Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Some weekends ago the Yunnan gang (and my roommate Chico) went on one more trip. This time we went to Hangzhou, a nice “little” city (with only 6.4 million inhabitants) in Zhejiang province, only 3 hours away from Shanghai.

We left Shanghai on a Friday. The bus trip was kind of funny and annoying at the same time once the driver kept pulling a really loud horn that seemed to be under our seats. On top of that he had huge amounts of saliva that he insisted in throwing out of the window every two minutes in a way every single person in the bus could hear. Amazing, huh?

We arrived around 10 and it was time to find our hostel. After the trip to Yunnan and sleeping in really nice hostels we opted to stay in another hostel. It was by the West lake one of Hangzhou’s biggest attractions. Once again we did not regret our decision. The hostel was really nice but there was a problem for the first night; we were 5 and there were only 4 people bedrooms! One of us would have to share the room with some other people. We thrown a dice and, as usual, I lost so I had to move to a room where one Chinese guy and two Chinese girls were already getting ready to sleep (while the guys were still laughing out loud).

We hadn’t had dinner so it was time to search for something. Alves and Chico had already been in the city so we headed to Reggae Bar fo, their recommendation, for some pizzas. The bar was pretty full and everyone was really enjoying themselves, great vibe! After that, the usual… Partying! :) We went to 2 different clubs and ended up home around 5!

Friday night partially spoiled our sightseeing plans for Saturday. We woke up quite late but, despite the high temperature, we still rented some bikes to go for a tour around the lake. The place is really amazing. Many trees and a big lake. Unfortunately the place is quite touristic so we ended up riding our bikes in the middle of huge crowds!

After a junk food lunch (they are becoming a habit after a night out) we went shopping for shoes. They have a very traditional Chinese neighborhood where they hide illegal shops that sell any and every kind of fake merchandise. I ended up buying new football shoes which suck despite the fact that they look good and not fake.

On Saturday evening we did an “encore” of Friday’s evening (this time our good friend Paulo came all the way from Shaoxing to be with us) and on Sunday it was time to head back to Shanghai (Nuno the poor guy from Beijing still had to take a flight back home). The weekend was a lot of fun but there were a lot of sights we missed. A place to return…

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Yunnan in Pictures

As promised... :)

Monday, May 7, 2007


...is a region in the south of China. It has borders with Tibet, Burma, Laos, Vietnam and two other Chinese provinces and accounts for "only" 60% of all biodiversity in China. Impressive, huh? :)

We took a flight from Shanghai to Kunming, the capital of the province. This was the first of 6 stops in only 9 days... An intensive journey, as it should always be! :) Kunming, a city of 5 million inhabitants, received us well. Broad avenues, noisy roads, busy people and a feeling from the west that "only" McDonald's, KFC, Louis Vuitton and Nike seem to be able to provide. The other face of the coin is a city where poverty is constant and people struggle to live decently.

As big cities were not really what we were aiming for the next stop was Shilin and the stone forest. Can you imagine a massive amount of huge rocks with imponent and funny shapes in the middle of trees and green? Well... I couldn't either, that's why we decided to go, and we weren't disappointed! I guess the pictures (that I will post soon) can speak by themselves!

Back to Kunming to sleep the next stop was a little village called Dali. Located in a valley by a lake, Dali seems to be a bit lost in time. Old buildings, nice little shops, a great Thai/Indian/Burmese restaurant, a cute and unbelievably cheap hostel (1€ per night) and a very cosy bar called Kafka made us feel at home. During the day we rented some bikes and got lost in some villages in the surroundings. We met really nice people who work in the fields all day, don't get more than 70€ a month but still smile at us. It really made me think about how privileged we are...

The next stop was Lijiang. About 4 hours in a bus to complete less than 200km. There, we found a picturesque city, which is humanity patrimony by Unesco. In downtown all buildings are made of wood and the background view is stunning... a mountain, almost 5000m high! Unfortunately we had not much time and we just stayed one night. We hired a driver who had a jeep and continued all the way Shangri-La. In between there was an obligatory stop: Tiger Leaping Gorge. It's one of the biggest Gorges in the world, just amazing. The less amusing part was the number of people there. Still worth it though!

