Saturday, January 20, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Hi again, people!
Lots of posting these last few days, mainly because I've been able to use the internet again.
Now at Bangkok International Airport, posting this from my phone.
I landed early this morning, and I have spent the day shopping extra weight to my already over sized luggage. To be sure to get all the weight through I dressed up in six shirts, one jacket, a big scarf, three pairs of trousers, and a squash racket. A sweaty journey through check-in and costums, but well worth it. The plane leaves in two hours, and tomorrow morning my classes start again. Wonderful! Oh, and only because I wrote that shit about not having had problems with my stomach it has started mess with me... So wish me and my intestines a pleasant 12-hours flight together!
Monday, January 15, 2007
Glamour, money, and more glamour. Mumbai, or Bombay, is, as you might know, popularly referred to as Bollywood, the city where the Indian stars shine through the pollution and everything is possible - at least recording love stories and over sized commercials. Yesterday, I got a chance to peak into this world of the famous and fabulous when I was scouted as an extra in a commercial. If it was amazing? Awsome? The coolest thing I've ever done? No... But it was a nice ending of my India trip. Read on for a summary of the day of a movie star...
Got picked up outside the hostel along with four other people, two French, one Slovenian, and one Canadian, to go to the film site. On the way there an Indian guy whose name I didn't catch (I'll call him Indy) told us in rough what was going to happen during the day in between talking Hindi and English in two different cell phones. Seems like a busy guy.
Arrived at location. A bunch of people from different African countries were already there. Apparently the shooting is going to be a commercial for the West Indian World Cricket Tournament.
Got breakfast. Waiting for instructions.
Still waiting. Just got a T-shirt that I'm supposed to wear during the shoot. I think I'm gonna act a tourist together with half of France and Slovenia, and Canada and the other part of France are acting 'officials'. Indy came by and asked if we were ok.
We are told to stay close to the film site since things are going to start happening soon.
Things finally start to happen: The 'star' of the commersial arrives.
People are getting acting instructions. I am told to 'swosh by' behind the Africans who will be singing and dancing with the star. I start to prepare mentally, visualising my swosh-by in order to make it the best swosh-by ever.
Rehearsing swosh-bys and dancing.
I think I pissed off the famous guy... All I did was trying to make conversation, asking him what he does (plays cricket) and if he's any good at it. Now he won't talk to me. Not that he did before, either, but anyway. It's rude!
02:30 - 03:00 pm
Lunch! I find out that Indy's name is Paris, or Barish, or Pareesh, or something.
Resting my eyes for a short while. The work here is tiresome...
Ordered not to sleep by a nagging lady from the film crew.
Yes! I think I will be seen on screen! This time I'm still in the background, but it's more of a 'foreground type' of background part.
My job seems to be over. I just got informed that the cricket guy is somewhat of a super star here in India, and that everyone knows who he is. Maybe that's why he got annoyed before. I couldn't care less, though, he seems really dull.
03:30 - 06:00 pm
Trying to keep out of the way and sleep without getting discovered by the nagging lady.
It's finally over! We get our promised five hundred rupies and a ride back to the hostel with a crazy driver. He almost kills us when trying to squeeze past another crazy driver. I believe that every driver in Mumbai is crazy. If there ever were any sane drivers here they were probably among the several thousands that are killed in traffic every year.
The rest of the night
Celebrating my new status as a Bollywood Movie Star together with my co-stars the Canadian and Slovenian.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Now in Mumbai. Still alive, no more thefts, and no funny tummy (both Kajsa and Charlotte, whom I'm travelling with, have been spray-painting toilets from time to time - even though they both take pills against it).
But I don't want to bother you about that kind of stuff, so no more shit-talk.
In Goa we explored some more beaches, visited the El Shaddai Street Child Rescue, and had a look at Anjuna's big Wednesday market. Goa is a lot about drugs. Everywhere you go they offer you to buy anything from hashish to cocain to what's-its-name. Once I was walking along the beach, money belt in hand, and this guy came up to me to offer me some of his 'goods'. As I kindly rejected his offer, he pointed at my money belt, surprised: 'But you have money?'
We left Goa by seater bus up to Mumbai. Twelve hours of crazy bus driving through the roads of Maharashtra (the state where Mumbai is situated), passing wrecked buses and flat tyres on the way.
So far in Mumbai we have been on laughing therapy by the Gateway of India, writing autographs for a school class from inner Maharashtra, and watching Tigers and Lions 'in the free' in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (not worth the 30 rupies, don't go there).
Oh! And this morning at breakfast we got asked if we wanted to work as extras in a Bollywood film shooting! 'Awsome!' said we and agreed, but then it turned out that they only had spots left for tomorrow, and the girls both leave tomorrow morning... But, nothing is over before it's over, and they were instead offered a job as western waitresses on a party tonight. Cool! I think I'm still on for tomorrow's shooting, but I can't be sure until I'm really there. I'll report on that later.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Long time, no see!
Internet is sloooow, so I'll make it quick. A recap of my past few days:
The last night in Hong Kong was spent first at Jack's home, having dinner with his family and friends (definitely one of the most memorable moments of my time there), and later in LKF, partying with some of the exchange students who weren't away already. Afterwards, some of us went to Karaoke, so Kajsa got the chance to see the 'real' Hong Kong.
The sad, sad goodbye...
Christmas Eve on Koh Samed, North-Eastern Thailand. Cool evening, with BBQ, fireworks, and a drunk Santa Claus who put himself on fire. Strange, it was, and even though I was with good friends I felt a bit lost.
Went back to Bangkok, Kajsa left for New Dehli late at night.
Spent half the day in BK, tried to do some Internet, but it didn't work. Heard later that an earthquake in Taiwan had put it out in all of Asia. Flew to Dehli to meet up with Kajsa in the evening.
Arrived in Dehli at 5am, got hazzled as soon as I left the airport. By an 'official'! I gave him 300 rupies in one-hundred bills, and all of a sudden one of them had turned into a 50-bill. I knew for sure that I only owned 100-bills, but amazed as I was I gave him that one. Slept till 8, then we went on a whole-day trip to Agra and Taj Mahal. I was stunned by Taj, it is really well-preserved, and so beautiful! Apparently built by a Mugal emperor in a cry of love for his late third wife. That's one heavy love letter... When it was completed, some 20 years later, he was so bewildered by the beauty that he chopped off all the hands of the workmen so that they wouldn't be able to build something similar again. Interesting logic... Anyways, go there if you can sometime, I thought it was really worth it.
