Monday, 31 August 2009

Final Match

the team in matching kit - Blackpool wasn't available!

This being my last weekend in Shanghai it meant that I made my last apperance for Matrix FC. I've been down to play football with the lads just about every weekend I've been in Shanghai - only missing the occaisional week when on holiday on busy with work. All the lads have been really welcoming to me so to thank them for their hospitality I bought them all Liverpool Kits so they can have matching shirts when they play against other teams. Kevin, one of the leaders of the team, marked the occaision by reading a speech that said I was the "first official sponsor of Matrix FC". I then handed out the shirts and gave them the card that is below.

my card - someone on the train tried to correct one character!

This is the speech that Kevin made to the rest of the team (i like the part about my knee!):
对矩阵来说今天是个特别的日子,因为矩阵将会得到第一次正式意义的私人赞助。赞助人是Charlie Markillie.查理2009年初开始在矩阵开始活动,今天是最后一场在矩阵的活动,然后他将返回他的祖国,英格兰。

Today is a specail day, MatrixFc will accept first officail sponsor and his donor shirts.The sponsor's name is Charlie Markilie.Charlie join MatrixFc in the year beginning, today is the last game for him in MatrixFc, and then he will be back to his contry, England.
在矩阵里,查理的膝盖在肯定是最差的(虽然我们希望他会尽快恢复),活动前一天的平均睡觉时间也是最短的(一般老外星期六晚上睡觉也都比较少),不过貌似这都不能阻止他来踢球。In MatrixFc, his knee is the worst one(though everyone hope he will recover totally soon), and most of saturday he sleep less compare all of us, but it seems nothing will stop him to the football game.

这是一个足球狂热者。也是一个友好的热心人,他很早就提出,他希望赞助我们球衣能让我们分成各个支队。我很认可他的想法,不管出于卫生和风阻系数来说,用穿背心的办法分队都很不舒服,最主要的,穿背心还是让人感觉有点乱。He is a creasy football fan. Besides, he is a warm heart person. One monthes ago he told me he will buy some shirts for MatrixFc so we dont need to wear the bibs. I agreed with his opinion and i think the bibs is not good at all.

但是矩阵分队比较灵活,所以今天我们将赞助的球衣统一成利物浦队服,同时我们也接受所有队员的闲置队服的赞助。今后我们将合理利用这些赞助队服,进行分队。But we often chang sub-team players, so we decided to accept Charlie's donor all as Liverpool's shirts and then we will gather all the donor shirts from all the Matrix players.We will try to use them instead of bibs.

感谢查理到来,他的真诚,他的贡献,今日所发生将会被记录到矩阵史册,请大家共同鉴证今日。We appricate for Charlie's coming, his honer and contribution, everyone will remember today.2009年8月30日Augest thirty year two thousand 9.

1. 接下来请________,________记录捐献球衣发放。_________and__________will be invited to send shirts to everyone
2. 请____________记录接受捐献球衣登记,并接受各个队员今日捐赠的球衣和将要带来捐赠的球衣。___________will in charge of recording the donor shirts, and for the future donor.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Last Weekend in Shanghai

Whilst this weekend isn't my last in China, it is the last I will spend in Shanghai before returning home. It's quite sad as many of my friends are leaving this weekend or the start of next week and it really feels like our time here is coming to an end. To make sure we go out in style we've got a pretty action packed weekend planned. Keeping off tonight - hopefully very soon *it is already 6pm here* - at Dishuidong; one of our favourite chinese restuarants on Changle Lu. After that we're heading to Emma's new apartment for a few pre-game drinks before heading to a bar and then some karaoke. Then after we've filled up on Karaoke we're heading to a club and then Bar Rogue to watch the sunrise. Should be awesome and a great way to spend our last friday night together.
Tomorrow, once I wake up, i'm meeting with my football team friends as I'm buying them a new kit to play in. At the moment they have a mixture of different shirts which can get quite confusing so for £60 I've brought them enough footy shirts to deck out all 25 of the players. They are calling me their first ever "official sponsor". After that I thought I might head to moganshan or xinle lu one last time.
In the evening i've got another chinese wedding! (see report earlier of the other one I attended) HOpefully more turtle but less who wants to be a millionaire questioning. This time it is the turn of Monica (who has also just announced that she is pregnant!) so the HongBao is taking a proper hammering this weekend!!!
After the wedding I'm heading to YuYingTang with the others for a Brit Pop night. SUnday morning will be football and sunday afternoon I might actually get time to update the blog with my holiday stories. Who knows??!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Flight to Kunming

