Shanghai Insomnia

Stories of a young professional expat in the modern metropolis

Jessika in Shanghai


I'm losing track of time; I'm losing track of myself. Lucky for you, I was sick this weekend, so I had some time to blog. Let's pick up where left off! After I returned from Thailand in June, Jessika visited me for four marvellous days.  
The first night, I took her and Alice to dinner at Dakota and then for some uncivilized dancing at Bar Rouge
... and some stripper-spotting, of course 
The girls got tired around 3 and went home to the apartment, but I met up with Grace and stayed the whole night

... until the sun went up and it was closing time!
The same weekend, my Canadian friend invited me to a barbecue at their lavish apartment compound. The weather was perfect and the food was free, so we were happy!
We had a wild Monday night at M2 with Charles and his British friend, dancing until my feet were sore
Tuesday night dinner with the gang at Hunan House
... and Wednesday night kebab (yes we were dressed like that at a sweaty Turkish place!) followed by drinks and shisha at Zapatas. I wish more of my Swedish friends could visit me here! 
Babelfish: Jessika på besök, och jag var en awesome värd. 瑞典朋友过来看我,带她玩了四天!  

Feeling my way through the darkness


I just came home from another Friday night filled with cheap alcohol, new friends and 4 am-breakfast, tingling with happiness over this uncomplicated existence. This city is swallowing me; I am now completely immersed in it, so much so that my old student life in Stockholm seems like a distant memory from decades ago. Then I received a message from a very dear childhood friend - the kind of message that instantly yanks you back to your roots, like hearing an old song and suddenly reliving a past version of yourself that you thought was long lost. It was the kind of message that makes everything else seem meaningless, because it illuminates the only thing that is meaningful in life. Suddenly my whole life here seems profoundly shallow. And I can't fall asleep; the 15-year old Yingying in me is keeping me awake.  

Shanghai Ferrari Racing Days


I can't freaking believe it's already August! I still haven't updated you on everything that happened in May. Here's a random Saturday with Liza: 
We volunteered for Rotary Club at Shanghai Ferrari Racing Days
The arena was huge but very far away, so we had to get up super early to take the metro. I was grumpy... 
Upon arrival, we were greeted by these genetically modified, ridiculously tall and beautiful Ferrero Rocher models
Our task was to raise awareness on road safety issues for Safe Kids Worldwide, but mostly we just munched on the free food and Italian ice cream in the VIP tents

... and ran around the exhibition sitting in cars! 
In the afternoon, we went up to the paddock to see the race

And it was impressive; noisy and fast. 
It started raining shortly afterwards so we took one last bite of free pizza and went shopping in the city instead! A very unexpected Saturday, indeed. 

Shanghai Design Art & Fashion Fair


May was a crazy month, when the city was always light and the streets turned into a fashion- and music fest. One of the largest spring events in Shanghai is the Design Art & Fashion Fair (DAFF), held at the riverfront of South Bund. 
Fashion designers and exciting artists had boots along the promenade, showcasing their brands
I bumped into my hot friend Zoe in the liquor tent and she gave us some foamy, rich, dark beer that made me dizzy
Me and my Swedish girlfriend Jenny (tall beauty in converse) met up with the others at the runway
The boys were looking dapper in their color-coordinated outfits
Then we hurried to get seated for the runway show!

