English Tea at Rose House

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:24 PM

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A friend introduced me to a quaint tea house close to The Place earlier this week. Called Rose House, this Taiwanese chain of English style tea houses is a great place to enjoy an aromatic cup of tea and sweets with friends. We had the high tea for 2 at 198RMB which includes three tiers of savory and sweet bites, and 2 pots of your tea selection. They even throw in a free china-ware tea cup! The scones were yummy and were served with one mini jar of jam ( choose between rose and blueberry. We had the delicately scented rose preserve). The other tarts, and mini sandwiches were pretty nice too. As for tea, I tried the London Tower Milk tea which is somewhat reminiscent of Singapore's Teh Kow ( super thick milk tea) but more fragrant given that they use different tea leaves. It was strong, milky, sweet, fragrant and kept constantly warm throughout our meal. Totally enjoyed the tea! A pot of tea is priced between 45-55 RMB.  At 4pm each day, the service staff will come around to each table to let you sample the shop's latest tea promo. That day we tried the Christmas tea  which tasted fruity and carried a light bouquet of orange blossoms. 

Apart from the tea, what I really liked about Rose House was it's decor, ambience and non-intrusive service.  Plush leather armchairs and sofas, small tapestries, large windows that let in a lot of light, warm woods and massive chandeliers are tastefully put together to create an English style setting. It's very inviting and not ostentatious. Inside, you can't tell you're in China. Patrons DO NOT talk at the top of their voices so other people's conversation is a pleasant background murmur that does not intrude on your own party. Unfortunately, they do not allow photography in the tea house... but I managed to sneak one of the food on my mobile phone! 

Tel :010-6592-8688

Spicy grub & hip hop

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:57 PM

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I love spicy food and winter is the best time to have food so hot you'll singe your eyebrows just looking at it! And last night, I had so much spicy food I could breathe fire!  We were at Xie Lao Song 蟹老宋 , a local eatery that's famous for Mala fried crabs and prawns. My local colleagues brought me here 2 years ago and since then I've returned several times with other spice eating Singaporeans for a dose of inexpensive seafood.
Spicy Crab
Between 5 people last night, we polished off the prawns ( 58RMB for 500g), crab ( 68RMB for 500g), fried chicken wings, cucumber with salty bean dip, century egg with tofu and glutinous rice pastry stuffed with lotus paste. I liked the prawns because they were easier to eat. The crab meat sticks to the shell so you end up chewing on shell most of the time. That's akin to putting a bunch of sharp blades into your mouth!! They aren't anything like the giant Sri Lankan crabs that we have in Singapore. The chicken wings were very tasty and fried to crisp perfection-reminded me of Singapore's Prawn Paste Chicken- while the glutinous rice balls were of the right chewy texture but could do with more lotus paste filling.  The bill was about 250RMB including several bottles of fire dousing beer. 
Belgian beer at The Tree
After grub, we headed to The Tree for Belgian beer then hopped on to Yu Gong Yi Shan, a live music venue which features on occasion, Chinese bands,  foreign guest DJs etc. We stumbled on Hip Hop open mic night. Hoodies, baggy pants, skate shoes and beanies seem to be de riguer among the predominantly male crowd. I had fun despite being unable to understand a word of what was being rapped ( it was in Mandarin). Alright, to be fair, I caught the words "Beijing" every now and then. This place had a huge dance floor but strangely, most of the folks seemed to be watching these 5 lively guys dancing rather than shaking their own booties. I tried to see if the guys were doing any stunts but they weren't!  

Midnight came and went. After a night of drunken revelry, we had to have supper ( aiyah... any excuse to eat is good). Off to Ghost Street we staggered - a strangely sober me with 3 rowdy boys in tow who kept talking really loud to the harassed cab driver.  We settled for a small place then proceeded to eat with much relish... mutton kebabs ( similar to satay), grilled chicken wings, hot & sour soup and a huge bowl of mala bill frog. Thinking back on it now, I feel somewhat sick to have eaten that much!! But spicy food really jolts the system and warms you up. It was the perfect end to a fun filled night. 
Vims & Bernard drunk on Hot & Spicy soup
Spicy Mala bullfrog

Of X'mas potlucks and exercise

Posted by Gingerblossom at 12:39 AM

I'm fat. Well, least I feel fat. Happens every so often especially around this festive season because of all the sumptuous spreads we have at home and at friends' places. Home cooked food is always yum and so I eat. And eat and eat some more. We had a Christmas Eve eve eve pot luck last weekend where the menu consisted of Chilli Carne, Shepherd's pie, Singapore Fish balls, Chips with salsa & guacamole,Sweet Mascarpone Dessert and Pineapple tarts. ( photo above)  
On Christmas Eve, we had more delish food at a friend's place.  There was  Fried beehoon, keropok with the most heavenly belachan ever made, drool-worthy chicken curry, battered prawns, tiramisu and so much more... I thought that I was stuffed but 3 hrs later back home, I felt hunger pangs and had to grab a snack. Suppers are most unhealthy but I really can't go to bed hungry! I've tried and ended up taking forever to sleep then waking with the nastiest stomach cramps caused by hunger!!  
So... after all that eating, I felt bad. Exercise would make me feel better. But my gym membership has expired and I'm not about to spend another 3000RMB  to get it renewed.  I remembered that we had a skipping rope and several years ago some folks form the Singapore Heart Foundation shared some findings about skipping being good for the heart. Searched online and the skipping proposition seems pretty convincing: 1. You burn about 1000 calories if you skip for an hour.  2. It improves dexterity and hand-eye coordination 3. Calves and back muscles are strengthened 4. You can skip anytime anywhere. Of course, if your knees aren't in good condition, skipping isn't for you. 

