Monroe Mann Videos


Sunday, April 13, 2014

In the China Groove

It has officially been four weeks that I am here in China; in Shanghai.  I am happy and proud to say that I am over any homesickness/culture shock/etc AND over my sickness!  I had the worst flu last week, and it distorted my entire outlook on my new life here.  That's all in the past now, and I'm moving forward to the future!
First, I am in the groove at work.  I teach six classes a day.  All adults, but all different.  Some classes are small with 4 students; then there are the larger 8-student classes; and finally the 12-person social clubs and the 30+ people English Corners.  The English Corners are the most fun: I get to create my own topics!  So I have been teaching the students: "Entertainment Law", "How to Write a Screenplay", "How to Write a Non-Fiction Book", etc.  It's awesome to be able to be doing my motivational speaking halfway around the globe!  A very interesting bunch of students too.  Yesterday, I had a liver surgeon who is learning English because he is moving to Boston in a year to work there in a hospital.  Last week, I had a local police officer.  I have many businessmen and women too.  And all of them pick their own English names.  Some are normal: John, Frank, Mary, Lexia, David.  Some are nature-related: Sunny, Moon, Winter, River, Star.  Some are just silly and absurd: Brunk and Bacon for example. 
I'm also in the groove in general: I am glad I am here.  I love my Chinese lessons, and I love speaking Chinese every day out in the city.  I am really excited that in a year's time, my chinese will be very good.  I can't believe it: in eleven months, I will finally (after twenty years of dreaming about it) be able to say, "Yes, I speak FOUR languages.  English, French, Italian, and Chinese.  Plus a little bit of German."  How cool is that?  And all it took was desire and discipline :)  Desire and discipline: ain't that the recipe for success in almost any endeavor?  I like it.  I like that phrase.  My new phrase: Desire and Discipline.
I might be joining a Brazilian Zouk dance class.  And also a martial arts class.  Will have to see.  My hamstring seems to be improving, getting better and better each day with my continued exercises.  That's a relief.  Even though it's feeling good now, I'm not going to stop the exercises. 
My to-do list for today?  Actually, my strive list (for those who have read my book, "Time Zen"):
[] Turbotax work  (I get an automatic 2-month extension without having to file paperwork because I am out of the country)
[] Find last year's tax forms for MHF (Maine Horror Film)
[] TRUST book proposal--complete it
[] Chapter 1 of my PhD dissertation
[] Yabla, FSI, Babbel, and LL (languages)
[] Chinese character writing homework
[] Write another 1000 words in my novel Soul STASIS
[] Continue researching the history of Shanghai for another new novel
[] Take my Penn Foster 'Drawing' and 'Auto Repair' online exams
[] Buy SDHC cards (for my next music video shoot).  Or find a place to rent a camera.  Canon 5D
[] Dancing?  Find online hiphop and swing lessons
[] Send motivation email to my email list. (If you want to join, visit
[] And new blog post.  (CHECK!  haha)
And all that on top of a full time work schedule, and a half-time Chinese language school schedule.  Yes, people, it can be done!  Want to learn more?  Check out my book on time management and success called, "Time Zen".
About where I live and work.  I live in People's Square, right on the river.  The closest metro is Xizang Lu (Xizand Road) and I discovered that by going through a back street, it's only a 5-minute walk from my apartment.  Then, I jump on the 1 line six stops, getting off at XuJiaHui.  My job is but another short 3 minute walk away from the subway stop.  So it's a really easy and simple commute.  The subway ride itself is about 17 minutes, and I usually wait about 5 minutes for a train.  Altogether, my commute is 30 minutes, which is just enough time to listen to another 30-minute Pimsleur lesson for Chinese (and sometimes I change it up with Korean, German, or Italian).  Yeah, I'm also learning Korean: right now, I am focusing on learning the alphabet.  Once you learn the alphabet, you can read/pronounce any Korean writing.  I won't be able to understand it, but I will be able to read it, and that's a great first step.  I can read 9 letters so far.  There are about 30 of them (not sure the exact number yet). 
I'm stoked about the movie: we have found a new agent in Los Angeles who is assuring us that they will easily be able to get us distribution in the US and Canada, because they have distribution channels already in place.  We are negotiating the contract now: we want to make sure that we don't have to incur any additional costs, and that we have final say on where and when and through whom the film is released.  All in all, they seem great, and most important of all, confident.  Time will tell.  Once the contract is signed, I can update you more on this.
Regarding my novel, Soul STASIS: I passed the 50% mark.  I have 25,000 words written and the average novel has about 50,000.  So i'm getting there.  My hope is to have the final draft completed and submitted to literary agents before I leave for the United States again.
I could write more, but (haha) I have a lot to get done!  Can't spend all day writing on the blog ya know---didn't you see that crazy to-do list up there?! 
Thanks for reading!

Monroe Mann, Esq, MBA <--my consulting and coaching firm <--my travel blog

Check out my new books "Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog" & "Romantic Suicide" on Amazon and  Read also my bestselling books, "Guerrilla Networking", "Time Zen", and "The Theatrical Juggernaut"!
Join my inspiring email list at and watch my music videos at

Thursday, April 10, 2014

From Shanghai, With Love (There are no chinese laundries in China!)

So I've been living in China for almost four weeks now.  I admit that a few days ago, I had a brief panic/culture shock/homesickness moment, asking myself, "What the heck am I doing here in China!?  And for a year!?"  But thankfully, it passed after a few days, and I can clearly see why am I here, and that it's for a very good set of reasons: 

a) to leave here speaking, reading, writing, and understanding Chinese.
b) to finally live in Asia and see how they live on this side of the world
c) to visit Korea and Japan and some other asian countries if I can

I have many other reasons too, but those three above are damn good enough.  I'm learning Chinese because it's fun.  Because I love languages.  Because I'm good at learning languages.  Because it's been a lifelong dream of mine.  I kept asking myself, why, why ,why, but in the end, I realized: it doesn't matter.  When I am in a Chinese class, or when I am speaking Chinese, or when I am practicing my Chinese characters, I am content and smiling.  And that alone should be enough reason.  If knowing Chinese helps me professionally too in the future, even better.  But now, as I see it, it would be a by product.  

