Friday, 14 December 2007

Our Christmas tree

Lamp: Stranne lamp we bought at Ikea a couple of weeks ago (199 RMB).
Decorations: I bought from Carrefour today (26 RMB).
Time spent: 5 minutes.


Our Christmas Tree - Shanghai 2007 - Before


Our Christmas Tree - Shanghai 2007 - After


Hours of enjoyment: Heaps! :D


Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Amazing Race

Related post

Right now we're watching "The Amazing Race" season 12 on AXN on our good ol' satellite tv courtesy of the Philippines ;) I love this show and it's about the only show I watch on TV these days. We are also watching "The Amazing Race Asia" Season 2. I just love it! I love the travelling aspect, I love the competition side, the psychology side seeing how people interact with their partner and with the locals, etc etc. Fun fun fun!!

Right now I'm playing a bit of TAR myself. I am trying to get myself to Taiwan to see my grandparents but it's been a bit of a headache deciding the dates let alone the route!

When we were little kids there were no direct flights from Australia to Taiwan and we always had to go through Hong Kong. Similarly, although there are direct flights between Sydney and Shanghai it is easier to get flights stopping over in Hong Kong. All of our recent guests came via Hong Kong. So, obviously Hong Kong is the logical place for me to stop if I'm going to Taiwan (since you cannot fly directly between China and Taiwan).

However, my dad's ex-classmates were telling us it's quicker and easier to get to Taipei via Jeju (Cheju)-do (island) in South Korea. So I had a look into this.. The first quote I got off a travel agent quoted me this route as being more expensive than via Hong Kong, but the second one quoted me as it being cheaper. Weird.

What to do, what to do? And then, I had another thought. I could go back to Okinawa and visit there again since I loved it so much last time. I don't think the cost would differ that much. ARGH I don't know what to do?!

Here is a map so you can see my three options.


Pros: I've never been to South Korea, Jeju is apparently "The Hawaii of South Korea"!

Cons: I can't read or speak Korean! It'll be too cold to enjoy the island-ness of it all, don't know how to get around or what to do there

Hong Kong

Pros: I know my way around there, I have no problems communicating, it'll be warmer than anywhere else mentioned, I miss it funnily enough

Cons: I've been there so many times already


Pros: I've been there already and already know where I'd stay and what I'd do there, how to get around, etc

Cons: I've been there already, I can read Japanese but not speak it that well

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Silver Bells... It's Christmas time in the city

Like most of my posts this should be backdated...

On Saturday 1st December I had an awesome time with people I barely even knew. My father had arranged to meet up with his old college classmates from National Taiwan University (NTU) - the most prestigious university in Taiwan (yes I had to brag cos my dad is a brain, and I'm not half as brainy as he is :( ) anyway.. it turns out that after almost 40 years they are still in contact. Can you believe that? That is pretty cool. Not only that, a fair few of them are now living in Shanghai (but previously living in the States).

So he arranged to meet up with them and dragged Mike and I along for the ride. First we stopped at friend #1's house. They live fairly close to us, near Shanghai Zoo. We stayed and chatted for around an hour before they drove us to Pudong, all the way to Zhangjiang, what I like to call 'woop woop' and where, unfortunately, my husband's company is moving to next year :( There, we met up with another former classmate and another who was in town visiting from from San Francisco.

Then, we had lunch at the restaurant/cafe place near Zhangjiang train station called "Shanghai Legend". We went to the 'green looking one with funky big Buddha inside'. Great description huh? I don't recall the name of the place but it had Shanghainese Chinese cuisine. After that, the first friend drove us to the fabric market for my dad to pick up 2 pairs of pants he had made.

While we were there, I also picked up the jacket I had made a few weeks back (remember?) Well I won't say I am 100% happy with it but it does look good in photos, in fact, much better than it does in real life! so I can't complain.

Also while we were there, dad and I convinced hubby to get his suit made at the same place that dad got his pants at. So he ordered 2 suits in pin-striped wool fabric. One dark dark blue and one dark grey.

After that, it was still light and amazingly not that cold at all. There was no wind and it was really pleasant outside. I suggested a walk along the Bund. It was a little further than I thought but still a walkable distance. I said that I was there with the 'two most special men in my life' :)

Soon after, it got dark and the twinkling lights came on. The Bund is absolutely nothing special in the day time but come dusk it is magical. I said it looked almost like Hong Kong harbour and my dad agreed.

Unfortunately, I had left the house with my camera battery uncharged and only managed to take a handful of photos before it died on me.

