Dare or not dare, that is the question [ go ]
This is a reaction to a type of discussion that has been going among my friends and acquaintances, and that also is a typical discussion taking place everywhere. Am I talking about morals, politics or how to do the laundry? Nope, I’m talking about daring. Let me give a short background.
I’ve always been a nice boy. Actually, as a kid I was so nice that I wasn’t very noticeable. And I was a coward – I didn’t even dare to talk to new people. But I had fun anyway and I had my small collection of friends which I understood and which, hopefully, understood me. My first rebellion must have been when I decided to not compete for the title of being best in class in math, around 3rd grade in primary. Anyway, let’s skip the boring details and conclude that right up until recently, I have been the coward. Or maybe, the rational guy. Taking the safe choices, postponing hard decisions, relying on others.
But now I’m in Hong Kong, you say. Yep, that’s one of the big steps, one of the moments where I didn’t take the safe choice. The safe choice would have been to not apply, or to reject my application when I didn’t get my first choice of university (that was Seattle, and now I’m quite glad I didn’t go there). But something kept me going, and I’m proud and glad to say that that something was in me, not in somebody else. Actually, many people questioned why I should go to Hong Kong – “Are you sure you’re going?”. I’m very glad I dared this time (and the previous times I’ve dared – like dating Åsa ).
Recently the issue of daring came up when discussing going to Beijing over an extended weekend. Claes, my good travel friend and fellow Chalmers student, has a midterm exam right after that weekend that was suggested, and rejected going there. And then Amelie, our French mistress , argued that one always should dare, otherwise nothing will happen. She argued that a couple of missed classes is nothing compared to missing a chance to go to Beijing. And I’m more or less prepared to support her argument.
If you take the safe choices you end up in a safe world, but with your dreams unfulfilled. And ultimately, you will be less experienced. By going to Hong Kong I’ve already stated that I can and will dare, but I always need to be reminded of this and keep pursuing this. Yes, I believe in this, and that is why I get so frustrated at people like me that don’t dare. I get so frustrated because I recently was one of them. Until recently, I would have supported them fully in taking the safe choice – at least I wouldn’t blame them for their choices. Now, I try to get them to see the light.
I’m not one of those dusty, in-the-ad guys with sun-bleached hair that has worked in a Tibetian monastery, swimmed with sharks in Micronesia and base jumped in the Cambodian jungle. I’m one of the safe-choosers, and I’m saying that sometimes you have to dare. No, what I’m actually saying is that everybody’s first principle should be to dare instead of not to dare. Then, sometimes you don’t have to dare, sometimes you want to take it easy or consider practical reasoning. But taking it safe should never be the leading prinicple.
And I hope that those safe-choosers reading this (you should know who you are) – please reconsider. You miss so much by not daring. However, I recognize the fact that some people are very firm in their belief of an ordered and safe personal world, and that some people are very happy with just staying at home and taking it easy. I respect that to 100%, however I will always hope that they will see the light. Some day. Amen.
And as a challenge to you still reading – comment on what you have dared recently. Let this be the proof that you want to get to know new things!
Project Gainer [ go ]
Here in Hong Kong i have found myself having a lot of spare time, and thanks to friends and the good facilites, I have used this time for being active. And I realized that this is material for being a Project, something that I will give certain focus on pursuing (or rather an act of misled enthusiasm, which I invest in writing about an issue instead of dealing with it ).
I should state this clearly – this is not a complete makeover or me getting brain-washed by some “tranining book”. I consider myself quite realistic about this – and to be honest, the most probable outcome of this is that I give up halfway through. So the most important challenge is to keep my motivation. I will not ever become a fitness guy or a sporter. This should be considered as only a challenge and an “adjustment” of the current me.
So, what is this all about? I have decided to gain weight, strength, stamina and skill in one or several sports. So the project consists of pursuing three goals:
- Gaining weight by eating a lot, especially energy and protein rich food. My principle is very simple – if it’s considered unhealthy, it’s the right thing for me. But first and foremost, I most eat a lot and often to be able to gain weight. It is a big challenge – while others can gain weight by just looking at sweets I have never been able to gain weight over time, no matter the food I chose. To suceed I have to be disciplined and consequent. If possible, I will also use gainer products, like protein drinks.
- Excersise – mainly through the gym. Lifting weights and (optionally) using treadmills I will gain strength (muscle mass) and stamina. The weight lifting is aimed at gaining muscles, not just keeping fit. The whole gym thing is a completely new area to me so I’m still a newbie, although I’m learning.
- Sports. Even though gym excersise surely can be enough to gain mass and muscles, I must have fun some time too. I’m really not your typical sports guy, however I really like practising some sports under relaxed conditions. My aim is to gain skill in one or several sports and in the effort also get a better health and general fitness. An important issue is also to dare to try different sports.
The phases and goals
- Reach a weight of 80 kgs.
- Be able to lift my own weight in 3×7 repetitions.
- Regularly have practiced one or more sports and gain noticable skills.
- Reach a weight of 90 kgs.
- Be proud of my sporting skills. To have regularly practiced more than one sport.
- Keep a stable weight and muscle mass ratio through regular but not intensive excercise.
- Sport for fun
- Be proud of completing my project
- August – Starting weight around 73 kg. Latest excersise during the spring, not much.
- September 14th – Two first weeks of regular excersise. Gym almost every day. Fast results in weight lifting, but still learning the equipment. Started doing squash.
