Thursday, April 30, 2009

Please Don't Be Mean To Us...

...Buy Our Products

France is trying very hard to smooth things with China. After the visit of Jean-Pierre Raffarin (well liked by the Chinese for being the only foreign politician to visit China during the SARS crisis in 2003), and right before Laurent Fabius (ex Prime Minister) and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (former French President) next month, it’s Jacques Chirac’s turn (former French president too) to come and have a chat with some of Chinese leaders.

The only former French President not coming to help out France in this particular difficult time for Sino-French relations is François Mitterand but he has a good excuse, he’s dead.

I’m somehow still in the Embassy database as someone to invite for those cocktails:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



My friend Violaine gave me a book called “China Stuff” to thank me for helping her children with their English lessons.
A great souvenir of our years in China

And this is (some of) MY China stuff:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We Are...

...The Champions (x2)

After Jeremy’s assembly last week, today it’s Chloe’s sport’s day (before swimming gala next week and Jeremy’s sport’s day the following - who said that being a stay-at-home mom is boring?)

We already established that the girl’s got some legs... now the world (well the British School's parents) knows where she got them from!

The Suiter Girls

Monday, April 27, 2009

Up and Trendy...


Nan Luo Gu Xiang is one of my favorite little lanes (胡同- Hu Tong) in Beijing. When we first arrived in Beijing this hutong wasn’t much different than the other ones, then a few months later reconstruction started and more and more shops and bars opened until the area became one of the trendiest hutong in Beijing.

The Video:

Make sure you are watching to the end
(or at least skip to the credits!)

The Photos:
A stroll through NanLuo

WuDaoYing hutong next to the Lama Temple is trying to reiterate the success of Nanluoguxiang.
Nanluo started with one café: The Pass by café. Wudaoying is better known for the Vineyard Café and is connected to another up and coming street: GuoZiJian (near the Confucius temple). Do I see a trend?

The Next big thing?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You Too Can Have A Masterpiece...

...Painting In Your Own Home

China is the land of copies: pirated DVDs are available at every streets' corner, you can get all your fantasy clothes designed for a fraction of the price you would find them in the West and Panjiayuan (the dirt market/ flea market) is where you will find 150-year -day old “antiques” and copies of any paintings you’ll fancy decorating your new place with.
Pick and Choose

A few weeks ago I read an article about Dafen in southern China (suburb of Shenzhen) which is the world’s leading center for mass-produced works of art. One village of artists exports about five million paintings every year (most of them copies of famous masterpieces). The fastest workers can paint up to 30 paintings a day! An estimated 60 percent of the world’s cheap oil paintings are produced within Dafen’s four square kilometers.

The Chinese government is proud of Dafen. It considers the art village an “important cultural industry”. Some five million oil paintings are produced there every year and there are between 8,000 and 10,000 painters toil in the workshops. The painters will produce whatever customers want. Copies of famous masterpieces (sometimes more, sometimes less competently executed) are very popular. A reasonably skillful copy of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” sells for €40 ($51). Buy 100 and the price goes down to €26 ($33). The 100 paintings, guaranteed to have been produced by art academy graduates, ship within three weeks. Customers with less exacting standards can receive their 100 paintings within just one week for €6 ($8) each!

Next time you go to a hotel and see one of these masterpieces… remember that some Chinese art students probably painted it with 30 similar ones in a single day.

We got our own Liu Ye copy to decorate the kids’ room:
Liu Ye

And Jeffrey went as far as asking one of the artists to paint a view from across our village La Riviere from a picture!
"La Riviere" by Anonymous!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Three Favorite...

...Ladies In Beijing!

Three of my favorite tailors in Beijing:

Bobo (Queen of creation), Lady Wei (aka Leather Lady) and Helen (Queen of copy):

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prince Charming...

...I'd Rather Be One Of The Dwarfs

A couple of time a year children at the British School get to perform in front of their parents for their assembly (not to be mistaken with the Christmas Show!).

Jeremy’s assembly was on Friday and they played the classic “Cinderella and the 7 Dwarfs”

But it all started on Monday when he came back with a note asking him to practice his lines. When I asked him about it he didn’t want to talk, so I went to plan B, the mother smooth approach: questioning without questioning. I finally found out that he didn’t want to kiss the princess. He said he didn’t want to do it and he will tell Mrs Smart (yes that’s the name of his teacher!) that he will NOT do it. Trying to tell him how proud I was that he was the prince he replied: I’m one of the smallest in the class, I don’t understand why she wants me to be the prince I should be a dwarf!

