Donnerstag, 28. November 2013

to not big china

China's not big. It's gigantic. Last week I took a plane from Shanghai to Guilin (distance approx. 1200km) to see some green countryside. People call the place where I work (Songjiang, 1.5 million people) countryside but its still scattered concrete jungle to me. I experienced a completely different China. Good air, few people and really green. Just to show you some pics off the screen of my camera. The pictures dont do the real impression I had there justice. It was an amazing adventure on which I was accompanied by amazing people from around the globe from all walks of life. Chinese truck driver, Slovenian Judo instructor, Australian college drop out, German IT guy. 
The adventure ended with a 19 hour train ride back from Guilin to Shanghai. 

Soon my stay in China will end. After only one month here I can say one thing for sure. China's not big. It's gigantic. 

Mittwoch, 13. November 2013

to NYC x 5

Shanghai metropolitan area has the size of NYC x more than 5 times. 

Shanghai and China is a place where traffic lights and regulations are only rough guidlines, cities i had never heard of are more populated than austria, people are constantly busy but not always productive, traffic is being constantly being taken pictures of with flash no matter if you speed or not, electric scooters cost $200, cab drivers sometimes refuse to give foreigners a ride, where a destination is "only" 1.5 hrs away, November 11th was labeled as Single's Day by a online shopping company because according to them singles do more shopping than people in relationships.

Freitag, 1. November 2013

to dinner with Messi

Not the football star but a Cambodian student whose real first name is Messi. I took a picture of his student ID (second row it says his name) when I met him on the bus and he invited me for dinner at his place.
It felt like a different Phnom Penh from the one Ive seen so far. A bit darker. Smelled different too. We made a right turn onto a narrow ramp which was about a meter wide and four meters long leading to the basement of a building. I thought its the garage but it turned out to be the entrance to a small parking lot and rooms which were for rent. Its the four of them living on about 15m2 for $60 a month. the room is only devided in two parts. The bathroom where they wash their dishes as well and the other room is the kitchen, the living and bedroom in one. Basically a tiled floor with a tv, some kitchen appliances in one corner, a place to hang their clothes and their bed stuff folded together and piled up. Although i have heard  from factory workers sharing a room I was bit shocked at first but I was warmly welcomed. And then I just had to smile when I gave Messi (second from left in group picture) football shoes as a gift and he smiled at me. We played football together once and he played barefoot because he couldnt afford shoes. 
We sat down and talked about what the boys wanted to do after graduation. Messi wanted to become a police officer in his home province Kep after graduating from law school. Two of his friends want to
be civil engineers in their hometown and the fourth guy is a cook.  Shortly after they served a colorful assembly of dishes with chicken, pork and deep fried fish. After enjoying the delicous food we decided to go for a beer. One of the boys received a call on his cell and he proudly showed it to me as it displayed "My darling". I asked him if that was his girlfriend but he replied: "No, my wife". I was highly surprised because he was only 22. He told me he had gotten married two weeks ago. After the first beer he said he actually didnt want to get married but his mother liked her so much, he had to. 

The rest of the night was without great surprises but ended with hugs and plans to meet soon again. Thank you Messi to show me a different Phnom Penh. 

Ps. Ive just been told another guy moved in. Now its the five of them in the room. "We are happy to welcome another friend" they said. 

Dienstag, 29. Oktober 2013

to north korea

n restaurant in phnom penh. i have to disappoint you. i didnt really go to pyongyang in north korea but to pyongyang restaurant in phnom penh. 

I didnt expect anything else than maybe a "we love the big leader" or some other funny expression.

one of my frieds told me that the restaurant was owned by the north korean government. we ordered food which seemed to be normal (south) korean food but what was about to happen was anything but normal. the lights got dimmed and music started playing. the show consisted of strictly trained performances with a sprinkle of enjoyment shown through smiles with sweaty faces.  greetings in korean, khmer, chinese and english. celine dions my heart will go on, tap dance, drum, band and violin performance. the show lasted about half an hour and the waitresses were rushing between kitchen to get the food, the tables to serve the food, the dressin room to get changed into different outfits and the stage.

food was good. we had local beer with it. not the offered north korean spirits bottled in 350ml (altho the bottle was only 3/4 full) and went for $50 for the cheapest. 

what a north korean experience in cambodia with american and canadian friends. 

Sonntag, 13. Oktober 2013

to foodland Cambodia.

Its a society of mixed cultures. It embraces many cuisines. Its foodland Cambodia.

Due to my Chinese office mates I tend to enjoy a lot of Chinese food on a daily bases. There is a big Chinese expat community here working mainly in the garment business. You pretty much order the same dishes as in Chinese restaurants in Europe or elsewhere. It just tastes better. Better meaning fresher ingrediants such as seafood and veggies from around the corner.

Local Cambodian cuisine is an interesting topic. This country used to be a French colony from the mid-ninteenth century to 1953. You realize it when you walk around in Phnom Penh and see bakeries everywhere selling baguettes and oter pasteries. Unusual? Maybe. Taste? Awesome. I dont think anyone would expect crunchy baguettes for less than a €/$ in southeast Asia. The south of Cambodia has to offer amazingly good seafood due to its direct access to the sea.
Then theres all the funny stuff you think about trying but then hesitate and usually end up not eating because its too gross. Namingly cockroaches, scorpions (the animal, not the band and yes ive eaten a deep fried scorpion ones, the animal not a band member) or spiders.

Now theres still a big vatiety of other good cuisine like Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese or Turkish. But what I experienced today was a great example of fusion food. The place is called Red House and serves Singaporean Chinese food. If you wonder whats that might be, we share a common question I had before I entered this restaurant. The speciality was Indian curry with veggies and crab. Not so much of a fusion until the baguette came instead of rice. I can only say it tasted legen...wait for it, the second half of this word rhymes with the last name of Mariah Carey...dary. At first if I was a little sceptical but it was amazing.

There is still loads to eat. Im going to Vietnam soon, I heard they have food as well.

Mittwoch, 9. Oktober 2013

Montag, 7. Oktober 2013

to cambodia

i thought id be somewhat cut off from the world cause im going to cambodia. 20% of the population lives in poverty (under$1/day). but here i am with wifi pretty much where i go. it is truly a connected world. therefore i decided to keep you a bit updated with some posts on my blog.

my internship at the garment factory is what i would call 21st century economy in a cost-efficient country for products made for quality aware customers. meaning low costs in production but high margin for brands which hire subcontractors to produce. but the garment factory (i work at the office but thats another topic) i work at is not a sweatshop where forced labor, violating human rights and dangerous working conditions are a daily thing but quite the contrary. the production site is located on the ground floor, its clean (cleaning ladies do a good job), everything seems transparent so far (im allowed to take pictures and videos without the need to sign an agreement, i was allowed to have a look at the books) and its possible to earn a decent wage for cambodian circumstances which means the following:in addition to $80 guranteed wage, if you dont miss calling in leave days (its supposed to be an incentive that workers act according to cambodian labor law), the workers receive $7 living allowance/month (cut to half if they work less than 13 days/month), $10 attendance allowance/month (100% deduction if no noticr absence) and rate per piece
ive seen payckecks as high as $300. i cant judge yet whether thats enough to live on but i will find out asap.

there are 1200 workers in two different halls: one is shirts and one is bottoms. only 39 men.

last info for this entry: its chinese management and local workers. the chinese live in a dorm on the compound and rarely leave the compound i have the feeling. if so they alwaya go to places run by chinese. they seldomly have contact to locals and therefore dont speak the language well or understand the language even after years in cambodia.