Kajsa's two friends had arrived, so we hired a car together and explored Dehli.
Hopped on the train to Goa in the early morning.
Arrived in Goa at around 1pm, Kajsa's friends had taken the plane, so they were already there. We got it a lot cheaper though, but after only 20 minutes on the train station, the balance was evened out when I got my wallet stolen. Nice...
I immediately called home to ask my family to shut my VISA-card off, and then went straight to the police office. Police in India are not to be trusted. They could only handle my case if I gave them 'Five hundr... no, one thousand rupies!' said the officer on duty. Since I had just lost all of my money and clearly couldn't produce the bribe (not that I would have anyway!), they simply punished me by saying that the time to produce the report would be just about one day longer than the time I had said I would stay here. 'Bad words', I thought and left with Kajsa. Sort it out later.
Party in the evening together with loads of Indian guys on Palolem Beach, Goa. Indian girls were not allowed to go out by their fathers, something very understandable considering the obvious intentions of the guys. Hands sought their way literally everywhere on the girls who had to fend them off.
Heard that bombs went off in Bangkok, scary. Two friends were there, but fortunately they made it. Sad that people must be so ignorant and STUPID(!) and do such things.
Chilled on the beach.
Went to Margoa police station to sort the wallet thing out. Brought with me the phone numbers to people more mighty than the police chief if things would have to get nasty. They didn't, which was nice, but due to the necessary bureaucracy I had to spend most of the day there. Took a look at downtown Margao. It's got a mediterranean touch to it, maybe a trace from the Portugese?
Back in Palolem now, time to take it easy. Money is transferred to my other VISA-card (yes, Jonas-India: 1-1!), and life is back to 'normal'.
That's all for now.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Internet is slow and expensive here, so I'm writing this from my phone.
Anyway, I left for the airport with Tobias, Kajsa, and Mathias to Bangkok. Sunny and Jack came with me to say goodbye. A goodbye that became way too quick when on the airport, because time said we had to leave. I would have needed so much more time. Instead, all I had time for was a quick hug, a short "I'll miss you...", Sunny crying, and then they were gone. Behind the white glass wall where only ticket holders are allowed. The last impression I gave was my silly try for a smile. Then I backed through the gate, turned around and started to cry. Shit! I hate to cry. At least the reasons which make me cry. I've been through a few goodbyes, but this was definitely one of the worst. There was so much to say left unsaid, so many hugs left unhugged... I would have needed hours, but all I got was a few minutes.
If you read this, I want to say thank you for letting me take part of your life for this short while. Goodbye, hope I'll see you soon!
During our trip to Macau and the Philippines, we recorded a little digital Christmas Greeting card for you all. It's in Swedish, so you will have to learn the wonderful language (unless you're one of the lucky who already know it) or just enjoy the footage.
Either way, a Very Merry Christmas to all of you, wherever you are, and take care and have a Very Happy 2007 as well.
Puss och Kram och God Jul!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I had duck tongue today. Deep fried. It tasted like everything that's deep fried, which is good, because I like that taste. Did you know that ducks have bones in their tongues? Well, they do.
We also discussed a yet unsolved problem. How do clamps reproduce? Their mating must be really difficult. And do they do it the roe-way like other fish? I'll have to look that one up...
Oh! And then Sunny played the piano for me and Kajsa. She's better than me. Darn.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I went to the food court in Tai Po Market with Ulrik, Jack, Anders, Tobias, Sunny, and Kajsa* today. Though the furnishing is not sexy at all, the food is awesome. If you go to Hong Kong some day, be sure to visit this place. But bring someone who knows Chinese, because no menus are in English.
Ulrik** left for Denmark during the dinner, a reminder that the semester is coming to an end. He is one of the lucky, though - he gets to return in January.
Afterwards, me, Erik, Kajsa and Sunny went to a bar in TST for a while. Really nice. Sunny is such a cool girl, I'm going to miss her badly. But you knew that already.
*Kajsa (friend from Sweden) arrived the same day we came back from the Philippines. I've been acting her personal Hong Kong-guide since then, and we'll go to India together after I leave the city. I handed in my last essay today! So nice, finally free for a while.
**We never had time for the third set of Sweden vs. Denmark, but we decided to play it sometime next summer on neutral grounds.
There are three street musicians in Hong Kong. Not more, not less. Only three. At least from what I have seen during my time here.
It's strange isn't it? From 7.5 million people, only three chose to be street musicians? Do Hong Kong-ers not like street music? Or is it that simple that it is illegal (like so much else here) to sing on the streets? Maybe punishable by 5000 dollars or 6 months in prison. And since 5000 is a lot of money to a street musician, they are all in jail. So, maybe every sixth month the streets are full of street musicians?
I wonder what it is like to be in prison in Hong Kong.
Monday, December 18, 2006
-No! Nooo! No... Say it's not true!
-Sorry sir, you're too late...
"Too late..." How often have I heard those two words. And every time I swear to be better next time. And every next time I fail to do so. Only this time was too important. This time was one of the big No-No's. No being late. No missing the goddamn plane.
I should have understood when the first typhoon struck the island chain. When the second one hit I really should have seen it as a sign that now was not a good time to go. Someone up there was telling us to stay home. But, persistent as we are, we were determined to go, and so we did.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that neither Tobias nor I are good with keeping track of time, and an (almost*) uncontrollable sequence of events, we were now standing at Macau Airport, watching our plane take off and head for the Phill...Phipil... (How do you spell to that country??)
Well well, not much to do, so we bought a ticket on the next possible flight, which was the following morning. This trip was already getting expensive, and the hotels of Macau were all over our budget, so we decided to spend the night walking around and exploring the island instead. To entertain ourselves without wasting money in the casinos we recorded a little surprise with our cell phones. More about that in a later post.
After around 12 exploring-and-recording-hours, and probably walking four to five laps around the island, we sat down in our seats on the 7 am flight to Manila. Exhausted. We fell asleep immediately. Or Tobias did. I discovered tennis on my cell phone and played it until I won a game. It took almost all the flight time.