And living here in China?  Heck, I admit, I just got freaked out.  Wouldn't you?  I spent a year in Iraq, but I never felt as panicky and scared and freaked out as I did a few days ago here in Shanghai.  I didn't figure it out for a while: in Iraq, as dangerous as it was, it was actually a far more controlled environment, and far less foreign.  How so?  Well, I arrived with the same group of guys I left the USA with.  I landed and continued to speak English everywhere because I lived with American soldiers.  The food was (breakfast and dinner at least) Western.  And we all--every one of us--were going through the exact same thing.  Here, in China, a) I'm alone; b) I know noone, c) I am walking around by myself constantly with people who don't speak a word of English; d) the culture is almost 100% immersion in that I'm living in a local apartment building; shopping at local super markets; etc.  

But over the last few days, some things changed.  a) I realized that my Chinese is good enough now that I can say what I want to buy; I can ask for directions; I can talk to the taxi drivers; etc.  b) I found Western cereal and fresh cow's milk.  My breakfast is just like home now: chocolate cereal and milk!  I even found spoons.  c) I found out that even though Facebook and Youtube are blocked here in China, Amazon Prime is not, and I started to catch up on the Walking Dead, and wow, just watching some American tv shows helps make me feel like I'm at home.  And yesterday and today (Wed and Thu) was my first 'weekend' where I was actually free to do completely as I wish.  (I work weekends, so my weekend always falls midweek).  All the other days off I still had stuff I had to do, like buy stuff for my apartment; get a phone working; find a dry cleaner; get my residence permit; register at the police station; and the list goes on.  Yesterday and today: FREE DAYS!  It's been wonderful!  I went to my Chinese classes, in the morning yesterday, and then just stayed there almost all day: doing homework; reading the new John Grisham book in Italian; reading my books on color theory and how to tell if someone is lying to you; and blah blah.  Just free time!  Fun time!  I even went on a date last night with a girl, and that was fun.  Helped me to put She-who-should-never-be-named a little bit farther behind me.  

Bottom line, I'm starting, finally, after four weeks, to feel comfortable here.  I'm settling into a groove at my job; I'm starting to better gauge how much everything costs here; and I'm starting to 'put my life back together' again.  What do I mean?  I am finally studying all my other languages again; I am starting to read my history books again; I am writing on this blog again; I have caught up on my PhD research for my dissertation; and I have even continued writing my new books (novels and non-fiction).  All things that I usually did at home: I am finally doing them again here.  And that routine--which reminds me so much of my life in NY--is again back on track.  Even progress with the movie has regained momentum: a new agent in LA has picked us up and we're working now to get us US distribution by the end of the year.  Excellent!

One things I've noticed: I need to stop thinking of the past or the present in terms of, "But it was supposed to be" or "It is supposed to be".... because guess what?  There IS no supposed to be.  There just IS.  My life is not anyone else's life.  My life's journey is not anyone else's life journey, so stop comparing to everyone else's life journey.  I used to be SO good at not comparing, but got sidetracked the last few years.  I think I am starting to regain that perspective.  My life is MY life, and I don't care what YOU or ANYONE else thinks.  So there. :)

My second thoughts about China and Shanghai: 

POLLUTION: It's bad.  It really is.  I'm looking out my window now and I can see but outlines of the buildings in the distance because they are smothered in smog.  Even on a sunny day, when I look up, it's impossible to actually see the sun.  It is always enshrouded in a mist from Mordor.  I still haven't received my pollution filter mask yet for PM 2.5 from England.  I'm hoping it arrives soon.  I don't intend to wear it daily, but some days, you can feel that it's a little stuffy to breath.  And for running: I don't want to run again until I have the mask.  I will feel a lot more comfortable doing so with the mask.  This pollution though, it's sort of making me an environmentalist in a way.   Why isn't this problem being solved IMMEDIATELY?  Why aren't car bans being put into effect during certain hours?  Why aren't expensive exhaust systems being required for all people who want to drive in the city?  I'm not a fan of government intervention in most cases, but here, it is clear that if the number of cars and factories were reduced... the pollution might start to dissipate.  Food for thought.

CHINESE LAUNDRY: Yeah, this is an American thing.  I thought it was a Chinese thing.  I thought they trained for decades in China and then came to America to make their fortune, haha.  Umm, not true.  It took me five days to find a dry cleaner.  Whereas in NY they are on every corner, here a dry cleaner is like every 5 subway stops.  It's unbelievable.  But less so when I look out my own window and see thousands of windows with clothing draped from them, air drying.  Just as I dry my clothes here too.  There's a washing machine in my apartment, but no dryer.  So I hang them up in my room to dry.  

CHINESE CULTURE: The vast majority of people are not spitting.  There are a lot, but it's not as if it happens every two minutes while outside.  And the poop on the streets: it's only in some more deserted streets.  Quieter streets.  On the major streets like Nanjing Lu, and Beijing Lu,  and my street, Xizang Lu, it's not an issue.  And the people really love that I'm American.  When I speak Chinese with them, they are always surprised to later discover that I am from the United States.  Not many Americans who look like me can speak Chinese--that has become clear.

CITY LIFE: It really is the ONLY city in the world (and I have visited almost all of the major ones) that reminds me of New York City.  The buildings.  The sounds.  The pulse.  The buzz.  The people.   Okay, the people walk slower here than in NYC, and believe it or not, they push SO much more here to get on and off the subway than anywhere else in the world which doesn't make sense when you consider how slow they walk once they get off the subway.  Literally, if you are trying to get off the subway, and there are 20 people waiting to get on: be forewarned.  They are going to tackle you like a linebacker.  And don't be surprised if you get an elbow to the ribs every once in a while.  haha.  It's so funny.  They literally race to get on as if it's the last train leaving hell, and those who don't get on the train will be forced to spend eternity burning up in flames.  I laugh every time, thinking, "what is the rush!?  Where there heck are you going?!  We all know you are going to walk like a grandma as soon as you get off anyway!"  It's making my laugh even as I write this!

NIGHT LIFE: I found a Tuesday night swing dance club.  So excited about that.  I went last Tuesday and was Lindying away.  It's fantastic.  So much fun.  And it seems that every night is a party night.  It doesn't matter which night you go out, the clubs and bars are packed.  I guess in a city of 22 million, that's inevitable, right?  

I remember four weeks ago, it was one year that I was planing to stay.  It's hard to believe that today, just 11 months remain.  As terrible as I felt a few days ago, today I have a gut feeling that I'm actually going to miss this place when I head back home.  The pollution?  Not so much.  