Forget about the clothes - where did they find all the pretty models? It's as if they scooped up the crème de la crème of laowais in Shanghai. 
My friend Kelly showed up later in a cute summer look
And we all strolled around the booths, eating and drinking in between 
... until me, Jan and Jenny were too tired and decided to have dinner at a mexican restaurant nearby. We all ordered their delicious soft shell crab and it reminded me of the Friday dinners we used to arrange at Pontus in Stockholm, where I always ate their crab. If Cecilia had been there, we would've had simultaneous foodgasms! 
We ate on the sidewalk, watching beautiful people coming and going to the fair as the sun started to set
The rest of the night was sadly not captured on camera: me and Jan met up with Liza and Suguru at Munchies for milkshake, then walked to Wine Must where Rotaract club (the charity organization I'm involved in) had a wine party, so we mingled with everyone for most of the night and got tipsy on their 3-glasses-for-100-kuai-wine until we grabbed a cab and met Jan's friend Laura at Kraft - a shitty but busy bar in some obscure alley. Afterwards, Liza and Suguru took a taxi home but me and Jan were hungry so we walked all the way to Bifengtang for some 3 am greasy Chinese food. The picture above is a big-ass statue on Huaihai road that we encountered on our epic journey
It wasn't an extremely eventful night - not in Shanghai terms, anyway - but it was a beautiful breezy evening at the beginning of summer, strolling along the bustling Shanghai streets with construction workers and late-night party people, and I remember wishing that the night would never end, wishing that life could always be this simple. 
Babelfish: En solig sommarkväll i maj när allting kändes starkt och nytt. 我迷上了上海的生活!

Thailand with Truls part 2


You are very patient readers. I am a very bad blogger. This month was madness because Jessika visited me for a week, after which it was 4th of July, after which I went on a wild company trip, from which I haven't yet recovered.
Enough said - now I shall show you the second half of our Thailand trip. Onwards!
We went kayaking one morning and found a wonderfully secluded secret beach 
The same night, we celebrated Truls' birthday with a romantic dinner at a fancy hotel whose name escapes me

... and ate fresh seafood that was amazingly grilled (but sadly not very filling)
I got a chance to wear my fake Hervé Léger dress with my very real boobs 
The next day, we went on an epic boat trip to Ang Thong Marine Park, a huge freaking archipelago with breathtaking scenery! 
It was a sweat day when we arrived on the shore of the Mother Island and started to ascend a mountain...
 ... to visit the spectacular Emerald Lagoon after a 40-minute strenuous climb
Encircled on all sides by limestone cliffs, it was a beauty to behold
We then took a boat trip to another island called Wua Talap, climbing a steep 430-meter hill in the jungle
... and when I say jungle, I mean JUNGLE, as in you can swing from branch to branch like Tarzan in there

... to reach the viewpoint at the top that overlooks the entire archipelago! This was the first resting point, when we were still fairly fresh and unsweaty 
I was drenched in sweat when we got to the top, but it was worth it!
Because the place was truly paradise on earth: quiet, tranquil and luscious 
The next day was our last, so we just enjoyed each other's company in the hotel room and had an early dinner by the beach
... and took some ridiculous photos...
And after a quick stroll at the beach, the sun had set and the night was over.
I don't know how to describe all those other moments that were not captured on camera; when we reunited at Koh Samui's shabby airport, a mix of familiarity and distance; when he fell asleep in a van with his mouth open; when we kissed under the moonlight in the night market; when we said farewell in Bangkok after I had run through the entire airport with my heart thumping out of my ribcage; when I watched him eat two greasy sliced of pizza before kissing me goodbye - all those small undescribable moments and feelings that define a relationship. 

Thailand with Truls


Hey my lovers, I'm back! Forgive me my absence; I was in Thailand for ten perfect days with Truls in Koh Samui. It was such a lovely reunion after four months apart, and an amazing memory - literally paradise! Here's a sneak peak:  
We lived in a gigantic 90 sqm-villa with a huge terrace 
... and an interconnected bathroom...
... with a cool waterfall shower...
... and a FREAKING jacuzzi! 
We showered and cuddled for a bit, and then we went out for dinner...
... at a fantastic seafood restaurant called The Pier! I had a seafood platter and it was like heaven on a plate. 
The next day, we ventured to Chaweng Beach
We found ourselves a sweet spot for some sunbathing and chilling
... until we got restless and walked down the beach in search for food
On the third day, we did my favorite activity - elephant trekking in the djungle!