- September 20th – I’ve been ill, so I haven’t gone to the gym for almost a week, and I haven’t eaten as I should. It’s an irritating drawback.
- September 26th – I have now resumed my training routine and today I spent more than an hour lifting weights. I didn’t loose any strength during my sickness. Example of results: 4×7 á 15kgs with biceps, 3×7 á 60kgs with legs.
- November 8th – A long server downtime has made it impossible for me to update. The progress is slow in my gainer project. I have now a weight of ca 77 kgs, which at least is an increase.
- November 11h – I have now changed to another method of weight lifting. More free weights, and more concentrated on one group of muscles. I’m learning new excersises each day! The bad thing is that I perform very poor on excersises I’m not used to.
Shopping in Shenzhen [ go ]
Shenzhen is actually a larger city than Hong Kong, however it is mainly an industrial city. The main tourist attraction is the shopping – loads of people enters from Hong Kong each day to enjoy dirt-cheap shopping. (How enjoyable that is will be further examined later in this post).
Shenzhen is a part of China, and so is Hong Kong nowadays. However, there are border controls between HK and China, and you need a visa to enter China. So first, we had to get our visas. We first went to the Chinese immigration authority. And we quickly realized it wasn’t an option – the room was filled with to-be-immigrants, the queue time could be estimated to hours. We knew that several travel agencies sold visas for a slightly higher price, but without all the hassle. So we went looking in Tsim Sha Tsui, and after rejecting the first agency we found another one, which seemed almost too good. For HKD $450, $50 more than the immigration authority’s price, they gave us a multiple entry, 6-month valid visa, and that within two working days! No queing at all. We still have to find what the catch is
So, this saturday, the 17th of September, we went. Bus to the MTR (the subway system), MTR to the railway station, then a train to Shenzhen, first class (costed us HKD $30 dollars extra). After leaving the train we didn’t realise the amount of time we had to spend in the border controls. First, we checked out from the train. Then, we queued for the end of the Hong Kong border. Then, when we had passed the Hong Kong border we where in a no mans land, because soon we had to line up to get into China. These border controls where more strict, and the employed thermal cameras to look for signs of fever among the travellers. All in all, with the queueing at the borders, the travel time was approximately 2 hours.
So, what to do in Shenzen? I said it was a simple minded trip, and the objective was shopping. Conveniently, a large shopping mall was placed right beside the border. We just walked in. After a couple of minutes in there we realized something. We where hunted. We where the prey. It was somewhat insane, because everyone seemed to sell something to us. It cannot really be described, one has to be there. In each corner stood a group of chinese youngsters. As soon as you approached they started shouting “DVD”, “USB” or other three letter abbreviations. They often followed you, and sometimes grabbed you. If you so much as looked at a store the salespersons (almost always youngsters) came rushing and wouldn’t let you go.
However, dirt-cheap DVD:s (pirate of course) was one of our prime objectives, so we soon followed one of the salespersons. He led us through a maze of stores until we reached a small, closed shop. He, and his friends, let us in the closed shop, filled to the roof with DVD:s. Then we started bargaining. In the end, I payed HKD $140 for a 12DVD box with special extended edition of all three movies in the Lord of the Rings, plus Troy, The Island, The Cinderella Man, Sin City and King Arthur (Director’s Cut). We later realized we could have lowered the prices substantially. Especially when you consider that the DVD-cases almost always are misprinted, that a third of the movies show some kind of quality loss and that some of the DVD:s in the LOTR-box was duplicates (thereby leaving out a lot of extra material).
One has to realize that a lot, maybe almost all, of the stuff being sold at the mall was either copies, fakes or just broken. To mention an example, we got a price quote on a 2 GB SD-card – HKD $180. That SD card must’ve been a really cheap fake. We heard rumours of electronic equipment, stripped of the vital parts, being sold. To shop wisely at Shenzhen requires a lot of experience and patience.
We also realized that the grandness of the shopping mall was an illusion. In the end there seemed to be only a few types of stores selling either watches, shoes, clothes, electronics, bags or DVDs. Everywhere you looked, you saw the same type of stores.
We stopped for lunch at one of the restaurants in the mall. We decided to be bold and ordered roasted pigeon, which ended up being quite good, however not hunger satisfying. Claes and Jeffrey went for an one hour massage costing HKD $30 while me and Patrick took a walk around the area to see something of Shenzhen. Not much to be seen…
The last piece of action was getting through the border controls. At the Hong Kong borders they have customs personell keeping an eye out for illegal goods, such as pirated DVD:s (sigh). We made it through, but it was exciting Well back home we concluded that Shenzhen needed to be visited many times to be fully enjoyable.
The plague, oh the plague [ go ]
Yes, I’m sick. Ill. Cursed. It started somewhere around friday and has now evolved into a very soar throat, head ache, problems sleeping and general exhaustion. This has not only forced me to miss several social occasions here, it has also removed all kind of motivation for stuff I’d planned to do. So forgive me, dear readers, if the blog seems dead. It is merely a reflection of myself (that is, almost dead ).
And no, it’s not SARS I’ve got. Probably just a cold – some say it’s an air-conditioner cold (because of the big differences in temperature and air humidity between the outside and the air-conditioned areas). I dunno. I just hope it will disappear ASAP.
When I regain my blogging powers I can promise a post about my room and roomates, as well as a post about a shopping trip to mainland China – Shenzhen.