Moments from summer in Europe

Dream play repeat

It is absolutely fantastic to see friends and family again - especially in this time of year where people are relaxed & happy and the weather is beautiful.  

I recently had the pleasure to spend some days with my two lovely and very energetic nephews. Being with them made me realize how excited they are about even the smallest things they discover around them. How excited they are about life and how it sometimes seems that they see a lot of things as small miracles. 

It's really sad how we as adults have a tendency to forget the small miracles in life. (Oh I said it, I'm an adult now...) 

We get caught up in everyday life, work, worries, plans or whatever it is and forget. Forget the excitement over the first butterfly in spring, the excitement over a big green open field that just calls for a run or a fountain perfect for a little watersplashing. And it is just not right.

I believe that's why it is so crucial to get out of our everyday-life setting and routine. We need a break in order to look at things from the distance and from a "fresh" perspective. We need a get-away so that we can remember our dreams, build new ones and believe that regardless of our current situation anything can still happen in this life. That's why it is so magical.  

It reminds me of Walt Disney's famous words: Never stop dreaming

Maybe that's exactly what make us stay young, alive, happy and excited: our dreams, hopes and imagination. 

This summer I will try to dream more. And even when I'm not with my nephews I want to play in the field, practice my headstands everywhere and remember to appreciate and be excited about the small miracles I'm surrounded by here in summerly Denmark

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Happy days in Denmark

If your heart takes you back to summer in Denmark, happiness must truly be to follow it. 

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I find that when I live abroad and have my everyday life so far away from my family and friends it is crucial to have a date set for when we will see each other again. Since I came back to Shanghai in February it's been my plan to go back home for Danish summer time. Such a good plan!

After a busy semester in Shanghai where pace of life never seems to slow down it feels absolutely amazing to be here. Whether in Copenhagen, on the country side or on a tiny idyllic island, summer in Denmark is truly magical.

Being here under such ideal condition is a great opportunity for me to look back on the last semester in Shanghai and consider things from a distance. I find that daily life is so much easier to evaluate and consider when you leave it. From a distance I can se things from a different perspective, get a better overview and thereby consider changes I wish to make or goals I wish to pursue in the forthcoming future.

I believe that we should always make our plans for the future on a sunny day, preferably after a walk, a swim or a run in nature. It makes all the difference 

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Good Old London

Some things just never seem to change. One of them is the next stop on my Europe trip which is also one of my previous homes back when I was a student at Regent's College in Good Old London.

Being back here among the famous London sights as well as visiting my old neighborhood, my local study cafe and my favorite vegan restaurant really made me realize how little "my London" has changed in the last decade. It's pretty fascinating because when I think about it it seems like "my Shanghai" changes every day.

Shanghai in 1990 and again in 2010 two years before I arrived for the first time. Picture from Weburbanist.

Shanghai in 1990 and again in 2010 two years before I arrived for the first time. Picture from Weburbanist.

The Shanghai Tower in March this year. The top part is still under constructionย 

The Shanghai Tower in March this year. The top part is still under construction 

Shanghai and it's urban landscape has changed rapidly over the last 20 years and is still continuously changing every single day. When living in Shanghai I feel and see the changes on both a small and a larger scale. On the larger scale I can follow the rapid rise of the Shanghai Tower which is expected to open to the public next year after just 6 years of construction. With it's 632m it will be the 2nd tallest building in the world. At least for a while.

On the smaller scale it literally means that on a Monday I live next to a shop selling socks in aaaall colors and shapes. Tuesday it's gone and builders are tearing bricks down. Wednesday they are building something new and by Thursday I'm being welcomed by a nice Hong Kong couple and offered a 15% neighbor discount at their brand new burger Restaurant. 

Shanghai and China is developing with the speed of light. It is exciting and a bit worrying as it somehow seems out of control. Then again don't they say that everything is controlled in China? The daily level of pollution makes me doubt it but hopefully for the Chinese people (and for the rest of the planet) this will soon be under control to.   