Poor Jeremy stuck being the lead actor…
I would marry that Prince in a second

He didn’t kiss the princess, instead he throw (not give but throw) at her a heart-shaped pillow. His honor is safe!!

The Chinese Mother-in-law is never far from the newlywed:
Is the Princess tall or the Prince short?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Simple Life Pleasure...

...And Calories Finding

A not too hot, blue sky day … riding my bike by the canal and having sushi.

Beijing ain't that bad!

And finally knowing where I can buy some calories...

I've been looking for you, calorie shop

Another perfect day in Beijing!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


...Hour Day

So we’ve established that March 28th was Earth Hour…today we’re upgrading to a full 24-hour for Earth Day.

Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year.

This year is the “The Green Generation Campaign” TM

taking care of mother earth

So on this day of the Earth let me share with you some photos of recycling Beijing way:

A few snapshots taken in Beijing

The junkmen/collectors/recycle men (收废品- ShouFeiPin) will weigh the papers and cardboard and then pay residents a few cents. After tying the newspapers and collapsing the cardboard boxes, they can stack them and take them to a recycling station.

The number of junkmen, recycling stations, recycling companies and manufactures has increased dramatically in the past 30 years but because of the global economic crisis, prices for scrap and recyclables have fallen 50 percent and with them the number of people who collect everything from paper to TV sets and refrigerators. It is estimated that there are around 60,000 individuals around town.

There are four steps to waste recycling: waste collecting people you see around town on their bike, waste collection stations, recycling companies and manufacturers who can use the waste. Most of the people are self-employed and are paid according to how much they bring in. Many are migrants who simply classify the garbage into what’s saleable and what’s not.

In Dongxiaokou, a village north of the fifth ring road of Beijing, hundreds of family collects and classify Beijing residents’ garbage. Plastic bottle, old TV set, books; polystyrene, glass, cardboard, etc… Here everything has some value (albeit smaller this day). Before the Olympics, paper sold for 3 yuans a kilo, now it’s barely 1.9 yuans, same for recycled polystyrene which went from 6.5 yuans to 3 yuans a kilo. Quantity has also decreased.

On a side subject, China has increased the poverty level from 785 yuans (€80-$120) to 1.100 (€110-$150) per YEAR; which means that there is now 43.2 millions people considered poor instead of the 14.8 millions before. The increased of the poverty level will means that more people can take advantage of the official help. The World Bank consider people who live with less that a €1 a day as extremely poor. (That would mean that 100 millions out of the 1.3 billions Chinese would be considered as extremely poor)
The average annual revenue for peasant is 4.140 yuans (€420-$500) and 24.932 yuans (€2.500-$3.000) in the cities.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy To Meet...

...Sorry To Part

I love Expat life, not only because it had allowed me to live in extraordinary countries but because I got to meet amazing people.

I’m the kind of person who likes to live somewhere, not just pass by on a trip. I like the feeling, after a few weeks of living in a place that you can call it home. I’ve already talked about the fact that I never say I’m going back home when we go to France or the US for our annual leave, because for me home is where Jeffrey, Chloe, Jeremy and I are currently living. We are going to our house in France in the summer; our home is currently in Beijing and will be in Stavanger in a few months.

But what make the journey worthwhile it’s all the people you meet along the way. People I would have never met, not only because we would have lived in different countries but also because our paths wouldn’t have crossed even if we have lived down the street from each other. When you live abroad, away from your comfort zone, you tend to open outwards to people you wouldn’t have normally talked to (and I’m not saying that everybody likes everybody in our little world, of course) so I’m so thankful for meeting each and everyone through our different assignments so far.

I remember telling my very good friend Leith on our first expat in Buenos Aires that if our paths had crossed 10 years earlier we probably wouldn’t have talked to each other. I the tomboy, her the sorority sister… no way. Look what 10 years and a country can do!

But with the Expat’s life comes the goodbyes and that’s not my favorite part of the process…
At least we’ll have some memories together

Monday, April 20, 2009

Almost A Decade...

...But Not Quite There Yet

Celebrating with her classmates…

I guess she’ll remember she celebrated her 9th Bday in Asia!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Race...

...Is On

Yesterday, Chloe was chosen to represent her school, along with some of her schoolmates, at a friendly sports competition held in one of the other international school.

The girl’s got some pretty fast legs.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

We Paid A Visit To...

