Happy Year of the Rooster!

First i would like to thank everyone for the positive feedback on the previous post, it gave me a great motivational boost going into 2017. It was also by far the most read post so far on this blog according to Google Analytics which is just as encouraging to keep this blog going. Shortly after Christmas I decided to give myself a new year’s resolution of writing one blog post a month, and with this being the last day of January I’m off to a shaky start. Here goes.

The last week in Beijing before my Christmas holiday was pretty bad in terms of air quality. My flight was close to being cancelled due to the smog and in the days leading up to my departure colleagues were asking me if I could bring some bottled Norwegian air back. At first as a joke, but towards the end only a half joke I think. Needless to say it felt great to get back home to Norway. I spent the holiday in the company of friends and family as usual, and apart from some jet lag at each end of the holiday it was great.

I returned to Beijing in the first week of January, and there is no other way to put it than that the first couple of weeks back sucked. A classic case of post holiday blues. Apart from giving my colleagues a taste of some Norwegian food (lefse and g35 bruonst), the first couple of weeks were uneventful.  January hasn’t been all boring though, with both an annual company party and the spring festival (aka. Chinese new year).

I wrote about the annual party last year, and mentioned how the lack of alcohol was a bit disappointing. This year I took matters into my own hands, and came prepared. At the airport on my way back I had bought a bottle of aquavit, and this was the perfect opportunity to introduce my colleagues to the Norwegian equivalent to Baijiu ( refer to my week 1 post if you need a reminder of what Baijiu is). Most of the FX team tried, some even seemed to like it, or at least pretend to like it, myself included. As I walked around tables to give people samples, I went into the trap of getting “high on my own supply” as I tried to convince my colleagues that the industrial sounding Norwegian booze I was offering was perfectly safe. No harm done though, I think I left the company party with my dignity intact. The after party on the other hand, i’m not entirely certain…

This week is the spring festival, and I’ve been off work since last thursday, and will continue to be for the rest of the week. Highlights so far was going out on Friday (new years eve). This was quite visible in the bar I ended up, as there quite literally was not a single Chinese person in there. Other than that I’ve been walking around Beijing, when the air quality allowed it, and when it hasn’t I’ve been binge watching the Norwegian tv-series “Skam”. For my Norwegian readers I realize i’m late to the party here, but for the rest of you I would recommend it!

The rest of the week I imagine will follow the same pattern. Hopefully I will get to explore some interesting parts of the city now that it’s so empty here.

A bottle of Linie aquavit that has gone further than most. Crossed equator twice and then went from Oslo to Beijing.
Stian, Fei Peng and myself at the annual company party.
Fei Peng performing a comedy skit during the annual party

Weight

As covered on this blog the last year has involved a fair amount of changes for me. In mid December last year i set a goal for myself to lose some weight and get in shape. I’m not sure what exactly was the tipping point. Maybe reflecting on how my sprint to reach the connecting flight to Beijing in the Amsterdam airport  a month earlier was the first time in years that i had ran? Or the shortness of breath after taking the stairs to the office on the third floor. Or the growing feeling of the environment( read smog) slowly strangling me, I didn’t want to accelerate that process by maintaining a unhealthy lifestyle.

The plan I made was simple. I bought a scale and a few pieces of exercise equipment; a dip/pull up stand and a few rubber resistance bands. My first step on the scale showed that I weighed 105 kg.

I didn’t really know too much about the science of dieting and weight loss nor was , or am, i  particularly interested, but I did know that in order to lose weight one need to reach a calorie deficit. In short: more calories needs to go out than in. In the most basic terms this could be achieved by either eating less or by increasing my physical activity. In the next two section I will break down how I went about changing my diet, followed by how I’ve been training over the last year. This is a bit of a lengthy post, so if you are not too interested in the details, I suggest you scroll down to the last couple of paragraphs.

Diet

I decided to approach the weight loss journey by initially weighing myself frequently while gradually adjusting the amount of food I ate so that I could establish a very rough baseline of how much calories I would need in order to maintain, and then later decrease my weight. I then shed off as much from that as I could without feeling like I was starving myself. For the most part this meant to carry on eating the same stuff I would normally do, but to make sure I either ate a smaller quantity of whatever I was eating or to try and avoid calorie heavy side-dishes like fries when eating out. I also made a conscious decision to make sure I wouldn’t have any snacks, candy and so on during week days. The key to achieve that was to make sure never to have any snacks in my apartment. So long as I made sure not to stock up on snacks when buying groceries, I knew that my own laziness would stop me from getting out of the apartment to get a snack if I felt the urge. Not to imply that I was able to stick to this strict rule for an entire year. There’s been several occasions over the last year when I have laid flat on the sofa on a Sunday, eating crisps and watching tv shows.

When it comes to what I eat I have done practically no alterations. I haven’t really cared about whether or not what I eat contains a lot of fat, or carbs or whatever. I think that would have made it more complicated than it needs to be. In practical terms the most important thing I kept track of was to limit the number of big meals per day. Often the lunch I have in a normal work day would be big enough to be labeled a dinner. So on the days where lunch was on the heavy side, I would compensate by having a equally light dinner.

Overall a very pragmatic approach that yielded in pretty immediate results and I rapidly lost weight. By early January I was down to double digits on the scale.

I found it easy to stay motivated and disciplined by logging every weigh in to keep track of my process. Thanks to the bluetooth enabled scale i bought this was a quite straight forward, as my weight was automatically stored in an app on my phone.

