Friday, 15 February 2008

ICS tv channel

Related Post

Last night I watched almost 2 hours of this channel in one hit!

At 6:30pm there was/is a cooking show hosted by what we think is an Australian woman, and a French chef and filmed at the Westin hotel (although there was a typo on screen and it said "Weatin hotel" hahaha!)

Then there was some craft making DIY activity shows - first making paper roses, then modelling clay sculptures.

Then there was a discussion with an expat who's lived here a number of years and what he thought about current affairs topics. One of the things they talked about was that Shanghai is planning on introducing the no plastic bags policy which many other countries have. Apparently this will start in June. Hubby said good luck to them enforcing it! Well, hopefully it'll take off. I hate the feeling of so much wastage. It's bad enough with billions of disposable chopsticks, toothpicks, plastic packaging and whatnot. I actually feel a bit sick thinking about this when I'm flying on a plane or staying in a hotel. But anyway...

I just want to say again that ICS is pretty good! :)

Valentine Schmalentine

Valentine's Day

Yeah I know I'm one day late but I just didn't feel like there was anything to write about. I don't have any real thoughts on the day itself either negative or positive but there are a not of cynical people out there who say it's too commercialised and just a way to get more money off us, etc etc and that it makes single people feel bad...

I tried to think back and remember my past Valentines' days. From what I can remember (apart from the last few years) most of them have involved me being single and miserable seeing roses and happy couples everywhere. I have one I particularly remember where I arranged for myself to do 'work experience' at some hotshot ad agency in this huge open plan glass building (with a huge spiral slide in it!) in North Sydney. I spent 14th and 15th February there. Work experience usually involves you sitting around not doing much and watching others work and perhaps talking to them and asking them questions and if they are nice enough they will answer, or maybe even let you do some basic work. There was one guy there who I found particularly good looking but no, that's not my memory of the day. My memory was going to the toilet and blacking out (not actually fainting and falling down), feeling extremely light-headed and nauseous and I ended up having to crawl around on the ground (because I was afraid if I stood up I'd promptly fall over and probably hit my head on something). Yes I was crawling, with my eyes closed, around on the ground like a baby and out the door. Then, when I got back to the office I still couldn't stand up (amazingly noone even saw me), I quickly found a chair and table and sat on the chair and put my head on the table. After a while some people came over and asked me what happened and I said I don't really know - I felt light headed then the next thing I couldn't see anything and felt really weak and dizzy. They said it must be low blood sugar or low blood pressure (or both) and that I should just rest. Geez. I was really pissed off because it meant sitting around doing nothing for even longer and not to mention it was kinda embarrassing and not leaving such a great impression (well I didn't tell them about the crawling part!)

OK now onto the good one. My most memorable and positive experience of Valentine's day was not long after I met hubby. He arranged for us to go to Port Macquarie (which is a 4 hour drive north of Sydney). He booked a hotel and we stayed there for 2 days and 1 night or was it 3 days and 2 nights? I can't remember. Anyway we stayed at the Sails Resort and went swimming, fed pelicans, it was great. We took turns driving and the other would sleep in the back seat. I remember thinking "When are we going to get there?" whilst driving at 120 km/hour. The best part though was when we went to see and ride some camels along the beach. They (the camels) normally come to Sydney but the stupid council didn't allow them to come anymore and upon finding this out, we went to see them! People who work with camels are some of the loveliest and friendliest people I have ever met. We had a great time and it's by far the best Valentine's day in my memory...

For the record, no we didn't do anything special yesterday.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Chinese New Year in Sydney, Australia

Most years I try to catch the Chinese New Year excitement in downtown Sydney but last year I missed it (because, um, I was kinda getting ready to get married ;) ) Anyway one of my friends who travelled interstate to come to our wedding and was staying in a hotel near Chinatown happened to catch the parade and sent me photos of it afterwards. This year (it happened on the 10th Feb) it was just as spectacular and seeing these pictures kinda made me a bit homesick and a bit sad.

You can see the spectacle yourself through Helen's gorgeous photos. The attention to detail of the costumes are amazing! I particularly love the yumcha (dimsum) table girls. Check out the rest at her blog.

According to statistics only 3.5% of people living in Australia have Chinese heritage but dare I say it, in Sydney (if you just counted Sydney) I would guess it would be something like 20%!