On Boracay, which we had chosen because of the many good words we had heard about it and that it was supposed to be really cheap, we met trashed houses and sunken boats, souvenirs left by Typhoon Utor**. We also discovered that we were not the only ones who knew about the island. Love-seeking men in their late 50s and 60s have also found their way there, and with their ever so full pockets they have pushed the prices to a tenfold increase in only a few years. Damn them, but after lots of seeking we found a reasonably priced hotel.
After this, things became better and better; we did scuba diving (my first wreck dive - amazing!) and wind surfing and chilled on the beach. Basically just winding down after a tough (sometimes, at least) semester. And after all, even though the price tag became a little too high, I do not regret that we did the trip. But I learnt one lesson: Do look up things in advance, and do not book a flight ticket if it seems too expensive - others will probably think the same, so it will still be there later.
Oh, and an advice for those of you going to the Philippines (that's how to spell it!), don't go to Boracay. Sad but true, it is beautiful but well overpriced. The neighbouring islands still have hotels for US$2 and are really nice, whereas Boracay has the same standard for US$20 and is exploited by tourists.
*As usual, we planned ahead since we knew we were going to be late, but, somehow, we managed to kill all our spare time by leaving the school too late, missing one boat only to discover that the following one was already full. Finally on the third boat we discovered that it took not 45 minutes, but 1 hour... In the end we showed up at the check-in desk about 2-5 minutes too late.
**Typhoon [Sinyang] in Filipino. That is really close to the pronunciation of Sunny's Korean name. Funny!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I went to Sheung Shui today to find the Liu temple, a temple that belongs to the clan of a friend back home. As usual I had not planned it well, so I didn't manage to find the temple. I found some pretty farmland, though, and a nice little village. But no temple.
Now I'm going the common room to finish my essay, then find a toilet somewhere (we're out of toilet paper here...), then watch a movie (Three Times, Manon recommended it to me).
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I've started to drink coffee... Didn't see that coming, but now I'm here, deep into Coffee Country. Late night studies is the main reason, I believe. Actually, a real coffee addict would probably laugh at me. What I'm drinking is Nescafé Coffee soft drink - a pinch of coffee with lots of sugar and milk. But still, it does taste of coffee, if only a little.
So, at the moment I'm working on a project with Jimi Hendrix in the background and a can of Coffee Soda by my side. Wish me luck. Tomorrow is presentation.
The other day we played a prestigeous game of tennis. Team Sweden was me and Tobias, and Team Denmark consisted of Ulrik and Anders.
Sunny acted referee, but after some obvious biased ruling (in favour of Sweden, but anyway...), we decided to overrule her judgement.
Result Denmark vs. Sweden:
Set 1: 6 - 0
Set 2: 6 - 7
Set 3: yet to be played
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
So, here we are. At the end of almost four months of exchange studies. People are saying their goodbyes, packing their bags and preparing to leave. Some have already gone home, others will stay for the holidays, and a few lucky ones get to stay for another semester.
I have to go back. It is appealing and not at the same time. It's going to be great to meet everyone back home again, but at the same time I'm leaving my friends here. As usual not to ever see many of them again. I hate those kinds of goodbyes. Oh well, such is life, what can you do? Let's instead focus on what's happened here, and what wiser have I become during these four months:
First and foremost, Hong Kong is not what I thought it would be. When my plane circled above Hong Kong island preparing to land about three months ago, I did not see the hectic Chinese Manhattan I expected, but a green and hilly landscape surrounded by thousands of small islands. The city core is of course really dense, with millions of elbows working their way between different shopping malls, but Hong Kong is also about Feng Shui, buddhas, beaches, archipelago, and nature.
Secondly, China. I love China. 我爱中国. At least the part of China that didn't steal my dear cell phone. The deeper I dig into this huge country, the more it fascinates me. Every place, from the Himalayas in the west to Taiwan in the east, has a story to tell, and with a population of 1.3 billion people there's always someone who wants to tell it. An advice when you listen, though, is to do it with both ears. Propaganda has an amazing influense on peoples thoughts.
Third - Language. Chinese, Mandarin, Putonghua. 普通话. I did not learn it, but I think I did the best I could being in a part of the country where people don't really speak the language. You see, here in Hong Kong they use Cantonese. Nine tongue-twisting tones instead of Mandarin's easy four, and way more difficult writing. My 普通话 did not do as well as it would have if I studied in mainland China, where I could have practised it in everyday life. Well well, I got the base at least, and I can (and will) continue learning it back home.
With all different nationalities around, I also got a chance to practise my French and German, and I guess my English has improved quite a lot as well.
Fourth. Girls. They are all beautiful. And apparently, the western look is considered very handsome here. This can especially be seen in commercials, where a suspiciously high percentage of the models are western. Because of this, many things that never happen back in Sweden occurred. Girls could come up to me at a bar and ask for my phone number, and girls I didn't know would tell me (in Chinese, but Jack taught me the necessary words so I understood) "You're very handsome" out of thin air. I started to answer "Thank you, you are also very beautiful" (in Chinese of course) just to see their reaction (I'm in danger of getting too full of myself, it might be good for me to go back to Sweden where I'm only a normal guy).
So to the obvious question: Did I get any action or make use of my newfound superpowers? No, not really. I don't think I work in that way, that I go for a girl just because she tells me I'm handsome. And it gets a bit surreal when it happens all the time (yes, really getting too full of myself). But it was a nice confidence-booster.
And even though I tried not to, I actually fell for this one girl, a pretty, charming, and funny Korean who never flattered me like that. She did instead the opposite (that is, being extremely honest about everything), and I guess that was one of the reasons why I got attracted. But she didn't feel the same so she couldn't catch my fall... [Sigh] Just my luck... Well well, I respect that and treat her as a friend instead. I guess that's the better way to go, since we'll go separate ways anyway.
Number five - Boys. No, I'm not gay. But I heard rumours saying so, and I found it quite flattering since, from what I understood, the reason was that they thought I looked good and dressed well and still didn't have a girlfriend back home.
Number six is Food. Hong Kong's cuisine sucks. No, not really, but it is hard to find good local food unless you go to the markets. I like mainland food - especially the Sichuan-style one - the best. Snake tastes like chicken by the way, and Mudsnails are delicious. I should have spent more time with Sunny, who like me tries everything. I still haven't had dog meat or bird feet. Otherwise it's been some McDonald's and IKEA. I know, shame on me, should stay away from that when I'm here... But the meatballs are so good!
