Saturday, 31 January 2009

Classic Feng Shui lesson from a Beijing Professor

When Professor Zhao gave a lecture about Feng Shui at the Chinese Culture Club (CCC) in Beijing (see my post about Feng Shui in Beijing) he distinguished between the Feng Shui for exterior settings and for interiors.

This post is about Feng Shui for interiors and will be the third and last part about Prof. Zhao's lecture. Please remember that this lecture was about classic feng shui as it is still practiced in China.

He started by listing some general hints:

1) A good floor plan or layout has to have a square or rectangular shape to ensure the free flow of qi. (remark: if the layout of a floor or a room has a different shape, e.g. a L-shape, some area of the bagua map will miss.)

2) The amount and size of rooms should be in an adequate ratio to the the amount of people living in.

3) Try to get as much sunshine as possible into the rooms (best of course when facing south).

4) The rooms should be placed according importance (e.g. bathroom in the back)

5) Balance the influences of yin & yang (shadow and light, high and low, 'water and fire')

6) Avoid sharp corners (less 90 degree)

7) Avoid 'hasty wind' (draft) that could attack the good qi.

How to enhance feng shui in special areas / rooms :

Main Door / Gate
- the main door is equivalent to the face of a person
- free passage for wind and people
- door best in South-East corner
(for courtyards: then turn left and have 2nd door in the middle - or have a fish bowl or statue or screen between the 1st and the 2nd door to walk around - because evil ghosts (only) go straight)
- it is not good to see the kitchen right away (kitchen is related to fire)
- it is not good to face the toilet right away (no good smell)
- avoid to see a mirror (it can reflect both, good and bad qi which goes away, out of the house)
- avoid wooden beam above the entrance (could be 'bone-crushing')
- avoid arch shape of your door (in China it is associated with tombs)
- the door should not face a road or an elevator as bad qi can blow into your home

Living Room / Main Room
- emphasize elegance or your taste
- should reflect harmony and peace (of a family)
- should be easy to access (not to walk long ways), best in center
- should have lots of light or bright lamps
- try to avoid to see other doors, egg. to bedroom
- no wooden beam (symbolize that somebody is riding on you, also dangerous during earthquakes)
- appropriate number of furniture, not too less, not too much
- sofa should be place against wall or other furniture (console)
- but not a fish tank (water) should be behind or in front of the sofa
- no mirror behind the sofa (head is reflected and gives disturbance to the person like 'you lost your spirit, attention')
- no passage behind the sofa (no person or wind should be able to pass behind)

Corridor / Stairs
- a corridor should not run in the middle of a house and separate the rooms like a sword
- also not good if a stairways is in the living room, if stairs are necessary then better spiral stairs (in clockwise direction)

- should be peaceful and comfortable
- no mirror in front or beside the bed !
- 2 bedrooms should not face each other, doors should not be opposite to ensure privacy
- no glass window straight down to the floor (in case make bottom part not see-through)
- toilet should not face bedroom (in case keep door closed)
- bedroom door should not face kitchen door
- no sharp things (eg. sword, ventilator) --> no ventilator over bed !
- bed should not face the door

- clean
- tools should be placed for convenience
- not in the center of the house
- not facing south (kitchen = fire, South = fire, when kitchen on fire --> too much fire!)
- should not face the gate / main door, bedroom or toilet (smell)
- oven should not face the window or door (wind could extinguish fire, if cooking with gas)
- also separate water (sink, fridge) and fire (oven)

- clean (of course... well, not always in China...)
- dry (dto.)
- privacy (dto.)
- worst location (egg. South-West part of courtyard, or any hidden corner, but not in center)
- not at the end of a corridor
- should have good ventilation (best is window)
- close toilet seat (yes!!) --> to prevent loss (of money)

Common Errors

1) a common error is to paint the walls in these colors (of the 5 elements), better to choose a color according to your feelings or your birth date (how to calculate your bagua number and finding the suitable colour go here)
2) the Western interpretation of the 8 patterns is different or often not correct (in which way I did not get it, too bad)
3) the number theory is also often miss used (egg. with floors)... did he mean the '4' phobia that includes '14', '24' etc. ?)
4) the exaggeration of inner and outer screen walls (this is more useful for courtyards)
5) some beasts (statues) or magic writing to fear off evil is exaggerated.

