time calling, you need to register your address with them. So just tell them your address (they are speaking English after all). If it’s not your first time, they will tell you your phone number and address before proceeding to Step 4…

Step 4
Order your fat food, and then enjoy / feel sick…

Vedas Indian Restaurant, Shanghai

Tonight am off to Vedas Cuisine for a good posh curry. Some of the Indian restaurants here are really good, and at about the same price levels as in London. One such place is Vedas, which i have has deliver to me on occasion. I thought its about time i stop being so lazy and actually visited the restaurant itself.

The food on offer is near identical to that served back home, except Naan tends to be much thinner and lighter and poppadoms don’t seem to have such an integral role in the meal as they do in UK. They’re about £1.50 each, which might explain that.

Deaf, Dumb & Blind

Well i’d like to think that i don’t fit into the second of those categories, but i certainly do in the remaining two, on this monday morning.

Blind is a given, with my -6.00 contact lens prescription. Even with the lenses in, i still struggle to see on the way to work as the dirty air of Shanghai rush hour clings to my eyes like bees to honey. I have been long enough from UK now to forget quite a few things, including how bad the London air is in comparison. Perhaps i look back at my favourite city with rose-tinted glasses now, but it is much cleaner a capital these days, with less polluted air [ thanks to the congestion charge ;-) ].

The Thames now seems clean enough to fish safely from too, which is more than i can say for Suzhou river in Shanghai.

As of this weekend it seems that i can add deaf to the list, too. I seemed to have developed some sort of internal cold which just clogs up one half of my face, so that i can’t hear anything, but leaves the rest of my body well alone. This is ok, but i can hear my footsteps in my head as i walk, which is kind of strange. Add to that the fact that i stayed up until 4am last night watching sport on the Internet and im not exactly firing on all cylinders today. Alas, there are only simple tasks for me today that i can easily get on with without needing to access the slurring neurons to my fuzzy bonce too often.

If you’ve a romantic heart, and are hoping to find a post detailing my love-laden valentines weekend then you’ll be sadly disappointed. Ruby sometimes is hard to read, and shows off that common asian-girlfriend trait of being overly-agreeable to a fault, but this friday she turned up from Ningbo and let me know that she really wasn’t that fussed about visiting Suzhou. I was not so disappointed as i got to stay in and watch sport, plus go further with my Russell Brand book which is quite entertaining thus far, if a little lot disturbed.

With Suzhou, alongside Nanjing, shelved until March we kept Valentines Day simple. We treated ourselves to an Indian takeaway, her current favourite foreign nosh, and i treated her to a bottle of Baileys. I made sure she took what was left of it back with her, as it wouldn’t last long in my flat. I can get a little grumpy if i spend too long in the flat, but after making some headway with our shop on Google, plus with warmth and sunlight slowly returning to Eastern China, i was ok.

Since arriving in China budgeting has been tricky, and finances have been a common concern hanging over me like a grey Mancunian skyline. These worries have been lifted for the time being after some good developments at work, which should help me to even put a little aside each month, from now on.

I am now contemplating investing in a treadmill, though i will need a design which can accommodate my currently wide frame. I have been quoted around 4-5,000 Yuan (divide by 10 for British pounds) from the local Carrefour supermarket, but think i can get a better deal online. Online purchases in China is slightly more complicated than doing so in US or UK, with cards and websites less professionally set up, or with more security hoops to jump through. Therefore, i will only buy something online if it can save considerable amounts of money. This frustratingly slow process takes away the whole point of buying online, but hopefully in the future things will improve.

The week ahead – more of the same really. The company is organising a day out with Paintball and some food afterwards, which could be fun. They put on some pretty good events, fairly regularly as many foreigners in Shanghai dont always have so much to do, or people to do it with. For mid-week i shall just continue to balance work on my shop with mindless TV that i continue to enjoy.

Once my Eastenders omnibus is done i can continue with my History of Britain DVD.

Its fairly intense but interesting, as i only studied modern British history at school and have many gaps of knowledge to fill in. It has proven a bit uncomfortable to discover just exactly how many times our great land has been successfully invaded by all sorts of rabble over the years. Some of these dont seem to have had such a bad effect though, e.g. Take a look at Roman Bath :-)

I have 5 DVDs to get through, so i’ll forget more than i learn, but i really appreciate being able to watch something like this when so far away from UK.

Me V Smelly Chinese Government – My blog blocked.

The sods have blocked my Blog! I can’t blog, i can’t even see it!

WordPress and blogger blogs have been blocked throughout China since i arrived 8 months ago, but i found a word around which allowed to surf them from Firefox. This now doesn’t work. Also the Amsterdam server at work can’t access it either. The Chinese government recently launched an anti-smut campaign, perhaps this was part of their actions.

It really pisses me off. But two fingers up to them:

[—> 抱歉,这是笑话 <—-]

I have found a work around, by using MirrorBlog via Facebook. It is pretty unstable, but seems to work.

I’ll find out when i hit submit post, now!!…

If ok, i can submit other recent posts that i couldn’t put up…

Trouble in paradise = a big rant

Despite a reasonably warm reception last week in Lanzhou, it now appears that Ruby’s father is very much against our relationship for a couple of reasons.

As with most nationalities, Chinese puts monetary gain ahead of all other priorities. But i think here there is a little too much concentration on just making money, to the point where other factors affecting quality of life are not important. For example, he felt i should be better served working in a different part of China where i could work as a teacher. If i chose an area with no other foreigners, he felt i could earn double what i am on as a designer. His only thought was cold hard cash, which admittedly is important. But the fact that i would have to live somewhere with no outlet for my own culture and therefore live somewhere that i would not be at all comfortable, didn’t seem to matter.

Most places where westerns choose not to venture, tends to be for a reason too. So its not like it’d even be an appealing location that westerns had yet to reach. If he was suggesting the idea as a way of helping local kids to learn English then i think that’s great, but he just was thinking of how much Yuan that i could earn.

I told Ruby that i have no time for such shallow attitudes and i do not care what he thinks of me. Sometimes people say such things when a sensitive cord has been struck, but in my case, i generally have no interest in his narrow minded views, other than if they cause trouble or stress for Ruby.

He told her that she would be better off with a boyfriend from Wenzhou, where rich men apparantly must grow on trees. I think he also fears losing her to the UK if we decided to move there one day in the future. I now do not see a need to be polite after these things he has said and see no reason to do him any favours. He seems to think that money is the answer to everything, and despite several failed relationships himself, feels qualified to dish out advice to us.

[ This hereby marks the end of this rant! If you have read this far, i am impressed! ]

Anyway, other than the rant above, things are actually quite good at the moment. The spring is on its way now and there is generally just a lot more light everywhere. This always makes a big different to my mood. Ruby and I are also probably going to Suzhou this weekend. Its an interesting tourist spot, very close to Shanghai. The high speed trains can get us there in as little as half an hour.

Its a kind of “Venice of Asia” with canals and stuff. This sounds good, except when you consider that Birmingham is known as the “Venice of England”!!