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

Monday, 14 April 2008

Clean up time in Beijing

It is clean up time in Beijing. Not really that type of spring cleaning a housewife would do to let freely flow the 'qi'. It is about a severe clean up time before the Olympics.

Three important things to know:

1) the visa policy has changed
2) you need to register at the local police station
3) carry an ID with you at any time

1) About the visa:
Beijing has stopped issuing multiple-entry visas, causing inconvenience to foreigners who travel to the mainland regularly and to foreign residents. Apparently this new policy only stays in place until after the Olympic Games.
Travelers are now restricted to single or double-entry visas valid for 30 days only. Multiple-entry visas that have not expired are still valid.

2) About the local police registration:
Beijing police requires foreign residents to register at the local police station within 24 hours after returning from each trip abroad. This requirement applies even if the temporary residence permit has not expired.

I am not sure since when this is in place, but I got a call in February from our compound's receptionist that they want our passports and visas copied because of a new regulation. So I guess, if you life in a compound that owns your rented house/apartment, they can organize it for you. Same as a hotel will organize the registration for its hotel guests.

3) About carrying your ID
If you are controlled by the police and you cannot identify yourself with an ID, passport or driving license, the police might take you to the police station for interrogation and you might have to pay a huge fine (I heard up to 1000 Euro?)

And I heard the story of some international school children that were controlled by police in Sanlitun and as they couldn't show their IDs they were taken to the police station. In a scary way, with plastic bags over their heads and they were not allowed to call their parents for three hours! What a terrible story! In Sanlitun where I live - I needed to search the Internet tonight...

And yes, the story took place. But it was not in the middle of the day after school on the way home (as I have first pictured), but still ...

Read about it here:

'Chinese torturing foreign teens in drugs bust', by journalist Richard Spencer in Beijing, 07/04/2008

and here

Drug raid in Sanlitun sees more than 20 arrested, by Beijing Boyce blog

Picture source: Plastered 8

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Beijing Daily Pictures - Ducks

Attention, these pictures are not for the Western stomach...

You can see delicious duck necks and duck heads!
Amazing, how the colour of each dish is the same...

Taken today at Wanda Plaza, an office and entertainment complex with lots of tiny restaurants in Beijing.

PS: I love Beijing Duck or Peking Duck! That famous dish is is so different and really delicious!!!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Beijing Daily Pictures

These days I have to run some errands and while stuck in traffic I took the pictures (above: new CCTV tower and neighbouring constructions taken from the 3rd ring road while driving from South to North) out of the car. We had a couple of grey days lately. The visibility was poor and the air quality not better. However today, the sun is making her way through and Beijing looks friendly again.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Blind Date in Dashanzi

Recently I was contacted by one of my readers. Emma, a professional photographer from the UK, was planning a trip to Beijing (among other destinations in Asia) and asked me if we could meet. She found me via my blog which inspired her travel planning. So one morning she had arrived in Beijing and called me. We fixed a blind date for the next day afternoon.

Her speciality is botanical photography, and as I wanted to propose a flower stand to be featured in urbane, the magazine I am writing for, I had this idea to do some quick photo shooting together in Liangma Flower Market before heading to Dashanzi. I thought it is a nice coincidence. You never know, maybe the magazine decides to buy her beautiful pics. Among others Emma is preparing a garden photo exhibition in the UK and plans to export the concept to Asia.

So that afternoon, Emma cycled all the way from her Kelly courtyard Hotel in the West to our house, where we first met. I was impressed. She only called me once from a public phone (I have never tried that before) to get directions: 'From that Embassy, do I have to go East or West?' - Emma is another proof that it is a prejudice that women have no orientation. We got along like we knew each other before. She is very easy and looks very Greek. - Then off we went to the Liangma Flower Market. It was interesting to observe a professional photographer. She has an eye and she works fast. She has different discs for different subjects.

Then we left for Dashanzi, 798 Art District. Also here pre-Olympic construction! Deep trenches for canalisation are bordering every single street. Mountains of earth narrow the ways. Some galleries and cafes have disappeared. Parking areas, new shops and new galleries are on the way.

What looks like an art installation is just another new gallery opening soon.

What a great weather to visit Dashanzi Art District. I love that factory atmosphere.

Factory and excavator in 798 - working class meets art meets tourists

Someone new in the neighbourhood...

... and someone leaving soon (exhibition ends Sunday April 6)

Emma and I spent an hour in this Beijing art district without visiting one single gallery. The whole site itself is an attraction. You can find art everywhere. We both liked this graffiti. (It is not for sale.)

Art is everywhere.

Princess Haiku?

Photo Source: Suzie from BeijingNotebook

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Beijing's Olympic Heroes

Today I found these pictures on TooManyTriples flickr page *) (via Danwei).
She named them "Olympic Heroes".
These two words say it all.

However let me add a few words: Around one million migrant workers are working in Beijing. Most of them (at least 90 %) are construction workers helping to build the 'new Beijing'. Among the several thousand construction sites are the Olympic stadium (aka the bird nest), the swimming stadium (aka the water cube), the new airport (already in operation) and many other modern buildings and infrastructure for the Olympic Games that start August 8.

Since March 20, all earthwork construction projects on windy days are suspended and all construction sites will latest close on July 21 for a period of 2 months in order to reduce dust and improve air quality. Then, while the construction sites are closed, most migrant workers will be sent home (rumours).

While googling 'migrant workers in Beijing' to provide actual data I saw this link http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/03/12/china18244.htm... but cannot open the website ... oh, of course not, because 'hrw' stands for 'human rights watch' ...

I found the article elsewhere unblocked. Sad, sad, sad.
I hope the smiling heroes above will be rewarded appropriately.

*) When I wanted to copy the link I found flickr blocked... the Net Nanny or Chinese Fire Wall is unpredictable. What was open a few minutes ago is blocked now. - However, for the Olympics the Internet will be open. This is a request by the IOC. (I will add the link as soon as I can open it. Meanwhile you could find TooManyTriples via Danwei above or go directly to www.flickr.com).


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