On another note, this abovementioned friend and my sister both recently told me that the lion dance they saw at M's and my wedding was better than the ones they saw during this year's CNY entertainment in restaurants and places, which kinda made my day. It was something we both really wanted to have and we were glad we did, to see the looks on all our guests' faces :)

ICS tv channel

Related post

Well the channel seems to be pretty good. There is a good variety of programs and there are also subtitles in Chinese. Unfortunately our excitement about the Amazing Race was short-lived when we realised it was a really old season (the family edition)!

They just reviewed all the Pixar (Disney) films and am now showing a couple of music videos... Music videos.. how many years or decades has it been since I watched one of these?!


From the maker's of That's Shanghai comes Urbanatomy: Shanghai 2008 a guide book about everything to do with Shanghai. It is only newly published and great for a first-timer to Shanghai or an expat who's been here longer.

China's largest, fastest and most spectacular city is opened up as never before by this lavishly illustrated 600-page book. Combining the advantages of a helpful guidebook and trusted reference work, it presents a comprehensive portrait of Shanghai's physical, social, cultural, technological and economic existence precisely, accessibly and graphically. Taking maximum advantage of local and international expertise, it strikes the optimum balance between intimate familiarity and objective perspective. The world's most dramatic Shanghai photography and artistic images complement a mix of descriptive and analytical articles to detail the attractions, character and contours of a city in flux.

Shanghai Pudong airport's Terminal 2 and Terminal 3

When I was coming back home from the airport on the night of the 4th, in sub-zero temperatures, at around midnight, I had a fairly long conversation with the taxi driver. While we were driving out of the airport he commented to me that the second terminal is finished and due to open in March 2008.

I'm surprised that a airport that is fairly new (opened in 1999) has had need for another terminal already, but given the upcoming Olympics and the economy of the country and growing affluence of its people, I guess it's no surprise.

Now, while I was searching for information on this I discovered that Shanghai is planning on building a third terminal already!

Shanghai Pudong International Airport will build a third passenger terminal and two more runways by 2015 to meet rising air travel demand, Wu Nianzu, chairman of Shanghai Airport Authority, said yesterday.

The expansion will further boost the capacity of the city's bigger airport to 80 million passengers a year and six million tons of freight in 2015.

"Pudong Airport became the world's sixth busiest airport in terms of capacity last year. With the forthcoming Olympics and the World Expo, the airport will play a more important role," said Wu. "To expand the airport is not a local strategy, but a strategy to serve the development of the Yangtze River Delta region and the whole nation."


When I first went to Pudong airport in 2005 I had high expectations. I knew it was a newish airport and a fairly large one but when I got there I was extremely disappointed. The reason is because I have used Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport as a benchmark and it doesn't compare. The reason it doesn't compare is because there was absolutely nothing to do there! The shops are lacking and the food places.. er... I don't even recall any. There isn't even enough seating in the waiting area. Not only is it boring it is freezing as they don't heat it enough (in winter).

Fortunately, I have read (in That's Shanghai magazine) that they are using Select Service Provider (SSP) (a UK company providing food and beverage to airports) in Terminal 2 so we can expect to see 22 new restaurants, cafes, and bars which sounds kinda exciting and promising. The company has a contract with Pudong airport for 10 years so it should be good.

On another note I absolutely love Hong Kong's airport. People rave about Singapore's Changi airport which is also nice but I feel it just doesn't compare. Other airports I really liked are Kuala Lumpur's and Dubai's. Nobody likes waiting but when there is lots to see and do at the airport I make more of an effort to get there early. I love the open layout of HK's airport and the modern design. I love that there are so many choices for food and shopping. Even though I don't really plan on buying much at the airport I just love browsing through random stuff. As well as that, they have little mini exhibitions throughout the terminal too and free wireless internet and internet stands. What more could you want?


Marimekko for H&M

Marimekko, the Finnish company known for its bright, colourful and distinctive prints has collaborated with H&M to produce a fashion range of 50 pieces featuring retro 50s, 60s and 70s - style prints.

"Our design team has long admired Marimekko's vivid patterns and colours. When our designers came up with the idea of creating a collection with Marimekko patterns, it felt very natural and timely. The summer collection 2008 will be joyfully fresh like a vitamin injection," states H&M's head of design Margareta van den Bosch.

The Summer 2008 collection will be released in stores in April 2008. Watch this space! ;)

Monday, 11 February 2008

Happy First Anniversary to us

Well today (11th) was our first wedding anniversary and I'm amazed and shocked how fast time has flown.

