Sunday, December 30, 2007


...In Pictures

Coming up soon(ish?!).

Monday, December 17, 2007

We're Outta Here...

...See You Next Year!

After working this morning (a proper paid job this time), finishing packing our suitcases, we are just hours away before going on our Christmas holiday. This year we decided to skip snow and cold weather whether in France or the States and instead favor sun and next door neighbor country.

No it’s not the Chinese flag with some missing stars!!

Pictures of Hanoi and Halong bay, HoChiMinh/Saigon and the Mekong Delta, Nha Trang…. When we come back… in the meantime: Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's There...

...It's Not There!

Hot from the press: aah Photoshop…

Before…without boots

After… with Boots
(wrong one on her right foot by the way!)

No wrinkles to take care at this age…

Friday, December 14, 2007

No Time to Talk...

...Got Some Shopping To Do

I had not finished my Christmas shopping so I went back to try to find a bargain:

Saleswoman: I give you a good price because you are so cute.
The "being cute" tactic

Jeremy: You must be joking…. You think I’m a tourist! I live in Beijing. I lose face…I’m going somewhere else.
The "walking away" tactic

Salesman: My friend, I will give you a good price.

The “I lose money” tactic

Jeremy: No...I give you this and that’s it.
The “I don’t take no for an answer” tactic

Jeremy: So let’s see how much it is in €/$
The “I think I didn’t go low enough” dilemma

Maman taught me everything!

From Beijing, China. Jeremy Q.

Recommended and Forbidden


Jeremy made sure they were using the proper language.

I might never know what point 8, 9 & 10 mean…
maybe it doesn’t apply to foreigners who didn’t make the effort to learn Chinese
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm So Excited...

...I'm Finally Able To Watch French TV

After almost 10 years of not watching French TV (we even managed to keep our British Cable when we move back to France a couple of years ago –that’s how much we miss it!!) we are finally getting TV5 (French language TV). The management of our complex (with a lot of crying from the growing French community) has decided to add the channel to the basic cable package. Sooooo what’s on tonight…

The image is not that bad…is it?

Update: The image is much better now. But that’s not the only problem…if they could fix the programming too we might start trying watching!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Let It Snow, Let It Snow

...Let It Snow

Here’s what Beijing look like this morning:

Blackish snow

No it’s not white pollution…it’s snow and if I had woken up at my usual time (i.e. later!) I probably wouldn’t have seen it. I don’t think there is even enough to have a snow ball fight let along make a snowman!

Meanwhile in Colorado (Jeff’s dad’s home):

Pure white snow

We don’t compete in the same league that’s for sure!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's Party Time...

...With The Frenchies

Pekin Accueil the French association which keeps my daily agenda full and my evenings busy throw their Christmas party tonight at Dashanzi…. If this name sounds familiar it’s because I was there 10 days ago and 5 weeks ago. The venue was fantastic even if it might not be the best choice in the dead of winter


Little recap: It all started innocently 6 months ago… would I like to get involved in the French Association Pekin Accueil (a sort of newcomers welcome group for French speaker)? No thanks, me and the French group sometimes we don’t see eyes to eyes… but after a nice long email from Christie, who will become the president, I somehow ended up vice president and ‘in charge’ of the website… website that will become my new baby and everybody knows that new babies need a lot of attention. So my evenings are busy because our webmaster is in France (ie 7 hours behind Beijing). It does make it easier to have somebody who can reads and writes in French (we’ve got all those weird accents!) and because he’s also the son-in-law of one of our members, he gave us a break on the bill (and that’s not counting the numbers of time I skyped him either when I have a problem) but it does make me work at odd hours. So here’s the before and after shot:

Out with the "old"

Make room for the "new"

And because you want to see it for real… but for the important page just click here!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We Are Back On...

...Not That We Really Stopped Either!

After several months of lack of planning on my part I decided to revive our Let’s Do Lunch Group.
It just happened that it was my friend Jodi’s birthday and one of her first big-person-only outing since the birth of her son Kai Thomas. So Happy Birthday Jodi.

The Girls don't want to be on the picture anymore, they are afraid they'll end up on the blog... and they are right!

Some of the LDL Girls

The B. Girl:
Totally slip my mind that Jodi has Celiac disease…
More cake for me!!!

Her new man in her life:
A couple of months ago at his first Starbuck outing

Monday, December 3, 2007

And The Winner Is...

...China, again!

After this article about Mr World, a competition which took place 6 months ago also in Sanya and where China came in 3rd place, I’m starting to doubt the voting process of these Mr and Mrs World competition.