Oh, about the date I had last night: Actually a 21 year old American blond from Seattle who has lived here in China for three years and speaks fluent Chinese.  My point: my gut feeling was proven correct.  I definitely prefer younger Western women.  Tall.  Blond hair.  Blue eyes.  Speaks foreign languages.  I think that's definitely my sweet spot.  And it's nice to see that I can actually find girls like this here.  In a city of 22 million, I was bound to run into one eventually.     

Oh: I forgot to mention.  Two great bits of news.  One, I got a great gig.  I was asked to record two 4-minute motivational messages based on my books.  They are being packaged and are being sent out to about 250,000 college students around the US via email.  Super stoked about that.  AND... my music video, "The Sun Is Always Shining Somewhere" was picked up by to be used as a foreign language learning tool on their site, with interactive subtitles of the lyrics to be translated into five languages: German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.  Gosh, what an honor: the first work of mine to be translated into foreign languages.  Awesome.  That really makes me so so proud.

Okay, well, I have to get some work done before Chinese class today.  I want to send out an inspiring email to my email list too, and try to do some writing in my novels and other books-in-progress.

ROMP ON HOMEBOYS AND HOMEGIRLS!  (And P.S. - if you are reading this, please send me an email: I'd love to know who you are!)

Monroe Mann, Esq, MBA <--my consulting and coaching firm <--my travel blog

Check out my new books "Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog" & "Romantic Suicide" on Amazon and  Read also my bestselling books, "Guerrilla Networking", "Time Zen", and "The Theatrical Juggernaut"!
Join my inspiring email list at and watch my music videos at

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Greetings from Shanghai, China!

Okay, so it's been about two weeks that I've been here in China.  And the damn China internet firewall indeed is doing its job because I can't post to my blog directly.  Heck, I can't even see the blog because Blogger is blocked, just like Facebook.  Even WITH a VPN, I have immense difficulty accessing these sites.  VPN = Virtual Proxy Network.  Basically, I pay to login to another computer in France, or New York, and then it's as if I am actually located in those countries, so I am able to access the blocked sites.  But I can't do it here, despite all my efforts.  I am able to access Facebook sporadically from a VPN on my iPhone, but I get kicked off within minutes, and uploading photos is out of the question.  So how did I post this on Blogger then?  Via email.  I remembered that I had set up a long time ago a way to send a message to my blog from my email, and the message itself would post on the blog.  The subject of the email would become the subject of the blog post.   If this worked correctly, you are reading this message, and the title of the blog post is, "Greetings from Shanghai, China!"

Wow, so where to begin.  I'm in my apartment right now.  13th Floor.  4000 RMB (Ren Min Bi) per month.  Or 4000 Yuan.  Or 4000 Kuai.  They all mean the same thing.  Comes to $649/month for an amazing brand new apartment that has never been lived in, with an amazing 270 degree curved window view of People's Square on one side, and the Wusong River (Suzhou Creek) on the other.  Truly gorgeous.  Brand new Ikea furniture.  Wifi pre-installed.  Kitchen with microwave, fridge, oven, and stove.  Bathroom with a washing machine.  Bottom line: I feel like I am in the United States in this apartment.  I almost succombed to the pressure of trying to find a place and nearly paid 3500 Kuai for a dumpy place far away from any metro stops; old; decrepit; with no view whatsoever.  I am glad that I decided to wait a few more days: the wait was worth it.  And yesterday I registered with the police station.  You have to do so within 6 days of renting an apartment.  I think it's a little overbearing, but hey, I'm in China, and I don't want to find out what happens if you DON'T register.  So: Apartment? CHECK!

I had my IPhone unlocked before I left the states, so when I got here, it was pretty easy to swap sim cards, and get a Chinese number.  For any of you who want to write to me, the best way is to download the app WeChat and add me using the username: MonroeMann instead of my number.  I will come up.  Send me a message.  WeChat is like the Facebook of China, and EVERYONE has it.  It's the only way anyone communicates here.  So if you want to feel like you're living in China, just download that app.  Then you'll be one of us. :)  So cell phone: CHECK!

As for my job: having a blast.  It's actually hard work, working at Wall Street English.  It's the most prestigious and well-known English school in Asia.  There are 17 locations alone in Shanghai.  I am teaching at the largest one, in XuJiaHue.  I am one of 9 teachers.  I teach 6 classes a day.  But not yet.  I first went through one week of training.  Then they started me off with 3 classes a day this week, giving me enough time to plan each class from the lesson plan book prior.  Next week, it will be 4 a day.  The one after that, 5 a day.  Finally, 6 a day.  Some will be 4 person Encounters.  Some 8 person Complementary Classes.  Some 12 person Social Clubs.  And some, 20 + English Corners, where I can basically talk for an hour about any topic I want: awesomeness.  Soon these Chinese folks are gonna learn about Break Diving, Time Management, Entertainment Law, Moving Making, and Making Dreams Come True!  We are advised not to discuss the three T's.  See if you can figure out what those three T's are.  The job itself is challenging, and also fun.  And the people I work with are really great.  A year here is going to be a great time.   So, job: CHECK!

I started my Chinese lessons at Mandarin House this past Monday.  It's a short 10 minute walk from my apartment to 650 Hankou Road, which is where the lessons are held.  I studied Chinese on my own before I arrived, so I already know the basics, and have found that I am able to communicate basic things already: How are you?  I'm fine.  Where is this?  What is this?  How much is this?  What time is it?  Etc.  So I'm surviving at a very basic level.  I'm signed up for Chinese lessons for a year, and I am trying to figure out how to add a set of 100 private lessons too.  By doing so, I will reach HSK Level 4 by the end of my one year here, which means I will be allowed to work in Chinese organizations, go to Chinese universities, and even read newspapers and write basic papers in Chinese.  At least that's the goal.  If I could leave at that level, that would be amazing.  And I think it's possible.  With my studies at school, my private study in my self-study books and courses, and by forcing myself to speak Chinese every day, I think I've got a pretty good shot at success.  So, Chinese lessons: CHECK!