Training

As mentioned, I bought a few pieces of exercise equipment to use at home. For the first few months i aimed to do half an hour of daily strength training. Pushups, pull-ups and dips (both the latter of which I could only do a single rep of when I started) and other bodyweight exercises. It was easy to work this into a daily routine, as I would almost always find 30 minutes to spare most days.

in May i decided to join a gym to get some variation in my training, and also to be able to do some cardio based exercise. Gym’s in the Sanlitun area of Beijing are mostly quite pricy, and I was reluctant to join a gym that wasn’t within walking distance from home or work. This was simply because I know myself well enough that i would use small hurdles like public transport or long travel times as an excuse to not go. After some research I found a nice little gym close to the office, and signed up for a one year membership right away. Forking out a substantial amount of money was another useful motivator to keep myself going. No one wants to waste money, right?

In early May i did my first run on a treadmill. As far as I can recall the last time I ran for the purpose of exercising before that was in 2012, when I was doing my BA in Bournemouth. It felt easy, surprisingly easy. I ran for 30 minutes without problems. Not an amazing feat in itself, but I haven’t come close to run anywhere near that long since I was a teenager. I would credit that to weight loss rather than stamina. It quite literally felt like I had taken off a 20 kilo backpack.

The gym also provided me the opportunity to reunite with my long lost friend, the barbell. I’ve never really felt that I have any skill or talent when it comes to any form of sports or physical activity, but lifting weights has always been something I’ve been fairly good at, or at least enjoyed doing. As opposed to running, where the only thing I’m able to think of while doing it is to count the time until it’s over, pulling a barbell off the ground have always felt strangely appealing. The first week joining the gym I re-familiarized myself with deadlift, squat, military press and bench press. It felt great getting back into barbell training again after months of bodyweight squats and pushups.

My training since then have consisted of strength training three times a week and cardio training (running or rowing) one to three times per week. As with my body weight I have notoriously logged all the training I’ve done. This has been useful both for motivation and to make sure I progressively make the training harder.

Summary

Fast forward a few months until present day, as this post is getting long. The training is progressing well and I no longer actively try to lose any weight. I’m currently weighing around 78kg, and feel very comfortable with that. A couple of weeks back I reached a personal best for a 5k run at 24 minutes and 36 seconds. Strength wise I’m loading more weight on the barbells by the week, and I’m even able to do handstand push-ups, and weighted pull-ups now. I would never have thought I would able to do that a year ago! Apart from a layer of smog in my lungs, I feel fairly certain I’m better off healthwise now than I was a year ago.

One of the highlights of the past year came back in June when I went back to Norway on vacation. I think I surprised quite a few people when they saw, pardon the cliche, the new me. Loads of positive feedback and positive comments was a huge confidence boost!

I stayed active during my time back home, and seized the opportunity to run outside as much as possible. Clean air, no crowds, no traffic to be concerned about. It was the first time I’ve ever enjoyed running.

Below is some charts generated from all the weight data I have on my phone along with some photos. Apologize in advance if you read through this expecting to be rewarded with some semi-nude before/after photo, I didn’t take any.

Graph showing my weight progress from January 2016 until now. Starts off quite steep and eventually flattens out. As expected.
Graph showing my weight progress from January 2016 until now. Starts off quite steep and eventually flattens out. As expected.
This graph shows the sum of the weekly weight difference, with  each bar representing one month. From this you can clearly see how I gained some weight when I was on holiday in June, followed by some heavy compensation in July ( not good...)
This graph shows the sum of the weekly weight difference, with each bar representing one month. From this you can clearly see how I gained some weight when I was on holiday in June, followed by some heavy compensation in July ( not good…)
My access card from, show casing a slightly rounder version of myself
My access card at work, show-casing a slightly rounder version of myself
The picture of the left was taken in Glasgow in November 2014. The picture to the right  is from this week. The t-shirt's still pretty cool!
The picture on the left was taken in Glasgow in November 2014. The picture to the right is from this week. The t-shirt’s still pretty cool!

Beijing, one year in

It’s been a little more than a year since I moved to Beijing now, and about a year since I started writing this blog. It’s been a pretty memorable year. Leaving awesome Glasgow, moving to a new country. Experiencing a different culture, trying to understand that culture.  working on some cool movies, working on some less cool movies. Hearing a new language, trying to le… never mind.

It’s not too often I reflect on how fortunate I am to be working in such a global industry, that allows me to explore the world and do interesting work at the same time. Writing this blog has widened my perspective a little bit and made me more appreciative of where I’m at and what I’m doing.

In the last few months since my last post it’s gone from summer to winter in Beijing. I will try to take you through some of the highlights. In July my department at work went on a weekend trip to Beidaihe, a beach resort east of Beijing. Stian, Fei and I were supposed to take a train there on Saturday morning, but after a terrible couple of hours picking up tickets and standing in line at a overcrowded train station we finally missed the train. I think it was for the better. Judging by how terrible the train station was, the train would probably have been worse. Ultimately we ended up taking an Uber all the way there!

The first thing we noticed in Beidaihe was that it had a very strong Russian presence. Signs and street names were written in cyrillic characters as well as Chinese. Also the hotel we stayed at was Russian. As far as what you would expect from a beach resort, this place is easily the worst I’ve ever been to. Not only was the air polluted. The water was overflowing with trash and was probably not particularly healthy to swim in. Nonetheless I took a swim. My colleagues got rather worried when Stian and I started to swim, and urged us to come back to the safe shallow waters. Turns out that the majority of young chinese people does not know how to swim.

The trip to Beidaihe is the first and only time I’ve been swimming since I got to Beijing, I really hope wherever I swim next will be better!

So ever since I got here i’ve been considering getting myself a bicycle, but having to deal with being a part of the Beijing traffic, worrying over it getting stolen etc. has held me back. Recently that changed though when I started seeing this small bikes with fluorescent orange wheels everywhere:

Mobike
Mobike

That’s a Mobike. Mobike is an alternative to the typical city bikes you can rent in most big cities around the world. What makes Mobike cool though, is that it’s GPS enabled, has a built in electronic lock and pairs with an app on your phone. This means you can find a bike near you using the app, reserve it and then when you get to it, unlock it by scanning a QR code. It works really well! You can find and park them wherever, and you can pretty much always get one when you need one. It’s cheap too. 0.5 yuan per half hour! I hope this concept spreads to other cities too!