Seven, Sports. I don't think I've ever exercised as much before as I've done here. Not only is campus built on and around a mountain, but there are also tennis-, squash- and badminton courts that are free to use. My major pick has been squash, and I love it even if Tobias almost always beats me.
第八的: Friends. Good to have, and I think I made some good ones here. I also strengthened my belief that people are not so different. Of course we all have different frameworks to interpret the world with, but nice people can come from anywhere. Though I have to say that an interesting discovery is that Europeans often culture-clash worse with the Americans than with the Asians. Interesting because we all claim to be 'Westerners' that share the same lifestyle.
...and finally number nine - Life. Enjoy every last bit of it, be it successes or setbacks, and grab any chance you get to make it fun! You will not regret it. The only regret I have about Hong Kong is that I can't stay for another semester.
Oh, and even if this one sums up my life here in Hong Kong, it is not my last post. I still have some days here, plus I realised I like this blogging thing, so I think I will continue back home. I just need to change the title to something more suitable. Something like "Stockholm", "Jonas's Amazing Life", or maybe "The Daily Bengt". Bengt is my middle name, for the record. Any suggestions are welcome.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
[6/12: New pictures added! All stolen from Sunny, since I didn't bring my memory stick...]
On Saturday I went to Ocean Park with Sunny. The weather was good, which was nice, but Ocean Park... I guess we expected more of it than it really was, because we were not too impressed. Good thing I won the tickets, because they were not worth the hype. Anyway, a few of the rides were quite ok, like the Free Fall and the Mining Train. I liked the water ride to, mainly because I was not the one to get wet...
Afterwards we had dinner at the food court in Langham Place. I had Korean delights and Sunny had an Indian wrap. Langham place is very much decorated for Christmas now, they have jingling bells everywhere and a big Sky Castle made of light.
After food we headed straight home. We were both exhausted when we got back, but we had already planned karaoke with some people for the evening. I managed to get there, but Sunny overslept and was finally one and a half hour (1.5!) late. I don't blame her at all, because I know how tired she must have been, it is only funny that it was Sunny who was so late. A Korean is always on time. Now she outlated both the French (usually around 10 minutes late), the Italian (usually 10-20 minutes late), and Tobias (the unbeaten being late highscore holder, multiply a French with an Italian and you have Tobias)! Karaoke was fun when we finally started, and with Sunny's help and a fictional birthday kid we managed to deal the price down a bit. Got back home at 4 am.
Today I'm gonna try to go and see the Swedish ship Götheborg, a replica of an 18th century East Indiaman, which is here over the weekend.
Oh, and a summary of my time here is soon to be posted. I'm working on it, but problems with blogger makes it a really slow process to post now.
Friday, December 01, 2006
They are often unnecessary.
That is why I decided not to even try to interpret the strange tone in which I a certain someone talked to me earlier tonight. It was probably a misunderstanding. Therefore it sucks and is often unnecessary.
Jack and Kay (flat mates) and one of their friends took me to an outdoor concert with the Hong Kong Symphonic Orchestra tonight. They played really good, and it was beautiful with the skyline as a backdrop. The finale was somewhat special and very Chinese - a big mixture of classical music and tons of fireworks.
Last night I went to a really fancy dinner at Red Bar on top of IFC Mall. It was a goodbye thing for Alex and Erin and the place was amazing. We sat outside, right under the tall IFC building, and with a view over the harbour. If I were rich I would go there often, but the prices were...hrm...kinda high. Worth it this one time though.
After the restaurant we went to Gecko, a really small and nice bar in Soho, for a beer. We missed the last KCR back home, so we decided to stay out late. We went to Drop, which played really good music for once, to dance. Came back at 4 am. It was a fun night, but I was veeeery tired in the end. And Drop decided to push the volume again, so I'm almost deaf tonight...
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Life is back at good! I slept well last night, so I was in perfect equilibrium for my Oral Putonghua Exam, which passed like a breeze. On my way back home sunshine smiled at me and the weather was back to a warm Swedish summer day. I like life, despite all the obstacles it puts along the path. I even like the obstacles. They're fun to climb.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tomorrow is my final in Putonghua. Oral exam. Ohhh... Gonna be quite hard if the teacher speeds on like last time. If I survive I have Samantha to thank for almost everything. She's my classmate in Feature Writing and she's been helping me so much. Without her I wouldn't be able to beat George (haha, George) on the dictations.
We'll see tomorrow, tonight I'm sleeping early.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
It's a quarter to two. Still not able to sleep. I really miss my bed back home now, it is so much nicer than the narrow plywood bunks they provide here. I'm even starting to consider booking a hotel room for one night only for the sake of the bed.
It seems like everyone is studying so hard these days. Understandable, because final exams and presentations are around every corner, and good grades are necessary for many people. Since noone has any time to have fun with me I have decided to study too. I want to have everything overwith before next Tuesday. That is my big plan at the moment.
So today, after playing tennis, me and Tobias went to the pub to study Chinese. Good thing actually, pubs are underrated as study environment. One beer (啤酒) and everything floats straight into the head. Though the pub was sadly empty in the beginning, a few friends showed up. We practised our Putonghua (普通话) together and spoke some German.
Jonas: - Isn't the net a little bit too high?
Fiona: - Yeah, and there's a hole in my racket.
Ulrik [concerned]: - There's something wrong with these balls. They go too far...
We tried playing double tennis today, me, Tobias, Fiona and Ulrik. I say tried because I don't think what we did fits under the definition of playing. What we did was to shoot many balls into the net, lots of balls somewhere else, and a few balls on Fiona. But some of them actually made it both to the other side and back. Unfortunately Tobias and Fiona beat me and Ulrik. Next time, though!
Monday, November 27, 2006
Today I feel ill. Not good. My head has ached since early morning and I'm not quite the normal Jonas. I tried to sleep it away during a couple of hours this afternoon, but no success... I think the reason is I didn't sleep very well last night, due to a confusing conversation with Tanya about a certain someone. I did want to sort it out today, but I didn't manage... I couldn't keep my thoughts together. De la merde! I feel like I'm losing this battle...