Chinese Culture: Yes, they spit a lot.  It's pretty disgusting.  And you see spit everywhere on the sidewalk.  On the streets.  Even inside sometimes.  But overall, the Chinese people are really wonderful.  They all stare at me as I'm walking around, and when I get on the subway, I'm usually the sole white person in a see of asians.  But as soon as I say, "Ni Hao?!" with a big smile, their eyes light up, and they reply, "Ni hao!"  So I have realized that the stares are excited curiosity and not antagonistic in any way.  I should note too that not everyone spits.  But there are enough people hocking up loogies every day for you to clearly recognize it as a part of the culture.  Most of the people in the streets don't speak any English at all.  So when I do speak in Mandarin, it's like a breath of fresh air to them.  I can only imagine how accepted I will be once I can actually have conversations.  The doorman downstairs (one of them anyway) is a very old Chinese man.  He knows maybe ten words in English.  I know about the same in Chinese.  But somehow we had a 30-minute conversation the other night, and we agreed that we're going to have a chat every week: partly in English; partly in Chinese.  I'm like the Karate Kid and he is my Mr. Miagi (and yes, I know, Miagi was Japanese---besides the points!)  Did you know they don't speak Mandarin in Shanghai?  They speak Shanghainese.  It is a completely different language.  But everyone also learns Mandarin in school.  In Beijing?  Beijingese.  But they learn Mandarin in school.  So when I speak to people here, I am not speaking to them in their true 'native tongue'.  Interesting, right?  

Shanghai itself: It is New York City, in Asia.  I have traveled all around the world and have seen almost every major city, from Moscow, Helsinki, Rome, Paris, and London to Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and DC.  There is only ONE New York City.  And no city even comes close.  Well that is... until I arrived here in Shanghai.  Everyone with their infinite wisdom told me I was going to have such huge culture shock here, but ha, as soon as I arrived, the first think I thought was, "Hey, I'm home!"   And all the street signs are in English and Chinese.  All the signs in the subway are in both languages.  The voice on the subway even mentions the subway stops in both English and Chinese.  The big differences: more pollution here; very few people speak English here; very few whites, blacks, and hispanics here; the streets are wider; in NYC, a crosswalk means people crossing whereas here, a crosswalk means, "vehicle crossing, so watch out pedestrians!"; and there is more defecation on the streets here.  I have no idea if it's from people or dogs, haha.  Other than that, I absolutely feel like I am in New York City.  So for all of you who say, "I love NYC, but I really have no desire to visit Asia..."  I say: "COME HERE!"  You will be absolutely blown away!

Pollution: yup, it's bad.  I downloaded an app called ShanghaiAir to keep me up to date on how bad the pollution at any given time.  I am going to order a ResPro particle filter mask from London for about $60 and have it shipped here.  I went for a run the other day, against the counsel of many, but I wanted to see how it would feel on "Dangerous for Sensitive People" pollution day.  The app uses data from the US Consulate here.  The different levels are: Good, Moderate, Unhealthy for Sensitive People; Unhealthy; Very Unhealthy; and Hazardous.  While I have been here, it has never been "Good" and has once been "Unhealthy".  It usually hovers around Moderate and Unhealthy for Sens. People.  Though everyone has told me to be prepared, because it will hit the hazardous level at some point.  Yay.  I'm wondering about this summer, with the air conditioner.  What if it's a high pollution day, but it's sweltering outside?  Do I choose to keep the AC off and suffer in the misery of clammy and hot and sticky yuckiness, or do I turn on the AC and breath in the PM2.5 pollution in cool and breezy comfort?  Seems like a tough decision.  I have a couple months to figure it out: the weather now is still cool.and brisk.

Money: everything is relatively inexpensive here.  If you arrive here with $100,000, you could probably live in very nice comfort for 3 - 5 years.  As you saw, my super nice apartment only costs about $600/month.  My paycheck at Wall Street English is going to be somewhere around $2000 - $2500/month.  Back home, this wouldn't be very much at all, but here, I am one of the highest paid people in the city.  I'm definitely a part of the upper middle class on that salary.  Some of the MANY locals who support us at Wall Street English get paid only about 4000 Kuai/month.  That's $649/month.  That is my entire rent payment for the month.  And that is a typical salary for most people here in Shanghai, from what I am told.  So on my salary here, I will be able to live quite comfortably.  I have some credit card debt from my Eurotrip that I have to pay down, but I can't do that easily from here, because it's hard to transfer the money here into American dollars and then pay my US credit card company.  I'm going to look into whether I can link my Chinese bank account here (ICBC) with my US credit cards.  I have a feeling it won't work.  No matter, though, because I am still making some additional income from book royalties; from legal work from the United States (mostly Entertainment contracts); and from my career, life, and business coaching clients.  I believe that I will be able to make enough from these part-time gigs to pay down my credit cards, since I am paid in American dollars for those services.  

Gettting around: Don't have a car, and don't want a car.  Don't even want a scooter, and I LOVE scooters.  But it's just too crazy.  The drivers here are crazy.  You have to look both ways constantly when crossing a one-way street because vehicles tend to come both ways, particularly scooters.  I used to think Rome was bad with all the scooters: Rome is nothing compared to the amount of motorized insects in this city.  At one traffic light there are sometimes 30 - 40 scooters waiting to buzz off.  THIRTY - FORTY!  Wow!  And no one really abides by the cross walks.  You have to weave through traffic like that video game Frogger, trying your best not to get hit by a car or scooter.  Fortunately the Metro system is fantastic.  And inexpensive.  Each ride only costs about 50 cents.  I have a Jia Tong Ka (metrocard) with about 100 RMB on it.  I ride the subway every day and haven't had to refill it even once yet.  And it's clean.  And efficient.  And very easy to find your way around.  HOWEVER: each stop has MANY exits.  In NYC, there are maybe four or five exits per stop.  Here, there are sometimes 20 exits, each with a different number, and each taking you up at a different part of the city.  Exit 1 is FAR FAR FAR from Exit 15, for example.  So you can't just 'get out'.  You have to get off the train and then make sure you are getting out at the right exit or you're going to quickly find yourself lost (if you didn't already get lost underground in these massive subway stations).  

Friends; I have already met some really cool people at work, and also at my language school: I met three Italians who actually prefer to speak to me in Italian!  How awesome that my Italian is that good now!  WOW!  That made me feel so great.  I went out to a dance club last week called Hollywood (thanks to my colleague in training Demi) and met a French model. He and I became good friends, chatting in French, and he joined me at this French meetup last week organized by this Chinese girl I met online.  It was great speaking French with this group.  She also runs a dance meetup, and I'm going to a Swing party this Saturday!  I ran into three French girls here in the building, and we may watch Pirates of the Caribbean in French together sometime.  And I also made friends with my apartment agent Lee (Chinese) and also some of the guys who work in marketing at Wall Street English (also Chinese).  And this Canadian girl who lives an hour away who showed me around the city on my second day here.  I'm happy that I have made the acquaintance of people from the US, from France, Italy, etc.  Great to be able to keep up my language skills in those languages too.  Well, except English haha.  I know that language pretty well.

