Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chinese touring the US to buy up properties.

This is so totally interesting, and smart. Whoever came up with the tour group idea had a great idea. The jist of the article from the LA Times is that cash rich Chinese are coming to the US in groups (tour groups) to tour homes all over the US that have heavily depreciated in value or are in foreclosure.


Friday, November 28, 2008

More Layoffs in China

The backlash has begun for Chinese companies laying off workers.

Read this article from the San Francisco Chronicle to learn about the riot at a plant in the South China city of Dongguan.

"Workers riot at Chinese toy factory"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

German Bread in Shanghai

I was pleased to discover a German Bakery in Shanghai that takes online orders and delivers!
Woo hoo!!

Abendbrot German Bakery

They have a shop out in the Hongqiao area near the German, French, British and American Schools but they do daily delivery to different areas of Shanghai. Looks like I'll be able to get my whole grain bread fix every Friday!

China's Ecomony Slowing?

In comparison with what has happened across Europe and the United States, China's economy is doing well but there are signs of a slowdown. Lay offs in the blue collar sector (factories mainly) are happening in many areas of China, including Shanghai. There are even rumors flying all over the expat community of expats being sent back home, or laid off because the costs are too high to keep them here. It's becoming easier to find a local person to fill the shoes of the expats.

Here's another example I ran across in the New York Times this morning.

"China's Great Engine Slows"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A new neighbor

Just saw this article in a local newspaper online. Looks like this new "monster substation" will be less than 2km from me. Great.

Downtown to be powered by monster substation by -- THE world's biggest underground substation is expected to be put into operation in Shanghai next year, local power authorities said yesterday.

The substation will satisfy power requirements for the downtown area...

Kanye West

I went to the Kanye West Concert here in Shanghai a few weeks ago (sorry for the slow posting!) and I've been meaning to blog about it. So, here we go - finally!

Musically it was great - he sounded fantastic, his band was awesome and his backup singers were really freaking cool. Everyone was clad in these all black outfits, some with these funky helmets and glasses. It all went with his "Glow in the dark tour" theme.

A note on concerts in China:

1. They are short. Typically no more than 1 hour. I think Kanye was actually on stage for 1hour 15 min.

2. Stage theatrics are at a minimum. I had heard that the Kanye show was supposed to be amazing - lots of theatrics, lights, etc. What I saw was just kind of average. He had lights and some smoke but nothing really amazing.

3. Nothing controversial allowed. A song like Jesus walks wouldn't be performed. From what I understand all performers have to show their set list and lyrics to some sort of government official who checks it all and then gives approval.

So, based on those "stipulations" all in all the Kanye Show was entertaining and a good time! I was lucky to have great seats way down in front and I got some decent video of the show. Unfortauntely due to the slow internet connection I'm not able to upload any of the video.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Give a proper Christmas Gift

I recently learned that Oxfam has set up a fantastic online store selling sustainable items for farmers and the poverty strucken all over the world. We can all go and buy something in just about any price range in our loved ones name. What a perfect present, especially in these economic times.


Some examples are:

Plant 500 Trees for $250

Buy a Farmers Flock of Animals for $150

Buy a Pair of Sheep for $90

Provide HIV Testing and Education for $35

Hong Kong is AMAZING!

Last week we took a short trip to Hong Kong. It was my first trip there so I was pretty excited after hearing everything my friends here in SH have told me about HK. And I wasn't disappointed! The weather was fantastic, and I spent my first day shopping in Central. When people say the shopping in Hong Kong is great, they aren't lying. It is fantastic!!

Everything about Hong Kong is fantastic. It's small enough that getting around is very easy, all modes of transportation are great. Taxi, Subway, Walking, Ferries, Tram or Bus, you name it and it's pretty simple to navigate. The landscape is beautiful - water, decently clean air, many many tress and lots of outdoor activities. Hiking trails are abundant. The seafood is fantastic - we ventured out to a seafood market one night for dinner. You can see some of our photos below. Delicious! I can't not mention the great Dim Sum! Yum. It was nice to also have a brief respite from struggling with speaking Chinese everyday. The majority of the population in HK speaks english so daily interactions are much simpler and easier.

The people are still just as friendly as the majority of people in mainland China and I can't wait to go back for my next Hiking/Shopping trip!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


We're back in the game! Today I am proud again to say that I am an American and I am finally hopeful and looking forward to the next 4 years.