Well, I hope this was a bit different from the usual Feng Shui reads in the West. It has some amusing parts. It cannot always be applied to modern Western homes. But what I learned is that you have to follow your intuition and pick for yourself what feels best for you, also what symbols work best for you. I am not the crystal ball type. BUT I have heard a story about a quartz / rock crystal under a bed that must have fulfilled its purpose.

Any interesting Feng Shui experience to share?

Feng Shui label on Beijing Notebook

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

2009 bloggies awards: Beijing Notebook almost famous !

Yes, unbelievable, this blog, Beijing Notebook got nominated for the Ninth Annual Weblog Awards, aka the 2009 bloggies !

Before you start to wonder why you have not seen Beijing Notebook listed.... : this blog got only nominated, but it is not among the finalists. However, I thought it worth to post about it, because I, the author and editor and owner of this blog got so excited for a couple of days when I discovered (via my statistic counter) that this blog SOMEHOW got on the '2009bloggies.panelist'.

So thank you to whom it may concern! It made me happy to see that some people believe that I am doing a good job on this blog ! Thank you for nominating Beijing Notebook and thank you for voting for my blog ! I promise I will do my best to be nominated for the 2010 bloggies next year - and then - maybe - this blog will enter the final !

It is not about winning (not for me, not for this blog), it is about being part of the best of the best. And if this blog would have been among the finalists - I don't even know for which category my blog was nominated for, I guess rather 'best asian blog' then 'best travel blog' - the competition is tough !

As Beijing Notebook probably was nominated for 'best asian blog' I want to present all the 5 blogs that entered the final:

Danwei (Beijing, China)
Tokyo Times (Tokyo, Japan)
Asian Ramblings (China)
Susie's Big Adventure (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Bryan Boy (Manila?, Beijing?)

You can go here and check out all the finalists in each category and VOTE ! You only can vote for ONE blog in each category ONCE. HURRY, voting closes February 2nd.

I wish all the finalists good luck !

And if you want to know for whom I am going to vote as 'best asian blog': check out my blogroll... while in Beijing they were my daily read and helped me to find two jobs... so for me they are no.1 - for sure in Beijing !

Thursday, 22 January 2009

101 Feng Shui for exterior settings - a must read for (Beijing) property buyers

'Traditionally, feng shui was important in choosing a place to live and finding a burial site, along with agricultural planning.'

After my recent introduction to Feng Shui in Beijing, I would like to continue to write about Prof. Zhao's lecture, held at the Chinese Culture Club in Beijing.

And so he started with the exterior settings of a house which are key for good feng shui:

1) The ideal location for a property was (and still is) to have a mountain in the back and water in front !

2) The property ideally should face South !

3) The number of inhabitants should be in balance with the size of the house ! Not too many people should live in a small house and few people should not live in a big house.

4) The complex or house should be build in harmony and in right proportions ! Example for harmony: the traditional Beijing courtyard house that has a garden in the middle and all buildings face the courtyard. Ideal shapes are square or rectangular.

5) The wind around the house should not be too strong to protect the smooth flow of qi. In Beijing there are some streets and corners that are much more effected by wind then others.

6) Before you buy a property you should check the earth and the water where you want to live. In Beijing's West and Northwest the water quality is good and the property prices are higher then e.g. in the South of the city.

7) The house should have some free space in front and should not be blocked by a high raised building.

8) Modifications of a location to achieve better feng shui are possible.

To achieve a good feng shui, good qi (energy) = good luck, consider the following for your property choice:

- not too close to a temple (or church), this might overwhelm you with too strong energy (even though it is positive energy)

- not too close to a prison

- not too close to a waste dump

- not too close to a slaughter house

- don't choose a single lonely high raised building among low raised houses and vice verse don't choose a small house beside sky scrapers (not balanced!)

- if your neighbour has no 'grass' in the front yard, it symbolizes that he is poor which is not so good for a balanced neighbourhood

- your house should not stand at the end of a road and face a T-crossing

- a building with a sharp corner that faces your house implies bad feng shui.

