Really.. This place is not for me… maybe its because I was traveling solo on business but it just did not feel right. What’s more, I had the feeling that all the stuff I usually don’t like about the US were emphasized here… Here are a couple of those things that make me go crazy:
Early december… Shanghai is getting colder and colder… and we decide to go North… to Beijing, where temperatures are well below 0° celcius… Are we nuts? Maybe….
But wait a minute, did I say we??? Yes, I did. I’m not alone anymore and it’s not a secret for most of you… A while ago, I met a wonderful girl, named Lida, who charmed me in no time and these days we share most of our time together. And it cannot be any better.
That trip to Beijing was our first weekend outside of Beijing together, so we both had great expectations. And we were not disappointed. I had already spent a tiring day of meetings with clients in Beijing before Lida joined us. I was almost too late at the airport to pick her up as I was having dinner with one of my staff that had accompanied me to the meetings (You have to try Modo in Sanlitun, simple affordable european food and very yummy too!).
Lida and I were staying in a very authentic hotel called Hotel Côté Cour. It’s a traditional house in a hutong in Beijing. I loved it very much since they mix modern and traditional design which is always a win with me. I spend my time traveling and often stays in major hotel chains, so when I travel on my own, I typically stay away from those and stay at boutique hotels. Hotel Cote Cour is one of them. The staff and rooms were perfect, and I’m pretty sure we will stay there again next time we are in Beijing.
Our big plan for the weekend was to go to the Great Wall as Lida had never been before! Yes, I have to show China to my chinese girlfriend! can you believe it! In any case, the Great Wall is such a stunning sight that going there for the 3rd time wasn’t a problem at all.
But it was even better since two friends of Lida, Lisa and Joe, were joining us for the trip and taking us there in their car. Funny enough, we learnt a few days ago that they were getting married. We were super happy for them!
We had to meet with them right before lunch so Lida and I had time to shop around in the morning. It was a bright and sunny day, but the temperatures were well below zero. So I had no choice but to buy leggings to wear under my jeans. Yes, leggings.
I did not regret those, even during the sporty climb to get on the wall I was freezing! The view was stunning as usual. And especially on this beautiful day. We did not stay too long however, since it was so cold. We were glad to be back in the warmth of the car.
Joe and Lisa took us to dinner to DaDong, which luckily was my favourite place for Beijing Duck! So yummy! We ended up in a bar in the Nan luo Gu Xiang area called Bed where you litteraly lounge on… beds. They were serving an excellent old-fashioned, so I was probably the most tipsy of all…
The second day was more relaxed for us, we slept late to catch up the sleep we did get the past 3 weeks that were pretty intense in working and partying (most notably the week of my birthday that started with a 4am in beds after heavy drinking…). On the menu that day: shopping and walking around in Nan Luo Gu Xiang and HouHai !
I have never been a big fan of Beijing and I believe I will never be. I’m a Shnaghai Ren after all, but this time I must say that I truely enjoyed my stop in Beijing. Enough to say, that I wouldn’t mind going back!
More traveling to come with Lida soon, we are thinking of going even further north, to the Harbin snow and ice festival or for a ski trip somewhere in China… And then, a trip to Malaysia for Chinese New Year!
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I recently spent 10 days in the US, in Orlando, Florida. My sister and I bought a house there earlier this year and it was time for my brother-in-law and I to go fix a few things in the house… Basically, we want to make the home homier and nicer to improve the bookings! For instance, we want to paint the inside because everything is in a lovely “contractor’s beige” and also we want to turn the useless garage into a game room/home theater (hey, we’re in Florida, it’s a rental house and anyway who needs to shelter his car???). So a lot of meetings and things to setup with contractors, but in the end it was somehow also a vacation…
A group of friends also joined us. Actually, 2 couples from Belgium, Laura and Etienne, and Xavier and Florence. And I also had the visit of another close friend from Shanghai, Margarita. She is also my lawyer and her business took her to Los Angeles (we also met at the airport since our flights, one from Shanghai and the other one from Guangzhou, arrived more or less at the same time, yes, I know, so jet set.. ) so she decided to come over to Florida for 3 days.
It was really great to be surrounded by friends for a week. The sun was shining everyday, so the mood was right. We of course visited the Theme Parks: we had a blast at Universal Studios, where we did only the thrilling rides, I almost wet my pants on the Hulk.. see this picture:
But the girls of course wanted to go the the fairy wonderland of the Disney Magic Kingdom... while the boys wanted to go to the other Universal park for more thrills…. Well guess what, I’m “such a nice guy” that I decided to give the girl a ride and accompany them to Wonderland! but in the end it was a lot of fun… however, I was quite tired, I guess the 13hours jetlag and waking up at 6am everyday to catch up on work did not really help… but I manage to get an excellent nap for an hour in Disney
Another exciting things for the boys: Visiting the Cape Canaveral Nasa center: awesome experience to see real size rockets and learn more about lunar programs… We also went to a basketball game: go Magics go! I just love the atmosphere of american sports.
The rest of the week was more dedicated to shopping at the numerous outlets in Orlando and chilling by the pool…
Another interesting thing: on my way back to Shanghai, I was in transit in LA and I bumped into a friend from Shanghai on his way to Chicago for a training at Kellogg. Like they say in Disney, it’s a small small world…
Here’s a video I made after the holidays, the shootings were made using the Go Pro Hero that my friend gave me to thank me: I just love it!
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