It's 11:39pm here.  Have to be at Mandarin House at 9am for my first reading and writing class, and then work from 1 - 9pm.  Goodnight folks!  Hope this was interesting!   

Monroe Mann, Esq, MBA <--my consulting and coaching firm <--my travel blog

Check out my new books "Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog" & "Romantic Suicide" on Amazon and  Read also my bestselling books, "Guerrilla Networking", "Time Zen", and "The Theatrical Juggernaut"!
Join my inspiring email list at and watch my music videos at

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Buon Giorno from a Cafe In Rome, Italy. LAST DAY IN EUROPE BEFORE CHINA!

And so my European travels come to an end. I'm back in Rome, living again with Roberto and Helen, 
and next stop is Shanghai on Friday, tomorrow. Today is Thursday. I pick up my visa tomorrow morning at the Visa Processing Center: there are so many people traveling from Rome to Shanghai that they opened a separate visa processing center in another part of town.  So no Visas are processed at the embassy anymore.  Just at this dedicated service center.  Interesting. 
But first a recap of the last week: I had a very nice time in Vienna with my friend M. I didn't remember 
one thing from my visit last time, which was odd. Just Schonbrun. The castle. (I guess that is one thing). We stayed in a hostel on the outskirts of the city on a vista overlooking the city. It was a very nice wake up.  We walked around on Saturday, we visited the Sigmund Freud museum, ate Spetzl!!, and then went to a very nice Mozart and Strauss concert. Overall a very nice time. The concert was amazing. Turkish march. Radetsky. Eine Kleine and more. On the blue Danube.  With singers. And ballet. Really quite nice.  I visited Berlin briefly again, and was going to go to Stockholm too, but just didn't have time (or money) to go back there again.
Anyway, I have one more free day here in Rome tomorrow.  Tomorrow night I fly to Shanghai.  Last night I was thinking to myself: What the heck am I doing?  I'm not even working as hard as I once did to make my showbiz dreams come true.  I'm heading to Chinese to learn Chinese for a year.  Teaching English.  All to what end?  I wasn't sure I had a clear idea...  And I was feeling a little down on myself.

But last night, a new friend wrote something very nice to me.  “Let me tell you something more please.  Okay…  I had absolutely no idea you were a lawyer and all the other things when I met you on the train.  Maybe you told me but I didn’t pay much attention to it.  Either I wasn’t interested at all if you were rich or poor.  You could have been a super successful, super rich, and super cool man… but if I hadn’t a topic to speak to you about, nothing in common with you, wouldn’t have felt that good with you let alone to let you kiss me.  See… it’s not about being successful.  It’s just about who you are.  About what you REALLY are.  And you are a worthy person.  You reflect your thoughts, your behavior searching for your way.  You doubt about yourself.   It’s not generally bad.  Without doubting one can make no progress.  Moreover to be a teacher of ANYTHING is a meritorious job.  If you do it well.  A good and wise teacher can give you more than knowledge.”

How incredibly nice, right?  Gosh it really touched me.  Made me feel really great about myself.  And helped me to realize that self-esteem should not be measured in accomplishments or lack of accomplishments.  Not measured in money.  Not measured in anything but character.  And it helped me to remember why I am going to China: to live in Asia; to travel Asia; TO LEARN CHINESE!  Why?  Why do I need a reason?  It's cool!  It's fun!  It's something I have always wanted to do!  IT IS SO AWESOME!  And teaching English is going to be great.  It's not my dream job ever, but neither is it a job that I am taking out of necessity: it is something I am choosing to do because it is making other dreams possible, and that in itself makes it worthy.  I'm gonna even write a novel called Shanghai'd using the city as my inspiration!  And she's right: I'm a great teacher, and I am going to touch a lot of people by doing this.  And help a lot of people.  And make some amazing friends and connections in China, and who knows where it all can lead.  How can this be a BAD decision?  It's going to be an amazing one year experience.  And the truth is: everyone is excited for me, and living vicariously through me.  I have heard more than once, "I envy you; I wish I had the guts to do something like that."  So if nothing else, maybe I am doing this so others can experience China... through me!  haha. 
In the end, I realized I'm just scared about what lies ahead.  And why shouldn't I be?  It's scary!  Traveling in Europe for three months is one thing, but moving to China for an entire year?  That's a different story entirely.  But I am almost certain that after I get there and get settled, I will be fine.  And to say a year from now, "I worked for a year in China."  Well, that's just pretty awesome!  And to be able to say, "Oh yeah, I also speak Chinese."  Well, like MasterCard, that is just priceless.  And at the very least, it will open up many legal opportunities in New York City.  To be a NY attorney who speaks Chinese who also has an MBA in Finance will be rather bankable I imagine... 
I’m at a café here in Rome now.  Where?  Not really sure but it's near Via Graziano.  Gonna meet Roberto in about 3 hours to go on a scooter tour of the city.  Meeting him at Piazza del Popello.  Spelling? 

I’m still trying to find an apartment in Shanghai.  All the apartment shares on Craigslist get posted and then swapped up in no more than two days.  I think I may have to wait until I get there on Saturday and go from there.  I’m also debating whether I should rent my own apartment, or room share.  I totally hated living by myself at my apartment in NY.  But maybe it will be different this time.  I don’t know. 
I also did a lot of work on my Phd these last few days, on the IRB application (Institutional Review Board) for my research proposal.  What an ordeal this whole dissertation process is for a scientific research project.  Phew!  I haven't even begun the research portion of the project yet!  Ha!

I wish I sent out more e-newsletters to my email list. Maybe I will have more time in China.  I’m sure I will—I will be stationary.  That will be a relief after almost two months of constant travel.
I’m excited to have a new legal client too.  I am doing some contract work for him.  He is a songwriter and a company wants to buy his songs, so I am helping to ensure he doesn’t give away too much and is compensated properly.  Sometimes I forget that I am still a lawyer in New York and New Jersey and that I can still do legal work from afar.  It was so nice to get this unsolicited email from someone I worked with in the past who needed some additional work.  It's a nice feeling to be working as an attorney again.  I didn't think I would miss it, but I sort of do apparently.  Also, every bit of additional money helps!

