Friday, August 29, 2008

10 years and

...NOT Counting

We’ve got a few days before the next round of madness start (i.e. the Paralympics) so let’s change subject because today it’s anniversary day at the Suiter’s.

Ten years ago (already!) we were partying until the wee hours of the morning (7am – we were still young and energetic!!) for our wedding. To celebrate our 10 years (well actually we’ve been together 17!) Jeffrey invited me to dinner at the new French restaurant by renowned French Chef Daniel Boulud near Tiananmen Square. The cuisine is “franco-american” like M. Boulud who has kept his traditional connection to Lyon (culinary capital within France) and has been base in the US for over 30 years. So it was the perfect combination/representation for our "franco-american" marriage.

“Maison Boulud” is located in the building which used to host the old American Embassy where former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met his equivalent Zhou Enlai to prepare the historical visit of President Richard Nixon to China in 1972.

We received the same "candles holders as presents for our wedding (France & USA)
On the box, Jeffrey had our names and the words 10 years written in Chinese

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Feel Like...

...I'm Day-Dreaming

Do you know the movie “Groundhog day” with Andy MacDowell and Bill Murray? Well I feel like I have been having the same experience as Bill Murray for the last 3 days.

Let me explain: our membership at our complex gym has expired and the apartment owner cannot come right away to pay the annual fee but call the management office and told them (in Chinese might I add) that he will come within a week and that they should let us have access to the facilities anyway…which they agreed to. I personally wouldn’t mind too much (as my friend Violaine knows I’m not the one over using the gym equipment here – 3 times in 2 years I wouldn’t call that dedication) but let’s go back to what bring me to this post. The gym has two pools, an inside one and an outside one and the outdoor one is supposed to close at the end of the month (Beijing municipality policy: outside pool can operate from July 1st to August 31st not a day before or after those set dates - same for heat!) and the kids want to enjoy it before it closes and school starts next week. So the first day after explaining my little problem to the entrance clerk and her checking if the facts were indeed right I was allowed access to the pool. The next day I had to tell my story over to the SAME person like it was the first time she heard the story from me… I made a point off asking her if she will remember me the next day and she of course said yes, no problem. Well you guessed it, the following day she had no recollection of our encounter the previous day. You might think that we, westerners, must look all the same to them, but no my friend those same persons will have no problem remembering tiny little details about you. Most of the time they have an incredible memory, they do have to learn and remember all those Chinese characters to be able to read and write!.

Maybe I never went to the pool the previous days I was really just dreaming…. Maybe I’m not even in China just in a bad dream.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fun Is Over...

...Well Not Quite Yet

The Chinese calendar has been reset and time is now counted in anno post olympic. But it’s not quite finished yet… there’s still the Para Olympics:

And here’s its very own emblem:

“Dubbed "Sky, Earth and Human Beings," the emblem of the Beijing Paralympics is a stylized figure of an athlete in motion, implying the tremendous efforts a disabled person has to make in sports as well as in real life. With the unity and the harmony of "sky, earth and human beings," the emblem incorporates Chinese characters, calligraphy and the Paralympic spirit. It embodies the Paralympic motto of "Spirit in Motion" and reflects the integration of heart, body and spirit in human beings -- the core of the philosophy of Chinese culture. The three colours in the emblem represent the sun (red), the sky (blue) and the earth (green).”

And mascot:

The design of Fu Niu Lele derives its inspiration from the farming cultivation culture of ancient Chinese civilization, and bears the following salient features:
(1) Showing the rich concept of the Beijing Paralympic Games
Cows, symbolic of a down-to-earth, diligent, staunch and never-say-die spirit, are adopted to show the unremitting spirit of athletes with a disability in being the best they can be. […] Cows, symbolic of a down-to-earth, diligent, staunch and never-say-die spirit, are adopted to show the unremitting spirit of athletes with a disability in being the best they can be.[..] The determined, optimistic and diligent spirit of cows reflects a positive attitude to life
(2) Embodying the harmony between man and nature […]Throughout the history of the development of world civilization, poetry and songs have clearly expressed the aspiration of humankind for a harmonious life. Cows have often found their way into the natural, cozy and poetic country life reflected in literary and art works, showing public expectation for the harmonious coexistence between man and nature.
(3) Carrying rich national style and cultural features […]
(4) Cows are widely accepted internationally […]
Cows were one of the first animals depicted in literary and art works. Cases in point include the Lascaux mural in France and Altamira rock paintings in Spain, which all contain drawings of cows. Therefore, adopting cows as the mascot of the Paralympic Games, instead of traditional rare animals, is a creative act in terms of design to a certain extent

Thanks to the Paralympics, I’ve learn a lot about cows.