We got to ride on the elephant's head and watch it eat; it was the most amazing thing
Even the elephant was happy!
The trekk stopped at a gorgeous waterfall and we posed for pictures...
... until it was time to ride home in a sweaty tin can 
The next day, we stayed at our hotel beach and Truls swam in his underwear
... and I strutted around in my favorite candy-colored H&M bikini
After a few lazy days, we got up early on Sunday morning to go on a boat trip to Koh Tao 
And from Koh Tao, we took another boat ride to a wonderful placed called Nangyuan Island Resort! It was magnificient. 
We hurried off the boat to the beach... 
... which had clear water with colorful fishes swimming around!
We played around on the beach until it was time to return to the pier...
... and some final posing with the sign... 
... until we got back home to our island, sunburnt and relaxed! 
And with that, I shall leave you, my friends. In the next update I'll show you when we climbed a mountain, visited a lagoon and did kayaking in a gorgeous marine park! Stay tuned. 
Babelfish: Tio dagar i paradiset med Truls. En oförglömlig resa! 短暂的总是浪漫。

Pet adoption day and picnic


The day after our crazy Flamingo stealing frenzy, I met up with Jan and Lina for a sunny Sunday: 
We met up at Pet Adoption day, sweating under the blazing sun and petting the kittens
Elodie called in the afternoon and said that she was chilling in Century Park, so we took the metro to Pudong to meet up with her
... but first we had some suspicious-looking street food outside the metro station!
It was YUMMY
Elodie met us by the entrance so we joined her friends for an hour of pizzas and frisbees, until we were too cold
Me and Jan were both freezing, so we took the metro back to civilization and met up with Liza, Sugur, Aisulu and Cathy for a late Sunday dinner at Dakota. I had a horrible cold the next day, but it was worth it! Too many friends and the fun never ends. 
Babelfish: En solig men frusen söndag i parken. 周日跟朋友去公园,第二天感冒。

Björn Borg underwear party at Hollywood


Let's continue with the catch-up, shall we? 

The weekend after Jan's birthday party, Swedish underwear brand Björn Borg had an exclusive launch event at Hollywood, so of course we signed up to see some nalf-naked Scandinavians in tight underwear! This is basically what went down:
The ad - fabulous. Even the poodle is fierce. Detest that guy's facial hair, though.
Sadly, the event - not so fabulous. The dancers in Björn Borg underwear were wearing full-body suits. Mon dieu, pourqoui? The only logical solution is that they couldn't find enough attractive models so they just gathered some ugly attention-whores who wanted to dance on a podium for free and covered them in nylon stockings. NOTE the parrots and flamingos in the background...   
... because in our disappointment at the lack of skin, me and Sam stole some!
... and posed with them for a ridiculous amount of pictures
And I sort of forced them to hump some crocodiles as well! But the biggest feat of the night... 
... was the fact that we stole a fucking massive flamingo from the bar! Me and Sam danced around it for some time, I plucked it from the bar, then he slipped it into his jacket and ran for it. 

And then we posed with it on the street, along with our two stolen parrots, arousing a lot of excitement from passers-by... 
... like so. We then bought some cheap beer from a convenient store and sat in a park with our plastic pets and talked, laughed, listened to music and enjoyed the night. The flamingo's name is Bob and he has been living with me ever since! My cats are terrified of him. 

Babelfish: Björn Borg-fest som slutade med stöldgods och parkhäng, underbara stad!  

Swedish vs. Chinese business culture


So yesterday I had a horrible 24 hours à la my Hong Kong trip last year, where I woke up vomiting and then had fever for 18 hours. Returning to the office this afternoon, I realized the true difference between Swedish and Chinese business culture. 

The Swedish way: 
Me: I was ill yesterday. 
Swedish colleague: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, are you feeling better? 
The Chinese way: 
Me: I threw up yesterday. 
Chinese colleague: Oh, that sucks, did you have diarrhea as well? 