Obama = Change

We attended an election even this morning at the Hilton Hotel here in Shgnahgi (hosted by American chamber of commerce and American woman's club of Shanghai). It was fantastic - full of all people, Americans, Chinese, and other nationalities from all over the world all hopefully and enthusiastic to see Obama elected the next president of the United States. There were tears of joy during his acceptance speech - it was like nothing I've ever seen. Let's enjoy this moment before all the hard work begins...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's official. There is nothing we can eat.

What a pain in the ass.


My current strategy to keep my husband and I as healthy as possible:

1. Order all organic vegetables, fruits and dairy products from helekang.com, a pretty reputable online organic grocery.

2. Buy only imported canned and boxes goods from City Shop Shanghai, or bring these items back from the US.

3. Buy only organic meat from Shanghai Better Meat Supply company, which offers organic pork and imported beef from the United States.

4. Never wash my vegetables off with regular tab water-only use filtered water.

5. We (like most people) have water delivery service which brings big water "filtered" water jugs to our home but because I don't think I can trust that the water is really filtered well I still run it through a brita water pitcher before drinking it.

6. Use two high end, imported air filters in our home to help eliminate any pollutants and toxins in the air (from outside, inside paint fumes, fabric fumes, cabinetry fumes, etc.).

Do I think I'm going overboard? No.

Here's what I've learned in the past 10 months of living in China. You have to assume everyone is lying to you, or trying to take advantage of you. I hate that I have to think this way about everyone. Obviously not everyone is trying to take advantage of you. There are great people here, honest and caring people. But the kicker is that there are also so many corrupt people that in order to really watch your own back you have to be very very careful about everything.

Welcome to China.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Constant Construction

Some photos of the constant construction going on in Shanghai. This is in central/downtown Shanghai - it struck me that there wasn't a single fence or anything set up for procautionary measures. I was just another pedestrian on the street.

Nintentdo Wii Phone?

I'm not going to deny it, I like new technology. I jumped on the iPhone bandwagon, the Wii Bandwagon and most of the other cool technology bandwagons just like everyone else.

Here's some cool information for those of you just like me! There are little birds buzzing about a potential new Nintendo Wii Phone. Check out the article here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Will it ever end?

Looks like eggs aren't safe to eat now either.....


Good lord....my grocery bills are going to go through the roof only buying imported...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Morning Sights

I was out running some errands this morning and saw these lovely ladies out doing their morning exercises. What struck me is that they were combining dance, drums and red "flags" all together. Usually I just see the ladies using two out of the three. Pretty impressive! They even had quite an audience assembled. :-) I guess it's just a typical Shanghai morning...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mass Matchmaking in Shanghai.

Some 3,000 single men and women gathered last week at the Luwan Stadium for a mass matchmaking session, and by all appearances it looked like a very successful event. The men lined up in rows while the women went past them.

Check out the rest of the story here:


Monday, October 20, 2008

Travel Abroad - Mixing Religion and Hotels. Yes!

I read a really interested article today in the New York Times about a less expensive trend in lodging abroad. Staying in a Monastery or a Convent. Yup, that's right - spend your nights under the same roof with nuns and priests.

I think this is a fantastic idea - I've always found the idea of a monastery or convent fascinating. Imagine staying in a roman monastery, steeped in history surrounded peace and quiet. Sounds fabulous to me.

Check out the article here - it lists some great resources for more information. I'm already planning my next trip to Europe! There's something in it for all of us, my husband especially will love saving so much money on hotels. ;-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shanghai - The Best 5 Places to Live Overseas in 2008

Shanghai is officially the "Best Hot New City" to live in for foreigners!

Check out the article below:


A Lesson in Burbon Whisky - Makers Mark Distillery

I'm still in the US, actually in Kentucky visiting my mother and grandmother (who is 102 years old!!). Kentucky gets a bad wrap for being a backward state filled with country folk. Ok...that is true to some extent, but not entirely true!!! It is beautiful, filled with trees and rolling hills and among other things has many historic whisky distilleries like Maker's Mark which are still in production.

My mother and I drove up to the Makers Mark Distillery this morning to take the factory tour and see how Kentucky burbon whisky is made. I'm not a big whisky drinker, but I made have been converted after today! The tour was facinating and to call the Makers Mark site a factory is just not totally acurate. It's just beautiful - they're still using the original buildings but everything has been restored.