I've started slow with 200 skips and increased it to 20mins of skipping ( that's about 800skips I think) and after the exercise, I feel my heart pumping and my legs aching. Gonna keep this up till I skip away all the food I've been eating!! 

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:34 AM

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hungry Rambler, Dan and our cats Pisase & Ody wishes everyone a Joyeux Noel! 

Tao Restaurant serves yum Mediterranean food

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:15 AM

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not the religion but the restaurant in Beijing named TAO. In Chinese, it's called 乐道西餐厅. I had my birthday dinner here with Daniel last week. After trawling the net for reviews on the latest hot restaurants in Beijing, I concluded that many of the new joints are over priced and probably over rated. Then I stumbled on a review on Tao. Diners seemed to have good things to say about the food so I thought, "why not?" 

It was quiet when we got there. In fact, it appeared that we were the only diners that night! This has probably got to do with the restaurant's location. It's situated on Lucky Street which isn't top of mind for dining and there's very little foot traffic - none now considering the cold weather. The restaurant's decor was ok. Could have been  cosier if crowded and with more soft furnishing ( curtains, cushions etc) 

The food though, was very promising. TAO offers set dinners like Alameda and has a dessert and non-dessert option at 188RMB and 168RMB respectively.  I had a starter of Black Truffle Chicken Broth with poached egg which was very tasty. Daniel had the Terrine of Foie Gras  served with Grapes. The tartness of the grapes were a great complement to the rich terrine and made it easier to polish off. 

For mains, we both had the Australian Tenderloin and boy was it tender! 2nd best steak I've had in Beijing ( best is at the JW Marriot's CRU Steakhouse). It was served medium rare like I asked - the outside was evenly seared and the inside was rare and tender!!! It came with a side of roasted potatoes flavoured with a sprig of rosemary. 

Rounding off the meal I had the pear cake for dessert. It was a pancake of sorts served with slices of chinese pear. Daniel had the panna cotta served with cinnamon ice cream. I found dessert to be disappointing after the great starter and main course. 
Complementing the meal was a bottle of Spanish Crianza (248RMB) which was on the chef's recommended wine list. I'm no wine connoisseur so all I can say is that it was fruity and I liked it.Generally, TAO offered pretty good value for the quality of food served. I would like to go back to try their 75RMB set lunch someday soon! 

Tel: 5867 0209

Addy will be missed!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:25 AM

Friday, December 19, 2008

Addy goes home tomoro. Her funny, bubbly self will be sorely missed! Boohoo....

Thanks Addy for the assortment of food stuff from your kitchen. On that note, food needs to be shared :) - does anyone need to inherit a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil, San remo Pasta sauce and a pack of Penne?

Gadget-y Macbook prezzie

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:06 AM

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Got a surprise bday gift from Daniel! The spanking new 13inch Macbook!!!! I was just thinking of getting a new laptop a week ago after the existing 3yr old laptop started being wonky. The clever man asked Mountain man to help get one in Singapore some time ago. And he acted so sad just 2 days ago saying, "I haven't got you a present ... how?" I said , "Surprise me." And surprise me he did today.

I love new gadgets but never actually bought any (apart from my camera) for myself. Every funky new gadget I've ever owned is a gift from Daniel. He knows me well indeed! From CD players eons ago to laptops, PDAs, ipods, Osim massagers.... he's always gotten me the perfect birthday gadget! 

Trying to figure out how to use the Macbook now. The last time I used one was in Uni in an agonizing first year photoshop class. But hey, least I managed to get online and write this entry! 

The difference between 21 & 31

Posted by Gingerblossom at 12:13 AM

1. At 21, my mum gave me my 1st diamond. A simple but beautiful solitaire pendant. Daniel got me the white gold chain to wear with it. At 31.... I don't think I'm getting any more rocks unless I buy them myself.

2. At 21, I was stick thin at 43kg. That was having suffered the flu bug for over 2 months. My bones were really prominent - cheekbones, collarbone, hip bone, wrists, ankles... whatever could stick out, stuck out. I remember wishing fervently for better health then (who wouldn't when you've been sick for so long and can barely walk without breaking out in cold sweat??). At 31, I am proud to say that I'm relatively healthy with good blood pressure, heart rate and BMI!

3. At 21, wrinkles seem impossible. At 31, you check the mirror every night to make sure wrinkles aren't appearing!

4. At 21, you think you know everything. At 31, you realise how little you actually know.

5. At 21, you can party till 4am, eat supper then still wake up in time for lectures the next morning looking fresh. At 31, it's just too tiring to even think of doing the same thing and waking up early the next day. Not to mention how haggard you'll look!

6. At 31, you have a little more money to spend so you can give yourself something nice for your birthday. ( My present to myself was the trip to Lijiang) At 21, you've hardly got a cent of your own and have to wait for presents!

7. At 21, you want to tell everyone that now you're an adult and can do what you want! After 31, you seldom want people to know how old you really are....

8. At 21, your family & friends throw you a big party. At 31, they send you an sms with well wishes if they even remember your birthday. Hahaha! I have to admit being bad with remembering birthdays...

9. At 21, running 5km seemed a breeze. At 31... well... I still have to say it is a breeze. Just a sloooooweeeeer breeze...