In September I finally visited the great wall. Stian’s parents were visiting him, so I took the opportunity to tag along when they were going to the wall. All though very crowded it was very nice. The wall snaking around the mountainous landscape makes a beautiful scenery.

I think that’s it for now. I’ve booked plane tickets back to Norway in December, and I’m really looking forward to spending Christmas back home with friends and family, after missing out last year. I’m planning on writing one more blog post before that, so stay tuned.

As usual, I will end the post with a bunch of photos:

Ziko's dogs
Ziko’s dogs
Wall selfie
Wall selfie
Food?
Food?
Beidaihe Beach by night
Beidaihe Beach by night
Politically incorrect candy from Hungary
Politically incorrect candy from Hungary
FX department team photo
FX department team photo
Sand boobs
Sand boobs
Stian, Fei Peng and myself
Stian, Fei Peng and myself
Swedish store in Silk market.
Swedish store in Silk market.
Russian dolls, outside the Russian hotel, in a very Russian place in China.
Russian dolls, outside the Russian hotel, in a very Russian place in China.

posers posers2

Holiday

Update from Beijing! It’s been several months since my last post, and I suppose some blogworthy things have happened, so I will try my best to recall it and get it into this post. Most notably I had a two week holiday recently, that I spent back in Norway.

Norway was great, and it was awesome to see my family again and to catch up with friends. Two of my best friends, clean air and water, was particularly appreciated as we had a lot to catch up on after a half year absence. In preparation for my holiday I had stocked up on some small bottles of cheap Baijiu (Chinese liquor) that I intended to give to friends back home and later witness their disgust after taking a sip. However that didn’t go as I had expected as everyone who tried it, to my shock and disbelief, genuinely liked it. As my co-worker Tony said when I told him about it; I should really reconsider my friendships.

Even the bag of smelly bad-tasting durian candy was relatively well received!

I spent a good portion of my holiday trying to re-claim the throne as favorite uncle for my niece, and I think might succeeded, but with probably another six months before I see her again, I will probably have to start from scratch again this Christmas.

Another high-light of my holiday was to go on what felt like a two week continuous binge-eating session. Although there’s a lot of western food to be found in Beijing nothing quite compares to home.

Other than that I spent my holiday relaxing and being outdoors as much as possible. I even managed to get sun burned less than a day after arriving in Norway.

On the subject of sun and summer. Summer has also arrived in Beijing. Judging by the number of girls I see hiding from the sun under umbrellas compared to people wearing pollution masks it would seem like they are more worried about getting dark skin than dark lungs. Coming back tan from my holiday I suspect that I’ve lost a few points on the Chinese beauty-scale.

While summer is nice and all, It’s been pretty rough here since I got back. With temperatures in the mid thirties, nothing beats the feeling of entering a room with air condition. Unfortunately my bedroom is not one of those rooms as my AC’s been bust. Yesterday it finally got fixed and I can finally go to sleep in a room that doesn’t feel like a sauna. I’m a happy man now.

A silly looking, and expensive, pollution mask I found at the supermarket.
A silly looking, and expensive, pollution mask I found at the supermarket.
butcheri
The AC guys did a nice job butchering the bedroom wall. A level of craftsmanship that I’m sure the landlord will love.
I went fishing in Norway. Got one!
I went fishing in Norway. Got one!

“SMS SMS xie xie”

Hello readers, first of all I’m going to apologize for not updating this blog in a while. The last time I wrote here was around the time of the spring festival, which seems ages ago now. That being said it doesn’t feel like all that much have happened since then. I guess it’s a good thing that it feels like that though. I think it means I’ve settled in and that I’m getting more and more used to the everyday life of living in Beijing.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting stuff for my apartment that was missing, mainly a TV. So I ordered this nice and big TV from Xiaomi. I ordered it online and knew that it was getting delivered on Sunday. Ordering stuff online is awesome, however in China there is one thing that makes it scary, and that’s if the delivery guy calls you. You can be certain it’s a bad sign, but without any Chinese people to help you it’s pretty hard to figure out what they want. So, as I feared, my phone rang on Sunday morning. Early Sunday morning, like really early, 7 am to be precise. To establish if it was the delivery guy I started saying “Xiaomi?Xiaomi?”, and when he responded by saying “Xiaomi” I felt good about my communication skills. He then went on a long monologue, which I eventually interrupted by saying “SMS, SMS xie xie”, and hung up. A few seconds later I get a text from the guy, which Google Translate translated into “Can not find your address”. Since I cant even pronounce the street I live in, I were able to tell him that I would go out on the street and see if I could spot him. Luckily I did, and finally I did get my TV. Owning a TV on it’s own is not much fun though, so I also bought myself a Playstation.

Which brings me to another thing that’s happened recently, which was that I took the subway in Beijing for the first time on my own. I don’t know why I haven’t done it earlier. It’s super easy and convenient, and as an added bonus it makes me feel tall standing on a crowded subway surrounded by Chinese people. So this ties in with me getting the Playstation, because it was on my quest to fin a store to buy games that I ended up on the subway. I had read online that there were a few shops in the GuLou area, and sure enough I found one of them. The thing with games and consoles in China is that it’s only recently become legal. And at the time of writing only very few games have been approved by the authorities. This means that if you want to get your hands on any decent games you have to get imported games, with Hong Kong being the main supplier of “grey-area games” to mainland China. To be fair though, it was incredibly easy to find this store, and it’s also very easy to buy any game online, so the game censorship is just a tiny, although annoying, obstacle at this point. After a few minutes of pointing at games, using Google Translate and looking like a living question mark in the store I finally got the games I wanted. It’s fascinating that something as trivial as going to the store and buying some games can feel like an achievement, but it sure does when communication is reduced to simple gestures. So I gave myself a pat on the back and took the subway home.