The whisky making process is really interesting, Markers Mark uses a mixure of grains a majority of which is corn (something like 70%). They barrels that are over 100 years old to fermet the grains and then they turn it into moonshine (basically un-refined whisky) then it gets put into white oak barrels for 6 years while it ages to perfection. Finally it all gets bottled, packaged and shipped out to re-sellers. I should add, all of the bottling and packaging still happens on site, they still print the labels for the bottle on site as well. Amazing.

Really really facinating experience, I'm sure I've managed to muck up the explantaion of how it's
made, but hopefully you can get a better idea of the process from the photos below.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Need a laugh?

If you're following US politics even a little you'll enjoy these HILARIOUS spoofs of the presidential candidates.

I've been back in the US for 2 weeks now and I feel totally inundated by the political climate and the economic crisis. We all need a good laugh to break up the depressed state of the country.

Check out Saturday Night Live's spoofs here:


Thank You!!!

For putting me on the list of the 10 hottest China blogs!


I'm currently in the USA visiting family and friends (and trying not to cry because of the economic crisis) but I'll be back soon and back to blogging on a more regular basis.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

China is faking it's reports from Space??

This has got to be an all time low for the Chinese Media....I mean seriously, how totally ridiculous is this:


Good lord!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Milk & Dairy Crisis in China

With the financial crisis affecting many people across the globe, many of you may not know about the food crisis that is affecting China.

First it was the Chinese produced "Sanlu" baby milk power which was tainted and has killed at least 4 babies to date and has 6,000 babies still sick. Now it's milk and dairy products - the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has now announced that liquid milk sold by three top Chinese producers has also been found to be tainted with melamine.

From AP:
"A report posted on the agency's Web site said test results show nearly 10 per cent of samples taken from Mengniu Dairy Group and Yili Industrial Group - China's two largest dairy companies - contained up to 8.4 milligrammes of melamine per kilogramme.

Milk from Shanghai-based Bright Dairy also shows melamine contamination.

'AQSIQ will strictly find out the reason for adding the melamine and severely punish those who are responsible,' the notice said.

It said all the batches that tested positive were being recalled."

I don't know about the locals, but I can tell you that many of the expats in Shanghai are running around buying up as much imported milk as they can get their hands on. This probably isn't the best strategy but I can understand where people are coming from, especially those with children who drink a lot of milk. People are concerned about school as well, and what they've been giving children during the day.

Contrary to popular belief living in China isn't cheap. We spend A LOT of money on food every week going to 2-3 different stores just to get the basics that we know are clean, organic and healthy. Imported food isn't cheap but with all the issues surrounding locally made products it is unfortunately what I and many many other people (not just expats) have to buy.

But what about the people who can't afford to go to the few organic stores in Shanghai for good meat and vegetables, who can't afford to pay 2 or 3 times the price for imported milk? They have to be subjected to food that could kill them? It's sickening to think that high level business men and government officials out there are ok with letting people ingest poison so they can make more money.

More articles on this topic:

1. http://shanghaiist.com/2008/09/19/crisis_hits_the_liquid_milk_industr.php

2. http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/articles/blogs-shanghai/family-matters-shanghai/milk-crisis-hits-home/

3. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/world/asia/21china.html?ex=1379649600&en=8a2d59decc4a4f75&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

More on Taiwan Food

Check out this article found in today's New York Times on Taipei and it's fabulous food!
I really can't wait to go back and eat, eat, eat!! :-)


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Skin care in Shanghai?

Ever since I moved here I've been wondering, is it possible to have nice skin and live in Shanghai? As a woman about to enter to 30's I'm really conscious of my skin and taking good care of it from the outside to the inside. Living in California, this is easy - I have a great skin care specialist I go to for facials, etc. But since we moved to Shanghai I've been really wary of going to anyplace for a facial. I mean, if they can put crap in baby food who knows what kind of stuff they're putting in face creams, right?

But I've been having so many issues with my skin that I finally caved and followed a friends suggestion to check out her favorite place. It's called Beauty Arsenal and it's Singapore based. They've been open in Shanghai for about 1 year now and just moved into a beautiful space in the Kohler Building on Nanjing Lu. It's not cheap, but they do a great job, are well trained and are very clean. I believe all the products are imported from US and Europe.

If you're looking for a good facial, go check them out.

Kittens found a home

In case anyone was wondering, the kittens my husband found a few weeks ago have a new home! My old pet sitter had a friend from Hong Kong who now lives here in Shanghai, she decided to take both of them. I was pretty insistent that they stay together - the two little girls wouldn't have been as happy apart.

We miss them running around the apartment but I'm so glad they found a good home!