...The Chairman

Tian’An Men and the Forbidden City have been visited many times in our 3 years in China but it seems that we could never make it to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (毛主席纪念堂 - Mao2 Zhu3Xi2 Ji4Nian4Tang2) that is located at the south of the Tiananmen Square. It’s only opened in the morning and it seems to be close often for “refurbishing”.

The Building

The Man

While Chairman Mao was still alive, he was one of the first high-ranking officials to sign up for cremation, a procedure that was shunned by the superstitious population. His body was instead embalmed and construction of a Mausoleum started in November 1976, shortly after his death and was completed in May 1977. The Mausoleum takes up 5.72 hectares.

At Mao's death, China did not have the embalming technologies needed to preserve Mao's body for public display. Since it was impossible for China to obtain the necessary technologies from the USSR in the wake of the Sino-Soviet split, China asked for help from Vietnam, which had learned the trade from the USSR when Ho Chi Minh's body was preserved for public display.

I’ve also learned that his body traveled by elevator to be on display for tourist and faithful from an earthquake-proof chamber deep underneath Tiananmen Square.

The visit describe by Holland Cotter (New York Times)…. Which reflect pretty much our experience!!
At the mausoleum the entry line is long. Most of the people, it seems, are members of Chinese tour groups, out-of-town families or knots of friends on patriotic pilgrimage. At the same time there are quite a few young people, students by the look of them, some in their teens, others a little older, casually dressed in slacks and jeans, and quiet.

Waiting gives us a chance to survey the mausoleum exterior. A colonnaded stone cube with a Chinese-red tiled roof, it was built in 1977 and has the bland, boxy, buttoned-up look of a Mao jacket. […]

The line at the mausoleum entrance starts to move. The guards are practiced at processing visitors, sizing them up, moving them forward. We enter a shed like enclosure. Cameras and cell phones must be put away or left behind. We walk through metal detectors. Police in navy blue double-check us with scanners, then pat us down before directing us out the door.

We are in the entrance courtyard, where I am surprised to find a small floral concession, a kiosk selling two kinds of bouquets: one made up of a single rose wrapped in cellophane and thin as a baton; the other, a bunch of gladioluses also tightly wrapped. People dart over to make a purchase, one per customer, and dart back to take their places as the line moves ahead.
Then we are in a high-ceiling reception hall, and, somewhat startlingly, Mao is straight ahead: a white marble statue seated in a throne like chair, face forward. The figure seems clearly modeled on the Abraham Lincoln by Daniel Chester French in Washington except that where Lincoln looks somber, aged and lost in thought, Mao is youthfully alert, his face raised and faintly smiling. […]

At the sight of the white marble Mao, the people who bought flowers at the kiosk break from line and bring their offerings to the statue. A young man supports an old man, possibly his grandfather, who wears a vintage blue worker’s suit. Both men bow three times to the statue and lay their flowers on a neatly stacked mound of similar bouquets. Other people come forward, including teenagers. They too bow and leave their offerings.

We move on. The big moment is soon to come, and the architecture, like most religious architecture, plays its part in building tension by shifting scale and baffling our sense of direction. After we leave the statue behind, we proceed down a long, plain corridor, guards urging us on.

Then we turn a corner and find ourselves in a tall, wide room with red and white walls. At its center, cordoned off by velvet ropes and sealed in a faceted see-through case, Mao lies on a bier. He seems to be wearing a version of the standard olive-green Army drab. He is covered with a red flag as big as a blanket and pulled up to his chest. But he feels far away and is hard to see, like an object on a high altar encased in a reliquary. […]

As we pass Mao’s bier I think, “So, this was God.” I try to focus on his face, and I get a vague sense of something shiny and smooth. But it’s hard to form a conclusive impression because the line doesn’t stop; the guards make sure of that. They nudge us along gently but insistently, as if we were children needing mild supervision.

The situation soon becomes awkward because as you move, you want to keep looking but without giving the impression of gawking. I sense that for some people around me this is a large and solemn moment, a thrill, a goal reached.

I could be wrong. Maybe the mausoleum is just a de rigueur modern tourist stop, like the Statue of Liberty. If you’re Chinese, you haven’t been to Beijing till you’ve seen it. But the people who offer flowers suggest a different attitude, a reverence paid to a past. And maybe there are other people like me, mesmerized by the machinery of fate.

But as you are weighing how to look back at Mao without seeming to stare, the whole thing is over. You’re moving down another corridor, this one short, then out the door and into the street, where the morning sun seems a little too bright.

At first you think, “Well, that was quick.” Then, “Clean operation; expertly handled; total control.” Then maybe you don’t know quite what to think, about politics and devotion, about patriotism tangled with nationalism, about old buried secrets still unrevealed.

