The Madness Blog

The Madness Blog

The Madness Blog

The purpose of this blog is to give an account of my adventures during my stay in Shanghai, China.


Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Thu, July 17, 2008 13:15:16


Woke at 9 a.m. Final morning routine.

After a slow breakfast I continued packing up all my stuff; boxed it, bagged it and cleaned up the room. Our maid showed up a little past 10 a.m. and I put her to work. Had her empty and clean all the cupboards in the kitchen as well as closets in our bedrooms. She must have thought I was crazy. Apparently, common practice in China is to clean the apartment when you move in, not when you move out.

Silje had left bags of clothes when she left, either to be given to Aiy (Chinese word for the maid (aunt)) or thrown out. There were some things that I didn’t want to take back with me that I left in the pile for her. I also said that she could take all the food out of the cupboards and from the fridge. She had to do two trips and returned with a person I believe to be her son for the last batch of things we had given her. The last thing I gave her was a calendar with pictures from Norway (that I had found under the DVD player as I was tidying up). I think she liked it.

Around 1 p.m. I took my very heavy bag and locked myself out of the apartment for the last time. I headed down into the road and took a taxi up Linping to Frodes place. Dumped my bags in his apartment and together we headed out the door to go grab some lunch. Found us a taxi and headed downtown to Portman and to Element Fresh. Seemed like a natural place for a last lunch in Shanghai. Unfortunately, it had started to rain so we could not sit outside and our planned walk through the streets after lunch was quickly abandoned. Got a call from Astrid who was finally getting her stuff out of the apartment and who had graciously offered to hand over the apartment to the landlord. She was having some issues though. We had hoped that by moving out two weeks before the end of our contract, we might not have to pay some minor extra costs for gas and electrics. We were wrong, but the landlord was of course in his full right to ask us to pay our bills before we left. However, clever little Astrid negotiated her way out of it by offering him our printer and my toaster iron, items we probably would have left there anyway. He accepted and all parties were happy. Meanwhile, Frode and I had abandoned our walking-around-town plan and instead found a taxi around 3 p.m. and returned to Frodes apartment. Didn’t really have a clear plan going on, so we put on a movie and hung out for a while.

Around 6 p.m. we took my worryingly heavy bag and headed out the door once more. We took a taxi up near Fudan to where the Swedes live. Marcus and I are on the same plane tomorrow so we figured that it would be convenient if we left for the airport together as well. We sat around their apartment for a while, waiting for everyone to get ready for dinner. We had decided to go to Dong Bei, a local round-table Chinese restaurant. It is ridiculously cheap and the food has always been good in the past. And tonight was no different. The food was fine and even though we joked about getting ill and being extremely sick on the plane tomorrow, no one was. We left the restaurant around 9 p.m. and stood outside, dumbstruck by the amounts of water falling from the sky. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long for a taxi. The small group headed over to Alex and Arills apartment for the last party of the year and to say good-bye to everyone. Marcus, Anna, Ouafa and I didn’t stay long. Around 11 p.m. we left, having said good-bye to everyone several times. It didn’t feel final, so it was not a problem to leave the people I had been spending all my time with for the last year.

Back at the Swedes, we ended up watching a little football. Anna intended to watch both matches during the night and kindly offered me her room. I watched the first half, got bored around 1 a.m. and set up an Ikea bed with half a mattress on it. I swear I would have fallen through had it not been for the steel pole supporting my weight and my hip. Not too comfortable and I only slept for a couple of hours before it was time to get up again and leave the country.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Sat, June 21, 2008 19:11:47

Norwegian food

Even though I had finished all my work and had no plans for today, I woke at 9 a.m. as usual. I fear that my morning routine has ruined my ability to sleep for however long I like. Regardless of my feelings, I was wide awake and got up.

I had breakfast and started packing. I quickly filled a box of various items such as souvenirs, papers, books and bags. I had worried that I didn’t have enough things to fill the box with (if it wasn’t full, all the stuff would be thrown around and ruined inside the box), but it turned out that my problem was quite the opposite. The box was filled and I became more worried that my luggage would be too heavy.

While I was packing, the door to Siljes room was opened and she emerged ready, packed and cleared for takeoff. No time was wasted in leaving Shanghai.