10. At 21, you're excited about your birthday. At 31, it's just like any another day.

Olas Tapas Cafe and my loooooong walk today

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:00 AM

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We had dinner last night with friends at Olas Tapas Cafe at The Village, Sanlitun. It serves ... drumroll... spanish tapas and mainly tapas only. There are salads and pastas but no other main courses. Some of the individual tapas dishes are substantial enough to be an entire meal. Just throw in a salad and voila. We had the Lamb chops ( 5chops per serve), Grilled chicken breast with cheese (3 pcs per serve), Grilled tenderloin ( 3pcs per serve), Grilled Pork cutlet ( 3pcs per serve), Andalusian Calamari, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Angel Hair Aglio Olio and a bottle of Spanish wine- Crianza I think.. The wine was excellent. It better be at over 200RMB a bottle. There were 6 of us eating and we all agreed that the lamb chops were really good. They were cooked to perfection! Tender, moist and not too rare. Olas Tapas Cafe is opened by the same folks who run MARE spanish restaurant so the menu and quality of food is pretty similar. Prices too. Tapas were mostly priced between 50-75 RMB per dish. Restaurant decor was heavy on the reds and oranges. I didn't pay much attention to it. There were just 2 things that didn't sit well with me (a) the tables were a tad high especially if you're short like me and you're sitting on the couch, makes eating really uncomfortable (b) the wine glasses reminded me of the ice-cream cups we used to get in Singapore's Swensons. If we're paying a premium for wine, shouldn't it be served in proper wine glasses? While travelling on budget in Barcelona, Daniel & I were always served wine in proper wine glasses even at the smallest, most un-touristy bars frequented by craggy old spanish fishermen. If nothing else, I would go back to Olas for the lamb chops :)

Today, I had to go to the district police station to get my "Registration of temporary residence" so that I can get my visa renewed. Last year, I had the worst time ever searching for this place when the stupid cab driver told me to alight and "simply cross the overhead bridge" to get to the station. Turns out, there is a river after the overhead bridge, and no way to cross it except after a 400m walk! And I couldn't just hop onto another cab because I was stuck within a residential area with no roads. Just dirt tracks!!!! That was the worst day ever. I ended up speed walking for over 30mins, most of it among rundown old houses and construction sites. I don't usually mind long walks but it was 5 degrees outdoors. I was only wearing a tee, short wool coat, short skirt, leggings and boots. COLD and potentially dangerous!!

So this time, I bundled myself in a down jacket, checked out the location and gave precise directions to the cabby. Still had to walk but only about 100m because there was a truck blocking the entrance into the 2 lane alley where the police station is hidden. Ah.. that was another thing that irked me.. why the hell is a police station hidden where people can't find it and where the police cars can't get out?! Thankfully everything went quite smoothly today and that put me in a good mood. I decided then to walk home from the station. The fact that I ate so much last night also prompted this decision. I thought the walk would be good exercise. So off I went... I walked and walked and walked some more... it took me 35mins brisk walking to get from the doorstep of the station to home. After about 300- 400m, I snapped this pix on my mobile. If you're good with your directions and you know where I live, you'll have a pretty good idea how far I walked. I reckon the lamb chops have been "walked' away. You think??

Why I HATE World of Warcraft (WOW)

Posted by Gingerblossom at 11:45 PM

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wow... I really hate WOW. Wait. Hate is not strong enough... abhor.. detest.. loathe..
Why? Here's why:
1. It's taken away my weekend brunches. We only eat lunch AFTER the morning game. And if you know me, you'll know that I'm a total monster when I am hungry. I do not deal well with hunger.

2. It causes me to go to bed far too late... at 1.30am everyday. So if you wonder why I wake so late, it's cos I sleep so late.

3. I wake up on weekends alone... or only with Ody for company.

4. I end up watching TV alone or with the 2 cats for company.

5. It's taken away movie nights ( this has also got to do with the fact there are no nice movies in the cinemas here and it's ridiculously expensive)

6. I only get a maximum of 1.5hr of Daniel's time on weekdays. That's 45mins in the kitchen and 45mins over dinner. It's only now that I'm unemployed that I feel this most keenly. I used to come home late from work (not by choice I assure you) and after dinner I usually had some other work to do. So it didn't feel as bad to be "ignored" over WOW and online friends. But now that I'm home all the time, the disparity in hours I get vs WOW is blindingly clear. WOW gets at least 4hrs. I get 1.5hrs at most. Maybe I should just go back to work. Work the night shift.

7. It's taken away the spontaneity of each day. We can't go out spontaneously on weekdays. We have to be home by 9pm Mon, Wed, Thurs. If we're not home and in front of the PC, someone gets calls from halfway around the world to hurry him home. I swear, if I pick up any of these calls, the person on the other line will DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH.

8. It's given me back a Daniel whose mind is not quite there with me if he can't play or surf information on WOW. So we end up staying home... him playing WOW. Me doing whatever it is I have done for the past 10yrs entertaining myself. Daniel should be glad I have so many little hobbies.

9. It's taken away companionable reading. Because I'm the only one reading a BOOK. Other people are killing "bosses" . I miss our weekend trips to the National Library back home...

10. It's turned me into a nag. I hated my parents nagging me but I'm turning into a nag myself no thanks to WOW. The usuals are, "It's time for bed. Stop playing." (from 12.00am-1am), "Can we get changed and go eat lunch now?" ( weekends from 11.30am-12.30pm), "You said you'll be done at 7pm. I'm really hungry, can we cook dinner now?" ( weekends from 7.15pm-8pm, by which time I'm starving)

You may think it's funny. But it's not. If I could turn back the clock and change history, I would make sure that computer gaming was never invented and Blizzard ( developers of WOW) never got started. Maybe then, I would get Daniel back from their evil clutches.