It's her!

If you want to check out the losers other contestants it’s here

Zi Lin Zhang, from Beijing, beat the other 105 contestants to become the first Chinese winner and the 57th Miss World in Sanya, China.
Her victory vindicated the decision of the Chinese government to lift its former ban on beauty contests and pay the organisers of the competition to host it for four out of the last five years.
Since it was first held in Sanya in 2003, Miss World has become an invaluable publicity vehicle for the Chinese government. With a global television audience of more than two billion, according to organisers, it is one of the most-watched events on the planet.
This year, contestants helped promote the 2008 Beijing Olympics by singing the official anthem of the Olympic torch relay.
The arrival of Miss World in China has created a craze for beauty pageants, after more than 50 years of being banned by the Communist Party as decadent and demeaning to women.
As recently as 2002, police closed down the Miss China competition, saying it was not officially licensed.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Watch Where You Are Going...

Guess what this is:

It is used by blind people to guide them on the sidewalk. But like everything else, in China there is a twist:

When an idea starts great…

Becomes a challenge…

And ends up plain stupid…

Friday, November 30, 2007


Karaoke or KTV as it is known here is more that signing songs, it’s a national sport in China. Family members, friends but also work colleagues gather in a multitude of small private and soundproofed rooms with sofa, TV screen, maracas and 2 microphones for some powerful duets… And they take it pretty seriously.

Always ready for a good laugh we decided with a group of friends that we should give it a try under the guidance of May who can at least speak and read Chinese (and sing too we would found out!). After several rounds of email we set up a date, to realize that everybody bailed out but 4 of us (Only the best… the Crème de la crème!). So here are some pictures of us enjoying drinks, chips and some really cool “western” songs. We’ll be back to sing in Chinese but first we need to brush up on our Chinese characters to be able to follow the rhythm! The best part of the night was probably the really, really cheesy videos that went with the songs.

Don't we look like we are professionals?

Please beware… you might NOT want to push the ‘Play’ button.

The Good and...

And especially NOT this one!!

...The Ugly!

Monday, November 26, 2007

One After The Other...

After last year visit from Jacques Chirac (希拉克 - Xi La Ke), the new French president Sarkozy (萨科奇 - Sa Ke Qi) also came to Beijing to pay me a visit. As the former president, the current one (among signing lots of big deals and talking about politic of course) went to Xi’an and invited the French People to a little gathering to hear him say what apparently they wanted to hear!.

While Chirac invited them (I personally couldn’t make it) at a posh hotel (The Peninsula), Sarkozy chose to receive his ‘concitoyens’ in the new “it”* place in Beijing: the 798 art district in Dashanzi. The other difference between the 2 presidential visits in less than a year is that Nicolas’ “Bernadette” didn’t come (divorce was the excuse this time!) so we didn’t get any cute picture of Cecilia riding a rickshaw! No word however on what his mom, who was with him, did

First the invitation:
With my own name on it!!

Then the man!:
The "Petits Fours" were plenty... in comparison to the previous visit (or that's what the words on the street were)

* It's so the “It” place right now that it seems like I’m there all the time. First of all I like to walk around the alleys of this up and coming art district, then we went for the opening of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) a couple of weeks ago and next week the French Community and their Association Pekin Accueil will have their Christmas dinner there too.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Money, Money, Money...

...Make The World Go Round

This is with what you have to walk around Beijing when you need to pay for something (in our case our flight for our next vacation) since Beijing is pretty much a cash society.
Because the largest bank note is 100 rmb which is roughly 10 €, well actually 9.2€ now (or $12.5, $13 or $13.5… as time past!!!) you carry a lot of paper for not a lot of money.

Let's go spend some cash!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Visit to Grandma...

...For Thanksgiving

Not that grandma (that would be Cindy, since Bernadette doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving and we call her Mamie), no we went down the street to Grandma’s kitchen and had a lovely meal of Turkey with Cranberry sauce, mash potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc, etc…. Not as nice as a family gathering but since it probably was one of the first time we celebrated since leaving the States, nobody’s complaining!!

Almost like home!

Monday, November 19, 2007

East Vs West

I was browsing on the web when I came upon this culture comparison between Germany and China… But it could be true with almost any other Western country…

First Set
Second Set
Third Set
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Expat' Life Explained To...

...Expat' Wives

INN is a social organization that was established more than 10 years ago by a group of expatriates living in Beijing. International Newcomers’ Network is a resource to obtain information and a support network and provides an opportunity to meet friends (Here’s for the pep talk!).