Edit: By the way, people always tell me to stay in bed when I'm feeling ill, but I never do. It is so boring to not do anything only because the body doesn't want to. But then again, sometimes it might be a smart move. So you don't screw up whatever you're up to. But then again-again, who would I be if I didn't screw up every now and then? It's becoming part of my trade mark, and I guess people remember me by it, hopefully with a smile on their face.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Even though I can't complain too much on my workload here, I only have two finals, one project, one paper, and one feature to do, and I will hopefully be done by early december, I still need to study every now and then. So that's what I'm doing now. Or not right now, actually, I got bored and decided to write a post instead... Anyway, I looked at Tobias's blog, and after he gave his readers a push he got tons of comments! So I'm trying the same here, comment, please! Just to give me motivation to continue.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Yesterday was the Grand Farewell Barbeque... Not that it's all farewell now, but it's certainly coming up, and I don't like that. The party was great fun and good food. Unlimited drinks and BBQ. I practised my Putonghua skills with some of the waiters, it actually worked! I just wish everyone spoke Putonghua here, I would be so good by now then. Oh! And I won a competition! About Hong Kong knowledge, I basically guessed my way through. Two tickets for Ocean Park was the price! I participated in one other competition together with Sunny, but we didn't do very well... We were supposed to pop balloons between each other, but we didn't manage to pop even one.
Afterwards we went to the Drop in LKF, which was good until they turned up the volume to Super Max and I got soar feet from my shoes.
As usual, click the photo for more
And more pictures will come, Lotta has some really good ones.
Friday, November 24, 2006
She was hoovering around my head, regarding each angle of it with the precision of a nuclear scientist. Every now and then she let out a silent 'Hmm..' or 'Ahh..', like as if to let me know that she knew what she was up to and that she was coming up with ideas. In between the hoovering she cautiously lifted small tangles of hair strands, looked at them for a while, let out another 'Ahh!', and let them back after a few quick, perfectly planned snaps with the shears.
The venue was Tony&Guy Academy in Hong Kong where I went to get my hair cut yesterday. The experience was out of the ordinary, I have to say, and I got a view into the spectacular world of the Hair Artists.
I entered their lobby a little bit late. It was not only because the place was hidden in a dark alley with practically no signs leading the way, but also because I am me and I'm supposed to be late. I'm always late, even when I'm on time. I can't help it.
Anyway, I was offered a seat, and after a few minutes a trendy guy with an even trendier haircut entered the room. He had a quick look at my hair and then hurried out to bring back a young girl, probably the student who was going to do my hair. They looked at my head while discussing it in Cantonese. I told them all I knew was I wanted it shorter, and trusted them to make something cool out of it. After some five minutes they seemed to have come to a decision and Trendy boy strutted away, leaving miss Student with me and my hair.
And she started. She hoovered around and around, seemingly not taking anything away but still managing to be busy with my tuft - her artwork - forever. The play went on for an incredible 1.5 hours. Then she showed me my new hairstyle in a mirror - 'You like?'
Of course I bloody liked! I liked my old cut and practically nothing had changed! Around the chair lay about a dozen tiny lumps of hair strands, and my hair length was no different from before. But I did not want the same cut as before, especially when the new one was performed practically without a single cut from the shears.
I would have asked her to redo it had I got the time, but she had already been going on for 1.5 hours and I really did not want to suffer through another two, no matter how cheap it was. So I reluctantly payed the 50 HKD and hurried back home, already very late for my next appointment.
In return for Sunny's wonderful gesture the other day I took her for dinner in Shatin. Thai food, very good. Sunny the food maniac of course took photos of the dishes, she's building up quite an exhibition on her blog. Have a look there, by the way.
After dinner we had ice cream (not Italian...), and Sunny tried a new flavour as usual which was much better than my boring Cookies & Cream. I tried to steal it without success. Before going home we stopped by at IKEA to get some of those wonderful Ginger Thins. We had a very nice talk-walk back to I-house, and I felt really sad that I will soon be leaving.
Oh! And she said she doesn't think I have any bad sides. This really touched me, though it is not completely true. She just hasn't found them yet. So I told her about all my bad sides (the ones that I know about), I hope it didn't scare her off.
I then counted eight good sides of her and one really good side. I might tell her about them later if she needs to feel good about herself sometime.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I got treated to lunch by Sunny yesterday! At the fancy Coffee Shop in the Sino building here on campus. She is so nice!
The Coffee Shop must be the most frequented student canteen here on campus, at least by exchange students. The place has some really good western dishes which offer an escape from the noodle diet every now and then. The 'Sandwich In a Bowl', a Chinesified sandwich chopped into pieces to ease handle with chopsticks, is a favourite. If you ever come to CUHK, you have to try it.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
...is very interesting. He seems to like to provoke the students by saying things that, at least back home, would be considered as extremely politically incorrect. Today's masterpiece was about African people. I won't quote him here, because taking it out of the context of our classroom could make it look really bad. Let's just say that lots of people's jaws dropped to the floor and a muffled giggle filled the room as embarrassed looks were exchanged.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
...while listening to Snow Patrol. I never realized before how much I like their music. Outside is the cold Hong Kong winter - goose-bumping 19 degrees Centigrade - and a thunderstorm out of this world. I have seen more rain before, but not such furious lightning. The sky crackles of energy, and every now and then it explodes in a blinding light and a roaring that could wake the dead. So I might aswell continue to stay awake and do some good. Like study, for example.
Monday, November 20, 2006
I don't want to go back home to Sweden. It's not that I don't like what I will be coming back to, there are so many good things and people there, but four months here is really too short. It is only about now, after more than two months, that I feel I begin to understand Hong Kong. And there is still so much that I haven't seen. Probably a year wouldn't be enough for that either. Plus I really like the people I have met here. I'm going to miss them so much.
Yesterday morning Dad and Pontus left for Sweden. It was really nice to have them here for a while and show them my life over here. It's also very flattering to have so many of my family and friends passing by since Sweden is so far away.
Speaking of Sweden, that evening I gave some friends a taste of our food...
Edit: Pictures now added, all stolen from Sunny. See them below.
I went to IKEA and City Super and got ingredients for half a company (a Swedish saying, I don't know if it translates to be honest). Together with Tobias, Sunny, Jesper and Sofie I prepared something close to a Swedish 'Julbord', with Gravad Salmon, Meatballs, Red Cabbage, Pickled Herring, Potatoes, Julmust, Lucia Rolls, Lingonberry Jam, Ginger Thins, Kalle's Kaviar, and Ballerina & Singoalla Cookies. It still waters my mouth to think of it. Swedish food is so good, especially when all you eat here is different kinds of noodles or rice.