Yesterday a bunch of people from work went to the cinema to see Batman vs Superman, followed by a three course Easter dinner at Lily’s American Diner,(a very popular restaurant amongst western expats). Some of us went on to have a couple of drinks after, and that’s why I didn’t get around to updated this blog yesterday!

I think that’s it for now. I have recently joined a football team called Beijing Vikings, a team consisting of Scandinavians in Beijing, and would have loved to write some more about that, however I haven’t been able to attend any of their practices or games yet, so that’s something I will get back to as soon as I have.

Bye bye!

The Base FX, FX team out for dinner.The occasion being Johnny and Keyao leaving for Vancouver. I wish you both the best of luck!
The Base FX, FX team out for dinner.The occasion being Jonny and Keyao leaving for Vancouver. I wish you both the best of luck!
Batman vs Superman, or Tony vs Mia.
Batman vs Superman, or Tony vs Mia.
Dirt coke
Dirt coke

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Hei lesere, forst vil jeg starte med aa beklage for at det er saa lenge side forrige oppdatering. Sist gang jeg skrev var rundt Kinesisk nyttaar, og de foles som en evighet siden naa. Naar det er sagt, saa foles det ikke som det har skjedd allverden siden sist. Jeg tenker at det et bra tegn at det foles saann. Jeg tror det betyr at jeg begynner aa bli mer komfortabel med hverdagene her, og med a bo I Beijing.

De siste ukene har jeg skaffet meg ting som har manglet I leilighet; I hovedsak en TV. Saa jeg bestilte en stor og fin TV fra Xiaomi. Jeg bestilte den paa nettet og skulle faa den levert paa en Sondag. Aa kjope ting pa nettet er konge, men I Kina er det en ting som kan gjore opplevelsen noen hakk mer stressende, og det er hvis leveringsfyren ringer deg. Man kan vaere sikker paa at det er et daarlig tegn, men uten noen Kinesere I naerheten til aa hjelpe er det vansklig aa finne ut hva de vil. Saa typisk nok ringte telefonen Sondag morgen. Veeeeldig tidlig, klokka 7 for aa vaere presis. For aa finne ut om det var angaaede TVen provde jeg aa si “Xiaomi? Xiaomi?”, og jeg ble ikke saa rent lite tilfreds over egne kommunikasjonsferdigheter da han svarte “Xiaomi”. Derifra satte han igang en lengre monolog som jeg til slutt avbrot med aa si “SMS SMS xie xie” og saa la jeg paa. Noen sekunder senere fikk jeg en SMS, som Google Translate kunne fortelle meg at betydde “Kan ikke finne adressen din”. Siden jeg ikke engang kan uttale navnet paa gata jeg bor i fikk jeg fortalt han at jeg skulle ga ut i veien for aa se om jeg kunne se han. Det gjorde jeg heldigvis, saa nan er TV paa plass i leiligheten. Men en TV i seg selv er begrenset moro, saa jeg kjopte ogsaa en Playstation.

Det tar meg til noe annet som skjedde nylig, som var at jeg for forste gang tok t-banen i Beijing paa egenhaand. Jeg vet ikke hvorfor jeg ikke har gjort det tidligere, det var veldig lett og praktisk og som en ekstra bonus kunne jeg fole meg hoy der jeg sto omringet av kinesere. Saa dette knyttes til Playstationen jeg kjopte, fordi grunnen til at jeg endte opp paa t-banen var at jeg var paa jakt etter en spillbutikk. Jeg hadde lest paa nettet at det fantes noen spillbutikker i GuLou omraadet, og det tok ikke lang tid for jeg fant en av de. Tingen med spill og konsoller i Kina, er at de har vaert ulolvig fram til ganske nylig. Saa per naa er det kun en handfull spill som er offisielt lansert, og godkjent av myndighetene i Kina. Det betyr at man er avhengig av aa kjope importerte spil. Naar det er sagt var det ganske lett aa finne en av disse “graa-sone spillbutkkene” og det ville ikke vaert noe problem aa kjope spill paa nettet heller, saa den kinesiske spillsensuren er i realiteten et veldig lite, dog irriterende, hinder aa komme seg over. Etter my peking, og Google Translating fikk jeg spillende jeg ville ha. Det er fascinerende hvordan noe saa trivielt som aa gaa i en butikk aa kjope et par spill kan gi meg saapass mye mestringsfolelse som det gjor, men det gjor det virkelig da all kommunikasjon er redusert til peking. Saa jeg sa til meg selv “godt jobba”,klappa meg paa skulderen og tok tbanen hjem igjen.

I gaar dro en gjeng fra jobben ut for aa se Batman vs Superman, etterfulgt av en tre-retters paaske middag paa Lily’s American Diner (en populaer restaurant blant utlendingene her). Noen av oss gikk ut for aa ta et par drinker etter middagen, saa der har du forklaringen paa hvorfor det ikke ble noe blogging i gaar!

Jeg tror det er alt for naa! Jeg har nylig blitt med paa et fotball-lag som heter Beijing Vikings, et lag bestaaende av Skandinavere bosatt i Beijing. Jeg skulle gjerne ha skrevet mer om det, men siden jeg ikke har hatt anledning til aa vaere med paa hverken  noen treninger eller kamper enda, sparer jeg det til senere!

Happy Year of The Monkey!

Hello, it’s been a while since my last blog post. It’s been busy at work, and I have been moving out of the hotel and into an apartment. But as we are now a few days into the year of the monkey, and I’m settling in to the new apartment I thought it was about time to give this blog some attention again!

