Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy (western) New Year 2009 and thank you for visiting my blog !


About two years ago I started my first blog, this blog, Beijing Notebook, and I am happy and proud that it is still alive. And even when I am not updating regularly I get enough hits and comments that make me think of my next post. I want to thank all my readers and wish you a happy New Year 2009!

I will be back with new posts in 2009. Although I am not living in Beijing anymore, I still have so many subjects that belong here to this blog. You might know that I have a second blog, Palazzo Pizzo, that I started exactly today two years ago. In the beginning I have thought about how to combine these two blogs in one. But now I am glad that I kept them separated. These two blogs are about two different subjects and play on two different continents. In the beginning I was a bit disappointed to see that on Palazzo Pizzo I only need to post a nice picture to get hits and comments and I could write nice posts on this blog and get no feed back at all. But after two years of Beijing Notebook I can earn the fruits of my work: even with no regular updates I get visitors as some posts are always interesting to read. And my aim for 2009 is to continue to deliver interesting posts, even more then before.

I am greeting all my readers with this ink wash painting by Lin Tianxing who is represented at Creation Gallery in Beijing. The title of this art work is "Sound of winds" and part of his fourth exihibition on the Tibetan subject. I have choosen this work because the composition and the title makes me think that we should pay more attention to the little beauties life and nature offer us.

Happy (western) New Year !

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Time for Books: Chinese Style and Novels

Christmas time is also reading time. I love to have a good book inbetween the years. Books are the best Christmas gift after all.
Therefore I have chosen a selection of books that all have to do with China.

My selection of books about China style, living and Feng Shui:


My selection of Chinese novels:


If you click on a book you can get more info via amazon. If you order a book (any book) after having followed this link, you help to sponsor this blog. Thanks! xie xie !

* my blogroll on the right also has some books, especially guides about Beijing that are good reads ! * at the bottom of my blog you will find the carousels in a larger size *

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Beijing based Artist: Vanessa Notley


My friend and Beijing based artist Vanessa Notley is having another exhibition this weekend ! She and two international fellow artists are showing paintings, sculptures and drawings.


Opening Drinks:
Saturday, November 22, 2pm - 6pm

Exhibition Times:
Sunday, November 23, 2pm - 6pm
November 24 - 26 by appointment
phone 13520300177

Venue:
Beijing International Art Camp, Studio B6
Suojiacun, Laiguangyingdonglu
Chaoyang District
100103 Beijing, PR China

See invitation for Chinese direction & map:




Some of Vanessa's sculptures:

off with her head...

ladies (almost life-size)

flower (of little feet)

Here a short resumé of Vanessa Notley's artist life:

"Scottish born artist Vanessa Notley has been living, working and exhibiting in Beijing for almost three years. Before coming to China, she lived in France for many years where she studied and worked at the École Nationale des Beaux Arts in Bourges before moving to the South of France. She continues to be represented by the galleries AL/MA in Montpellier and Jacques Girard in Toulouse.
Vanessa Notley’s work plays with language (words and sounds, translations and entertaining idiomatic expressions and meanings) and with a certain humour and flexibility she seeks to give language a visual, tangible and sometimes nonsensical form in steel and fabric."
(source: invitation to her exhibition at Embassy House, Beijing on May 18th - 23rd 2008):

For further information please contact:
Vanessa Notley
Beijing International Art Camp, Studio B6
Suojiacun, Laiguangyingdonglu
Chaoyang District
100103 Beijing, PR China
vanessa.notley@gmail.com

Monday, 17 November 2008

What makes Beijing likeable ?


Today I received a comment on an older post saying: "just because you think it's a ugly city doesn't mean it's a ugly city, what's so great about paris or rome?..."

I am not sure if I have ever written that Beijing is an ugly city. However I have reflected on it in my mind, yes. It is when you have to say good-bye to something or someone and in order to not be too sad, you try to be not too romantic.

And for me, cities like Paris and Rome are more easy to like then Beijing. They are obviously beautiful.

Beijing has a lot of very dull and grey residential buildings which are typical for communist countries. After 3 years living in Beijing, I consider these tower blocks as part of the Beijing charm. They always share a garden area where older people can work out and kids can play. Balconies are decorated with plants or bird cages. Run down dusty areas with red lanterns (or a red chair like in the pic of my last post) and the old hutongs - not estimated by the locals, but appreciated by the foreigners - are making Beijing likeable. If you have an eye for that.


When you are only on a journey through, lets say for a 2 day business trip, you hardly can find beauty in Beijing. More likely you find smog.

To discover Beijing's charm, you need a bit more time or a local guide on your side. And if you even come here for a period of 3 years (the usual expat term) you have to adapt to your environment sooner or later otherwise you suffer.

The experienced expat will adapt quickly and find many things that make Beijing likeable.

Fans of Asia will like old Beijing, its hutongs, its hidden courtyard houses, the lakes, the parks, the temples, the Imperial architecture, the food (varies by region a lot), the markets (vegetable as well as clothes), the bargains,... ah and the red lanterns, e.g in Ghost street. Old people in the parks playing chess or doing tai qi. Flying kites in the middle of a traffic conjunction. The million bicycles. Winter in Beijing with skiing on slopes of artificial snow and ice skating on frozen lakes.



There are those expats from big companies that live a luxury expat life in Beijing: chic city apartments or US style suburban villas, drivers, ayis. But even for other expats who work for their own company or are employed with a local contract, Beijing live is still cheaper then back home. Eating out regularly is not a luxury anymore. The choice of international restaurants is amazing. Going out on Saturdays is normal for parents as ayis can babysit their kids (for little money). And taking a taxi is normal because affordable.

Shopping is also a big advantage of Beijing. These markets selling fakes and offering bargains are one of the tourist attractions. No tourist group that has not shopping on their itinerary. But not only fakes, also antiques and reproductions are highly on demand. And not only markets also luxury western-style shopping malls are on the rise.
Shopping is a popular exercise, not only for tourists, also for expats and of course for the local Chinese as well. Shopping from 9 to 9 daily.

I liked to live in Beijing because every day was different and there were several options for activities every day.
I could discover endlessly new things.


The expat community was quiet strong. It was so much easier to get to know other people then in any other town of my own country.
Although Chinese culture seems to vanish or not to be popular among Chinese anymore, foreigners can learn a lot.
There are million of photo motifs.
There are lot of possibilities for day trips (more then in Shanghai).

My son still like China better then Germany or Italy as he enjoyed a fun live. His ayi had always time to play with him and he could play in our calm street of the compound freely with his friend.

Related posts:
Beijing: Expat Interview
Beijing and what to do with your time
Charming courtyards in Beijing
Skiing in Beijing

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Red Chair in Qianmen


Red Chair in Qianmen
Originally uploaded by nataliebehring.com
Another great shot by Nathalie Behring that visualize Beijing's old charm. Unfortunately (for some fortunately) this place has gone now.

Follow the link and find more CHAIRS in a photo set at flickr. Thanks for sharing!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Missing China


This morning (in Germany) my son (5) saw an airline advertising in the newspaper and started to cry: I miss China ! I want to fly to China and see my friends...

We checked the time and said, okay, lets call your friends. And shortly after he was talking on the phone - not only to his best friend but also second best friend - as his two friends were just playing together.

