If there is something I have learned in China then that is to try and taste everything. And I have so far tasted everything except the brain two years ago but if I get the chance again then I will probably try the brain, at least once.

Now it was time to try sliced stomach with bamboo shoots. I have heard stories that it is like dishcloth both in texture and taste, so I was a bit cautious when I put it in my mouth. I started chewing and it was actually not so bad. It is a bit like the jellyfish I tried my first day in Shanghai. Doesn't taste much really. A bit bouncy but easy to chew anyway. It could have been dried toufu.

We ate something more as well...

Lion head, Shi Zi Tou (狮子头)

Tasty fish, Bao Yu (爆鱼)

Delicious vegetables

Street butcher

Girlwing just went to buy her favourite dumplings by the street. I am standing outside the queue in the middle of the road watching the street life. There are thousands of Chinese in the area even if it is just after lunch hours. This is a food area with small stands everywhere selling food of all different kinds. To every stand there are queues. Some longer than others so it is easy to see what kind of food that most people like. One queue was insanely long to some kind of special duck soup.

Suddenly when I stand there looking around a man comes out from a restaurant nexwhere Girlwing is standing in queue for dumplings. The man have a deep frozen lamb on his shoulder and walks to a big solid wooden butcher table and slammed the animal on to the table.

In his hand he have a big axe like knife and soon he starts to hit the animal again and again in attempts to cut it up in smaller pieces. It takes some work but soon he made it. It was a popular view and many stopped for a while to watch the man work.

Instant noodles

Many of you have probably tried instant noodles that you make at home. Cheap fast food... I think they are disgusting. I remember when I bought a whole box of them during my time in the university. I ate maybe 20 of them before I couldn't eat more. So I had to throw away the rest. Not so cheap fast food that way...

Go to China and try some real fast food noodles. These are served by Dong Fang Ji Bai (东方既白), a KFC branch specialized on Chinese food. Not the best noodles that I have tried in China but good enough for a cheap lunch and it is served directly! Instant noodles!


Chinese fika

Girlwing likes to fika. A lot... So we try to fika when we got the chance. It can be a bit hard to find any regular coffee place in Shanghai so often you might have to try something different.

You can find these alleged low quality coffee places like Starbucks (which actually is 100 times better in China than the copy Waynes coffee in Sweden) in Shanghai but it is more interesting to try the local stuff.

So we went in to a modern Chinese tea house and sat down at a table in the middle of the room. Soon I started to curse the absence of regulations against smoking in public places like this. People were smoking at most of the tables. Try to switch on the ignore mode in my brain and enjoy the moment.

We got the menus and they were impressing. They had everything and a little more that you can think of involving tea. It was not easy to make your pick but finally I decided on a cold sweet and sour green plum and green tea with aloe vera cubes and Girlwing took a cold honey green tea.

You can see my beverage in the front and Girlwings in the back. In the middle and in the beginning of this article you can see the sweet potato strips which is quite close to regular potato strips but red in colour with a little sweeter taste.

Girlwing didn't like her drink so much because she thought it was too sweet. I liked my tea even though it didn't resemble much of a tea and it was quite sour. The aloe vera cubes at the bottom was tasty and easy to suck up through the wide straw. It would be a great drink for a hot summers day.



Lunch is always an exciting and nice thing. Every day I am treated with different dishes. Not often will I see the same dish served twice unless they get the impression that I like something more than the others.

This lunch is like most others. We get several things to eat. Up here to the left you can see a whole chicken crushed to pieces and mixed with potatoes and a tasty sauce. Really good but a bit tricky for an untrained western guy to eat off the meat from the bones so I searched for the more meaty pieces.

On every food table you can find a soup. The soups have a lot of food in them like meatballs, fish balls, ham, vegetables and noodles.

One of my favourite dishes: Eggs and tomatoes!

Maybe we can call these "green fingers"? They are very tasty anyway... :)

And in the end of the meal we get the rice to fill out the empty holes in the belly.


Street life

It is always interesting to walk around in the areas where local people live. The tourists shopping streets are fun as well but gets boring rather quick. They look a lot the same where ever you are in the world as a tourist.