According Prof. Zhao, the Sunflower building near Liangma Flower market in Beijing has the shape of an ax - which is considered as bad feng shui for the Sunflower building and the neighbourhood with the result that the prices for property goes down.

To be continued... the next 101 will be about interiors

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Winter in Beijing: How to spend your Sunday

What I would do on a Sunday morning in Beijing in January ?
I would go to Houhai Park Ice skating (Qianhai area) !
This is so much fun ! Not only for kids ! For smaller kids you also can go to Ritan Park which is a bit more quiet.

After that I would warm up in one of the restaurants or bars around Houhai. E.g. Hutong Pizza was one of our favorite places for lunch. They also have a toilet. Otherwise there is a McDonald on the main street. See map for your way:

And for those who prefer another sport called shopping: the New Year & Winter Sales just started all over Beijing ! Here two of my tips:

click to enlargeRouge Baiser Elise in Sanlitun - originally from Shanghai - the boutique with the French flair of beautiful linen table wear, bedding, kids clothes and home accessories just started its winter sale!

And the second hint is one of my favorite jewellery shops:

Beijing Fine Jewellers announces: During Spring Festival, we keep open everyday from 10:00am-5:00pm. For the celebration of Chinese New Year, we will have special discount for different items from Jan.25th to Feb.4th (20 - 60 %, not including Diamond exceed 0.1ct and order)

Shop Hours: 10:00am-5:00pm. (From Jan.25th ----Feb.2nd)
Tel: 010-65927118/65018046/13901146739
ADD: 3-106, China View, The East Road of Worker’s Stadium, Chaoyang District. /北京市朝阳区工体东路丙2号红街大厦3-106






Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Tips for the prevention of bird flu in Chinese

Please find below the Chinese translation of the recently by the German Embassy published reminder about how to prevent bird flu (see my post).
Please inform your Chinese friends, ayi or to whom you think it might be helpful:

• 洗手!!!!
• 坚持用温水和洗涤剂(少量即可!)清洗炊具、餐具和筷子。
• 用温水和清洁剂擦洗厨房和其他房间地面。
• 避免接触活禽和死禽(包括毛、灰和粪便),避免饲养鸟类和去鸟禽市
• 通过加热(70°C)可以杀死禽流感病毒。
• 家用消毒剂同样有效。
• 尚未证实吃鸡肉以及其他禽肉产品会导致染病。
• 坚持仔细彻底清洗双手,尤其在处理鸡肉、鸭肉以及鸡蛋后。
• 分别用不同的案板和刀具处理肉类和蔬菜。
• 使用单独的案板处理生禽肉,做其他菜时另换刀具。
• 在用香皂仔细彻底洗手后再做其他菜。
• 处理生肉后仔细彻底洗手,用温水和洗涤剂清洗刀具和操作台表面。
• 烹调肉类时,温度必须至少达到 70°C(不能是淡红色的肉!)。
• 蛋壳也可能带有病毒,须小心。仔细彻底清洗蛋类。不要买蛋壳上粘有
• 彻底煮熟市场上买来的鸡肉和蛋类。
• 不吃半熟的肉。
• 不吃生蛋以及半熟夹生的蛋。
• 不买带血和有污渍的肉。
• 不买特别便宜的肉,因为这可能来自于因感染被紧急宰杀的牲禽。
• 冷藏不能消灭病毒。
• 鼻腔和口腔黏液中有大量流感病毒,须注意不向周边传播病毒;在同孩
• 咳嗽和打喷嚏时:使用口罩;如果没有口罩,用面巾纸。面巾纸在使用
• 出于卫生考虑,美国亚特兰大疾病预防控制中心建议“不要向手中打喷
• 接触鼻腔和口腔黏液后用香皂彻底仔细洗手。因孩子在这方面比较马虎,
• 出现类似流感发烧症状时立刻就医。
• 为预防季节性流感,最重要的方法之一就是注射流感疫苗。
诊所 安金宝博士

Source: German Embassy newsletter

related links:
Bird flu in Beijing and precautions
German Embassy

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Feng Shui in Beijing

While in China you would think that learning about Feng Shui (translation: 风 fēng = wind, 水 shuǐ = water) is a must. But what I learned is that since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, feng shui has been officially deemed as a "feudalistic superstitious practice" and a "social evil" and that it was banned at times. However, at the end of the Cultural Revolution, the official attitude became more tolerant. But restrictions on feng shui practice are still in place in today's China.