Ms. Connolly knows what she thinks. “He wasn’t real,” she says emphatically. She is not alone in her opinion. The authenticity of the body has been a subject of debate. Judging from a passing glance, it could be wax, a sculpture that might exist in several versions — a multiple […]

Friday, April 17, 2009

He Only Had 2.5 Years...

...To Decide On The Color!

After the marathon visits and the antiques buying we are now moving onto tailors.

I have been telling Jeffrey to take advantages of the tailors here in China to have suits and/or shirts made but he needed some time to think (2.5 years!) on which style and color would suit him best. I guess at 80 yuans (€8/$10) for a tailor-made shirt, one should think hard before wasting one’s hard-earned cash. Don’t husbands know that wives are always right?

I hesitate... Blue or White, White or Blue?

Since we’ve been spending our morning surrounded by color and style for the 10+ handmade shirts, we decided to keep with the trend of the day and headed to the Contemporary Art Exhibition to finish the day in style!

Chinese Contemporary Art

My teacher's exhibit
Photographing Beijing today, Using old Polaroid

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Visiting, Visiting...

...Buying, Buying

By now we must have visited pretty much everything that could be visited in Beijing. We are moving onto the next item on our list of must-do before leaving. Right after running around Beijing to see every single temple, it must say (at least on Jeff’s list) run around Beijing to buy everything you think will fit in the move (also referred to as “exit-shopping”).

Treasure in waiting

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We Are On A Roll...

...Five Temples in Four Hours!!

We only had 3 years to do it but now that Jeffrey is leaving for Paris and London for 2 months and with just a couple of weeks back in Beijing in June (which I’m sure will be more than full with our move) we are on a roll and visiting everything, everywhere.

Today we were on a soul searching quest!

We started with the Nuijie Mosque (Ox Street Mosque - 牛街清真寺 – Niu2Jie1 Qing1Zhen1Si4) which is the oldest mosque in Beijing. It was first built in 996, than rebuilt in 1442 and expanded in 1696. The local Muslim community was forbidden from constructing the mosque in a style other than traditional Chinese architecture, with the exception that the use of Arabic calligraphy was allowed. Unlike south-facing Buddhist

Just to the west of the Mosque there is Fayuan Temple. It is the oldest extant temple in Beijing being first built in 645 by Li Shiming to commemorate officers and soldiers who died in battles. It is now the site of Chinese Buddhist Academy.

Continuing our spiritual journey we went to Baoguo Temple (报国寺) which is currently used as a market!

Feeding the soul and the stomach!

After a little retail therapy we were back on our soul feedingjourney to Tianning Temple. The Pagoda of Tianning Temple (北京天宁寺塔 – Bei3Jing Tian1Ning2 Si4 Ta4) was built from around 1100 to 1120. This thirteen story, 57.8 m (189 ft) tall, octagonal-based Chinese pagoda is made of brick and stone. The pagoda features a veranda with banisters, yet is entirely solid with no hollow inside or staircase as some pagodas feature.

We finished with Baiyun Temple (白云观 - Bai Yun Guan). It is one of China’s Oldest and largest Taoist temples (built in 739 AD). In Chinese, Taoist temples are not actually called temples but Guan. Guan means something like to look at or observe. This is a reflection of the Taoist belief that understanding the Tao comes from a direct observation of nature, rather than scholastic theological studies. Today it houses the China Taoism Association and 30 resident monks. The blue-frocked monks wear their hair in the rarely seen traditional manner: long and tied in a bun at the top of the head.

If we had had time we could have rounded up with the Catholic Church on Wanfujing!

And since I’m talking about places we visited lately, let’s round it up with the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs!

Last week we also took the kids for a last visit of the Great Wall. They had gone when we first arrived and we thought we’d better go back one last time so it will be fresh in their memory (Jeremy was just two and a half and I doubt he would have remembered!).

Since I’ve been so many times to the Mutianyu part of the Great Wall we decided to go this time to the more touristy part of Badaling, where great photos of the Wall can be taken if the weather is cooperative (it wasn’t!) and albeit the hordes of tourists which make it difficult to have a photo of just you and the wall!!. Anyway on the way back we took the time to stop at the Ming Tombs so we could finally cross it off our list.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Almost Like...


Walking around our neighborhood this week you would have thought that you were in a snow storm, albeit the temperature which was really pleasant for mid-April.