What I realized, though, was why the kitchens here are so poorly equipped. No one uses them because it is so much easier and cheaper to go and eat out. But even though it made a big hole in my wallet it was worth the effort. 'Julbord' here was nothing I expected to happen. Conclusion: A great evening!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
I got a weird 'compliment' from Sunny today. She said she thought I looked stupid in the beginning, but now that she knows me a little bit better she thinks I'm 'kind of smart'. And she persisted that it was a compliment, a good thing. 'Stupid'? 'Kind of' smart? It took me a while before I accepted that it was meant as something good.
Anyway, the 'compliment' was given during lunch at IKEA, where she got a taste of Sweden. I think she liked it a lot. She even needed to eternalize the dishes with her camera.
Ten days of Jens have past. It was really fun having him here, showing him around a tiny bit of China. Dad and Pontus leaves on Sunday, after that I'm all alone for more than a month. Then Kajsa is scheduled for Hong Kong, Thailand, and a piece of India. I feel so popular with everyone visiting me so much. Please continue doing that when I get back home!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
A stolen wallet, a stolen camera, a stolen cell phone, a flat tyre, and one broken bicycle. All during a period of seven days... Where I've been? To China, of course!
Seven days away from school and studies, to mainland China, divided into two trips - one with friends and one with family. A lot of text to ply I'm afraid, but I promise you it's worth the effort.
Leg One - Lóngshèng and Yángshuò, Thursday til Sunday
Jonas (that's me)
Likes: My cell phone
Dislikes: The person who stole my cell phone
Jens - friend from Sweden
Likes: Western food
Dislikes: Chinese food
Tobias - friend from Sweden and my study mate
Likes: His camera
Dislikes: The person who stole... - you know what
Andrea - A really fun Italian, resembles a bit Luigi from Nintendo's Mario bro's
Likes: Italian food
Dislikes: Italian flavoured ice cream
Fabrizio - Another fun Italian, he was my room mate for the first week here
Likes: Italian food
Dislikes: Italian flavoured ice cream
Sunny - The girl with Koreas cutest smile
Likes: Italian flavoured ice cream
Dislikes: Lying ladies with long hair who try to cheat themselves to money
We started out with a bus from Shēnzhèn to Guìlín. Speed bus, it was. Kuaiche. Or, rather supposed to be. I bought the tickets myself, in broken Chinese, and was very proud of it until the promised ten hours rounded up to eleven, then thirteen, and finally fifteen. One of the extra hours was spent on the circumstances of one of the Chinese guys stealing Andrea's wallet, and after being caught wanting a reward for 'finding' it. Andrea finally gave him 50 yuan in order to calm down the hostile atmosphere.
After we got to Guìlín, we hurried onwards to Pīng'ān, Lóngshèng, a place famous for its beautiful rice terraces. After a small hike with only one small mishap - we lost Sunny and the Italians for a while - we overnighted at a place with a great view of the terraces. Oh, and one more thing! Tobias left his camera at our dinner restaurant, and of course when he went back to look for it the camera was no more. No one at the restaurant had even noticed he had a camera before... Very suspicious, but we were unable to prove anything. 2-0 to China.
Ok, so anyway, the next morning we decided to hike through the terraces to another village and take the bus back from there. A Mission Impossible hadn't it been for Sunny, our life savior and Chinese knower. Every 500 metres the path split into two equally chosable paths. And not only so, but add to this an irritating mass of short, long haired ladies in traditional dresses trying to act guides (and of course wanting money for it), and one particular lady who would not let us go no matter how hard we tried. She even tried to persuade the people we met to lie about the way. While we others did our best to distract the lady our divine Sunny asked our way through the maze. Yes! 2-1.
Done with Pīng'ān and the rice terraces we speeded on towards Yángshuò. After two dusty bus rides, we finally arrived in the evening. We checked in to a youth hostel at Xījie, the main street of Yangshuo, and this was when unlucky number three occured. I, in my humble stupidity, left my cell phone at the counter when we checked in, and a few moments later it was gone and no one had seen it... Of course. Shit!!! Two major thefts and almost one stolen Italian wallet in only two days! Damn! 3-1 to China.
'Well, well, do not let this #¤$%#¤# stupidity go out over the others,' I thought, recalling the wisdom of the Taoism, which was invented somewhere in this neighbourhood. I can hopefully get something out from my insurance. I cried silently, kicked the wall a few times, and then went down again with Sunny, lovely girl, who helped me to ask in Chinese. No phone. Shit! #¤#$£$"!
'Tao,' I thought, 'Tao,' and calmed myself enough to go eat. We went for dinner at the same place where I went last time I was there, Twin Peaks Café. Really cool for me, though I don't think the others bothered so much. Anyway, it set me in a better mood.
After dinner Sunny found a new love: Italian flavoured ice cream. Of course this was a big blow to the pride of our two Italians. 'Italian?! How can they call it Italian!? There is no such thing as Italian flavoured ice cream,' they quickly decided and forbade anyone of us to ever try it again.
Next morning we went on a river cruise and bike trip before lunch. After lunch the others headed for a sight at the Big Banyan Tree, but my tyre was flat, so me and Sunny went back for a stroll in the town instead. A really nice stroll, and it became even nicer after the others came back with news about a really boring Big Banyan Tree. The only seeworthy had been the herds of Chinese exciting themselves over and posing around the - to them obviously very interesting - tree.
After this the others had to leave. Back to Hong Kong and studies. Not me. I stayed in Yángshuò over the night and went to Guilin the day after for the second part of my trip.
Leg two - Yángshuò and Guǎngzhōu, Monday til Thursday
Me - again
Svante, my dad - a lot like me, only older, taller, and he has grey hair
Pontus, my older brother - also a lot like me, only older
The hardest part of this one was the initial arrangements. I had bought dad's and brother's tickets ahead and set up a pretty advanced schedule for a pick up in Hong Kong and instructions of where to meet in Guìlín. 'By ticket booth no. 1,' I had said and crossed my fingers for there being a ticket booth no. 1 at Guìlín train station.
Of course there was a ticket booth no. 1. Every train station has a ticket booth no. 1. Arriving in Guilin a bit after scheduled time I found it, but no dad or brother in sight. Big sigh of relief that I had thought of this in advance (very uncommon for an unorganized guy like me, so give me some cred for that) I headed over to the meeting site for plan B. And yes, after only a few minutes, there they were! One point to Sweden.