So try to get off the big streets and look what you can find behind them. You might find real artists like this man who made toys for small kids after their comments and orders. The whole process was a great game for both the kids and the artist and also for us watching it. It was amazing how fast he could work with the clay and such details he could form in the small dolls.

Food can be found everywhere on the streets. You have restaurants in every block that are really cheap and if you want to eat even cheaper you have these BBQ or dumplings for just a couple of yuan.

Street food in China is very different from Sweden. In Sweden we have hotdogs and that's it. In China the most common are different kinds of BBQ of chicken, pork, lamb, beef, toufu, vegetables, bread and seafood. It is also common with dumplings in all shapes and sizes. Then you have the Chinese "pancakes", as I call them, which are made in a similar way as pancakes but they add egg, toufu, onion, soya and spices. Most of it is very tasty and something you must dare to try.

After your meal you can even find to buy cookies on the street. Of course you can find fruit, nuts and candy there as well and the prices are really nice.



I was recently at Pizzahut and ate a pizza. With the pizza I tried a purple drink of a berry called waxberry. I had never heard of it before and when I tried the drink I really liked it a lot.

So today when we went into a small supermarket I asked if we could find a waxberry juice. We bought a similar juice called Suan Mei Tang (sour berry juice) and I also found dried waxberries.

As soon as I came up to the hotel room I opened the package and the scent that came out of the package was quite heavy with complex aromas and very sweet.

I took out a couple of berries and as you can see it looks a lot like poo or something. I put one into my mouth and all kind of taste sensations flow over me, kind of when you try an expensive wine but it flow down to the so well known taste of Swedish glögg.

Quite amazing... a berry tasting so much alike glögg.

Chinese public newspapers

An interesting sight was to see a complete newspaper displayed behind glass along the road. Quite a lot of people where standing and reading different sections. I took a quick look at all the pages when we walked by but sadly I didn't see any weiqi diagrams.

This newspaper is supposed to be a special newspaper for old people with news and stories that are interesting for the older. Things like how to kill your free time and such stuff. The name of the newspaper is 老年报 Lao Nian Bao, as you can see above on the glass box.


Wen Den dumplings

The first time I visited Girlwings parents two years ago they treated me with typical Shanghai dumplings called Wen Den (馄饨). They are really tasty and they now make it for me every time I come to Shanghai. This time I am staying for three weeks so I will probably have it a couple of times. We'll see.

I don't know exactly how they are made or what is in them but I know there are pork meat, Pak Choi, shrimp and some other stuff. This is chopped into small pieces and mixed like you see in the picture. Then you take some and put in the dumping skin which is something similar to fresh baked pasta.

Then you fold it in a fancy way like this.

And they are ready to cook.

You boil them in water and that is some special procedure. Just when the water starts to boil you pour some cold water in it and wait until it starts to boil again and pour some cold water in it so it stops boiling. You do this three times I think and when it starts to boil the last time the dumplings are ready to eat. We like to add some home made chili paste to make it more spicy.

When you come to Shanghai, you must try Wen Den!


Pig skin

We went to Girlwings parents to eat lunch. Her mother is a great cook and I am treated with all kind of delicious food every time I am there eating. This time I got a bit of an unplesant surprise.

Before we ate Girlwing said something about pig skin but I didn't think much about it because I have seen that dish before and I would recognize it if I saw it again.

We sat down eating and it was so good that I forgot everyting what pig skin is and I tried everything on the table. Then at the end of the meal I was about to take some glass noodles from the soup in the middle and I got something extra with the chopsticks. Girlwing and her parents said something and looked at me and I asked what is was. She said "Nothing, you are just brave and try everything". But I felt something was a bit odd so I asked what I just had picked up and she said "No it is just some vegetable", so I put it in my mouth and shewed. Soon I realized what just ahd happened because the sensation in my mouth was nothing like a vegetable and I asked "Is this pig skin?". She said yes and looked a bit guilty. I said "I hate you" and tried to swallow it all without shewing any more.

The pig skin didn't taste so much really but it was really scary to eat just becuase I knew it was pig skin and for some reason that makes me feel a bit sick. They eat quite a lot of pig skin in China in several different ways (that I know now). It is supposed to contain a lot of stuff that is good for giving you a beautiful skin. Maybe that is more effective than buying expensive designed chemical bombs like "anti wrinkle freeze time young forever magic super cream" that so many put on their face. Beauty comes from inside.

