Saturday, July 4, 2009

If Only I Had One More Day...

(One Day Short Of 1050)

…I would have another meal of Peking Duck or and Hot Pot, one last Jiang Bing in the back alley, see one more time the Great Wall, get lost in the park of the Temple of Heaven, ride my bike in the little Hutong lanes and take more pictures, stop and do some more people watching….

Though there have been many challenges living here if I could do it all over again…. I wouldn’t change a thing (maybe learn more Chinese)

When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.
Clifton Fadiman (1904 - 1999)

2 years, 10 months, 1 week, 6 days and a few hours or 1049 days since we arrived in Beijing, China on August 20th, 2006

Or to put into another word number: 481
That’s the number of posts I wrote on this blog… Thanks for reading it!

zhong guo, wo hui xiang ni - China, I will miss you

谢谢, 再见
XieXie, ZaiJian - Thank You, Good Bye

XiLin (aka Celine)

Beijing, China - July 4, 2009

"Don't cry because it's over.
Smile because it happened."

Dr Seuss

On our way...

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Very Own...

...Top 3

I will miss each and every one…


  • Lunch with the girls
  • Bicycle riding
  • Cultural shock & endless photo opportunities


  • Tailor
  • Jewelry
  • Lunches


  • Great Wall Ball
  • Birthday Extravaganza
  • Going to the Opera


  • JianBing
  • Hotpot & Pekin Duck
  • Home-made Chinese dishes (烧茄子 (Shao QieZi ) Stir-fried Eggplants, 烧芸豆 (Shao YunDou) Fried Green Beans, 西红柿鸡蛋汤 (XiHongShi JiDan Tang) Eggs & Tomato Soup, etc…)


  • TianTan - Temple of Heaven
  • YongHeGong - Lama Temple
  • ChengChang - Great Wall


  • Guilin
  • Hakka house
  • Xian & Harbin


  • Vietnam
  • Japan
  • Cambodia

A few pictures were supposed to be posted here too.
See perfectly good excuse on yesterday post!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It Seems Like...

...It Was Yesterday

A few weeks after I arrived in China I wrote the following post but never published it. Here is it, unpolished! I have added at the end what I would write today.

That Sense of Belonging

"A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles."

Tim Cahill

You know that feeling of belonging to a place. Well for me it’s often when I start not being bothered by the new place different smells anymore and also when I come upon somebody I know in the street. No I’m not talking within the complex building that would be way too easy, I’m talking about in the big wide open streets of Beijing (and that’s a good challenge since there is 15 million legal inhabitants in BJ). Well that remind me of a conversation that I often have with people when I tell them about our life style (aka expat life)

I have been asked a few times already of all the places I have lived in which one was my favorite, and to my surprise I couldn’t pick one. Each and everyone hold a special place in my heart for multiple and diverse reasons. And I’m not trying to be cheesy. I might have a different opinion if we are sent to a camp in Africa but even so I think it’s what you make out of the situation that make it special and the people you meet along the journey.

I absolute love Colorado and Denver. I was 20, took a year off to go to the States to brush up on my non-existent English and I absolutely love the freedom. My surrogate family (the Stahl) were adorable with me and made me part of their family. Cosette and Nicolas are in their 20’s now. Let's not forget Dany, Catherine and Aurélie my fellow Au Pair companions. And of course I met Jeffrey which prompts me to extend my stay a little bit longer in the states. (He still owes me that year I was supposed to spend in Italy to brush up on my then very good Italian!!)
Texas was different than Colorado, I missed the mountains that reminded me of the mountains back home in Grenoble (France) but this is where I for the first time find out about the world of Expats: my “adopted” family away from home, who was a French expat family (lovely Mr. and Mrs. Braun and their two adorable boys) and the young crowd starting their expat life. We formed friendship that lasted to this day (marriage, children….) no matter where our next assignment takes us we try to stay in touch (Claire & Vincent, Philippe & Florence, Francesca, Christel….)
Paris was a blast. Even though I was a French student, broke, and lived in a tiny apartment. I remember Mrs. Braun paying me a visit in our apartment and telling me that I will remember this apartment with fond memories. The friends have scattered around the world but our paths cross from time to time. (Arthur & Anne, David, Olivier, Philip…)
Buenos Aires: young bride and a brand new big apartment. An amazing group of friends (Leith & Eric, Elisabeth & Bill, Cheryl & Tim, Stephanie & Paul, Aida & John, Julie-Ann & Michael, Yvonne & Jeff….) we partied a lot, went on trips together and even started a family for some of us at the same time. We haven’t physically seen each other since we parted but I have fond memories from each and every one of them and they hold a special place in my heart. And let’s not forget Bryan & Anne which we will meet again in Scotland (Our own B&B in Edinburgh, we love your apartment and your love of trying new restaurants)
Scotland was a surprise post for us since we were on our route back to France when Aberdeen came up. I had a slower start there but this time the Frenchies took over the friendship. Elisabeth, Claire, Sophie (who I had briefly met in BsAs) and toward the end Aline, Sophie and Christine who I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t had stayed longer than expected…. And I’m sure glad we did. Aline the craft companion, Sophie the patient teacher and partner in shopping. And last but not least chef Christine which I didn’t mind being her guinea pig for new recipes!!!!!
Even Pau turned out to be fine. The idea of returning to France after such a long time seemed daunting. It’s hard to readjust to your own country where you are supposed to know the code but those silly codes have changed and you don’t quite fit anymore. Beside Midi Pyrenees is way out of the way from my home in the French Alps. I didn’t have time to meet a lot of new people (even if I reconnect with old pals from Aberdeen (Carole) and even Aberdeen/BsAs (Sophie) but I ended up with 2 crazy girlfriends that I was sad to part with so shortly after meeting them. Heather and Emily, we did have some great time anyway and I wish you'll be there when I come back (if I come back) to Pau but I sincerely hope that you’ll be on your next adventure.
As for Beijing, well it’s a little too early to tell but I’m sure that I will be sad to leave it behind, which right now seems an odd thought. Although I’m pretty sure of one thing: I won’t master the language but I do hope that I can reach the survival level. Well I’d better go back to my Chinese books. Until next time….

