Asia | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

Birth Defects

Every 30 seconds, a baby with birth defects is born in China. Alarming. I think I better not have a child there.

Chinese Doctors

I finally got the two Chinese to talk Chinese instead of English. So it’s only a matter of hours until they figure out whether there are doctor’s offices in China or not.

Bad, Bad RSS

Techcrunch reports that the Chinese Government has blocked all RSS feeds. Luckily, they still seem to be accessible through Google Reader.

Bad Skin

I really enjoy all the stories about China. And the helpful advice. I promise not to eat, to drink or to use water. And the good news won’t stop. A friend told me her boyfriend doesn’t look very well when returning from work there: bad skin, …

Picture China

Joachim Müller of Chinesisch Lernen discovered a nice web site about China:

Picture China is a photographic journey through contemporary China. From the teeming metropolises of the east coast to the rural villages of the interior to the lofty Tibetan plateau, New York City based photographer Dan Eckstein traveled 10,000km over the course of eight weeks to document this rapidly changing country. The result is a unique portrait of life in modern China and the issues that its people face.

(Quote: Picture China)

Plants, Marriages and Survival Tips

  1. Flight Mechanics I is not Flight Mechanics II. The same applies for the exams.
  2. Mechanics exams were longer two years ago.
  3. On a late trip to the botanical garden it’s advisable to visit the greenhouses first.
  4. If you want someone reluctant to come along, you just need to find the right person for asking.
  5. Bavarian politician Gabriele Pauli wants marriage to automatically end after seven years unless it’s been renewed.
  6. Coming back from Sweden to Germany is like switching from a monthly to a strip ticket.
  7. Pizza in TribüHne is inexpensive and tasty.
  8. You better don’t eat anything in China and use tap water only for showering, bottled water for everything else.

Awaiting Chinese Books

I finally decided to get the books of the New Approaches To Learning Chinese series: Intensive Spoken Chinese, The Most Common Chinese Radicals and Rapid Literacy in Chinese. The reviews are quite promising and the method convinced me. As the books are already sent, I hope they’ll arrive tomorrow.

Chinese Textbooks

The Chinese course I attended last year used the book Chinesisch für Deutsche (Chinese for Germans). The problem is that it doesn’t contain information on how to write Chinese characters at all. You have to figure it out by yourself. And the first dialogs are about mother, father, cat, dog and the fact that some students learn while others have a break. Not the kind of vocabulary that I suppose is most needed during the first days in Shanghai.

So I think about getting a new book. ChinesePod is going to cover Integrated Chinese throughout the next semester. I also read about the New Practical Chinese Reader which is prefered by some reviewers. How on earth should I know which one is better?

Golden Shield

I just told a Chinese friend that I started blogging but she couldn’t open the page. Google found out why., where this blog is hosted, is blocked in China what might become a problem when studying there…

Singapore Flyer

Another reason for a detour to Singapore:

And it’ll open just in time.

Not Yet Arranged

I called Tongji University yesterday to ask them when the spring semester 2008 will start. They didn’t know, told me “the schedule is not yet aranged” and I should try again in november. The whole thing seems to depend on the Chinese Spring Festival whose date is well-known. I suppose it’s one of these intercultural challgenges we have to cope. ;-)

Just to show the difference to Germany: The winter semester 2008/2009 at TU München will be from October 13, 2008 until February 2, 2009.




I recommend you to get a SIM card from one of the three large telco companies:

  • Viettel, operated by the Ministry of Defense
  • Mobifone, operated by the Ministry of Information and communication
  • Vinaphone, not operated by any ministry but a subsidiary of VNPT, the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group considered the “Operator of State Servants”

Make sure to check out the promotions they are running. It might also make sense to buy a second-hand SIM card that is eligible for a menu that is no longer offered.

Each of my two Viettel V90 menus gives me 2 Gigabyte of data per day (!) for 90.000 Dong (3.90 USD) a month.


Depending on where you live you might need one or two things:

An air filter. I recommend the Sqair. It’s inexpensive, silent, effective and beautiful.

Less obvious: A dehumidifier. Humidity goes up to 85 percent. When I realized that there is an issue the backpack and toilet bag in my closet were already covered in mold.

Today my dehumidifier gets eight liters of water out of the air of a 27 square meter studio.


The easiest way to get around is on a scooter. Tigit Motorbikes has good guides that help you with selecting your bike.


Furniture & Home Accessories

Moving to Saigon one of the hardest things was finding things like (affordable) duvet covers, usable toilet paper. Some recommendations to make your life easier:

Health Care

I’ve had good experiences with all kind of departments in FV Hospital, both inpatient and outpatient.

