GETTING MARRIED IN PRAGUE

Prague is the dream wedding destination for thousands of couples from around the world. It is hard to stroll through Prague without running into a bride wearing a beautiful white dress. Here’s all you need to know about the legal requirements of tying the knot in the heart of Europe.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c212-Relocation/n7176-Getting-Married-in-Prague

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PRAGUE’S LOST AND FOUND

According to Praha.eu, dozens of valuables are lost every day! Important documents, mobile phones, umbrellas, various pieces of clothing, keys and other items end up in the lost and found office. So if you’ve lost something important, don’t panic, it may have been found.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c212-Relocation/n7160-Prague-s-Lost-and-Found

Shanghai’s French Concession: Photo Diary

The French Concession is a hipster, European-looking area in Shanghai! It’s unique and unlike anything you’ll ever see in China!

Everyone knows that Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city, but did you know that the French Concession looks nothing like China? I could attempt to describe the narrow roads tunneled by green trees. I could go on and on about the tiny stores and the displays that burst with creativity. But it would be easier to just show it instead…

 All the alleyways are cute and each tell their unique story.
Some shop owners attract customers with beautiful parrots! 
It’s a residential area and people aren’t afraid to air their (not so dirty) laundry. 
Most of the buildings have two floors. Businesses on the first, family homes on the second.

The area has lots of foreigners so there plenty of business to accommodate their needs. 
Some of the stores have sinks in the front instead of the back. 
The hanging laundry adds to the cozy atmosphere. 
There is some pretty cool graffiti art too! 
There are till plenty of typically Chinese things in the area – that’s what makes it so unique!

There’s nowhere like this anywhere else in the world. 
You can find some exciting cuisine in this area! From Western food to Western Chinese delicacies – like insects! 
The tiny stores go all out with their decorations – this spa has a real koi fish pond in it’s 2 meter squared entrance.
Here’s another awesome alleyway! 
And of course there’s some hipster influence.
Look at this cute little home above the store! 
Thanks for reading!

PRAGUE BUILDINGS WITH EXCITING HISTORIES (PART 1)

One of the best things about Prague is the vast history behind every cobblestone, monument and building in the city. Prague’s two occupations, three independence days and constant social development have resulted in some exciting stories. Do you know the backstory of your favorite hang out spots?

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c217-Sightseeing-Attractions/n7429-Prague-Buildings-with-Exciting-Histories-Part-1

Behind the Scenes in China: The G20 Effect

What happened to locals (and expats) living in China during the G20 Summit?

The air was clean but the internet was slow – #thanskobama. Everyone heard about the political drama involving Obama’s arrival and how China signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. But less people know how the G20 effected China and its residents.

On September 1st the government shut down factories to improve air quality and reduce pollution. Skies were blue and running outside was less painful throughout China. This was probably the only positive change.

Lots of people in Hangzhou (and factory workers throughout China) got holidays in hopes that they would leave town and make it less crowded. This raised the price of flights and train tickets and sent crowds of people to other cities all over the country. Luckily the population of Hangzhou is only around 2.5 million.

Perhaps it was all the people on holiday browsing the world wide web that slowed down all the internet in China for over a week. Some people, however, blame the government, assuming that they were monitoring the exchange of information following the Summit. But who knows, right?

Shortly after G20 there was lots of construction that had previously been delayed. I had to spend two days without electricity or water between 7 AM and 5 PM. The worst part was, the notice was in Chinese so I completely missed it and ended up un-showered in an internet café all day. Not fun.

Everything went back to normal about a week after all the presidents and foreign officials left China. The internet was fast (for China), the familiar smog was back and my apartment had electricity again! The G20 brought many great chances to the world that you can read about here. I just hope the next one wont’ interfere with my ability to Facebook – just kidding!

Are E-Bikes More Dangerous Than Motorcycles?

E-bikes (electronic scooters) are a popular way to get around China. They only go up to 60 km/hour but they are WAY more dangerous than motorcycles…

“E-bikes” are what the rest of the world call electric scooters. They are more than a gateway vehicle that ultimately lead to getting a motorcycle: in China e-bikes are a way of life.