The two best friends' English was meanwhile better then our son's English (he only speaks German now). And the two boys go to school (British/Chinese system) were they learn already writing - and apparently they love their school.

While my boy goes to a German kindergarten where they have a pre-school class once a week. German system ... here you start school when 6 years old. Before that it is basically playing in kindergarten, a lot of free playing time - they learn a lot of social skills (I was told).

I also learned that our house in Beijing (East Lake) is still empty. And it is not the only one in that compound. Apparently the economic crisis also has some impact there. But I think the competition on the real estate market is big - many new nice villas are available (however outside the city) and western style apartments are more attractive then the old villas in East Lake.

However I would always go back to East Lake. Just a fantastic location.

As we can not follow our friends' Christmas travel plans, we said that we will visit early next year. It will be nice to see old friends again and do some shopping.

Next Saturday we wont miss China that much.
My son and I, go to Chinese school each Saturday morning.
Yes, here in Germany!
It is funny, it feels a bit exotic, a little international flair on Saturday mornings.
And it is funny as in Beijing, we went to Italian school on Saturday mornings.
And the most funny thing about that Chinese school is, that it is actually a Taiwanese school !
I was not really aware of the difference. I just wanted to continue to learn Chinese and not forget what I have already learned. Meanwhile I noticed some differences between the Mainland Chinese and the Taiwanese. Also because the Taiwanese told me some differences right away.

If you have read this post until here, I will reward you with some more beautiful Chinese paintings from Creation Gallery in Beijing:


Hu Yongkai 'Thinking'


Hu Yongkai 'Leisure time in courtyard'


Ma Haifang 'October in Beijing'

1st picture above: Ma Haifang 'Bosom Friends' 68 x 68 via Creation Gallery

Remark about the bird cages:
All paintings show birdcages. October and November are the best months in Beijing regarding the weather. It is sunny and the air is clear. Ideal to go to the park and take your bird for a walk (in the birdcage). Some cages are hang to a tree or standing on a chair while the owners follow some other activities like singing, gambling, dancing or kite flying. If it gets cooler in the evening the bird cages are wrapped with a warm cover to protect the birds on the way home.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Green T House


Green T House
Originally uploaded by nataliebehring.com
Did I mention before that Natalie Behring (www.nathaliebehring.com) is my favorite Beijing photographer?

Since my last post about the Green T House was a bit negative, I thought I post Natalie's latest picture of this beautiful Beijing must see restaurant.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Logo for Nanluogu Xiang


There is a NLGX Logo Design Competition!
NLGX stands for my favorite hutong: Nanluogu Xiang - and they want a logo for this hutong.

Today I received the latest newsletter 7 days in Beijing and found that apparently some Beijing city districts are designing their own logo. Sanlitun and the CBD (Central Business District) already have one and now Nanluogu Xiang wants to keep up with the trend and get its own logo. Local authorities have teamed up with imart to promote a competition to design a new logo for Nanluogu Xiang.
Competition closes on Oct 8.
E-mail entries to imartcc@gmail.com.

Visit the site, unfortunately only in Chinese, to get more information.

I am also surprised to see that the famous hutong Nanluogu Xiang also has a website!
So far also only in English.

I should have posted about the hutong long before. Alternatively I am just posting some pictures.

red lanterns in the wind

creative shop owner's business cards

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Thank you True Run Media

I am a great admirer of all the colourful and innovative English speaking magazines and guide books in Beijing!

My favourite of all time it the The Insider's Guide to Beijing, that was my bible to Beijing for three years! I was lucky to arrive in Beijing when the first Insider's Guide was published (2005) and helped me to find my ways around the city. It was like having won a dozen new good friends who give you the right hints and addresses in your new neighbourhood.

And the best monthly city guide The Beijinger (former That's Beijing until 06/2008), also produced by True Run Media, is the essential guide to life in Beijing. And Beijing's one and only lifestyle and interior design magazine urbane (former That's Beijing Home until 12/2007) is a monthly must read as well as the facelifted tbjkids, the colourful informative monthly magazine for parents and kids.

As mentioned above, That's Beijing is now The Beijinger. The best monthly city guide was no longer allowed to use its name. Some joint-venture quarrels... anyway, already the July issue was published under the new name The Beijinger. It is the same team in the same location with the same layout, just with a new name. They will succeed.

Also the new pocket guide agenda is a product of True Run Media and about Beijing's nightlife, dining and shopping. However The Beijinger remains the essential city guide with a extensive address list.

Amazing is the production of guide book titles of Immersion Guides!
Here is an actual product overview:
Beijing Excursion Guide (good ideas for day trips outside Beijing)
Beijing Taxi Guide (important addresses in English and Chinese --> to show the taxi driver the Chinese address of your destination)
Healthy Chinese Cuisine: A restaurant ordering guide
Spicy Chinese Cuisine: A restaurant ordering guide
Insider's Guide to Beijing 2008 (my favorite, the must have guide!)
Mandarin Phrasebook (useful)
One night in Beijing (a photo book with pictures taken in the night of August 8, 2007 a year before the opening of the Olympics)
Beijing by foot (40 walks in Beijing)
Beijing City Map
Beijing Eats (guide to local restaurants)
Ich bin ein Beijinger (summary of the column for that’s Beijing magazine by Kaiser Kuo)
Unofficial Guide to the Beijing Games

But this is not enough!
They want more!
And so you are invited to submit your manuscript!
Yes! Immersion Guides is soliciting book manuscripts from Beijing and China-based writers. They are considering all types of manuscripts including guidebooks, novels, children’s books, etc. "You name it, we want it."


I am at the end of my post and want to say "Thank you!", thank you True Run Media, thank you Immersion Guides, you make life in Beijing so much easier and so much more enjoyable!


Links:
Submit your script to Immersion Guides
Immersion Guide
The Beijinger
urbane
agenda
beijing kids
7 Days in Beijing, The Beijinger's newsletter

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

How to deal with withdrawal syndromes after quitting Beijing

The comment on my last post by tmt from toomanytribbles inspires me to write about how to avoid withdrawal syndromes after quitting with Beijing.

It is on my mind every day: I have to contact my friends in Beijing.

I don't have many but some dear friends. And I really want to let them know that I care and that I am thinking of them. Everyday I feel more the urge. I want to write them an email and ask for suitable calling hours. I would also like my son to talk to his friends. BUT I am afraid that we will get withdrawal syndromes!

So I am waiting and waiting. I say to my self: lets just settle a bit more, one more week, after the holidays, and one more week...
It is now 2 months and 2 days that we have left Beijing. And I have not called a single friend.

I wrote them an email right away after having arrived. Letting them know that we are doing fine. And a reply to their replies. That was it. I want to keep the friendship going. Yes. And therefore I feel urged to send another sign, I was the one who left.

But I am afraid of hearing their voices. I will miss them so much more then I do now! And I am afraid that my son (5 years) will get even more muddled, that he want to fly back to meet his friends right away.

I remember, one morning my cellphone was ringing. And it was our driver. Hearing his voice, so close, so near, .... really, I had tears in my eyes. He just wanted to let me know that he had fixed something. And I told him that we are fine and that he should greet our ayi as well. Of course I have already sent him an email before (he is technically up to date). But email is not the same. It does not bring the same emotions.

So I am avoiding withdrawal syndromes after quitting Beijing by 'hiding' in my new life, by keeping quiet, by not looking back. And I am so NOT proud of it. I think every day of this situation and if I could do better. Maybe it really just takes some more time.