If I was writing the same one now I would add the following:

Only time will tell if we stay in contact over the years but no matter what’s the outcome I will cherish the time (long or short) we had together in this defining moment in China’s history: the pre and post Olympics years (2006-2009).

Jodi, Kim, Paige, Christine, Robyn, Sharon, May, Justine, Tac, Roshni, Isabelle… for following me in my crazy ideas: Let’s Do Lunch, Wii’lympics, Hutong cuisine, 4am rising of the Flag on Tian’anmen, Go-karting, Laser tag, etc, etc…

Even if the French crowd of friends was thinner they will nonetheless be missed too. Let’s start with my partners in crime Charge of Pekin Accueil: Christie, Magali and Hui Ying but let’s not forget Violaine my (favorite - most ardent) supporter for pushing me to publish posts on my Blog so she could have at least her daily weekly English lessons and also for bailing me out with the French newcomers when I try to ignore them (“Do I really need to talk to/meet them?”), Joelle the other Total Tai Tai and my partner in another crime diamond and/or jewelry buying. Genevieve for always sharing her “Bons Tuyaux”, Catherine for her “Bonne Humeur” and taking time from her busy working schedule (!?) to share good food and good company at our Seasons Park monthly lunch.

If life keeps us apart from each other we will at least have those memories in common. I will miss each and every one of you and I have been greatly enriched by our friendship.

"Those truly linked don't need correspondence.
When they meet again after many years apart, their friendship is as true as ever"

Deng Ming Dao

(Chinese author, philosopher, teacher and martial artist)

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart". Elizabeth Foley

A picture was supposed to be published here but I already packed my hard drive with all my photos on it so it will be posted later!!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Prayer Of...

...The Expat' Wife

From yesterday post, I found this a few months ago:

Heavenly Father,

Look down on us your humble obedient expat wives, who are doomed to travel this earth following our loved ones, through their working lives, to lands unknown.

We beseech you oh Lord, to see that our plane is not hijacked or doesn't crash, our luggage is not lost or pillaged and our overweight baggage goes unnoticed.

Give us this day, divine guidance in our selection of houses, maids and drivers. We pray the telephone works, the roof does not leak, the light bulbs quietly terminate without shorting out the house or exploding, that the power cuts are few and the rats and cockroaches even fewer.

Lord, please lead us to good, inexpensive restaurants where wine is included in the meal and the food does not cause dysentery. Have mercy upon us Lord, if it be the latter and make us fleet of foot to make it to the loo in time, and strong of knee in case we have to squat.

Also give us the wisdom to tip correctly in currencies we do not understand.

Make the locals love us Lord, for who we are and not what we can contribute to their worldly goods.

Grant us the strength to be kind with our maids, even though our most treasured dress resembles a rag or they take bleach to clean our well admired silk rug. Give us divine patience when we explain for the hundredth time the way we would like things done and Lord, if we ever lose our patience, have mercy on us for our flesh is weak.

Dear G-d, protect us from so-called "bargains" we don't need and can't afford. Lead us not into temptation for we know not what we do.

Almighty Father, keep our husbands from looking at foreign women and comparing them to us and save them from making fools of themselves in nightclubs. Above all, please do NOT forgive their trespasses for they know exactly what they do.

And when our expat years are over Lord, grant us the favor of finding someone who will look at our photographs and listen to our stories, so our lives as expat wives will not have been in vain.


Spending the hard-earned money...
every Tai Tai's challenge