May 15, 2007

Kissing Blogger Goodbye

It's been 2 years of blogging and I feel like it's been my second home (though i think still don't have the first one).

Blogger (blogspot), where my blog is hosted has been blocked in China way too many times, so I've decided to set up my own blog.

I will no longer be updating this blog, so come and continue the journey with me on

April 24, 2007

Where is the love?

My Turkish neighbour in Hong Kong and his local girlfriend have a peculiar relationship. Rather frequently I wake up to him yelling the most abusive satanic verses at her which can go on for an hour, and 2 hours later I see them holding hands, walking her dog clad in a pink dog-sweater.

When Raphael arrived in HK, we were at the garden rooftop chilling, when the yelling started again. I wrote on a Stick-it "Where is the Love?" and stuck it on their door. I left HK soon after that, forgetting all about it.

My maid phoned me today to say there was a note on my door that read "Fuck You". She was worried.

It got me thinking. The man loves to abuse to love later.

I conclude he is on his way to loving me. He just does not know it yet.

April 22, 2007

Joy in the brief moments

It's when you live in a place for a long time, each weekend resembles the other. It's when you move away, you make the best of it; find the greatest joy in the brief moments.

Raphael and Jutta came over the weekend, we did all my favourites in HK which I feel are always a good introduction to the city; Aqua, Cheong Sha Beach lunch & games (pictionary and charades), Joyce Was Not Here bar, art galleries, massage, Life café organic lunch, the ugly of Wan Chai’s including Dusk to Dawn. Saw the people I care most about in HK; Alice, Sarah & Jono, Danno & Jo.

Sunday I stayed in to pack for Israel (since I'm flying off from Shanghai), while Raph and Jutta went out with Gab and Scotty. Gab took things into her good hands showing them the dodgy parts of Kowloon; sober people snorting shit, drinking water on a Sunday nite. I woke up alone in bed at 5.30am on a Monday, to learn that they were on the ferry, just having been escorted down by the captain from the ferry roof (anally forbidden). I made them coffee, jumped in a shower to catch the 830am flight to Shanghai to find them passed out.

April 16, 2007

Israel - Walking on thin ice

I’ll be traveling to Israel and Turkey over the May week-long holiday. I’m going to get a first-hand introduction to Israel through my Shanghai-based Israeli friend Yifat who comes from an orthodox jewish family. Her family won’t welcome non-jews at their home. It made me realize how far Yifat has distanced herself from them. The trip was originally triggered by Ehud Banai’s concert in the desert which I found too hard to miss. Ehud is one of Israel’s most talented musicians, I was mesmerized by his music ever since I copied it from Yifat a few months ago.

On the other hand, Brenda Campbell tells me I must go to the West Bank and see what goes on there. Being highly ignorant of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict details, I have some work to do before I go. Brenda is one of my dearest friends; full of fire, smart, talented, big-hearted, spirited, sporty girl, one you do not meet often. I’m lucky to have her as a friend.

I told Yifat today I would like to spend half a day at the West Bank, expecting discouragement and perhaps disappointment from her side. She wished me good luck, said she won’t be able to go but she will check the security situation. A display of open-mindedness and tolerance, which to me, are the prerequisites of a friendship.

April 12, 2007

Huang Shan Mountain Bike Festival/Race

Collin of suggested we do something different from the usual intensely party-focused weekends, everybody said they were coming, in the end it was just Collin and moi. I met some people on the way from Shanghai, and the weekend turned out to be a blast.

Set in the Anhui Province, near the city of Huang Shan, the race was set in some pretty awesome bamboo and pine forest, taking us through remote villages, lakes and rivers. They filmed parts of the Crouching Tiger there.

I signed up for the 50km, thinking that with little training, I will do half for time, the other half to take photos. Well, the competitive gene took over, chasing Collin up the hills and giving in on the downhills.

I came 11th in the women's category which wasn't too bad... More on the race and biking in Shanghai.

April 10, 2007

Flying low

Today is the official day of the toughest day on the job. Ever. I thought it would break me and send me home in tears, but I’ve managed to hold it together.

With Challenges come Learnings.

I’ve developed a campaign which is exactly about that – “Journey to True You” takes women in China on a self-discovery path, facing difficult moments in life and learning the most about themselves. I got the first-hand experience of my own concept today.

We were all excited about the program’s premise; how different it was from plain product selling, competitor messages, touching the heart and soul of a sensitive and self-aware woman. New execution ideas, social media, reality-style webisode styling, pool of expert contributing, prominent blogger support, the works.

Then we hit the tough parts; we had an accident/injury while filming, having to do crisis-management for the past week. But the tough one came last Thursday - new people stepped in and demanded new creative direction, dictated by some brand equity issues we never communicated properly. This comes with many consequences that put your emotional intelligence to test.

Things will be good. Good things happen to good people. Eventually, at some point.

I love to hate my job for the thrills it gives me and how it puts me in place when I think I’m on top of the world.