It is not the first time I have left a live behind. After living 5 years in Bangkok, it had become our common home - and it still feels very special to us. It took us years to get over the withdrawal syndromes of leaving Thailand. And we had a very special dear group of friends to leave behind. One after the other spread out to new destinations. Some of our friends we still contact or see from time to time. But it will never be the same.

Living in this situation I remember the term Third Culture Kids or TCK. There are many sociological studies about kids that have spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than its own. It is researched that while TCKs usually grow up to be independent and cosmopolitan, they also often struggle with their identity and with the losses they have suffered in each move. The sociologist who originally introduced the concept of TCKs is Ruth Hill Useem. She wrote many books about TCKs, the Global Nomads and later focused on the grown up TCKs, the Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs).

Books about the subject:

Monday, 1 September 2008

Reflection: Changing Live




Flashback:

How many people go on an airplane and leave their life behind?

How many people can go on a plane and fly into a new life, just in a few hours?

I try to get some sleep on the plane. But my thoughts are back in China. I keep asking myself questions like 'Did I like China enough?'... I feel empty. Exhausted after all that packing and moving. Its totally normal I say to myself and switch on the lights in the dark business class where all the window shades are kept down. I can't even observe the vastness of Mongolia to feel travelling a distance. So I get my notebook (paper notebook) and a pen. I need to write down my feelings, my impressions. Right now. Because how often do I leave my life behind and start a new one? Just in a couple of hours time from now, thanks to modern technology of transportation!

I want to capture my thoughts, my feelings, before they vanish.
The last two hours in Beijing I tried to keep the farewells low key, quick and painless. I don't want to cry.

I never felt very connected to Beijing. It is not a very attractive city, like Paris or Rome you could fall in love with easily. The weather, grey skies, kind of foggy humidity, paired with pollution, over the last weeks makes the good-byes easier.

We made it into the plane, after having said good-bye to our wonderful, loyal, gentle, always helpful, friendly, handsome, smart and favorite driver of 3 years - a quick but emotional good-bye - and after having checked-in 15 bags and suitcases with some tears in my eyes. And I ask myself the same question as the days before: 'Am I sad?', 'Am I going to miss Beijing?'

In the last days before our departure I felt protecting myself with a selective perception. I did not see that many things around me anymore. I was running around like a busy bee or maybe more like a nervous chicken. I did not plan well ahead (I ignored the deadline somehow) and so I run out of time to relax and enjoy some last Beijing 'specialities'. E.g. I missed a last foot massage and a last manicure...

My last morning. I look out of the hotel room - where we moved to spend the last night - I thought: 'How ugly!' What an ugly city!

Exactly 3 years and 3 years ago, I came here on a look and see trip. I had mixed feelings about that city. It is still ugly (especially on a grey smog day like today), BUT I got used to it and I became familiar with the city. It became our home for 3 years.

Now in the plane, I ask myself: 'Didn't I love China enough?'
I realise now, I always kept a distance to the city, to the people.

I have to admit, living as an expat in Beijing, was above all a very convenient life. It was like 3 years of holiday for me.

But I keep asking myself: 'If I did not really connected, was it a waste of time?', and 'Did I learn something from living in China?'

I have a strange feeling that my interest in China starts just now. A bit late. However not too late.

I also ask myself what would I have done differently if I would come to China now, instead of leaving it.

For sure, I would study Mandarin harder. And for sure I would start with learning writing and reading Chinese characters instead of only learning pinyin.

And if I would have a couple of weeks more time, what would I do in Beijing? I would visit Fragrant Hill. I would go on more long bicycle rides throughout the city and bring along my camera.
And I would go for massages at least once a week.
That's all.
So I have not missed much. I think.

Somehow for the first time in my life I envied the stewardesses that fly in and out of Beijing a couple of times every year. They arrive, first thing in the morning they meet the tailors and shop around the markets. Next time they come back they pick-up their tailor made summer dresses. Or let it deliver in the hotel lobby, like I saw it this morning.

Beijing is great for shopping. This is probably what I will miss most. I am not a big shopper or fashionista, not at all. But it was fun to go shopping with friends in Beijing and browse the markets for some great bargains. Especially for children clothes. My last find were real Crocs at the Russian market for 6 Euro (all sizes, all colours, almost all models).

My last days were packed with tailor appointments. I had four (4!) tailors at the end (one of them was the 'tapissier' that made cushion covers, bags, mattresses, bed linen, curtains etc. for me). I am kind of glad that I have not to deal with Shen Na & co for a while... The last encounter was last night at midnight. I was already sleeping in my bed in the hotel room, when my phone rang. It was the tailor that couldn't make it earlier, she was working like hell for all the other woman leaving Beijing at the same time, and I had forgotten to tell her that I have moved already to the hotel... I explained her (in Chinese) to drop the last shirts at the lobby of our compound and text massaged the driver (the wonderful one, in pinyin) to please pick-up things for me in the morning ..

What else will I miss beside tailor made bargains?
Great but affordable lunches at Hatsune and W !
I think at the end I was know by every waitress and waiter.
Of course Alameda is not bad either!

And my bicycle. I will miss my Chinese Giant bicycle. (I gave it to my ayi). I will miss my rides around Sanlitun.
I will miss the compound with its convenient play street, the kindergarten and the playground in 100 m reach. Also the supermarkets that open every day until late - like all the other shops !

That's about all I am going to miss - maybe. (Actually, as this is a flashback, I can tell: I am not missing a single thing!)

And friends?
Yes, but somehow they are all going to leave Beijing, some in the next 2 weeks, some in the next 1 or 2 years. Most of them are from Europe and they are going to move back to Europe. So I am going to see them again, with a little effort, sooner or later. That is a very comforting feeling.

...
to be continued

----
Photo Source: Mongolia from above, originally uploaded to flickr by juho-v

Thursday, 28 August 2008

lost in transit


Night Vision
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven
too much routine is killing her

without routine she is lost

like a butterfly in the wind

the melancholie of an ending journey
good byes, tears, heart ache

was it real?
is it lost?

nothing has changed
back home
time seems to stand still

people seem to not see
is it?

lost?

her past

memories on her skin, in her head, postcards

and a full moon
for all somewhere
lost in transit

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

8 Reasons why I don't want to be in Beijing during the Olympics

I am sitting in the South of Italy, sea view and sunset.
And I think of Beijing - every day.

Especially since August the 8.
The TV is on. Italians are winning quiet some medals!

Of course, how can I not think of my hometown of 3 years?!

People ask me, if I miss Beijing?

No. I think it is some internal protection that does not allow me to be emotional about it. That's why it is a clear and fast: No.

People ask me, wheather I would like to be in Beijing right now?
During the Olympic events?

Again: No.

And here are 8 reasons for my NO:

1) August always was said to be the worst month of the year - climate wise.
Hot and humid. Rains. Grey skies.

2) Beijing right now is not the Beijing how it was before and how it will be after the Games. It is not authentic.

3) There is so much security that moving around is less easy and less fun.

4) It is holiday time for expats and Chinese but going to a park with your kids would be difficult, unless you can ride your bike to the park. Transportation is an issue, you can use your car only every second day and most taxi will all be taken and subways will be overcrowded.