Worries aside for the present moment where it is so lovely to be back in good old London where the sky is blue even on a cloudy day and where every part of the city takes me down memory lane. 

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From Shanghai to Stamford

My first stop in Europe was Stamford in the UK where I went to see my family and to attend my beautiful cousin Cathrine Ann's wedding. Coming straight from Shanghai, Stamford seems like the oldest and most charming city in the world. Perhaps it is. Such amazing setting for such a perfect wedding   

The famous Burghley House in Stamford which was build in the middle of the 15th hundred century

The famous Burghley House in Stamford which was build in the middle of the 15th hundred century

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Happy holiday - off to Europe

Exams at Jiao Tong are over and I'm off to Europe. For a month or maybe two. Denmark and Europe is absolutely amazing in the summer months and I feel so privileged to be able to go back to Europe with an open ticket and not leave until I feel ready.

I can't wait for blue sky, fresh air, long summer nights and especially friends & family - I have a new little niece waiting and I heard she's like a little summer miracle.

ๅ†่งไธŠๆตท/Zร ijiร n Shร nghai 

10972 m Above the Western Syberian lowland. 4572 km from Shanghai and 4500 km from Copenhagen. Halfway home

10972 m Above the Western Syberian lowland. 4572 km from Shanghai and 4500 km from Copenhagen. Halfway home

A weekend trip favorite: Moganshan

Moganshan is probably my no. 1 favorite destination for a weekend get-away out of Shanghai.

It is easy: just a 2 hours train ride from SH Hongqiao Station to Deqing (ๅพทๆธ…) and a 40 min car drive from Deqing to the mountain. Most hotels and guesthouses in Moganshan can arrange pick ups at reasonable prices

It is the opposite of Shanghai: quiet, green, fresh, clean & beeeeeautiful (ok Shanghai is also pretty beautiful in its own way but Moganshan beauty is of another kind)

It is super "laowai" friendly:  Moganshan offers a very local Chinese experience but at the same time most hotels and guesthouses serves lattes and Western breakfasts. The best of two worlds 

With the skies of Italy, Japanease greenery and the splendour of the Rocky Mountains Moganshan is a picturesque mountain covered in bamboo and pines. You can find hotels and guesthouses in all price ranges which all get pretty busy in weekends - especially in summer time where a trip to Moganshan is the perfect way to escape the Shanghai heat. 

This weekend we went for our second trip to Moganshan. The weather forecast said rain so we packed books, hiking shoes & redwine and prepared us for a quiet cozy weekend away from Shanghai's busyness surrounded by nature. 

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In Moganshan we stay at the simple and very reasonable priced Bamboo View Guesthouse which is located at the bottom of the mountain, close to Prodigy mountainbike club and Wohoo life guesthouse. It is run by a nice Chinese family and the daughter Lanying speaks English:ย bambooview@gmail.com

In Moganshan we stay at the simple and very reasonable priced Bamboo View Guesthouse which is located at the bottom of the mountain, close to Prodigy mountainbike club and Wohoo life guesthouse. It is run by a nice Chinese family and the daughter Lanying speaks English: bambooview@gmail.com

The Bamboo view Guesthouse's outside areaย 

The Bamboo view Guesthouse's outside area 

Our "Bamboo (and pine) view" from the room ย 

Our "Bamboo (and pine) view" from the room

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The yummy Chinese style breakfast which is included in room prices at Bamboo View Guesthouse.ย For RMB 25 extra Lanying will serve it with a latte on the side

The yummy Chinese style breakfast which is included in room prices at Bamboo View Guesthouse. For RMB 25 extra Lanying will serve it with a latte on the side

From the bottom of the mountain you can do a three hour hike to the top of Moganshan. Here you can eat lunch in the village, visit Mao Zedong's Moganshan residency and admire the colonial style houses. Afterwards you can either hike or take a car down for around RMB 80

