Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We made it back to Aus safe and sound.
Went to the wedding, which was a bloody massive effort, I must say, but was good to see people and H&A happy.
Currently, we're in Wagga Wagga with no internet access, so that's why my online presence is diminished somewhat.

We are heading back to Sydney next Friday and will be there for a couple of weeks, Mr C will be joining us.

About to run out of credit.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sorry. It's been an awfully long time since I have posted anywhere. Been a bit distracted with the Adventures of LadyP and The Bundle Of Cute.

So here is the conversation I had with The Bundle Of Cute this morning (who is 4 months old now):

I just didn't have the heart to caption these, but it was such a wonderful chat we were having and quite the chicken soup for my soul that was needed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Today was full of WIN!

Checked my mailbox this morning and there was actually mail in it! I know, it's a shocking thought, when do I ever get mail from anybody except from my Mum? So exciting, turned out to be a whole heap of bills and stuff from Ma In Law and a very lovely Alice In Wonderland & Dodo pendant with a birthday card from Delvino and her boys. What a great way to start the day!

Then I found a new Jenny Lou's over in Sanlitun. Jenny Lou's is an expensive supermarket full of western stuff that one might crave such as double coated Tim-Tams and Brown Brothers Moscato. Also found a fabulous deli where I bought some Roquefort cheese and some Maggie Beers Cabernet Paste! Nom nom nom!

Mei-Mei's been full of smiles lately and they are just the most heartwarming and delicious thing in the world. We had a cuddle in bed this morning, just me and her without Jie-Jie jumping on us. It was so nice.

We had some rain.

There were other Aussies at Jenny Lou's. So nice to hear the accent!

We are having some friends over for dinner on Saturday night.

My Yoga instuctor picked up that I had overpaid and is allowing me to book in for other classes if I want.

Jie-Jie and I did some painting.

I am enjoying my Warcrack character again.

Simply put, it's all good...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Aaaand I'm back.

We have had no internet for a few days. Got it all sorted this morning and in good time, too, what with the needing to escape the media circus taking place on TV in relation to Whacko Jacko's death (oh and Farrah Fawcett, just in case nobody noticed).

So what have I been up to?

Mr C's mum, dad and grandmother stayed with us for a few weeks. I got to play tour guide and we saw some sites - 798 Art district, Lama Temple, flower, pearl, antiques markets, Peking Acrobats, all sorts of stuff. It was fun, though tiring. They have gone back to Oz now and the place is very quiet...

  • Got me some new specs. They're red (nothing new, really).
  • Went to a baking class and learned to make decent lemon meringue pie. My first attempt had the lemon filling unsettled and runny, but all the flavours were there. Guess I just have to perfect it now. Poor Mr C...
  • Organised a walking group to start up next week. There are some cards you can buy with walks around Beijing on them. I figured it would be a good way to see the place, meet some people and maybe get some exercise...
  • Organised a craft day. I think the aim is to make stuff we can donate to charity, so like scarves and blankets. Should be fun...
  • Booked Jie-Jie and myself into Yoga classes starting next Friday. Not sure if Pers will co-operate, but she might surprise me.
  • Met one of the mums from Pers' kindy and we'll be setting up playdates and stuff for the girls.
  • Went on the expatmamma night out last night. First night off in a very long time. Had loads of laughs, met some lovely women and I think I've found a niche to replace the SCA gap in my life.

    Looking ahead:
  • My Di-di (little brother) is visiting next month, with his chicky, for a couple of weeks.
  • I am about to book in for some cooking classes. I am a crap cook and it's about time that changed. I'm going to learn how to cook some of the regional cuisine, just for kicks.
  • We are coming home to Oz for a couple of months at the beginning of October. Will be spending a couple of weeks in Sydney before heading out to Orange and then to Adelaide. I'll teach y'all how to make hand-pulled noodles, k? As was the case last time, I won't have wheels. Come on out to Orange, get some fresh air into those lungs!
  • Thursday, June 4, 2009

    To market, to market...

    So today, we decided not to head on up to Tian'anmen Square to have a bit of a squiz. Although, from what we understand, we could've, we just would have had a hard time taking photos for all the umbrella action that was happening up there...

    We did get some rain today, so I guess their efforts weren't completely in vain...

    Instead, we decided to go to Sanyuan Li, the fresh produce (and other stuff) markets as I needed to pick a few things up and it's always a bit of an adventure. So while we were getting ourselves ready and dodging the influx of ayis as is customary on a Thursday morning, Pers managed to get out, call the lift, get in it, go down to the first floor, get through the security doors, past a security guard, through the building, past another security guard, out of the building and off to the park in our complex.

    After a few moments of sheer and absolute terror on my part, Nanma managed to find her. And lucky for Pers that Nanma got to her before I did. Just sayin'.

    We went to the markets and really, it is one of my happy places here in Beijing, the other being the flower markets. I love it there, it's exciting and colourful and friendly and DIRT CHEAP. We pay maybe a third of what you would pay back home for all our fresh produce, it's astounding. I find the hanging meat a bit confronting and am never game to buy as I don't know what cut I'd be getting, but the fruit and veg are something else and for 1 kuai, I can get a big bag of freshly made noodles to bring home and make into a soup. Damn...

    Anyways, here are some pics I have been meaning to take for ages and got around to today:

    Stall number 91, where I always go for my veggies

    This lady is lovely, she lets me practice my mandarin and is very gentle with her corrections.