What started as mainly a monthly meeting on the last Monday of each month when I first arrived in Beijing (and where I met most of my current friends) has now outreached to monthly Happy Hours, Social Neighborhood Coffee Morning, Outings and monthly Big Brekkie where usually a special guest speaker is invited to give a talk. This month Robin Pascoe who once lived in Beijing and writes books on the many challenges of expatriation (be marriage, raising nomad kids, or even repatriation) was the guest speaker. Robin was on an Asian tour which took her from Hong Kong to Tokyo, via Beijing and Seoul: 25 lectures in 3 weeks.
Not only is she a great writer and any person who deals with expatriation can relate with what she writes in her books but she’s a great speaker as well.
I bought her books and I’m sure I will see myself in many of them…

For more information:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007



I have no idea what to say about that… this is information without investigation!!... Where do they find them that’s what I wonder

Used condoms that have been reprocessed into rubber bands and hair ties have been sold in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, raising concerns about public health.
In addition to being sold at local bazaars, the recycled condoms have been found at local beauty salons in the prosperous Pearl River Delta city, according to Guangzhou-based New Express Daily(…)
Local doctors have warned that using these rubber bands could lead to the spread of AIDS, genital warts and other sexually transmitted diseases.
"There are a lot of bacteria and viruses on the rubber bands and hair ties made from used condoms," a dermatologist at the Guangzhou Hospital of Armed Police, who asked to be identified by his surname Dong, said.
"People could be infected with AIDS, warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while weaving their hair into plaits or buns," Dong was quoted as saying by the paper. (…)
A bag of 10 recycled hair ties costs only 25 fen (3 cents) at local markets, which is much less than the normal rate for such products, the paper said.
Many sellers have refused to reveal where they got their products and whether they had been made from recycled condoms, saying it was commercial secret.
But insiders said some of the rubber bands and hair ties could have been made from imported overseas rubbish. Local entertainment venues were also said to have contributed condoms.
An official from the Guangzhou administration of industry and commerce said it was against the law to make or sell goods made from used condoms.(ChinaDaily)

Blogging is becoming easier, just… cut and paste!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

To Go Shopping...

...Or Not To Go

Well this is why I have decided not to go grocery shopping anymore… It takes too much of my time (queuing since 4am!) and it’s way too dangerous!!

Three people died and 31 were injured during a Saturday morning shopping stampede at a Carrefour supermarket in Chongqing, southwestern China. The supermarket was closed after the accident, reports on the People's Daily website said. A sale on a five-liter bottle of cooking oil caused the stampede. The supermarket lowered the oil's price to 39.9 yuan from 51.4 yuan ($1.5 or 20%) to celebrate the store's 10th anniversary. A large crowd had waited outside the store from 4 am until the supermarket opened at 8:40 am. The shoppers rushed in all at once, causing the deaths and injuries. (ChinaDaily)

UPDATE 13.11.2007
China has banned time-limited sales promotions in retail outlets following a stampede at a Carrefour supermarket. The Ministry of Commerce ordered local authorities across China to overhaul safety requirements in shops to prevent similar occurrences, said a statement dated Monday on its website. "In order to eliminate safety concerns, companies are required not to organise time-limited sales promotions which may lead to traffic congestion, bodily harm and disorderly conduct," it said.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Something Happened...

...That's For Sure

The key words seem to be there…it just a matter of putting the sentence together yourself.

It probably makes more sense in Chinese

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Little Known Fact...

...Wifes Are Always Right!

After weeks of nagging from my dear half about how cold our apartment is (check this post to know how winter and heating work in Beijing!)… I finally had it this morning and decided to clear some time in my busy schedule (do I have to remind anybody that I actually do not work if you associate work with paycheck but I do work anyhow) to go buy an electric heater (dian nuan3qi4 - 电暖气).

First of all, how do you choose one heater over another one when you don’t have a clue of what the labels say…. Well you go with the one which doesn’t feel too cheap and the prettiest!!!

Here’s our new home addition:

Our new toy?!

Secondly, after a long day of lunch and foot massage with my friend (I just said that it happened that today my schedule was clear!!) I go pick up my daughter from the bus stop and decide to have a glance at the notice board in our building to see what new Chinenglish message the management put up…. And what do I see: “We, the management, would like to inform the tenants that the heating system will be up starting…………yes you guessed it: November 6th.