Despite all the worry about typhoon Morakot delaying the flight we boarded the plane to Kunming from Shanghai on time. Took off and everything was going normal but then 30 minutes in there was an announcement over the intercom that there was a problem with the plane and we were going to have to make an emergency landing - we turned round back to shanghai and went back. The captain said there was nothing wrong with the plane itself but that the radar had broken and then moments later the plane dropped what seemed about 10 feet - everyone started panicking and kids started to cry. When we eventually made what was a bumpy landing they kept us on the plane for about 10 minutes and insisted that we'd be resuming our flight on the same plane, several of the Chinese complained about this and eventually they decided that we wouldn't be carrying on on the same plane. When we got off the plane several emergency vehicles rushed to the plane and started working on the plane from each side - definitely more than just the radar that was wrong. We boarded the new plane and took off for Kunming - think everyone was a little nervous but thankfully this flight went without hitch.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Most of my office is on holiday at the moment so I thought it would be a perfect chance for me to have a break before coming back to England. Last time I was in china I managed to travel to most of the places I wanted to go to in the centre and east of China but never got a chance to travel to south of the country so I'm taking the oppotunity to explore Yunnan Province.
Yunnan, close to Thailaind, Burma and Vietname, is meant to be one of the most beautiful provinces in China with amazing scenary and beautiful wildlife. I'm going to spend two weeks there exploring. I fly into Kunming on Saturday and stay there for one night (just another big chinese city) before catching the 8 Hour bus to Lijiang. We'll spend 4 days exploring Lijiang, 2 days at Lu Gu Hu (a lake village where marriage doesn't exist), 2 days at Tiger Leaping Gorge (arguably the world's deepest canyon) and then onto Shangri La for 4 days. Really wanted to go from Shangri La to Lhasa for a couple of days in tibet but it would have been too much hassle with visas so have decided to spend more time in Lijiang.
Will try and take some decent pictures and keep you up to date with what i'm doing. After I come back from holiday I have about 2 weeks before flying home.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Battle of Nanjing

Those of you that read this blog regularly will know that since I've been here I've satisfied my desire for live football by going to watch Shanghai Shenhua. This weekend Daniel and I went with the Lan Mo (Blue Devil) Ultras Supporters group to see them play in Nanjing. I'd been looking forward to this trip for weeks and it didn't disappoint.

Unfortunately my mate Cameron, who was acting as our "in" to the Lan Mo was ill and unable to come, So just Daniel and I formed the Laowai Lanmo for this trip. We meet at the train station for 8.15 and boarded the Nanijng Express. I think we were both feeling a little uneasy about meeting up with football "hooligans" that we'd never met before and with whom I'd had only brief telephone conversations but we were still looking forward to a great weekend.

We arrived in Nanjing at 11.15 and made our way to the hotel. Instantly surprised by how nice it was - 4* European standard - had a few problems checking in - as didn't know the name we were booked under. We weren't technically allowed to be in Nanjing on the Saturday - the police had banned us from travelling so unsurprisingly we hadn't booked the hotel under the group name "shanghai FC ultras".

We asked where to go for lunch and were suggested to head to the KFC around the corner - nice touch - we made our way out to find something a bit more local. We got the call about 12.30 that the boys had arrived at the hotel. We made our way back and saw about 100 people (mostly lads) milling around in the lobby as one guy took cash, distributed cards and did a general roll call. This was "top boy" Frank - leader of the Lan Mo - Daniel named him "Chairman". Each member of the Lan Mo has dog tags with how long they have been in the club - Most just say Member, or if you are especially high up leader - Frank's said "Pioneer".