    I'm afraid I am not so loyal with the fruit as the stalls do vary with what they have available. Today we bought from stall number 20.

    We had rather a lovely fruit salad

    And then there was the noodle/dumprings/pancake-omelette thing/bread place

    We got some noodles and had very yummy pork and noodle soup for dinner

    I really must go to that hand-pulled noodle class so I can come home and make noodle soup and teach everybody how to make their own. Can't be that hard, huh?

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    It was 20 years ago today...

    No, we will not be taking the visiting relatives to Tian'anmen Square this week.

    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    Random quote from MissP (age 3)

    "Mummy, I have a sore tummy. I'd like some salad, please."

    You're a dag, Pers. Somedays, I just don't get you.

    Stil got it!

    Bloody hell! It's 38 degrees outside and I've just been in un-air-conditioned taxis to and from Lido with Mei-Mei to have her checked out at the clinic (nothing exciting, just routine).

    Whenever I am in Lido, I like to pop over to Comptoirs de France and by God, this place is YU-HU-HU-HUUUUUUUUMY! Best. Hot Chocolates. Evar! And the best chocolate croissants in Beijing... and macaroons... and lemon tarts... fwooooooar! (and I'm spent!). It is my little slice of heaven here in hell Beijing.

    And it is actually owned and run by people who are... French! There is a surprisingly large French community here in Beijing and I have met more French people here than I ever did at home. Most have been lovely, the lady that came to our house when we were interviewing her ayi, was... bizarre... "Your daughterrr, she is beautiful! She is not fat, she is thin!" (yeah, thanks, love!). But I digress.

    So today, I figured I would give it a shot and drag the highschool french kicking and screaming from out of it's dark, comfy place and use the most basic french to order a hot chocolate and a quiche. And surprisingly enough, I seemed to pass with flying colours (and amuse the manageress, who is lovely and I am getting to know quite well). Go, me!

    Actually, it's funny and I am not sure if I have talked about this before, but when we first arrived here and had absolutely no mandarin, but a very strong desire to communicate, my brain was trying to throw everything it could at people to get the point across and I kept wanting to speak French without consciously deciding to do that and mime (though, that was a conscious effort). Anyway, a colleague of Mr C's went to Indo with him and did the exact same thing.

    Wacky... just sayin'.

    So yes, it's 38 degrees out there and I am glad I am inside! Though when we got to the clinic, they did the usual testing of our body temperatures by aiming a thermometre at our foreheads with a new fandangled variety electronic gadget. Good thing too, could you imagine using mercury thermometres in this day and age with the whole paranoia surrounding various influenza strains? I shudder at the thought...

    Anyhow, we freaked them out a bit because our temperatures registered (surprise, surprise) 38 degrees. We're talking surface temperature here, people. Not core. Core's a different story, and obviously was when they used another fandangled gadget which they poked in our ears, registering a much lower and safer temperature. I'm glad we got that cleared.


    Willing Patricipants

    Not sure if anyone's following my Flickr, but I have an obvious obsession with photographing my girls at the moment. I can't help myself, they're just so damn photogenic (and they're cute, too!)...

    Exhibit A:


    Exhibit B:


    It's been a crazy old week. Mr C was in Indonesia all week, leaving me on my lonesome with the girls. It was a challenge, but we made it in one piece. Just. Jie-Jie managed to lock me out of the apartment yesterday, with her and Mei-Mei on the inside. I'd just ducked out to put the rubbish in the bin and next thing, I heard her lock the door. I called and pleaded and knocked on the door and rang our doorbell (all doorbells in Beijing play Fur Elise) and she just wouldn't open the bloody thing and she knows how to do it. Little bugger. I waited a couple of minutes and the door was unlocked.

    I guess I can't be too angry with her about it. Ayi locks the door the second any of us leave, so I think Jie-Jie was only copying the habit. Still, I was a little annoyed she wouldn't let me in. Naughty.

    But that aside, we've made some progress on the toilet training, Pers is now completely nappy free and dry at night. We have the odd mistake, but you get that. But that was our big achievment for the week. My life is that exciting.

    I wish it was more exciting, like this man:

    Somewhere in deepest darkest Indonesia, Man meets bear. Fearsome.

    Oh, hi Mr C, just remember that's not Mei-Mei you are holding...

    Should be returning you to more photos of Beijing/China soon because
    a)Paul's folks turn up tomorrow night for a few weeks and
    b)I got a new lense (macro/fish-eye combo) for an early birthday present

    Kermit Flail!

    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Cultural Differences

    Ok, so over here, I'm the weirdo and I'm cool with being a weirdo. I am accepting and embracing my weirdoness, trying not to be culturally biased (I'm afraid I am failing at this) and it's all good. Infact, we have been the oddity since we got here with our cute, blue eyed, blonde curly haired 2 year old (over a year ago) in tow. We have been pointed at, stared at, followed, photographed, mimicked and mocked. We get the piss taken out of us at frequent intervals, been misunderstood (intentionally and unintentionally), laughed at and with, ripped-off and beaten around the bush. We have even been refused several rides in several taxis, just because we're Western and it's too much trouble to listen to our attempts at mandarin and try to understand us. Just too hard.

    And that was without the newborn.

    Now add harrassment into all of the above. I get that the Chinese way of bringing up little ones is much different to the Aussie way of doing things and we're not in Kansas anymore. I also get that here, children and babies are so cherished and not taken for granted, thanks to the one child policy (they can have more than one - at a cost and multiple births are the only way around it). I get that people here are a little starved (it would seem) of bubba love. I also get that people generally are just trying to care/take an interest/help/be friendly.