April 04, 2007

The Studio, Shanghai

My very talented friends in Shanghai have opened The Studio, a nest of 5 people inspired and consumed by photography, graghic design, T-shirt ideas, product development and music. To Nicky, Sarah, Alonso, Jutta and Aric: the place has a vibe and it's only because of you guys.

March 31, 2007

Talented Shanghai

I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by so many talented friends. Talent is an amazing quality – it has the power to be contagious and give all the positive vibes one would need to be inspired.

Alonso is a friend who will you see singing solo here.

On biking, maternity dresses and booze counters

I went riding with the Bohdi Mountain Biking club of Shanghai this weekend for 2 days in Jinhua, just 4 hours out of the city. Day 1 – riding via quaint little villages, spring-blooming orchards, tea plantations, abandoned farm houses, sliding in mud and euphoria of being away from it all. Day 2 – scaling a mountain, then riding down on a single-track through some great valleys, more orchards. I’ve forgotten what joys spring bring, how life starts to exist again.

I also decided to go a little silly on a Saturday night and went shopping for the most absurd and ugly dress this town had to offer, ending up with a maternity dress for a 100 kuai. Wore it with my khaki pants and muddy biking shoes, looking more fab than ever on a Saturday nite.

An interesting bar experience too – you had to get yourself a basket and go shopping for booze in the next-door-shop, walking out with at least a bottle of something. China never fails to surprise you.

March 15, 2007

Falling in Luv with Shanghai

When all the roads start connecting in your head, when the city map becomes less used, you know this city is becoming your home. Shanghai is becoming my home now. My other home, with all the good vibe, is still Hong Kong, Shanghai is the new upcoming wave. I get to live between Asia’s two most exciting cities, choose where I spend the weekend, and this by default makes me one lucky duck. People ask me about the difference between the cities. It’s hard to point to out a single item that makes the difference, but if I must choose, the idea of “roughness” encapsulates it. Shanghai offers the roughness that HK lacks or has lost. The starving artists, the rocks gigs organized for the love of music, not the royalties, the New Orleans bands playing at no cover charge, the artists displaying/selling highly promising work at an art warehouses at Hongqiao for RMD 1000 (USD 120). As an art lover I feel at home here.

It’s when a taxi driver takes a route longer than he should, you know he can’t take you on a ride at home. Home it is.

Saying hello to Shanghai.

Islands for Sale

Why are there so many islands for sale in the Philippines? Why are people disposing of what should be their biggest asset?

Mom and I went to Cebu and escaped to the nearby islands of Batayan. Lovely place if not somewhat remote. Ideal to go with a lover maybe, not your mom. OK, so I screwed up – didn’t have enough time to research and ended up picking up ‘any flight’ out of HK. Mom and I have not spent much time together for the past 10 years, so you may call it quality time together.

There was a Floating Bar (see pic) in front of our chalet, where I would swim with money in my bikini, get a drink, bump a smoke and swim back to the shore. On day 3 mom asked me if we should go and look for a land-bar (she suffers from hydrophobia) to meet some people. We did, but found none. Well, apart from the typical german men with underaged local gals.

Overall, I finished the Harvard Business Journal and the mandarin handbook, she updated me on all our family fortunes and misadventures, we looked deeper into the issue why I don’t really want to re-marry and I really got to polish my Polish language.

The idea of owning an island resonates well somewhat. Beach over the mountain will never win, but it got me thinking. Mothers are always good inspiration.

March 13, 2007

Poor Artists? No more.

Whenever I need a mental stimulation and inspiration for new creative, innovative ideas, I hit The Ideas Bank.

This is how I found SellaBand - or Sell A Band. A great concept of music lovers ("Believers") putting in money towards the listed bands ("Artists") to help them raise a minimum of 5,000 parts (or USD 50K) to record their album at a professional studio and get packaged for the market. For those Believers who are after financial gains; once the album starts selling, you make a % of the profit.

As for me, I've just become a Believer of T-Ka, a French artist of incredible vocals and the soul of Beth Orton-equivalent. I've put in 3 Parts so far, T-ka needs another 37 Parts to make it to the recording studio.

I totally love this concept; the amazing combination of the Internet + Music + Supporting Talent. Furthermore, it's not the people at the recording companies who decide on the faith of an artist, but WE DO. Again, that goes back to TIME's Person of the Year feature - It's YOU who is the hero, it's US who can make talented people's dreams come true.

I hope you become a Believer too!

March 06, 2007

Big Man Can Scream

I was asked to speak at a conference titled “Marketing to Women in China”. I was excited when they sent me the program that Tom Doctoroff was speaking just before me. I read his book and respect his knowledge of the Chinese consumer. He’s the president of JWT Great China (very large advertising agency) and has since become a celebrity here and in the Western world, all due to “Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer”

I came early, brought the book with me to get it autographed, put on a big smile and a little more charm. Things were running late that morning – it was raining, people were still not entirely over the CNY bliss hence everything got delayed, including his speech.
Entering the conference floor, I see a man in a grey coat storming in and out, up and down the corridor, shouting on the phone, yelling at the organisor, abusing everybody – from his own PA, to the event manager and the bell boy.

He subsequently dashed off, refusing to speak.