So, the first hard part of the journey was settled. Now for the second part. We wanted to go back to Yángshuò, but by boat on a river cruise. Piece of cake with the Sunshine around, but with her back in Hong Kong I had to rely on my own Chinese skills. After some bargaining back and forth (in Chinese!) I actually managed to get us on a boat in the right direction. I only got us to Xīngpīn, but whatahell, it was the right direction! And Xīngpīn was actually seeworthy too.
From Xīngpīn we reached Yángshuò by bus, and there we checked in to a fairly much fancier hostel than the one where my phone got stolen. Dinner for the evening was mud snails, fried rice, and chilli beef. Mud snails were delicious, no kidding! Tastes a bit like clamps. Oh, and Andrea and Fabri: Svante and Pontus tried the Italian ice cream, and they said they loved it and wondered if you could give them the recipe?
Next day was scenery and cultural day. We went to see the Silver Cave, an enormous cave lit in modern Chinese style. Beautiful, but a bit hard to follow what the all-Chinese compulsory guide told us. I think I understood that two of the stalactites were married and that the cave was 48 metres high at one place.
After scenery we had some snake hot pot, and then we had to rush off to the culture. What the snake tasted like? I honestly don't know, it was mixed with pork and chicken and I could not tell the difference. I don't even know if I actually had snake that night.
Culture though was really impressing. We had been cheap and booked 60 yuan tickets instead of the 188 ones for Yangshuo's big pride: the 600 actors river show. 60 yuan tickets meant sitting with a somewhat bad view of the happenings and a bit too far away from it to fully appreciate it. But 60 yuan was a good price, so we sat down and rented some binoculars. The show started and it was - beautiful. Like an autumn sunset or like falling in love. No kidding! I know it sounds PR, fake, and too poetical to be true, but it really was an amazing show! If we'd known that before we'd definitely have gone for the expensive tickets instead.
Ok, enough about that, I can't give words to its beauty, and since I was a cheap-ass I don't have any good pictures of it. Anyway, the next day was spent on a bike tour through Yángshuò county up to Yúlóng bridge, and at eight o'clock the sleeper bus for Guǎngzhōu, our next stop, left. During the bike ride my apparently ultra-strong brother managed to break the cogwheel of his bike, but with a stick and some brute force we managed to keep it bikable all the way back.
Guǎngzhōu was not too impressing, actually, much like any given million city of China, only that it has an old colonial style island from the old trading days, and an interesting museum of the revolution.
Back in Hong Kong now, it's been a good week of traveling (despite the phone), but I don't think I can do much more of that til after finals now. I have some catching up to do in school.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Yesterday Jens arrived in Hong Kong. Tobias and I tried to keep him awake for as long as possible in order to kill his jet lag. We showed him Mong Kok and Langham Place and had Indian food in Chung King Mansions (floor 3, a bit shabby, but very good food), TST. At 10 pm he fell asleep on his glass of beer, so we decided to take him back home.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Since my old phone has been behaving really weirdly lately and finally died on me, I decided to buy a new one. A K800i, and it is my new baby. It can do literally everything; when it doesn't ring for me, it doubles as an MP3-player, a radio, a camera, a calendar, and a Chinese dictionary (which, if you read this Sunny, I use a lot but I actually get no help from my room mate for the Putonghua texts). It also makes my coffee in the morning (though I don't drink coffee), cleans my room, does my laundry and homework, and listen to my problems when no friends are around to talk.
A cool thing in having an MP3-player (I never had any kind of portable music before) is that I now can add a sound track to my life. It is really like walking around in a movie, now all I need is some love and exploding cars.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Disclaimer: The following post was written during the agonies of a night time study hour trying to hammer in Chinese characters into tired brain cells. Chinese character studies is not a good night time occupation, and I do not hate the Hanzi as much as it might seem below. I like them for their beauty and historical value, but every now and then I frustrate myself over their apparent insurmountability.
Ok, so what's the deal? Why do they necessarily have to keep the out-dated Hanzi system of writing? I am trying and trying to penetrate the Chinese language and, honestly, I'm doing quite well, at least when it comes to talking and listening. But when it comes to writing I am totally lost. It is nothing like the other languages of the planet, languages that ages ago adopted very fine and intelligent phonetic alphabets. P-H-O-N-E-T-I-C-A-L. Can it be any easier? You hear a word and immediately know how to write it. So simple yet so smart. I don't think that I fully appreciated that before I stuck my nose into the Hanzi jungle of basic strokes, water radicals and stroke orders.
Alright, there are ways of guessing half of the pronunciation of a character by only looking at its components, but still, even if you manage to get the right sound you still have a handful of tones to choose between. This is hard, even for the Chinese. It is so hard that the Chinese government has chosen only 2000 of the most common characters that people have to be able to recognise by the time they finish high school. 2000 out of more than 60 000!
My only friend in this huge mess is the Pinyin. Thank God for Pinyin! No, actually, thank Mao Zedong for Pinyin. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not trying to place the two on the same level, but Mao and his CCP were actually quite responsible for the introduction of this splendid system. It is quite a bit like magic - all of a sudden there is a good possibility of knowing how to pronounce what's read and how to write what's heard. It is a blessing hard to explain - you really need to experience the Grief of the Hanzi to understand the Relief of the Pinyin.
Wouldn't it be just great if it stopped right there? If you got along with only the Pinyin, no more, no less? Hell no, the Chinese like to keep their treasure close to the heart. Why give it all away just to make things easier for everyone? Because they like it.
Well, quit liking it then. Drop it, I say, loose it. Here the culture vulture might sniff and declare that it "would be a terrible loss should this magnificent millenia-old cultural treasure go to the grave..." But, it-would-not-go-to-the-grave! Understand that! Nearly every language that has already taken the step has left remnants for following civilisations to appreciate, and that was before people even cared to take note of such things. Today there is a whole world of information storing that will be able to save the Hanzi for future use.