In the picture you can see:
Beef and onion (Yang Cong Niu Rou, 洋葱牛肉), Toufu with vegetable (鸡毛菜炒豆腐皮),pork with sweet potato in tomato sauce (Qie Zhi Bi Qi Rou Pian 茄汁荸荠肉片),Tou Fu (Si Xi Kao Fu 四喜考夫),Soup (Tang, 汤)


The way to Shanghai

My trip to China started by taking my bags with me downstairs in time for when the taxi are supposed to be outside waiting. When I came down, no taxi. I waited a couple of more minutes and still no taxi. I was just about to call the taxi company when my mobile phone rang in my pocket. It was the driver not finding my address. It didn't exist in his car GPS but he could find the street in the paper map he had in the car with him. Still he was standing on the wrong road and had no idea how to get to me. So I had to guess where he was and describe for him how to drive to me while I was walking in the direction I believed he was. Finaly he came and my journey could start for real.

I got to the airport the same minute the check in started and I was the first one there to stand in the line. So no waiting until I got to the gate. I now have so much time to spare while I am waiting for the plane. I spent most of it watching people which can be quite interesting.

I had to change plane in Helsinki, Finland to get to Shanghai. When I walked the way to my new gate it was very obvious that Finnair is aiming a lot of focus on Asia. I saw Asian people everywhere! Really amazing! Probably most of them have connection flights to other parts of Europe, because I have hard to believe that so many of them want to visit Finland.

Just when I came from the tax free shop chewing on some Terva Leijona I met Santa Claus and one of his elves standing in some kind of stage with Christmas decorations and a lot of spotlights.. The elf aproached me and said something in Finnish "Yxi kaxi gamli byxi". I said in Swedish "Om du pratar finska så pratar jag svenska". The elf then replied "Lukti tutti mycki smutti" and I continued "Om du envisas så fortsätter jag med svenska". Then she got the message and asked if I can speak english. She asked what my plans were for the moment and I pointed at a huge queue to my gate and explained that I will spend most of my time in Finland there. She said that it is no hurry because that queue will not walk away for a while and continued by asking me where I come from and before I had time to open my mouth she guessed at Sweden. I could not do much else than confess and she kept talking and said that she could understand it because no other nationality would like to eat Terva Leijona. I agreed... This candy I had been chewing is a bit special with its tar taste. It can be somewhat compared to the special taste of salty liquorice. We in the Nordic countries love this but in most other countries it is very strange with this taste in candy. I love it!

The rest of the long plane trip over to Shanghai is not so interesting. I can mostly complain about people making noise and the big LCD screen in front of me at the wall switching from a light picture to a dark picture and so on the whole flight making it quite annoying and impossible for me to sleep. Yes, I didn't get any sleep for the whole trip. That is the one thing I hate about travel long distances, the absence of sleep. In this case it was worse than ever because I got up really early in the morning and the plane lands at 08:20 Chinese time and that means I still have to be up a long time before bedtime.

Girlwing came to meet me at the airport and so was her parents and a couple of their friends. They had just bought a minivan and they used it to drive us all to my hotel. We just checked in and left my bags and then we went to see some relatives.

First we went to a baker to buy a cake as a present. The bakers in China are real artists. I have never seen such masterpieces of art made of cream anywhere in the world and that can be seen at most bakeries in China. But I must say that I think the cakes in Sweden are more tasty because they are a bit dry in China.

We visited Girlwings fathers mothers sister because that day it was the one year mourning day of her late husband. Directly when we got up to the floor of her apartment I could feel the smell of something burning and directly when I got in to the apartment I saw a fire on the floor of the living room. They were burning silver paper folded in the way Chinese money looked like in the ancient times. They didn't burn just two or three of them but two big plastic bags filled with them. Every person present were supposed to burn a bunch of them so we gave about the same amount of money to him in heaven. This money get transfered to him in the afterlife in this way. When they were out of money to burn they burned up the big A4 picture of the man in case he needs the picture for a heaven ID-card. It was smoke everywhere and that was a bit uncomfortable for the eyes.