Frank quickly told us the plan of action for the weekend, when we were allowed free time, the fact that they'd told the police we weren't arriving in Nanjing until the Sunday, the fact we had to keep things low key so as to not be detected and the fact that we should meet in the lobby later for a big celebration meal as tomorrow was his birthday!

Frank said that the afternoon we were free to explore nanjing- he put a ban on any football clothing until tomorrow and just said to be back in time for dinner. We went out to the Massacre Memorial museum which was interesting and was glad I went as it was closed previously when I was in Nanjing. Afterwards we joined up with the lads fo dinner. We were the last to get to the restaurant due to a useless taxi driver. We had 2 tables in the front of the restaurant for the "youth" and then two more in the back for the "top boys" and "youth leaders". We were put on the youth leaders top table.

We were in a private room and despite wanting to remain off the radar for the time being this meant we frequently broke out into song. One of the lads told me that the "youth" outside were on the look out for if any Nanjing fans turned up. There was loads of food at the banquet but very little got touched as we just focused on toasts and gangbei-ing each other. As the meal went on various people stood up and made speeches in honour of "the chairmans" birthday. Then came my turn. I introduced myself in Shanghainese (which got a laugh) and then went on to say in Mandarin that Daniel and I loved Shenhua and would die for the cause. Later Dan was asked for his turn and lost for words he just downed his bottle of beer which was met with a response in chorus of 'di yi ping, di yi ping!' (the first bottle). After this the "youth" went home and the top lads carried on drinking, we were moved to their table and they started singing English football songs at the top of their voices for us. Despite Dan and I insisting otherwise Chairman Frank paid for dinner as it was his birthday. Bonus.

After a drunken dinner round a table with topless guys, we started to have other 'things' on our minds, so we headed to a very Chinese bar/club. The standard combination of four bottles of whisky and a plate of watermelon was brought to the table. Dice games were the order of the night, I was so hammered by this time that I could barely count the dice though. Some of the lads went off to find Frank a girl for his birthday but the place was overran by blokes so think they failed. We finished all 4 bottles of whiskey between us and spent most of the evening singing Shenhua songs as loud as possible above the music and trying to incite a reaction from the locals- failed.

The morning of the match was met with military precision. 9am meet downstairs for breakfast. No colours allowed. Haven eaten some fairly awful Chinese breakfasts before I was quite pleasantly surprised by the selection on offer, but I joked to Dan (who is Jewish) that there was no bacon. 10 minutes later a waitress came out and presented me with a whole plate of bacon - more than one person could ever possibly manage to eat! At this point Frank and the other lads came down stairs and told us that the team coach had been attacked on the way into Nanjing so things could get "interesting" at the ground.

we boarded the coach at 10am and drove some 40/50 miles out of nanjing to meet up with the further 10 coaches of Shenhua fans and their police escort. We waited there for about 30 minutes and then they all turned up and we were escorted to a town called JuRong for Lunch - a place that according to its sign is 'China's no.1 tourist city'. Never heard of it, nor has Lonely Planet, nor, I doubt, has anyone who doesn't live there. All 700 fans or so were taken to the same restaurant. It was quite some sight. Once again we were taken to eat in a private room with the top boys. After my drinking exploits from the night before i was christened "Charlie:King of England" and force fed beer at an extraordinary rate. In the 40 minute stop for dinner I had 5 bottles and they gave me another for the coach. Dinner came to 20RMB per person - starting to see why JuRong is a potential tourist honey pot!

At the restaurant everyone got into their Game clothes. As the group is called the blue devils everyone has to wear blue. Some of our favourite t-shirts worn by the ultras said such things as "WELCOME TO THE HELL" - "WONDERFUL SHANGHAI, WONDERFUL SHENHUA, BLUE JIHAD" - "SHUT UP" - "LETS HAVE A FIGHT, NORTH VERSUS SOUTH" - "WE WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING, ONE LOVE, ONE DESIRE, SHENHUA" - "SHENHUA; PERSUASION AND LOYALTY". Quite different to England where some of the more "hardcore" fans wear anything but club colours.