Then, we crossed the road and walked all the way down Nanjing East Road (Nanjing dong lu) which was exactly the same route I had walked not long ago when hubby's friend was in town. We also stopped at exactly the same building/mall and had dinner at... Waga's.

After that we were all exhausted (it was a LONG day and we did walk a lot and it was now dark and getting cold rapidly) and decided to high tail it home. As the taxi drove around Nanjing Dong Lu, Fuzhou Lu, People's Square (Renmin Guangchang) and various others places I felt eerily like I was in a movie (as I described in an earlier post). All those twinkling lights had me mesmorised. But not just the normal every day neon lights but... the Christmas decorations were now in full force! They were everywhere and were beautiful. Especially the big ones outside hotels and department stores and malls. It was awesome. Of course I have no pics since we were zooming in a taxi driven by a crazed lunatic on drugs, and my camera battery was dead ... ;) (OK OK slight exaggeration!)

Cut to last Friday, 7th December. Feeling like death and freezing like anything. Had dinner in Grand Gateway (Element Fresh) and took a couple of quick photos all whilst freezing. We had to take the bus home (yes, slumming it - haha) because the taxi queue outside GG was massive (and not moving) and there were no available ones on the road either). So on the way I passed lots and lots of pretty lights but it was hard to take anything decent because 1) I felt like crapola 2) I was freezing* 3) I was holding a bag of groceries 4) I had no tripod and didn't want to use the flash which would be useless anyway. But all in all, not too bad. Take a look for yourself.

Xujiahui "Grand Gateway" Christmas Tree Shanghai

Xujiahui Grand Gateway Christmas Tree Shanghai

Xujiahui "Grand Gateway" Christmas Tree Shanghai

Xujiahui Grand Gateway Christmas Shanghai

Compare this...

Xujiahui Pacific Dept. Store Christmas Tree Shanghai

... to the photo I took before...

Xujiahui Pacific department store

And finally, this one I took on December 5th (from inside a taxi) of Jiuguang/City Plaza near Jing'An Temple

Jiuguang Plaza City Plaza Shanghai Christmas decorations tree

This is what it looks like lit up at night (beautiful!) This photo is taken from the very funny Shanghai blog,

* That night I was wearing 4 or was it 5 layers of clothes, 2 layers of pants, socks, 3 blankets, heater on high and I was STILL freezing. Whenever I get sick I get these horrible cold chills that run through my body that nothing can get rid of but thank God it only lasted about 24 hours.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Blog changes

You may have noticed some changes. I'm still tweaking it (but it's a bit hard to do anything that requires too much concentration as my head is still stuffy and all that HTML and Javascript... eerrghhhh) but basically now my blog:

* Is green instead of pink! I don't particularly like green, but I don't not like it either. But I felt like a change and it's a calming colour so why not. And the template is pretty snazzy too.

* I've added some RSS links to make it easier to read and subscribe to my blog. Yes yes I know I have crossed over to the 'dark side'.. sort of.

* The best one of all. I've added a search box so you can search for words and in a flash it searches my entire blog for those words. Be sure to click the second option though and not 'web' or else it'll search the entire web for your keywords. I tested it to see if it was actually good at finding the right data and it did a really good job so I'm happy :)

EQ Tests

Related post: IQ Tests

Well I said I'd do an EQ test and little did I know it'd be sooner than I thought! I think I have done them maybe once or twice before and it was such a long time ago. I had no idea how I'd score but I got excited when I saw that two of my friends on my Facebook list had added the test to their profile. I had no idea an EQ test on FB existed (and I never searched for one) so I was pretty excited to do it (even though I know it's only a bit of fun and games)...

I was actually quite shocked to see that I scored highly. (my friends scored medium). It said:

You have high emotional intelligence. You are very aware and understand almost all social situations. You are able to have deep and meaningful relationships. Your life is very social and you can get along with other social people very well.

I am shocked indeed because I have been told by those close to me (not mentioning any names hmmm) in the past that they thought I had low EQ.

The test is a bit weird as it consists of a series of pictures and you have to guess the relationship or emotions some of the characters are feeling but firstly you have to figure out who they are actually talking about! I feel it would've been easier if they just labeled the pic with names of the characters. Anyway You can find the test here.

Here is the IQ test.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Ang Lee's Lust, Caution (Se, Jie) 色,戒

I remember seeing posters up for this a couple of months ago and commented to hubby that I wanted to see this. I had no idea what it was about but since it was directed by Ang Lee I wanted to see it.