In fact the snow-like fluff comes from poplar trees which shed their seeds. The Fluff, which carries the seed, produced on female trees, is dispersed by the wind. The seeds are in pods that split open and release minute seeds attached to long white hairs. The phenomenon is temporary and last about two weeks. The seeds do not cause allergies but it often coincides with the grass pollen season. The microscopic grass pollen causes allergies but can’t be seen, so people often associate their reactions with the visible poplar seeds.

Doing some research about the phenomenon, I found out that a few years back there was a campaign for a grand sex change plan (of the poplar tree that is!)

Chinese poplar trees to change Communist decree
They are not afraid to boss nature around in the name of the glorious Communist Party. China's leaders have already dictated how many children a woman can bear, made the clouds rain at will, and, in the absence of grass, painted a rocky hillside a pleasant shade of green.

Female poplars and willows in the capital, Beijing, are being injected with a 'liquid growth inhibitor' which will effectively neuter them. So their plan to stop pollen causing havoc in the hay fever season is nothing less than ambitious - sex-change operations for the trees. It is hoped this will prevent the layer of white fluff which blankets the city each spring as part of the pollination process. […]
"The pollen affects the air quality of the city, and harms human health, so the city authorities must do something to deal with it," the state television, CCTV, said in a nationwide report. […]

In 2001, the city ruled that only male willows and poplars could be planted in the city proper. But statistics showed that by 2005 there were still nearly one million female willows and poplars that had been planted in the 1950s and 60s. […]
[Nobody could] explain how the infertile trees will reproduce in the future, or if the operation - which involves boring a 1in hole into the trunk - can be reversed. […] (Daily Mail)

Can we make a snowman with it?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Little Piece of France...

...For Easter

It’s Easter time which means chocolate egg hunting, so I will post some photo I took a few week ago when I visited the factory of Comptoirs de France.

Comptoirs de France (法派 - Fa Pai) is a little piece of France here in the heart of Beijing. Chocolat, Pain, Patisserie…. when you are having one of those “Beijing/China days”, you need a visit to the nearest Comptoirs to indulge in a Chocolat Chaud and Éclair au Chocolat. If the hubby hasn’t been to France and brought back some macarons from Ladurée, the ones at Comptoirs are a close enough substitute!. With that, you are good to go back and dive into the roller coaster style life that is living in China!


Saturday, April 11, 2009



Another of our “it’s been on the list of thing-to-do so it’s now or never” outings a few nights ago.

With a history of more than three thousand years, Chinese acrobatics has been praised as “A pearl of Oriental art” and has won the nation the title of “Kingdom of Acrobatics”. Despite the advent of dazzling film shows and song-and-dance performances, acrobatic shows still shine as one of the brightest stars in Chinese culture.

To become a competent acrobat, students must begin training of the basic skills when they are only 6 of 7 years old. Because of the difficult and risky techniques employed in acrobatics, students must restrain themselves from a good deal of pains to obtain the gain. Two of the basic skills that the students must practice everyday are the handsprings and somersaults. Apart from somersaults and handsprings, waist and leg flexibility and headstands are the other basic skills students must master. The training is long, hard and intense, so each actor of the acrobat is seized of stunt.

Anybody wants to try?

Friday, April 10, 2009


...Ming Village

The kids are on holiday this week and since it’s the last few days that Jeff will spend with them before leaving for Paris and London for 2 months, we’ve decided to stay put in Beijing in order to revisit old favorites and explore new sites that we’ve managed to forget for the last 3 years.

I’ve been talking about this preserved Ming village less than 100 km from Beijing since I first read about it when we arrived in Beijing almost 3 years ago. My patience was finally rewarded by a trip this week!

Cuandixia (爨底下) has a history of about 400 years and preserves more than 70 courtyards which were built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and sit one by one following the terrain of the slopes in a valley.

Until now, only the Han family lived here. It is said that the ancestors of the village migrated from Shanxi Province during the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty. The character 'cuan' has the meaning of a stove and the villagers named it 'cuandixia' with the implication being, of a shelter to keep away the severe cold as well as the scourge of war. Centuries ago, Cuandixia was a bustling community, with farmers sending their best goats and produce to feed the imperial family at the Forbidden City in Beijing.

When just a few short years ago, most Beijingers had never heard of Cuandixia, today visitors are wandering throughout this hillside village of homes that are 500 years old and residents are turning their kitchens into restaurants and their bedrooms into accommodation for visitors who want to sample a slice of country life.

So quiet, So peaceful

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Little Emperor...