Then we are escorted by the police to the stadium. Despite leaving the hotel nearly 6 hours before the match started we still managed to miss the kick off by 10 minutes due to the ridiculous police searches that went on outside the ground. Unfortunately all flags, banners and drums were confiscated. We all walked into the ground without anyone asking for a ticket!!!

The game itself was spent standing on the seats the whole match. The mighty Shenhua had a player sent off after half an hour and then went a goal down. But then we equalised which set off crazy scenes in the crowd. Of course, Daniel and I thought it only right that we take our tops off and go crazy with the rest of them. The good spirits soon turned sour again after Nanjing went a goal up with only 5 minutes left. Yet somehow the ten men of Shanghai managed to get their equaliser and almost nick a winning goal at the end. With the equaliser the Shenhua fans attempted to "get at" the Nanjing fans only to be met by the Chinese Army complete with guns and riot shields. Breathless stuff. All in all, 2-2 away in Nanjing with ten men was a good result.

The atmosphere in the ground was decent - we stood with some of the lanmo that had befriended us and we joined in with all the songs and baiting of the Nanjing fans (Sa Bi).
After the match we had to wait around for ages as the police and armed riot police set up outside. There were hundreds of them. Almost one policeman for each of the 700 Shenhua fans. They obviously saw Daniel and I and thought we were pretty threatening to the rest of Nanjing. The Nanjing fans made several attempts to get at the coaches but were held back by the police - from inside the stadium concourse we could occasionally hear huge roars as the fans rushed at the armed guards. Even after being kept behind for 30 minutes they were still waiting for us when we left.

We were escorted out of Nanjing by the police where we experienced scenes of bottles being thrown at our coaches and a couple of opposition fans doing a 'Tiananmen tank man' and standing in front of our coaches so we couldn't move. I tried to get some of our lads to get off the coach and "deal" but no one obliged.

The long ride back to Shanghai still had one remaining highlight...after a few hours drive we stopped at a petrol station only to find that the Shanghai Shenhua team bus had also stopped for a break. More crazy scenes as we got the players off the bus for photos etc.

A quality weekend at a total cost of £30 - well worth the money!!

Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum

We had a little spare time on saturday, before the drinking commenced, so took a trip to the Massacre Memorial Museum. I had wanted to visit last time when I was here, but the museum was being rennovated. The rennovations have now been completed and the museum is a fantastic memorial to all those that lost their lives. Of course it is heavily biased to the chinese - Japanese are referred to as "devils" throughout - but nonetheless it is highly informative and worth a visit for anyone with an interest in (Chinese) history.

In the six-week period following the Japanese capture of Nanking on December 9 1937, 80,000 women and children were raped by the Imperial Japanese Army and hundreds of thousands of people murdered.

The names of 100,000 of victims that died in the massacre are inscribed on the wall surrounding the memorial

The number 300,000 is every where in the Museum - even donations made by benefactors were done in mutliples of 300,000 Yuan. A constant reminder of the number that died.

The memorial is built on the burial site of 100,000 of the victims. The bodies are laid
out in state, the sight is quite horrifying. After the hall you progress into an area where
there are candles lit for the victims.
The last area of the museum is devoted to ongoing relations between
the japanese and chinese and the last thing you see as you leave is the sign of peace -
和平 - He Ping - Peace

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Bund at Night - Part 2

Took some views of the bund from the other side last night. Really is an amazing view in the evening -simply breathtaking. You can see the old HSBC Buiding, The Shanghai Club Builing, The Customs House and a lot of the new buildings - unfortunately they turned the lights off (10pm) just before I was going to take the picture of the far end of the bund - including the Bank of China Builing. Hope you like the photos. I've included a diagram showing what the buildings are. If you double click on either picture it will give you a full size view.

