My Women’s Day Gift

Last month, my school generously gave all the female teachers a gift – a photo shoot. To celebrate the empowerment of our gender, they slathered us in make-up, so we no longer looked like ourselves and then put on a mix of Chinese medieval and outrageously western costumes. Awesome.

This was an optional gift, but I couldn’t resist. I’ve always wanted to do a Chinese photo shoot. It’s one of those things that just has to be done. Today at school we were able to choose the photos that we’d like to keep… after I finally convinced the photographer that I didn’t want to spend 1900 kuai on a photo album that was full of terrible photos and chinglish, I settled on the five silliest photos as a momento.

1 (19)a

I just could do a serious face for this one. The hat was so bloody heavy and it was being held by bobby pins to my hair. Not pleasant. I could only giggle. 

1 (17)a

Oh, yes. I am beautiful. Check out my hair net thing. And the slit on my dress!!! WOWSER! So high!! 

1 (18)a

Why didn’t I get married in this?? Biggest dress I’ve ever worn.

1 (21)a

The part that took the longest about this pose was my fingers. Look at that craftsmanship. And bear in mind that the directions were in all in Chinese.

1 (41)a


This one is my favourite. It’s totally a wedding ring commercial. At the time, I was so scared about what they were doing to my hair. And rightly so. Terrible.


A True Getaway

Happy New Year of the Dragon! Zac and I decided to spend some of our precious holiday time together in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. As usual, we didn’t plan in too much detail, but one place we did pre-book into was Mutiara Beach Guesthouse…. and man, was it worth it!

Sitting at the ferry terminal in Singapore, I have to admit that I was a little hesitant. We were surrounded by ads for resorts, golf courses and spas – not our idea of a quiet holiday. The other tourists on the boat were decked out in their Ralph Lauren polo shirts and designer shoes. Many of them were checking in golf sticks. The TV on the boat boasted packages for  families and spa treatments. It did not look good.

However, the smooth 50-minute ferry trip was followed by a 50-minute taxi ride on Bintan Island, where we were soon out of the ‘resort zone’ and dense greenery, local houses and flashes of crystal blue water whizzed past the window.

We were greeted with smiles and a welcome coconut drink! We were shown to our ‘Pondok Pavillion’, where we would spend the next six nights. The pavillion had a double mattress, covered with a mosquito net, and a simple table of supplies. The shared bathroom was behind the building. It also had an amazing balcony, where we spent most of our days.


The hospitality of the guesthouse was incredible. The staff did everything they could to make our stay comfortable. They follow the ‘slow food’ movement, so everything is totally fresh, and if they don’t have it today, you don’t get it. So, no old food or microwaves. Bliss.

The highlight for me was definitely the breakfasts… an amazing combination of crepe, banana, coconut, cinnamon, sugar and lime juice, topped off with a yummy cup of tea (maybe Rooibos tea? or something similar, at least). I will definitely be adding this to the weekend breakfast menu, as a pikelet alternative!

And even though you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s a massage spa built next door along the river. We had a beautiful aromatherapy massage amongst the mangroves.


The guesthouse also had lots of activities on offer: sports, snorkelling, hiring of bikes, motorbikes, cars, etc. My pregnant belly, however, urged me to spend my days walking along the beach, taking photographs, swimming and just absorbing the clean air and sunshine. Phew! Life’s tough!

Everyone we met (and there really weren’t many people around – see above pic!) was so welcoming and friendly. Children on the beach waved, men building boats from coconut palms grinned as we wandered past and even the local dogs came and said hi.

I would not hesitate to return when I’m next in need of total relaxation.

Photos from a moving window

Our adventure across Zhejiang involved many a train and bus trip. The Chinese countryside landscape is fascinating. Here are a few snaps…

Mountains, farming, cottages, powerlines. 

Speeding along…

Farming and cottages

“I know, let’s build a spire for our gingerbread village!”

Ready to build.

Any ideas??

Anyone want to live next to the railway line?

Spires must be the “in” thing.

Daddy buildings and baby buildings.

A little bit of old China.

A neighbouring train.

The next Mawson Lakes.

Where are the trees? 😦

The next railway line under construction.

A yet-to-be-connected pylon.


The new highway that’s about to open.

Best house ever! 

We passed through a ‘toy town’. We think all the toys in China may be made here.

A colourful load.

These churches suddenly appeared on the landscape. They all had the same red crosses on top.

A little one snuck in next to the bus station.

Shaoxing-wine-bottle-shaped bus stops!

Read more about Zhejiang in my Green Tea Blog Entry.

Read more about Zhejiang in my Green Tea Factory Blog.

Wedding Photography

Traditionally, Chinese wedding photos happen before the wedding. The couple find picturesque places around the city, or they go to a studio, to have a series of photos. One usually is blown up to massive proportions and put up in their brand new apartment. The others get made into a huge album. These photos involve western-style dresses, traditional chinese outfits and sometime crazy costumes! Here are some that I’ve snapped around Beijing and Shanghai:

(Ok, so many this isn’t a traditional Chinese photo)

Interested in more pics? You can find them at Asiaobscura’s site!

5 China Moments

China is… well… just China sometimes. Little things catch your eye and just make you giggle.

A new subway line has opened up and in an attempt to clean the place up a little, there are flower pots delicately arranged on every rubbish bin.

I thought this shop looked a little out of place. The colour didn’t suit the street, the windows looked strange and the door completely odd. It’s a fake!! Hiding a construction site!

Phew! I was worried about where I was (on the walkway in Shanghai airport).

Our little room in a local Japanese restaurant had the classiest of decor. Munching on sushi and tempura… dreaming of coffee, juice and cake.

Taking the birds out for a ride. Caged birds inside a cage on the back of a bike!