Random notes

Posted by Gingerblossom at 2:21 AM

Saturday, December 13, 2008

1. The sun was setting as I walked home from the supermarket and I caught sight of the moon in the evening sky (4.48pm). Looked like the yolk of a salted egg...a very tiny egg from this distance.2. I think I may be part Mexican... coz salsa and guacamole are the only two things I can prepare well in the kitchen. On top of that, I like spicy food, fajitas, tacos and tequila. I would love to have a pinata to whack at my birthday this year... haven't whacked one since I was 8!
3. I haven't burnt down the kitchen! Last week, I made chinese-style pork rib soup for dinner, steamed baby yams for lunch ( first time I steamed anything since the siewmai and bao in Singapore) and wonders of all wonders, I made Cantonese style White fungus with lotus seeds and wolfberries dessert. All by myself. Well not entirely true... the ah yi had to tell me what goes into the pot first. Otherwise the result would have been a soggy dessert.4. Whether I'm part Mexican or not, one thing is for sure. I'm a true blue Singaporean because I keep thinking about good food... I can't make any but I sure can eat plenty! And right now, I'm thinking about Old Chang Kee curry puffs, Roti Prata, Nasi Padang near Sultan Mosque, Ba Chor mee at Crawfood Street AND my dad's fantastic fried beehoon. No one does beehoon like my dad! No one does crab, chicken rice balls, popiah (spring rolls) like my dad either. The best meals I have back home are usually made by my super chef dad!

Of beads, wires and hooks

Posted by Gingerblossom at 4:41 AM

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stuff that I made recently. They are for sale :)to support my hobby. Click HERE for more accessories and info.

Where's the snow?

Posted by Gingerblossom at 2:08 AM

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It was supposed to snow today in Beijing. First snowfall for winter 08... It did snow. But just a little bit. I guess the city is too warm and dry for much snow. There's hardly enough to wet the ground! My hopes of seeing a snow covered city were dashed when I peeked out of the window this morning and saw... just another gloomy foggy day. On the bright side, the lack of snow = normal traffic = I could run around easily to get my work permit cancelled.

cheap retail again

Posted by Gingerblossom at 4:19 AM

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sigh.... being unemployed, I should spend less money shouldn't I? But today I bought stuff again. Went to the wholesale centres at the zoo again. Brought Addy's friend from Singapore to look around for shawls and warm clothing etc. Veron and I decided we would get the ultra cheap UGG boots. Real or fake. Didn't matter. I just wanted an easy pair to wear and walk to the supermarket. There were quite a few shops selling the boots. I got the short UGGs for 100RMB ( lady didn't tolerate bargaining) and Veron got a taller non-branded pair for 80RMB. I wanted the cheap ones but my big foot couldn't fit into size 38!! Size 39 was far too huge. There were taller UGGs but I wasn't willing to spend any more than 100RMB. Afterall, these are going to my "market" and house visit boots. I must admit though.. I look a little strange in them because of my skinny ankles and twig-like legs..

I also got a hat (25RMB), 2 pairs of thick leggings ( 35 RMb for printed, 20RMB for plain brown with fleece lining) and a kids' plastic bib for the Toys' baby back home ( 25RMB). Veron tells me the bib costs thrice more back home and i figured it'll come in handy in a couple of months.
plastic bib for kids 1-3 yrs
my new hat
Printed leggings

Shopping again...

Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:13 AM

Friday, December 5, 2008

Despite the -4 to -10 degree forecast for today, I went out into the cold anyway. With my trusty down jacket, it wasn't that bad! The wind though, made it feel nasty on my eyes and ears.

I hit the Jiayi Market located across from Kunlun Hotel. I like this market because they sell nice stuff at more reasonable prices than the Silk Market or Yaxiu Market. And it's not as far as the wholesale centres. This is a great place to buy kids clothes. And that was my goal - to buy stuff for friends' kids. I found a shop that sells Baby Mexx and got a winter body suit thingy. Prices ranged from 50rmb onwards for the winter stuff. The same shop sells the coolest Harley and Catepillar boots for little boys. Then hit another shop to get stuff for the Toys' baby. Baby Asher will soon have a new set of clothes! The white one with penguin prints is apparently from Baby Gap. Prices at this shop started at 30rmb for the light cotton stuff.

Then I spent on something I maybe shouldn't have... a leather jacket. I was torn between 2 choices. Both were biker style. The first was 1600rmb and on close examination, the buttons were Ben Sherman. So assumption is the jacket is from Ben Sherman except the label's been replaced with the stall's own and the seller didn't know better else it wouldn't have been 1600rmb!! It was a tad big and she didn't want to budge on the price. So off I went.2nd option is the one I bought ( above pix). Again, I don't think the seller knew what she had. The jacket had a Banana Republic label. Usually, the sellers there would tell you that it's a foreign brand, very famous, expensive, lah dee da. I've gotten Forever 21 stuff at this market before so it's possible it's the real thing. Afterall, who wants to fake Forever 21 & Banana Republic right? But this seller didn't seem to know. She basically promoted the softness of the leather and the style. Opening price was 1750RMB and after some haggling she came down to 1300... I eventually got it for 1100rmb thanks to today's lousy weather which is affecting their business. I haven't been very successful haggling at this market. It's not like the Silk market where you slash everything 60% or more. At Jiayi, they boot you out if they think you are being ridiculous! More locals shop here too... maybe that's why.

Anyway, I love my new jacket! It's a perfect replacement for my fav spring/ autumn Topshop jacket that's been washed till it's somewhat grey. And in the meantime... I'm broke!

Weed... I haz it

Posted by Gingerblossom at 9:12 AM

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ody again... eating oat grass. If you're wondering about the strange captions, you gotta check out http://icanhazcheezburger.com/ to understand. Warning: You need to be an animal lover and mainly cat person to enjoy the site.