And to finish up this post: Do you know where the next Olympics will be held?
I bet you said London in 2012 (at least for the well informed!) Well that would be right if I had said the next SUMMER Olympics, I just said Olympics. So the next Olympics will be the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada in 2010. And since we are at it, the 2014 ones will be in Sotchi which is in…………..……Russia .

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We Are Back...

...Well The Last 3 Members Of The Family

Fun is over… we are back in Beijing and I’m back behind the keyboard. Hope you enjoyed Jeff’s encounter of his Olympics but I’m back in command.

Get him OUT of here!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Argentina 3, Brazil 0

(August 19th)

Well I normally didn't have anything lined up for tonight but I got a phone call this afternoon from an old buddy I met when we were in Argentina....and I couldn't believe that Maradona would think of me during his visit to Beijing....

So I walked down the Workers Stadium and saw a guy holding up a ticket (Diego couldn't comp me I guess), so I spilled out 2 times the face value (the going rate for scalped tix) and wandered in with my new Chinese friends who sold me the ticket....they bought me a beer though!

It was a great atmosphere and I had a good time explaining to my Chinese neighbors that I was rooting for Argentina because my daughter is Argentinean and I am a permanent resident of Argentina (with Celine of course!). They had a hard time getting that I was American, my wife is French, but our daughter was from Argentina.......oh well, it was good to be a part of it!.

A little bit crowded, no?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Figures Lie And Liars Figure

(August 17th)

Guess which is from a China-based news source and which is from the US-based news source?

China Vs the USA

Both are right, it’s just the spin that's different....

But the Chinese approach does remind my of my favorite Ricky Bobby maxim: "If you ain't first, you're last" it explains their fixation on the 'gold'.

I'm told by Celine in fact that it is only the USA that is ranking by total medals....usually everyone ranks by 'gold medals'......oh well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Soccer Quaterfinals (Belgium-Italy)

(August 16th)

I finally got to see the Worker's Stadium from the inside as we live right next door and have only seen the exterior for the past two years......

So I combined a nice foot massage across the street at Bohdi before walking across the street to get my seat......An overall great atmosphere, especially since Belgium trounced the Italians who were the favorite to win....

The official spectator total was 50,802 and we were even treated to the cheerleaders and volunteers who initiated the 'wave' around the stadium.......The Chinese were great spectators too as they were cheering for whoever had the ball so that was great.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Trip To The Bird's Nest

(August 15th)

Finally I get to see the Bird's Nest in all its splendor (Celine had already seen it...but in the daytime, ha!).....Very much part of the success story for the architecture here in Beijing:

I do regret the 1 hour wait to get through the metal detectors though! Will have to rethink the strategy to get in when we come back with the rest of the family in September for the Paralympics!.

Monday, August 18, 2008

China Has Set The Bar Quite High For London 2012

(August 11th)

...and I'm not talking for the pole-jump....but in terms of quality of the volunteers, hostesses and cheerleaders at the games......

As your guest-blogger, this probably ranks up there with their architectural feats for the Games to show off one of their many assets from this growing superpower....

I think the UK is going to have to do some major importing of talent because my gut-feeling is that they are going to have some problems sourcing it from the 'home' team....

The guys from the US Rowing team look quite pleased also with the Chinese efforts in this domain:

Forget the skimpily clad cheerleaders. The immaculate hostesses handing out medals at the Olympics have won the spectator vote for glamour.

Wearing Chinese silk dresses with their hair pulled back tightly into neat buns, the hostesses are beautiful, elegant and their eyes are three-tenths the length of their faces.

"They are so pretty and precise. They smile continuously," said Debra Sinex, a tourist from Atlanta, Georgia, in Beijing for the Olympics.

At every medal ceremony six or more hostesses are on duty.

Two wearing "cheongsam", or long dresses, stand either side of the podium while three or more in knee-length dresses hold platters bearing the medals and bouquets of nine red roses, with red a lucky colour in China and nine meaning everlasting.

But although the role looks simple these hostesses have been meticulously chosen and trained.

Hostess candidates have to be university educated, aged 18 to 24, between 1.68 and 1.78 metres in height (5 ft 5 ins and 5 ft 8 ins), with a "ruddy and shiny complexion", "elastic skin" and "a plump but not fat body".

Their faces needed to meet standards including the ratio between the "width of the nose and the length of the face" and "width of the mouth and width between the pupils", with eyes three-tenths the length of the face.

From about 5,000 applications, 297 candidates were chosen from a dozen Beijing colleges and 40 students from Shanghai to be "Olympic victory ceremony volunteers".