A couple of weeks ago there was an annual party with the company. This lines up with Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, and is fairly comparable to company Christmas parties that most westerners are accustomed to. Alcohol played a less prominent role compared to the company parties I’ve been at earlier, but it was still pretty entertaining. It was a interesting mix of games, singing and dancing on stage, as well as some prize draws. I took part in a game on stage myself, where me and some other foreign colleagues were trying our best to say some Chinese idioms, and the objective was for the Chinese to guess what we were saying. Not sure how popular it was with the crowd, but it’s nice to know that my language struggles can be of some entertainment to others 🙂

Last time I wrote here I was on an apartment hunt. That has now ended! I moved into a nice little apartment last weekend. The living room and bed room is quite spacious, the kitchen just about big enough to fit everything needed, while the bathroom is probably the smallest bathroom I have ever seen. But after living here a week, it turns out it does the job. I will get some pictures up of it at some point.

Last weekend I went to Ikea to get some essentials for the new apartment. Although I’m not Swedish, I have to admit that eating a portion of meatballs, mash and lingonberry jam, while surrounded by stuff with arbitrary Swedish names made me feel a lot closer to home, and perhaps even a little bit home sick. Who would have thought a trip to Ikea could make you sentimental…

This week Beijing has been a bit of a ghost town due to everyone leaving to visit their families during the spring festival. This means most of the foreigners have been put to work to keep up with the project schedules. So this week the FX department has consisted of Stian and myself, where normally it would be twenty people or so. So as you can imagine, things have been busy.

I will leave it at that for now. In a couple of weeks time I will be going to Hong Kong, so I expect I will be writing my next blog post when I’m there.

Happy year of the monkey!

The "Foreigners trying to speak Chinese"-game
The “Foreigners trying to speak Chinese”-game
Tough crowd.
Tough crowd.
The game participants receives their complementary monkey
The game participants receives their complementary monkey
I got three monkeys at the annual party. The one in the middle I got for participating in the game, the other two I'm not sure.
I got three monkeys at the annual party. The one in the middle I got for participating in the game, the other two I’m not sure.
Swedish beer. I actually didn't buy any. I did bought some Daim though :)
Swedish beer. I actually didn’t buy any. I did bought some Daim though 🙂
Swedish Meatballs at Ikea. They also served Chinese food there, which seemed to be the more popular option. The Chinese have no idea what they're missing!
Swedish Meatballs at Ikea. They also served Chinese food there, which seemed to be the more popular option. The Chinese have no idea what they’re missing!

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Hallo, naa er det en stund siden forrige blogginnlegg. Det har vaert travelt paa jobb, og jeg har flyttet ut fra hotellet og inn I en leilighet. Men naa som vi er I gang med apens aar og jeg har funnet meg til rette I den nye leiligheten, synes jeg det var paa tide og gjennoppta bloggingen.

For et par uker siden var det aarsfest med jobben. Dette liner opp med det kinesiske nytaaret r, saa det kan igrunn sammenlignens med julebordsfeiringer man er vant med I vesten. Alkohol hadde en mindre rolle sammenlignet med jobbfester jeg har vaert paa tidligere, men det var fremdeles ganske underholdende. En miks av leker, sang og dans paa en scene og noen premie utdelinger. Jeg tok del I en lek selv, med noen andre utenlandske kolleger. Vi skulle forsoke oss paa aa si noen Kinesiske ordtak, mens kinesernes oppgave var aa gjette paa hva vi provde aa si. Jeg er litt usikker paa publikumsinteressen, men det er godt aa vite at mine spraaklige utfordringer kan vaere til underholdning for andre 🙂

Sist gang jeg skrev var jeg paa leilighetsjakt. Den er naa over! Jeg flyttet inn I en liten, trivelig leilighet forrige helg. Stue og soverom er romslig, kjokkenet er akkurat stort nok til aa romme det man trenger, men badet er nok det aller minste badet jeg har sett. Men etter aa bodd her en uke viser det seg at man fint kan klare seg med det, tross den lille storrelsen. Jeg skal legge opp noen bilder av det senere!

Forrige helg dro jeg til Ikea for aa hande inn noen nodvendighet for den nye leiligheten. Selv om jeg ikke er svensk, maa jeg inromme at aa spise en porsjon kjottboler, mos og tyttebaersyltetoy omringet av ting og tang med svenske navn fikk meg til aa kjenne litt pa hjemmelengselen.. Hvem hadde trodd at en tur til Ikea skulle gjore en sentimental…

Denne uka har Beijing vaert litt som en spokelsesby siden alle drar hjem til familiene sine naar det er kinesisk nyttaar. Det betyr at utlendingene paa jobb maa steppe opp gamet sitt I en ukes tid for a holde tritt med prosjektplanene. Saa denne uka har FX avdelingen bestatt av Stian og meg, der det til vanlig ville vaert rundt 20 andre. Saa som du sikkert kan forestille deg, har det vaert ganske hektisk.

Jeg gir meg der for naa. Om et par uker drar jeg til Hong Kong, saa jeg regner med at neste innlegg blir skrevet da jeg er der.

Godt nytt ape aar!

You won’t believe what I dressed up as today!

Ni Hao. You, the observant reader, might have noticed that I haven’t given this blog post the catchy title “Beijing – Week 10 & 11”, but instead went for a click bait head line. There’s two reasons for that, the first being that I’ve recently gotten an extension to my contract. Meaning I will be based in Beijing for a much longer time than the three months of my initial contract, so using the number of weeks I’ve been here would become a bit messy, boring and very repetitive. The second reason for the click bait head line is simply that I’m curious if it actually works. Did it? (that was a question to Google Analytics)

So the last couple of week’s I’ve been looking for an apartment. So far I’ve seen a handful of places, some I liked, others not so much. Unfortunately the ones I liked, I didn’t get, but I’m sure I will find a place soon enough. An interesting thing here, is that it seems like various letting agents will compete against each other to rent out the same apartments. So yesterday I went to an apartment, but then I ended up in the same apartment again today, with a different agent. The guy I went with today however asked for significantly higher rent than the first agent did. When confronted with the steep price increase since yesterday, he seemed very uncomfortable and didn’t really have an answer. From what I’ve heard, foreigners are considered easy targets for squeezing some extra money out of here, and judging by today’s experience that seems accurate.