Pet adoption day and painting


Good morning darlings, hope you've had a good weekend!
This week was exhausting. I was out every night Monday-Saturday: introducing Jan and Sam to Rotary Club on Monday; taking our Regional IT Director out for expensive dinner and drinks at Hyatt on Tuesday; meeting a new Norwegian friend for pizza and late-night conversation on Wednesday; sipping on sparkling wine with Grace and getting lashed on Thursday; meeting a woman for a charity project and then going with her to a party on Friday, and volunteering with Liza at a Ferrari racing event on Saturday (AMAZING day!). Pictures and gossip will come! - But first, let's catch up where we left off last time. After Jan's brilliant birthday party, I met Jill for a Sunday afternoon at Cool Docks: 
We went to Pet Adoption day, a Sunday tradition of mine
It was a sunny day, and the location was packed with cute puppies and kittens

... such as this little adorable darling, who looked like a giant fluffy cloud when running
... and this gorgeous little puppy with lovely temperament

We played around with the cuties for an hour until we went for late lunch and then to my apartment... 
... to play with my kittens! They loved Jill immediately, although Lea was a little bit scared

We sat on my sun-soaked balcony all afternoon and painted, while time just flew by 
Jill's masterpiece, Van Gogh's Starry Night, painted in just 3 hours!

... and my not-so-ambitious painting - birds on a string - also painted the same day.

Afterwards, we ate Chinese food down the street and had girl talk until late at night, when Jill took a taxi home and I walked back to my apartment in the light breeze, ready to take on a new week. Isn't this what all Sundays should be like? 

Babelfish: Söndagshäng med Oriflame-kollega - en fin dag. 跟Jill参加宠物领养日,然后回我家画画!周日过得很愉快。

Jan's birthday party


Hi kittens! Here's what went down at Jan's 21st birthday party that happened ages ago:
Jan had planned a lovely barbecue brunch in a quiet compound, so of course me and Sam showed up with shocking party favors - mainly dick straws that we forced everyone to use! Even Jan's innocent Chinese class mates were drinking from these babies, it was an epic success.
Cathy with a d-straw behind her ear, haha
Sam's friend Ryan was visiting over the weekend and got to experience the full blast of craziness erupting from us that day
We ate cake and I tried to hold it in while laughing hysterically at some perverse joke from Charles. My gorgeous colleague Jill (behind me) and French friend Elodie (right) received a warm welcome to the group
Charles, Elodie and James(Hong Kong-born designer who I had brunch with earlier the same day)
After an afternoon filled with games, drinks and grilled meat, we took a taxi in the light rain to a go-kart arena! 
... and Jill came along as well! She is THE prettiest girl in our office, all pearly white skin and shiny black hair.
And then we were sufficiently drunk for go-karting! The place smelt of burnt rubber and sweat.
The others put on costumes and posed for the camera! Haha, I can't stop laughing at Charles in this pic, like a grizzly bear
Me and Jill were the first to go, and I was super nervous at first but it all went fine! Turns out I love speed! Though my Swedish driver license classes have scarred me for life; I kept looking for my rearview mirror at every turn.
And the birthday boy himself, Jan in action! Afterwards, the others went to Unico for champagne but Jill and I had other plans. We took another wet taxi ride to a karaoke place and met up with her group of friends - all Chinese, all fun! They taught me how to play their drinking games (one of which includes shouting 'erection!' sporadically, which I loved), and got me devastatingly drunk. It was a perfect night spent in both my worlds; the über-Western expat circle and the local Shanghainese clique. A marvelous combination!
Babelfish: Jans 21-årsdag firades med barbecue, snoppsugrör, go-karting och karaoke. En solig dag och dimmig kväll att minnas! 我不想离开上海

Charity gala


Three weeks later, here's pictures from the "Shanghai in the 20's"-themed charity gala that me and Liza attended: 

We got invited to the event in the last minute, so we scurried to my house after an afternoon in Shanghai Mart so that I could change into a dress and slap on some fake lashes, and then we were ready! 
After a confusing taxi ride, we finally found the venue, hosted in a spectacular art gallery

Need I say that the interior decoration of the place was sick? 