Unwanted guests

You might find ants, cockroaches or mice in your apartment. I had a good experience with Absolute Pest Control who took professional care of an ant problem for a reasonable price.


Multiple Days

There are some things that I’d say are essential, like Pudong, the French Concession or the Bund. Here some advices which might help you to plan ahead.

Century Park → Lujiazui

You can take Line 2 to Century Park, one of the largest parks in the city. After crossing it you arrive at the Shanghai Science and Technology Market with its large underground fake/tailor market.

Then you walk the whole Century Avenue (or take the metro to save time/energy) to Lujiazui, the area with the highest skyscrapers. You’ll find the Shanghai Tower, the World Financial Center and the Jin Mao Tower as well as the Oriental Pearl Tower and (if you like to go shopping) the Super Brand Mall.

This trip should end with a scenery of the Bund at dawn, seen from Pudong. Preferably at the weekend as I don’t know if it’ll be illuminated during the week. Depending on the time you spend shopping, I think that’ll take half a day to one day.

Xujiahui → Huaihai Lu

Xujiahui is a large conglomerate of Electronic Markets in Xuhui District. You can get off, look around, maybe visit a nearby church and then walk Hengshan Lu to Huaihai Lu through the French Concession with its villas and plane-lined alleys. You can continue on the high priced Huaihai Lu to People’s Square. Takes a half to one day. (If you only want to do the French Concession then go to South Shanxi Road and continue from there.)

Moganshan Lu

The art street. Moganshan Lu 50, a former factory, is now home to many artists and galleries. Everytime you go there things have changed, new exhibitions open every week, there are concerts and other events. Especially on Friday/Saturday. I’d advice to go there around lunchtime, visit the galleries, take a dinner somewhere and return for a concert.

Nanjing Lu, People’s Square

Two of the most famous places in Shanghai. Not necessarily the most beautiful ones but definitely members of the “must have seen” category. Half a day should be enough but you can spend much more time in the numberous museums around there. Although not quite as famous as the East Nanjing Road, the West Nanjing Road is, in my opinion, more beautiful. Very elegant and high priced. It leads to Jing’an Temple.

Bund → Old Town

Starting near the Old Town you should walk the Bund up on the riverside to see Pudong and down on the other side to enjoy the buildings. Then you can continue to the Old Town. Should take half a day to one day.

Old houses

That’s something I highly recommend. See one of the poorer neighbourhoods that are being torn down to make place for uniform appartment buildings. In these places you can still see little food markets with living animals (with broken feet…), meat lying around in the sun and things tourists usually don’t see.


A friend adds that there is another interesting place in Hongkou District, Duolun Lu, a street where many famous Chinese writers have lived. Knowledge of Chinese history might be helpful. I haven’t been there yet.

Maybe you also want to visit the Campus of Chinese Universities. Either Tongji, where I studied, or Jiao Tong.

24 Hours

If you’re not afraid of walking:

  • Take the subway to People’s Square and walk east to the Bund. You can either take the popular but very commercial East Nanjing Road or one of the roads running parallel like Fuzhou Road with a lot of stationary and book shops.
  • You’ll get to the Bund at the Huangpu River and have a great view at the tall buildings in Pudong. Walk south along the river until you reach the old town where you can visit the Yu Garden.
  • After that, go west until you reach the subway station South Huangpi Road on Huaihai Road and take line one to Changshu Road.
  • You’re now in the French Concession. Walk down Hengshan Lu until you reach Xujiahui Park and the big electronic stores at Xujiahui.

Here’s a map:

In the evening, you might enjoy the great view over Pudong and Puxi at the Vue Bar in the Hyatt on the Bund.

The story of my life in China is here.

Latest Posts

Reclaiming Land on Sinking Islands  

In the New York Times Magazine, Samanth Subramanian describes how Singapore reclaims land from the ocean. Less wealthy nations cannot afford these measures:

Kiribati, an island nation in the Central Pacific, has bought 6,000 acres of forested land in Fiji, more than a thousand miles away, hoping to resettle some of its 100,000 people if a crisis hits. The Maldives, similarly, has talked about buying land in Australia.

How is that going to work, I wonder. Moving a whole nation into another country will cause tremendous political, legal, social and cultural issues.

The Hottest Tables in Saigon  

Travel+Leisure portraits Anan’s Peter Cuong Franklin and Å By Tung’s Hoang Tung and mentions a couple of other fine dining restaurants.

Having been to Anan twice I’ll add some of the other places to my list.