In Shangri-La we visited a Buddist temple and went to a national reserve park where yaks walk around freely. Everything there is very peaceful but, as always we had to run. This time a plane was waiting for us back in Lijiang. After the mountains it was time to go to Xishuangbanna and its luxurious forests. That day we woke up with 5 degrees (Shangri-la) and went to bed with over 30 (Xishuangbanna)... Yes it's still the same province! :)

The objective was to go to the forest and sleep in a tree house. In between we visited some Dai villages (Chinese minority) and visited their homes. Incredibly simple and warm, it was great to be able to share a bit of their lifestyle. At last we arrived at the forest. It was already dark when the guard walked us to our cabins and for our luck there was no electricity. The dark and noisy forest and us... We spent part of the night waiting for the elephants but unfortunately we didn't see any (we believe we heard them though) :). The day after was spent walking around in the forest and seeing the animals; elephants, monkeys, snakes, wild pigs and many more.

Our trip was about to end so we decided to take it easy in the last day. Good food, great weather, it was time to relax before taking the plane back to Shanghai. Feeling tired never had this taste... The best ever!

Golden Week

...yes, I was out traveling again! :)

I know it seems like it has been all I've been doing since I arrived China but everything happens for a reason. This time the reason was the May Golden Week! God Bless that!!! :)

In order to celebrate the workers' day all Chinese have 3 days off - actually this trip showed me that most Chinese don't have vacation, but it looks like everyone do because there are so many of them! These 3 days become 5 working days because everyone works the weekend before the holiday. In the end, and counting the weekend after there are 7 nice vacation days!

The final result is many millions of curious and adventurous Chinese traveling inside the country and abroad. Well; in China, be Chinese - only to a certain extend :) - so me and my friends João Alves, Rui Bom and Nuno Pereira decided to go to Yunnan, one of the most exquisite provinces in China.

Before the post about the trip here is a map that will certainly give you a hint about why we chose to go there! :)

Saturday, April 14, 2007


...and you all want to know where the hell is Hainan? One month ago that was also my question...

...so I checked a map! :) Good surprise, huh? Hainan is an island in the very south of China, in the same latitude that Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma. And what does that mean? Yes... GREAT WEATHER! The weather in Shanghai changes a lot. It's perfectly normal to have a day with 26 degrees followed by a day with 13 so me, my roommate Chico and my friends Rui Bom and António decided that was time for some sun and to get rid of our pale color. Sanya, in the very south of Hainan was the location... 3 hours by plane from Shanghai et voilá! Welcome to the tropics! When we went out of the plane we could feel it right away, 25 degrees and the clock was already 11pm! Waiting for us at the airport was a taxi driver, that happened to be the craziest we've ever met. He didn't speak a word of english so we had to use our "broad" knowledge of the Chinese language (thanks Rui without u we wouldn't make it!!). He was supposed to take us to the hotel but we started to ask rightway where the clubs were. He got confused because he thought we wanted to go somewhere else and specially because he was not understanding much of our Chinese. Why? It took us some time to figure out... It happens that he spoke cantonese instead of mandarin!!

On the way to our resort (check it out at http://www.resortintime.com/english/default.aspx) the music in the taxi was loud and the guy was dancing! (I'll post a video proving :P). Eventually we got to the hotel and then it was time to relax. The beach was good and the weather perfect. The resort facilities were not 5 stars (although they were rated that way) but were still very good so apparently nothing could go wrong. But there was one little thing about Sanya... The nightlife was a bit disappointing and we spent all nights in the same bar - Sky.

One of the days we went to a small island nearby to do scuba diving. We had a driver all day with us for 150 RMB (15€) that took us there and waited all day. We were a bit disappointed with the scuba diving but the beach was definitely worth it! We ended up sitting in the beach and having a foot massage...

