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!

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 Toto’s Treehouse 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. But as our 3d lead showed up with a 16,000$ camera and the skills to match, I had to reevaluate my strategy. My only chance to brag was to go the pretentious route with some B&W photography.

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 carrying boxes upon boxes of sodas and snacks to a bus. 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 I was expecting our hotel to be the usual “boring but good location”, I was surprised to arrive at what looked like a set for a Jet Li movie. In the west I would expect a really hefty price tag for such a thematic hotel, but here, I have no idea weather it was thematic or just the regular architecture. Click to see my pretentious B&W 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!”

Niel's speaking about the future of the company as a child at the next table is nodding at his every word

Niels’ speech for our company’s future was so powerful that even the boy at the next table was convinced!

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 lesson in pricing. When the customers of a juice bar looks like they are all mistresses of oil tycoons, 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. But since the company was paying we 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 out Jack’s daredevil attempt at the notoriously spicy Devil’s Burger!