There is, however, one good feat with the character thing. Since so many characters sound almost the same, though written totally differently, Chinese Internet dissidents have a relatively easy way of "coding" their texts. This becomes extremely handy in a country where everything published online has to pass the "Great Firewall" - the filters that alarm at the tiniest bit that can be suspected to be of any harm to the government. The possibility of using phonetic coding gives the dissidents a way of expressing "banned" words with other words. Funny little twist, that.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
...must be the most irrational thing in the world. Really! Just look at it: it hits you when you least want it - throws you, head first, in the mud and kicks you. And then it keeps kicking til you're so weak that you can't stand up. And you love each hit, each punch. They feel like heaven, and even though you know it will turn into bad bruses you beg for more.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Since last night was a bit rough, today was much calmer. I went to the movies with Fabrizio and Sunny, saw The Prestige. A pretty weird plot about two rivaling magicians, but it was really a nice evening in pleasant company.
Yesternight was party night.
Nicklas and Tom from my school back home studies in Singapore, and when they unexpextedly showed up in Hong Kong I decided to drag them along to dinner with some friends. Dinner was in Tsim Sha Tsui, at Brazil BBQ, a pretty nice place. Pay 100 HKD for unlimited food and beer. The whole thing started out small with only me and a few friends, but quickly grew into a party of 22 people. After dinner we went for some drinks and then most of the others were headed for home.
Not us. Tom and Nicklas wanted to make the most out of their short weekend stay, so we went on to Lan Kwai Fong. We thought it would be crowded - being Friday night and everything - but when we came there all the places were really empty. There must have been something else going on elsewhere in town. After a few failed tries to get in for free on some of the fancy guest-listed places we ended up at an after-party club on Hollywood Road. Quite ok place actually, and we stayed there until 6 or 7 am. I got back home at 8-ish and slept til now (noon). It's really hard to sleep on the days here because of the heat and sounds, so tonight will be an early one for me. Maybe a movie or something, and - if I find the energy - some studies.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Nothing special really, but a bit funny. I am starting to turn up as a background pic in Chinese cell phones. No, not really, but I bumped into a local friend recently, a friend of Jack's (my wonderful roommate), and she had done it. The one where I'm standing underneath a "waterfall" with my umbrella. Maybe I am particularly handsome in that one ;) Go ahead and have a look to decide for yourselves, or why not add it to your own phone?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Last weekend was spent on Yúnnán Express, our own 4-day tour of the south-western situated province facing the border of Tibet. We spent our time in Kūnmíng, Dàlĭ and Lìjiāng. In this region, as in many others, places claim to be the mythical Shangri-La, the fictive place described in Lost Horizon by James Hilton. True or not, the area is beautiful as hell and close to a heaven on earth with a stunning scenery that words cannot describe. Instead, click on the image below or above to get a visual.
We arrived in Kūnmíng after a mere three hours flight and quickly decided that the city was not beautiful enough to waste our precious weekend time. So we hopped on a night bus to Lìjiāng, a trip that unexpectedly took almost excactly the promised ten hours. We only got delayed half an hour, sadly because of a traffic accident including a truck and a buffalo.
Lìjiāng was everything we had wished for and more. The city's Old Town is all Naxi architecture and really gives the impression of an ancient China. The only sad thing is that, after the city was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, it has become very touristy. So touristy that it has started to loose its charm. The environment though is amazing. The city lies in a valley, surrounded by mountains reaching 4-5000 meters, and closeby lies the Tiger Leaping Gorge, a 15 km long stretch of rapids between wild and barren 2000 meter cliffs.
From Lìjiāng we headed to Dàlĭ - this too is a heaven on earth - where we rented bikes, hiked on the mountainside on which the town is situated, chilled out, and amazed ourselves by the ridicoulusly high admission fees that were put on basically everything worth a look.
Our last stop was a few hours in Kūnmíng's Green Lake Park, a pretty endroit in the middle of the big city. In the mornings (when we were there) the park fills up by Qi Gong practicers, morning strollers, and musicians. Really worth a visit if you stop by in the otherwise not so interesting town.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
As North Korea took a new glance into the closed book of the Cold War, I realized how little I actually know about the country, so I decided to do some digging. It turns out I missed the latest (and last?) chance to actually go there to learn more; a 10-day excursion visiting many of the Magnificent Achievements of DPRK. Oh well, couldn't afford the 2220 EUR anyway (there is, however, a discount of 300 EUR for members of the Korean Friendship Association, and since membership is free that would have been an easy price-cut).
I found some interesting reading though; everyone should really take a look at the biographies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, two marvellous North Koreans...
Since our boys' lives are extremely intriguing and interesting, both biographies of course include a lot of reading; Jong Il's measuring a fantastic 160 pages and Il Sung's an incredible 2161 pages. For the lazy reader who does not have a spare lifetime to harvest through the forests of superlatives, below are a few of the highlights:
"Comrade Kim Jong Il's family was a patriotic and revolutionary family in a way unprecedented in history",
Biography of Kim Jong Il, p.8
"Comrade Kim Jong Il was admitted to the course of political economy, faculty of economics, Kim Il Sung University, on September 1, 1960.
On that day he was firmly determined to make his university days a period of preparation to succeed to the Juche cause.
Comrade Kim Jong Il said:
'As I enter the highest institute of science, I am more firmly determined to shoulder the future of the revolution upholding the noble intention of the leader.'
'I intend to make my university days a fruitful period to learn the leader's revolutionary idea more closely and make preparations to shoulder the Korean revolution.'
That day he climbed Ryongnam Hill and recited a poem. Korea, I Will Glorify Thee in which he expressed his determination to carry the revolutionary cause of Juche to completion upholding the will of Comrade Kim Il Sung."
Biography of Kim Jong Il, p.16
"As desired by the whole Party Comrade Kim Jong Il was officially elected General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea on October 8, Juche 86 (1997)..."
Biography of Kim Jong Il, p.150
"Strong will power is needed to endure mental suffering just as much as for physical hardships. And the process of their endurance is accompanied by a ceaseless struggle with oneself. Our experience in the autumn of 1940 was exactly of this kind..."
Biography of Kim Il Sung, "The Autumn of 1940", p.1792
"In August 1945, Korea was aflame with the joy of liberation. In the wave of excitement that enveloped the whole land of Korea, the people were awaiting impatiently for the triumphal return of the national hero General Kim Il Sung. The ancient city of Pyongyang, where the leader of the nation was born, was astir even at night waiting for the arrival of General Kim Il Sung, who left his home in snowstorm in 1925..."
Biography of Kim Il Sung, "The Triumphal Return", p.2161
...I could not have said it better myself. but then again, I am not trained in the PR business. Have a look at a TIME Magazine cartoonist's perspective on the issue.