Five series of costumes were designed for the hostesses to wear at the 302 Olympic and 471 Paralympic medal ceremonies, each for different sports and featuring traditional Chinese images such as blue-and-white porcelain, embroidery and jade.

The women have been through thorough training at a kind of charm boot camp, learning to stand for hours in high-heels and honing the perfect smile exposing eight teeth by spending hours before a mirror with a chopstick between their teeth.

"In the standing sessions, we have to stand still and smile for half an hour or more. We also run about a 1,000 metres every day for physical conditioning," one of the hostesses, Ma Sha, 20, told reporters ahead of the Games.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fencing... Yes It's A Sport

(August 10th)

As I was initially ticket-less until yesterday (the unsold tickets from France arrived in Beijing so there was a big line-up on Friday to see what was available), the sport gods looking down from Olympus decided that I would get some fencing and athletics tickets......A work friend also heard my wish to see some rhythmic gymnastics (no I'm not joking) and he had a friend who has a friend...well, you know the story.....It's called 'guanxi' in Chinese!

Anyway, the first trip was to fencing where I got to see France blow it in the gold medal match against I don't remember who......quite impressive being there compared to watching it on TV:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sweaty Bush

(August 9th)

I managed to get some tix but unfortunately not the Beach Volleyball to see our illustrious president sweatin' it out with the beach volley hotties.....I probably would have been uncomfortable also to where to put my hand.

Where should I put my hand?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Air Quality

(August 8th)

Well, here is quick snap-shot of the air outside on Friday morning, Aug 8:

All those anti-pollution measures work, that's for sure

It does look a bit 'heavy' but that is normal because it is super-humid and for me this would have been a day to stay in bed under the quilt with the air-con at full blast....but I've got a lead on getting some Olympic tix.....Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where To Watch The Opening Ceremony

(August 8th)

After a full-day of scouting locations, we thought we would aim for the new All-Star Bar and Grill that has been advertising for weeks about their opening early August as well as the "best burgers in Beijing" as the ads purport.....So we dropped by in the afternoon of the 8th to reserve a table for our group (about 20) and this is what we saw:

Not quite ready

It pays to plan ahead in China! In the end we settled on another place but we ended up leaving as it was packed and watched the opening ceremonies from the comfortable living room of a friend....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Secret Is Out Of The Bag

(August 5th)

Business as usual for Beijing copyright pirates during Olympics

BEIJING (AFP) — China has muffled dissidents and thinned out its notorious traffic for the Beijing Olympics, but its brazen peddlers of counterfeit goods are proving tougher to bring to heel.
Despite a half-hearted crackdown meant to curb embarrassing copyright theft during the Games, sellers of China's vast array of counterfeit goods say they are ringing up bumper sales to bargain-hunting Olympic visitors.
Some spruikers are even brashly wearing counterfeit versions of the blue and white Olympic volunteer shirts now-ubiquitous in the city.
"Business is good. We've got a lot of new customers now due to the Olympics," said a young woman who gave only her surname, Wu, selling pirated Dolce & Gabbana, Polo, and other clothing at Beijing's Silk Street market.
Merchants at that and other fake-goods emporia had reported a crackdown in recent months as Beijing moved to sweep the city's less-savoury elements such as prostitution under the rug during the Games.
But despite finding a slightly less varied selection, several shoppers said it looked like business as usual.
Many shoppers running the gauntlet of pushy vendors in Silk Street's narrow corridors did so with the official yellow badges of Olympic visitors hanging from their necks.
"It's the same as before except the vendors seem a little more polite. But the prices are higher too," said Kristian Joergensen, 28, a Danish teacher whose brother-in-law competed for Denmark in archery in Beijing.
Joergensen, who visited the market six years earlier, bought 10 pairs of Dolce & Gabbana underwear for 175 renminbi (25 dollars).
"Then we saw someone else selling them at 10 pair for 50 yuan. Oh well," he said.
China is awash in counterfeit DVDs, fake brand-name clothing, shoes and handbags, infuriating China's trading partners who say Western firms lose billions of dollars in sales each year as result.
The United States filed a case against China in April last year at the World Trade Organisation over the problem.
Vendors said a pre-Olympic crackdown had shut many factories of fake goods, with authorities especially targeting luxury brand knock-offs such as Gucci and Calvin Klein.
But with the Olympics underway, knock-offs of Polo, London Fog, Louis Vuitton and other big names were openly sold throughout the city.
"You want Adidas? No problem," said a woman vendor, pulling a pair of fake Adidas trainers -- priced at 250 yuan -- from a concealed box at the Yashow Clothing Market.
The five-story complex is just 200 metres from a shiny new official Adidas store.
A store at the market selling pirated DVDs also continued operation, although it had moved from the first floor to a less-conspicuous sixth-floor room and the selection was thin compared with a few months ago.
"We'll get more next week. You come back," said a woman minding the room.
Some longtime Beijing visitors weren't surprised.
"I knew they wouldn't shut this place up. It's too much of a money-spinner," said Don Lessem, an American living in Mongolia who visits Beijing frequently and was shopping at Silk Street.
He clutched a bag containing several Armani shirts and New Balance sneakers bought for just a few dollars each.
Vendors at the complex, whose parking lot was jammed with tourist buses, brashly sported Olympic volunteer shirts to give their illicit sales a Games gloss.
"The management gave them to us to wear," one young female vendor told AFP.
"It's to show our Olympic spirit!"

