Saturday, August 25, 2007

Things I've Learned...

...When I Was In France

  • You don’t tell the store person: “I’m not paying that price, so I’ll give you… (price/10)
  • You keep on wondering if you’ve paid the right price and if the store person didn’t charge you double because you are a rich westerner (oh sorry pleonasm here: a westerner is rich by definition!!!)
  • People don’t stop you every 5 minutes when you walk through town to take your picture (so THAT’S what being non-famous feels like!)
  • People don’t stop you to tell you how beautiful your kids are (Don’t they see how precious they are??? Ccome on people take the time to compliment me on my offspring -how can they dare not to!!!)
  • You are the only one to look after your kids and nobody will stop them from crossing the street in front of a car (how selfish)
  • You realized you can actually survive WITHOUT eating rice every single day. (But still Uncle’s Benz non-sticky rice is a real treat)
  • You cannot ask for a menu with picture to help you make your choice… (“I’m having problems visualizing what this dish might look like”)
  • You have to be careful of what you say at all time since every one can understand you.
  • 4th (for me the 14th) of July crowd at the fireworks show looks like a small back yard gathering (less than 8 persons/sqm is NOT considered crowded)
  •  Again the 4th of July firework looks pretty lame (WHAT?, the finale is actually only on the finale?, and what about 15 days of firecrackers right under your windows and 1 yard away from your feet to celebrate, just like for Chinese New Year?)
  • You mean first I have to find a parking spot, then park the car and finally walk to where I’m supposed to go (They could at least have valet parking everywhere since I don’t have a chauffeur)
  • You don’t tell your friend let’s go have a pedicure, manicure and while we are at it let’s finish with a (foot) massage (you cannot afford it here!!)
  • You don’t have luncheon at fine restaurants 5 days of the week (you mean you need to cook lunch on top of dinner).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

See Paris...

...Like A Tourist

We went on a 2-day trip to Paris with Chloe in tow and since it was her first time in the City of Lights we wanted to show her the major sites so she could brag about her trip to Paris to her international friends back in Beijing!!.

In fact we did exactly what we used to laugh about when we lived in Paris: people telling us that they visited Paris and found out it was in the middle of a 10-day/6-country tour!!

Anyhow in two days (included the 6-hour round trip TGV/train ride) we managed to introduce to Chloe:

  • The Louvre Museum: No queuing line, we know the short cuts and have a free entry pass from Jeff’s work!! Mona Lisa at her new location (courtesy of a Japanese company), Winged of Victory of Samothrace, Coronation of Napoleon
  • Walk (under the rain!) the Jardin des Tuilerie and pointed out the Obelisk.
  • The Eiffel tower: 2 hours waiting line to get to the 2nd floor. The 3rd floor was an extra 30 minutes and Jeffrey couldn’t have handled the height so we skipped the top!! But well worth the wait since when we reached the top the lighting was superb and I took some of the best pictures of Paris and its roofs that I have yet
  • Ice cream at Bertillon on the Ile Saint Louis
  • Quick outside glance at Beaubourg and place Igor Stavinsky
  • Stroll through our old neighborhood in Les Halles: show her that mommy and daddy used to live here (yes, the woman at the corner of the street is waiting for her friends!!!??)
  • Another quick sprint through the Marais and a visit to my favorite tea store Mariages Frères (yes I am NOT ashamed: I buy my tea in France and import it to China!!)
  • Quick stop at my old office and lunch with my friend (has it been 5 years, really? She still looks like Claudia Schiffer!!)
  • But decided to skip on the 2+ hour wait to go to Notre Dame: damned Dan Brown and his DaVinci Code! It was a Tuesday, though, and the museums are closed that day so the tourists have to go somewhere!
  • Last but not least since it was the purpose of our trip, the medical exam we have to take each year.

All this while it was freezing cold, rainy and everybody in Paris seemed to have forgotten it’s supposed to be summer and were already wearing their autumn cloths (think: boots, trench coat and umbrellas). It was nice to be back in Paris (it had been a few years for me at least) but I felt a little too rushed. I would have like to enjoy a ride on the Bateau Mouche (I know it’s cheesy but anything for my daughter), a stroll (not a run) by the Seine, eating Laduré Macarons, fighting for the best Sales at Le Printemps and Les Galeries Lafayettes, taking the time to sit at a café and do some people watching, going to Montmartre… and so many other little pleasures that comes with living in a city and not just visiting it!.

Beautiful Paris
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Monday, August 20, 2007

Back To School

...At Last!

I'm sure School is not as hard as Vacation!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Kids Had A Great Time...

...In France

Chloe as Cinderella

Jeremy as Bob the Builder

Friday, August 17, 2007

We Are Back Home

...i.e Beijing

We are back in Beijing so we are back home. Most Expats would say that they are going back home when they leave on their summer break. I see it the other way around. For now Beijing is home and France is where we have a house, since we haven’t actually lived, worked or even been to school there in the last 10 years. (apart from those 10 months “sound-like-an-expat-but-without-the-benefits” in Pau!!)

So as I was saying we are back in China and I, Celine, can finally get MY vacation, because let’s put it frankly with no ayi, kids out of school, babysitting my 2 nephews and working on our house ….This is not what I call vacation!!

I’m not complaining but 6 weeks seems to have flown by so fast. We still had time to enjoy the “good-one-day-bad-one-day” weather, the July’s “Soldes” (bi-annually sales in France), have a few friends over for BBQ, we even managed a 2-day trip to Paris (see next post)…oh I almost forgot: a trip to the emergency room at 1.00 am courtesy of Jeremy’s opened left eyebrow!

I’m getting back to the habit of eating the air around me when I’m outside and not breathing it!!! My level of oxygen was almost getting too high and my lung couldn’t take it anymore, they are back to their ‘it-feels-like-I’m-smoking-two-pack-a-day” self!!!

Two more days to get over the jet lag, then the kids will be back in school and mommy to her normal life (coffee, luncheons, massages…) well until she’s back on the roller coaster of Culture Shocks which will probably hit again sometimes in the following days…weeks…months?.

Home/House Sweet Home/House!!