After my unsuccessful apartment hunt I went with Stian and Fei to a park in the city center, where we met up with her parents and spent most of the day playing on the ice. It was freezing cold, but great fun! I also took the opportunity to dress up as a king. Afterwards we went to a restaurant and had some amazing Peking Duck. Not much more to say really. The pictures speak for themselves!

The photos are taken by Stian and Fei. Thank you!

A nice day to hang out in the park
A nice day to hang out in the park
Posing on my ice bicycle
Posing on my ice bicycle
Dressing up
Dressing up
Looking comfortable in my throne
Looking comfortable in my throne
Cooling down with a beautiful hand fan
Cooling down with a beautiful hand fan

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Ni Hao. Du, den observante leser, legger kanskje merke til at jeg har gitt denne blogg posten ikke har den fengende tittelen «Beijing – Uke 10&11», men heller en klikk-agn variant. Det er to grunner til det, den forste er at jeg nylig fikk forlenget kontrakten min her. Det betyr at jeg blir varende I Beijing vesentlig lengre enn de tre maanende som var utgangspunktet i den opprinnelige kontrakten min. Saa da vile de blitt rotete, kjedelig og veldig repeterende aa bruke antall uker jeg har vaert her som tittel paa hvert eneste innlegg. Den andre grunnen er rett og slett at jeg lurer paa om klikk-agn overskrfiten faktisk funker. Gjorde den? (Det var et sporsmaal til Google Analytics)

De siste par ukene har jeg vaert paa leilighetsjakt. Saa langt har jeg sett en handfull leiligheter. Noen av de var fine, andre mindre fine. De jeg likte fikk jeg ikke, men det ordner seg nok snart! En interssant ting her er at der ser ut til at de forskjellige utleie agentene konkurrerer med hverandre om aa leie ut de samme leilighetene. Saa igaar saa jeg paa en leilighet med en agent, og idag endte jeg opp i samme leilighet med en annen agent. Dagens agent hadde justert opp leieprisen en hel. Da jeg konfronterte han med prisokningen virket han noksaa ukomfortabel og kunne ikke gi saerlig til svar. Ut fra det jeg har hort er det ikke uvanlig at utleiere prover aa skvise litt ekstra penger ut av utlendinger her, og hvis jeg skal domme ut fra dagens hendelser kan det se ut til aa stemme.

Etter den mislykkede leilighetsjakten ble jeg med Stian og Fei til en park i sentrum hvor vi motte foreldrene hennes. Der brukte vi mesteparten av dagen til aa leke paa isen. Det var kaldt, men veldig moro! Jeg benyttet ogsaa muligheten til aa kle meg opp i et konge kostyme. Etterpaa dro vi paa en restaurant og spiste en veldig god Peking Duck. Stort mer er det ikke aa si; bildene taler for seg.

BIldene er tatt av Stian og Fei. Tusen takk!

Beijing – Week 8&9 / Uke 8&9

Happy new year! Christmas is over and 2016 is already a few days old. In my case though I would say I didn’t really ever notice Christmas was here. It was just another week at work. I think that’s a good thing. I think it could easily have felt rather lonely if the Christmas mood here was through the roof. It definitely wasn’t as most of the Westerners were gone on holiday and the Chinese doesn’t celebrate it. Then to further put a damper to the non existent Christmas mood, the US and a few other Embassies issued a warning that they received threats towards Westerners in the Sanlitun area of Beijing on or around Christmas day. This happens to be the area where I live and work, so it’s not really a place I can avoid. A great Christmas gift! Anyway the Chinese government quickly responded by putting a lot of visible police on the streets, and for the last ten days or so, there’s been a handful of badass looking special force type guys standing on display outside TaiKooLi

It haven’t really affected me much At this point I honestly think the pollution is going to kill me before any terrorist do, as the air has been consistently terrible or more than two weeks in a row now.

Other than that the last couple of weeks have included a few parties, and I’ve met a lot of new people, which is always nice. It also led to me having my first encounter with Chinese police, as they came to pull the plug at a house-party I was at. They seemed unimpressed with my lack of Chinese vocabulary, and after some head-shaking they gently pushed me out.

Over Christmas I’ve also become friends with one of the receptionists at the hotel. For reasons unknown, he took it upon himself to drive me to a New Years party rather than call for a taxi. After a twenty minute conversation through Google Translate during the ride, he gave me his WeChat and told me that he could pick me up anywhere in Beijing and drive me wherever at any given time. 24/7. I’m sure that will come in handy some day!

Changing subject, I’ve been reading a lot about the new Star Wars movie, and I’m getting pretty psyched for it’s release here on the 9th of January. I’ve heard rumors that the company is going to do a screening of it. Can’t wait!

Until next time.

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Disney has a big Star Wars marketing campaign going on at the moment.
Disney has been pushing Star Wars hard to the Chinese market the last few weeks,
Chinese special forces flexing in front of TaiKooLi, a big shopping complex in Sanlitun.
Chinese special forces flexing in front of TaiKooLi, a big shopping complex in Sanlitun.

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Godt nytt aar! Jula er over og 2016 er allerede et par dager paa vei. I mitt tilfelle vil jeg si at jeg igrunn ikke merket noe til jula. Det var bare en vanlig uke paa jobb. Jeg tror igrunn det var bra, for jeg tror det fort kunne ha foltes litt ensomt her om julestemninga var paa topp. For det var den ikke, siden mesteparten av de vestlige folkene her er hjemme paa ferie, og kineserne feirer ikke. For aa legge en videre demper paa den ikke-eksisterende julestemninga kom det paa Juleaften en melding fra den amerikanske ambassaden melding om mulig trusler mot folk fra vesten I Sanlitun omraadet I Beijing paa og rundt forste juledag. Naa har det seg saann at jeg baade bor og jobber i Sanlitun, saa det er ikke et spesielt lett omraade for meg aa unngaa. Uansett satte Kinesiske myndigheter straks igang tiltak. Masser av politi i gatene og de siste ti dagene eller der omkring har det staatt en haadfull spesial-politi paa utstilling foran TaiKooLi.

