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:




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. 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 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!