My Disastrous 1st Lesson as Painting Instructor

In previous post I warmed up the story of my painting classes in China, a role that would lead to my interview by one of China’s largest newspapers. Just as I had arrived to my first lesson, I had discovered that the small class I had joined as a student was nothing like that I was about to teach. What was meant to be an easy job turned into a disaster, but also had an unexpected reward.

Organizers moving painting class out into the mall's hallways in preparation for the many students who made a last minute booking

Nervously arriving to my first class I was surprised it had moved out of the cafe into the mall’s hallways. Turns out they were preparing for the huge group-booking on the way!

For my first teaching job I was hoping for a small class but received the opposite. Apparently there had been a last-minute group booking by ‘Hot Moms’, an app that organizes group activities for housewives.

Nervous about the number of students I would be teaching, even the organizers started worrying when many housewives had brought along their children, further doubling the size of the class!

As a beginner in acrylic painting, I had already questioned my ability to teach the few students I were expecting. But with the recent explosion in attendance I had a feeling this would turn into a disaster. My gut was not wrong, but there was also a positive surprise. Check out my disastrous first class!

My Opportunity to Teach Painting in China

Sometimes I wished my desk-job exposed me to the outside world. Living in China comes with a host of opportunities for interesting encounters, but if you’re always stuck in an office you won’t experience any of them. A year ago my wish turned true as I was offered to teach painting on weekends. Tho starting small it would turn into my viral “15 minutes of fame”, including an interview by one of China’s largest newspapers!

Niber painting as a student during art class in China

During this fun painting party I was offered to teach my own classes. A role that would eventually land me an newspaper interview.

One evening as me and a friend was looking for an activity we signed up for a one-time art class at a cafe. As I couldn’t understand a word of the teachers Chinese instructions, the class seemed at first an ill fit. Luckily I stayed with it, thinking at least I get to paint without the hassle of cleaning. Little did I know this one-time class would turn into my greatest opportunity in China.

As the class was coming to its end the organizers came over to compliment my painting. I was unsure what all the praise was about until they asked me the question, if I was interested in teaching my own classes.

Having already lived a year in China I knew my painting may have had little to nothing to do with the offer, compared to simply being an exotic foreigner. Luckily my pride has flexible standards so regardless of reason I gladly accepted the offer. Finally I had my chance to interact with the people of Chengdu.

But this opportunity turned out to be more than I had bargained for. As the small classes gained popularity on social media, it lead to oversold chaos as well as an interview by one of China’s largest newspapers. Click to read the journey to my 15 minutes of fame!

Bringing a Taste of Swedish Christmas to China

In previous blog post I visited Chinese Ikea in search of Swedish Christmas ingredients. Beyond my intended bread and lingonberry jam, I found gold! King-sized Swedish Chocolate on sale! I apologized to my wallet as I knew what had to be done, it was time to bring Swedish Christmas to the office!

Niber stands happy in front of office Christmas tree with over hundred thousands calories of Swedish Chocolate

After finding my favorite Swedish chocolate on sale I decided to treat the office to Swedish Christmas.

Us Swedes have strong Christmas food traditions, but unlike my grandma I haven’t got a clue how to make them. Luckily Swedish Christmas is just as much about snacks, and THAT I know!

How lucky that my favorite chocolate had a buy-one-get-one-free deal at Ikea! The expiration date didn’t go far beyond Christmas, but who can go past Christmas with snack left-overs anyway? The decision was made. Ikea’s staff must think Swedes really like chocolate when I put fifty blocks on the counter.

To truly play Santa, one must also embrace his Amanita Muscaria color-scheme. What better chance to dust off the red suit I bought in Thailand!

Getting myself a red suit had always been a secret fantasize of mine, despite strongly discouraged by others. It’s a bold color to wear, but sometimes in tough times a hero has to arise. But my adventure for my red suit did not come without its dangers. 

Click to read how Anchorman both inspired and discouraged my quest for my red suit!

A Visit to Swedish Ikea in China

It’s always amusing to find influences my tiny Swedish country has on this massive Chinese empire. The most obvious must be the huge Ikea buildings painted boldly in the colors of the Swedish flag. But to which degree does it actually “feel like home”? It was time to finally find out!

An evil manager pouring up drinks at a Skyscraper looking over in Bangkok

Will my visit to Chinese Ikea feel “just like home”? The answer might surprise you!

Wherever you travel as a Swede, someone will recommend you to visit their country’s Ikea, “for all your Swedish needs”. More than just a generic furniture store, they offer hints of their Swedish origins in everything from their food to their product-names.

Until now I’ve turned down such recommendations, I don’t find myself particularly addicted to Swedish meatballs. But after years without visiting home my craving for familiarity peaked. It was time to finally make a visit.