5) Some of the fun bars and restaurants were said to have to closed down during the Games. Some of them near the worker stadium for security reason. So maybe less fun at night.

6) I am afraid of crowds. You never know in those crazy days. It is just better to avoid crowds to be on the save side... of course you could always be hit by the schoolbus (but not in August)

7) Similar to point 6) but more clear: I am afraid of terr*rist att@cs. I have seen a picture of the military rockets they have next to the National Stadium to shoot down any airplane - just in case.

8) I don't enjoy the political discussions / demonstrations before and during the games, where some people of other countries tried to express their thoughts in front of the - mainly foreign - media. I think it is an offense to all Chinese people. It is a small group of reigning people that are to blame and not the entire people of China.

Beijing will change to normal again in October.

The Opening Ceremony I saw on TV. But only the entrance of some nations. I had an dentist appointment, unfortunately, it was not planned, but it was excactly at August 8, 8pm Beijing time. A painful appointment.

I am in Beijing with my thoughts.
I am thinking of my expat friends that have decided to stay for the Olympics. I hope they enjoy this time. And thinking of our Chinese friends, hoping they are doing fine.

And as I said before, I hope for peaceful Games until the very last day.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

about Chinese Style

Okay, I have left China. I am out of Beijing since two weeks. I don't miss much. Maybe that I had more time for writing. But it hopefully comes again when I am more settled in my new / old life. But there are still some open posts that I need to do... e.g. about Beijing, my life in Beijing and about leaving Beijing.

Here is one of them. It is my last publication in Beijing's urbane magazine in April 2008. It is about Chinese Art Deco or Shanghai Chic with photos from interiors in Beijing and Hong Kong.



My draft goes like this:

Last century, a very decorative style developed in Shanghai during its glamorous 1930s, just before World War II. It developed at a time when Shanghai was known as the Paris of the East - synonymous with decadence, romance and glamour. This bustling town was populated with gamblers, gangsters, singsong girls, opium traders and immigrant crowds from all over China and the world. It was parallel to the development of Art Deco styles in Europe that Shanghai experienced its own Art Deco revolution, a unique fusion of Eastern and Western design.

Bright colors and dark antique furniture from the East team up with Western Art Deco elements to create the famous so called 'Shanghai Chic' style. The Art Deco’s strong horizontal and vertical elements, its decorations reduced to geometrical shapes together with Jazzy American zigzags were combined with elaborated Eastern floral carvings of petals and leaves as well as with classic Chinese patterns.

Produced only in Shanghai and for just a brief time, roughly late 1920's to late 1940's, Shanghai’s Art Deco furniture is both rare and original. However the influence on Shanghai’s architecture can still be admired in many areas of Shanghai, especially on the Bund.

Entrepreneur David Tang is a huge fan of the pre-war Shanghai style and introduced it to modern Hong Kong by launching the first China Club on the top floor of the old China Bank Building. He turned the Club into a showcase for Shanghai Chic and for what could be developed further by melding the best of Eastern and Western styles. Following his concept he founded the shop Shanghai Tang, specializing in clothing based on traditional Chinese styles of glamorous pre-war Shanghai. Shanghai Tang also offers a small selection of decorative accessories for modern households.

Now, if you feel attracted by old Shanghai style and want to add a splash of it in your home, you can paint your walls in bright lime green or mustard yellow. Alternatively, using Chinese retro pattern wallpapers, birds, braches and flowers are the most common themes in these wallpaper design. Moreover, other signature elements to create a retro feel such as old Shanghai newspapers, calendars, black and white photographs, and old Shanghai posters; especially those cigarette, alcohol and movie ad posters. In addition, an old record player and a petal shaped pendant lamp or brass fan sitting next to a set of leather club chairs is also another key look for “Shanghai Chic”.


This was my draft. The version in the magazine was edited, of course, and shorter.

The pictures used in the article are one private interior in Beijing. And a corner of the China Club in Hong Kong.

I will show them again here and some more related to Shanghai style:

Shanghai Style in private residence in Beijing - source unknown

China Club in Hong Kong via 'China Style' by Sharon Leece photo by Michael Freeman

I love the atmosphere of the restaurant in the China Club in Hong Kong - via 'China Style' by Sharon Leece photo by Michael Freeman

'Pudong' Club Chair by Shanghai Deco company

Salt and Pepper by Shanghai Tang

Silver plated photo frame by Shanghai Tang.
It shows the typical Shanghainese deco mix of western Jazzy zigzag and Chinese ornaments.



And last but not least, some Shanghai poster girls at the weekend market (Panjiayuan) in Beijing.

***************

Remark:

I am thankful that I had the chance to become a regular contributor to urbane magazine in Beijing. It was an easy co-operation and a great experience! It will be much more difficult to find some similar job back here in Germany with no journalism education. But, now I have at least some references...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Moving Nightmares Part XXII

This is an email from our moving company (it was in my spam file for a while)... anyway... our container will sit in Beijing for a while:

"The latest announcement is that trucks that do not have the proper “emission standards”, and all non-Beijing plate trucks are abandoned from driving on the roads, we are experiencing a shortage of available trucks for line haul here in Beijing and we are experiencing many new restrictions related to trucking.

Due to this, there has been a huge increase for demand of trucks available for hire; plus, there are many import and export shipments are sitting in warehouses while exporters and importers wait to get inland transportation. From the last week of June, we have a serious hard time in booking container trailer, which can continue to Sep. 20th. Even the prices has been increased much higher than normal rates, we still unfortunately could not confirm or guarantee on timing to release the containers.

We are trying our best to arrange your container to be on vessel earliest possible as we can. My best estimation is to have them loaded into container in one or two weeks.

If there is any change to this situation we will keep you updated, and we will keep your shipment with free storage in our warehouse. Sincerely, I wish to have your understanding on this situation which is truly out of our control
."

Have I recommended Santa Fe lately in Beijing Cafe as the best moving company?

Well, well, after my experience about 10 days ago, I can say, every other moving company might be capable of the same or even better service at a better price because they might not be overbooked like Santa Fe and do not need to hire so many unexperienced staff.

This time is crazy for shipping goods in and out of Beijing. If you can postpone your shipment, wait until after September 20st, when the Paralympics are over as well and things return to normal.

Monday, 7 July 2008

A Beijing Poem

I found this poem from an unknown Beijinger:

The Olympics are coming,
8 August is near,
The skies are not bluer
I really do fear.

No more lorries or trucks,
vehicles only from here.
Prices will go up
I really do fear.

Alternate car days,
to keep the roads clear.
Crowded buses and tubes
I really do fear.

The hotels are built,
the room rates are dear.
They will stand empty
I really do fear.

No visas for expats,
no parties I hear.
So nothing to do
I really do fear.

I know what you're thinking,
I really do fear.
So I'll finish this verse
with this Olympic cheer.

clap, clap
thumbs up
clap, clap
arms up


Source: the yahoo group 'Beijing Cafe' - the topic was about the actual 'outrageous shipping cost' due to the Olympics. Link: Beijing Cafe message 22306

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PS: This is my first post after I have moved out of China. I still have Beijing on my mind. More then I have imagined. But with the Olympics, the media is full with daily reports on Beijing - so I still feel I have things to say, to add, to correct, to contribute - at least a tiny part to the puzzle from my side.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

100 Best Travel Journal Blogs

Beijing Notebook, along with 99 other blogs, was voted as one of "100 Best Travel Journal Blogs" by TravelHacker.