Cat humour

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:51 PM

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Managed to catch Pisase in one of her favourite poses and Ody lounging on the bed.

knit knacks

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:08 AM

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ta dah! I finished knitting the scarf!!! Since the colors are too girly, I'm gonna be using it me-self. It't not particularly well done since this was afterall an experiment and my first time figuring out how to knit. There are holes ( I hope this doesn't cause it to unravel), it's far too wide yet too short to wrap around the neck properly and the edges are uneven because I keep missing stitches. But all in all, I'm pretty happy I COMPLETED IT.

Since I've roughly gotten the knack of knitting, I'm starting on another scarf for Daniel. Hopefully this one turns out better. He's got to wear it because it's my labour of LURVE...muahaha... It is very painful on my hands when I keep undoing my mistakes and re-knitting. So it is in fact labour! And it's only because I'm determined to make him something special that I will persevere with scarf no. 2.

December is here!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 10:05 PM

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I love December. It's the time to be jolly, to sing carols ( i love carols), to exchange prezzies, to hopefully get some snow, to indulge in yummy Christmas treats and most of all, it's the time to countdown to our annual trip home. Ba Chor Mee & Roti Prata here I come!!!!!!!! Er... of course lah, I'm totally psyched to see family and friends. I'm not such a heartless and greedy monster

2 shockers in 2 days

Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:57 AM

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The day before, someone else back home shared with me something that had me laughing like a maniac for a long while. Just because it seemed so outrageous, almost ludicrous. And when assured that she wasn't joking, I nearly choked from the shock of it. I was quite sure that's the reason I couldn't sleep that night. In the same conversation, I was told to make sure no one back home hears of it from me .. well ... they'll find out on their own soon enough. And I'm betting she's never ever gonna live this down. NEVER. These people have elephants' memory. At the heart of it all though, she knows we all love her and want her to be happy. Yes. We really do.

ARGH! I'm missing out on so much of the action back home!! I miss all my friends dreadfully and I can't take all this suspense of what's going to happen next!!!!!!!!!!!!!Does anyone else have any shocking news to share? Wait till next week to call. I can't take that much excitement in a week.

Shock... what happened to "I missed the boat"??!?!?

Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:26 AM

I got a call last night from Conz in Singapore exclaiming that she received an SMS invite to Shank's ROM. I thought she was kidding me. Getting married? The guy, who less than 3 months ago, was telling us he missed the boat??????? I was stunned. Deliriously happy for this dear old friend but nonetheless, STUNNED. I called him just to make sure it wasn't some prank or some weird 31 yr old deadline he's given himself or worse, some weird match-making thing he's being put through.

After shrieking at him over the phone for a good 10mins I determined that "Nope. No prank there". It's real and it's happening this coming Sunday, 30 Nov. He's even gonna be my neighbour back home in a very short time! I just cannot reconcile all this with the person who sat with us at Balaclava in September and sombrely declared that he missed the boat in finding love!! It's just so sudden.

I'm truly happy for him that he's found someone to love and who loves him just as much. He deserves every ounce of it and I hope the girl realises what a gem she's stumbled upon.

So Shank, if you read this, congrats and I'm sorry I can't be there on your special day. And Soundaram, this friend bids you the warmest welcome. P.S Shank, you might want to bribe some folks to sing your praises and refrain from sharing your JC/ uni skeletons! oh oh... I still want to attend a real Indian wedding!


Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:37 AM

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Made a trip to the wholesale centres at the zoo today for a spot of cheap retail therapy..and this is what I bought. Total damage: 305 RMB / SGD68 and I only spent 4 RMb on transport having taken the subway to Xizhimen and trudged 1km from station to the zoo. Talk about CHEAP retail therapy.

PS: only 2 items here are for me, the black and the blue tees, the rest are for my sis and frens back home. Apparently the bag's one of those old Nine West collections. The seller kept telling me Xi Jiu...I had a closer look to realise she meant Nine West... I just thought it'll make my sis a nice work bag!!

Enter the Dragon!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 4:45 AM

Monday, November 24, 2008

35 years after his death, Bruce Lee's still a big hit with audiences worldwide. Here in Beijing, the new TV series "The Legend of Bruce Lee" seems to be airing on just about every terrestrial channel. And just a few days back, Nokia launched its latest limited edition Bruce Lee N96. This unusual edition seems to be available in China only and sells for a whooping 8888RMB according to news reports. But I guess die-hard fans are willing to shell out the moolah.

Me? I just love the mini nanchucks and the marketing campaign. Daniel showed me the website ( www.nokia-lee.com.cn ) and I was impressed. What I liked best was the funny video they posted on youtube of Bruce Lee playing pingpong with nanchucks. It's hilarious! Imagine if Bruce took part in this year's Olympics. He would have made a clean sweep of the table tennis medals!

The phone and the campaign restored my faith that Nokia still does some pretty cool stuff with their phones. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I ever lost faith in the brand and NO, this is not a paid plug for Nokia nor do I work for Nokia! Ok fine. I used to work on a Nokia account but no longer!

I've always sworn by Nokia phones since the day I started work as a PR intern and set eyes on a Nokia 8110 (the classic banana phone). I fell in love with the multi coloured Nokia 3210 and the Nokia 8210 ( butterfly phone). There was a period of insanity when I switched to a Samsung phone which I couldn't figure out how to use for the longest time... and had to changed to.. drumroll...yes, a Nokia phone-the Nokia 6280. You get the idea.