Around 1 p.m. I took my big box and went up to the post office to ship it off. I realized when I sent my other box, that the post office people will go through everything in great detail, so I had tried to pack for that. Unfortunately, I had a shoebox filled with lots of small things that I didn’t want floating around. The guy at the post office spent fifteen minutes going through it; taking out every little thing and studying it hard. At the end, the only item I was not allowed to keep in the box, for whatever reason, was my webcam. I sent of 18,4 kg and paid approx 950 rmb: not too bad.

Continued packing my flight luggage when I returned from the post office. Sat around my room for a while, enjoying not doing anything.

A little before 6 p.m. Astrid and I left for the last dinner with the Norwegian Business Association. On our way downtown, I had to explain to my taxi driver how to make a left turn. The idiot didn’t know what to do when we approached the pedestrian zone of Nanjing rd. Anyway, at 6.30 p.m. we sat and listened to a presentation by the consul general and the head of Innovation Norway in Shanghai about their business. Present was also the general manager of Laerdal Suzhou. We had brought with us a signed copy of the thesis and presented it to him. After an interesting speech we were treated to the traditional NBA dinner; salmon and other sea-foods, potatoes, duck, fruit and chocolate mousse.

Didn’t stay at the event for too long. At 9 p.m. I walked through the pedestrian part of Nanjing rd and down to Barbarossa in People’s Square park to meet Ingvild and Jonas. Had a quick drink with them and wished them good-luck for the next year, in shanghai without me.

I took a taxi back to the apartment a little before midnight and went straight to bed.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Fri, June 20, 2008 15:37:39

Presentation and Graduation

Woke at 6.30 a.m. Didn’t feel too good. I didn’t really feel nervous, but my narrow oesophagus was giving me a hard time swallowing and insisted on keeping a tank of air in my throat. I didn’t manage to finish my breakfast.

At 7.45 a.m., Silje and I met Bettina, Gigi and Alex in the road. We split in two taxis and headed towards campus. Traffic was not too bad despite the poor weather and we got to Starr Building a little past 8 a.m.

At 8.30 a.m. everyone had arrived and our supervisor greeted us with a short welcome speech. And so it began. We followed the Heavy Water group as number two. Everything went smoothly. I didn’t say too much silly and neither did any of the other girls. We all knew the material and held a reasonably good presentation I must say. We braced ourselves for the post-presentation questions, but the most difficult we got was one on the background of motivational theories. Nothing we couldn’t handle. Four groups finished their presentations before lunch. Lunch was held in the restaurant of the campus hotel at noon. It was not impressive. Hardly anything edible at all.

The presentations continued after lunch. The questions did not get any harder, although a couple of groups were put a little on the spot. Generally, we all managed OK, and I think that was all everyone had hoped for.

At 4 p.m. everyone had given their presentation and went out in the hall to put on our robes and square hats for the diploma ceremony. Not quite as formal and proper as it was in Reading, but an experience none the less. Some professor from Fudan came over to present us with our diplomas. It was all over in 20 minutes. We then proceeded to walk across campus in our robes, to the old Nordic centre for the official graduation picture. Pictures were also taken in front of the statue of Mao by the main gates. Pictures were taken and hats were thrown. It was a joyous occasion for sure.

Around 5.30 p.m. we finally left campus for the last time and headed back to Linping for a short rest before having to get ready to go out for graduation dinner. I sat quietly in my room for a while, got ready and headed out to catch the chartered bus.

The bus took us downtown and into an interesting part of the city that I wouldn’t have normally visited without making sure I was armed. The building we stopped outside looked like it belonged in this neighbourhood, but when we walked through the doors we were pleasantly surprised. The Creek restaurant and gallery turned out to be a very cozy and spacious locale. An excellent three course dinner, paid for by the Norwegian School of Management, was served. Speeches were held by class representatives, thesis supervisor, the director of studies and anyone else who felt like saying a few words. I considered saying something, but decided against it. Spirits were high all night. Three years of education had come to an end.

From the restaurant, taxi’s to us to the Bund and to Lounge 18. We had a few quiet drinks here before going upstairs to Bar Rouge. A great place to end our stay in Shanghai; with spectacular views over Pudong and the city. I think we all agreed that we had had a great year in Shanghai and that it had in fact gone by very quickly – as we had predicted back in August. Silje had been out with her Shanghai girlfriends, but joined us at Bar Rouge around 2 a.m.