Thank you! I feel honored to belong to such an interesting community of travel blogs.

I was informed about the result over a month ago. But as blogspot was blocked here in China for a long time and even the proxy servers couldn't help everyday, I could not post about it.

The more glad I am to see some traffic from TravelHacker's list.
For free virtual travel fun surf the list.

Countdown to Move

7 days to go... and my husband - just back from a business trip - says he might have to go again on a business trip. His return to Beijing would be the day of our one-way-flight out. I would be alone when the packers storm the house.

6 days to go... I check my email between two farwell parties and find an email from the moving company: due to this busy week (every second expat moving seems to move this week) they are cancelling our first packing day. Anyway two days would be enough for our household. Please confirm....
Well, it was Saturday evening and I picked up the phone and lost my temper.
Although we anyhow thought of starting the packing a day later due to my husband's trip, I was disturbed by the service. They have my phone number and could have called right away when they knew they have to pack for someone else (maybe more important than us). Email is not appropriate and cancelling a packing day two working days in advance is even worse!

5 days to go... my husband is packing for his business trip back home and I am lucky to be able to give him and his collegue both again each a full suitcase of summer clothes. This means less volume for the container and summer clothes right on place when we come home.

Instead 4 days to go it is now ONE week to go! Yes! Great. Winning some extra time comforts me. I might not get a heart attack after all. But what do I do with my extra time when the container is gone? Shopping? Suitcases will be packed tight.
We are winning time for friends! And say good-bye again. One family had to leave earlier then planned to find a house in another destination then they thought they will move to. They will be back in some days. And another family that has to leave to Hong Kong due to visa renewel issues will be back this weekend. So this is very nice! We will be able to see both families one more time!

It is a very strange time right now here in Beijing for expats. All is about leaving. Even the magazine That's Beijing has on its June cover this subject:
"101 things to do before leaving Beijing".
Of course there are not 101 things to do in Beijing before leaving. Much less!
And that's why a lot of the points are meant to be funny.

But some of the points I recognize. E.g. getting a qipao. I lived without qipao, a traditonal Chinese dress, since my whole life... but the last time I went to Muxiyuan fabric market, my friend encouraged me and I got the silk to do one. And I went for the first time to a tailor at the Friendship Store (it was 10 days to go at the time). When I saw myself in the mirror, I wondered why I have not bought more silk, in different colours to get more dresses... No, stop thinking! No more fabric market trips (I got addicted, since two months I go there weekly, once even twice a week) - and will I ever wear it back home? Also, all tailors are working at their limits right now. Everybody leaving wants something done in the last minute. Meaning quality is suffering.

I have to go back to "work" and get my cupboards and drawers de-cluttered and sorted. I am also wondering what I find next that I have not thought I still have it. Maybe posting it on BeijingCafe, that serves these days as a very efficient Beijing version of ebay. I am not going to post a flower pot for 20 kuai or free shampoo ... this is what my ayi carries home every evening. But a kid's night pot? Or a toy tool bench? Mmhh, I am still looking for someone I know, who could use it. I am not going to let this be packed up in bubble wrapping and use up high valuable cubic meters in our tiny 20 feet container. So it gets the "Don't move" sticker.

I am glad about everything that I can get rid off, but on the other side all the farwell gifts are floating in and using up new space... Especially the bulky comapny gifts, like car grills... All these things get a "Don't move sticker" and at the end we will see what still fits in.

Today my ayi came with a "new" bike. It is just a tiny bit less shabby then her other bike. She declared her old one is broken. Very tricky... she knows that I have a nice Giant bike. And if it fits in the container, I might not leave it for her. How bad she makes me feel if I take my lovely Giant bike, with only one speed, useless for my hilly hometown, just for the sake of memories... I will feel bad every day I see it standing unused in the garage. Very tricky. I wonder if her bike is really broken - just 1 day before the packing starts?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

BeijingCafe and how a Yahoo Group helps moving

It took me almost three years in Beijing to get to know BeijingCafe and its advantages! Last year I heard of BeijingCafe, a yahoo group, for the first time. It seemed to me an amazing source of information. If you want to know where to buy e.g. silk, you raise this question at BeijingCafe and the members who know where would eventually write back.

Well, I thought, I am living here since a while and did not feel the urgent need to get more information that I already had about life in this city. But who knows, there might be some shopping secrets out there that this group likes to share more openly with you then your neighbours or friends ....

So I asked my friend who had told me a couple of times about BeijingCage to invite me (it took me a while to find out, that you need to be invited). She tried once, we forgot about it and she tried twice. It did not work out. Some more monthes passed by until another friend told me that she had heard about this and that and I wondered how she got these hot info - BeijingCafe, you know? Oh, yes, please invite me. She forgot about it and so do I. Until a third friend told me that she has found something, maybe a great tailor or so, via BeijingCafe. BeijingCafe? Can you invite me? Please! Sure. She did it the same day and I received an invittion the same day! Great! And since I am a member, I am "branche", connected.

It turns out very handy!

One might think, why becoming a member of a Beijing online group when leaving?
It is the right time!

I had to find a job for my ayi. In July? The month every expat goes on holiday? I thought this will be impossible. Probably I need to pay her a month salary for bridging the gab until she finds a new job. But, wait a moment. Why not post her on BeijingCafe. This group has 1.300 members by now. So I wrote a nice recommendation and I got answers! My ayi had over a dozen job offers and enough interviews to find herself a convenient job in an even more convenient location at a higher salary!

Then I thought. What to do with my big Mercedes pedal car? We have no more space in the container, and my son definately does not play with it anymore. Where to sell it when not in China. I asked the neighbourhood, thought about posting it at Jenny Lou -but wait - BeijingCafe is the solution. A minute after I posted the used toy, I got already the first requests in my email box. And the next day it was gone! For a fair price. Fantastic.

Right now, in BeijingCafe the most popular topic is about Olympic tickets: The hurdles of picking them up, during holiday, with middle names and how to transfer it etc. I also checked here whether someone would buy our tickets. Oooh, what a flood of emails I got....

One last BJC story for today: For our farwell party I miscalculated the need of alcohol and am sitting now on a stock of liquor that I cannot pack in the container. What a pitty! I was trying to figure out which bottle I would give to whom, when I read another post on BJC about 'free tampons' that have already been picked up (!). People sell / give away and are looking for some strangest things sometimes...
So I thought, when someone would go to a strangers house to pick up two boxes of tampons, maybe I can find someone via BJC that would come to my house and buy my stock of various wines - white and red, new and old and gins and digestives. So I wrote: I am selling the lot, all 13 bottles together... and I just pressed the sent button when I got a phone call, several emails and one sms - all agreed the price and wanted to buy my leftovers. (Mmmh, maybe the French 1999 bottle is a collector item??)

Amazing BeijingCafe.

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PS: When you are interested, please don't ask me to invite you... I am leaving and busy. But check out this link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Beijingcafe/

Sorry for no perfect link - I entered blogger via an anonymous proxy and it does not show all the features for posting links and photos etc.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Olympic Ticket Hurdle

It is not easy to get into the Olympic Games. Once you won the option to buy tickets for the Games the 'hurdle run' starts. You need to fill out forms, bring your passport to a pick-up point at a certain pick-up time. If you are out of town, you might send a messanger, but also with id and your copied documents etc. If you have a middle name there is confusion too.

