Saturday, September 30, 2006

This is Home Now

We've got all the gear… So how long till we feel at home in our new home? This is hard to tell but we will keep you posted.

Friday, September 29, 2006

…and Carrefour Too!!!

By the way I’m already sick of Carrefour too (for you American friends: Carrefour is the French Walmart -well it’s more like SuperTarget with mostly the food and a little of the extra and without the bad thing behind the scene (or at least a lot less)!!!.

So I am just telling you do NOT go on a Saturday and/or Sunday as it is crazy mad in there. Well I have learned since our escapade that Beijing has the world’s busiest Carrefour just before or after (I’m not 100% sure) Budapest. So imagine when you are doing your shopping back at home and it’s busy (day after Thanksgiving let’s say) well multiply this by 2….or 3 (well there is a lot of Chinese people as everybody knows) and you are not even close to what doing shopping in Carrefour feels like. Oh and let’s not forget that on top of the crowd there are salespeople at every other product (and I mean every other product, that is not just a figure of speech) screaming in a microphone that their product is the best. Well since you don’t understand Chinese yet (remember you only had 1 class probably so far before having to go buy food), I can tell you that you come out of there with a pretty good headache. So I’m warning you do not go to Jialefu 家乐福 (that’s how it is known here) on the weekend!

Did I mention that we did all that with 2 kids in tow….
Note to self:
get that babysitter lined up!

One of the 6 Carrefour in town.

I almost forgot to tell you that there is no parking lot nearby or for so few vehicles that it’s almost laughable!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm Already Sick...

...of IKEA

So here’s the deal: we are renting an apartment furnished with modern white/clear wood furniture as per our request when we first visited the apartment and were asked the style we would like (but I’ve already talked about this on a previous post/ I’ll talk more about this in a future post). But when I say furnished it means the essential furniture: table, 6 chairs, sofa, coffee table, TV, beds, cupboards… and now the fun part starts, we have about a week (or 2) to make our apartment a home with an unlimited budget (well not really unlimited, in a reasonable limit, that’s means we are not counting the cents). Well I don’t know if you ever had to buy every little thing you need in a house on a limited time but I can tell you this is not an easy task, it’s usually when you need that one particular item that you realize you don’t have it. So here we are starting another list. And when you start a list that usually ends up in another trip to Ikea!!
What a Rip off!!!
On another note we went to another store called Aika pretty close to Ikea in English already; well it sounds even closer in Chinese since Aika is called 爱家家居 - pronounced “ai jia jia ju” and the Chinese name for Ikea is 宜家家居- pronounced “yi jia jia ju”. . .There is only one character difference…Too close to be honest? I let you be the judge. Somebody call the lawyers!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Do Like The Locals…

...Ride a Bike!!

We’ve been here a whole full month now and it seems like there is no turning back. So we’ve decided to immerse ourselves in the local life and bought a bike. Well we are taking baby steps, first the bike, then the business cards (post to come) then we’ll try the local delicacy that you can find on every corner of the streets.
Jeremy has been riding his bike in and out of the apartment and he’s getting pretty good at taking the elevator and turning around to face the door by the time we reach the ground floor!!!

I, on the other hand, have being touring around town our (large) neighborhood and the local Hutongs

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hanger Management

No, no you read it right… there is no misspelling. I meant to put that H. I might write another post without the H but for now I want to talk about the business of clothes hanging!!!!

I realized one day that I must have bought more hangers in my entire life than anything else.

Well it’s simple each time we are moving somewhere, this is probably the first thing on the list. You see, we are always asked to move with the essentials (well you don’t put a lot already with 4 m3 worth of personal belongings so you may as well forget about bringing the hangers!!) so as soon as we start to unpack in a new place guess what we need !! So off we go and buy more hangers. That’s already the 7th time for me (Denver, Houston, Paris, Buenos Aires, Aberdeen, Pau and Beijing). I tried them all and I came to the conclusion that they are basically all the same…. doing a pretty good job of hanging my clothes.

And some people think expat life is all about glamour…. Well for us it’s all about Hangers!! And off we go to Ikea because you can never have too many hangers!!

They are finally here!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Alien Employment Permit

We have the right to be here

This is the magic key... we can receive our stuff now!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Will Do It On My Terms

They bothered me all summer with this and I kept on telling them I will do it when I'm ready but they didn’t listen.
I needed a bigger challenge than just being potty trained. I knew that I wanted the ultimate challenge: New country + new house + new language + potty training = 1 week after arriving in China I’m without a diaper Day AND Night....Top that!