HA: I just realized that I should send out a damn email to my email list TODAY!  No excuses Monroe!  GET OFF YOUR ASS!  I need to DO IT NOW.  Because WINNERS DO IT NOW!
Oh, I received this great opportunity!  From my friend and music manager Michael Gewirtzman.  I am going to record 2 four-minute motivational speeches and he is going to edit them and package them and they will be sent out to over 200,000 college students around the country.  Coolio!  With links to my books and all that.  This could be an amazing marketing and publicity coup for me.  I'm super curious to see how it all pans out.  Fantastico!

I just love the Italian language.  I am going to miss it in China.  Going from one of the most beautiful languages in the world to one of the harshest (and yet most important).  What a shock it’s gonna be going to this new culture.  My oh my oh my!
Okay, well, I have my accounting to finish up today, and need to do that legal work, and some other stuff too.  And at the airport, or tonight, I am going to write another 1000 words in my novel.  I must I must. 

Arrivederci!  The next post on this blog will in all likelihood be... from... China!  Assuming my VPN (Virtual Proxy Network) works.  From what I understand, blogger is banned there.  I guess I will find out soon enough.

Oh, one last thing: I have to fill out this medical form for the Chinese government for my medical exam in Shanghai on Monday.  I have to be deemed 'fit' in order to receive my residence permit.  I laughed when I read it with Roberto.  It says, "Please check which of these you have had."  And then a list.  Are you ready to laugh?  Here we go: 1. Plague; 2. Leprosy.  Ha!  Oh yes, I had plague when I was 15 but it passed.  Most of my family died, but I survived.  As for leprosy, I did suffer for many years, but then Jesus touched my face and I was healed.  At the bottom of the list: cold.  I get it: If you've had plague or leprosy, they don't want you in the country, so let's get it out of the way up front.  But seriously: when was the last time you met someone who had plague or leprosy?  Mon dieu!

Honestly, that is hilarious!  There are quite a few other funny choices, but I can't remember them offhand.  Hilarious!  If this is an indication of the fun I am going to have in China... BRING IT ON!  Can't wait! :)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Greetings from Bled, Slovenia!

It's been a busy and fun week. 

Last I wrote, I was in Prague, Czech Republic.  I then made it to Brno, Czech Republic; followed by Bratislava, Slovakia; Budapest, Hungary; Zagreb, Croatia; Ljubljana, Slovenia; and now, Bled, Slovenia.

People keep asking: how can you visit a city in just a day and a half?  Trust me, it works.  The train is so relaxing.  I leave one city about 2pm and usually arrive before 11pm in the new city.  I use my wifi at the train station (most have wifi at the station, or city-wide free wifi, or I find a café or restaurant or McDonalds) to find a hostel nearby, and I always seek one out that has one of the free walking tours of the city.  The free walking tours always start about 11am.  I walk to the hostel and in so doing see the city at night.  I arrive at the hostel and check in.  I inevitably meet a bunch of people.  I then go out for a bite to eat and a walk around the city, either solo or with others from the hostel.  Then off to bed or to a club/bar.  In the morning, I wake up early enough to make the 11am walking tour.  I always meet more people on the tours.  I learn about the history of the city, and see the major sites.  It's free, but the guides work for tips, so I give about 7 - 10 euros depending on how much things cost in that city.  Then I usually eat lunch with someone(s) from the tour and we then walk around the city more together, either going to a museum or seeing more sites.  Then dinner, and do something in the city at night.  Finally, look at the train schedule and decide what time to leave the next day for the next city.  Sometimes I leave that night; sometimes I stay till the next day.  Then I get on the train and go to the next city and start all over again.

And... I honestly feel like I've seen enough of the city and have learned enough of its history to say "I've been there."  And I have inevitably added at least 2 or 3 more people to my facebook friends list. 

The currencies:
Prague and Brno, Czech Republic: Czech Kroner
Bratislava, Slovakia: Euro
Budapest, Hungary: Hungarian Florind
Zagreb, Croatia: Croatian Kuna
Ljublana and Bled, Slovenia: Euro

So just like in the 90s when I was in Europe, I have all these different currencies in my pockets!

As I wrote on Facebook, Ljubljana is probably one of the prettiest nicest cities in all of Europe.  The main square alone brings much to this city.  Just amazing.  And here in Bled, with the snow covered Slovenian Alps surrounding Bled Lake; it is just magical.  It's truly an amazing country. 

Prague was cool, but Brno was cooler because it's just like Prague, but no tourists.  It's the second biggest city in all of Czech Republic.  I didn't plan on stopping in Brno but I met a new friend on the train who convinced me I should visit her city.  So I got off the train with her and she showed me around.  She goes to school there, so I got a true local tour guide, which was really cool.  I met another student in Prague who did the same: showed me around.  It's really cool when you meet someone local who can show you their city.  And I have to cool friends in Czech Republic now--something I certainly didn't have two weeks ago!

Bratislava: another pretty city, but two things I have noticed: a) these eastern European cities are all really pretty and not what I expected to see but b) they all do start to look similar after a while: the main square; the tram system; the cobblestone streets; the castles which are in nearly all of them; etc.  But I loved Bratislava too, and would definitely go back to visit each of these cities.  In Bratislava, I ran along the Danube at night after arriving at the Hostel, and wow, how amazing it was.  So beautiful!  That new bridge is architecturally stunning.

Budapest?  Now that's a country with a history.  Invaded and occupied by the mongols.  Then the Turks.  Then the Nazis.  Then the communists.  Jeesh, what a tough history.  I'm proud that this people made it through all that.  Wow. 

Next stop: Zagreb, Croatia.  Loved that city too.  Croatia truly is as beautiful as they say it is.  I need to return in the summer.  And visit Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, etc.

Then Ljubljana.  Oh: the trains.  Absolutely the BEST way to travel.  For me anyway.  I love being able to read; sleep; eat dinner (they serve such yummy food on these European trains); and meet new friends.  And there are usually outlets to charge my devices.  But rarely wifi.  The only wifi I had was on the train from Oslo, Norway to Stockholm, Sweden.  After that, zilch.  And it would be nice to be able to research hostels; talk to friends; etc onboard.  It's not the end of the world, but if the train system could be improved in just one way, this would be it. 

I really want to do the same in North America and Canada one day.  I think they have a eurorail type pass too for Amtrak and Canadian's rail system, but it's a lot more expensive, and I guess it makes sense: American and Canada combined is like ten times the size of Europe.

