Rarely does it happen these days that a song is stuck in my head for days. I tend to stick to old favorites and rarely mix it up anymore.
But then this cover song happened. And it’s so good. And so stuck. And I actually don’t want to lose it. It’s been on repeat – my last.fm seems to understate.
So I don’t want to withhold any joy – here it is. Listening addiction. Love.
Have a great week!
Last weekend we set off with Big Blue dive shop to go and see the ancient underwater city of Qiandao Lake. The lake is located a good 5 hour drive outside of Shanghai and we left late Friday afternoon for what was supposed to be a fun dive excursion.
The lake is rather vast and it’s – of course – artificial. The area surrounding the lake is absolutely beautiful and it sports the best bike paths I’ve ever seen in China.
As for the diving, the underwater city is of course the main draw. The Lion City was built during the Han Dynasty and remains relatively intact at a depth of roughly 20 to 40 meters.
The weekend was cloudy to rainy with an average air temperature of 24C. We were expecting cold water, so we brought some extra neoprene layers to complement our 7mm wetsuits.
It should have of course already rang some alarm bells, when some instructors were getting into their drysuits, but then again – we are German girls, we can handle a bit of cold, right?!
The first dive was set to take place right off the shore to used to the thicker wetsuit, the fresh water and the water temperature. Equipped in my extra layers I was nice and toasty, the bigger issue really proved to be visibility. I couldn’t see my dive buddy, I couldn’t see my instructor, heck.. I couldn’t even see my dive computer, resulting in several angry beeps by the aforementioned and sudden and unexpected surfacings. Sans instructor and also without the other dive friends we made. All in all a rather unsettling experience, that wasn’t exactly being helped by the instructor mentioning it was his first time to the dive site as well. Wait, what??!
But fine, whatever. Let’s get it over with, eat least I wasn’t cold. Or so I thought.
After the rather disastrous shore dive adventure we boarded a little boat and set our for the 1 hour ride out to where the city was supposed to be located. Supposed to – because who really knows. There is no surface buoy marking the descent area and we sat on the boat for another hour, waiting for a local dive guide trying to find the city. Easier said than done in that kind of visibility, which is next to none.
By 2 in the afternoon, starving by now after a 7.30am breakfast (thank goodness we had a Snickers to share before we got on to the boat), it was finally time to descent. This was going to be the coldest dive of my life. At around 7m depth there’s a thermocline and the water temperature drops from 20 to 10 degrees. Your heart starts racing and you have to make yourself breathe slowly. Further down you go and finally at 26m there it is. Or you think it is. Point your flashlight in the right direction and you see some wall, a lot of silt, and little else. What followed was the least eventful 25 minutes of my life. A lot of rubble, a hole in the ground, some frescoes, that’s it.
Meanwhile I could think about is how death by cold would work. Would my organs just shut down slowly and I would remain at the bottom of the lake in a frozen grave??
By the time we finally decided to ascend, I couldn’t feel my toes, my fingers nor my face anymore. It took two hands to inflate the BCD and I suppose my body core temperature had dropped by a few degrees. How else to explain that hopeless shivering that made it hard to chow down on rice and veggie lunch with chopsticks.
Here’s us and our instructor.. At least he was just about as cold as ourselves. And he didn’t lose us down at the city. And we manage to pull off some fake joy.
We were supposed to go for a third dive, which Eva and I decided to skip – drysuits should definitely be a must when attempting to dive the place and letting people descend in 7mm wetsuits seems a bit reckless. Afterall, 7mm got cold last year in Korea, where we dove in 20 degree water off the coast of Jeju Island.
So after lunch the second dive was well prepared with this awesome buoy.
Our drysuit companions were ready to jump right back in. Of course, dry and warm – that would have been nice.
So instead of going for another dive, we went for a lake swim – also a rarity in China. In fact, the first actual swim since moving here (setting last summer’s miserable attempt at the ocean aside) – that was sweet.
It took over an hour for my toes, fingers and lips to turn from blue to a light rose again and I decided right then and there – &%@* that next dive on Sunday morning. No way that I was going to go back down there, just to be cold and swim around in muddy waters.
The next day was a bit nicer with some sun and while all the men went back down to the city, Eva and I wandered around a bit, she went swimming, I read a book and also managed to get the sunburn of a lifetime. After being so cold on the previous day, I just couldn’t imagine the sun being so strong already. Dumb me, poor skin, hello cancer.
This trip was a fun excursion, but the fun surely wasn’t acquired on the dive side of things. I’d recommend to stay away, unless you’re a drysuit aficionado and rather go ahead and organize your own dive trip to anywhere in Asia. Big Blue is an operation run by a bunch of more less sharp laowais, who could use a bit of Organizing Group Tours 101. I’d call this the worst diving of my life. Sad but true.
But here’s a preview of what the city could have looked like and it’s a view you might be lucky enough to experience once or twice a year.
Most pictures were taken by Eva – Most cold endured by both of us. What a trip.
Beijing is so different from Shanghai – it’s always refreshing to go for a visit. The Hutong life is so unique, the sights are ginormous, the food is great and the people’s different dialect is charming.
I went to meet up with my college friend and we went to the Great Wall music festival – more on that on Monday – and then used Sunday to just ride around the city.
It’s nice to ride in Beijing. There is so much to see, it feels a lot more versatile than Shanghai. Life is somehow a bit more authentic and colorful. And it’s the world’s largest bike paths (or at least close to that).
We got the bikes ready – one e-bike, something that’s so very cool – and 2 regular bikes and set off for a scenic route leading through the northern Hutongs to the Drum and Bell Tower, around the Forbidden City to then lap Tiananmen Square and return around the other side of the Forbidden City back up north.
We started with a breakfast stop at Vine Leaf Cafe. A very neat little place with amazing eggs benedict. What more can you ask for to kickstart your day.
Our first touristic highlight stop was the Confucius temple. A very quiet and peaceful place to the usual Lama Temple or Temple of Heaven.
Of course we also encountered the obligatory Chinese travel group – this time with a predominant animal print theme. Ever so fashionable.
Other than that the temple is very quiet – almost a little deserted.
And when the setting is right, it’s always good to squeeze a little yoga in. Here the far from finished tree pose.
East meets West – traditional dress and Esprit umbrella for sun protection. It seems like Beijing has a lot of these encounters..
I’ve never seen blue sky like that in Beijing. During my last visit in February the air quality was beyond index, as you may recall. This time around Beijing really showed what it had to offer. Absolutely beautiful!
And when the sun set, we decided it was time to get dinner. We went to Dali Courtyard, where you don’t need to order but get a little menu, ever slightly changing and wash it all down with a Dali brew.
Let’s talk a bit about Chinese music today, alright? I don’t know so much about the Chinese scene but every so often I come across artists I really enjoy. That happened yesterday with Nova Heart.
Rooted somewhere between Indie and Electro with a bit of a psychedelic twang Helen’s sound is something that really catches on. Listen for yourself.
Truly quite fabulous!
I saw her play at the Midi Festival, which hit town for the weekend and due to the amazing spring weather we’ve been having around here, we decided to take a little bike ride over to Century Park and enjoy a day of festival atmosphere.
A fun fact – some of China’s best metal and rock bands come from Wuhan – this guy was proudly representing!
The sky was amazing and our city is so beautiful at night… I love living here.
May 1st is also a holiday in China – how could it not be. Labor Day, of course something very important in a communist country.
We used the beautiful spring day to enjoy some culture. Currently The Power Station of Art is hosting the largest traveling Andy Warhol collection that has ever come to Asia. After Singapore and Hong Kong, the exhibition has now made its way to Shanghai and will continue on in July to Beijing and then on to Tokyo later this fall.
Andy Warhol: I think everybody should like everybody.
Gene Swenson: Is that what Pop Art is all about?
Andy Warhol: Yes, it’s liking things.
“What Is Pop Art?” Art News, November 1963
The exhibition hosts over 300 paintings, sculptures and also videos. I already told you how much I enjoyed reading Andy’s book PopIsm, so I was quite excited for the video installations. Among the ones shown is also Eat.
Besides the current exhibition on the 2nd floor, the Power Station of Art is a worthwhile destination in itself. Local art is on display and the building has a nice roof terrace with a cafe and a view.
Of course it’s a biking distance – a really easy 8K out of the French Concession.
Berlin is amazing. Every single time I go I have a different experience. Every time I go, it’s a different season, I see friends, I find new shops, I see new bars and I have a great time.
My most recent trip was no different – we had a girls’ weekend and contrary to my usual visits we actually did stay in a hotel instead of with friends.
We stayed at the Michelberger Hotel and upon walking into the lobby I had this amazing flashback to a summer a few years ago where we partied the night away in their back yard during fashion week before the hotel ever opened.
We rented their Loft room and it reminded me a lot of our stay at Ace hotel in NYC. A lot of the same effortless chic meets hipsterdom.
Of course once again shopping was one of our key focus areas. Much success. Much joy. After getting back to Shanghai with triple the amount of luggage I had when I first left for Europe, I now decided it’s that time of the year again where I need to spring clean my closet. I definitely own too much stuff.
We Are Traffic is an ongoing photo project which captures the German bicycling culture in Hamburg and Berlin.
My favorite shots are these.
More girls on bikes. Yes, please! Can we do a project like that for China? I think it’d be a bit more versatile.
I went to Paris to feel like a true Parisienne for a weekend and it worked out fabulously. We had an ace girls’ weekend with great food, laughter and company. On top of that we managed to spend obscene amounts of money on pretty little things and felt really, really good about it. What more can you ask for?
The weekend also marked the start of spring and we felt all kinds of summery in warm and sunny weather – subsequently it was time to kick off the shoes and hang out in the park with ice cream, nothing better.