Now, what if you have tickets - or at least will have them soon - but cannot attend the Games and want / need to re-sell? More hurdles... You can re-sell, but each ticket can only be transferred once. And most complicated are the Opening and Closing Ceremony tickets to transfer.

Here are some legal info that I received today from our friend Marc's legal counsel in Shanghai:

"The Legal Affairs Department of the Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) has not issued ticket transfer policy yet.

According to Ticketing Centre of BOCOG, ticket transfer policy will be
issued very soon.

I googled some relevant info and hope it will be of some help:
Those who want to transfer tickets in a rightful way should pay for their tickets in advance. Any resale of Olympic tickets for profit, however, is illegal (!).

Ticketing Centre will handle the application to transfer the
tickets in July 2008 until 3 days before the competition or ceremony.

Tickets for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies are not transferable
indiscriminately. The transfer of tickets for the Opening and Closing
Ceremonies shall be approved by BOCOG and follow the procedure as
prescribed in ticket transfer policy. The deadline for opening ticket
transfer: August 4; deadline for closing ticket transfer: August 20.

The tickets shall be transferred only once. The transferor shall be the original ticket buyer. The transferor shall come to Ticketing Centre in person to transfer the tickets. No special requirements for the people who lives outside China. (...)"


Thank you Marc!

So regarding all these hurdles, we prefer not to re-sell and try to give the tickets back, if still possible (we are moving, otherwise we would go of course!). Otherwise we have someone who will buy all six tickets - so please don't email me anymore.

I hope that despite all the hurdles around the ticket purchasing and transferring the stadiums will be full with cheering fans! I know, it is all for our own safety. And I am pretty sure that these will be the safest Games ever!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Olympic Tickets for Sale










We have 6 tickets of the Olympic Summer Games in Beijing for sale:


2 tickets for Athletics on August 21st at 19.00 (AT15) Category B

2 tickets for Football Final on August 23rd at 12.00 (FB39) Category A

2 tickets for Closing Ceremony on August 24th at 20.00 (ZC01) Category A

The tickets will be issued in July. Only the tickets for the closing ceremony need to be transferred in your name before August 3rd (you need to fill out a form).

If you are interested make us an offer at writing(dot)Suzie(at)yahoo(dot)com

We ordered the tickets for us and now we are moving away from Beijing. As it is not sure we will make it back for the Olympics, we decided to sell the tickets to someone who is interested. Many of our friends here in Beijing have already enough tickets, therefore I thought I go public for this sale.

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Update: The tickets are gone.
Our company helps with the transfer as a collegue takes them over.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Pictures from Beijing

One of the things the city of Beijing is doing before the Olympics is painting all the grey and a bit sad looking apartment houses along major roads. They get a quick paint job. Almost overnight. No scaffolding. No repair. Just paint. A quick face lift.

It is difficult to see in the picture. But this house looks so much nicer and cleaner than before! And when you drive a long e.g. the 3rd ring road, you see lots of them. They don't look that much different then before, but somehow different, and when you look closer, you realise, they have been all painted! I should have invested in a paint selling company...

In Beijing new bars and restaurants open weekly - and some may close for the Olympics, if they do not meet some standards. I discovered this "Italian" gelateria behind the Russian Market. It sounds almost Italian.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Don't Underestimate the Power of the Dragon

I am just a little blogger girl and I have not much time to fully research the two stories that I think are related. If you like to know more, you can google around.

1. story: Sharon Stone and her big mouth

By know you might have heard the Sharon Stone Karma story.
It is not that stupid, as one might think, as I read in some other news paper, was it China Daily?, something similar about the last big earthquake and that Chairman Mao died 2 or 3 month afterwards. Chinese are supersticious. They like to "read signs".

But these days, in the pre-Olympic phase, the Dragon is especially sensitive ...
Chinese Media published the story on the front page. I don't know the wording, but I guess, it was ment to dislike the actress. Her new film (I don't know the title) will be boycotted.

But what I thought is most interesting: Dior dropped adds with the actress! This is the Power of the Dragon. Either Dior's marketshare in China is really high, or their business with China will have some disadvantages when they don't dropp her - or both.


2. story: what the NBA has learned

I read that NBA basketball games were suspended from TV. It was said that it is not appropriate to show basketball games during the three days mourning period. But after these 3 days, all channels were broadcasting again (before 3 days of black TV screens! Only newschannels like CNN and BBC were broadcasting and Chinese channels of course. But not even Deutsche Welle DW was on). So people were wondering - and I had a guess - I won the bet with myself - later in May it was reported that NBA donated several millions of dollars (I forgot the amount, maybe 28 mio $ ?) to the victims of the earthquake. They should be back on TV by now.

Dior knew faster then NBA how to please the Dragon.

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Remark: This story is not ment to offend anybody. It should help to understand a bit more the way things work here and to not understimate the power of 1.3 billion people.

Beijing: Photo update


New Parking at Panjiayuan Weekend Market! "New York style car elevator".



The origami lamp at the new Sushi Bar next to Kunlun Hotel, opposite Jia Yi (Taka Kura Sushi Bar, minimalistic cool interior, expensive, cannot beat Hatsune)


A kids party in Beijing. Most of the kids' birthday parties are big. All classmates are invited together with parents on a weekend. Sometimes there is a bouncing castle, sometimes a magician, sometimes there is face painting, there are some little games to play, there is always food and drinks of course and a big birthday cake with a sugar spiderman or barbie on top. And there was this party that had all of it plus an acrobatic show. Amazing.


A tree gets a police escort. Maybe a new tree in front of a police station?


The other bird nest(s) in Beijing. Can you see them? Actually despite the pollution there are many birds in Beijing.

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Today I am glad to be able to access my blog, to sign in and to post words And pictures. What a progress!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Kind of Update

I just lamented that I cannot access my blog and now I am in. It is confusing. Yesterday I found a way via websurfing.cn and today I try the same but get error messages from google. Then I tried to comment on my last post - I am really glad that some readers care - and I realise I am kind of signed in! Now, while I am writing here, the post cannot be saved... it seems hopeless, at least today.
- Until later.

oups!
I cannot save the post, but I can publish it. But none of the tools above (insert link, image, spell check etc.) are available. So no pictures. I only have nice pictures to post!
Hello Mr. Internet P*licemen! Bring back my Blog !

But ... maybe .... if I try to surf back and forward, slowly, again and again, I might be able to dwell another hole in the Great Firewall ...

It is time consuming, but challenging. If anyone has an idea, let me know. Comments are forwarded into my mailbox.

Thanks for not giving up on my blog !

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Update from Beijing

I am still here. I just lost my voice through censorship. And after pkblog.com and other useful sites could not help me to get back to blogspot I gave up. Of course I was angry and sad. Not only could I not write about my thoughts and little daily adventures, I had no access to all my favorite blogs hosted by blogger, blogspot, typepad etc. But after a while I almost get used to a blog free life...

Every now and then I checked my statistic (via statcounter.com) and wondered that I have still lots of hits although I am not updating my blogs.

And just right now, checking again, I see that a lot of hits come via ... www.websurfing.cn - and I followed the link and found this free proxy server that not only allows me to see again my blog - but also to sign in ! THANK YOU THANK YOU !

