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 ( ) 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
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... 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 or on Facebook.
So the story starts with Adeline & I setting foot in Yunnan Province, 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.

Mother Nature's techni-colour dream coat : Day 3

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:14 AM

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mirror lake pix

Day 3 of our trip and our 2nd visit to the nature reserve
The sun was out! And once again the scenery changed. Sunny days in Jiuzhaigou are for admiring the lakes which turn into mirrors for Mother Nature to admire herself! We hit the same sites on Rize Valley and also visited Zechawa. Zechawa isn't as interesting although it boasts the largest lake in the entire reserve. It's big but that's about it. Not quite as colourful as the other lakes.

On this day other new sites we hit were:
a. Long Lake and 5 color Pong in the Zechawa Valley

b. Rhinocerous lake ( Story goes that centuries ago, a lama apparently came upon this lake while riding a rhino ... yes a rhino... the lake's beauty touched him and he let loose his rhino to graze by its waters for the remainder of its days.)
c. Shuzheng Tribe ( Jiuzhaigou nature reserve used to have 9 tribes living in the area. Apparently 3 are accessible, Shuzheng being 1 of them, 4 others are deep in the forests and still closed to public and 2 have become assimilated with the existing tribes)

The photos we took look pretty much the same - trees, water, sky. And that's what we were in Jiuzhaigou for. The photos certainly don't do justice to the real thing...

Mother Nature's techni-colour dream coat : Day 2

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:23 AM

Was away again so I never got to finish rambling about Jiuzhaigou. But yes... you generally get the idea. I loved it and was truly sad to leave. Daniel & I spent the next two days going into the nature reserve. The area open to public covers more than 240sq km and is split into 2 trails - The Rize Valley and Zechawa Valley. If you walk just 1 trail from the entrance, its an estimated 98km... thank goodness for their eco buses that stop at every point of interest!!

Day 2 of trip -First day in the nature reserve
It was a rainy day. On a rainy day, the beauty of Jiuzhaigou is best reflected in the mists, mountains and flora. The autumn colors just look brighter under the rain and the valleys look also mystical with all that mist. Daniel & I went along the Rize Valley and saw:
a. Primevial Forest ( Trees that weren't chopped down in the 60s & 70s logging era)
b. Arrow Bamboo Lake (this is where a famous scene from "Hero" ( 英雄) was filmed. The one where a swordfight between Tony Leung and Donny Yuen took place over a lake of breathtaking beauty)

c. Panda Lake ( Pandas used to roam these forest and stop for a drink at Panda Lake but these days the hordes of tourists have scared the pandas deeper into the 700 sq km of forest. And mainland tourists make enough noise to be heard miles away lor!)
d. 5 Flower Lake ( So named for the brilliant colors found here)
e. Pearl Shoals ( A scene from the old " Journey to the West" was filmed here! )
f. Mirror Lake ( we got lost on the trail and ended up walking almost 5km to reach the next site)
g. Nuorilang Waterfalls ( 20 m high and 320 m wide, they are supposedly the widest highland waterfall in China)

We were really cold but totally enjoying the view, even our 5km hike was fun because we hardly saw anybody on the trail. Funniest thing is we saw a cat! He was going about his own business in the park ( i.e sitting around cleaning himself) and appears not to belong to anyone. I was trying to take pix of him and other tourists thought I brought the cat there! Most amusing.