At 3 a.m. I was exhausted and left. It had been a long and tiring day, but it felt good to know that presentations and thesis work now was behind me. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit my pillow.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Fri, June 20, 2008 15:27:05

Dress rehearsal

Woke at 8 a.m. Morning routine.

Determined to have a good presentation, we had decided to meet at 10 a.m. to go through the presentation a few more times. What we had not planned for however, was the fact that we were all fed up and none of us had the energy to push through a practice run. After sitting around for a couple of hours, we finally managed to get one run through before lunch. Needless to say, it was a very poor run and poor effort.

We had lunch and returned to the apartment to try again. Still, we had issues getting through it. We were tired and de-motivated. Through sheer persistence, we managed to get through it a couple of times before simply giving up and calling it a day. It was nearly 3 p.m. before I returned to my apartment.

To relax myself I started packing. Simply folding up all my shirts requires patience and time. The bag I have bought to pack in is too big. I have to make sure I don’t fill it or it will be ridiculously overweight.

I went out and found some food and sat down to watch a movie. Despite the horrendous rehearsal today, i was not worried about tomorrow’s presentation. I felt confident that the girls and I would rise to the occasion and do what we had to do. And it is not like we don’t know the subject. In fact, we probably know more about retention issues than many business leaders judging by the feedback we have received. I tried to mentally prepare for any difficult questions we may or may not receive tomorrow

Tired as I was, I went to bed around 10 p.m. Not long now.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Tue, June 17, 2008 15:36:10


Woke at 8 a.m. Morning routine.

Sat for w while at my desk looking over the presentation. Decided that I felt relatively confident about knowing the material. Prepared a leaflet to be handed out during the presentation.

Went out for lunch around 1 p.m. At 2 p.m. I met the girls at Bettinas apartment for a run through. We were expecting to have to cut it down, but it seemed that as we had prepared for it, we had had in mind that we needed to keep it short. The first complete practice run we did, clocked in at 27 minutes. Right on the money. Everyone knew what they were going to say and apart from a few minor text adjustments, we changed nothing. We did a couple of runs and were satisfied for today. Agreed to meet early tomorrow to go through it a few more times.

Astrid and I was back in the apartment around 5 p.m. Shortly after, Astrid and her Frenchman asked if I wanted to join them at the cinema. I had never been to the cinema in Shanghai so I ceased the opportunity. We planned to go for a 6 o’clock screening of IronMan in Xintiandi, but the film was no longer running. Determined to see IronMan, we went over to Shanghai Times Square to see it there. Unfortunately, it was not screening here either. Instead, we decided to see the new Narnia movie. Not really the best substitute.

Turns out that the Chinese are as loud in the cinema as they are everywhere else. Mobile phones rang constantly through the movie and instead of taking it outside or even switching it off, all calls were answered with a loud “Wei?!” It was very annoying. Even the popcorn I had bought annoyed me. How hard can it be to make sure that the popcorn is salty and not sweet?? Caramelized popcorn is not good. Bu hao!

The movie ended around 9 p.m. I said goodnight and went of in the direction of Tongren rd. to meet John Henrik and a former BI student; Thomas, at Blue Frog. Sat around with a savoury burger and a big Tiger.

Returned to Linping around 11 p.m. In bed around midnight.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Tue, June 17, 2008 14:54:22

Let's wrap this up

Woke at 9 a.m. Couldn’t believe it. No matter what I do, I cannot for the life of me sleep past 9 a.m. I was hoping to rest up today, but no such luck. Got up and did what I do every morning.

Felt tired from the moment I set foot outside my bed. Reluctantly I had breakfast and hoped to wake myself up with a long shower. After handing in the thesis, I have lost all interest in staying here. Particularly as I am only here to give a presentation that students in Norway are not required to do. Only six more days now...

Spent the early part of the day, generally feeling sorry for myself and annoyed that I had to prepare for the presentation on Wednesday. Had a little read-through of my own before going out for lunch. Had hoped to get some food before meeting the girls, but all I could find was some fruit. I am sick of the limited options provided to me by the three or four Chinese restaurants in the compound. Everything is so fatty and foul-smelling. Often the taste is nothing to write home about either. I yearn for cooked, as opposed to all the fried, food and some fresh fish. I met the girls at Starbucks, but this weekend is an official holiday in China and the place was packed. It is some sort of Dragonboat festival thingy.

