Thursday, 18 November 2010

Red Acrylic Chinese Chairs

These traditional Chinese horseshoe shaped chairs are not of red lacquered wood. They are acrylic chairs ! They look super cool in the stylish "Green T. House Living" in Shunyi, Beijing.

My stay in Beijing was fantastic, I still have not figured out where to start. So I am posting two pics my friend took during our lunch at the Green T. House living. She would like to know where to get these acrylic chairs. Anyone can help?

photo source:  N.U.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Active Expat Ladies in Beijing - or Selfmade Entrepreneurs

click to enlarge

I admire these active expat ladies !

Another bazar is coming up, this time on Wednesday, November 17 at East Lake Villas! In Sanlitun, Beijing, my old home! - And look at the flyer they made ! It is send out via email and probably hangs out at expat compounds, condos and supermarkets.

I love their "label" names : Shanghai Trio, Mandarine Coco, Tang' Roulou ... - and the money they have to pay for their bazar stand goes to charity. What a clever concept.

The products you can buy at these kind of bazaars that go round in the community are mainly designed by these active expat ladies and produced by Chinese workers or factories that they found suitable. Some other ladies import products you otherwise would not find in Beijing. And so they keep them self busy and try out entrepreneur's life. Some of the ladies are so successful that they have their own shops yet.

Take Shanghai Trio, they just opened a  shop at the new North Village in Sanlitun. They have already boutiques in Shanghai and Paris, but in Beijing they tried only bazars for a long time, or on appointment at home.

While in Beijing, my friend and I went to their shop and bought small bags in shiny red waterproofed material. Shanghai Trio is one of my favorites and I hope they survive the probably very high rental fees at North Village.

And long before Constance de Toldi, the organiser of the above "So French" bazar, started with her cashmere business, my friend Ira Walendy was already doing her private Cashmere Parties. Now, more ladies try their luck, also with kid's cashmere collections. Ira meanwhile concentrates on her 0813 spa collection , where she and her friend aim more at hotel shops to become customers.

Since this is a unpaid advertising post for all active expat ladies in Beijing, I want to name some more - also as inspiration for "still dreaming" expats - like me.

Some other successful entrepreneur ladies in Beijing :

Kathrin von Rechenberg : "tea silk" fashion made in China. Kathrin, originally from Munich, married to a Chinese, shows her collections at fashion shows at The Orchard Restaurant, shoes up at bazaars (preferred the Embassy house) and has her own shop in Sanlitun (near Embassy house) were she works and lives.

Rouge Baiser Elise  : home embroidered linen by Parisian Elise de St. Guilhem. After a successful shop in Shanghai, she opened one more boutique in Sanlitun, Beijing. This is run by some French ladies taking turns in the shop.

If home made necklaces or cashmere from the wool spinning city are not enough handcraft for you, I have two more examples of successful entrepreneurs: Take the French butcher Michel or the German bakery "Cafe Constance" (Konztanz). That's real business.

But I still dream small. Online sales, paypal payment... just don't have the product yet.

Find more inspiration via nicely made in China, a portal for quality products made in China aiming at export. You can browse by categories like DESIGN, FASHION, HANDMADE, CRAFTS. You will find the stories behind Shanghai Trio, Kathrin von Rechenberg and many more active expats that became entrepreneurs !

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Preparing for the trip to Beijing: Visa, Money & SIM card

Getting the visa from the Chinese Embassy was really easy. In Bangkok the agent fee for bringing the passports to the Embassy, filling out the application form and collecting the passport after 4 days was just 600 Baht (15 Euro). An Express Visa issued by the Chinese Embassy within 2 days was an extra 800 Baht (20 Euro).

So that's done.

Now, when we will arrive at the airport, I will change some money into the Chinese Currency. But you need to know that with an European Cash card (EC card) you can collect money at every ATM machine in Beijing. Not sure about the American ATM cards, but should be the same easy.

It just costs you the usual fee that you would pay in your hometown when not using the ATM machine of your bank. And of course credit cards are widely accepted. In the markets however, only when you have bigger amounts to pay. Not all boutiques and stands do have the facility and if they go, they like to charge 3-5 % on top for using a credit card. I recommend to have local cash when shopping in the markets. And evey market has several ATM machines to refill your wallet...

What to do when you are running late or got lost? Or book to book a massage or a table at a restaurant? Best thing is to have a Chinese prepaid SIM card to be more independent. Nowadays this is so easy. They sell the SIM cards upon arrival at the airport. So that's what I plan to do.

My friend in Beijing actually told me, he would have a SIM card for me. This is a very, very special and useful welcome service, that everyone who lives abroad in a country where you can buy prepaid phone cards could provide for their visitors. In that way you can make sure your family or friends do not get lost.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Planning a trip to Beijing

It has been two years and two months since we have left Beijing.
I always hesitated to go back.

First of all because I did not want to see my son cry at the airport when we would leave Beijing after a visit.