Paris is such a wonderful place, with so many nice little areas, beautiful people and a charming atmosphere everywhere you go. It’s the kind of city where you feel the need to dress in your best attire and wear heels all the time. Where you just have to sit in a cafe and drink a ‘ver rouge’ or a ‘pression’ while watching life go by.
Click here to see some more pictures. And go to Paris some time. Do you have favorite places and must have spots to visit? I’m always keen to learn about new bars and restaurants. We visited the Cafe Charlot, made an attempt to get drinks at Andy Wahloo et cetera.
Sometimes I wonder how brave can you be? And what is brave? And if you’re brave in one aspect, does it take a completely different kind of braveness to tackle another endeavor?
Someone who is very brave is my old roommate, college friend and also former colleague Thomas. Meet Thomas.
He quit his safe and secure adidas job and now owns the cafe Nothaft + Seidel in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg. Last weekend’s Berlin trip was the perfect opportunity to drop by, enjoy a formidable Latte Macchiato and eat his home-made cake.
Ireland housemates – 10 years later – still looking good.
And there the attempts at taking a proper team picture. We are just too fun.
Next time you’re in Berlin, drop by and say Hi to Thomas. The Cafe is just opposite the subway station Eberswalder Strasse, across the street from legendary Konnopke Currywurst at Schoenhauser Str. 43a.
So this is crazy and exciting and I can’t wait for it. The Inner Mongolia Grassland Marathon, or – as it is actually called – the Ghengis Khan Grassland Extreme Marathon. I will be a little less extreme and only run the half marathon, but still. It’s my first one and I’m not exactly a runner by nature.
I am super motivated and have been able to run longer and faster over the past few months. Spending this month in Europe was supposed to be the opportunity to take my run outside. In Shanghai it’s treadmill only and the running is very different between indoors and outdoors. Most significantly a given pace (the one you set on your treadmill) versus actually having to set your own pace. My first run outside in 2 years was accompanied by heavy side pains for the first 3k and followed by hurting feet and legs for the following five days.
I have since swapped my running shoes from the adizero feather to the energy boost and have found the right pace. Let’s hope I can remember that one over the next 2 months of indoor training, as the actual run will then be the first time again for me to run outside.
Challenging. I am running with micoach, which I find super motivational and am constantly on the hunt for new playlists. Suggestions are very very welcome as I think I will have to vomit if I have to listen to my Run This Town playlist one more time.
210 – Pink – U + Ur Hand
211 – Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
212 – Snoop Dogg Vs. David Guetta – Sweat
213 – Kesha – We R Who We R
214 – Chris Brown – Yeah 3x
215 – Faithless – We Come 1
216 – Morten Hampenberg & Alexander Brown – I Want You (To Want Me Back)
217 – Agnes – Release Me
218 – Outkast – Hey Ya!
209 – Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (Steve Angello Remix Edit)
117 – Katy Perry – Firework
118 – Alicia Keys – Superwoman
201 – John Mayer – Heartbreak Warfare
202 – Marina & The Diamonds – Radioactive
203 – Jesper Nohrstedt – Take Our Hearts
204 – Flo-Rida – Good Feeling
205 – Britney Spears – I Wanna Go
206 – Svenstrup Og Vendelboe – Dybt Vand
207 – Electric Lady Lab – Touch Me (Svenstrup & Vendelboe Remix Edit)
208 – Jennifer Hudson – No One Gonna Love You (jason Nevins Radio Remix)
113 – Pitbul Feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Naer – Give Me Everything
114 – Michael Rune Feat. Nadia Gattas – Min Indre Stemme
115 – Ginger Ninja – Bone Will Break Metal
116 – Metro Station – Shake It
110 – Alex Gaudino Feat. Kelly Rowland – What A Feeling
111 – Kato Feat. Jeremy Carr – Celebrate Life
112 – Calvin Harris – Feel So Close
104 – Donkey Boy – City Boy
105 – Medina – Addiction
106 – David Guetta Feat. Sia – Titanium
107 – Swedish House Mafia – Save The World
108 – Usher – More (RedOne Jimmy Joker Remix)
109 – Chris Brown & Benny Benassi – Beautiful People
102 – Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream
103 – Bruno Mars – Marry You
101 – Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
The biggest challenge here is, that my usual indie, electro and rock choices don’t really work in terms of BPM.
So if you have any idea on what to run to – please do tell!
visuals.instagram @atarikidAfter #work #bike and #drinks.atarikid60Post-#ride feasting. Mit @fitsaali @esisteva @migcha Und ein Plätzchen im Grünen. Ganz herrlich.atarikid80... And i made a little #ladybug friend today.atarikid91The #road ahead. 106km with the #girls today. Nice one. Now: #icecream o'clock!!atarikid131Good morning. It's the #German #girls ..atarikid123#shanghai #bike excursion. #ride #fixed 🚲❤🚴atarikid20
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