I will write more whenever I get around to uploading my photos!

Oranges... Mandarins... Orange you confused?

I read something recently but can't for the life of me remember where I read it. Well anyway the reasons that oranges, mandarins, and kumquats are passed around and given around Chinese New Year time is because Mandarin Orange 柑 - the name of the fruit is phonetically similar to gold -- jin ju (金橘子) in Mandarin or kam (金) in Cantonese. Another explanation is that the Mandarin word for mandarin oranges is ju (橘), which sounds like ji (吉) (ji xiang 吉 祥) meaning good luck.

and here

Anyway, for those that don't know my distant relatives live in the same building as us just a couple of floors below, and we also share the same ayi. Every night bar one since I got back from Taiwan I've been eating dinner in their house. And every night my great aunt says to me, "Take some mandarins...". I did this reluctantly just to be polite. As mentioned before I don't have a big interest in food so I just took them out of politeness.

I had nowhere to put them or hold them so she started putting them in my jacket pocket. It was quite funny to see my pockets stuffed with them but I must've forgotten about them because the next night when I went down there for dinner again and she said again, "Take some mandarins..." I grabbed a bunch (these mandarins are tiny - about the size of a ping pong ball, btw) and I was about to put them into my pocket when I realised my pockets were already full!

Not knowing what to do (and feeling a little foolish and embarrassed!) I quickly said, "Oh I still have lots at home I haven't eaten yet..." and quickly changed the topic. Well the 'at home' part wasn't exactly the truth, but the 'haven't eaten part' was true!

So of course as soon as I got home I quickly took them out of my pocket and put them in the fruit bowl on the dining table. Then, of course I had to try one. I am not sure how common these mandarins are in China but in Australia they don't really exist. They are tiny! So I went to the kitchen and started peeling it and popped the entire thing in my mouth. Oh. My. God. It was so sweet and delicious. It was so amazingly sweet and juicy (and I normally don't like citrus fruits at all...) It was heavenly. I quickly then ate another two. And more. And soon they were all gone. Yep, all of them.

The third night when I went down for dinner I didn't wait for her to ask me.. I asked her if I could take some (more)! Ha!

PS When I was younger and people asked if I spoke Mandarin I would be a smartarse and answer, "No, but I speak Orange" and they'd look and me funny and some people would wonder if Orange actually was a language! Oh dear... :)

Sunday, 10 February 2008

International Channel Shanghai (ICS)

I was going to blog about this earlier but forgot. Now I don't watch much tv, hardly any at all (the only shows I watch are "Amazing Race" and "Amazing Race Asia") but I am surprised to discover that Shanghai now has its very own English Channel called ICS. Woohoo! I gave up on free-to-air CCTV channels a long, long time ago after we got satellite tv but now there may be a reason to watch it again :)

6 degrees... it's a heatwave!

It's 6 degrees - positively a heat wave! ;)

The snow is steadily melting and soon it will all be gone. I must admit I feel a tinge of sadness seeing it gone because it is such a special and rare occurence to me. When I first came back from Taiwan there was still quite a lot of it around but now it only exists on rooftops and even then not much is left. I can see a lot of 'wet patches' left on roofs where there used to be big slabs of snow.

Actually, there are still chunks, clumps and slabs about the place, basically in places that are constantly in shade and never get any sun. But most of those are dirty grey chunks, not that beautiful pristine white you associate with snow...

One good thing about Shanghai's weather is that it is almost always sunny. I know it rained heaps while I was in Taiwan (likewise it also rained heaps in Taipei - no doubt caused by the same high/low pressure system in the area) but generally speaking you don't get that horrible constant grey drizzly weather you get in some places (not mentioning any names Melbourne and Europe ;) ) I sometimes wonder if I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - that kind of weather really, really affects me and my dad said it affects him too. We used to live in Melbourne before Sydney and he told me he couldn't stand it, hated it in fact, which was one of the reasons we moved.

Weather and climatic changes are a funny yet scary thing... I keep having thoughts about that movie "The Day after Tomorrow" and something I read about the Three Gorges Damn (due for completion in 2009) being blamed for causing catastrophic weather patterns in Southern China recently. It's one of the few man-made structures visible from space (it is that big).

The thoughts that if that dam really did cause such huge changes in weather patterns.. well it's just mindboggling and damn scary.

Read more about the dam here and here.

Beijing smoking ban? Ha!

