Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's Vacation Time...


It’s been a while now (1 month) since we got back from Vietnam and I think we need some vacation again!!!
Chinese New Year is just around the corner and Chinese National Holiday usually means chaos since everybody takes their vacation at the same time and even more during CNY. It’s the time of the year to be with family so millions of people (and especially migrant workers) hit the road. Once again we are not going back to see family (it’s not “our” traditional holiday) but we are hitting the road air and flying to much warmer climate for a week of pure indulgence in Koh Samui, Thailand. See you back in a week all tan!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Time to Flee The Country...

China’s worst winter weather in five decades will continue over the next three days, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) told a news conference Wednesday.
The heavy snow and sleet has paralyzed transport and coal shipments, and led to travelers cramming railways stations and airports and power supply reductions in almost half of the 31 provinces and regions on the Chinese mainland.
The havoc was chiefly caused by the long-lasting sleet, which resulted from warm and cold air currents clashing over south China, said CMA spokesperson Jiao Haiyan.
The CMA was advising people in affected areas to stay home and reduce energy consumption during the holiday period of the Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, she said.
Over the next 10 days, southwestern, eastern and southern China will embrace more snow and sleet with freezing temperatures while northern China will stay clear but windy, according to the CMA.
The snow struck as tens of millions of Chinese began to head home to celebrate the major Chinese holiday starting Feb. 7 this year, straining rail, air and road transport services as well as shipping. (Xinhua News Agency)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It Ain't Harbin...

...And It Ain't Close Either!

Last year we went to northern China, Harbin to be exact to the renowned Ice & Snow Festival. (I should put a link here to the post but I haven’t uploaded any pictures yet so just do a Google search to have an idea of what I’m talking about!!!). We heard about Beijing’s own Harbin kind-of-festival being held in Longqing Gorge so we decided to go and have a look. It’s a good 2-hour drive from downtown Beijing and as we were driving to the mountain there was not a snowflake in sight so we started to wonder how they could hold a Snow and Ice festival with a weather so uncooperative!!

They just build a big tent over the ice sculptures:

Friday, January 25, 2008

So Many People...

...So Few Names

When I wrote the post “What’s In A Name” (about the Olympics) I remembered that I had started a while back to write about Chinese Family names. I think the idea was triggered by the fact that 3 out of 7 of the company’s drivers are called Wang. One being our driver!

So what’s the reality: 85 percent out of China's 1.3 billion people share only 100 surnames even more, 70% of the Chinese population uses the same 45 surnames.

Sources differ but mostly the top ten being:

  1. 李 Li
  2. 王 Wang
  3. 張 张 Zhang
  4. 劉 刘 Liu
  5. 陳 陈 Chen
  6. 楊 杨 Yang
  7. 黃 黄 Huang
  8. 趙 赵 Zhao
  9. 周 Zhou
  10. 吳 吴 Wu.

our name came 41st on the list (it was 36th in 1990) 蘇 苏 Su

Having the same name as other people is an annoying fact of life for many people in China, causing lots of problems in household registration and daily life. To avoid giving their children names that are too common, some parents opt for rare and difficult characters. But this practice also creates problems, because computer input systems often do not recognize rare characters. According to the public security department, more than 40,000 people in Beijing are unable to get their identity cards because the rare characters in their names cannot be keyed into the computer.

Traditionally, the father's family name is the first choice for a Chinese kid's surname, although the use of the mother's name is not uncommon. Under a new draft regulation released by the ministry of public security, parents will be able to combine their surnames for their children, a move that could open up 1.28 million new possibilities.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


...Finger In The Nose!

I have complained a number of times about how hard not easy it is to learn Chinese (besides yesterday wizard found with almost no help!!). Well of course having 3 hours a week of Chinese and doing NO homework aside doesn’t help improve my level. But I have found a new methodology and I would like to highly recommend it to any of our future visitors:

  • That's not right: Sum Ting Wong
  • Are you harboring a Fugitive?: Hu Yu Hai Ding
  • See me ASAP: Kum Hia Nao
  • Stupid Man: Dum Fuk
  • Small Horse : Tai Ni Po Ni
  • Did you go to the beach?: Wai Yu So Tan
  • I bumped into a coffee table: Ai Bang Mai Fa Kin Ni
  • I think you need a face lift: Chin Tu Fat
  • It's very dark in here: Wao So Dim
  • I thought you were on a diet: Wai Yu Mun Ching?
  • This is a tow away zone: No Pah King
  • Our meeting is scheduled for next week: Wai Yu Kum Nao?
  • Staying out of sight: Lei Ying Lo
  • He's cleaning his automobile: Wa Shing Ka
  • Your body odor is offensive: Yu Stin Ki Pu
  • Great: Fa Kin Su Pah

Always happy to help!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Cannot Trust You Anymore

It’s been far too long (couple months already) since I’ve told you anything about my beloved Carrefour (Jialefu)!!