...Or Spoilt Brat

A couple of weeks ago I read an article about the one-child policy (计划生育政策 – Ji4Hua4 sheng1Yu4 zheng4Ce4, literally "policy of birth planning") and the fines people are subject to if they break the rules. Then a few days later I came across a series of photos which illustrated perfectly the Little Emperor problem!

The policy was implemented in 1979 by leader Den Xiaoping to limit China’s population growth. Although designated a “temporary measure”, it continues a quarter of a century later. It’s only been restricted to ethnic Han Chinese (95% of the Chinese population) living in urban areas. Citizens living in rural areas and minorities are not subject to the law (they can have another one if the first child is a girl or has a disability but the children are subject to birth spacing –usually 3 to 4 years between kids).

But rules have been broken by people who could afford the fine. Beijing Family Planning Commission director Deng Xingshou was talking about the need to levy higher fines on violators. Rich and famous people ignoring the law have become a serious issue and the government is seeking to revise its regulations to tie the amount of the fine to the income of wealthy violators. In Beijing, fines currently range from three to eight times of the average income in the city (the per capital income in the capital is 24,725 yuan (US$3,600) for urban residents and 10,747 yuan for rural residents), which may not act as much of a deterrent to people making a way more than the average.

This rule has caused a disdain for female infants; abortion, neglect, abandonment, and even infanticide have been known to occur to female infants. The result of such draconian family planning has resulted in the disparate ratio of 114 males for every 100 females among babies (The natural ratio are 105 males for every 100 females). Also recently many couples have turned to fertility medicines to have multiple births (no penalty against a couple who has more than one child in their first birth. The number of multiple births per year had doubled by 2006).

This one child policy has created what is called the “Four-Two-One” problem where one adult child has to provide support to his or her two parents and four grandparents but it also implied that while he grows up he usually has two parents and four grandparent who over-indulged on him and such creating “little emperors”. In 2007, all provinces adopted a special provision allowing families where each parent was an “only child” to have two children of their own.

And this is what happens when you over-indulged on single kids:

Unbelievable, but he got what he wanted

See the whole series of picture, here:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Festival...

...Qing Ming Jie

Yesterday (April 5) was Qing Ming Jie (清明节), or Tomb Sweeping Festival in China. It can be compared to Memorial Day in the US or Toussaint in France. It is an opportunity for the Chinese to remember and honor their ancestors by visiting their grave sites. Young and old pray before their ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, (joss/incense) paper accessories to the ancestors. The rites are very important to most Chinese. Following folk religion, the Chinese believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors looked after the family. Sacrifices of food and spirit money could keep them happy, and the family would prosper through good harvests and have more children.

Today, Chinese visit their family graves to tend to any underbrush that has grown. Weeds are pulled, and dirt swept away, and the family will set out offerings of food and spirit money. In addition to tending the graves of the ancestors, Chinese traditionally used this day to send the deceased things they might need in the afterlife. Money is of course the main thing. But since no one wants to actually burn real money, there is special money that is sold in the days preceding the festival. Apparently in modern times, it’s not just money that is sent, but other things the ancestors might need as well, such as paper cars, paper houses, etc. All these things are burned on the streets in the evening.

Spirit money

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Birthday Weekend...

...For The Suiter Girls

The Suiter girls (that’s Celine and Chloe) are celebrating their birthday this month, Celine’s the first one on the 3rd and Chloe will follow on the 20th. So in order to celebrate in style their last birthday in China; Chloe’s 9th and Celine’s 39th they are going on a trip just by themselves… no boys allowed!

Celine left a list of instructions. Make sure he:

  • Picks up his clothes, shoes, etc…and doesn’t scatter them everywhere in the apartment.
  • Eats healthy... There is fresh vegetable soup in the fridge.
  • Doesn’t fall asleep in front of the TV… i.e. goes to bed at a reasonable hour.

And you would think I would leave this note to Jeffrey the daddy when in fact this list was handed to Jeremy (the 4-year-old kid). The “he” in the list refers to Jeffrey of course since I know that my son already does all those things without being told!!


While we were doing this:

Chloe's new best friend

The new man in my life

They were doing this:
Bonding time

Friday, April 3, 2009



My, oh my, time flies, it seems like yesterday that I celebrated my 28th (+10!) birthday.

Please “Bu Chai” Me!

I’m not that old… I have a few more beautiful years ahead of me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I won't be bloging anymore...

...Just kidding (April's Fool?)

Now that our guests are gone I don't have anymore excuses to not write...

I'm working on it, and new posts should be coming up soon(ish?)

Until then,