From the bottom of the mountain you can do a three hour hike to the top of Moganshan. Here you can eat lunch in the village, visit Mao Zedong's Moganshan residency and admire the colonial style houses. Afterwards you can either hike or take a car down for around RMB 80

From a tea field at the top

From a tea field at the top

Halfway up

Halfway up

"The lodge" is a rather famous Western style cafe and hotel host located in the village at the top of Moganshan

"The lodge" is a rather famous Western style cafe and hotel host located in the village at the top of Moganshan

China Cuckoo is a book written by a British guy who is also the founder of "The Lodge". It is a really interesting book about the history of Moganshan as well as a fascinating and true story about his life in China

China Cuckoo is a book written by a British guy who is also the founder of "The Lodge". It is a really interesting book about the history of Moganshan as well as a fascinating and true story about his life in China

After a three hour hike finding "The Lodge" and Western food is too good

After a three hour hike finding "The Lodge" and Western food is too good

And the local Moganshan brew

And the local Moganshan brew

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oh happy future

The last month I've been allocating an extra amount of my time to my Chinese studies in order to be ready for next week's exams at Jiao Tong University. My first semester has gone so fast which is both super exciting and super terrifying!  

Besides studying I have probably spent 75% of my time the last month thinking about the future. Oh my happy succesfull future. I have been trying to decide whether I want to sign up for another semester at Jiao Tong University, sign up for a private school with smaller classes or focus 100 % on private tuition which can easily be combined with a job - if that's what I want to look for here in Shanghai. Is it? It is, right?

I find it really difficult to figure out what would be best for me and my future. To focus 100% on the Chinese studies another or two semesters. Or combine my full-time studying with a job and thereby add to my work experience in China. I find it even more difficult to figure out what I deep inside feel like doing - "what my passion is" so to speak. Suddenly I feel like I'm back in the last year of my bachelor degree at Copenhagen Business School, where I was trying to figure out which Master's to enroll to - what my passion was and what would benefit my career in the long run.

After spending weeks on considerations, conversations and small frustrations I currently find myself looking through the professional career advise that helped me a lot through my University time in London, Copenhagen and New York.

So I thought this time I wanted to share this excellent piece of advice.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" they asked. A cat she said. Can I be a cat? No one ask the cat what it wants to be or what it wants to do. The cat is just there - breathing, being, living"

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" they asked. A cat she said. Can I be a cat? No one ask the cat what it wants to be or what it wants to do. The cat is just there - breathing, being, living"

With his surprising ways to look at things in different perspectives Daniel Pink is my favorite guru on career, motivation and modern life in general. He is the author of great books, articles and posts and you can explore them through his website. One of his publications is what he calls "The last Career Guide You'll Ever Need" and to convey this guide in a simple and easy-readable way it is introduced in an entertaining cartoon form:

"Meet Johnny Bunko. Heโ€™s probably a lot like you. He did what everybody โ€“ parents, teachers, counselors โ€” told him to do. But now, stuck at a dead-end job, heโ€™s begun to suspect that what he thought he knew is just plain wrong. One bizarre night, Johnny meets Diana, the unlikeliest career advisor heโ€™s ever seen. Part Cameron Diaz, part Barbara Eden, she reveals to Johnny the six essential lessons for thriving in the world of work."

In this book Pink conveys six basic principles about the world of work which I believe anyone at any level of their career can use in one way or the other. His six take-away messages for readers are:

  1. There is no plan.
  2. Think strengths, not weaknesses.
  3. Itโ€™s not about you.
  4. Persistence trumps talent.
  5. Make excellent mistakes.
  6. Leave an imprint.

Obviosuly each of these principles need to be elaborated upon which is done in his book. If you have time you should read it. Or alternatively I suggest that you make it easy for yourself and look through Garr Reynolds funny slideshow where he conveys Pink's messages in an entertaining and fun way. 10 minutes of your time which I promise you won't regret. Find the slideshow here.