Shame, I enjoyed reading his book when I did not know the man. I somewhat do now, and having opened the book again, I feel like I’m reading a later edition, and not a very good one.

Oh well, it’s tough to be a Big Man.

And my presentation went well, I always get a kick being on stage, activating the showman-me, which you do not get on any other day.

February 16, 2007

Beat My Valentine

I've met a pretty talented and mad group of people in Shanghai and weekends there have not been the same. Gifted writers, photographers, artists, podcast producers, tap dancers, sodomites, short-movie producers. Last weekend was about "Going to the Unknown", with Aric organising a van and driving us out. We were determined never to find out the town we got to, only the hotel we stayed at revealing the town's name. The pact is not to ever talk about what went on, as it truly was a madly experiential time.

Valentine's wasn't going to have it easy with us, with the theme set to a S&M party at the Hooters in Shanghai, namely "Beat My Valentine". Me, the only person with no time to get any S&M gear looked rather meek. Again, we shocked and rocked, making some people leave the venues, some loving our madness.

January 30, 2007

Got sand in your eyes, read this.

On 29 Jan 2007, at 7:51 PM, Raphael Couzet wrote:

After chatting about Brel; and me being me, I HAD to google the
English translation of "Ne Me Quitte Pas".
It is by far the most emotionally intense song I have ever heard; akin
to a punch in the throat swiftly followed by an eye rinse with mace.
Well anyway, I was surprised to see that there are no English
translations out there that do the song justice.

I realised that the English speaking world is bereft of this painfully
passionate masterpiece.
So here is my effort! I hope you will appreciate this song more after
this and will never even think of deleting it again!

TIP: copy the lyrics into the mp3 tag using iTunes and impress you
friends with your wordly knowledge of the Belgian music scene of the


"Ne me quitte pas" by Jacques Brel, only English translation by Raphael Couzet

Don’t leave me
We must forget
Everything can be forgotten
That already flees.
Forget the time
Of misunderstandings
And the time lost
To find out how to
Forget those hours
That sometimes killed
With blows of “Why?”
The heart of happiness.
Don’t leave me

I, I will offer you
Pearls of rain
From countries
Where it does not rain.
I will dig the earth
Even after my death
To cover your body
With gold and light.
I will make a realm
Where love will be king
Where love will be law
Where you will be queen
Don’t leave me

Don’t leave me
I will invent for you
Words without sense
That you will understand.
I will talk to you
About those lovers
Who saw twice
Their hearts leap into flames.
I will tell you
The story of this king
Who died from
Never being able to meet you.
Don’t leave me

We have often seen
The fires spew anew
Of the ancient volcano
That we thought too old.
There are, they say
Scorched lands
Yielding more wheat
Then the best of Aprils.
And when the evening comes,
So that the sky may be set ablaze,
The red and the black,
Marry they not?
Don’t leave me

Don’t leave me.
I will no longer cry.
I will no longer speak.
I will hide there
Watching you
Dance and smile
And hearing you
Sing and then laugh.
Let me become
The shadow of your shadow
The shadow of your hand
The shadow of your dog.
But, Don’t leave me.

Listen to the French version.

Raph, I've put it back on my iPod.

January 27, 2007

An Inconvienient Truth - Please click it

My sister told me that the apple trees at our orchard in Poland had just bloomed. This means 4 months earlier and in the middle of a Polish winter, which should see temperatures as low as -20 C. Things have turned upside down, and we all know it.

Al Gore (yeah, not my favourite man neither, but keep going) together wt a great crew of movie people made "An Inconvient Truth", highly awarded at Sundance and apparently a very impactful and emotionally-touching movie.

Download it, buy it, or the least you can do is click the widget below to make your pledge.

January 22, 2007

Sri Lanka - Colombo, A War Zone in Suspension.

I start my journey in Colombo. Arrived at 2am, the airport resembling the LCC (low cost carrier) airport in KL, ie a warehouse. The streets are empty, there are 2 military checkpoints before we reach the hotel. An 18-year-old boy with machine gun pointing at the cab asking why I’m here, asking me for my passport. Colombo is a war zone in suspension. Barb wires, dust, pot holes, never-repaired buildings, more machine guns. In the morning I call the railway station to get a ticket to Kandy, the hill-station, anxious to get out of Colombo. The Train Uncle asks me to get there to ‘talk’. It looks like a complicated process to get a train ticket, which it turns out, it is. The ‘Tourist Office’ manager makes it subtle but clear that if I don’t stay at his guest house in Kandy I don’t get on today’s train. “Didn’t you get pissed off?” I get asked later. “No, I’ve lived in Asia for too long. That’s the way it is. His salary is what I spend on shoes each month.” I wake up in Kandy at Train Uncle’s guest house, surrounded by rolling hills, tea bushes and the so-longed-for breathe of fresh air. The cook makes me a splendid Srilanka breakfast of string-hoppers, coconut chutney and red beans. He used to work at the 5-star hotel up the road, lost his job after the tsunami, tourism is not an industry here anymore. I’ve seen no more than 5 tourists since I got here. The bombings in Jaffna aren’t helping.

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