What I don’t understand is how someone (my husband!) can put the A/C on in the summer to 20°C (75°F) but cannot stand it when it’s actually 20°C in our apartment in November!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Too Much Staff

...Too Much Time

This is what happens when you have too many people on your pay roll… you’ve got to find them something to do:

Let's go vacuum and polish the driveway

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Yesterday night was the opening of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Dashanzi, the Art District of Beijing. My friend Magali’s husband (she’s the Secretary of Pékin Accueil, the French association that takes up all of my time, hence the huge delay in my postings) is the managing director and kindly invited us for the “Glamorous” Opening Party.

Here’s an article of the UCCA museums and the party.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Fruit of Our Labor

...Chloe and I

Chloe for posing for the photos and me for waiting a whole day in the middle of nowhere!!

Click on the picture to enlarge

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

So Many Things...

...So Little Time

It all started with a personal email stating that I, Celine, was invited to the French Residence in honor of the Mr Kouchner’s visit (he’s French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, better known elsewhere for being the founder of Doctors Without Borders/Medecins sans Frontiere and Doctors of the World/Médecins du Monde). Since the email was only addressed to me (i.e. not an undisclosed mailing list) and after some inquiring with my friends if they had received such email I worried that it might have been an email with an hoax/virus. As I was about to delete it the girls from the board of Pekin Accueil said that they were invited too.

THE invitation!

All this stress for a 10-minute speech… his previous meeting with Chinese officials lasted longer and the following one had been rescheduled for earlier. Well at least I know I still can fit in my ‘business' suit!!

Back to being a mom when I got back home since it’s Halloween tonight. Not really a Chinese celebration but since our building has a lot of foreign families, the kids can hop from one pre-signed apartment to another pre-signed apartment for their trick or treating.

On a side note: I found out (just in case I wasn’t 110% sure) that Chloe will talk to anybody and tell her story. A really nice man show up at our door with his son and after doing the usual trick or treating, proceeded to ask me if I was Chloe’s mom. Not only I’m usually being defined as Jeff’s wife but I’m now defined as my kids’ mom… I’m not sure if I will ever be just ME again! Anyhow after asking him how he knew Chloe, he said that they met at the playground because she was taking care of his son (that’s the mom part in her) and told him all about her background (born in Argentina, mom French, dad American, brother born in Scotland, etc, etc….). As I said before we wouldn’t be able to hide anything or from anybody even if we tried to.

Hand-carved by Chloe & Jeremy

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pea Pie

I loooove Mc Donald Pie, but I’d got a little taken back by the color of this one. This one is definitely NOT the kind I like…

It looks like a pie...

but it doesn't taste like a pie

Thursday, October 25, 2007

U.N. Day

...or Meet My Neighbor!

Today it’s UN day…. Well I know you probably didn’t know and I would be in your shoes if it wasn’t for Chloe and Jeremy’s school big celebration today.

Everyone was supposed to dress in their national costumes… so what do you do when you have a French mother, American father, was born either in Argentina (for C.) or Scotland (for J.) and live in yet another country? I’ll tell you it’s a headache….Chloe wanted to even choose another country, Australia to dress up like her friends as Surf chick (her words, not mine). Why did I decide to tell you all this; well because as I was taking my kids to the bus stop all dressed up (Jeremy as a French Soccer player and Chloe as a French girl, i.e with a beret!! - This year they’ll be French we’ll see next year!) I was introduced to my neighbor who had moved a few weeks ago in our building. (top floor, the really big apartment, the duplex… am I jealous? Are you kidding?)

So let me give you a little background about my new friend. Yolande, originally from Cameroon, grew up in Paris and London and spoke French and English with her parents, and for some obscure reason she mentioned she also spoke German at home…. Already I’m impressed. But the story doesn’t end here; from our conversation I learned that she also learned Portuguese and after meeting her husband decided that she’d better learn Spanish (her husband is Spanish!). I know all this from just making conversation and one of the top thing you usually ask when you live in the Expat’ community is where the people have lived before. So when she said they moved to Beijing from Tokyo, I casually asked her if she spoke Japanese as well and she said that since they lived there for 5 years she had to learn it even though she's not fluent, she can manage. Well after our conversation I’m sure her "not fluent" in Japanese means darn good in my book…. I forgot to mentioned that she worked as a translator (at the UN I think) so her Japanese might not be good enough for the UN but it was good enough to travel within Japan without a guide and mingle with real Japanese families.

And now I’m going back to my Chinese lessons because I need to keep up with the Yolande’s of the world!!!! Zai Jian…

Monday, October 22, 2007

Great Wall Of...