Shanghai beach

Feeling the need for some fresh air, sun, sand and salt water, I caught the bus out of town on Saturday to one of Shanghai's beaches. Bihai Jinsha Beach(贤碧海金沙水上乐园) is the Fengxian District of Shanghai, apart 1 hour 10 minutes by bus out from the centre of the city. The beach isn't natural but they've done a pretty good job creating something similar to a picture postcard scene. The name translates into English as "Blue Sea, Golden Sands" and they've managed to achieve part of this by importing white sand in from Hainan province, however the Sea (despite a much lauded "water filtration" system") wasn't especially clean.

When we got to the front gate of the beach I was asked for a health certificate to prove that I was "safe to swim". When I said I didn't have one I was told I couldn't come in, I said that I hadn't paid £10 for a ticket and travelled for over an hour (with a bit of a hangover) to be told I couldn't come in, so just walked straight past the guy. Caused a few bemused looks.

Saturday wasn't the warmest day to choose to go to the beach (19 degrees) but the water was still amazingly hot - maybe it is heated. The beach was quite crowded in places but you could find a few more quiet places to relax if you wanted. YOu could do things like canoeing, jet ski-ing, parasailing. They really have tried to make it exactly like a beach in a western resort and plus being a Chinese beach it comes complete with it's own Karaoke stage and KFC of course! The singing and dancing on the karaoke stage goes on till 10pm on a Saturday with a the last bus coming back to the city at 11pm.

Not as good as the "real thing" for sure but still a good way to relax for a few hours on a saturday. Plus at the moment there is a comic and "cosplay" show going on down there which makes it even more interesting than usual.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Clothes the Chinese Wear

Shanghai is known as the "paris of asia" in some parts. I guess this conjures up images of amazingly fashionable people strolling along glamourous shopping streets wearing louis vuiton, channel etc. That is probably correct of about 5% of all people in shanghai.

The vast majority still wear some absolutely cracking fashion disasters.

The latest trend is for boyfriends and girlfriends to wear matching t shirts with realted slogans (above). One famous example is a shirt with a wallet on - the boys version reads "I make money but I don't spend no money" whilst the girls version reads "i make no money but I spend money". You also get ones that say something along the lines of "i eat the rice but I don't make the rice"/"i make the rice but i don't eat the rice" etc etc. Some have pattens that join together when the pair are walking side by side along the street. It really is alarming the amount of people that you see wearing these when you walk around on a saturday afternoon.

Of course you still get your standard "chinglish" t-shirts where they've bought a shirt thinking it is fashionable because it has some english writing on and they have no idea what it actually means ( - I guess this is no different to people in England getting a Chinese Character tattoo though when they have no idea how to read or write chinese). Two classic examples below but really have seen too many to list; one good one I saw on a girl read in big black letters "FLICK MY MAGIC BEAN"....charming.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

First Quarter Results...

So as of 12 July 2009 I turned 25! Christ, I feel old just saying that. The fact that most chinese people seem to think I look much older doesn't help much either (they place me at around 30 years old on most occaisions - just because they all look 5 years younger than they actually are!) . To celebrate my friends and I went out to dinner a lost heaven - a restuarant that serves spicy yunnan cuisine. The restuarant isn't too flashy but I'd been there before and thought it would be a nice place to go for a quick meal that wasn't too expensive.

After the meal we headed back to my apartment where we had a bit of a "house party". I'd bought plenty of beer, a few bottles of gin, vodka and then some mixes and we also had some champagne to celebrate as well. Interestingly a big bottle of gordans gin out here is £6 and a can of tonic is 30p - is that cheaper than home?! One thing that isn't cheper is imported beer - I bought 3/4 bottles of ale from the international supermarket and think they were £3 or £4 each! Shocker! Luckily I had my two bottles of TYDD STEAM that i carried with me from the brewery on day of departure to keep me satisfied. Once we'd polished off the gin, champagne and majority of the beers we headed off to Bar Rogue.