The guy who hosted the event (can't remember his name) held a speech and sang some songs, but we were busy drinking...
We had prime seats for the performances, speeches and exciting auction (a vintage Chanel got snagged for 40 000 RMB which is ridiculous)

And on our way to the bathroom, we discovered this cool space with light installations
... and of course we had to snap pictures

To our amazing surprise and delight, David Redic was among one of the artists who were there to perform! We worked with him before when we did internship together, and the man has got charisma. 
The event ended with an award ceremony for best costume, and then we were out!

... to eat more food! Haha
After a delicious feast at Bifengtang, we went home and I was so exhausted from the previous night's debauchery that I fell into peaceful sleep as soon as I got home. 
Babelfish:Välgörenhetsgala följt av massivt frosseri. Spontana lördagskvällar i Shanghai is the shit! 两周前跟朋友参加的派对,然后去了避风塘吃夜宵!

Friday house party and Bar Rouge


So it's official: I suck at blogging. It's an indisputable law that the more you do, the less time you have to blog, and my days have been crammed with stuff lately: charity galas, spontaneous movie nights, volunteer work, crazy party nights and apartment hunting (yes; again).
Let me try to fill you in on these past week's madness, starting with a Friday night house party at my friend Felix's house:
Me and Grace headed to my apartment directly after work and got ready together. It was an excessively girlish hour: gossip, love talk, hairspray and shoegasms. We then took an unsteady stroll in our stiletto heels for the sushi place on the corner.
And we ate and drank. A LOT. Would've made Japanese business men proud!
Arriving at the house party, we only got to drink two glasses of our expensive sparkling wine before it was stolen, but we partied on! Anna, Liza and Suguru joined in the crammed apartment, mostly populated by Scandinavians (if I could get a penny for every time someone mistook me for a local Chinese...)
Liza was done up in 70's florals because that was the theme for the Bar Rouge party we were headed to later!
... and to Bar Rouge we ventured, to find their terrace reopened in celebration of the lovely spring weather! And strippers. Great strippers.
More drinking followed, and a lot of ass-shaking to the groovy 70's hits that were playing! I met an eccentric gentleman at the bar who was wearing dark shades, so I asked how he could see anything. "I only speak French!" he replied, to which I stuttered "Pourqoui les glasses?", which for some reason made him tilt his head back and roar with laughter. Then I left, utterly confused.
Suguru was falling asleep around 2, so Liza took him home despite our protests. Me and Grace stayed, dancing and drinking, then sitting and talking...
... until her husband Rory and his friend Cameron showed up unexpectedly and gave us even more drinks! My poor head was already thumping at this point but I still had a somewhat blurry yet enjoyable conversation with Cam as Grace and Rory talked with each other. We stayed at Bar Rouge's terrace until the staff literally threw us out - a first for me!
Afterwards, we managed to persuade the all-American boys to go to Bifengtang for breakfast. As another party night in Shanghai crept towards dawn, we feasted on delicious dim sum and duck cheek (yes, you heard me. Cheek!).

I woke up the next day at 2pm with a massive hangover and headed for Shanghai Mart where I had signed up for volunteer work with Liza. Sadly, since I was four hours late (!), it was already over when I arrived. So we decided to drop by my apartment, where I changed into a fabulous feathered dress, and head directly to a charity gala the same night, filled with free food, Chanel auction, live entertainment and dancing! I will tell you more about that night in another post, my darlings. Until then: love to you all! Xx.
Babelfish: Våren har anlänt här borta, och den är fullkomligt underbar. 有跟朋友出去乱混,玩到天明。