It feels great! I am back online !

I had so many little daily adventures to tell, that right now I do not know where to start. I see that my last post was May 6, more than three weeks ago (it felt longer to me).

Maybe I should start with what I posted last - about "the virus".
Mmmh.... tricky, I guess, politically not correct to talk about it, I can feel it.
Or why does no newspaper gives any update about it? In the beginning they promised weekly updates. Or was it only monthly? I read somewhere that they do not report statistics anymore (about how many kids have the virus and about how many died - in Beijing) because the blood test with HMFD (hand mouth food disease) is optional, so any reported figure will not give a clear picture. This explanation - I recognize the style - might have been given. So for now, nobody, including me, seems to know anything. Everybody pays attention to the kids hygiene (washing hands as often as possible) and hops that their own kid(s) does not get sick before they leave Beijing for summer holiday or before they move away.

Shortly after the virus subject, a far more dramatic nature disaster happened. The earthquake. I have been in the car on the 3rd ring road on May 12, at 2.28 pm when the earth shaked - even in Beijing. The epicenter was 1545 km away from Beijing, but the quake with magnitude 7.9 (or 8.0) was still to feel in Beijing. Some did not feel it, like me. But many, working on higher floors in Beijing office buildings, or even in schools could feel it and left the buildings or were evacuated respectively. Many people were seen in the streets while others still wondered why, until it was on the 3.00pm news on the radio and was spread my word of mouth and SMS. There were - apparently - thank god - no casualties in Beijing - and no news about what the impact was here in the capital. You get your picture from talking to many different people. Not from reading some newspaper.

I am glad that the Bookworm Beijing organised a donation for Chengdu. They were collecting clothes, blankets, dried food etc. until Saturday May 17, 4.00pm. I was happy to donate kids clothes and our blanket together with my son at the bookworm. It was impressive to see all the big boxes packed so fast by DHL and stored in several yellow vans and trucks - and knowing that the needed goods will arrive in Chengdu the next day to be distributed via the Bookworm Chengdu. I am glad to have been enabled to contribute a little bit, and thanks to the Bookworm, the goods hopefully have arrived at the right moment at the right place.

All other things since the earthquake appear minor and unimportant. That is why the newspaper concentrate on the earthquake, the rescue works, the survivors, the heroes. There seems (almost) no space or time for other news.

Later that month I had an issue with the Bank of China... I was at the ATM machine waiting for my money, that did not come out, but when checking the bank account it showed that 2.500 RMB were debited. It was solved in about 10 days, but with some minor headache as the customer service staff did a very bad job, indeed they did not do their job at all. Anyway, maybe later more. Maybe not.

The air quality last month was not good at all. It seems to get worse. Due to the strong winds all the dust from the many construction sites was blown all over the city (they are sill building like crazy, until there is no more between July 20 and September 20).

And last but not least the news that I have not told yet:
We are moving! June is my last month. In less then 4 weeks (!) from now we are moving. And this is another story.

I am happy to start this month with a new post. And I have many pics to post soon.
Good night from Beijing.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Enterovirus 71 (EV-71) reaches Beijing

A week ago I read about that strange virus in Anhui province that affects young children. At that time around 700 were reported sick, many in serious conditions, around 20 have died. I read about a kindergarten that told stuff to keep quiet or be fired ... But then it could no longer kept secret.

I thought Anhui is quiet far away. 17 hours by train. My ayi comes from there. I asked if her son (9 years) is okay. Yes. It seemed she had not heard yet of anything serious. I thought about the poor children living in poor conditions with low hygienic level. It seemed so far away.

Yesterday, a friend told me the virus has reached Beijing. And anxious Grandmothers from Europe started to call anxious Mums in Beijing. The info that the virus definitely had reached Beijing reached me only today - online.

And indeed. The virus has reached Beijing. All 18 districts of Beijing have reported outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), caused by the enterovirus 71 (EV-71) (reported yesterday by Chinese media Xinhua).

Via Danwei I read further that Xinhua report says that a total of 1,482 infections have been reported in Beijing. 818 of them were found in kindergartens, 583 at home. All people infected are younger than 5.

Another source (Yahoo News) quotes Beijing Evening News reporting that Beijing city health officials on Monday said the number of cases in the capital had reached 1,482 as of the day before, jumping from 1,010 five days earlier.

Reading this, I am a bit confused. They compare figures from Sunday evening with figures from five days earlier, Tuesday evening, April 29!? - And only on Sunday, May 4 was a national public alert - but it was not saying that it has reached Beijing yet, although they already counted the cases? How many kids have been running around in parks and public places during the May holiday without the parents being aware of the risk?

Maybe I did not read the newspapers well, or the online news. I was not aware of a risk in Beijing (although I know how fast a virus can travel by plane...) My son was in a public park (Chaoyang) yesterday as the school still had a day off.

So this afternoon, I tried to google more info and followed all my Chinese links.

I talked to friends and neighbours, on the street and on the phone. We discussed what we should do. So far we heard that washing hands is a good prevention. Well, that is something you do in Beijing all day long, as everything you touch is dusty. My friend and neighbour said she will keep her child inside the compound. No more trips to the park, no shopping mall, no restaurant.

One friend got an email from her employing company. We didn't (so far). But I got an email from our kindergarten instead, saying that they will prepare an information by tomorrow.

For now they forwarded an information from the SOS Clinic which says:

- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.
- Don't share food, drinks or eating utensils.
- Avoid close contact such as kissing and hugging.
- Disinfect contaminated surfaces and items by washing with a diluted chlorine-containing product (well, how do we know something is contaminated?)

One of my friends just called me and said the she will not send her child to kindergarten tomorrow. She just want to wait a day or two to see how the disease is spreading.

Apparently two Chinese kindergarten in Beijing are already closed. One in Chaoyang district (or near Chaoyang Park) and one in Haidan district (near university). Regarding the figures above ... 818 cases in kindergartens... I believe more then two kindergartens are closed.

And finally I went to the WHO website. I am just quoting two paragraphs with information about the Enterovirus in China :

"(...)
All fatal cases died of serious complications such as neurogenic pulmonary oedema due to EV-71 infection. The overall case fatality rate has decreased from 11% during March 10-31 to 0.2% during April 17-29.
(...)
Non-polio enteroviruses are common and distributed worldwide. Although infection often has no symptoms and goes unnoticed, these viruses are also associated with occasional outbreaks in which a larger-than-usual number of patients develop clinical disease, sometimes with fatal consequences. No specific anti-viral therapy is available and treatment focuses on prevention of complications. As there is no vaccine for this virus, control measures during outbreaks are focused on classical hygiene measures including frequent hand-washing and disinfection of soiled clothing and surfaces. In certain situations, it may be advisable to close child-care facilities and schools to reduce the intensity of transmission. It is not necessary to restrict travel or trade.

Currently many countries in the Western Pacific region have implemented heightened surveillance for hand, foot and mouth disease and for severe complications in children."

Oh, yes, I forgot to mention, Singapore and Hong Kong also has cases.

----------------------

How can your child (or you) get the disease? And what are the symptoms?
Here a short summary from what I found so far:

EV71, which can cause hand, foot and mouth disease, is highly contagious and spreads through direct contact with the mucus, saliva or faeces of an infected person.
Young children are most susceptible because of lower immune systems.