Instead, we sat down in my apartment and started working on the presentation. I had already made some slides, but more was needed. Sat around for a few hours doing that, before breaking up and going our separate ways to practice.

Spent a quiet evening in the apartment. Watched a movie. Looked over the presentation. Sent a few emails. Before you know it, it was time for bed.

Asleep by 11 p.m. and ready for the final week in China.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Sun, June 08, 2008 08:34:09

Thunderstorm Taco

Woke at 9 a.m. Morning routine.

Sat down at my desk and started to work on the presentation for next week. Wednesday is the day that we are really finished with the thesis, by giving a short, half-an hour long presentation. For the life of me I cannot understand how we are supposed to discuss so much in so little time. The findings alone warrant a couple of hour’s discussion.

On and off, I sat with the presentation. Had a hard time focusing, but I managed to make a layout and add a few slides.

I feel apathy towards being here now. I have done what I came for and I am ready to go home. My entire being resists any effort to be productive. It wants home, it needs a hug.

I watched a few episodes of Boston Legal with lunch. Sat at my desk for a few hours, working, thinking, reading, chatting. Outside my window, I saw a thunderstorm brewing. It got gradually darker and suddenly the skies unleashed an inferno of sound and water. Intense thunder and lighting filled the sky and heavy rains fell to the ground. I was glad I did not have to leave the apartment. I watched a movie in the relative comfort of the apartment.

At 7.30 p.m. I was forced outside and met Ine and Yvonne out in the road. We took a taxi downtown to the apartment of a previous BI student who now works in Shanghai. Jon H and Juliana were already there as were two other Norwegian girls who work here. The taco dinner was ready for us. We ate and enjoyed ourselves. After dinner a bottle of fine Cognac was set on the table. We enjoyed ourselves some more and talked about our experiences in China.

Some inedible Chinese sweets were tossed around for a while. They really were vile.

Finally, at 2 a.m., I found a taxi and returned to Linping. In bed around 2.30 a.m.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Sat, June 07, 2008 10:34:42

Rear Window

Woke at 8 a.m. Morning routine.

At 10 a.m. I met with the girls at Starbucks to discuss the upcoming presentation. We divided the topics between us and agreed to meet again over the weekend to plot it all into a nice PPT and perhaps have a little rehearsal.

At noon, Astrid, Ouafa and I set off for downtown. Wandered around the big malls at Nanjing Rd for a while, but found nothing we wanted to buy there. Ouafa went off on her own and Astrid and I started walking down Maoming Rd. We soon arrived on Changle Rd and started shopping. We both needed a couple of t-shirts and Changle Rd is the place to get them. Walked up the road for a while, occasionally popping into a friendly looking store. We both picked up a few t-shirts and I even found a much needed pair of shoes.

It is interesting to note how completely absent the concept of service and “the customer is always right” is in Chinese shops. Those working in the story were mostly completely indifferent to our presence there and often pushed us out of the way if they we were looking at a rack that they felt needed attention. In most of the shops we left in annoyance at the staff. A basic understanding of consumer behaviour would have lifted some of these shops to unimaginable levels, thanks to the vast number of potential customers.

After a long walk, we decided to take a taxi to the fake market On Nanjing Rd. Astrid wanted to pick up some things before going home, and I figured I might do the same. Ended up getting a few things, but it was generally an unpleasant experience. I hope it was the last time I had to go there. Maybe in a couple of years it will be fun again, but today it was an exhausting experience. These people could also have benefited from a service course.

At 3 p.m., we returned to Linping and got some lunch. I relaxed in the apartment for a little while before heading out once more.

Met AG, Gigi and Arill at Starbucks at 6 p.m. Sat around chatting for a little while. Just before 7 p.m., Arill, Gigi and I set off for the restaurant A Future Perfect on Huashan Rd. We shared a bottle of wine and had a fantastic dinner. I ordered what I believed was a steak, but got not one, not two, but three good sized steaks. And they were absolutely delicious. We sat outside in the garden for a while, enjoying the locale and the weather. Delightful.