Sustainable Rebuilding in Sichuan

A reader suggested I post this link. It's pretty interesting - the US is trying to help the local government in Sichuan rebuild the school that collapsed sustainably. You can check it out below:


New Home in Shanghai

We have finally moved into our new place (2nd hand but renovated, so new to us!). We're literally smack dab in the middle of downtown Shanghai right off Huaihai Lu. It's a great location, there is a new subway line being built near us along with a new high end shopping center. Great for property values!

I'll post photos of the place once the boxes are out of the way. :-)

Some small but interesting tibits of information that are essential to new homeowners in China.

#1. You must suck up to your neighbors,

Especially if they're local. We share some common space outside of our front door with our neighbors, the space includes a built in shoe closet and also some space where you could put a bench or hooks for coats, etc. Our lovely neighbors have lived in the building since it was built in 2001 which seems to make them think they're more entitled to the common space than we are. We have tried our best to be very polite, bring them fruit and introduce ourselves, etc. But they haven't once offered to let us use any of the space which they have occupied with their own things. So, now we play the game of negotiating without negotiating. We've invited them over to our place this weekend for tea and cakes - at this time we're going to tell them that we've bought them a lovely storage bench and hooks and we'd love to give it to them so they can use it in the hallway. This is our way of trying to say "Hey look, let's share the space and at the same time update it by using more modern looking furniture!". If they don't go for this idea then we can get tough and just demand that they let us use the space too. But...my husband insists that before we do anything too "confrontational" we have to use this passive aggressive strategy. It seems like a hell of a lot of work to me, I prefer the more direct approach. But that doesn't seem to be the Chinese way....so we're going try it this way. We'll see what happens!

#2. Suck up to your security guards and concierge!

These people man our building 24/7, they know everyone and know pretty much everything that goes on. Because we're foreigners and we own a place they pay even more attention to us. They knew we were putting in a red kitchen, that we went out of town for the weekend, that we hired a new Ayi, etc. They can really help you out with little things or could probably really screw you over if they didn't like you. I'm going to bake mine cupcakes next week. :-)

More to come as we adjust to owning a home in China.

ps - one of our other neighbors accross the hall has his grandson living with him. The grandson plays a traditional Chinese flute called the Xiao every morning and evening. This is a small gem we've recently discovered. It makes all the stress and maddness of buying and renovating here a little bit better.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Taipei, Taiwan

I just got back from a weekend trip to Taipei, where my husband was born. We were a little unlucky, we arrived just in time for the first Typhoon of the season! We spent the weekend drenched in rain, so there were things we just couldn't do or see.

I was able to spend Friday with a good friend of the family who took me to all her favorite places in Taipei - Taipei 101(tallest building in the world for the time being), Eslite bookstore (even better & bigger than Barnes & Noble), lunch at Din Tai Fung and then up to Beitou to see the sulfer hot springs - very very beautiful!

As I was getting ready for this trip, I asked friends here in Shanghai what we should do and everyone talked about the food, especially the night markets with stands upon stands of street food vendors. Andy also has fond fond memories of being a little kid and eating street food like shaved ice with red beans and pork sausage. I wish we had been able to go!!! With the typhoon all the street markets were closed - next trip we'll make it. :-)

Street food aside, we still ate like kings the entire weekend. It was fabulous! Taiwan was ruled by Japan (as a colony) for 50 years and there are still strong influences of the Japanese culture in Taipei which includes many many amazing Japanese restaurants - so of course we dove right in! On Sunday we spend the whole day basically eating at different Japanese restaurants. Yummy, healthy and delicious.

A & I stayed with one of his friends while we were there and he and his wife suggested since it was pouring rain we should go to one of the many hot spring baths (think Japanese style Onsen). It was fabulous - the place we went is called Villa 32 and is up in the Beitou Mountains. Apparently Villa 32 was a private club, but the owner wasn't getting enough business so he opened it up to the public. It's quite a place, the asthetic is very clean, modern but with an asian flare. They have 5 very high end hotel rooms (apparently Jet Li stays here because of the privacy) and both private and public hot spring baths. It's amazing - so relaxing. We went for a 90 minute private hot bath and then enjoyed afternoon tea in the restaurant (which also boasts a HUGE wine cellar with some really amazing stuff).