I'm sure some of my readers may have been wondering why I never write about pubs and clubs. Well the short and simple answer is because I don't go to them! And the reason I don't go to them is because of the damn @#$@%@$ smokers. I would love to go to them but I don't. I didn't go to them in my hometown of Sydney either. Not until they banned smoking. OK I'd go rarely and never stay very long till it just got too awkward so I just stopped going altogether. I hate the stench and I hate the fact that I just can't breathe after a while and cough non-stop. It's not particularly easy to have a 'good time' when you can barely breathe...

As great as Japan and Europe are for places to travel to, the smoking problem leaves a lot to be desired (moreso in Europe). After being in Taiwan where it was like 'heaven' and coming back here to 'hell' I just want to scream! Apart from Taiwan the only other place I have been to recently which was non-smoking-heaven was Hawaii. There, you are not even allowed to smoke in public places OUTdoors! eg at bus stops, parks, beaches, etc. And because the people who live there are so nature loving and are at one with their environment they are all very happy to oblige. To me it was simply heaven and made me enjoy my time there even more (in fact made me want to move and live there!)


Tue Jan 22, 1:26 PM ET

BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing is about to extend a ban on smoking in public places ahead of the Olympic Games despite the Chinese capital's image as a paradise for smokers who have faced few restrictions on where they can light up.

According to a draft bill the majority of public places, such as restaurants, schools, hospitals, stations, libraries and museums will have to be non-smoking.

Hotels will also have to reserve at least 70 percent of their rooms for non-smokers.

Smokers who ignore the ban will face a fine of 50 yuan (6.9 dollars, 4.7 euros) while those who allow them on their premises will have to cough up between 1,000 and 5,000 yuan, according to the bill.

Beijing had already taken some tentative measures to establish non-smoking areas in 1996 without much success, but the approach of the August Games provided the impetus for the new decision, Chinese media said.

The places that will accommodate athletes and officials during the Beijing Games will all be non-smoking.

China has about 350 million smokers, or about a quarter of its population, and accounts for a third of the world's smokers, according to official statistics.

About a million people die of smoking-related diseases each year in China. Since October, Beijing taxi drivers have in theory been banned from smoking in their vehicles under penalty of a fine of between 100 and 200 yuan.


Customers desert smoke-free restaurant
Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:45pm EST

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing's first smoke-free restaurant chain faces going out of business after its customers deserted it in droves after the ban was enforced, state media reported on Friday.

The Chinese are the world's most enthusiastic smokers, with a growing market of more than 350 million, making it a magnet for cigarette companies and a focus of international health concerns.

The occupancy rate at Meizhou Dongpo, a chain serving the spicy fare of southwest Sichuan province, had dropped to "about 80 percent of that enjoyed by other restaurants across the street" after it banned smoking in October, the China Daily quoted its manager as saying.

"We figure that if we're going to die, at least we're going to die honorably," the paper quoted Guo Xiaodong, deputy director of the restaurant chain, as saying.

Meizhou Dongpo had trained its waitresses how to discourage people from lighting up, but met resistance from customers who would lock staff out of private dining rooms to sneak a quick puff, Guo said.

"It just illustrates how much resistance there is to kicking the habit among Chinese smokers," the paper quoted Zhang Xuemei, a Beijing reporter who lobbied the restaurant to ban smoking, as saying.

Beijing, set to mark the 200-day countdown to the Olympics on Monday, has yet to issue clear rules on smoking bans, despite Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promising a "smoke-free Olympics."

Along with spitting, and not queuing, Olympic organizers fear Chinese people's tendency to smoke anywhere at any time could taint the country's image in foreign eyes.

China banned smoking in taxis in October and launched a drive to ban smoking in hospitals, schools, and government offices last year.
But resistance to the campaign has been fierce.

Beijing authorities had written to 30,000 restaurants asking them to put smoking bans in place, but not a single one had taken up the suggestion, the paper said.

Good luck to them! I'd like to be positive but in my mind it just aint gonna happen. 6 months is not enough time to get people to change lifetimes and generations of bad habits. 6 years and that'd be a good starting point but it does not change that quickly. Even in a country like Australia the process was LONG and gradual...

I really really hate the fact that my social life has to go down the toilet just because some brain-dead $#%#%#@% choose to light up incessantly! ARGH! Drives me up the wall. Coupled with the fact that Chinese people are the worst for following rules. Make any rule or regulation and they will break it. They just don't bloody understand!