In milder cases, EV71 can cause cold like symptoms, diarrhea and sores on the hands, feet and mouth, according to the journal Genetic Vaccines and Therapy.

But more severe cases can cause fluid to accumulate on the brain, resulting in polio-like paralysis and death, according to the journal.

Another source (SOS Clinic):
Infected people generally develop an illness that includes fever, painful ulcers in the mouth, and a non-itchy rash that causes small blisters to appear on the hands, feet and buttocks. Children usually recover without specific treatment in 7 to 10 days. Occasionally, the E71 virus can cause a severe illness in which patients may develop meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The encephalitis may be fatal.

There is no effective antiviral treatment for severe EV71 infections, and no vaccine is available.

And the peak of the outbreak is expected in June - July, when it gets warmer...


For more info follow the links:
WHO on EV71 in China
Danwei about HFMD in Beijing
Yahoo News on China on alert
CNN on China on alert

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UPDATE, Beijing May 7 :
I sent my son to school today and so did most other parents. The teacher I talked to had the information status like me yesterday - he thought there are no cases in Beijing yet. Well, now he knows. But the school was prepared. A nurse (she is employed by the school and is present every day all year long) measures the temperature of each child arriving in the morning and again at noon.
Furthermore, we will keep our son inside the compound. No visits to the park or other public areas. We ensure he washes his hands whenever he comes home and before eating (as well as everybody else in the house). I am going to wash his clothes and shampoo his hair every evening.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Beijing: Lunch time in my Chinese Kitchen


It is lunch time in Beijing and I just sat in my kitchen and enjoyed my ayi's cooking (some soy beans and some Chinese spinach with rice and a glass of water).

Still under the impression of our last filming and photographing everything maniac visitor I used my iPhone to make these two pictures. The picture above shows my Chinese kitchen shelve with a wild variety of Beijing finds from Carrefour (blue and white cups, shop sticks), Ikea (cups, sugar container, mortar), B&Q (clock), Spin (black and white cups), Liangma (blue and white tea container), a Chinese household shop (shop stick container) and the German X-mas bazaar (cup).

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Busy in Beijing


I am busy taking care of a (multi-tasking) visitor (above) and will blog again next week.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Beijing: Furniture and Deco Shopping

Shop North of Silk Market

Where to shop for furniture and decorative items in Beijing, beside IKEA... in only a few days, I received this questions from three different readers. Two have just moved to Beijing, like Kata from Vilijonkka & tyttäret (WELCOME !) and want to decorate their new homes - and one is Suzy Annetta from Studio Annetta, an interior designer from Hong Kong who will come to Beijing to decorate show room apartments, meaning that she can shop with her customer's money. How nice!

I am happy to hear that my blog is "extremely helpful" ! And hope that list below will make you even more happy - it includes some of my favourite shops, I have seen them all (in Beijing, you might find the addresses of these shops in Chinese language in the Insider's Guide to Beijing or in urbane magazine):


Western Style:

- COFCO, different shops downstairs, including Bo Concept (Denmark), Ligne Roset (French), and Zizaohshe Design (interesting elegant Chinese)
- Easy Home, many big blue mall style outlets that including many brands of everything from flooring, toilets to furniture
- Boloni Lifestyle Museum, modern Italian style including curtains (also at Easy Home)
- Leslie's Fidelity Interior, modern furniture tailor made (moved to 4th ring)
- Dara (now at Dashanzi)
QM Furniture (Danish design, Chinese prices)
- Fontainbleau, fabric for upholstery and furniture to order, e.g. Louis XV chairs (small shop, in walkging distance North of Silk Market) <-- exist="" not="" p="" still="" sure="" they="">- Muxiyuan Fabric market for more fabric including cotton, linen, silk, cashmere, fur ... all for your own designed cushions, upholstery, blinds...
SPIN, hip ceramic (from Melbourne) made in Chinese traditional way (Lido area)
- Kartell, having a sale right now because they are closing (?) - just opposite SPIN in Lido - they also do copies of some designer furniture, but nor of Kartell
and of course
- IKEA for some good designed affordable furniture and accessories
- Ilinoi Home, some good accessories, cheaper than IKEA

East meets West ceramics by SPIN


China Style:

- Chaowai 'Antique' Furniture Market (I bought my daybed, picture below, at Cathay 2nd floor - others like Lilly's Shop, same floor opposite side)
- Gaobeidian (many 'antique' shops in the South of Beijing)
- Zizaohshe Design, contemporary elegant Chinese (COFCO)
- Radiance, 'antique', has two shops now, one specialised in Shanghai Art Deco (in Shunyi)
- Karolina Lehmann, lamps, silk screens, wallpaper, ceramics (Latai Flower market)
- Latai Flower market, downstairs many Chinese ceramics, lamps and more
- Liangma Flower market, ceramic, (also Western style), glass, artificial flowers upstairs
- Emperor, silk cushions, table runners
- Shanghai Tang, classy expensive China Style accessories
- Panjiayuan, week end flea market for decorative items like posters, paintings, brushes, vases, but for furniture not that great
- George, for lamp shades in silk (he can make a lamp out of everything), difficult to find in Shunyi
...

Chinese daybed in Chaowai Furniture Market

... long list... I have to go now and will update if I forgot something important. If you feel like I forgot something, let me know.

Happy Weekend ! Happy Shopping !

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Boycotting - A new Sport ?


Last week my friend persuaded me to shop in Carrefour (speak: jia le fou in Chinese). We both hate to shop at Carrefour. In fact, all my expat friends hate to go to Carrefour. But still, last week, we went there - and we were the only foreigners. Only Chinese shop here. Foreigners don't like wasting time with the long drive through traffic jam, the hassle of finding the items of your shoping list in these large two story buildings, and then end up with much more than planned. If some friends buy products from Carrefour, then online. But it is so much easier to go to Jenny Lou around the corner for the daily grocery and milk. They have everything you need, you always meet someone you know and it was even cheaper then Carrefour! - WAS! - Was cheaper!

My friend said: "Lets go to Carrefour, I am boycotting Jenny Lou. (remark: seems like "boycotting" is a new sport these days.) Jenny Lou is exaggerating with its price increases!"

It is true! It is not only the yearly 10% price inflation... many things are 20% up and even more expensive at Jenny Lou lately.

I myself had already started to buy more and more with April Gourmet. The other very friendly and well stocked little chain for foreign brands. Some items I regularly buy are 10% cheaper at April Gourmet in comparison to Jenny Lou.

And to finish the story about my latest shopping experience in Carrefour: the prices really are better now at Carrefour - but I still will go to April Gourmet.

So that day we boycotted Jenny Lou.

And now Chinese want to boycott French Carrefour because of the things that happened in Paris?

This is totally crazy, because most of the products at Carrefour are Chinese - and all workers are Chinese - I have never ever seen any French guy, otherwise I would have told them, how much I am disappointed about the Carrefour outlets in Beijing. The worst Carrefour I have seen in Asia are in Beijing. However, Chinese love to shop there.

BTW demonstrations are allowed in China - at least against French goods.

Read more
Carrefour boycott, by China.org.cn including photos
Chinese netizens urge Carrefour boycott after torch relay incident, by China View
Kitty Shelley versus France, by ESWN including translations of the Chinese Internet discussion

Photo: Boycott sign against Carrefour circulating in the Internet to organise a boycott on May 1st

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