    We have had a couple of scenarios over the last couple of weeks where when we are asked how old our baby is and we give an honest answer. At first there is a shocked response, then there is the muttering with anyone in ear-shot behind hands (as if we can't hear or understand), or going to get random other people and coming back, to point and stare and be shocked with, then there is the shaking of heads and tutting, the pointing of fingers and what we can work out pretty plainly as being a general telling-off.

    According to the lovely waiter we met (and some of our Chinese friends), babies should not leave the home until they are 100 days old. And neither should the mother.

    Two words - Bugger and That. I mean really? You can't be bloody serious!

    Then on Tuesday, I was heading off to playgroup at Lido with Jie-Jie (binks) and needed to get a taxi. It was a beautiful blue sky day and about 30 degrees at 10am. As you might imagine, Jie-Jie (binks) was in a summery skirt and t-shirt (and looking very cute and girly). I hail a taxi and wait for it to pull up. In the meantime, two Chinese women come over, poke their heads in my pram, look at me and look at each other and start ranting. I can see they are desperately trying to tell me something. I know what it is, but actually, I am a 32 year old mother of two and I don't need to be told, so I take the polite option 'Ting bu dong' (I don't understand) 'debuchi' (sorry) (excuse my pinyin, it sucks).

    This seems to ramp things up a bit and they become more aggitated and in my face. Their communication skills improve exponentially, aided with miming.

    At this point, I have to ask why does miming work for them when they need to tell me I am a bad mother for under dressing my children and why the hell am I even outside my home and not for me when I want 2 minute chicken noodles? Geez guys, throw me a frickin bone here...

    Mei Mei had no Maozi (beanie/hat/coif) on (crime #1), no woollen cardigan (crime #2) and no socks (abomination unto Nuggan oh my god the world will end!). The taxi has pulled up while all this is happening, a security guard has come to see what the fuss is all about and me, I'm just wanting to be allowed to go on with my businness, get to Playgroup and have a nice day, ya know?

    So eventually frustration kicks in, I tell them to piss off (and they pretend not to get my drift and get more in my face). I get Jie Jie (binks) in the taxi, Mei Mei next to her in her capsule, collapse the pram, get it in the (already full and that's another rant) boot and push them out of the way (they are now at the window pointing and yelling at me) so I can get in taxi and get the hell out of there. Resisting the urge to really let it fly and give a few hand gestures as we depart.

    Then I get to where I am going and the guys on the door at the venue help me out of the taxi (angels, bless them). As I am walking along, there's more staring etc and a random guy walks along side me, staring in the pram, gets in front of me and then stops right in front of the pram, blocking my way, preventing me from going anywhere, just so he can have a better look in my pram. I mean FFS! So I look at him, smile, say Xie-Xie and Zai Jian (thankyou and goodbye) when he compliments me on my two beautiful babies and arrive 40 minutes late at Playgroup.

    So you think I have it easy here?

    Again with the wisful clicking of heels and no place like home. I'd seriously just like to be able to go out with my kids and not be hassled. Just for once. Too much to ask?

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Topique du Jeur

    Or something like that...
    While everyone's talking about the Big D, I thought I would throw in that it has come to my attention that homesickness is actually a form of depression.

    I never knew that!

    I find I am constantly homesick here, especially now when it is exacerbated by Hormones (or fluctuation thereof) but the most severe homesickness I have ever had was when I was 17 and had moved out of my home in Orange to start my nursing career in Darlinghurst, Sydney. I was physically ill to the point of weight loss because I couldn't eat. My mentors were about to pack my bags and send me home to my mother.

    So there you go.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Birth in Beijing

    I have been trying to write this post for days. But I am either too exhausted to put something comprehensive together or busy with Jie-Jie & Mei-Mei to write. So here's a very quick summary, mainly because I think some people might be interested.

    Initially I was going to write a blow-by-blow, then I thought about writing a comparison between my experience in Sydney and the one I have just had in Beijing, but I would be easily sidetracked and overwhelmed by the need to rant at various points. So 'The Good', 'The Bad' and 'The Ugly' it is.

    The Good (in no order of preference):
    - We didn't pay a single yuan.
    - Great facilities
    - Very quick and efficient service
    - Everything went smoothly
    - Lactation Consultant in hospital was awesome!
    - Private Lactation Consultant is Aussie and she seriously rocks!
    - We had a candle-lit dinner in my room (ok, it was actually 'chicken-cooker'/phototherapy bed lit, but was still quite lovely)
    - The staff were very kind and fussed much over Mei-mei.
    - At no point did I feel like I was being closed in my room and forgotten about
    - Buzzer was actually answered. And very quickly!
    - The staff spoke english and were very polite, No-one was rude or harsh.
    - I made it very clear I wanted to breastfeed & this was supported and encouraged.
    - No recovery unit meant I was back in my room immediately, skin to skin with Mei-mei and breastfeeding within half an hour of her birth. Brilliant!
    - Dr Brooks (my obs) whipped people into line when they needed to be and made them back off when I needed people out of my face. He was very relaxed and realistic

    The Bad:
    (And here you have to understand I am an experienced nurse and will tend to be a bit critical)