I'd never been to Bar Rogue before and, as i've written below, I wasn't too imprssed at the beginning. For starters, it cost 1ooRMB to get in - the most I've paid in Shanghai for anywhere where you still have to pay for drinks and when we got in it was completely packed busy and the music wasn't great. I was all set for leaving and going somewhere else but was persuaded otherwise. As the night went on the bar emptied out and the music got better and I soon started to see why people like the place.
Being one of the most famous bars in shanghai it has its own signature drink where they pour lighter fluid around the bar and down a series of glasses before setting fire to it. I'm not sure what alcohol was in the glasses (possibly baileys>?>>!) but whatever it was, was bloody hot after the inferno had finished.
When dawn broke we all sat down and watched the magical sunrise. Definitely a birthday evening I will never forget.
The sunrise got me thinking a bit about the last couple of years and the year going forward. Moving away from home to Leeds, buying a house, motorbike, moving to Shanghai, getting my competition job for when I return to home. Exciting times ahead. Lets hope the next quarter century is as enjoyable as the first.

Bund Views

Went to Bar Rouge - one of Shanghai's most famous bars on Saturday night to celebrate my birthday. I wasn't amazingly keen on the place at first as I thought it was over full, over expensive and populated by an annoying mix of pretentious snobs, wannabees and prostitutes *is there ever a good mix of those three categories of people?* I was all ready to leave and move somewhere else within about 30 minutes of arrival but was convinced to stay a little longer by Xuan as he had only just got there. I'm glad he did as as the night drew on the bar emptied a little and as the sun came up the terrace gave us the most fantastic view of the bund. It was lovely - a birthday I'm sure never to forget. I've just put some photos of the skyline here - i'll include more of the actual evening later.... the view made me wish I had a *proper* camera... I really like how you can see the hole in the top of the world financial centre and also the pearl tower looming large in the foreground.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Football birthday

Each week I play football with a group of Chinese lads ("Matrix FC") at the Jingwen Stadium. Not only does it give me some much needed exercise it always allows me to practice my mandarin/shanghainese. We usually have about 21 Chinese players and occaisionally a few other foreigners - although I've been the only "international" player making appearances lately (I think it is too hot for the others!).

The teams are split into teams of 7-a-side. Most of the lads have been playing together for 10 years or so so teams are in established units. There is an "argentina" team who all come from the Chongming island just outside of shanghai, a "France" team and then a "netherlands" team who were the original founders of the group. Seeing as I always wear my tangerine kit I got grouped with the Netherlands team. I tend to play an attacking full back role, which I really like but always results in me being cream crackered by the end!!

We play from 9.30am every sunday. The matches we play usually last 30 minutes each and then it is a case of winner stays on - if it is a draw the match goes to a penalty shoot. You can't stay on for more than 2 consectutive games and you wouldn't really want to in 40 degree heat. The games usually finish at 12.30pm and then we go for lunch and some drinks.

As last sunday was the week before my birthday the team threw me a surprise birthday party. We played until 12.30pm as normal and then went for a large dinner at a sichuan restuarant. They took charge of the ordering so I was treated to some of the spiciest food I have ever eaten in China and also some of the strangest; bullfrog, ducks neck.
They were quite shocked at how much i ate though and even more shocked that we eat rabbit at home. I explained to them that my parents are farmers and I think they understand. They were really kind and each team bought me a present - Kevin (my best friend on the team) bought me a really nice watch, the argentian team gave me a Chinese tea set from their island and the french team bought me a large birthday cake.
It was a really great day and I hope I can buy them all some new "english" football kits before I leave to say thank you for their hospitality. No more of this "argentina" malarky!!!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Bao Shan Lu - Second Hand Markets

BaoShaoLu in northern shanghai is an area entirely composed of second markets. You can quite possibly buy everything that you ever wanted there. The outside markets concentrate on industrial goods such as chainsaws, vices, washing machines, linishers, electrical wire. Inside they concentrate on electrical goods such as computers, car stereos, hifi's, mobile phones etc and other household appliances. I'm not sure how much is genuinely second hand and how much is just stolen - i'm guessing most of the bikes are "hot" though - but it was really intersting to go round and take a look, I don't think any where else other than China would have such a market where things scavanged from the road side and dumps are sold as valued commoditites. Everything has a price in China and nothing goes to waste. Next time I need a pair of heavy duty bolt croppers I know where to go!