Apart from the "human technology" that made the phone so easy to use, it was the element of fun, fashion and creativity that made me constantly buy Nokia phones. It started with the swappable covers, then the whole fashion forward phase with interesting fabric type covers, then the gaming ( N-gage) and the the L'amour swivel phone which I still love. But recently, there hasn't been a Nokia phone that wowed the socks off me. They all look like business phones! The lower end phones come in colors that reminds me of Stabilo highlighters. I like neon colours to remain highlighter colours - seen on notebooks and not on my phone. I have to admit, Bruce Lee is not my thing either but least it adds an interesting element to an otherwise plain black phone.

I'm hoping that there'll be more gorgeous phones like those from the L'amour collection but packed with updated technical features such as a higher res camera. A "girly" phone doesn't need to have just "girly" level tech!

Ody at the fast food service counter

Posted by Gingerblossom at 10:25 PM

Friday, November 21, 2008

New earrings!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:56 AM

New stuff I made over the past 3 days when there's enough sunshine to see what I'm doing! Haven't had time to name each piece like I normally do...

Of Chinglish bells and bells that don't ring

Posted by Gingerblossom at 12:29 AM

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I was just at the Shin Kong supermarket killing time when they started playing Christmas carols. I was happily humming to Jingle Bells before realising that it was in Chinese. "Ah well," I think, "We are afterall in China."

And then they started playing the Chinglish version and I absolutely had to finish up my shopping before I burst out laughing. Yes, I know I am mean. But this was how the song sounded:
Jin( like pronouncing 金) -gle bell, Jin-gle bell, Jin-gle all the wii
Oh wa fun it is to run on a one horse open slee
Jin-gle bell, Jin-gle bell, Jin-gle all the wii
Oh wa fun it is to run on a one horse open slee
The rest was rather garbled but it was the "jin", "wii" and the "slee" was enough to drove me nuts. And these lines are repeated over and over again!!! I HAD TO LEAVE!!

And on jingling bells, the fire alarm DID NOT go off last night when a neighbor's house down the corridor caught fire. It was my stuffy but still sharp nose that led to me bugging Daniel to open the main door to identify the source of smoke. It was then we saw the security guards milling around and several used fire extinguishers. The corridor also reeked of smoke.
Maybe the bell did ring... afterall the guards were there and I did see a red alarm light on the corridor BUT my point is, what if the fire spread down the corridor? We would have been oblivious to the fire thinking ourselves safely tucked at home!! The thought is really disturbing.

Blog header

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:27 AM

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As you can tell, decided to change the header to reflect winter. The photo of the bare branches was something I snapped in Lijiang. The sky was grey and it was drizzling all day...reminds me of Sleepy Hollow for some strange reason

Dan's first pair of decent glasses after 5 years

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:54 AM

That's Daniel with his new glasses that we got today at Optical City 眼镜城; his first new pair of glasses after more than 5 years!!

Dan's eyes have been red since last Friday so he hasn't been wearing his contacts, giving his eyes time to recover from whatever irritation it was. Since he was hiding out at home on Sat to game, there was no issue of him wearing his super old glasses. On Sunday, we went out and Daniel seemed rather self conscious in his glasses. He never ever wears them out. The last time he did was when he lost a contact lense and we had his current pair of glasses made. We made those at least 5 years ago at Singapore's Queensway shopping centre to replace a certain pair of Austin Powers look-a-like glasses which I detested. They were HUGE and hideous!!! Covered more than half my face!!

Anyway, back to our current predicament. Daniel took a gamble with his contact lenses on Monday and ends up having even redder eyes. So today, off he goes to the doc to get the eyes checked. Oops... he's got conjunctivities and can't wear contacts for the next week or so. But what to do?? He's not gonna wear those old glasses to work. They aren't very flattering to his face anymore AND they are no longer at the height of optometrical ( is there such a word??) fashion.

Enter his multiple-opti device owning wife (i.e I own many many pairs of glasses). I bugged him to get a replacement pair at
眼镜城. Afterall, they cost 1/4 of what we pay back home, especially for his lenses which need to be in high index. After 1 hour of trying round , square, black, brown, big, small, metal, plastic frames, we finally settled for this classic black metal frames which are wide enough for his face and at the same time have a bit of a funky design. So tomorrow, Daniel can wow the world with a whole new look :)

Cab Directions:
Optical City, located beside Panjiayuan Bridge, 眼镜城,在潘家园桥附近
Subway Directions:
Jinsong Station (Line 10) , take exit D. Walk about 300m and you should reach Panjiayuan bridge. Cross the bridge and you're there.
There are actually 2 Optical cities, one on each side of the bridge. I go to the one with an iron wrought gate in front and a small alley dotted with optical shops leading up to the main building. A pair of glasses with plastic multicoated lenses typically cost between 120 -200RMB depending on your frames of course! You can also call/ msg me if you want to go cos there's a shop I frequent so often they give me a very reasonable price with minimal haggling.

Madden about Burgers

Posted by Gingerblossom at 12:40 AM

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dan's new shoes

Dan & I spent an idyllic Sunday at Sanlitun The Village. I managed to coax him away from the new WOW update for a short while ( Hurray!).