    - Basic Nursing Care was a little lax. I mean, they were surprised and a little freaked out that I got up and had a shower the next morning (they hadn't given me a post-op sponge, or provided anything for me to be able to clean myself up). Yucko.
    - Over here, nursing staff are not so much the patient advocates that we are back home. This means I had to call the shots (ha! cracked a funny) when it came to my pain relief and keep tabs on when, what and how. Wasn't so bad for me because I'm trained to do this anyway, but not so hot if you don't know the go.
    - Oh and it never hurts to introduce yourself to the patients in your care. This is the usually the very first thing they teach you in both nursing and medical school. It's not a toughie to get right.
    - It was an expensive (and oh boy, do I mean expensive) hospital, I would have expected a lot better nursing care. They fussed over Mei-mei, but did not really see to my needs as well as they should have.
    - My arms were tied down during the c-section! In Australia, to do this without consent constitutes abuse! This really upset Mr C and really upset me, once I realised what had happened (too late).
    - I was sedated. Totally unnecessarily. Not happy.
    - They didn't explain what they were doing to me and why. Again with the not happy.
    - To get any information at all out of anybody, you are really pushing it uphill. This is a country where no-one wants to accept any responsibility, therefore to give information freely puts people at risk of getting it wrong. No-one ever gets anything wrong here. Neither can they admit it when they just don't know.
    - There were an endless stream of people in my room from customer service and accounts to doctors I hadn't met, all rubbing their hands together gleefully. Glad we weren't paying!
    - No, my window isn't open.
    - No, my baby dosen't need to be fed every half a bloody hour, she is sucking on her fists because she is trying to settle. Please don't bother her.
    - No, I do not want to formula feed my baby.
    - No, my baby is not cold.
    - No, my husband and daughter do not have swine flu.
    - Yes, I am up and walking. What else am I supposed to do, lie here like an invalid?
    - No, please don't manhandle my breasts and squeeze the life out of them. They are already quite painful enough without you causing further damage. I will put the baby on the breast myself, thankyou.
    - I have done this before, being the mother of a three year old already. I am not completely clueless.
    - They freak out here at anything slightly out of the normal parameters. Mei-mei had some jaundice and lost a little (acceptable) weight. They placed alot of stress on me, insisting that I supplement with formula, feed every hour etc. I get why, but really, it wasn't necessary. At least I had a good, clued in, culturally sensitive (Australian) Obstetrician and a decent lactation consultant who made it all good.

    The Ugly:
    - We won't talk about the ugly. You don't need to know anything except that my room was on the labour ward and it wasn't necessarily Mei-mei keeping me awake at night.

    Sunday, May 10, 2009

    Happy Mothers Day

    Have to say, there is something extra yummy about Mothers Day when there's a newborn in the house. That and this year, we decided Persmonster was old enough to get what it actually means. So I got a handmade card, some cuddles and brunch at the Sofitel with my famiy. Brunch at the Sofitel includes endless flowing Verve champagne and some damn fine desserts (oh and a kids play area complete with ayis), so feel a bit spoiled.

    And now, everyone's in bed asleep except for me...

    Should I
    a)Sneak out to the flower markets for a while
    b)Play some Warcrack

    I know it's sad, but somehow I think c) is going to win...

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Yeah very funny, guys...

    The Great Auditors of the Universe have a sense of humour, it would seem... Pers was carsick in the taxi 2 minutes away from where we needed to be for the wedding and we had to turn around and come home, thus missing the wedding.

    I'm laughing on the inside, but at least it wasn't my waters breaking... Maybe if I laugh a little harder...

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Oi! You! Out!

    Ok, so today's my due-date (yeah, I know...blah blah blah) and eviction orders have been issued. To sweeten the deal for Fate, we are off to a Chinese wedding today.

    Yes I know you will all be laughing with me if I hope what dosen't happen, happens (just to put it out there so that the Great Auditors of the Universe hopefully hear me and decide to get their A's into G).



    There is no place like home...

    If only I could just click my heels together three times and return to Oz.

    Strangely, I have been feeling a little homesick again lately and it dosen't quite make sense. All these really cool things have been happening back home... Rowany Festival, which sounds (and looks) like it was lovely this year, the Laurellings of two people who I love and admire and are friends of mine - Ms Bethan and Ms Hunydd. The Court Barony for Mr. Fzit, the wedding of MegnSnerg, The Dinghy's 3rd birthday. We weren't there for any of it and that's a total bummer.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not begrudging my mates good times just because we're not there, but my heart aches to join in, to give hugs and celebrate and be there for people who have been there and done those things for us.

    Plus I'd kind of like to be home at the moment with Timeling expected any day now (God, let it be today!). I need my friends and family and they're not here. Feeling kinda ronery.

    Ah well, rock on October, hey?

    Not much really happening here, Mr C made strawberry jam yesterday. We figured we should make the most of the beautiful strawberries while they are still in season. Honestly people, you have never tasted anything like the strawberries here, they are an experience on their own!

    Spring is here, the weather is warmer and the trees are green again. There is what I call 'fairy fluff' floating in the air. You could swear on first glance that it's snowing. Then your sinuses kick in... Still, it's nice to see all the kids in the playground again and also nice to not be wearing several layers of clothing. Spring happens so fast here, you don't seem to have a build up to it, it's just suddenly green oh and pink and red. You should see all the blossoms!

    And yes, then there's Timeling, of which we can confirm that there is definately only one, waiting to hatch. Saturday is our due date and at last check (Thursday just gone) it wasn't looking like it was going to happen anytime soon. If I am not progressing any further this Thursday, we will talk about our options. It is quite possible that another c-section will be in order and actually, I am quite ok with that (and yes, I do know what it means).

    So today, I think I will head off for another swim and make some ANZAC biscuits and probably sleep, sleep like the wind...

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    You know, I think I've figured out exactly what I want to do when I get back home to Oz. I want to be a marriage celebrant. It's something I've been thinking about for ages now and it seems to sit really well with me. Might just store that in the back of my mind for now, but if it is still calling me, I think I might do something about it when we get home.

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    Can haz brain back now plz?

    Yeah, I know... postings of any real substance are pretty thin on the ground.

    a)No brainspace. My sinapses have hormonal interference. Gosh. That was a big werd.
    b)Exhausted. Not sleeping. Nauseated again. I could sleep for a million years, if only I could sleep.
    c)Apathetic. Yeah. Like. Whatever.
    d)Brain taken up with thoughts of baby and birth process. And pretty much nothing else.
    e)I feel like Nanny M's prize brown cow, what with being patted on the belly constantly by well meaning mad chinese women and by obstetrician. Gosh. Another big werd.

    Will write something sooner or later. But for now, I sleep... yes... sleeeeeeeeeeep.

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Happy Birthday, Little Bear...

    I can't believe you're 3 already!

    We have a great day planned today: presents, phonecalls, Skype, cake, quack and lots and lots of cuddles!


    Her first birthday, christening and first steps! My, what a big day that was!

    Just before her 2nd birthday... we had just moved to China

    I took this photo of Miss Mermaid on Friday. She is obsessed with mermaids (and that fabric, which she had to sleep with).

    Sunday, April 5, 2009

    Mental note to self...

    When you hand over SCA website maintainence responsibilities, make sure you remove yourself as the contact for webminister so you don't get hassled for information you handed on to the next webminister and have washed your hands of a year or more ago...

    Sheesh, people!

    Don't bug me, go bug Del.

    Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    Why do I feel so nervous? Parte the Second

    Because yesterday when I went to see the obstetrician, he said I needed to have my baby by the 1st of May. Because that's when he gets on an airplane to go home to Oz for a holiday.

    That's why.

    No pressure, or anything!

    Why do I feel so nervous?

    The Bloke's buggered off down south for a business trip, that's why.

    So far, no labour!

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    If only she'd just said...

    The real reason ayi left, as I have just found out via the deadset efficient ayi grapevine, is that she was 4 months pregnant and was heading back home to have the baby. She just didn't want to work anymore...

    As if I of all people would be angry with her about that! I might have been happy for her, sad she had to leave, or concerned that she already has her one kid, but no way would I ever be upset!

    Geez! Why can't people just be honest instead of bothering with all this bullshit face saving? Yeah, look I know it's cultural, but surely just being straight up would spare the need to save face? I don't get it. I don't think I ever will.

    Man, would have been nice to have the opportunity to say thankyou to her for all she has done for us and give her a gift for bub...

    Page 10 girls

    Ok, so it's not quite page 3, but it'll do.

    About 6 months ago, Persmonster and I participated in a photoshoot with some other mums and kids to promote Expatmamma, an online forum/resource for parents in Beijing. It's over here (to take the legwork out of stalking). This week, I found the photo in one of the local free publications for expats, called City Weekend Parents & Kids. It's a nice, big group photo, with a smaller one of Pers & I, they quoted me too, which was a pleasant surprise.

    So yeah. There you go. I guess you can call us locals now or something...

    A sense of accomplishment...

    I figure being 36 weeks pregnant has to have some perks...

    2 Girlfriends who I have lots of laughs and good conversation with - check
    Lunch at Mosto (very, very yummy!) - check
    Glass of Zinfandel - check
    Manicure - check
    Pedicure - check
    Toenails painted 'Go Fasta Red' - check

    But you know, I have balanced my Tai Tai Tuesday decadence out with:
    Squat Toilet managed at 36 weeks pregnant - check
    Pers bathed - check
    Nummy dinner of BBQ Pork Noodle Soup started - check

    Me about to hop into bathtub - not yet, but soon maybe - check?


    Using a squat toilet when you're 36 weeks pregnant is... err... fun...

    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    Last week on Wenchiland...

    We must be acclimatising, it took us about 48 to sort out a new ayi. I interviewed 5 chinese ladies and ended up settling on Zhou ayi, who could start pretty much immediately. She's tiny! Pers is just over half her height! I had a lot of help from Xiao Chen (Miss Chen), who is Mr C's work colleague and probably the loveliest chinese person I will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

    Here is a picture of Xiao Chen and what went down after the interviewing process. I get the feeling Pers would much prefer her to be our ayi...

    Naturally, this all resulted in collapsing on our lounge (which thankfully survived the ordeal) in fits of giggles and a big, cuddly pile.

    So Zhou ayi started on Thursday and it all seems to be ok so far, but she talks to me much more than the last ayi did (which was hardly at all), so I am really going to have to do something about my language skillz, which are far from wicked. Zhou ayi noticed my Bridge School book from my mandarin classes and said she will help me. Awesome! It's probably about time I got my A into G and improved anyway!

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Bugger! Here we go again...

    I should have suspected something on Tuesday when Ayi threw a sickie and then the subsequent days when she was coughing lamely.

    Yep. She quit.

    First there was the face-saving attempt at an explanation (which is what we in the West call "A LIE"), which was brought to our attention at 7.30pm this evening via Mr C's work colleague: "She has to go home to Anhui for more than a month".

    We would have believed it if we hadn't heard it a couple of times before. So we asked colleague to call ayi back and probe a little deeper: "She has a better opportunity"

    Yeah, more likely: Our ayi got poached. But then, I'm a cynic.

    She is bringing a friend with her tomorrow who speaks some english to replace her, which is lovely and boy, would be great if it works out... but we shall see...

    Timing's a bit poo, but then I guess it could be worse...

    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Slightly Disturbed

    I have recently become aware of the fact that McDonalds ("Mai dang lao") home delivers here.


    Could anyone really ever stoop so low? Spose if I was a stoner, it'd have it's merrits...

    [Edit] Well obviously people do stoop that low... saw a delivery bike this afternoon... dammit, where's my camera!

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    I just saw a very strange thing #2


    Where the hell is my camera when I really need it? #2

    A guy standing on a corner. In one hand, a living turtle. In the other hand a bunch of mobile phone car chargers.

    I guess it beats windscreen washer guys...

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    I have come to the conclusion that a cup of tea really does make things much better.

    Thanks for the Russian Caravan, Ms Mousicles...

    I just saw a very strange thing!

    Where the hell is my camera when I need it?!

    There were a heap of guys, walking down our street in a line carrying signs.

    They were wearing white T-shirts and pants, their black undies on the outside and red capes. They were on the march and looked like they meant business.

    If only I could read Chinese characters, but I swear sometimes this place is so surreal...

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    On Rickshaw Rides - Beware - and always have a plan!

    So yes, Friday night I got lazy and decided to take a Rickshaw to where I was meeting Mr C. The main thing to note here is that I made sure I was straight on the price before I got into the rickshaw. As you will see, there is a catch...

    I asked how much, the rider said 40 Kuai. It was freezing cold, windy and getting late, so I decided this to be a Good Thing and hopped on up.

    It was quite a lovely ride, though might have been alot nicer if not for the icicles forming on my nose, as we made our way along the zou fulu (pr. zoh fool loo) and across busy intersections, to The Den. However, on arrival, there seemed to be some sort of mix-up with the pricing of the fare. Mr Guy-Onna-Bike insisted that I paid him $40Aus (equating to about 200 kuai). Far from the original 40 kuai he had quoted me *before* I got on the rickshaw. I pretended to misunderstand him. "You want Australian currency? Mai-you Ao da li ya kuai". So he started to get a little heated with me.

    *Sigh* There's only one real way a girl can deal with this sort of situation... I pointed at The Den - My husband is in there, I will call him (Wo Airen neigge, Wo da dianhua wo airen), followed by me starting to dial.

    See, and here's the thing - my bloke's in there with about 6 of his mates who all have a few under their belts. One of his mates is on first name basis with the entire staff of The Den and is someone that the staff like to "look after" (they also "look after" associated mates). I kind of figure the matter would be sorted out fairly promptly.

    And it was. Mr Guy-Onna-Bike immediately backed off "It's ok! It's ok! Wo pengyou (my friend), 40 Kuai! It's Ok!". So I give him the money, thank him (xie-xie wo pengyou!) and quite calmly walk into The Den, where I was greeted with "Waaaaaaaaaaaaay!" hugs, kisses and cigarette smoke...

    So just be aware, there's the 'real price' and then there is Special-wo-pengyou-Westerner prices attatched to most things especially in the markets, dodgy taxis and on rickshaws. You really have to be careful. The bastards are as cunning as shithouse rats!

    Recently in Wenchiland...

    Been a while since I've posted anything of any substance anywhere...

    Thursday saw us marking a year since we arrived in Beijing. A whole year. I was going to go with a photo montage or a list of stuff, but I'm tired and I just don't have the creative energy. Sorry about that, I guess I fail... ummm... yay us?

    Friday we decided to enjoy Beijing. There was school for LadyP, lunch with Dadda, ice-cream at Cold Rock, Flower markets where I bought some fresias and poppies and some handpainted butterflies for LadyP's room. We love flower markets. LadyP goes up to random bunches of flowers, sniffs them and says "Luffley!". Ayi stayed late for us and looked after P so Mr C and I could have some time out in the evening, which consisted of...

    ...Himself heading off to The Den (quite the institution, where there is beer and Aussie rugby and mates) after work. I attempted to catch a taxi to meet him there and WHAT IS IT WITH TAXI DRIVERS GOING HOME AT 6pm??? Seriously, it's a right shocker! Anyho... so decided instead to embrace my inner white woman and indulge my laziness, catching a rickshaw to The Den (hey, I'm pregnant, it is my perogative). At this point, I will cut most of the rest of this post out as the rickshaw ride is an entry on it's own!

    From The Den (a brief encounter), we headed to the ANZA drinks over at the Hilton, where I met one of Mr C's colleagues and his wife and was treated with THE MOST SOUR lemon lime and bitters I have ever had in my life! And then from there, we jumped in a taxi and found a random restaurant, which turned out to be Tepanyaki. We had a nice night...

    Saturday saw us take LadyP over to Solana for her very first ice-skating lesson. I get the feeling kids need to be about 4 to go out on the ice, but they restrict this by height - 90cms, which is probably pretty accurate for Chinese kids, but my little western baby towers over this, so it was sweet. She has been watching the ice skaters at the rink in the building where Mr C works ever since we first got here and the other day she said to us that she'd like to try it.

    We hired some skates and a coach (I can skate, just not when I'm 34 weeks pregnant) and my little Ice Princess stepped out onto the ice for the very first time. The coach sat her on a chair and pushed her out. As we expected, there were a couple of tumbles, but she didn't shed a tear and kept going back for more... to the point that when it came time to leave, she bolted to get back on the ice and Mr C had to crash-tackle her! The coach was impressed with her, being a first timer and almost 3, the coach was impressed that Pers could walk on the ice at all (sometimes unassisted). So as you can imagine, I was a proud mum and I think we'll take her back for more, she's certainly keen...

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009


    Yes, just making the most of it while I can, not that I read many books these days...

    I am currently reading Beijing Tai Tai: A Suburban Journey to Urban China It's a tongue-in-cheek biography of an Aussie woman who like many of us, made the leap and re-located over here. I'm quite enjoying it, because there is that streak of honesty and her words are so familiar to me that at times you would think we lead the same life.

    So if you want a bit of a glimpse at what it's like here, go read it. Or ask me to send you a copy for your birthday or something...

    Tomorrow, we will have been here a whole year and have one year left, but I think I'll blog about that tomorrow. For now, I'm off to wallow in my nausea. Bloody morning sickness is back and I feel awful. And tired. Boy, am I tired.

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Today's adventure saw Wenchilada and 'Callisterine' explore the previously uncharted depths of the Photography Market! It was a little dangerous, but I managed to come away from the whole thing undamaged except for a new camera case.

    Could have been worse, I tells ya... much worse...

    This weekend, I'm off to a Weekend Basic Photography & Photoshop workshop with Lukas Birk at The Hutong. Looking forward to it, should be good!

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009


    My mate Argy has a band (Hail Discordia). They're about to launch their new EP and have put a new track on the myspace page called 'Circles'. If you like a bit of shouty shouty angsty muzak, pop on over and have a listen.

    Argy is the lead singer (and check out those guns!)

    Sunday, March 1, 2009


    Today, as we sat eating our lunch in Hooters, we finally settled on some baby names - one for a girl and one for a boy (no, I'm not expecting twins still, we just don't know what we're having, apart from a little person and not a zebra).

    Yes. Hooters. We were in Hooters. Which is more like Tweeters, or as I call it 'The Itty Bitty Titty Committee'...

    Oh come on! Look. The ribs are great, there's beer, Pers gets a balloon and the carrot and celery with dip is da bomb! Don't know what is in the dip, but hot damn, it's good stuff!

    Friday, February 27, 2009

    Beijing Bikes

    Look what I made! (Ok, you probably saw it over at LJ, but I thought I would bring it over here)

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009


    Must admit though, I did get a little distracted from my subject of bicycles... just once or twice... (hell, I was somewhere I hadn't been before and there was all this other stuff going on)... so... some more of my non-peddled shots from today...

    One of the guys had mops as his subject. We kept trying to name all the mops after famous rock musicians. This trio of mops were 'The Pointer Sisters'

    I felt sorry for the broom, however and ended up with 'Cinderella & her three ugly sisters'

    There were lots of hole in the wall shops selling chuan'r (street food), this one looked particularly inviting.

    The little fella was after what looked like some marshmallows that were toasting. Can't say I blame him!

    It's almost off my subject... but look closely!

    There is even a bicycle behind me, tricky little tricksters! (And you can see what I mean here by needing to tweak my framing a little)

    A mosey around the hutongs

    Managed to book myself in for those photgraphy lessons and today was the first. We went on a fieldtrip beginning at the Lama Temple (we didn't go in), into Confucious' Temple and then walking through some of the hutongs in the Dongcheng district. Our teacher, Lukas Birk, asked us to chose a subject so as to narrow our focus (so we wouldn't just take happy snaps). I chose 'Bicycles' as my theme, thinking about my Nine Million Bicycles project and hoping to advance that along a little bit.

    I wasn't disappointed...

    These are some of the better shots I took (more over at my Flickr), mostly I am happy with them, I could tweak my framing a little more, though Lukas said I had a natural eye for framing (shucks)...

    Anyway, yes. Hutongs are an awesome place when you really look through them. At first they appear very grey and stark (especially in winter), but when you explore the nooks and crannies and begin to actually notice what is going on, it's a whole other world with lots of colour, movement and life...

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    On a day like this, it's all about her...

    This morning when we woke up, we were confronted with this:

    "Look, P!" said Mummy "Snow!"
    P looked outside at the snow falling past the window, "Snow! Wow!" then she looked down at the playground and said "What happened???!!!" (with all the wide-eyed wonder that you can imagine seeing settled snow for the very first time would muster).

    And that was how we started our day. Was an awesome way to start it, with P's first conscious realisation that snow makes everything white. So naturally, we jumped on Dad, got him out of bed, showered, dressed and took off downstairs for a bit of a play..

    Her very first touch of snow. Wow, huh?

    First snow-fight... at Mummy!

    Packing one for Daddy. Is my kid gorgeous, or what?

    A kiss for Daddy before he goes to work.

    Seriously, what an awesome way to start the day. I love my family :)

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Snow can wait, I forgot my mittens...

    So excited, we got snow today (those who read my LJ will already know this). It's expected that we will have snow for the next couple of days! Woot! I love it, the snow is beginning to settle now, the place has that eerie quietness about it and the snowflakes are way cool (so to speak...)

    So here's some pics...

    I couldn't resist...

    If you look closely enough, you can kind of see how beautifully formed the snowflakes are. I haven't worked the macro out on my new camera, unfortunately, but there is one star-shaped flake in the middle and to the rightish that's cute...