Det har igrunn ikke paavirket meg i nevneverdig grad. Aerlig talt tror jeg forurensningen kommer til aa ta knekken paa meg for noen terrorist. Luftkvaliteten har vaert kontinuerlig dritt I over to uker naa.

Annet enn det saa har det vaert litt mer festing de siste par ukene, og jeg har mott mange ny mennesker. Det er alltid trivelig! Jeg haddde ogsaa mitt forste mote med kinesisk politi, da de kom for a avslutte en hjemmefest jeg var paa. De virka lite imponert over mine manglende kinesiske språkferdigheter, og dytta meg pent ut.

I lopet av julen har jeg ogsaa blitt venn med en av resepsjonistene paa hotellet. Jeg ba han ringe en taxi, men av uante grunner tok han selv paa seg ansvaret for aa kjore meg til en Nyttaars-fest. Etter en 20 minutter lang samtale via Google Translate paa kjoreturen, ga han meg WeChat detaljene sine. Han sa han kunne plukke meg opp hvor som helst naar som helst I Beijing, og at det var bare aa sende melding. En kontakt som definitivt vil komme til nytte en dag!

Over til et annet tema. Jeg har lest mye om Star Wars I det siste, og gleder meg til den kommer paa kino her, den niende Januar. Rykter har det til at jobben skal organisere en visning av den 🙂

Preikes.

Beijing – Week 6&7 / Uke 6&7

I recently realized that so far on this blog I haven’t told anything about what I’m actually doing here in Beijing when it comes to work. So I thought I should dedicate a few lines to that this week. As I’m sure some of you know, I work in the VFX industry as an FX artist. That means I’m responsible for creating things like smoke, fire, destruction and so on. Back in Glasgow I would do those kind of things mainly for video-game cinematics, but here I’m working on films. So far I’ve been working on “Captain America: Civil War” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2”. I’m really enjoying it, but that’s probably all I can tell without breaking my NDA.
That’s the short version at least. I will probably occasionally write more about my work in the future!

Last time I wrote about the smog, since then the air quality has been a bit up and down, but considering at the time of writing that the city is in code red for the second time in two weeks, it’s fair to say it’s still shit. I’ve got my new masks now though.

It’s Christmas soon, and even in a country where there’s no particular tradition for celebrating it, there are plenty of reminders; they play Wham’s “Last Christmas” everywhere… Normally I would be headed back to Norway right about now to celebrate with family and friends, but this year I will be staying in Beijing. The reason for that being that I’ve only have a single entry Visa for China, making it too much of a hassle to organize.

On Friday Stian and Fei gave me a small Christmas tree with flashing lights and decoration as well as gifts from themselves and my family. That was a very nice surprise, and It was nice to get a bit of Christmas spirit into my hotel room. Very much appreciated! Thanks!

I don’t have any particular plans for Christmas Eve yet, but I will see if I can find a restaurant somewhere that might do some Christmas food. I picture some easy Christmas tunes on Spotify mixed with some dropped Skype connections to Norway and general Internet anger. Other than that, I might watch “Die Hard” again.

Merry Christmas!

Last weekend I went to a nearby shopping complex called Solana. They were in full Christmas mode with small stands everywhere. They even had a a guy dressed up as Santa. He looked miserable.
Last weekend I went to a nearby shopping complex called Solana. They were in full Christmas mode with small stands everywhere. They even had a a guy dressed up as Santa. He looked miserable.
My Christmas tree. A picture doens't really do it justice. Will try to get a video up later.
My Christmas tree. A picture doesn’t really do it justice. It’s beautiful.
Santa walked around the office with gifts. I got a Masquerade mask.
Santa walked around the office with gifts. I got a Masquerade mask.

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Jeg kom nylig til aa tenke paa at jeg saalangt paa denne bloggen ikke har skrevet noe om hva jeg jobber med mens jeg er i Beijing. Saa jeg tenkte jeg skulle dedikere et par linjer til det denne uka. Som noen av dere sikkert vet, jobber jeg I VFX bransjen som FX Artist. Det vil si at jeg har ansvar for aa lage royk, ild, odeleggelse osv. I Glasgow jobbet jeg stortsett paa cinematiske sekvenser og trailere for spill, men naa jobber jeg paa film prosjekter. Saa langt har jeg arbeidet paa “Captain America: Civil War” og “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2”. Jeg liker det veldig godt, men stort mer enn det kan jeg ikke fortelle uten aa bryte kontrakten min.
Det er kort versjonen. Jeg vil sikkert fra tid til annen skrive mer om jobb ting!

For to uker siden skrev jeg om smogen, og siden den gang har luftkvaliteten gaatt litt opp og ned. Men med tanke paa byen er inne i kode rod for andre gang paa to uker kan man trygt si at det fremdeles er elendig. Jeg har I det minste faatt meg nye masker.

Det er snart jul, og selv I et land uten tradisjon for aa feire det er det fremdeles flust av paaminnelser; de spiller Wham’s “Last Christmas” over alt.. Normalt sett ville jeg ha vaert pa vei tilbake til Norge for aa feire med familie og venner, men I aar blir jeg vaerende I Beijing. Grunnen til det er rett og slett at jeg kun har faatt innvilget en innreise paa visumet mitt.

Paa Fredag fikk jeg et lite juletre av Stian og Fei. Med dekorasjoner, blinkende lys og et par gaver fra dem og familien min. Det var veldig overraskende og det ble bra aa faa inn litt julestemning paa hotell-rommet. Det satte jeg veldig pris paa! Tusen takk!