Here's my overall take on Taipei - it's really fabulous! It's a city of 2-3 million people, that is 10-15 years ahead of Shanghai in terms of social graces. For example everyone lines up at the subway and waits for people to get off the train before calmly getting on the train. If you've ever been in the Shanghai subway you know it's the opposite here. People are so so so polite and nice everywhere!! Taxi drivers seem to be for the most part very friendly, safe and polite. It also has so much amazing outdoor space like hiking trails and parks it seems like it's really easy to just get out of the city for an afternoon.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Shanghai but if you need a weekend away for some peace & quiet Taipei is a great place to go.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kittens need a new home.

Yesterday my husband found two abandoned kittens in the stairwell of our new apartment building. We brought them home with the intention of passing them over to the SCAA (Second Chance Animal Aid) here in Shanghai - unfortunately SCAA is full and can't take anymore cats or dogs.

They are adorable - a little weak from lack of food, but we've been feeding them lots of kitten food to bulk them back up. I also took them to the vet yesterday to make sure they're not sick, one of them has a little ringworm problem, but it's being treated and should be gone in about a week.

They are probably 4-5 weeks old, and both little girls! Here are some photos - if you or anyone you know is interested in adopting them please comment on this post with a contact e-mail or phone number. I am not able to keep them and I need to find a new home for them ASAP!


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Donations in Shaghai

I'm moving this weekend and am in the process of cleaning out my closets, etc. If I were doing this in California I wouldn't think twice about what to do with my unwanted things. There are many great non-profit organizations to donate to in the Bay Area. But, living in Shanghai this was another one of those times when something that's a no-brainer in the US becomes a head scratcher in China. What to do with unwanted, slightly used clothes....

It takes some digging around, I usually start by asking friends and then move on to websites like Shanghai Expat where I can post my questions on message boards.

Turns out there is a great non-profit organization in Shanghai called River of Hearts that takes donations of clothing, bedding and shoes and ships it out to people in need all over China.

If you're looking for a place to take your slightly used unwanted clothing, you can drop your things off at one of their many drop off points all over Shanghai (Puxi & Pudong).

Check them out: River of Hearts or riverofhearts.org

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chinese Displaced for Olympics?

A friend forwarded this article to me yesterday - I haven't heard anything about this before, but living in China there are many things I don't hear about so that really doesn't mean anything.

The article states that according to the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE),
The Beijing Olympics has displaced 1.5 million people since 2000.

They also go on to say that "I
nternational Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to award the Games to Beijing has been a catalyst in increasing forced evictions and displacements in Beijing. COHRE’s new report holds the Chinese government guilty of widespread forced evictions along with other human rights violations during preparations for the Beijing Olympics"

I am not at all surprised to learn about this report - mainly I'm saddened by the lack of information in China. It's easy to forget as I go about my everyday life here how much of a stronghold the government has on it's people.

To download the whole report and come to your own conclusions click here:


Saturday, August 23, 2008

New York Times - Not quite on the money this time...

Here's an article from the New York Times about the Olympics written by Jere Longman - I agree 70% of the time, but his comments about no lines and buses running on time is totally off....

Check it out:


Friday, August 22, 2008

The Great Wall

While my sister was here visiting, we took a day trip from Beijing out to one of the sections of the Great Wall at Simatai that has been restored by the government. Check these photos out - the Wall is just an amazing, amazing sight. It's my second time to the Wall (different section) and I'm still just totally blown away by awesomeness of it all.

In Memory

Baby aka. Xiao Woo
January 2001- August 2008

Back in Shanghai

I arrived back in Shanghai 2 days ago. My sister was visiting from the USA (see her guest posts below), we spent most of our time in Xi'an and Beijing. Xi'an is a fascinating place - the history is amazing and we enjoyed a fabulous dumpling banquet (see photo below). But Beijing was certainly more memorable (sorry Xi'an the Olympics trump Chinese history any day).

Unfortunately while we were in Xi'an I received some bad news - my cat passed away. She has been with me since college and has traveled all over the world. From the USA to China. I'll miss her terribly.

With the emotional bad news of a beloved pet passing away, the experience of the Olympics helped to keep my mind off of the sadness and enjoy the excitement and joy of everyone in Beijing. I was really very impressed with how clean and green everything was. The city really did a great job, I hope they continue to keep things at the same level even after the Olympics is over. Shanghai certainly has some catching up to do before the 2010 Expo!

Now that I'm back - I have to get into the swing of things again. Our apartment is ALMOST done being renovated!! We are scheduled to move on Sept. 1st. Let's hope that date sticks. I'm so excited about how things are turning out and can't wait to post the final photos in a few days!

I've got to get back to watching the Men's Beach Volleyball finals on TV - USA vs. Brazil!