    This is lookibg down from our balcony, onto the play area park downstairs. See? It's snowing!

    I never thought in my life that I would see snow in Beijing. So yeah, I'm pretty chuffed actually. I'm off on an excursion to a Hutong village tomorrow, about 90kms away. Hopefully it will still be snowing, which could be loads of fun!

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Excursion to Hou-Hai

    Ok, so it was Tai-Tai Tuesday today and a heap of us went for lunch at Hou-Hai. I was hoping to take some photos of interesting stuff people do on ice, but the ice is melting now (17 degrees today!), so they have stopped people from going out there.

    So we went for a bit of a wander...

    This crazy dude had a subwoofah on the back of his bike, playing very loud (and extremely obnoxious) chinese music. Doof-doof, it aint.

    More tea, viccar?

    There yer go! Strawberries onna stick onna bicycle! Tah-dah! The guy wasn't real happy that we didn't buy anything. I did fully intend to go back after lunch, but a full tummy and pregnancy vagueness distracted me somewhat... next time, Gadget!

    And there you have it, an outing at Hou-Hai with some Tai-Tai's. Lovely, eh?

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    Again with the boom-boom!

    So, last night while the soon-to-be-opened Mandarin Oriental Hotel (right next door to the CCTV building) burned, we enjoyed (very much) some fireworks!

    Just wanted to show you this picture so you can see that we are above the fireworks, looking down onto the road below.

    Pers didn't really sleep through these ones. 500,000RMB worth of crackers is enough to keep a little girl awake...

    But hey, it was worth it!

    Friday, February 6, 2009


    11 degrees! Double digits! You bewty!


    ...and that was probably the last image you will see on this blog of a photo taken with that camera. It has been left in the boot of a taxi in Jakarta. Not completely The Bloke's fault and yes it is replaceable, the photos on the memory card - not so replaceable (and have some very special pics of Pers on it too...). Thankfully I have most of the photos on our pc, so will get to and back those up pronto!

    The Bloke's feeling pretty blue about it, so while I am sad, I'm won't be staying annoyed for very long...

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Oh my god, it's 9 degrees, maybe we'll break single digits today! This is so exciting, I could pee (3rd trimester, bladder, excitement, you do the math).

    And here's a photo of Mr C looking like he might eat some strawberries onna stick, but instead, gives them (all bar one, which I got) to his daughter, who hoovers the lot. This was taken at one of the temple fairs that are so popular this time of year. Fruit onna stick dipped in toffee's pretty popular too! I must try to get a photo of fruit onna stick onna bike...

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    What a blast!

    The money we spent on the fireworks that went up in smoke, was money well spent. The compound we live in set up an area so people could come along and let their crackers off, but there were people in the streets around us as well.

    Last Sunset of the Year of the Rat

    It was just fantastic! We went over to a friend of ours for a bit of a do. They live in the block of appartments next to us in our compound and have an alternate and very lovely view of Beijing. Everywhere we rested our eyes, there were fireworks. So it's not like Sydney, where you have a main show in a designated spot, more like what firecracker night used to be like.

    The Bloke lights one up

    A couple of us at the party had bought some fireworks, so we headed downstairs at around 9pm to let off our crackers. First cab off the rank was the massive tube we bought, which had the guys running for cover after it was lit and Mr C diving into some bushes (we were too busy watching the display to spot him, much to his disappointment). So we let all of ours off and were satisfied, until one chap brought out this massive, suitcase sized box, which was lit and certainly no disappointment!

    We lit up the compound!

    We ended up leaving the party early as I am still unwell and Miss P hadn't yet exploded (we figured we would leave with our dignity still intact). We watched some remaining fireworks for a while and then suddenly, the place just went nuts! There were fireworks of every description absolutely everywhere! Yep, it was midnight! We could see everything from street level, to immediately outside our window, down the road a bit and out onto the horizon. Well... at least, we could see everything until the sky filled with smoke. It was an electric intensity I cannot even begin to describe, just incredible. Nope. I really can't describe it and unfortunately, the video footage I took dosen't seem to want to upload to anything...

    Big Badda Boom!

    We don't expect to be getting much sleep over the week. Fireworks have already been going off since the beginning of last week. It's a 24/7 thing and they're pretty random. Can make things a bit interesting when you're walking down the street and I am fully beginning to appreciate what shell shock must feel like!

    But at any rate, next year, party at our place. Get yourselves up here, this is something you really have to see at least once in your lifetime!

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    Gong Xi Fa Cai

    Heh heh heh... we just went and bought some fireworks!

    Oh, this is gonna be so much fun!


    Cabin Fever

    We have had some very cold days, where the wind chill has taken the temp down as low as -18. I wouldn't rug us up to go outside even if Pers & I weren't afflicted with the flu. So as you can imagine, cabin fever is kicking in and I'm about to commit toddlercide.

    I just need some ideas, what do you guys all like to do with the wee-ones when you're hovelled up inside your 23rd floor appartment?

    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    Modern Day Brueghel?

    Maybe not, but I really like this photo, mainly because it captures life in a setting that is very foreign to me. Or possibly also because it completely contrasts with where I was last week, in the sun, on a beach.

    So anyway, this is Ritan Park, not far from where we live. It is lush and green in the warmer months, not so much now, infact quite sparse and grey. But the colour, excitement and activity out there on the ice, more than makes up for the stark, wintery bitterness.