I stayed in Ljublana for 2 1/2 days because a) it's a beautiful city, and b) my eurorail pass ran out, and c) I met some cool people like this guy Anthony from Canada who has some amazing stories, one of which is how two months ago, in Bulgaria, he lost EVERYTHING: passport, wallet, money, bag, clothing.  His story of how he put his life back together with nothing is pretty awesome.  He didn't leave Europe at all, and I'm impressed with his fortitude and determination.  Though he did tell me how totally demoralized it made him, and I can totally imagine. 

Anyway, I wasn't sure where to go next: Venice, Rome, Salzburg, Vienna, Lugano, Stockholm, where?  My 15-day eurorail pass ran out so I didn't have to rush off anywhere to get my money's worth.  So I looked at a map.  I asked around.  So many people told me about Bled, and the mountains and the lake.  I also got word from Helen that my China work visa paperwork arrived in Rome, so I need to go back there to visit the Chinese embassy at some point soon.  But I also want to meet a friend in Vienna, and maybe go back to Berlin to see more of the sites there.  I didn't know what to do.  I made a tentative plan to head to Venice by way of Austria (cause no trains go direct, which is weird) and went to bed.  I woke up and Anthony said he was heading to Bled.  I checked the map and it's on the way to Venice, so why not!  I checked out with him, and together we jumped on a bus for Bled.  That's where I am now. 

We're in the Castle Hostel.  It's near... the castle. :)  Right by the lake.  It's like a frat house here because we've got about 9 guys from all around the world: Finland, Lebanon, Spain, Canada, and me, the rep for the United States.  No girls.  It's kinda cool.  We're all in the hangout room.  On our computers.  Some are playing Fifa on the new PS4.  All laughing and talking.  Makes me smile.  A nice bromance as one of the guys joked.

Anthony and I walked around the lake today (6km) and then hiked up the mountain to the castle.  It was a steep hike up.  An even steeper and longer hike down in pitch darkness on a path we could barely see covered in snow, mud, and puddles, and hundreds of fallen trees--the result of a huge snowstorm two weeks ago that destroyed over 40% of the trees in Slovenia.  Even on the bus you could see the devastation.  Trees down everywhere, uprooted from the heavy weight of the icy snow. 

Tomorrow?  Off to Venice in the mid morning.  For one day.  Then Rome, back to Helen and Roberto's place.  Helen and I are going to see "12 Years a Slave" together at 8pm, so I need to plan my train plans accordingly to be sure to arrive in time.  How cool: I'm in Slovenia now and in two days I'm gonna be in Rome to catch a movie with a great friend.  haha.  Awesome.

And then, off to the embassy to get my visa squared away for China.  Then I think up to Vienna, maybe Berlin, I don't know.  I think I may skip Lugano after all.  I'm surprised.  Maybe next time.  It just doesn't seem crucial for me to visit.  But we'll see.  Three weeks ago I never would have guessed I would be in Bled, Slovenia tonight!

Emotionally?  Doing fantastically.  I feel wonderful.  I haven't felt this great in the longest time.  Someone asked me today what makes me happy.  I still don't completely know, but I do know that working a tedious 9 - 5 job certainly makes me miserable.  And I know that these last three weeks traveling have been amazing and wonderful.  The freedom is just fantastic.  Meeting all these amazing people just incredible.  And never having the same day twice, and rarely being in the same city more than two days, just magical.  It's a weird weird feeling.  And I'm even happier here traveling around by myself than I was for four weeks in Castres.  I honestly have more friends just spending two days in each city at the hostels than I did in four weeks' time in Castres.  Maybe because the people I meet in these hostels are just like me: adventurers; free-spirits; rebels; travelers.  Not tourists: TRAVELERS.  There is a huge difference.  I am not a tourist; I am a traveler.  And I love it.  And as 'nervous' as I am about heading to China, I am also getting more and more excited.  In less than two weeks, I will be in Shanghai.  CRAZY!

My big fear is that again I will be working a '9-5' job, but with two qualifications: it will be from 1-9pm, and it will be in China doing something totally different than what I was doing back in NY.  So my fingers are crossed that I am going to like it and enjoy myself there.

Okay, gotta go find something to eat.  OH!  Looks like we may be getting United States distribution for our film, "You Can't Kill Stephen King" after all.  Things are a bit murky at the moment, but looking quite promising.  I really hope to have great news to share with you soon.

Goodnight from Slovenia. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Art & Psychosis of Traveling Alone: Part II

February 23, 2014
Just as I said, some days you feel really alone; some days you feel loved and part of something great.  Yesterday, I met a bunch of cool people: 
a) After the walking tour, I went to the train station to inquire about train times to Budapest and Bratislava.  On way out I passed this Czech girl, and talked to her. She was receptive. Surprisingly. We had coffee. We walked around together and we decided to meet again today for lunch.
b) I met this American guy at the hostel named Phillip.  An investment guy from Los Angeles, and we walked around and had a most delicious dinner together: traditional Czech pork, dumplings, and sauerkraut.  So delicious!
c) Back at hostel, we ran into the Argentineans from the walking tour, and we all had some drinks together at the bar.  We watched the Olympics a bit.
d) This German girl I met at the train station in Berlin found me on Facebook and added me, which made me smile. 
e) And this morning, I met an awesome guy from Costa Rica--an architect--and rather funny story:
Carlos is traveling alone too and before I even mentioned it, HE mentioned that it’s weird traveling alone because you meet cool people and then almost immediately, you have to say goodbye, because either you are leaving, or because they are leaving.  I’m really glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Traveling alone certainly does have its pros and cons. 
I wrote this on Facebook yesterday:
"Monroe Mann (Photo of the words: Mozart debuted his opera Don Giovani here in Prague)
Greetings from Prague, Czech Republic. This fun fact about Mozart reminded me of something. I sometimes find myself second-guessing my decision to head from here to China for a year. Strange land. Strange culture. Oh so strange language. And I wonder how it all fits into my continuing showbiz aspirations--just as things were starting to take off, I left. But this little bit about Mozart reminded me that I felt the same way when I left showbiz to join the Army: I felt the same way. And yet years later, where did I find the majority of the money for the Stephen King film? From one of my army buddies turned investment advisor: My showbiz dreams were in fact fueled by my departure from showbiz. And so too did Mozart's opera not debut in his native land. And so perhaps too will China (like the army) be another back door leading indirectly to where I am supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing: show business. Moral of story: follow your dreams, even if at times they seem to contradict one another and seem to be mutually exclusive. I don't know how, but in some way, living my dream of going to China for a year is one day gonna be a "big break" that I look back as a blessing to my career--just like the army turned out to be in retrospect as well. OK: time to walk across the river and mosey to the train station to choose my tomorrow's destination: either Budapest or Bratislava. Ooh the suspense!