Would it have that promised Swedish flare or be filled with the usual Chinese culture shocks? Back home an urban legend is that some Chinese take actual naps in their showcase beds. Would these rumors turn out to be true? Click to find out!

Visit to the World’s Largest Building: The Arrival

In my previous post I spoke of my great journey to the largest building in the world, but like the bastard I am I ended with a cliffhanger just as I took my first steps inside. Today I finally reveal my adventure exploring, eating & shopping at the world’s largest building!

The world's largest building next to the world's nicest guy!

The world’s largest building meets the world’s nicest guy!

This enormous building, called ‘New Century Global Center’, has many entrances for many purposes. Containing offices, a mall, restaurants, an ice-rink, a water park and hotels. Dazzled where to start I took excited steps into its ridiculously huge mall.

Having been years since my last visit to a mall my initial excitement was justified, but quickly disbursed. Within minutes I remembered why malls are the most boring places on earth. When you’re already satisfied with your current laptop anything else a store has to offer seems like unnecessary junk! I had two hours to kill until the restaurants open for lunch, yet each passing shopfront seemed more depressing than the former. Then, to my surprise, I walked upon the perfect place to spend my morning…

What magical place did I discover? Click to see for yourself!

Visit to the World’s Largest Building: The Journey

Having lived a year in Chengdu it was shameful I still hadn’t seen ‘Global Center’, also known as the largest building in the world. Despite my huge interest for architecture I was discouraged by the distance, but having just acquired a great deal on a bike it was finally time to make the journey!

Abandoned road to the world's largest building

The road to the world’s largest building more adventurous than I would have thought!

Having never heard of Chengdu I assumed it must be a small town when I first received my job offer. I was surprised to learn that it’s a city of 14 million inhabitants, containing such landmarks as the the largest building in the world, and more famously, the largest panda center in the world.

Having seen too many episodes of the documentary Megastructures, my excitement for ambitious architecture is so high it outweighs my rare chance to hold a baby panda. I was time to jump onto my new bike and make a visit, but the journey was perhaps more interesting than the building itself!

Click to check it out!

Buying a Tailored Suit in Bangkok!

My recent trip to Thailand contained more crazy adventures than I could possibly fit into a single post, one such adventure was buying my first tailored suit. As a total beginner I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe my ideal suit so I came to the tailor with a mere movie screen-grab. Would my resulting suit be equally awesome? Read on to see the pictures!

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt showing off his amazing blue suit

The plot of the in-flight movie faded compared to the awesomeness of Tom Cruise’s suit. This inspired my first order of business in Bangkok, show this picture to a tailor!

The excellent idea to find a tailor in Thailand was inspired on the flight itself. While most would consider the time spent flying as the biggest drawback of traveling, I consider it the most relaxing part. Finally I get to relax with a movie, that nagging voice telling me I have Chinese homework is silenced, my laptop is much too chunky to whip out on a economy airplane seat. It was the perfect time to relax and the movie of choice turned out to be Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Tho the plot didn’t interest me much (Come on, how am I supposed to cheer AGAINST the Swedes?!) I was left with sheer amazement at Tom Cruise’s shiny blue suit! At that moment I remembered that Bangkok is internationally famous for having great tailors, so I decided to find the best and show him a screen-grab!

Did my suit turn out as awesome as Tom’s? You be the judge!

From Business Lunch to Motorcycle Journey!

Recently I went to Thailand to meet an old friend & colleague for lunch. Long since we started as Junior Artists in Britain he’s worked his way up to a big-shot management position. Now he wants me to join his evil corporation, but I want him to apply to us in China. Would my arguments for China win him over or would my stay in Thailand prove so amazing that I can’t leave?

An evil manager pouring up drinks at a Skyscraper looking over in Bangkok

Somewhere in a Bangkok skyscraper my former colleague is trying to convince me to join his evil corporation. Would my short stay be so amazing I couldn’t bare to leave?

There was a strange feeling of Déjà Vue to meet my old Swedish colleague again after all these years. Always eating lunch together back in UK, here we were again 8 years later like it was a regular workday. But there was nothing ordinary about this lunch, instead of complaining about British food in Dundee we were praising delicious Pat Thai in Bangkok!

How he came to work in Thailand is a journey I know all too well because I once had the same dream myself. Every lunch we would fantasize about making games in Thailand, but as the years went by I brushed it off as mere day dreaming. It came as a shock the day he revealed his no-return ticket, I assumed it was an elaborate joke but I could tell from his smile he was 100% serious!