Birthday, beer & baseball

One of the most exciting things about living in Shanghai is the continuously exploration of all the spots and places that just seem to pop up every week. It is amazing what you can find here and what the city's creative inhabitants come up with.

This weekend we were invited to Richard's birthday at Cages indoor athletic club in Jingan. Beside from practicing your baseball -, softball-, pingpong- and dart skills you can chill in the bar with a cocktail and a burrito, watch sports and drink beer, share a mexican salad snack and nachos with your friends before taking another round of hits. Before you know of it there is a party going on including sports, food, beer & fun. Our Saturday turned out to be such a fun and different night out in the city. And that's what it is all about: exploring, trying, seeing and doing something new

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Tianzifang and popsicles

With its small alleyways and hidden spots the old Tianzifang district in Shanghai is such a charming place to visit. It was originally built in the 1930s as a residential area but is now comprised by all sorts of craft stores, souvenir vendors, lots of cafes, restaurants and bars. If one is into architecture Tianzifang is known as an example of the famous Shikumen style (stone-framed doorways).

I always take my visitors here as it is a sweet and popular tourist spot. Today I went to buy a wedding gift to take back to Europe for a wedding this summer - Tianzifang is great for getting good quality souvenirs and handy crafts or if you simply can't be bothered fighting with the vendors at Shanghai's fake markets.

A Chinese popsicles vendor inside Tianzifang. Traditional Shanghai popsiclesย comes in saltwater, red bean, green bean, pineapple & sticky rice flavor. Next time I will try to be more adventurousย 

A Chinese popsicles vendor inside Tianzifang. Traditional Shanghai popsicles comes in saltwater, red bean, green bean, pineapple & sticky rice flavor. Next time I will try to be more adventurous 

Shopping, strolling, eating, chilling, repeat.ย 

Shopping, strolling, eating, chilling, repeat. 

Tianzifang has lots of good eateries as well as lots funny and cute things to look at

Tianzifang has lots of good eateries as well as lots funny and cute things to look at

Last month I took my grandmother to Tianzifang when she was visiting Shanghai, it was a rainy day so she really enjoyed exploring both the area and the small shops and galleries the area holds

Last month I took my grandmother to Tianzifang when she was visiting Shanghai, it was a rainy day so she really enjoyed exploring both the area and the small shops and galleries the area holds

Me and my grandmother in one of the galleries where you can buy photos and paintings with the original Shanghai motives in all sizes and colorsย 

Me and my grandmother in one of the galleries where you can buy photos and paintings with the original Shanghai motives in all sizes and colors 

A green weekend on Chongming Island

It is so amazing to be blessed with the opportunity to see something new every week and I just can't get enough of exploring this fascinating and diverse country. This weekend my destination was Chongming island.

The purpose of this weekend-get-away was to celebrate Leon's birthday and I had planned it as a surprise for him with Jeff and Nancy - a friend couple of ours. Jeff grew up on Chongming - one of China's biggest islands which is located only 2 hours driving from Shanghai.

This weekend all four of us went on this little road-trip we talk a lot about doing every time we meet up in the city for dinner or drinks: driving to and around on Chongming island to see Jeff's childhood places and to explore Chongming island's local secrets. I planned and coordinated the surprise for Leon and Jeff & Nancy did all the island planning.

With the fresh beautiful weekend weather and the island's flat countryside, windmills, massive green parks, bikes, animals and empty streets being in Chongming reminded me a little bit of being back home in Denmark. I almost got a little home-sick which is not too bad as I am going back home in less than three weeks!!!  

We had such a good green weekend and it is incredible to travel with some locals and get all the inside information and a feel of the culture in an areas, thus not just being tourists exploring Lonely Planet's must-sees. I had the same experience last weekend in Chengdu, where my Chinese friend Carlos showed my not only Chengdu city's must-sees but also his Chengdu. 

My best advise to anyone who wish to see, explore and do something beyond the "normal" sightseeing: get tips, learn from or even travel with you local friends and acquaintances.