At 9 p.m. we returned to Linping. Over the course of the dinner I had convinced them that Rear Window is the most fantabulous movie of all time and they were eager to see it. I collected it from my apartment and we all sat down over at Gigis’ to watch it. It truly is as wonderful as I remembered. Not sure if everyone agreed with me, but at least no one fell asleep.

I returned to my own apartment at midnight and was in bed soon afterwards.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Sat, June 07, 2008 10:34:13

Final submission

I woke at 9 a.m. Not particularly pleased about it, but I was wide awake and figured I might as well get up. Extended my morning routine because I could. I had nothing planned for today other than recuperation after a long hard three months; well at least the last week.

I felt really tired, and for the first time in China, I decided to take a nap in the middle of the day. Of course, I didn’t fall asleep, but I did regain some strength.

Went out around 2 p.m. to find some food and bumped into Kristoffer and Sandra who were on their way to the university to hand in their paper. Fortunately for me, I had dependable Ouafa to take care of those things for me.

Had lunch in the apartment together with Silje and Kristin while watching Horton hears a Who. A lovely movie.

Sat around the apartment for a while. Started looking through some things and packing them up.

Went out around 6 p.m. to the video store and gave back all the empty covers I had accumulated over a year. I figured I ought to be at least a little environmentally conscious and recycle them. Additionally, I picked up some DVD’s that had been ordered from home. On my way back to the apartment, I stopped to pick up some dinner. While I was waiting, Astrid called and asked why I was not getting ready for spinning. Shamefully, I had completely forgotten about it. As my food was already ordered, I had to abandon spinning tonight. On a plus note, the restaurant had replaced its cheerful Christmas music with some modern Chinese pop-copy.

I returned to the apartment, watched a movie with dinner, and retreated to my room. Sat at the computer for a while, before going to bed around 11 p.m.

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Shanghai 2007 - 2008Posted by Gard-H. Madsen Sat, June 07, 2008 10:33:17

D-Day + 1

Woke once more at 7.30 a.m. and did what I do everyday. Had a long shower, ate a bowl of Cheerios, watched an episode of something amusing and checked out the newspapers.

At 9 a.m. I crossed over to Bettinas’ for what I hoped would be the last time. I continued reading from where we had left off last night. At noon, we had finished the read through and were satisfied with the result. Spent a couple of hours going through all our sources, writing acknowledgements and generally finalizing everything.

At 2.30 p.m. we were finished. Felt kind of strange. We headed out the door and downtown to have it printed. We had heard stories from the other groups of long, 24 hour, waits, but the nice man at Copy General assured us that we would have it ready in half an hour. Of course, we didn’t believe him, but said OK.

At 3.30 p.m. we sat down outside at Element Fresh for lunch in the sun. Before we had received our food, the copy man called and said that everything was now ready for pick-up. I was impressed, but still dubious. We ate our lunch and went down to see if everything was as it should be with the thesis. Impressively, it was. Six copies, printed and bound, for 400rmb.

Pleased with ourselves, Ouafa and I returned to Linping. I picked up my computer from Bettinas’ place and went back to my own apartment. Here I sat down on the veranda for a while, trying to let all the stress and bad feelings out of my body and replace it with a sense of completion. I sent off the paper by email and felt pretty good about it.

At 7.30 p.m. Frode and I took a taxi to Super Brand Mall to meet the rest of the guys at Hooters. As it turned out, only two more showed up. Marcus, Jonathan, Frode and I had a great time anyway. We faked Jonathan’s birthday and got a hooters song and a balloon. At 9.30 p.m. we left the restaurant for Barbarossa. The ladies had all gathered here for ladies-night. It was good fun actually. Been a while since last everyone had gone out together. When I say everyone, I say it very loosely. I guess 2/3 of the class was there.

Around 1 a.m. we left Barbarossa for Shanghai trendy hot spot; Bar Rouge. The only reason for coming here, in my opinion, is the fantastic outside area on a Bund roof-top with unparalleled views of the city.

At 3 a.m., the bar closed and we left. Silje and I shared a taxi back to Linping. I was in bed just before 4 a.m. Completely exhausted, I was asleep before my head hit my pillow.

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