Since then our only contact had been over Skype, but now it was time to meet again, after which I had arranged for a full week of vacation while I was here. I had prepared my arguments why China is a great place to work, but I was worried my vacation would be so awesome Thailand would win me over! My worries were not unfounded.

Check out my amazing motorcycle journey through Thailand!

Winning Free Buffet at Chengdu’s Finest Hotel!

Recently I was lucky enough to win a free buffet in a contest. Not just any buffet, but at one of Chengdu’s finest hotels. Obviously I took plenty of pictures so I could mercilessly tease those who didn’t win, check them out!

Niber pouring chocolate over fruit candy from shangri la's chocolate fountain

The quality of this buffet would have made it a healthy meal if only I could resist the dessert bar with its chocolate fountain!

The marketing department at my workplace has started a fun little guessing game. For every new title we release we all make guesses as to how well our product will sell. For the release of Hoopa City (a game which I didn’t have time to blog about) I just happened to guess exactly right!

The price was a buffet for two at Shangri La, one of China’s most luxurious hotels. Apparently it’s so fancy that it was the hotel of choice for the Obama family on their visit to Chengdu. But was it good enough even for someone of my status?  Read on to find out!

Climbing Mount Qingcheng with my Team

Recently our company went to climb the great Mount QingCheng. A normal person would take this opportunity to bond with their fellow colleagues, but I saw it as yet another chance to brag about my new camera. As our 3d lead showed up with a 16.000$ camera and the skills to match, I had to re-evaluate my photography strategy. It was time to max up the pretentiousness with some B&W photography, check them out!

Paloma standing outside of our hotel at qingcheng mountain

It was a seemingly quiet night, but all the amazing Chinese decor made me worried a kung fu fight might break out at any moment!

It was a usual busy Friday afternoon, but instead of heading home, we were heading to a coach carrying boxes upon boxes of sodas and snacks. It was time to climb Mount QingCheng. Tho conveniently nearby, it’s apparently “amongst the most important centres of Taoism”, whatever that means! 😉

As we arrived to our hotel I was expecting the usual “boring but good location” type of hotel you’d usually pick for hiking, but was surprised to arrive at what looked to be a set for a new Jet Li movie. In the west I would expect a really hefty price tag for such a thematic hotel, here, I have no idea weather it was thematic or just a regular building.

Click to read on and see my pretentious black and white photos of our life-daring journey up QingCheng Mountain!

Celebrating Toto’s Release with Gourmet Burgers!

With the release of Toto’s Treehouse we decided to celebrate with something fancy for lunch. I was highly skeptical when someone suggested such western food as burgers, but when they told me it was located at the top of Chengdu’s luxury mall I grabbed my camera and said “let’s go!”. Check out these amazing burgers!

Niber cutting up his gourmet burger

Despite my vegetarian ambitions I couldn’t resist celebrating at the fanciest burger restaurant in Chengdu!

IFS is the go-to mall for overpriced luxury goods that you can’t afford, therefore it sounded like the perfect place to eat now that the company was paying.

Only once before had I been to IFS and it taught me a valuable lesson regarding price; When the customers of a juice bar looks like they are all mistresses of oil tycoons, you should realize that the price of your orange juice isn’t going to match your local farmers market.

True to my previous experience, the prices at the restaurant had us gasping for air. Unlike most Chinese restaurants whose menus doesn’t have pictures or even English translations, these burgers were displayed on huge A3 pages with fancy design and photographs, but with a matching price-tag!

But then we came to the realization, that although these burger would be 8 times the price of my normal lunch, it would STILL be cheaper than a Big Mac in my home country! With this in mind we released our caution and explored the menus for the fanciest burgers we could find. Tho I may have gone vanilla with my “original burger”, Jack picked out something way more awesome, check it out!

Click to read more and see what amazing burger Jack dared to try!

Dr. Panda & Toto’s Treehouse Released!

We at Dr. Panda recently released our a new game, Dr. Panda & Toto’s Treehouse. I was especially excited about this game because I took some risks pushing the boundaries. What risks, you ask? Read to find out!

Our new character Toto introducing himself

The moment I heard that our new game will be played in a treehouse, I knew it will be a big success. What child doesn’t wish he had a treehouse?

All too often in the games industry we’ll receive an uninspired design document with the explanation that some other aspect (like graphics or marketing) will make it great. Most of the games industry has yet to learn the wonderful motto of Hollywood; “If a movie requires perfect execution to be interesting, then it’s just not a good screenplay”. So I was excited to see a design document that could catch my interest with only few words.

“Take care of a baby turtle living in a giant treehouse”

Since I saw such potential in this game, there was one experimental aspect outside of my usual duties that I wanted to push for…

Click to read about my experimental contribution!