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Interior Design

One of the perks of moving all around the world with our home on our back (read: 12+ trunks or 4 cubic meters) is that we get to have a brand new home and interior décor every 2-3 years on average. Well at least that is what I tell myself when I cry over everything I have to leave behind each time (and I’m not only talking about my clothes, my shoes, my bags, etc... I’m also thinking about my kids belongings but not so much about Jeff’s stuff since we are here because of him in the first place (well I’m whining but I love it!!))

So back on the matter at hand : Interior Design.
We have so far lived in a “rod-iron style house” in Buenos Aires (we even had one or two pieces of furniture made with it to bring back, so apparently we kind of like it). It was a nice apartment with wooden floors and a view over the garden of a Covent and we still have fond memories of it. In fact we had moved from a 30 sqm in Paris to a 150 sqm in Buenos Aires; not bad of an upgrade, don’t you think?

Then we were on our way to Aberdeen and little did we know that we were going to live in a style that can only be describe as a Thailand Nightmare (Tapestry and Elephant momentum absolutely everywhere). We actually had to pack most of it up and put in the attic after a few weeks, we couldn’t take it anymore!!!. But on the plus side when you have flowery carpet and a toddler that tended to leave tracks of food behind, it’s a nice thing: crumbs don’t show as much when you have a patterned carpet.

Our next move was just a few blocks down the road (it had already been 2 years in that house and we didn’t want to lose our touch of packing every couple of years. Plus baby n°2 was on the way so we needed to have another room) and for the first time we got to live in a “Total” look (and by Total look we mean TOTAL® look). Well that was a first for us. Until now we had been lucky that each time we got to have a house that was personal and not entirely furnished by the company and by entirely I mean ENTIRELY: from furniture to dishes, etc, which makes it interesting when you go to your friend’s houses and you feel almost at home because they have exactly the same stuff!

We then had to go back to France, for a short time as you all know, and for the first time we got to pick our own furniture (the 4 years in Paris and student furniture in a 30 sqm apartment doesn’t count as ’to furnish a home”). We actually had to furnish an entire home from top to bottom; everything that you think of, we had to buy it (that was painful, not only for the short time allocated but for the wallet too). But after less than a year in our growing collection and beloved, hard-found Antiques in France we had to move to new Interior Design adventure.
Which brings us to now and our new slick, modern and minimalist look in Beijing. We had visited quite a few apartments and after seeing a lot of horrors not to our taste decor, we settled for an empty apartment to be furnished by the owner according to our guidance. We were so afraid of going too Chinese (think dark lacquered wood, fluffy cushions), too Middle-East (think too much gold) too... too… too everything that we told them that modern was the best choice.

The conclusion of this life style is that I’m glad I didn’t get to pay for all the disastrous décor mistakes over the last few years and that I can go back home with a good idea of what we like and dislike

Settling in Style thanks to Heather’s going away tools!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A New Diet by Jeremy S.

Because I cannot survive only on Milk, Cookies and Bananas

So we’ve been here for a little while now and I am a little tired of my milk-cookie-banana diet. Since there is no turning back apparently, I have decided to change my diet and stick to (sticky?!) rice. I have also noticed that they don’t eat with a fork, knife or spoon here….In fact they have those 2 wooden sticks that they put together and eat with them. I am going to give it a they say “when in Rome do as the Romans,” well except here we are in Beijing so we must do as the Chinese… but you get the point.

Here are some photos of myself mastering the art of kuizi (筷子)...
not bad!!!

But I have to say that eating rice a grain at a time is not a big improvement from my former diet. How do you say in Chinese: “Please bring me a fork and knife?”*

It might be easier just to travel with a plastic fork and spoon from IKEA that slips easily into my stroller bag!

Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Q. Suiter (Beijing, China)

* 请给我拿个刀叉 (Qǐng gĕi wŏ ná g dāochā)

Friday, September 1, 2006

We’ve Made It …. “Home of Tycoons”

By now you must know that we moved from A to B

China is big : 9 596 960 sq km (that’s roughly 3 705 386 sq miles!).

All these sqkms and only one time zone!!! (GMT+8 and no DST). Go figure how people in the western part of the country do being 3 hours behind official time.

There are a lot of people in China (1.3 millions) and
we’ve decided to join the 15 million (officially, a lot more unofficially) that live in Beijing.

As you can see (or not!!) from this Google Earth View,
we are conveniently located only 70 km from the Great Wall

And really close to the Forbidden City and
Tian’AnMen square to name but a few.

And this is our building complex.
If you want to see more pictures of our apartment,
drop us a line and we’ll send you the link to our
web photo album!!!

Well apparently we made it since we are at the
“Home of Tycoons”!!
This is the key badge for our complex : "Seasons Park" or
"Hǎi Shèng Míng Yuàn"
(海晟名苑) as we must call it here !!!