I'm a big fan of his work having seen most of his prior films. It's funny because my father is so boring and doesns't appreciate anything to do with arts and entertainment by loves Ang Lee films (because he is Taiwanese and he supports anyone Taiwanese!) He took my sister and I to see "Eat Drink Man Woman" in Sydney many many years ago and ever since then I've been following his work. "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" (wo hu cang long) 臥虎藏龍/卧虎藏龙 was and still is one of my all-time favourite movies and I almost cried when I heard it won best foreign language film in 2001 at the Oscars. I also loved loved loved Tan Dun's musical talents in the film and saw him perform at the Sydney Opera House. (Coincidently, while I was there with hubby (then boyfriend) I bumped into my stepmum and we each had no idea we were both going to see it on exactly the same night. And knowing how many people the Opera House seats, it would've been a slim chance we bumped into each other too...)

Anyway back to "Lust Caution" I still haven't seen it yet, even though my local DVD store already sells it. The store owner told me the uncut version (from Hong Kong or the US) is not currently available but will be out later. The reason I haven't seen it yet is because my father told me that in China they cut out a part of the film. My first reaction was that they cut it because of political tensions/historical issues between China and Taiwan (I have no idea about the storyline remember?) but no, he said it was cut because it was too 'sexy'. Uh huh. OK. Great...

So I went searching on Google just now about some info on this...

China does not have a classification system and predictably enough, "Lust, Caution" has prompted a major row over what is suitable viewing and how to control access to movies with adult content.

And this - a bizarre, weird, news story about a Beijing PhD student suing and seeking apologies for the trauma caused by watching the film without the censored part. Haha!

...Dong Yanbin, a Ph.D student at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, had filed a suit against the nation's film censor, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), for infringing upon his "consumer rights," the Beijing Times said.

"I felt greatly disappointed after seeing the movie," the paper quoted Dong as saying.

"Compared to Eileen Chang's original, the incomplete structure of 'Lust, Caution' and fragmented portrayal of the female lead's psyche makes it hard for the audience to appreciate the movie's art," Dong said.

Dong was seeking apologies and 500 yuan ($67) in "psychological damages" from both SARFT and UME, the cinema chain showing the movie, the paper said.

The court had yet to accept the case, it added.

UME had violated the audience's "fair trade rights," while SARFT had infringed upon "society's public interest" by failing to implement a rating system that would allow adults to see the film, it quoted Dong as saying.

"Lust, Caution" is open to children and adults alike in China, where academics and film-goers have been calling on authorities to implement a rating system for several years.

Despite the cuts, the movie has proved popular in China, reaping 90 million yuan ($12 million) in its first two weeks and being tipped by some to be the year's biggest box office success.

But some filmgoers in the southern province of Guangdong have opted to cross the border into Hong Kong to watch the full, uncut version, local media have reported.

Still, he has a point. China really has a hide censoring the internet as it is, and film as well. ARGH - it cheeses me off!

"Lust Caution" just won 7 awards in the 44th annual Golden Horse film awards in Taiwan.

The list of winners at the 44th Golden Horse Awards was announced Saturday in Taipei.

"Lust, Caution" won the Best Film award, as well as Best director, Best Actor and four other awards. Following is the list of the awards:

Best film: "Lust, Caution"

Best director: Ang Lee, "Lust, Caution"

Best actor: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, "Lust, Caution"

Best screenplay adaptation: James Schamus, Wang Hui-ling, "Lust, Caution"

Best film score: Alexandre Desplat, "Lust, Caution"

Best makeup and costume design: Pan Lai, Olympic Lau, "Lust, Caution"

Outstanding filmmaker of the year in Taiwan: Ang Lee

Best new performer: Tang Wei, "Lust, Caution"

Yay for Ang Lee! I can't wait to see the film in its entirety Thanks! :)

PS just found this on imdb. I generally try to avoid reading too much about tv shows or movies (that I haven't seen yet) on the 'net because I always inadvertently find spoilers...but... Woah that sux. I didn't know that every single person working on the film had to be 'foreign'? What is foreign anyway? (Would I be considered foreign?) That's kinda crap...

‘Lust, Caution’ was submitted as Taiwan's entry to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the 80th Annual Academy Awards (2008), but it was rejected on 17 October 2007 by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences because many of the film's personnel were not Taiwanese. Taiwan substituted ‘Lust, Caution’ with Huai-en Chen's Lian xi qu (2006).

Australia's economy is "Made in China"

Interesting article

If you have been into your local shopping mall and wondered why the prices of some goods like electronics and basic clothing are going down, while the prices of other things like haircuts and restaurant meals are going up, then you have noticed something fundamental about our economy. Australia is not one, but two economies. And they are dangerously misaligned.

If you walk into JB Hi-Fi or Just Jeans you are standing in the heart of the "traded" economy. This encompasses all the goods, such as clothes, toys and electronics, that can be shipped across national borders. Inflation in this part of the economy is very low. To find out why, just check the label on any of the products in these stores and read the words "Made in China". More than 80 per cent of Australia's clothing imports and 30 per cent of our electrical goods come from China and prices have been falling every year by as much as 2-3 per cent.

If you walk over to have your hair cut, buy yourself some lunch, or drop your kids off at child care you have moved into the "non-traded" economy. These are the goods, and primarily services, which cannot be shipped across borders and so must be provided by Australians. Inflation on many of the goods in this economy is running much higher at 4-5 per cent......

If you want to thank someone for your low interest rates in the past decade, thank China......

Second, Chinese wages are soaring as the supply of new labour to its factories begins to dry up. Population controls, increasing educational levels, and a slowdown in rural to urban migration have restricted the supply of new low-skill labourers to Chinese factories. As a result, wages of urban workers have risen more than 15 per cent in the first half of this year. China has the beginnings of its own skills shortage.

Third, China's government is starting to push up export prices. In June this year, Chinese bureaucrats slashed export subsidies. In 2005 the currency was partially floated leading to an appreciation of more than 10 per cent, which made exports more expensive for foreigners.

All this is bad news for Australian inflation and interest rates......

The roots of Australia's present problem stem from the mining boom that has made Australians much richer over the past decade, but also produced unintended side effects. Cashed up Australians have been using their new wealth to shop for more goods. Greater demand for imports has pushed up our trade imbalance while greater demand for domestic goods has created inflation. In a perfect economy, increased demand for domestic goods and services should be a good thing, which stimulates our economy to produce more. But after years of ignoring capacity constraints and skills shortages, the Australian economy is approaching its maximum production capacity. As a consequence, growing demand is just pushing prices up and creating an inflation headache for the Reserve Bank.


My thoughts?

Yes it kinda sux that everything is made in China now, not only in Australia but many other countries as well. And if they are not made in China they are made in India, Pakistan, Indonesia or some other 'poor' country. When I want to buy gifts for people overseas it is so hard to find something that is useful, nice, decent, and "made in Australia" but doesn't cost the earth. When I was a kid in the 1980s nearly everything was made on home soil. Why I say it 'sux' is because although it's cheap to produce it's still not that cheap to buy in many instances, particularly brand name goods/clothes.

However, I guess it's good for China's progress and economy but will it just end up like Taiwan and Hong Kong? I also remember as a kid that many things were made in these two 'countries' but now that they have prospered and wages have been raised and standards of living it is no longer that cheap to produce goods there. So will we get to the stage where labour is not that cheap in China and therefore prices of goods will not be that low? What will happen then?

As for the prices of restaurant meals, haircuts and any sort of labour? Yes it's a joke! Australia is not that cheap for these things and it probably only appears cheap to Americans and Europeans due to the exchange rate. UGH. The prices of those things really depress me and really makes living in Shanghai so much more bearable when those things are dirt cheap here. Incidenty, my hubby loves the hairdresser across the road from our apartment and he pays just 10 RMB ! (that's $1.50 Australian).

Re the economy, I guess the bubble had to burst at some point. It is depressing to think of rising interest rates when houses are already so unaffordable (esp. in Sydney). UGH!

I figured out how to comment on Blogspot blogs!

OK it's taken me this long to figure out how to comment without using a proxy (which doesn't work) or Tor or some such.

* Firstly you view the blog's URL through

* Then you click on the time at the bottom of a post, that brings up the comments if it's not already loaded.

* Then you click on "Post a Comment".

* Then it'll start loading a new URL.

* While that is loading, quickly highlight the address bar and delete the anonymouse part so the URL should be something like ""

*Then add your comment. Voila!

"Shanghai Kiss"

Ahhh maybe there is a good side to being sick afterall ;) I get to lie on the couch like a sloth and watch DVDs and have my husband make me breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy it while it lasts I say!!

Despite our ever growing collection of bootleg DVDs we actually don't watch them that often. Anyway, we just finished watching "Shanghai Kiss" and was pleasantly surprised. From the cover I thought it was a cheesy teen movie something akin to Hilary Duff's "Lizzie Maguire".

On the cover was Hayden Panettiere who most people know as the beautiful young blonde girl in "Heroes." I didn't even know who the other actors were in it. I didn't read the blurb on the back of the cover either so I had no preconceived idea of what the heck the film was about.

Without giving too much away I was quite surprised. First of all, the majority of it takes place in L.A., not Shanghai. There is a part that takes place in Shanghai where the protagonist (Ken Leung) is looking out the window and seeing all the dazzling neon lights. I've had a few experiences like that myself. I've found myself looking out the window of a taxi and being amazed and wowed at the beauty that Shanghai has to offer, and imaging myself in a film. There is a similar kind of scene in "Lizzie Maguire" too and many other films. Of course they only portray the beauty of the city and not the ugly side to it. They even managed to make poverty look 'nice' in this film.

I found the first scene particularly comical and easy to relate to. I guess I can say what it's about since it's literally the first scene of the film. The main character, "Liam" is auditioning for a part in a tv commercial. As any Asian actor/ess will tell you, it is particularly hard to get any kind of role when you are in a Western country. I think that the States is actually pretty good and Australia is about 20 years behind, heck probably 50. When was the last time you heard of a famous Australian actor/ess who was Asian? Let's see - there is Nicole Kidman (born in the USA), Naomi Watts (born in England), Mel Gibson (born in USA), Russell Crowe (born in New Zealand). All caucasian and all funnily enough not even "Australian"! ... However there are lots of American Asian actor/esses..

On imdb the director, David Ren, says this:

Shanghai Kiss is an autobiographical story and a film that is very personal to me. Some of you have commented on the lack of Asian male leads in American films that are not in the action/martial arts genre. This is especially true for love stories. This is because Hollywood doesn't think America is ready to accept an Asian male as a romantic lead.

There isn't a great deal I can say about the movie without giving too much of the plot away (I really hate people who have to give away spoilers - knowingly or unknowingly - so I won't do it either). However I will say that it explores what it's like to an Asian/Chinese person growing up in a Western country, finding your roots, facing judgements and criticism about 'who' you are, parents/family, love, life, relationships...

Some on imdb have likened it to "Lost in Translation" which I liked but funnily can't remember much of. I think I preferred this film better though. Especially knowing what a small budget they had.

One thing I didn't like about the film was casting Kelly Hu in one of the lead roles. For one thing she's not even Chinese!! She is mixed-race and I doubt she can even speak Mandarin with a convincing accent (which is why she doesn't speak it in the movie except maybe a word or two here or there). I admit I didn't know who she was but knew that she wasn't fully Chinese and that she was reasonably famous. I didn't even think her acting was that good so she was a big disappointment for me.

I thought that Ken and Hayden were both wonderful and played their parts very believably and had a weird chemistry too. I can't believe Ken is 37 and played a 28 year old in the film.

I particularly enjoyed the Shanghai scenes because I was like "I know where that is!" for most of them. I even recognised the Jinjiang amusement park even though I've never been there (but read about it and seen pics of it). I've not felt that excited since the movie "Looking for Alibrandi" came out. That's one of my favourite films and set in Sydney. I think I could pick just about every location used in that film. Someone on imdb commented on why in "Shanghai Kiss" does he go from Pudong, to Puxi and then back to Pudong and of course we all know that geographical realism does not exist in films!!

In one of my husband and I's family films "Before Sunrise"/"Before Sunset" we actually found where the filming locations were and went to seek them out when we went to Vienna/Paris. It's hilarious when you think about how the heck they could've gotten from A to B to C to D... in such a short space of time and why they kept backtracking and criss-crossing all over the city!

Lastly, there was the issue of a large age gap in a relationship. I have to admit I try to keep an open mind for others but 1)I could never do it myself and 2)When it's over 10 years I start to feel it's getting a bit weird and when it's 20 years different well that's just freaky because it's a whole new 'generation'. However, this movie gave me insight on what it's actually like to feel love for someone who is so much younger/older than you are...

Anyway this is not a movie review as such other to say I really enjoyed the film. Go and see if it you can! (after reading the spiel by the director I kinda feel guilty about having an 'illegal' copy now :( ) There were some particularly comical parts and some weird parts which we both found very amusing. I just wanted to get out a mish mash of thoughts which probably don't make sense to anyone other than myself! Well my excuse is that I feel exhausted, my chest is congested, my head is dizzy and stuffy, I'm constantly hungry, I'm cold, I'm hot.. argh!

P.S. This scene which takes place in a laundromat is one of my faves. If you watch it it doesn't really give away too much either. (basically what you read in the 'blurb' anyway).

and here is the trailer