Want more musings about my travels?

 — feeling inspired."

I hope I'm right. 

This morning I talked with Carlos, the architect, and he agrees with me that the bathroom shower is very poorly designed: form over function.  As he says, “Looks nice but doesn’t work” haha  I'm glad to know I have an architect's eye haha.

He also agrees with me that these hostels are like being in the Lord of the Rings movies, going to the local Inn, where everyone is drinking beer, and some are going, some are coming, and everyone has an interesting story to tell.  He actually equated it to the ‘Star Wars bar’, haha.  Which is funny: people coming from every planet, and each person stranger than the one before.  I really do feel like these hostels are the last vestige of old world travel.  It's not like hotel traveling which is so clinical; here it's so social and so anchored in the soul of the independent traveler. 
I’m actually sitting now downstairs in the café with the Argentinean guys and Carlos.  The Argentineans are here on business, starting a painting company.  Well, two days of business in Berlin, and 20 days of travel, haha. 

I need to check out now, and store my bags in their storage room.  Then gonna walk to meet the Czech girl for lunch.  She's really tall: my height.  And blond, with blue eyes.  She's very funny.  She made me laugh a lot yesterday.  But alas, gonna have to say goodbye to her soon too.  Just as I have had to say goodbye to everyone I've met so far.  I guess it's good to have Facebook in order to keep in touch with everyone, but it seems like a small parting gift.  I wish I could just stay in one place and get to know someone on more than a surface level.  But who knows what the future holds: perhaps I will see some of these people again one day...  Many say that they are going to come visit me in China, but I would be very surprised if ANYONE actually comes to see me.  Even from NY.  I really do hope that they do.  It would be nice to see some familiar faces, but I'm not holding my breath.
Until next time!  I think I'm gonna head to Bratislava this afternoon.  Stay for one night I think.  Will have to see. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Art and Psychosis of Traveling Alone (I'm now in Czech Republic by way of Berlin, Germany)

February 21, 2014
Prague, Czech Republic

Long story short: Copenhagen to Berlin to Prague.  That’s where I am now. 

It’s weird traveling alone.  Some days, I feel in wonderful spirits having met some really cool people at the hostels and hanging out and laughing with them, and seeing the city with them.  Like in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Berlin, where the hostels were very conducive to meeting others.  Other times, like tonight, here in Prague, I have met no one, and even my charming smile and unabashed ability to just walk up and talk to people has proven useless this first evening here in the capital of the Republic.  And it makes me wonder: why am I so troubled by being alone suddenly these years.  In my earlier days, nothing fazed me.  Now, just being alone drives me absolutely crazy.  Maybe it’s being alone, or more likely, the feeling of not being loved after having felt such strong love from you know how (who so lovingly finally responded to my email of two months ago on Valentine's Day with the words, "Hi Monroe, I never want to see you again."  How lovely. 

Sad to say, as a result of that breakup,
I’ve now become one of those saps who can’t be happy if he’s single, or not hanging out with a girl, or hanging out with someone.  In years past, I used to think nothing of women and nothing of being alone.  And now, I can’t think of anything but being with other people; of hanging out with a girl; of NOT being alone.  It pisses me off that my damn self-esteem appears now to be based on that.  But this trip alone is certainly helping me to reestablish my ability to be on my own and love myself once again.  Cause I AM F***IN AWESOME!  (As Nirvana's Lithium blares at the hostel bar)
Anyway, I'm here in Prague.  I had a great time in Copenhagen--probably the coolest city I've visited yet on this northern tour.  Barcelona comes in second now I think.  Why Copenhagen?  Just the layout of the city.  The way the boats are all layed out in the uniquely designed ports.  The awesome main shopping street which is just  indescribable.  And eating the pancake sticks.  DELICIOUS!
As usual, I met some cool people on the walking tour.  After the free tour, this Australian girl and two guys from the UK joined me to visit Christiana (google it), this crazy hippie town where selling pot on the streets is 'legal' (or at least not prohibited entirely).  I never smelled so much burning marijuana just walking down a street before.  And we visited the little mermaid statue: that fairy tale all started in Copenhagen with Hans Christian Anderson.

Next city: Berlin.  As always, by train.  What a historically rich city with such a sad past.  I went on two walking tours.  The free one, and then one called "Red Berlin".  The city is amazing, but it's also so depressing.  Walking around, in many ways, it still felt like 1960s Russia.  It just has this old creepy feel to it.  Like there is no heart and soul to the city.  I know some people may take offense at this, but it's just the feeling I got walking around.  The 'buzz' and 'adrenaline' of other cities just wasn't there.  FUCK YOU BERLIN WALL AND FUCK YOU COMMUNISM FOR WHAT YOU DID!
And today, I took the train from Berlin to Prague.  4 1/2 hours.  Not sure how much I like this city yet.  It's got the European flair, so I understand why many films are shot here, but nothing jumped out as amazing quite yet.  Perhaps tomorrow in the day time. 
I'm pretty excited that my Chinese visa was approved, finally.  So I'm gonna pick that up in Rome soon.  In March. 
Train travel: truly, there's no better way to travel in Europe.  It's amazing.  And my eurorail pass is awesome.  One fee and now I can ride any trains I want for free.  I just have to pay a $5 (approx.) booking fee for each ticket to hold my reservation.  And it's always first class (space available) and SO comfortable.  Such a great decision. 

I'm at the Mosaic hostel here in Prague.  Probably the closest thing to a hotel yet.  It is so gorgeous and the bathroom is huge and amazing and fancy.  Generator hostel in Berlin and Copenhagen. 
In Berlin, I met a nice Italian girl from Milan, and also a Canadian.  I do like meeting all these new people.  I hate that after one day, I have to say goodbye to them.  That is getting very frustrating, but in this sense, settling in China will be a relief and is actually starting to be something I am looking forward to.  To just be in one place for a while. 
The battery on my laptop is nearly dead.  I want to post this before I lose it. More to come!