Well it appears that Mr Marketing or whoever handles translation made a mistake when they designed the sign with the name Jia Le Fu in Chinese characters.

Here’s how JiaLeFu looks like when written in Chinese Characters:

Here’s the JiaLeFu sign:

Well I bet you don’t see any differences… but my eagle eye saw (with just a tiny tiny little help) that it’s missing a little leg. Just here:

Thankfully it doesn’t change the meaning from “happiness and prosperity for the family” to something nastier but it will never be the same now between me and Mr Carrefour…. I don’t think I can blindly trust him anymore.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Target Set...

...Target Reach!!

Pollution days are down.

The magic number was 245, as in 245 sunny days a year. We just got the result and there were 246 sunny days in Beijing in 2007. What count as a sunny day you may ask, well apparently it has more to do with pollution index that the sun.

“These agencies collect data from monitoring stations around the city and calculate an Air Pollution Index (API) indicating the potential harm to human health, with a range of 1-500. An API of 100 or less is a "blue sky" day. Annual targets for the number of "Blue Sky" days are set for Beijing and other major cities in China. On Jan. 1, the government announced "blue sky" days had improved to 246 last year, up from 100 in 1998
What wasn't reported, though, was a change in collection methods. The Beijing API is an average of data from selected monitoring stations. From 1998 to 2005, the same seven stations -- located in the city center -- were used to measure air quality. In 2006, however, just as international scrutiny on China's air quality was increasing, two stations monitoring traffic were dropped from the city API calculations, while three additional stations in less polluted areas were added.
Pollution levels on a typical day in Beijing, some researchers say, are nearly five times above World Health Organization standards for safety”

Does it count as a sunny day?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Humor Is Not In Their Genes

...Especially About The Chairman

They take their former leader very seriously

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's

Citroen apologizes for scowling Mao ad
BEIJING (Reuters) - French car-maker Citroen has apologized to China for running a full-page advertisement in several Spanish newspapers featuring a poster of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong pulling a wry face at a sporty hatch-back.
Under the Biblical quotation "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's," the text talked up Citroen's position as a car sales leader in a bombastic tone.
"It's true, we are leaders, but at Citroen the revolution never stops," the advertisement said.
"We are once more going to put in motion all the machinery of our technological ability, in order to repeat in 2008 the successes obtained in previous years," it added.
The Mao poster is similar to the huge painting of the Great Helmsman gazing out over Beijing's Tiananmen Square, except that it has been distorted to show lips screwed up and eyes squinting.
"The image has been wantonly distorted by the ad's designers. Mao looks very strange," Chinese state newspaper the Global Times observed Tuesday.
The scowling Mao had infuriated Chinese Internet users who saw it as a slight, it said.
"As a Chinese, I felt greatly insulted when seeing this ad," a posting on web portal Tianya ( said. "It is not only insulting Chairman Mao, but the whole Chinese nation."
"Chairman Mao is the symbol of China, and what Citroen did lacks basic respect to China," another posting said. Many Chinese retain a God-like admiration for Mao, crediting him with uniting the country after the Communist Party's defeat of U.S.-backed Nationalists in the 1945-1949 civil war.
But historians have blamed Mao's tumultuous Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution for the deaths of millions through famines caused by disastrous economic policies and the persecution of thousands through politically motivated campaigns.
Citroen had pulled the ad and apologized to China in a letter sent to the Chinese paper, it said.
"Citroen expresses regret for any displeasure caused by the advertisement and apologizes to all who have been hurt by it," the Global Times quoted the letter as saying.
A spokeswoman for Citroen in China confirmed the apology letter.
"Citroen reiterates its friendship with the Chinese people, and highly respects China's representative figures and symbols," the spokeswoman told Reuters by telephone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I Can Be Anyone I Want

...Even A Geologist!