Speeding down busy roads without helmets may seem like an accident waiting to happen in the West. In China it happens to be part of the daily commute to work, school or to run errands. Even children do it – the youngest ones are usually held in their parent’s lap but older children have a wide variety of riding spots.

They could sit on the handlebars, obstructing the view of the road. They can also sit in the back seat, usually backwards, flailing their limbs dangerously close to cars, trucks and other e-bikes. Finally, they can sit on the ground, where the driver usually plants their feet. This spot is best if it’s raining and a poncho is thrown over the driver and bike.

Rain-fall is one of the greatest dangers to e-biking. The road gets slippery and any turn can become tumble. When it’s raining it’s best to avoid driving against traffic – which is another daily occurrence.

Cars and e-bikes are recommended to stay on their side of the road and follow traffic lights. This doesn’t always happen – cars take advantage of pedestrian crossings to make sharp U-turns, drive in whichever direction suits them best and don’t stop at a red light if they’re in a hurry.

E-bikes can get away with even more rule-breaking and in smaller cities like Huaqiao the police officers won’t even stop you. Shanghai and Beijing are considering banning e-bikes, likely because they are so prone to causing accidents on and off the road.

Personally, I can’t imagine a Chinese city without e-bikes. Not only is it a part of the culture, but it makes it so much easier to get around. E-bikes are cheaper than cars, they run on electricity so they are environmentally clean and they can shorten people’s commutes.

We may consider it scary and dangerous in the West, but the Chinese are raised on e-bikes. They watch their parents drive confidently while playing a game on their phone. They learn to doge near-accidents and develop what must be a special e-bike sense that keeps them from crashing despite their chaotic driving.

Isaac and I bought an e-bike too because when in China…
(we may drive against traffic like the locals, but we make sure to wear helmets!) 

 Showing off our shiny helmets!

This was before we got our helmets. We had to pick them up the day after be bought the bike 🙂

It’s not always fun if the weather is bad…

Chinese Paparazzi & Language Barriers

Caucasians stand out in China. The locals will take photos of you and try to communicate!

Living in China is an exciting experience for both foreigners and locals alike. In smaller towns like Huaqiao, where foreigners are scarce, the locals like to stare and even take photos of anyone who doesn’t look Asian. In three weeks of living in China I have been photographed on the street, in the grocery store and in a taxi.

The taxi driver took several selfies with me in the background and I was almost tempted to pose for him. It takes a while to get used to all the attention and it’s important not to get offended.

The locals are just curious and they don’t do in an offensive way. They also have no problem with you take photos of them Or walking around armed with a video-recording GoPro.

Locals here tend to be inquisitive and will often try to communicate with foreigners. They like to say hello but few can hold even a simple conversation in English – those bold enough will use a translator app to learn more about you.

Taxi drivers may even add you on WeChat, the Chinese equivalent of WhatsApp, that has a built-in translator in its messenger.

Not knowing the language has been a lot more difficult than expected. The Chinese have their own unique hand gestures for numbers up to ten, consider pointing to be rude and get confused by typical Western gestures. It was a huge wake up call to discover that what I always considered to be “universal” body language is far from it.

Luckily, the locals don’t make the same assumptions as we do – they understand that foreigners are not accustomed to their ways and they don’t get offended when you don’t accept money with both hands or if you point at the menu you want to order. Some assume that you don’t speak Chinese as soon as they see you. McDonald’s has a special picture menu that they will pull out to ease communication.

There are also cases when vendors won’t stop explaining things in Chinese while you look at them wide-eyed and shake your head. Even then, they usually just laugh. Learning basic Chinese words is a great idea, but keep in mind that they may not understand you if you have even the slightest accent.

So before you visit China, it’s a good idea to prepare a cheat sheet including any addresses (in Chinese) that you may need, photos of food that you want to try and get an icon T-shirt to communicate with anyone anywhere! The photo below is from Bored Panda.