I was at the same place for 2 consecutive days. Why? While shopping with Addy on Sat, we saw a new burger joint at Nali Mall. I HAD to try it. I've been wanting to eat a burger for the longest time. Not the crapo fast food burger. It had to be a gi-normous burger that would sate my ever hungry self. And SATISFIED I was at the new Let's Burger. I had the Cheeseburger for 58 RMB and Daniel had the Classic at 48RMB. The prices are a little steep for burgers that aren't served with any sides but the burgers were excellent. Juicy and of a good size. Not as big as Carl's junior burgers you find in Singapore. But big enough to fill you up. Between both of us, we also had a Mango Smoothie ( 32RMb) and Spicy Fries ( 25RMB). The smoothie was fantastic! Had little chunks of mango below. The fries were thick-cut, more like chips than skinny fries, and well seasoned. There was a sauce bar where you can select out of 11 dips for your fries. We tried the hot & sour sauce, the honey mustard and the mexicana. The first 2 went well with fries but I think the Mexicana may have gone better with chicken wings which the burger joint also serves.
our sumptous burger meal!
Other reason for being at Sanlitun? There was a sale going on at Steve Madden. Since I'm not earning any money, I figured I shouldn't be spending any . But Daniel did need a new pair of shoes and the men's range was on sale at Steve Madden. If you've tried men's shoe shopping in Beijing, you'll realise that (a) the formal styles are hopelessly hopeless (b) ridiculously expensive since you probably need to buy branded for it to look half decent (c) it's only possible to buy decent sneakers which obviously don't go with everything.

So I was real glad to see that the men's shoes on sale were really nice. They were also reasonably priced ranging from 350 - 1300 RMB ( about SG$70- SG$260) after discount for leather shoes. So after a couple of tries, we found the perfect replacement pair!
I must say, it was a most enjoyable Sunday…
Let's Burger
D101a, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Beijie, Chaoyang District
Steve Madden
F9-13, The Village at Sanlitun, 19 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District
朝阳区三里屯南路19号三里屯Village, F9-13

My very own yoda

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:04 AM

Friday, November 14, 2008

As you can obviously tell, I have rediscovered photoshop AND I have a library of cat photos to tweak.. hahaha

Ody's nom nom nom

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:28 PM

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Well i guess you'll only get it if you've visited icanhazcheezburger.com
I love the site for my dose of cat cuteness

You know its winter in Beijing when...

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:42 PM

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

1. shops start selling knee high boots
2. women strut around in knee high boots
3. you see blue skies and sunshine
4. the city is covered in fog not pollution
5. its stiflingly hot in public indoor spaces because heating is at full blast
6. the cats sleep in the centre of the bed
7. the cats spend even more time sleeping
8. the cats are fluffier and look like fur rugs when they sprawl on heated parts of the floor
9. you have to double the cat feed since the cats eat more to keep warm
10. you get zapped by everything thanks to static
11. it's dark as night come 4.30pm
12. you can chill wine on the balcony
13. you feel like the Michelin Tyre mascot cos you're bundled up in layers of clothes

online shenannigans

Posted by Gingerblossom at 2:06 AM

First it was with ctrip with the hotel we got in Shangri-la. In case you haven't heard me complain about this yet, the hotel we got in Shangri-la had NO HEATING. That's right. None. It was between -1 to 11 deg celsius on the days we were there and our room was unheated. Luckily, we overheard our local tour mates say that they took the matter up with ctrip and were changing hotels. And we did too, else I would have frozen to death in that room. Since then, I've been calling Ctrip to get a refund cos they made the mistake of not getting the facts right on their website! After several calls and one nasty mail, they've finally given me a refund solution and restored my confidence in their service. Phew. That was tedious considering how the words in Chinese tend to escape me when I get frustrated.

Now, I'm up against a new online monster ...trying to purchase something off taobao. Apparently, it's easy but after 2hrs of fiddling with it this morning, I've decided it's not. I can't figure out this whole payment thing! In Chinese no less!! It requires an additional step of activating some option on my ibanking account. I tried but failed. And upon trying to log onto my ibank account, I realised that I got the password wrong. These mistakes culminated in me getting locked out of my ibank. I spent 1 hr sitting at the bank getting this fixed ( another nightmare cos of my new passport number) and I still can't log on!!!!

This is annoying me BIG TIME. The only reason I'm persevering is for Daniel. I'm helping him get a new 3D graphics card while he's away, so that the card will arrive when he gets back, in time for him to fix the computer and play some new World of Warcraft update this weekend. What this means is that I'm going through one MAJOR irritation to bring about another minor irritation of having Daniel glued to the computer this weekend... sigh...at least he's already warned me months in advance. Daniel, you better be grateful. And no, I didn't kick your computer to make the existing card go kaputt.


Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:23 PM

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tried buying something from taobao and the online payment is so complicated. I can't even pay cash!! Doesn't help that the auction site lists all instructions only in Chinese and the bank's English FAQs are useless. Now I'm logged out of my ibanking and have to go queue to reset the damn password. Why do they make things so complicated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rumble ramble - food in Chengdu

Posted by Gingerblossom at 10:53 PM

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rumble cos that's the sound my tummy makes when I'm hungry. Ramble cos that's what I do. I think Addy was amazed/ disgusted with my almost constant state of "hungry". Daniel's just used to it. For the record, I do eat properly on holiday! The cold on these 2 trips just made everything disappear faster than usual ( usual is about 3hrs...)

The eats in Chengdu
Chengdu is known for its 小吃 (snacks). You can find a snack stall on just about every corner. Usual snacks were 棒棒鸡( chicken served in misture of sesame sauce and chilli oil), 烤串( BBQ meat sticks marinated with fennel, chilli, pepper and a variety of herbs I can't identify) and 兔丁( Apparently diced rabbit. We didn't dare try it cos it looked somewhat dodgy but we saw plenty of locals buying it from the little stalls along the road. I enjoyed the food in Chengdu most of all! Maybe cos it's spicy and I luuuurve spicy food.

We had snacks along 春熙路 (Chun Xi Shopping District)- a meat stick and some spicy chicken bun that looks like Singapore's kong ba bao.