May Holidays


Due to some obscure Chinese holiday, I didn't have to work for three days this week! Naturally, I met up with my friends for a Monday full of free champagne, art exhibitions and sweaty dancing.
Our Italian friend Tommaso had invited us to a fabulous exhibition of contemporary Italian photographs in the Italian Pavilion in Pudong, so there we went
You've got to love an exhibition center with Ferraris hanging on the walls...
... and who serves free Ferrari champagne for lunch!
Seriously; how fab?
As we mingled, posed, sipped on drinks and stuffed our faces with the free food, me and Liza met a lot of interesting attendees, both local and international
... among them a sweet girl named Molly who we met up with later the same night
As we munched on as many free canapées as possible, I accidentally spilled jam on my boob, so we had to rush to the ladies room and clean it off. Liza, bless her heart, scrubbed my breast with soap and wine, like a true friend
Later, we walked around the pavilion and visited other exhibitions as well...

... like Bvlgari, who had to-die-for jewellery on display
And of course, we couldn't miss the Ferrari exhibition!
Ah, those Italians. They sure know luxury, don't they?
Around three o'clock in the afternoon, we hailed a cab back to civilization and I dropped the others off on the Bund and headed for Sam's apartment to pick my cats that he had been taking care of since Hong Kong. Then, I went straight back to my apartment to drop the cats off, put on higher heels, glued some fake lashes to my face and headed out for dinner and drinks at Perry's!
After very funny conversations at Perry's, we headed to Club Grandi where Liza's Italian friend had a table and free drinks, and we danced like crazy! It was Sguru's friend's last night, so we went ALL IN
Somewhere around midnight, they had a crazy alien dancing show on stage
Around three, the club was pretty empty so we walked through the park in the light rain and took a taxi to Flamingo, where we met up with Heyin and her Korean friend
The conversation mostly circled around how to say dirty phrases in all the languages present in our group: Chinese, Swedish, Korean and Japanese. It reminded me of how impressed I am of my friends' language skills! (Heyin speaks fluent Korean, Japanese, Chinese and English)
The night seemed endless as we sat in the cozy club and couldn't stop laughing, only leaving when our drinks were emptied around four in the morning after yet another unforgettable, spontaneous Monday in Shanghai. I am very blessed to have met such wonderful friends in my short time here!
Babelfish: Ledig måndag = fest! 五一放假,到处乱混。

Out and about in Hong Kong


Hong Kong is amazing! The weather is lovely, the alcohol is real, my hotel room is grandiose and the shopping is fan-freaking-tastic. In a nutshell: the exact opposite of Shanghai! Here's what I've been up to these past 2 days:

I arrived at Courtyard by Marriott around 8 pm, sweaty and parched with no time to shower, so I threw on a dress and headed straight out into the warm Wednesday night...
.... and met up with my friend at the Happy Valley Racing tracks for some cheap wine and horse betting!

The place was crowded with foreigners and we each placed 100 Hong Kong dollars each on a race, but sadly none of us won 
We had strong Gin and Tonics and traditional English bar snack at Pawn, a trendy restaurant in WanChai

The next morning, I woke up in my beautiful suite, well rested and starving! 

Do you believe this view? 
You've just got to love a hotel that gives you complimentary snacks in a dim sum basket

... and has a glass-encased bathroom with giant mirrors

After I was finished adoring my room, I headed for a magnificient breakfast buffet in the Executive Lounge where they served a fusion of Western and Asian breakfast - definitely the best way to start a day! 
My friend took me to The Landmark, aka SHOPPING HEAVEN, and I just strolled around this giant paradise all afternoon...

... and I may or may not have engaged in a little undeserved indulgence. Shame on me. 

The rest of the afternoon was filled with work back at my hotel, and now I'm already in my robe and about to go to sleep. Tomorrow is another packed day before I fly back to Shanghai at 7 pm! Sleep tight, kittens. 
Babelfish: Hong Kong är underbart. 香港太奢侈了!