After some talking, mostly about me, it was time for lunch. We ate: Ya Tuei 鸭腿 (duck bone), Bao Yu 爆鱼 (marinated and fried fish), Yu Quai 鱼块 (regular boiled fish), Pi Dan 皮蛋 (pickled egg), Hai Jue 海蜇 (jellyfish). I tried the jellyfish first and that had a very special sensation chewing it. It is kind of bouncy and at the same time very easy to chew. It doesn't really taste anything but the sauce it was in is very tasty. The best one was the marinated fish. It was red and very juicy, probably from the marinade.

After lunch it was more talking and soon fruit was served for dessert and more talking. Then I and three of the girls went out shopping in a mall. First we bought facial care stuff and then we went out hunting for fancy bags. I was extremely tired and sat down as soon as I got a chance and I fell asleep several times where I was sitting.

A couple of hours in the big mall we took a taxi to a big restaurant. In this kind of restaurant every party have their own room with a big round table for ten people. There you can be as private or loud as you want or smoke without disturbing the other guests so much. They ordered in twelve dishes of all different kinds. The most interesting one was the snake 蛇 (She). It was fried to a golden color and looked much like fish. It was very very tasty but a little hard to eat because of all the bones and not so much meat that was quite dry. After the food was eaten we started with the cake that we bought earlier in the morning. I got two pieces! :D

Before the night was over we went to Girlwings parents to pack her stuff and be social for some time before we could go to the hotel.

Then finally I can go back to the hotel and take a shower and go to sleep. I got to bed just before midnight and had been awake for 35 hours. I really need my 8 hours sleep!


Time to leave

Now everything is packed (I hope) and I am ready to leave. I did bad planning so I got a bit stressed in the end. I will arrive tonight Swedish time in Shanghai and then it is early in the morning Chinese time. I will probably not sleep on the plane and I can not sleep when I arrive so it will be a very long day for me. I hope I can get to bed early tomorrow night.

See you on the other side (of the world)! :D


Chinese food

Food in China is a bit different from the food in Sweden or any other western country. It is even different from the food you find in chinese restaurants in the western world. In the picture here for example you can see raw pigs brain served for the hotpot.

My collegues have asked me about food in China so I said that I will try to write about it when I am in China. I will try to take pictures at some dishes as well. So keep an eye on my blog for some time if you are curious what they serve in Shanghai!


Always be prepared

I will soon leave for a trip to Shanghai in China so I need a visa. Of course this can often lead to problems, like when I two years ago was refused to apply because the passport was damaged and I had to get a new one. That time I made a reclamation so I got a new one without having to pay for it but the new one kept the same old expire date, which is 5,5 months from now.

When you apply for visa the passport must be valid for at least 6 more months. Damn! So now, in slight panic, I had to apply for a new passport first and there were not so much time before I have to leave for China.

I was planning to get my haircut in China because it is such a nice experience and it is very very cheap. I really look like a long haired bum in my new passport. I really don't care but it is a pity because I was so damn handsome in my old passport. :P

I got my new passport one day earlier than what the police promised and I went directly to apply for the visa. So much people want to go to China at the same time as me!

They have open between 09:00 to 11:30 and it is always good to be there as soon as they open but I was a bit late so a lot of people got there before me. I got back to work just in time for lunch. Irritating to "waste" the whole morning for this. It should be more convenient with some Internet application or something and online payment.

The handling of the visa application usually takes three days so I was expecting to go there tomorrow but it was done one day earlier here as well so I got it today. I am so lucky! But of course I had some more problems except that I had to renew my passport.

This morning I planned to be at the embassy earlier so I don't have to stand in line and will be able to work one hour before lunch. I have so much to do at work. I managed and was there right after nine in the morning. I had a couple of persons before me in the queue and soon it was my turn. I started to get a but suspicious when I didn't see the online credit card reader standing next to the small hole in the wall. When I walked closed I saw the small machine on the other side where the young Chinese girl sat handing out visas.