One dinner was at 文殊坊 a tourist district ( which was quite dead) where we found a Chengdu chain store called 龙抄手食府 serving up degustation menus of Chengdu's famous eats! So we killed several birds with one stone - tried all the local delights in one meal. The dumplings in red chilli oil ( 红油抄手)and Dandan noodles ( 担担面) were excellent. I can't say I like the stuffed glutinous rice balls much

We also had a meal at 红杏酒家 - a renowned restaurant chain in Chengdu. This was great value for money. Dishes average about 25RMB and the restaurant boasted excellent ambience and service. The spicy beef pot really set my mouth on fire as did the cold dish of escargots. After that meal I was quite sure I could spew fire. It was so delicious I was almost sad to leave :(

Hilton's Lost Horizon .. was it really this Shangrila?

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:55 PM

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Today's Shangrila was once known as Zhongdian county in China until 2000 when it got a name change. Extensive surveys ( by the Chinese authorities of course) indicated that this mountain area bore many similarities to James Hilton's "Shangri-la" in the acclaimed novel The Lost Horizon. The place could be fictitious but having seen Shangri-la, I think these Chinese folks may be on to something. You would too if you fill your lungs with Shangri-la's super super fresh air ( a rare commodity in Beijing), experience the life-extending slow pace of life, rigorously exercise your heart with every tiny step ( thanks to the altitude) and drink up the incredible view of mountains cloaked in cloud and snow. Photos can be viewed at http://gingerblossom.spaces.live.com/ or on Facebook.
So the story starts with Adeline & I setting foot in Yunnan Province, Lijiang...in those mere 5 days I came to learn/ draw conclusions on a couple of things:

A. How Yunnan got the 云 in its name
- Lijiang is located over 2000metres Above Sea Level ( ASL), so having a cloud" descend" onto the town is nothing usual. The higher we went the more common it became. Ascending to 4500m ASL we could see over a sea of cloud!
- It was drizzling the day we arrived so everything was hidden by 云. well actually... mists
- Even on the sunniest day, the sky is still covered with fluffy white clouds!

B. Lijiang's Old Towns are quaint but a tad commercial and all the shops sell the same thing
- Dayan Old Town was packed with tourists. BUT... if you make the effort to wake up before sunrise and walk around the Shuhe and Dayan towns ahead of the hordes of tour groups, you can catch a slice of everyday life among the tribes people who still live in these areas. We stumbled on some old folks wearing tribal costume doing their morning dance and on a local marketplace. That was really nice!

- The old towns feature mostly shops selling local crafts including handwoven Muosuo scarves and shawls, blocks of pu-er tea, combs made of yak horn, dried yak meat, silver jewellery, tie-dye stuff, leather bags, furry hats...after a while, you realise they all sell the same stuff. For a typical shopaholic Singaporean, this loses its attraction after ...let's say ... 100metres of seeing the same thing? Still there are worthwhile prezzies to be picked up!
- The old towns come alive at night with bars, clubs and restaurants which seems rather at odds with the whole "old town" thing. But I guess you have to provide night entertainment otherwise it'll be a dead town. As for the restaurants, the food seems a little pricier than in Beijing for simple dishes such as home style tofu. The good thing, the portions are HUGE. Between 2 girls, it's quite impossible to finish 3 dishes. ( even with me who eats more than most girls!)
C. Yak meat, yak butter tea, yak cheese is not my thing
- We had some of these in Shangri-la as part of a Tibetan dinner/ performance in a local house. I'm sure it was pricey at 180RMB but it was a worthwhile experience!

- The Yak butter tea was a little salty. It tasted exactly like butter melted in water. After you drink about 2/3 of the bowl, you can add grounded roast barley and form a pasty mixture. This is eaten with a dip of sugar. Tasted a little bit like sesame paste. Just of a thicker consistency which you can pinch with your fingers
- We also got to try Barley alcohol. I have no idea what is the alcohol content. But one tiny glass was enough to keep my face warm the rest of the night. With outdoor temps at -1 to 8 deg Celsius, the warmth was welcomed!
- Yak cheese had a strong animal smell, a little like goat's cheese except that it tasted more sour. I tried eating it with the barley powder and sugar and it tasted much better. But this is not something I want to eat again!

D. Shangri-la is really beautiful and the cultural/ religious differences from mainland China make it all the more interesting

- The beauty of the place is undeniable. There's a very rugged beauty about the plains and the people. When you look at the surrounding mountains and forests, you feel a sense of timelessness. Hundreds of years ago, these mountains and trees where here and they'll still be standing a thousand years later ( if man doesn't destroy them first!!)
- The people here are mainly of Tibetan origin so they believe in Tibetan Buddhism. Listening to our guide's stories, it appears that they also have more superstitions. I suppose its got to do with the fact that they people are mainly farmers who are at the mercy of nature. As such it seems inevitable that they believe that certain mountains or rivers possess supernatural/ mystical qualities. They are also deeply devote people who would give all their worldly possessions to the temple. A large number of young males are sent to the temple from the age of 7 to become lamas. This is one way of ensuring that they get an education. In the temple, young novices not only study scripture but also medicine and languages. There are exams and those who continue on to be lamas into adulthood will learn skills that are meant to help the village people. Some of them attain "living Buddha" status and are deeply respected by the village people.
- We met one of these "Living Buddhas" and though I'm still skeptical, I can't deny that he identified correctly some of the physical ailments that I have. All from looking and prodding at my palms!I guess Tibetan medicine has to work since it's been curing Tibetans for so long in absence of modern doctors and hospitals.