...China, France, Well At Least "La Riviere"

We decided to have the ultimate souvenir from China… our own Great Wall:

It doesn't look much...But those boulders are massive

No more sharing with 1.3 billions Chinese and countless oversea visitors and it’s not with 450+ inhabitants in our village that this wall will ever get crowded…. But if you are ever near La Rivière don’t hesitate to come over and have a drink overlooking the Great Wall of ……!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Where Is Waldo...

...Where Does He Live And/Or Work?

While I was riding my bike around the neighborhood I realized that the Red House (the actual name of a bar near our apartment complex) was getting more pink, which made me think that I don’t even know where the President of China (or I should say People’s Republic of China since when I typed “President of China”, 陳水扁 Chen Shui-bian “president” of Taiwan came up) lives and/or works.

Well any way where is the White House, Elysée or Casa Rosada of China? (see my thread of thought – far stretch I know but I come up with subject the way I can!)

Pretty in Pink

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You've Been Punked...

...I Mean Banned

YouTube and now my sister blog too....
What am I going to do? It seems that since yesterday YouTube is blocked from China and I haven’t found a proxy yet to get around the problem.
Attempting to access the site give you a “connection reset” error, which has become the SOP for blocked sites in China. A few days ago all inquiries for Yahoo! and Google seemed to be redirect to some Chinese web site as well.

And as I was talking with one of my student (my source of knowledge from the young?!!) he informed me that skyrock blogs were also blocked in China (Skyrock is a radio station in France and has outreach to blogging)….so I also need to use a proxy to view the pretty innocent photos of my nephews’ life in I-can-believe-you-live-there Saint Barth!!

As soon as the government decide to block my favorite gossip Blog (name withdraw in case it gives them the idea of actually blocking it!!) I will have to ask for a transfer from our company!!!

BTW I still cannot access this blog without a Proxy....

Monday, October 15, 2007

I'm Getting Confused...

...Which One Is The Legitimate One?

Neither actually

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Do You Want To Dance...

...JingJing or ChaCha?

Look what I found on one of the web page I visited…. Pretty innocent website since it’s from the place I went to a month ago!

Little explanation:
and ChaCha (a pun on the Chinese word for police – Jing3 Cha2 警察) are the cartoon mascots of the Internet Surveillance Division of the Public Security Bureau in Shenzhen, China. Debuting in January 2006, they are used to, amongst other things, inform Chinese Internet users what is and is not legal to consult or write on the Chinese Internet.
Clicking on the images will take a user to either of the characters' own personal webspace, where Chinese Internet users can learn about the laws and regulations related to Internet, keep up-to-date on the newest Internet policies, and submit questions to Jingjing and Chacha live through the instant messaging service Tencent QQ or through their blogs.

In August 2007, Beijing police announced a similar campaign using animated officers. The Beijing version of the characters will appear every half hour on 13 of China's top web portals and display messages about Internet laws and conduct. The cyber cartoon couple serves as a pointer of kinda a "red line on line," added Chen, saying, "The Internet has been always monitored by police, the significance of "Jingjing" and "Chacha" is to remind the online population to be conscious of safe and healthy use of the Internet, self-regulate their online behavior, and maintain harmonious Internet order together."

ChaCha and JingJing

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Great Outdoor

Let’s finish this set of posts on our trip to the south of China with a bit of public community service: If you are an outdoor English teacher… I know where you can find a job!!!

Meaning probably “Native English Teacher”

We also know of a good hairdresser that welcomes their foreign friends and will cut your hair on the spot (better go in summer time) for only 10 RMB (= 1€ or $1.5) which is probably twice the rate of the locals'

They love “Outdoor” things here

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Guilin, Longshen, Yanshuo...

Article and Pictures to come!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Book and The Chair

Before I share some pictures of our latest trip I would like to share with you those photos:

The Book:
As we were settling in our hotel room in Yangshuo, we came upon this gem: the hotel’s directory book….It was a keepsake but we were too afraid we were going to be charged for it and since the price was not listed (the only one!) we didn’t want to tempt faith.

You MUST click on the picture to appreciate

Is it worth taking the....?

You've been warned

You wonder what kind of bad experience this hotel had had in the past or if people actually mistakenly took the hotel for a local Ikea!!!
What’s funny it’s that there were surveillance cameras in every hallways… so you wonder how someone could actually take the fridge?

The Chair:
And the last picture was taken at the airport in Guilin:

Do I have to be old and weak and sick and disable and pregnant to sit here?