Now, I have to see my son cry for Germany (every now and then, but getting less) since we moved from Germany to Thailand. Is this then the right time to take him back to Beijing for a visit? Next week ?!

Maybe it will be fine for him.
And how about myself?
How will I feel when I see our old house ? My son's best friend still lives in the house next door ...
How will I feel when I will have to take a taxi and struggle with the driver, instead riding my bike freely or call our friendly driver who always knew the way best and around traffic jams ...

This might sound strange if you have never moved.
Can you imagine to travel back in time but not beiing able to recognize your old life?
I think it never works. Past is past.

But I always wanted to go back one day and see and remember and refresh memories. I also have promised to everyone.

And why not now? I am not getting younger...

As I said, we now live in Bangkok, which is 5 hours flight from Beijing. We are closer to China than the last two years while in Germany. This is one advantage.

Then we have a 10 days school holiday coming up. And every friend in Beijing will be in Beijing because they are all travelling right now during the golden week of October.

The third good reason why to travel to Beijing is a very good friend from Germany who will be in Beijing exactly at the same time. And guess how I met her? Through this blog ! But this is another story.
And she will probably help me to see Beijing through new eyes (and not my old past glasses).

And the fourth - and maybe best reason for my readers - is that finally this blog gets a fresh update !!!

So, this time I am writing as a traveller and not like a resident. First of all, I have to organize a visa. I could ask my travel agent here in Bangkok, the additional fee is reasonable. But maybe it will be interesting to visit the Chinese Embassy in person ?

First thing I noted today:
  • I need a tourist visa, type "L" (the 2 pages application form can be downloaded from the internet)
  • Visa approval (in Bangkok) takes 4 days, express visa will take 2 days (and higher fee).
  • The Embassy is closed this week due to national holidays ...

Tonight, I am sitting in Bangkok planning a trip to Beijing to meet old friends and to shop. No pressure of sightseeing. Maybe the Great Wall of China, my favorite sight, together with my son and his friends.
Despite, I have no ticket and no visa, I am in a good mood. I am convinced, that this is the right time to go back and visit my ex hometown of three years!

PS: I have chosen Thai Airways over Air China.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Chinese Version of Michael Jackson's Beat It

If this link does not work anymore, google it, there are many youtube entries, but Sony music tries to block them for copy right reasons ... well, I think it is a fun video, and the Chinese "red army" is looking great in that video. Good job. I like best is the 'guitar' solo at the end.

The video is taken from the red army themed musical 'The long march'. Today on and (the Chinese version of youtube) you can find several pop songs along with this trailer, beside Michael Jackon's 'Beat it' the most famous is Lady Gaga's 'Poker Face'. Read more here.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Back in Asia

After we have left Beijing, we have been living for 2 years in Germany (to be precise: 2 years and 2 weeks). Now we are back in Asia. This time Bangkok. It is a bit like moving back home, because we have lived already 5 years in Bangkok before (1998 - 2003) - but that was without our son.

He misses Beijing and we still have many friends in Beijing that we really want to visit. Now, from Bangkok it is "only" a 5 hour flight to Beijing.

Since we have announced that we are going to live in Bangkok again, all our friends from Beijing (and not only from Beijing) have promised to visit us in Thailand.

I hope to keep this blog alive by writing soon again something new. Hopefully about a trip to China!
Stay with me and this blog!
Thanks, xie xie


PS: BTW I have startet a blog about moving to Bangkok (so far it is in German). But from now on, I will translate the posts into English as well. You can find it here:

Monday, 1 March 2010

When you ask for TWO and get EIGHT

Once, when my mother was visiting me in Beijing together with my mother-in-law, we went shopping. We always went shopping of course, but once we went shopping for tea. It was their last day of their stay in Beijing and the demand for different kind of green teas and jasmine teas in pretty little gift boxes was high. I was the tour guide and had to translate - but could not handle both mothers at the same time. So my mother, not shy, went ahead and ordered two more red boxes of a nice Dragon Well green tea. And to make sure the Chinese sales girl understood her right, she made the gesture with her two fingers - the Western way :

The Chinese sales girl got very excited and asked her collegue for help and they packed tea in boxes, and boxes and boxes ... meanwhile I turned around and saw my confused mother trying to stop the girls and behind the counter I saw happy busy working sales girls.

I understood right away, what had happened, when I heard my mother saying : No, TWO, TWO !

The Western gesture for TWO is the Chinese gesture for EIGHT !

You must know the following :
Chinese use one hand, five fingers only, to count to 10. And especially when shopping in the grocery markets they use their fingers.

And counting to ten the Chinese way goes like this:

Chinese figure gestures
Chinese characters for 1 to 10 and pinyin writing

Below alternative gestures for 10 :

So, my Mum had ordered EIGHT boxes of tea, thinking she had asked for only TWO. Well, she did ask for two, in her English - but with the Western gesture for two which is the Chinese gesture for eight.


LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs