Saturday, 9 February 2008

Zhang Ziyi's lip synching

Oh dear.. I did see her on tv but not long enough for me to judge if lip synching was involved or not! I did not watch the program as I generally find these Chinese 'variety shows' kinda boring ;)

BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Hollywood actress Zhang Ziyi was accused of lip-synching during the annual Spring Festival evening gala broadcast live on Wednesday night.

Zhang, 29, an internationally recognized Chinese actress, lit up the stage with a pink outfit that drew envious gasps from ordinary girls.

She sang "Fairy Scattering Flowers," which was specially composed for her by leading musician Ji Zhongping. Zhang was alone on stage during the performance.

Comments at, a major Chinese news portal, were not too kind. Posters said that her performance was just ordinary and she had no real singing skill; it was just her fame that got her audience attention. The complaints about the program started to appear almost as soon as the show signed off at about 1:00 a.m.

An article in the Modern Express, a newspaper based in Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province, said that lip-synching was common during the annual CCTV gala due to "hardware problems".

"Lip-synching at the gala is a tradition," it said, adding Zhang came in for public criticism because "she was an amateur singer who was not well-prepared and even forgot words". The article attributed her poor performance to "a lack of experience".

But Zhang thought she did well. "Fairy Scattering Flowers symbolizes happiness and auspiciousness. 2008 is especially important for Beijing and China and each of us. I wish spring would come earlier so that the snow in disaster areas would melt soon," she told reporters.

Zhang made her name with the martial arts blockbuster "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and with "Memoirs of a Geisha", among others. She was once director Zhang Yimou's favored actress. They collaborated on "The Road Home", "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers".

Every year, CCTV holds a special on Lunar New Year's Eve, featuring dances, songs and short comedies. This year, the gala had another theme: unity and the courage of the people to cope with the snow disaster.

A survey on showed that among the performances at this year's gala, "Blue and White Porcelain" by Taiwan singer Jay Chou ranked top among the viewers, with the second and third places taken by girl pop group S.H.E. and Fei Yu-ching, both from Taiwan.

Friday, 8 February 2008

New Year, new rat, new template

How do you like my new RATatouille template? I quite like it :) I edited the original Disney image to look like the Shanghai skyline myself so please don't steal the image without my permission ;)

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Heath Ledger's death accidental

Related post

Heath Ledger's death an accident
From correspondents in New York
February 07, 2008 02:43am

Heath Ledger's abuse of a powerful mix of prescription drugs led to a fatal "accidental overdose", the official investigation into his death has concluded.

Tests on the 28-year-old Australian actor's blood detected six different drugs, including narcotic painkillers, anti-anxiety pills and sleep medication.

The New York Medical Examiner ruled out suicide.

"We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications," said Ellen Borakove, director of public affairs at the New York Chief Medical Examiner's Office.

The drugs the Oscar nominee consumed before his body was found in the bedroom of his Manhattan apartment on January 22 included the painkiller OxyContin, the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax and the sleeping pills Restoril and Unisom.

"Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine," Ms Borakove said.

Ledger's US-based publicist, Mara Buxbaum, immediately released a statement from Ledger's father, Kim, requesting the media to stop speculating about what killed his son.

"Today's results put an end to speculation, but our son's beautiful spirit and enduring memory will forever remain in our hearts," Kim Ledger wrote.

"While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy.

"Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

Ledger, the star of 2006 best picture Oscar nominee Brokeback Mountain and this year's Batman sequel, The Dark Knight, went public with his trouble with sleeping in an interview with the New York Times late last year.

He complained he could only sleep two hours a night and his "body was exhausted".

Ledger told the newspaper two Ambien sleeping pills would give him just one hour of sleep.

Ms Borakove decline to say how many pills Ledger had taken to cause his death, or the concentrations of each drug found in his blood.

Ledger's father's reference to "low dosage", however, and the ruling Ledger died from an accidental overdose rather than suicide indicates large quantities of any one drug were not found in his bloodstream.

"It was the cumulative effects of these medications together," Ms Borakove said.

Today's release of Ledger's official cause of death in the US comes as the actor's family, two-year-old daughter Matilda and former fiancee, Michelle Williams prepared for his funeral in Perth.

The funeral, expected within days, will be private.

Ledger's family and Williams have made repeated pleas for privacy and for the media to let them grieve.

In today's statement from Kim Ledger, he again asked for privacy and also opened up about the pain his family was suffering.

"We remain humble as parents and a family, among millions of people worldwide who may have suffered the tragic loss of a child," Kim Ledger wrote.

"Few can understand the hollow, wrenching, and enduring agony parents silently suffer when a child predeceases them."

Kim Ledger also thanked the support his family had received the past fortnight.

"We treasure our beautiful granddaughter Matilda (to our dear Michelle) as well as an unbelievably wonderful network of close friends, forever, around the world," he wrote.

"Families rarely experience the uplifting, warm and massive outpouring of grief and support as have we, from every corner of the planet.

"This has deeply and profoundly touched our hearts and lives.

"We are eternally grateful."

"This was not a deliberate attempt to kill himself. This was an accident," said Lawrence Kobilinsky, head of forensic science at John Jay College in New York. He had no role in the investigation. "He just took too many drugs having similar effects on the central nervous system."
Experts said the combination of sedatives and the other medicines likely combined to suppress his brain function and his breathing. They said that Ledger probably had been prescribed the medicine by a number of different doctors, because several of them were from the same class of drugs and used to treat similar symptoms.
"It doesn't make sense" that one doctor would prescribe all those, said Dr. William Lee, an internal medicine specialist at the University of Texas-Southwestern in Dallas. "It's more likely that he got them from different prescribers."
Jane Prosser, a medical toxicologist from New York University School of Medicine, said patients can often end up with similar medications prescribed by different doctors, who are unaware of what they're already taking.
Three of the six prescription drugs found in Ledger's apartment had been filled in Europe, where the actor was recently filming, police said.
"If you see one doctor for one thing and you see another doctor for another thing, neither the physician nor the patient may realize they're getting two similar medications," Prosser said.
"Patients should be aware that this happens on a regular basis and it doesn't just happen to celebrities."

Well I'm glad they have some 'answers' and he can be laid to rest... that ought to shut up all those people who thought it was suicide! Let that be a warning to you kids. Taking too many drugs simultaneously can be lethal :(

THAT "Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni" song

I've briefly mentioned the Chinese New Year "Gong xi" song twice here and here but I decided to search for more information about this song.

I found it mentioned on this blog

They are teaching the classic Gong Xi Gong Xi Gong Xi Ni Chinese New Year song at my daughter's kindy. However, during those times when they were singing it, I noticed that my girl was not singing along. (Because she doesn't understand Mandarin and she is new at the school, the others had learned it before).

So what does a Mandarin Character Illiterate Computer Geek Mom do to help her daughter? Well, she searches the internet of course. Lol! And this is what I found. A YouTube Video of the Gong Xi Gong Xi Gong Xi Ni song. Its like singing karaoke with cute little animations. Chinese Character Song Lyrics as well as an English translation of the lyrics is included. You can go here for the Gong Xi Gong Xi Gong Xi Ni Pinyin Song Lyrics.

The kids love it. They listen to it over and over and over again and laugh at the animations. Well, you don't have to be a Chinese Character illiterate like me to enjoy this Chinese New Year classic song with your kids. Just press play and enjoy! Warning: It may sound a little irritating after playing it over and over and over again about 10 times or more. Lol!

Youtube video

Here are the lyrics (translations not by me!):

mei tiao da jie xiao xiang
mei ge ren di zhui li
jian mian di yi ju hua
jiu si gong xi gong xi
gong xi gong xi gong xi ni a
gong xi gong xi gong xi ni

dong tian yi dao jing tou
zhen shi hao di xiao xi
wen nuan di chun feng
jiu yao chui xing da di
gong xi gong xi gong xi ni a
gong xi gong xi gong xi ni

hao hao bing xue rong jie
yan kan mei hua tu rei
man man chang ye guo qu
ting dao yi shen ji ti
gong xi gong xi gong xi ni a
gong xi gong xi gong xi ni

jing guo duo shao kun nan
li jing duo sao mo lian
duo shao xin er pan wang
pan wang chun de xiao xi
gong xi gong xi gong xi ni a
gong xi gong xi gong xi ni

In every avenue and street
From the mouth of everyone
The first sentence when we meet
is congratulations
Congratulations, congratluations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratluations, congratulations to you

The winter has come to an end
That's really good news
The warm breeze of the spring
will wake up the earth
Congratulations, congratluations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratluations, congratulations to you

The heavy snow has melted
The plums are about to blossom
The endless dark night is over
We hear the crowing of a rooster
Congratulations, congratluations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratluations, congratulations to you

After so much difficulty
with so much discipline
How many hearts are looking forward
To the news of spring
Congratulations, congratluations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratluations, congratulations to you

Repeat 2,3,4.

Now, for those that don't know... Chinese New Year is also called "Spring Festival" or 'chun jie' 春节 . Why? - I don't know.. because it is not Spring yet and it certainly isn't warm! Also those lyrics kind of aren't applicable right now given it is still freezing and the snow from a week ago hasn't even melted yet.. and I certainly don't see any plum blossoms or roosters crowing! LOL.

The Year of the Rat and Fireworks!

Now that it is almost 1am the fireworks are slowly dying down (I hope? 'cause I want to get to sleep! ;) )

They've been going since around 7pm so that's 6 hours of non-stop fireworks and fire crackers!! They are so cheap to buy and anyone can buy them and set them off.

If you didn't know already (thanks to Wikipedia):
* The earliest unequivocal documentation of fireworks dates back to 12th century China, where they were first used to frighten away evil spirits with their loud sound ("bian pao") and also to pray for happiness and prosperity.
* The largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world is China
* Firecrackers, along with fireworks are now thought to have originated in China.
* Firecrackers are especially used in the celebration of Chinese New Year by Chinese communities around the world.
* Early (pre-1920s) Chinese firecrackers (AKA Mandarin firecrackers) were typically 1/2-inch to 2-inches long, and approximately 1/4-inch in diameter, and were charged with black powder. Mandarin crackers produced a less loud, duller thud when they exploded, compared to modern flash light crackers (which utilize a different explosive composition known as flash powder).

I can't believe how long I wished to live in a place (in Sydney) with a harbour view so that I could watch the fireworks from my balcony and I know I'm not in Sydney but I did that tonight! I watched the fireworks from my balcony. Actually, this was not the first time.. There have been a few occasions already since we moved here that we saw fireworks - off the top of my head - the mid-August autumn moon festival, Special Olympics, Christmas and New Year. I got a bit of video footage and took some photos but couldn't stay out long. I was a wee bit excited and realised I should have put on some shoes, a scarf and gloves and probably a thicker coat.. so while I was taking photos in -1 degree weather I was hoping I wouldn't get hypothermia.. LOL... It was incredibly hard to take photos because it is really really foggy and my camera can't seem to focus quick enough in this cold weather, plus my frozen hand couldn't hold the camera well either but oh well... I think I got some nice shots such as the ones below:

Tonight I had dinner with some of my extended family/relatives and it was a big feast cooked by our ayi. I also got a 'hong bao' (red packet) with money inside. I got a couple in Taiwan too while I was there, I feel very lucky! :D

So... Happy New Year of the Rat to everyone! I hope this year brings you much luck and prosperity :) If you want to read the story of the rat you can find it in one of my older entries here.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone... it has been quiet here. Most people have gone 'home' and there are fewer people around and fewer cars out on the road. I heard a few firecrackers going off last night but nothing so far today. It seems very weird it's so quiet ... It must be getting warmer because some of the snow that I saw yesterday on rooftops and sidewalks (am I turning American? footpaths for the rest of you) have melted. There is still some snow though. The weather report says "2 degrees but feels like -2." Having been to Taiwan, Hong Kong and now back to Shanghai, I've seen lots of red/gold/rat decorations around which is pretty cool. Even my flight back on China Eastern (from Hong Kong) was decked out in festive decorations! There were red paper pom pom things on the walls, and paper cut stickers, and mouse/rat cartoon cardboard cut outs stuck all over the plane.

Was reading some blog and they mentioned that annoying Chinese New Year song too! haha

Ron and I were walking down Shida Road today when we heard the most annoying pop song ever. The lyrics were basically "gōng xǐ, gōng xǐ, gōng xǐ, gōng xǐ nǐ [you]!" over and over and over again.

This is a really festive time of year for me/us because not only is there CNY but our first wedding anniversary is coming up soon, then a few days later Valentine's day!

Not sure what I have got in store today (hubby is in nice and warm Thailand!) but I will have (a big) dinner with my relatives tonight!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Invest in languages, firms urged

From :

31 January

Invest in languages, firms urged

One in four firms has lost business contracts because their staff cannot speak a foreign language, according to a report.

A survey of more than 500 UK companies also found that one in 10 had to pay to have documents translated because no-one in their organisation had the necessary language skills.

Manufacturing, catering and leisure firms were most in need of workers who had learned another language, according to the study by the publishers of the Teach Yourself Business Languages series.

The books' author, Sarah Carroll, said: "China is one of the fastest growing global markets and the demand for UK Mandarin Chinese speakers is increasing.

"Mandarin Chinese is quickly becoming one of the most useful languages to know in business, and Spanish may well end up rivalling English as a global business language in the Americas by 2050.

"Businesses need to be aware of this and invest in foreign language speakers so they are able to compete in the global market."

One in five firms said they would be willing to pay higher salaries to staff with language skills.


Last few days in Taipei / A couple of hours in Hong Kong ...

What did I do? Random stuff in no particular order...

* With Chinese New Year coming up (tomorrow actually) I got some red packets. Woohoo! I felt bad about taking them but I couldn't not take them so...

* I went to Guanghua market on Bade Lu and near the Technology University and Nova across the road from Taipei Main station to get me a graphics tablet. My dad took me and we traipsed around in the rain to compare prices. Unlike China they have set prices (price tags) and you can't really bargain much at all which makes it easier to compare prices. I didn't know which size I wanted/needed nor which type. In the end I went for a cheaper, smaller one as I figure I'm not gonna be drawing masterpieces or anything so I didn't really need the high end Intuous model (which cost double the price!). I got the Bamboo Fun model (from Wacom) which has a 'Fun' name (LOL) and from reviews I read online it seems to be pretty good. Yes, this research-aholic actually bought something without researching it beforehand! It cost 3420 NT, which we 'bargained' down from 3490 (other stores were selling it for 3600 and 3700). (and no, it would not be cheaper in China and comparing prices is a nightmare here). I was actually after the Hello Kitty model but they didn't sell it. The Graphire line is being phased out and replaced with the Bamboo/Bamboo Fun line.

* I went to the new Hello Kitty Cafe only to be told there was a minimum 1.5 hour wait (it was that popular) and that next time I should pre-book beforehand!

90 Da'An Road
(very close to Sogo Zhongxiao Fuxing / Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station).

* Got my Swatch (Menthol Tone - HKD$480) only to realise it was cheaper in Taiwan (2050 NT). ARGH!

* Met up with a friend in Hong Kong (at Times Square, Causeway Bay) for one hour. She is from Taiwan originally, met her in Sydney and now living in Hong Kong.

* Nearly missed my flight in HK after telling myself I wouldn't let that happen again. Of course my plane had to be literally right at the very end of the long terminal in the very huge airport (again!) I don't know how this happened. I checked the board and it didn't say anything. It did not say "Boarding". A few minutes later I looked at it again and it said "Final Call". WTF? Needless to say I ran like crazy but I was surprisingly not even the last person to go on board. You don't want to know what it is like to travel with Mainland Chinese people (roll eyes). They think catching a plane is like catching a bus or a train!

* Can't get the Chinese New Year song out of my head. I am sure there is only one song? They play the same song in stores in China and in Taiwan. There is an English version too. OMG. It is so annoying yet so funny, I can't get that crazy song and wacky lyrics out of my head. "Gong Xi Gong Xi Gong Xi Ni..."

* I went to Core Pacific Living Mall - A 19 storeys and open 24 hours a day mall in Taipei

* I left my video camera at my grandparent's place! :(

* When I came home last night I thought "Wow, our place looks so big and so clean and tidy!" (the joys of having an ayi who cleaned our place and washed and dried and put back on all our bedding and stuff was pretty nice, as was having a chauffeur-driven taxi take me home from the airport at around midnight!)

* I'm feeling quite sad and missing my family :(

* I'm feeling quite hungry and cold so must go out now to buy food and another heater!!

It's effin freezing

Just got back home. Can't sleep. Can't get the heater to work properly - why why why?! I can't even feel my hands anymore. It is 6 degrees C inside our house. There is lots of snow (mixed with dirt) clumped on the ground everywhere outside. Looks quite funny. A bit like bubble bath after it's stuck to the side of the bath.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Farewell Taiwan... I'm coming 'home' !

It's my last night in Taiwan and tomorrow morning I'll be off on my flight to Hong Kong and later to Shanghai. I hope I make it home in one piece. I'll be very sad to leave my relatives and my second 'home' after Sydney :( but I must be getting back - I have a tonne of washing to do and many hours of missed sleep to catch up on!

I have to get my dad to send off a parcel for me because my luggage is overweight... waah.. I've never been in a situation where I've reached the weight limit yet my bag isn't even full. The reason is because I bought heaps of cool design books (in English, Chinese and Japanese) and some magazines. Stuff I can't get in China at all. Right now my bag is around 26-27kg. If I added everything it would probably be 35kg!!

Don't get me started on how I think it's unfair that us 'underweight' people aren't allowed to bring more luggage onboard. I know it's discriminatory to make overweight people pay more for their ticket or whatever, but then what about cutting some slack for us lighter people? If I ate all of my books and kept them inside my body I'd be allowed to bring them, but if I bring them in my checked in luggage... noooooo I might have to pay a hefty fee/fine for it! But it is still the SAME total weight going onto the plane! UGH! Duh!

Old Family Photos...

A 21.5 year old photo...

I've been sleeping in my grandfather's study slash spare room and just discovered that underneath all that clutter on his desk is a thick piece of glass and underneath that glass were some old family photos.

The photo is a bit blah because of the glass (there is no way I could move it) but you can just make out the people in it...

Across the back row:

The first three people on the left - I don't know who they are but I think they are my granduncle's family... (is that what you call your grandfather's brother?!)

Then, there is my granduncle (who has since passed away :( ), my grandfather, my great grandmother (who turned 90 then and has since passed away :( ), my grandfather (who I am staying with now), my mother, my grandmother, my uncle (aunt's husband), my uncle (who is here from Sydney now as well), and my father (who is here from Sydney now as well).

My aunt is missing (she probably took the photo), and my other uncle (and his family) who lives in California.

The three kiddies in the front row are: Me, my one and only sister, and my cousin (who is here now in Taiwan as well, from Sydney!).

Yes I know I bloody look anorexic and I can assure you I was well fed! I get my 'skinny genes' from my dad.. you can see how skinny his legs are too! (LOL) and also the socks thing... why my sister and I both had our socks like that?! ... What was the deal with that? It's pretty funny I guess. My sister is now 28 and my cousin is 25. How fast does time fly?!