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

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!

Submit your script to Immersion Guides
Immersion Guide
The Beijinger
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


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


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