I Am Woman

My sister Linh shared the below cartoon titled 'The Average Asian Aging Process' with me recently and we both had a good chuckle while nodding our heads in knowing agreement. The majority of Asian woman are lucky to have such youthful looks but nothing lasts forever ;-)

Image source: unnamed but if anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

Image source: unnamed but if anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

While the above image captures the external changes that will happen to me, the below cartoon shows what I experience internally... lol! (P.s Christoph doesn't smoke so replace the cigarette with his iPad.)

Image source: www.stylist.uk

Image source: www.stylist.uk

'Tis The Season To Be Jolly

The annual Christmas goodie fest has begun! It was such a defining moment when I opened a parcel from our dear friend LZ that confirmed Christmas was fast approaching. We get our tree on Friday and I'm gleefully looking forward to having it decorated and shimmering. This will be our 4th Berlin Christmas!

I've already been to the Christmas Market in our neighbourhood and sipped a Glühwein but Christmas still feels a while away. So thank you to LZ for reminding me that I am in the season now... I better get jolly ;-)

A box full of goodness. 

A box full of goodness. 

Berlin: City Developments

Other than the sad story of Berlin's new international airport being on an indefinite delay, I recently discovered an exciting new city development that may open before the airport does!

There's a green urban initiative that has been given the go-ahead and a national award from the German Ministry for its ecodesign. The project is a 9 km bicycle way that will follow the U1 train line and will connect the city's east and west. It's called the Radbahn and the design aspects will reflect what the creators of the Highline in New York have done; eg. lots of greenery. What's also fantastic is the emphasis on making cycling in urban areas safer for everyone which will hopefully encourage more people to take up the two-wheelers. I can't wait for the Radbahn to be open!

For more interesting reading on the initiative, visit www.radbahn.berlin

Image source: radbahn.berlin

Image source: radbahn.berlin

Image source: radbahn.berlin

Image source: radbahn.berlin

It's December!

It's been a while since I have written and a lot has been going on during that gap. Shanghai kept me occupied with a few visitors and then I headed to Perth for my return flight to Berlin.

I had exactly a week in Perth which ended up being exceptional. During this visit, I could really see how the city has changed significantly for the better, especially over the last 5 years. It has been slowly morphing into a cosmopolitan arena boasting artisanal small bars, chic restaurants and international cultural events.

I then had a few highlights which truly made the year end on a high note for me. Firstly and most importantly, I was able to celebrate my birthday with family and friends in Perth for the first time in 15 years! Secondly, I got to see Passenger busk in the city. It was only for one set but they were the best 45 minutes spent sitting on the State Library steps ever! And lastly, I got to hang out in the kitchen with my sisters. Who could ask for more than that?

I am now waiting to board my flight to Berlin. Christoph is still kept busy with his work and still in Shanghai but will join me a week later. I'm really looking forward to putting up our Christmas tree and decorations and getting into the season's festivities. I'm also hoping for a little snow to go with the Christmas theme ;-)

There's Always Something To Be Thankful For

Firstly, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We had a very interesting weekend which we think will forever be another one of those China experiences we'll be able to fondly look back on.

It was on Saturday morning when we were advised that the PSB (Public Security Bureau a.k.a the police) wanted to check our room sometime that day. We thought that it was one of those standard passport checks that they used to do in Beijing and so we were happy to comply with the notice.

Nothing happened until we got back to our room that afternoon. At 16:15h we were informed that we had to leave our room immediately. We had no idea what the reason for this was and believed that we had just been kicked out of the hotel! We must be really annoying guests! We were very confused and the managers who spoke with us were then confused about our confusion. We asked why? What was going on? It then became clear that no one had communicated with us as to what was actually happening. They thought we knew whereas we thought that the PSB didn't want us in the country.

It turned out that a high-ranking international official was due to check in and with very short notice, the hotel was told to increase the security level of said official. Our room is in close proximity to the room the VIP would check into even though we're on a different floor. The PSB however, wanted all rooms within a particular perimeter to the aforementioned room to be completely empty. We were given 30 minutes to pack our things and were not allowed to access our room during the official's entire stay.

It was in no terms the fault of the hotel. You can't defy the PSB and they can give you as little or as much notice as they want. No choice. We totally understood the hotel's awkward situation and made haste to pack and get out of there as fast as we could. The hotel had organized another room for us so we ended up feeling like we were going away for a weekend. We packed for 3 nights and moved rooms within 35 minutes. Not too bad considering we were trying to figure out what we were doing in the next few days and Christoph trying to work out what gadgets he needed to still be able to work. I now know that we can easily do it in 10 minutes if the situation required it ;-)

So there we were; exiled in a temporary room. It wasn't bad but it did remind us of how settled we were in our 'real' room and how nice our 'real' room really is. Thank goodness our thoughts of banishment were totally out of context! The PSB had absolutely no interest in us; they just wanted empty rooms.

We spoke with a hotel manager afterwards and they told us of a particular guest who also had to move. He was a Chinese-American and kicked up quite a bit of fuss. The one standout line from him was: "I'm an American citizen and I don't have to follow Chinese rules!" Yep. He used that line. He also threatened to call the US Embassy. Can you imagine that conversation? "Hi Embassy? The PSB are making me change rooms but I don't want to. I demand assistance!" Lol.

Cao Jia Du Market

The past few weeks has been filled with reconnecting with Shanghai. One of my favourite old hangouts is a flower market called Cao Jia Du. There are three floors that offer everything plant-related. The walkways are narrow and cramped. Strange and often unpleasant aromas waft through the air. The vendors are either sleeping, smoking or spitting and are definitely not the friendliest bunch around. In order to have a successful expedition there, you need to be in the right frame of mind to confront the chaos head-on; otherwise you'll just feel miserable and wasted a lot of time getting there. On this particular occasion, a good friend CP and I were in our element. We had good fun hunting down the right blooms, colours and haggled with every vendor we came across! It was an overall victorious outing and I'm already looking forward to the next visit.

Helping CP with her floral shopping list. We both had arms overflowing by the time we left :-)

Helping CP with her floral shopping list. We both had arms overflowing by the time we left :-)