It is broken! She said she is sorry and the machine broke last friday and I have to pay with cash and I am 80 sek short. Arrrgghh!!! OK, what to do? I can not start bidding for a lower price at the embassy. So I ask for the nearest ATM and they describe that I have to take the bus like three stops and walk to the TV house and then she said something that I didn't hear because I was starting to get distracted by my mind cursing the situation. During this time the Chinese girl had said sorry about 20 times. Well it is not her fault, even if I think they should have set up a big red sign with the information about CASH ONLY and a flashing light above the sign would be great too.

I started walking and I just missed the bus but I didn't care... I kept walking. I am used to walking. Most of the time I was thinking of how bad my tactics had failed. I will not be able to work before lunch. I was also thinking that it is quite far to the ATM and I was thinking of alternative ways to walk, but I restrained myself thinking that the girl probably know what is the closest way.

So I got to the TV house and I look around. Where is the ATM? I see no ATM! But I saw a lot of fancy people entering the house and at least one of them are a celebrity in Sweden. It was Andreas Lundstedt of the pop group Alcazar.

I turn left and walk away from the TV house towards a lot of signs hanging out from the building. I still see no ATM but suddenly a bus stops and people walk out and I can ask a lady for directions and not so far from here there is an ATM and she points me in the right direction and just before I walk away she say that there is another one inside the TV house. Another curse in my mind.

I get my money and start to walk back hoping to catch a bus on my way home because I am a bit sweaty and cold from the walk. Of course I have no luck and I have to walk all the way back to the embassy again to stand in queue again.

I finaly got my visa and can get on my way to work. I have to wait for the bus for ten minutes and in that time I got really cold because of my earlier sweaty walk that took me almost an hour. Now I am worried of getting a cold just in time for my trip to China on friday.

So what can we learn of this story? First I can think of is to take money with me even if you know there is a possability to pay with card. But I guess it all boils down to the old scout motto "be prepared".



When I am out listening on Sinéad O'Connor at YouTube I can share with this golden piece as well.



One of the best songs of one of the best vocal artists Sinéad O'Connor.


Useful Emacs tricks

Slashdot just posted a question about their readers favorite tricks, macros, extensions, and techniques for Emacs. I bet you can find a lot of golden tips all in one page. The information in the comments will grow fast now. Join the fun! Hopefully someone will collect all this knowledge and put it online.


Firemacs - Emacs bindings for Firefox

I was reading blogs and found this entry about Firemacs. It is a great thing for us used to Emacs control key bindings. Now we can use it in our favourite browser Firefox. I have just tried the plugin for a couple of days but I found some small issues about some behaviours that I am used to that does not work the same any more. It is quite easy to configure in the way you want so it might not be so much trouble but it might be something that should be fixed for future releases. Try it out and see what you think about it! :)


We all love R2D2

Have you seen Star Wars? Yes I am sure you have. Most people have seen at least one episode of Star Wars. Some think they are silly space movies and some (like me) think they are really great epic space adventures. In these films we have some characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Yoda, C-3PO, R2-D2, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader and more.

Which is your favourite? For me it is very hard to choose between the human like characters because they are all so very different individuals and there is really nothing not to like. When it comes to the robotic characters there are a bit easier for me to choose. C-3PO is a lot of fun and stupid while he is an expert servant droid. R2-D2 is an extremely talented astromech droid and at the same time extremely cute both in shape and in its squeaking sounding beeps. I like cute stuff so R2-D2 is my favourite robot.

Wouldn't it be great to have your own R2-D2 unit? Or any astromech for that matter? They are as smart as humans and designed to serve or be your friend. You can play chess or a game of go against it and be sure to lose every time. It might even be able to teach you something of the games. It will walk (or what you call it) around in your home, minding its own business or maybe cleaning it for you. Pick up your dirty socks and tell you where you put your mp3 player when you think you lost it. Like any good behaving wife. ;)

Well... that day might soon be here... and while you are dreaming you can start to build your own astromech droid and then you can post pictures and stories about your progress at the official website of the R2-D2 builders club astromech.net. Check it out! This is really great nerdy sci-fi stuff! :D


About pumpkins

Talking about pumpkins and halloween. Check out these pumpkins down here! So amazing art! This guy have a site with a lot of pumpkin art and every year there is a competition. All these have won prices. The last picture is the cover of his book.

Check out more pumpkins at extremepumpkins.com.

Edit: I just found this one and I have to show you... :)