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Lycheeeee love

It is lychee season in Shanghai - such a perfect reason to head to the local fruit shop and get some of these sweeties which beside from being a great source of C-vitamin are proven to have a cooling effect on the body!

My local fruit girls (two sisters run the shop) on Julu Lu sells lychees for RMB 14 / 1 jin / 500g and just a couple of lychees makes a world of a difference in my daily after-yoga smoothie. I can't wait to use them for healthy (or at least healthIER) blended cocktails now that the Shanghai weather calls for drinks on our roof-top.

Here is today's recipe though I really just use what-ever I have. I find that it is so more easy to get into healthy smoothies and juice habits if you stay relaxed about the recipes and just try, explore, taste & adjust. Most fruit combination works. Soymilk can be replaced with cows milk, fruit juice or even water. If I make a milk-based smoothie I often add a little bit of nuts or oats (more protein and more energy). If I make a water or juice-based smoothie I often add fresh lemon/fresh ginger/fresh basil.

2 glasses

1 banana

5 lychees

1 nashi pear

Soy milk

Ice

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Let it happen - make it happen

I believe that if we always try our best to keep an open mind and an open heart amazing things will happen. The world is truly a magical place filled with opportunities for each and every one of us - anything can happen if we (i) are ready to let it happen (ii) are willing to make it happen. 

A good example to show what I literally mean with this is one habit I have been practicing for years: The belief that I from every person whoยดs path I cross (and vice versa) can learn something. With this mindset I now find myself blessed with the fact that boring, annoying and even bad people I meet "give" me something which I personally can gain something positive from. It can be something concrete like a useful contact or it can be something more abstract like a reminder of how not to behave. All situations can be turned into positive with this mindset and you are the one who get enriched from good as well as bad ones.

(Furthermore it is a really good way to practice kindness. Even "bad" people has a history, a situation and maybe an explanation. Without knowing of these we can not really judge one another. Instead we can practice kindness and we can forgive. This is something I feel very strongly about, yet not the topic of this post). 

At a great Internations networking event at the Ritz-Carlton bar in Shanghai I met a Chinese woman who was neither boring, annoying or seemed like a bad person. She was just very smiling. I was with some friends and we didn't reeeeeally network that much besides from with each other. But there was something about this woman and the way she smiled to me - still in a very professional way. We ended up chatting and one of the first things Vivian said was: with your positive vibes and energy I believe you must be a happy person and I am guessing you work in the hospitality industry? If she had also guessed that I currently study mandarin she would have hit the spot.

The next thing she told me was about her company and their current project. They are building a big lifestyle center in Shanghai including yoga, mediation & healthy lifestyle. Needless to say I was so excited to hear more about this project for personal reasons. For professional reasons I am soon meeting for the second time with Vivian's boss and colleagues in regards to future work and career opportunities. It is truly incredible how the Law of Attraction just seems to have so much truth in it - if you just believe it and practice it.

Besides working for this company Vivian has started a social project - a nonprofit organization in Hangzhou where she lives part-time with her family: IWE-MiniTED inspired by the "real" TED talks. IWE is short for Ideas Worth Exchanging and the concept is a meeting every Friday night with a weekly topic where speakers share their view, knowledge and ideas to those interested. Vivian founded IWE MiniTED last year and it is already very popular as she reaches audiences through Wechat which is a very popular communication app here in China.

To make a long story short (or at least try to) the following weekend I found myself taking a trip to Hangzhou. Invited by Vivian to speak about Happiness from the perspective of a Happy Dane in Shanghai at the weekly MiniTED event. Besides me Frank Feng the Director of Hangzhou buddhist studies was also invited to come and speak about happiness from a buddhist perspective. Such an exciting opportunity - to share my ideas as well as hear more about buddhism which I am very fascinated by.

My next post will definitely be on happiness or ๅนธ็ฆ  (xing fu) as the Chinese draw and term it.

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