2009 was off to a good start for me. I had an excellent sleep and got up around 10 AM this morning. When I came down the stairs into the living room Scott awaited me with a big smile and I was happy to hold him in my arms. My wife and I had a big breakfast together, which does not happen too often anymore, and after that we had some coffee with Dutch oliebollen. Scott got a bit sleepy, so I took him to bed and managed to get him asleep within 5 minutes. I felt happy, this is how a day off should be.
After coffee I worked a bit on an article, read some blogs plus Twitter, and later on watched the start of 2009 at Times Square in New York on CNN. I had some more oliebollen and appelflappen before we went to Parksons in Hongqiao to buy some baby clothes. It was busy there, with long lines for the cashiers. No recession yet here, that’s for sure! One reason why it was so busy is that Parkson’s had a sale going on, for every RMB 200 that you spend you would get RMB 100 back. Not bad. Another reason is their archaic system, where you get a receipt for every item you buy, then you pay separately for each item (because the discount system works per item), and only then you can pick up your goods.
When we got home I did a live radio interview with Radio Gelderland about New Year’s Eve in Shanghai and then watched a baby DVD with Scott. Halfway through he got sleepy again, so I took him to bed. Also this time he was a good boy and within 10 minutes he was sound asleep on my shoulder. Now I am back at writing an article while listening to last year’s New Year’s Concert in Vienna. I will watch this year’s version in half an hour or so, in China it only starts at night because of the time difference.
A good start of the day, I look forward to the rest of this year. I did not make any New Year’s Resolutions, I don’t need a new year to start changing my life. If I want to change something I can start any day of the year, you just have to make sure you’re motivated enough to make a change. But I do have some plans for this year of course. Business-wise I want to grow Spil Games Asia’s sites, not only the two huge ones in China but I will also focus more on Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan. I think these countries have most potential in Asia. Our Chinese portal game.com.cn will launch some new important functions this month already, and we have some new ideas for the rest of the year.
Privately I managed to work less hours last year already, and I plan to keep it like that. My work-private life balance is much better than before because of Scott. Mid-2009 our 2nd baby will be born, so I suppose I will have to work even more efficiently in order to cram all the work into less time. It’s actually not so difficult. You need a good to-do list and try not to deviate too much from it. Furthermore I do not answer all mails when they come in, only the real important ones. It’s more efficient to wait a few hours and do them all at once (or for the non-urgent ones do them all once a week or so).
I cut out a lot of RSS feeds, saving me at least 30 minutes per day that I now use to study Chinese again. I started a few weeks ago and am reviewing the Chinese characters. I used to be able to write at least 1000 of them, and now I can hardly write my name anymore. Reading is still a little better, but I want to get it up to speed again. I also listen a lot to Chinesepod.com podcasts, the best way to improve your listening skills in my opinion. I take about 50 lessons with me on my iPhone wherever I go. And no, I am not an investor in Chinesepod, but I wish I would have had the opportunity to invest. A great company.
I have also cut down a bit on sports. When preparing for the Trailwalker I overdid it a bit, running half marathons in the morning before going to the office. I suppose that’s doable if you have an easy job or no young family, but for me it became too much. At first I was thinking about doing another ultra-run this year (the 100 km Sunrise to Sunset race in Mongolia), but I might instead just do some half- or full marathons. I love running but it just takes too much time to train for extreme events. I also don’t know yet which physical challenge I will do this year – Gary, my dad and I used to do one every year, things like cycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu through the Himalaya in 2007 and climbing Africa’s highest mountain Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2008.
Blogging is something I really like to do, so also in 2009 I will keep updating you about life in Shanghai in general and mine in particular. Also on micro-blog and social network Twitter I will remain active, I enjoy the conversations there and learn a lot all the time. Social networks have become quite important to me, without them life would not be as interesting. If you don’t follow me on Twitter yet go to http://www.twitter.com/marcvanderchijs and add me as friend (after first setting up an account yourself).
But the most important thing for the coming year is to be happy and healthy. My job and family make me happy, and hopefully good food and enough exercise keep me healthy, so let’s try to keep it that way. See you here or in real life in 2009!