As we also have to eat, (and Portuguese do like to eat well :) ), we ended up in a Brazilian restaurant and meeting one of the 2 brazilians that live in Hainan, Armando! Other than us, Armando and many Chinese, Sanya was full of Russians... There were people coming all the way from Moscow! We don't know why but they were there... Lots of them! :)

To sum up, we came back happy, relaxed and tanned! All for 270€ (plane and 3 nights at the hotel) + 120€ (other expenses). You got to love China!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Biker in Town

Two weekends ago, me and Chico went to buy bikes. I said I would never ride a bike in Shanghai but... Evolution is inevitable, and we have to be enough open minded for new challenges. Yeah, it's dangerous as hell - the only rule is that the bigger vehicle has priority regardless of any traffic sign or regulation - but I decided to risk it! I believe that if I am able to ride a bike in Shanghai I'll be able to ride a bike anywhere in the world (maybe even become a MotoGP rider). :)

Chico had bought his bike before me and spent the whole day telling me about the advantages of having one. After a while I agreed and we left. The objective was buying the bike and then going for a tour in Shanghai. He took his bike and I sat in the "back seat". First stop Taco Bell for great enchilladas and Chinese people dressed like Mexicans. The best thing is that when we entered the restaurant all of them were shouting HOLA!!! at us. Just hilarious. It happened that it was the only word they knew in Spanish. Good effort though. :)

After lunch we went on with our journey to the bike shop. We were half the way when the unexpected happened. Chico bought the cheapest bike in the store (something like 18€). Obviously the material was not the best and not prepared to carry 2 guys... Result: the wheel collapsed!! We almost fell down and everyone couldn't stop laughing!! One day after buying the bike we had trashed it... Nice, huh? We could not ride it anymore so we took it to the bike shop (about 30 minutes walk) on our hands.
Just a bit busy! :)

The bike shop is in a very busy street full of traditional shops that sell almost anything. The guy only speaks chinese and.... GERMAN! Why? Because he lived there for some years... Got some money and opened his own business in Shanghai. Chico gave his bike to the mechanic and I started my search. It took 3 minutes, I had found my baby! Yeah!!! The only thing that was keeping me from "her" were 40 long minutes of bargaining (i have no idea how i managed but I guess my GerChinglish is quite good!). But no one could separate us! 300 RMB (30€) and my upgraded (yes... 2 locks, a bell and a hamper) babe was ready for Papa!

About to find my Babe!!

As security comes first I had to buy a helmet, hehe! The result was this... Shanghai has a new biker in town!
My Cutie... :)

YMCA? :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The JLJ Group

I have now been in China for over a month and I haven't written a line about my job... I know, I know, a shame!

Well, I am working as a Consultant at a company called JLJ Group. Basically, the company provides solutions for companies interested in starting or developing a business in China. From market consulting, to corporate formation, human resources to tax & accounting. To sum up, everything a company might need here in China! :) (my boss will have to pay me for the free advertising, hehe).

JLJ welcomed me at the company's website! :)

The company is located in West Nanjing Rd., in the very center of Shanghai and just a nice 20 minute walk from my apartment. It has about 50 employees in the different divisions and we're about 8 in the consulting team. Everyone has been really friendly with me and I do have great colleagues. I know I have only been working there for about one month but I can already feel that I am learning a lot. Both Alessandro (my Boss and the Partner in charge of the consulting division) and Candice (Project Manager) have great experience in the industry so everything has been rewarding even if sometimes I feel really lost. Consulting is not an easy industry but I believe it will eventually pay-off all the hard work. I am currently working on a logistics project and it has been a great challenge. I've been placed in the "spotlight" and given a lot of responsibility. I surely wasn't expecting it but I think I'll be alright! :)

Three weeks ago, just before the Chinese New Year, we had JLJ's annual dinner in a very nice Japanese restaurant. Everyone was there and I had a lot of fun. Monica, our office manager prepared gift exchanges and fun games... I ended up playing Twister at the restaurant with Jonas - a Swedish guy from Umea (how amazing is that!?!?) who is charge of the tele-marketing division) - and two other Chinese colleagues. It is important to refer that there was some heavy saké drinking during the dinner. You're suppose to celebrate the new year with everyone and whenever someone says GAMBEI you have to take a shot of whatever u are drinking. We were "only" 50 there so take your conclusions!!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Loop from Beijing

You just gotta love technology...

To your delight... Pics from Beijing! (The Vids will come soon)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

168, Xinzha Lu

...That's where I live!!!

View from my Balcony - Meridien Hotel (high building to the left) and Radisson Hotel (high building to the right)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Beijing in Pics

The Portuguese Clan in Beijing + a Shangainese :)

Emperor Temple outside Beijing

The Great Wall

in Transition