Celebrating Chinese New Year in New Zealand

Although my adventures in China may have passed, the culture will never leave me entirely. One such aspect is my years studying Mandarin Chinese, a language I have zero use for in my new life in New Zealand. After seeing an advertisement for Chinese New Year in Dunedin Chinese Garden I figure this might be my chance to blow the dust off my rusty Mandarin, so I grab a couple of colleagues and head on down. Well turns out I didn’t get any use of the language there either, but I got something even better, opportunities for long exposure photography! Check these out!

Celebrating Christmas in New Caledonia

Having just arrived to my new job in New Zealand, I was surprisingly quickly pulled back out of the country. It felt like I had barely even turned on my computer at work, but with a 2 weeks office shutdown around the holidays I had little choice but to take an early undeserved vacation. Thinking I would at least get to see some of New Zealand, a friend invited me to celebrate Christmas in New Caledonia, an offer I could not refuse. Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of the country, as neither had I. Now would be a good time to learn tho by checking out some of my photos!

Healthcation Training MMA in Phuket

With my vacation days stacking up it was time to go on another adventure, but the idea of lying on a beach reading a book sounded underwhelming. Much more to my taste, we found a MMA training camp in Thailand. But albeit my fascination for MMA, could this computer geek handle that kind of training? Read on to find out!

QiYue boxing at AKA Thailand in Phuket

QiYue hitting the bags at AKA Thailands outdoor gym.

With two years of pollution stacked up in my lungs from living in China, I preferred a “healthcation” rather than a party trip.

At first I wanted to sign up for a yoga center in Thailand but luckily I discovered something horrible in their TripAdvisor reviews. What surprised me wasn’t the occasional one-star rating (every business has them) but rather their response to such. After a one star review insulted every aspect of the center, they responded with “Thanks for your feedback, Love you!” . The sheer pretentiousness of this response made me feel I rather punch this yoga center than join them! That’s when my idea was born, maybe I should just learn fighting instead!

I found an amazing camp that trains MMA, but suspected QiYue wouldn’t be interested. I was surprised to find she thought it sounded way better than the yoga. The decision was made and I would spend my next month getting physically prepared for the fighting. But would one month be enough to get this computer geek capable of training alongside real fighters? Click to check out my vacation at AKA Thailand!

Spiritual Journey up Sacred Mountain

Readers of my blog will know I’m no stranger to climbing Buddhist mountains but unlike climbing with my colleagues I was craving a more spiritual journey. I should’ve been careful what I wished for as I traveled to the highest sacred mountain of China. A journey that would have me climb slippery stairs for days through dangerous jungle, rain and pitch darkness.

Niber climbing stairs to Mount Emei kung fu temple

Approaching the kung fu temple at base, I had no idea I was about to embark on the most physically and mentally tormenting journey of my life.

Surrounded by the worlds most sacred sites of Buddhism, I felt there had to be a more spiritual journey awaiting me. During my previous hike I’d been discussing video-games with my colleagues the entire way.

I already had in mind the location for my next adventure. As I was living within short travel distance to Mount Emei, ranked officially as the highest sacred mountain of China.

I was afraid this was too dangerous of a hike as warned by several TripAdvisors, but others misled me by claiming it was a piece of cake. Turns out there were varying levels of difficulty and I was about to embark on the most excruciating path. But this hardship would not come without it’s rewards, for at the top awaited me the spiritual guidance I sought. Check out my spiritual vision!

My Chinese Newspaper Interview

In previous post I wrote about my disastrous first painting class in China. Tho it involved a positive surprise ending, I saved the best for last. After a year of successful classes I was eventually asked for an interview by one of China’s largest newspapers. Prepare for the weirdest article you’ve ever read!

Niber having fun teaching painting as his classes are improving

Learning from the mistakes of my disastrous first lesson, I enjoyed a year of successful classes afterwards. But why were one of China’s largest newspapers interested in writing about my little painting classes?

At the end of my first lesson I thought I finally had a chance to unwind, but turned out the most important part still remained.

Many students wanted to brag about their new painting on social media with a picture together with their teacher. Feeling guilty for having so little time to help with their paintings, I felt the least I could do was pose for as many pictures as they want.

This was no small feat however. As the class was nearly all girls, five or six re-takes were not unheard of, as they self-proclaimed that they had a “weird expression”. At the end of these photo sessions my smiling muscles were literally twitching, never before had I held a wide “photo-smile” for 30 minutes straight. Al thought exhausting these pictures generated a lot of buzz on social media, eventually getting me noticed by one of China’s largest newspapers. Click for the pics and translation of the weirdest newspaper article you’ve ever read!

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 an ill fit at first. 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 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. The decision to hire a exotic foreigner turned out to be a good one, as the student attendance exploded in numbers. So much that my first lesson turned into a disaster. Click to read the journey to my 15 minutes of fame!

My 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 as the culture shocks of China was beginning to feel like living on a different planet, my craving for familiarity peaked. It was time to finally make a visit.

Would it have that promised Swedish flare or be filled with have the usual Chinese flavor? Back home an urban legend is that some Chinese take actual naps in the 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 in 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 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 was more adventurous than I’d 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 far outweighs my rare chance to hold a baby panda. It 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!