In May 2006, I had the opportunity to attend a lesson about Feng Shui by Professor Zhao at the Chinese Culture Club (CCC) in Beijing. As I understood Prof. Zhao is teaching architecture at the China University, but he does not officially lectures about Feng Shui at university. The slides he used for the lecture were in English, however his speech was in Chinese and simultaneously translated into English.

At the end he stated that - other than the people in Hong Kong, which are very superstitious and use feng shui all the time - the Beijingers are less interested in feng shui. It is mainly used by real estate agents and construction companies to sell. There is no official discipline in any Chinese university. "Feng Shui is more considered as a secret and the Chinese government does not support it" he said.

Well, since a long time I wanted to blog about that lecture and I will finally start today. I know, I am not going to reveal anything new. If you are interested in Feng Shui you will find many books on the market that explain much better and much more. I will only provide a summary of Prof. Zhao's introduction to Feng Shui and how to use it for your home.

For those who have never heard about Feng Shui before:
Nowadays it is used to make you feel better - more energetic or more relaxed - in a room, may it be in your office or at home. It has a lot to do with common sense, but this old wisdom also has some 'tricks' you would not have thought about.

The professor's lecture at that evening was about the feng shui of yang buildings, buildings for the living. (Ying buildings are for the dead --> tombs).

He started with a building's exterior and how it can ensure a good feng shui.

... to be continued ....

wikipedia on Fengshui
Feng Shui 101 at

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Bird Flu in Beijing and precautions - Vogelgrippe in Peking und Vorsichtsmassnahmen

Dear all,

I hoped to start the New Year with a nicer post, but this is more urgent. A 19 year old girl has just died from bird flu (avian flu) in Beijing on January 5th. For about one year there was no more human bird flu case in China. This post is about how to prevent to get infected by bird flu.

As I am still on the distribution list of the German Embassy in Beijing, I have received the following information - I will post first a brief English translation - and further below the full German letter from the doctor of the German Embassy.
Go here for Chinese translation.

Reminder of precautions to avoid infection :

Wash your hands !!!

Avoid contact with living and dead chicken/birds/poultry (including feathers, dust, droppings) and avoid to have any bird at home in a cage and avoid bird markets !.

It is not proven, that you can get infected by eating chicken/poultry meat.

If you can't avoid to eat poultry or egg, follow these cooking instructions: (my opinion: don't eat chicken or egg in a restaurant as you cannot control if they take all measures!)

Wash hands .....

Have separate working bench, plates and knives for poultry and vegetables....

wash plates and knives with soap before using it for other dishes.

the cooking temperature should be at leat 70°C (no pink meat!)

wash eggs!

don't buy eggs that have dropping marks or cracks

don't buy meat that seems too cheap

Freezing the meat does not kill the virus !

Cover your nose when sneezing or caughing and explain to the children how to handle sneezing and washing hands....

The Centers for Diseases Control -Atlanta,USA says it is better to sneeze in your arm then in your hand to avoid the circulation of the visur when shaking hands (my opinion: don't shake hands ! or wash it right after !)


Der Regionalarzt informiert:

Aktuelle Erkenntnisse zur Vogelgrippe (Update vom 07.01.2009)

Ein 19 Jahre altes Mädchen ist in Peking an der Vogelgrippe gestorben. Dies ist der erste Fall von Vogelgrippe in Peking. Fast ein Jahr lang war China frei von menschlichen Fällen der Vogelgripppe. Der letzte Fall wurde im Februar 2008
gemeldet. Die Frau wurde am 24.12.2008 ins Krankenhaus eingeliefert. Sie hat Symptome entwickelt, nach dem sie ein Huhn ,das sie außerhalb von Peking gekauft hat, selbst
geschlachtet hat.