UPDATE (Celine’s Note): “It’s been reported that 383,000 000 RMB (38,300,000 €) had been spent at the “Silk Market” during the Olympics. Eight times as much as that spent during the same period last year”. Now what I want to know is do they actually sell 8 times more items or did those Olympics tourists got “rip off” 8 times more!.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back In The Jing

(August 3rd)

So I'm the official Suiter family delegate to the Olympic Games....
The plane was packed with Olympic-y people and I haven't seen an Air France flight so full for some time....They do have their new entertainment system installed (even for the folks back in Economy)....many choices of video-on-demand so if you haven't seen "Something About Mary" in a while, then there is your chance....I am wondering when the US airlines will get their act together.....I am seriously looking at other options rather than having to suffer through United again.....

Mr. Wang has a new haircut for the Olympics and we took the Expressway between the airport and the center of town with its new Olympic-only lane....I also learned what the Chinese did to cover up their buildings visible from the Expressway that are no way near being completed......Not a bad idea:

Arriving near our apartment (Wang always takes the same way), I looked down for a second then back out the window and I didn't recognize where I was...

It took me a second to realize that where there was this nice open space with flowers and undulating gardens was still a bustling block of low-end restaurants and shops....We knew they were marked 'chai' (destroy), but just a month ago they were still there.

Monday, August 11, 2008


The following few posts have been written by Jeffrey who is spending his summer in hot, humid, over crowded Beijing while we are enjoying warm weather, zero pollution in under-crowded La Rivière… Enjoy your guest writer!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Opening Ceremony

...Of The Olympics

They did it; the opening ceremony was truly spectacular…. Now let’s the game begin.

My favorites were probably the sea of printing blocks, the mass drumming people dancing on the scroll and let’s not forget all the fireworks and the lighting of the torch by Li Ning.


Friday, August 8, 2008


...Which Day It Is!

“08-08-08” marked the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Beijing. At $434 million, it is the second most expensive building US State Department has constructed overseas, behind only the Baghdad embassy compound, in which all embassy personnel live. In order to “out-Chinese” the Chinese, the ceremony began promptly at 8:08am. Ambassador Clark T. Randt delivered the opening remarks, but quickly turned the podium over to former President George H.W. Bush. Father then passed of to son as the current President George Bush took the microphone. State Councilor and Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo concluded with his thoughts on the major developments in Sino-US relations since Washington recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1972. Each also honored Dr. Henry Kissinger, who was in attendance with his family, for orchestrating Nixon’s historic meeting with Mao Zedong 36 years ago.
In 1979, the Chinese slighted the new U.S. mission by housing them in the defunct embassy for the Republic of Upper Volta—now Burkina Faso. 30 years later, the U.S. mission is moving into the most impressive new embassy in China.

Oh yeah it’s also the opening ceremony of the Olympics games in Beijing. I can believe it’s finally THE date (sight)…. So I will be in front of my TV set at 2.08pm (that’s France time!) to watch the starts of what anybody who has been living in China in the past 7 years is awaiting. Anyway every thing looks better on TV (you can see everything so much better and with commentary you can actually understand (I would have a hard time following the Chinese version). By a twist of faith I will actually be watching the BBC version since I don’t have French TV at home (no terrestrial antenna) but only our satellite dish from when we lived in Scotland… Once again a truly international family, watching the Chinese Olympics Games from France via British TV!.

"largest single construction project undertaken
by the Department of State on foreign soil".
It is ten acres.

You, Me...

...And 20,000 Others

Let’s get married… well it seems like there were 10,700 couples who were expected to get married on this auspicious date.

Number 6 is also considered a good number to get married and on June 6, 2006 “only 4,800 couples registered to get married in Beijing.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

So Different...

...Yet So Similar

With less than a week before the Olympics and in view of our last month visit to Paris let’s see what the 2 cities have in commun…

Click on the picture to enlarge
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