Jeg har ingen konkrete planer for juleaften enda, men jeg tenker aa se etter en restaurant som serverer julemat. Jeg for meg noen rolige julesanger paa Spotify akkompagnert av daarlig Skype forbindelse til Norge og generell internettsinne. Annet enn det saa kommer jeg sikkert til aa se  “Die Hard”.

God Jul!

Beijing – Week 4&5 / Uke 4&5

Let’s talk about the smog. Up until the last couple of weeks, smog hasn’t been a severe issue, but starting last Sunday and lasting for a couple of days, the smog reached a new level and the AQI was off the charts. For a while it was 700+. That’s a lot on a scale where anything higher than 100 is considered unhealthy. It’s strange how fast dealing with an issues like this becomes second nature. Similar to how I would normally check a weather forecast to determine if I need an umbrella or not, I will now look up the recent pollution readings, and decide whether or not I should wear a mask. I think pollution masks are the second most popular conversation topic during lunch between the foreigners at work. Only beaten by complaining about bad internet and VPN services.

The first mask I had here was a pretty bad one, that I bought early on from small shop around the corner. I since upgraded to a 3M mask. The 3M masks seems to be considered the best, and it’s definitely a lot better than the first mask I had. Today though, I’ve purchased a 10-pack of another 3M mask, that are supposed to be the best (According to Stian). I should do a blog post with reviews of the various masks at one point, but this week I’m going to review a film instead.

Today I went along with Stian, Fei and Yang to see a Chinese sci-fi comedy movie that Fei have worked on called Impossible. Without jumping to the conclusion, I can easily say it’s the best Chinese sci-fi comedy I’ve ever seen.

Before continuing I recommend you check out the trailer: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTM4ODI4ODYzMg==.html?from=s1.8-1-1.1. The effects and film-making craftsmanship in general was of a high standard (good job Fei!). The film itself was just plain weird. For labeling itself a comedy it had some pretty dark moments. Most of the story-line centers around a grieving father who’s daughter was killed in a car accident a few years back. The film even shows a fairly graphic and effects heavy scene where the girl get’s hit by a car and dies. Definitely not something you see a lot of in western comedies. Apart from that a lot of the jokes seemed to be centered around committing suicide, but I think most of it got lost in translation. Take those elements, throw some alien sci-fi wizardry, an abortion side-story and some slap-stick comedy into the mix and that pretty much sums it up. 10/10!

That’s it for now. I will try to get another update on here next week. Meanwhile you can enjoy my pollution mask selfies.

This is my first mask. Didn't work so well, but at least it looks amazing.
This is my first mask. Didn’t work so well, but at least it looks amazing.
The pollution aint got shit on me!
The pollution aint got shit on me!
Notice how the Chinese people behind me is not wearing masks. I'm sure they were thinking silly foreigner when they spotted me taking a selfie.
Notice how the Chinese people behind me is not wearing masks. I’m sure they were thinking silly foreigner when they spotted me taking a selfie.
3M by night
3M by night
The dream mask.
The dream mask.

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La oss prate om smog. Fram til de siste to ukene har ikke smogen egentlig vaert noe saerlig problem, men fra forrige sondag og de paafolgende dagene har smogen naadd et nytt nivaa. AQI tallene var oppe paa 700+ en periode, og det er ikke et ubetydelig tall paa en skala hvor alt over 100 er ansett som helseskadelig. Det er snaalt hvor raskt det aa forholde seg til saanne ting blir en naturlig del av hverdagen. Paa samme maate man sjekker vaermeldingen for aa avgjore om man trenger paraply eller ikke, sjekker jeg naa de nyeste forurensningstallene for aa avgjore om jeg trenger aa ha paa meg maske. Jeg tror forurensningsmasker er det nest mest populaere samtaletemaet blant utlendinger paa jobben. Kun slaatt av klaging over daarlig internett og VPN.

Den forste masken jeg kjopte var en ganske daarlig sak fra en liten butikk rett rundt hjornet. Siden har jeg oppgradert til en 3M maske. 3M maskene anses for aa vaere det beste, og den er definitivt bedre enn den forste masken jeg hadde. Idag har jeg bestilt meg en 10 pakning av en annen type 3M masker, som visstnok skal vaere den beste (iflg. Stian). Jeg burde dedikere en egen blogpost til anmeldelser av forurensningsmasker, men denne uken skal jeg heller anmelde en film.

Idag ble jeg med Stian, Fei og Yang for aa se en kinesisk sci-fi komedie som Fei har jobbet paa. Filmen hetere Impossible. Uten aa starte med konklusjonen kan jeg avslore saa mye som at det er den beste Kinesiske sci-fi komedien jeg noen gang har sett. Trailer til filmen kan sees her: : http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTM4ODI4ODYzMg==.html?from=s1.8-1-1.1. Effektene og selve filmhaandverket holdt hoy standard, mens selve filmen var rett og slett bare utrolig rar. Tatt i betraktning at filmen skal vaere en komedie, hadde den en del morke oyeblikk. Meste parten av historien er sentrert rundt en far som sorger over datteren sin, som ble drept i bilulykke 3 aar tidligere. Man faar faktisk se en ganske grafisk og effekt-tung scene hvor den lille jenta blir paakjort av en bil og dor. Definitivt ikke vanlig kost i vestlige komedier. Bortsett fra det handlet vitsene tilsynelatende mye om selvmord, men jeg tror mesteparten av poengene ble borte i oversettelsen. Hvis man tar dette, legger til litt alien magi, en abort side-historie og litt slap-stick komedie saa har man filmen kort oppsummert. 10 av 10!

Det er alt for naa. Jeg skal prove aa faa ut en oppdatering til neste uke. I mellomtiden kan dere kose dere med maske selfiesene ovenfor.