Best Thing I Did for Myself

After being inconsistent with working out for a LONG time, I finally decided things had to change and joined Pure Yoga & Fitness in the end of last summer. I hesitated for a while because of the 1-year commitment and fairly high membership price (plus the place feels a bit snobby at first), but joining has been one of the best decisions I made last year. Now I do yoga almost daily, switching it up with other classes at the Fitness side every now and then. Pure has actually managed to do something I thought was near impossible in my case, which is make exercise a daily event that I genuinely look forward to (ok, not EVERY day, but most days). Even though I’ve always liked working out, scheduling in a session and actually getting there has always felt like a pain in the butt. I’m not sure if it’s the yoga itself, the convenience of the gorgeous studio being so close to my house, the push from the monthly price tag, or all of the above, but I’ve finally managed to happily make exercize a part of my daily routine. Yeah! 💪

Best Photo

I’ve realized that I love taking photos of people the most, especially in natural light and in a natural setting. In 2019 I want to experiment much more with light and become a kickass portrait photographer. In need of a portrait? Get in touch and let’s schedule a shoot!

Shanghai portrait photography

Despite my love for capturing real moments of people, my favorite shot of the year is probably this one starring the Oriental Pearl Tower. The location is on Beijing East Road right in front of the Peninsula Hotel. I love the architecture of the buildings alongside of the road leading up to The Bund and eventually the Pearl Tower on the other side of the Huangpu river. On a clear day this also makes for an amazing backdrop for portraits, especially late in the afternoon with the softer light coming in from the west.

Shanghai photographer

This picture was shot with my Canon EOS 6D camera and 35mm lens, ISO 100, f/8, 6.0s.

Best Moment

The most memorable moment of the year lasted for about one week. The Golden Week. Robert and I decided to spend the October holiday in Shanghai for the first time, and despite it being incredibly painful to see friends’ Instagram posts from dreamy beaches all over Southeast Asia, it turned out to be a super nice week in China. The weather was gorgeous, so we spent every day outside either eating brunch, biking around, sunning on the roof or checking out new places and neighborhoods. We finally also had the time to visit some Shanghai sights that had been on our list for the longest time, like Zhujiajiao watertown and Longhua Temple, both beautiful historic places and well worth visiting.

Zhujiajiao watertown shanghai

Zhujiajiao is one of Shanghai’s famous watertowns, and actually the first one I’ve visitied. As one would expect on a public holiday in China, it was packed, but we arrived early in the morning and got about an hour of quiet-ish time before the serious masses rolled in. I’m not a huge fan of the crowds and stinky tofu stalls in every corner, but I did love the quieter alleys with charming cafés and restaurants out by the water, away from the main walking path going through Zhujiajiao. I’d definitely go again, but next time will be even earlier in the morning and preferably not during a major Chinese public holiday. I can imagine Zhujiajiao being the perfect place to find a cute little café right by the water, read a book or get some work done, and, for a moment, forget that we live in a city of 24 million people.

Zhujiajiao Watertown Shanghai

Longhua Temple was another pleasant Golden Week surprise. I didn’t even know about this place, Robert had just passed it on the way to a meeting and decided we should check it out. So we biked down 30 minutes from the French Concession and found the peaceful, thousand year old Buddhist temple with tons of cute kittens running around the grounds. I mean, anywhere with kittens gets two thumbs up from me, but the temple and grounds were definitely worth seeing, too. Somehow the place was almost empty despite it being the middle of Golden Week, which of course made it much more enjoyable. The area is pretty small, so about an hour on the temple grounds is enough. If you haven’t been yet, make sure to go. It’s perfect to combine with a walk or bike ride on the West Bund, which is one of my favorite outdoor areas in Shanghai.

Longhua Temple Shanghai

Best Book

I’ve had a very slow book year and only managed to get through 5 or 6 books in total (half of which I read on the beach in Vietnam during Chinese New Year). Nevertheless, my favorite was definitely “Leftover in China – The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower” by brilliant Roseann Lake. It discusses China’s women – single women in particular – and their massive role in the country’s economic future. Truly a great read: funny, entertaining and very informative, allowing the reader to get an understanding of the complex values and traditions of Chinese culture, which have been further complicated by the colossal generational difference between old and new China.

The book is filled with anecdotes of people that Lake has met during her time in China working as The Economist’s China correspondent. I was fascinated to read about how learning the art of sajiao (撒娇) – a type of temper tantrum put on by a woman that allows a man to feel needed and manly – can be a crucial success factor for a Chinese woman in finding a partner; how parents create online dating profiles to their children or try to find partners for them at actual marriage markets (like at the one in Shanghai’s People’s Square every weekend); how silk reelers of the late 1800s preferred to stay unmarried in order to keep their job and relatively high income, and found ways to legally marry dead single men, to the point that women started complaining about the limited number of eligible dead men to marry. So interesting. So worth reading.

Thank you 2018!

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