Nach Angaben des Municipal Health Bureaus in Beijing gibt es in einem Umkreis von 10 Km um den Chaoyang District keine Hühnerfarmen. Die Impfrate der Hühner in Peking liegt bei 100%.
Da die Vogelgrippe wird uns weiterhin beschäftigen wird, folgende Empfehlungen zur Erinnerung:


Kontakte mit lebendem oder totem Geflügel (einschließlich Federn, Staub und Mist) das Halten eines Ziervogels sowie Vogelmärkte sind zu meiden.

Durch Erhitzen (70°C) werden die Influenzaviren getötet.
Haushaltsdesinfektionsmittel sind ebenfalls wirksam.

Es ist nicht nachgewiesen, dass der Verzehr von Hühnerfleisch bzw. -Fleischprodukten zu einer Übertragung der Krankheit führt.

Falls auf Geflügelfleisch oder Ei nicht verzichtet wird, sollten folgende Zubereitungsregeln beachtet werden:

Die Hände immer gründlich waschen, besonders nach Zubereitung von Hühnerfleisch, Entenfleisch bzw. Hühnereiern.

Separate Platten und Messer für Fleisch und Gemüse.
Zubereitung von rohem Geflügelfleisch auf anderer Arbeitsplatte und mit anderem Messer für weitere Gerichte.

Zubereitung der folgenden Speisen erst nach gründlichem Händewaschen mit Seife.

Nach Zubereitung des rohen Fleisches gründliches Händewaschen, Reinigen des Messers und der Arbeitsoberfläche mit Wasser und Spülmittel.

Die Temperatur im Fleisch durch Braten oder Kochen muss mindestens 70°C erreichen (kein rosafarbenes Fleisch!)

Da die Eierschalen mit Fäkalien kontaminiert sein können, ist Vorsicht geboten. Die Eier gründlich waschen. Kaufen Sie keine Eier mit Kotauflagerungen bzw. Rissen in der Schale.

Hühnerfleisch und Eier aus den Märkten sollten gründlich gekocht werden.

Kein halbgekochtes Fleisch essen.

Keine rohen Eier bzw. halbgekochten weichen Eier essen.

Kaufen Sie kein Fleisch, das blutig oder fleckig ist.

Kein Fleisch kaufen, das außergewöhnlich billig ist, denn es könnte sich um notgeschlachtete kranke Tiere handeln.

Tieffrieren tötet das Virus nicht ab.

Bei grippeähnlichen Symptomen sind folgende Maßnahmen empfohlen:
Nasen und Mundsekret beinhalten größere Mengen an Grippeviren die nicht in die Umgebung gelangen sollten, besondere Beachtung beim Umgang mit Kindern.

Beim Husten und Niesen: Benutzung einer Maske, falls keine Maske vorhanden Papiertaschentücher benutzen. Nach einmaliger Benutzung die Papiertaschentücher entsorgen; den Kindern diese Praxis beibringen.

Aus hygienischen Gründen empfiehlt das Centers for Diseases Control -Atlanta,USA nicht in die „Hand zu nießen, sondern auf die Armbeuge“, da mit der Armbeuge die Viren nicht „per Handschlag“ weitergegeben werden.

Nach Kontakt mit Nasen-und Mundsekret die Hände gründlich mit Seife waschen.

Da die Kinder in dieser Beziehung nachlässig sind, versuchen Sie ihnen die Bedeutung dieser Maßnahmen zu erklären.

Bei grippeähnlichen fieberhaften Erkrankungen gehen Sie gleich zum Arzt.

Eine der wichtigsten Maßnahmen ist die Grippeschutzimpfung, um sich gegen die saisonale Grippe zu schützen.

Dr. Anver
Regionalarzt Peking

Meine Meinung: Essen Sie kein Hühnerfleisch oder Ei im Restaurant !


Good luck Beijingers !

German Embassy in Beijing
Details about the circumstances of the Chinese girl's death by wodeBJ and Peking Duck (with article from Chinese media)

the Chinese girl who died from avian flu apparently slaughtered a duck not a chicken

Go to Chinese translation !


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