That could totally be one of Jeremy's smart reply. He already told us that he wanted to live at school!

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For the ones who don't know, Jeffrey is a geologist/geophysicist!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


...And Counting

Time flies...

Thursday, January 10, 2008


...& Rosbif

This post has nothing to do with China but I thought it was funny and show with humor the relations between the French and the Brits.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Beijing Olympic Games' Emblem...

...Or How They Came Up With The Idea

I received this a while back… and apparently it’s been forwarded even among (some of) the Chinese... I’m fully aware that the following can be offensive.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games emblem
"Chinese Seal, Dancing Beijing"

Last Post About the Olympics for a while, promise (?!)

Monday, January 7, 2008



And since we are on the subject, let’s talk about the mascots: Fuwa. Formerly known as the Friendlies (because they were friends ?) but it appeared that some people whose English is not their first language thought it says… friend lies!!!
The new name Fuwa, which is the pinyin translation of their Chinese name, was adopted in October 2006. So who are the friendly fuwa (福娃).

Each Fuwa has a rhyming two-syllable name -a traditional way of expressing affection for children in China. There are:

  • beibei, the blue one symbolizing the Fish
  • jingjing, the black one symbolizing the Panda
  • huanhuan in red symbolizing the Olympic Flame
  • yingying, the yellow one symbolizing the Tibetan Antelope
  • nini, the green one symbolizing the Swallow

When put together they make up the sentence "Beijing huanying ni" or "Beijing welcomes you" (or Welcome to Beijing)… how clever!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What's In A Name?

Just in case you have been living on Mars recently you might not be aware that this year is THE year for China big showcase to the world: the Olympic Games and it will happen the 08.08.08 at 08.08pm (August 8 or 8th of August 2008 at 8 o’clock and 8 minutes) well at least the start of the opening ceremony. The games last a little longer, until the 24th actually.

And no, it’s not by chance that the date and time were chosen: the number 8 happens to be a lucky number in China (see this post for the unlucky number!)

Since I sense I will probably write a lot about the Olympic this year (everything that is happening seems to be somehow connected to the Games) let's once and for all see what’s in the name:

Ao4 Yun4 Hui4
Olympic Games
Jeux Olympiques
(The 3 official languages of the Oly)
(Yes French is one of them…I’m not trying to be patriotic)

That’s the contraction of a much longer word:

  • ao4 lin2 pi3 ke4 (奥林匹克) you would have guest is the phonetic translation of Olympic.
  • yun4 dong4 (运动) means Sport… we are still on track so far
  • hui4 (会) is not the contraction of any other word it means conference, meeting, get-together…

Here you go: 7 months to practice your Chinese spelling (drawing?)

To know more about the Olympic (in Chinese, English and French)!


tong2 yi ge shi4 jie4 tong2 yi ge meng2 xiang3
Un Monde Un Rêve

Friday, January 4, 2008

We Are Addicted To D...

...No, Not That.. Only DVDs!

We always liked the movies but it’s at an all new level now!!

Previously to our move we had heard about the pirated DVDs available in China, but what we didn’t imagine before coming here was how easily obtainable they were. We first thought that we would have to go to places we thought we never go to find them… how wrong we were! There are at every street corner (literally) and shops are there in plain view. I can even find them at my local “expat” supermarket!

So after watching more movies we ever thought possible (sometime the day of their release, thanks to copy of the Academy Award or copy of a projection at a movie theater –silhouette non optional!) we are now into television series. A full season (i.e 22-24 episodes) watched in the space of about a week. I am not sure I will ever be able to watch a series which runs over a period of several months (and I not even talking about the reruns!) ever again.

With a tag price of about ¥10 to 15 (€1 to 1.5 or $2) for a movie and ¥100 (€10 or $15) for one season of the series, and that’s because we prefer to splurge and have good copies (ie without shaky image, silhouette or change of language in the middle of the movie), our collection is growing exponentially by the day!

Not all master pieces!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's Getting...

...Hot Cold In Here

Winter is coming, the temperatures are dropping… everybody is adding layers of clothing … even the trees are getting their own protection for the cold!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year...

...But Not The Chinese New Year Yet!

Back from our holiday in Vietnam but not quite done with vacation yet… one more week of laziness. And since New Year usually rhymes with new resolution… mine for this year will be to keep the posting up to date!!!

Resolution are made to be broken, aren’t they?