I went to Jeju island and just got back a week ago.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. We went on a company trip, so I figured that everything was set up via cheap Chinese travel agency. During our orientation, we were told that if we were to stray from the tour group or skip any activities, we would be FINED. Basically, we were brought against our will to souvenir shops–but strangely enough, while all the Chinese people complained, they still managed to buy a ton of stuff from these souvenir places, thus contributing to the evil of Chinese tourism. I had never seen so many people buy so much Ginger root in 2 hours. Seriously.
Like I said earlier, my expectations for the trip were extremely low, but I was pleasantly surprised. While we were taken against our will to random areas of shopping, the tour company did manage to squeeze in REAL sites full of nature and landmarks that were absolutely breathtaking. I mean, I had no idea the water was so amazing in Jeju. Turquoise water so clear, it was like a mirror.
The rock formations were also stunningly gorgeous. Sediments formed and sculpted from the splashing waves of the sea..
Luckily the tide was low, so we were able to venture to this mysterious cove full of the most amazing rock formations.
Look at the color of that water! Surreal
I spent most of my time with this pretty lady
This is my co-worker, Tomoko. She’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, and she’s inspired me to take charge of my life and do more.
She must have been latina in a past life, because she lives and breathes the music of Spain, Colombia, Mexico, and most of all Cuba like oxygen. She is a music enthusiast that rock climbs and cooks like an Italian. In a nutshell, she’s nothing short of amazing.
It may sound a bit dramatic, but I think the Korea trip gave me a new sense of being. Gave me the inspiration and motivation to truly live, to appreciate the world, to reach for the things I want in life and take hold.
I think the everyday drudge of Shanghai can really wear some of us out. There’s something about the intense pressure of this city, the fast tempo, the bumps and grumps and grinds of riding the metro and the overall atmosphere that makes life feel like a chore. I feel like Shanghai is lacking people like Tomoko. People that truly love life and feel. They feel life, and love, and music. They enjoy food, dance, and the company of others.
Shanghai is so hung up on the material things. Making a good salary, buying a good house, being able to support for your family and giving yourself a good image. It’s what the Chinese people think about constantly, but it does tend to rub off. And good lord. It’s tiring.
All ex-pats in Shanghai will say this, and I’m just going to repeat it for the sake of my sanity: Everyone needs a Shanghai break.
When I lived in Japan, I never thought: I need to escape this country and get the hell off this island. Sure, I’d leave the countryside and go to Tokyo and meet people my own age for the first time in months, but that was out of mere necessity. Still, it was always refreshing to come back to my inaka, sit on my tatami floor, crack open a beer and watch horrible Japanese television.
In Shanghai, whenever I come back I just feel ill. I want to cry on the plane. Flying into the smog and pollution that is Shanghai isn’t only heart wrenching, it’s mentally traumatizing.
This place can break you.
Which is why the clean air and water of Jeju, literally, revived me.
Shanghai, you’re a helluva place, but it’s hard to keep up with you.
I took the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) N1 last Sunday. I won’t even go into the logistics of the test. It was hard yadda yadda sucks blahblah what the fuck who says あるまじき anymore? Whatever.
What I want to complain about is: the test center. I signed up for the nearest testing location in Shanghai, which was a 30 min cab ride away in the middle of BFE. I get to the university (testing location) and ask the nearest guard about this test, and she’s oblivious. She points me to a nearby sign that has some stuff on it. Lo and behold, it lists all information about the JLPT–except where to actually take it.
I wander around and ask random Chinese people where to go, and somehow I find the place. Although I arrived 30 minutes early, it took me for fcking ever to find one building in one campus. And this isn’t a big campus, mind you. Normal.
So imagine my surprise when I walk into the test room and see that, lovely, there’s no air conditioning. I don’t know if any of you have ever lived in Asia in the summer, BUT IT SUCKS. It’s basically like living in a sauna. A big, hot, steamy sauna. I was already a sweaty mess, and I was about to join 40 other piles of sweat in a tiny room for 4 hours. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pleasant.
If any of you have ever taken JLPT in Japan, you know they aint fcking around. They bust out the red and yellow warning cards and aren’t afraid to use them. You touched your booklet before the starting time? Yellow card. I remember someone actually flipped their test booklet over and got a red card. You just don’t mess around with standardized tests in Japan.
Of course, in China, as soon as we received the booklets everyone started looking through the questions before the start time. The proctors didn’t care and watched the students flip through the answers 20 minutes prior to the test. Awesome.
I couldn’t find my seat, so I asked the proctor in perfect Mandarin: “Excuse me, I can’t find my seat, could you please tell me where it is?”
Answer? I don’t know. She started speaking Shanghai-hua to me.
Now. My biggest pet peeve is Shanghai-hua, so don’t get me started on this subject. But seriously, man, I was even holding my USA passport with my big white woman face to match. Do you honestly think I’m going to understand Shanghai-hua, seriously? In Japan they’d speak to me in broken English. In Shanghai, they speak to me in a dialect that only 1% of the population understands. I don’t know which one is worse.
Test starts and I’m whizzing through. I’m reading one of the reading comprehension passages over for the third time or so when I hear it.
Someone hawkin a loogie.
Chinese people love to spit. I always ask my Chinese friends why, but they just kind of shrug and look at me. They tell me that older people spit because they don’t know better and weren’t educated, but I was in a room with 20-30 year olds taking a Japanese test. I mean, seriously. Explain that.
Listening section starts. In the JLPT, they only play the recording once so you really have to concentrate on what the speaker is saying and don’t miss a peep. Not even one vowel.
The two proctors were talking throughout the entire first question. They didn’t leave the room to talk, nor did they talk in quiet voices. They were talking in weinaloudclub type voices. I was appalled no one said anything at this point, because it was beyond distracting. I most likely missed the first two questions because I had to hear this Shanghai-hua garbage over the Japanese dialogue.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
I stood up, slammed my hands on the desk and screamed:
They shut up.
Now, usually I don’t do stuff like that. Ask my friends in the USA, I’m a very quiet and non-confrontational woman. But China has eradicated me of all those good traits. My tolerance is gone. If I need them to STFU, then I’m going to tell them to STFU.
The 8 page translation:
So I’m at work and my boss sends me an e-mail that says, “please translate this.” There’s a link.
I open it up and I’m at ted.com. Hey, cool, I like Ted, I thought; but imagine my surprise when the video I open is about a one system government and the comparison of communism and democracy. Plus, it’s 20 minutes. Translating a 20 minute video with no original text, into Japanese is, to say the least, crazy tedious.
I walked to my GM’s office and said, “yo man, is this right?”
He looked at me like I was speaking Chinese and said, “why would I sent you sommat aint right, girl. It’s a video.”
I work in an advertising company, and obviously the ideals of democracy and communism and their contrasting points wasn’t exactly our new pitch.
“It’s a friend of a friend,” my GM says. “Smart guy. I want to understand it.”
So. I spent at least 6 hours translating this guy for my GM’s own personal wishes.
I’ll post the translation for everyone. If you would like to practice your Japanese or correct mine, you’re very welcome to look and evaluate as you wish.
So that’s life in a nutshell at the moment. So exhausted. Sleep!