maandag 25 maart 2013

TV shoot weekend

We started shooting on Saturday morning, at the kindergarten. I asked the principal if it was OK and luckily it was. The kids kept their cool and Lexie did really well in class. The difference between the first and the third class is huge! At the start of the lesson the teacher does a roll call and the child has to walk to the teacher to get a sticker. The first two classes I had to walk with her but now she ran over. The only part that doesn't go smoothly yet is saying "xiexie" (thank you) for the sticker. Lexie did give the teacher and everybody in the class a huge smile. The teacher took that to be "xiexie" instead of saying it out loud. Picking up the baskets with lesson material and giving them back again is going much better.
Chilling out on mommy
After class Lexie went with grandma to join a big group of mahjong players. Haiwen and I continued the shoot. We did some interviews in our house and then Molly came by for a pretend massage. I called a student to come by for class and that was filmed as well. The student waited for me while I was playing clarinet on the balcony. The director thought it would be too boring to shoot everything inside.....

The crew left and we finished the rest of our lesson. I was super tired afterwards. It was fun but hard work and all in Chinese!

Cool umbrella to play with
The family is super busy now because the new coffee shop is opening very soon. The grandparents and Haiwen have been going there a lot to help Qiang.

On Sunday morning I took Nicole (NL) to see grandma's old house in Liwan. It was a typical Chinese affair with Lexie, Haiwen, grandma, uncle and auntie ;) The crew filmed us as grandma, Nicole and I walked up to the house. Nicole really liked it a lot because it is something you can never see as a tourist. Grandma gave us the grand tour (hehe, the house is rather small) and did very well with the camera. When the director told her he wanted to film her earlier in the week she refused, claiming to be too old and ugly. She turned around 180 degrees and seemed to have a good time :)

Grandma was right that foreigners indeed like 'old' stuff, hahaha. It came back in the interview with me as well. I told them that we like places that have a story and history. The bling bling new buildings are cool but they can be found anywhere in the world.

Then it was dim sum time!! 

'Yes, I really like dim sum because it is a very traditional Cantonese pass time. The food is amazing and it is nice to chat with friends and family' if you catch my drift ;)

Grandpa and Qiang joined us as well. We went to the Hilton because that is very close to the new coffee shop. After lunch they went back to work.

Grandpa took the TV crew to ZhongHai (where the grandparents live) and we drove back with Lexie and grandma. The director wanted me to play clarinet in the garden, pffffff..... so natural, ahem.
Lexie was getting tired (me too) but we managed to finish the garden part of the shoot.

Mom, let me play!
The last bit consisted of a few more questions for grandma and me in their house. 
It was a bit tough in the end but we made it!! I only had to do 2 retakes in the whole weekend and those happened in the final bit because my brain was slowly going off line.

The director was very happy with all the material :) I took Lexie home for a much needed nap and she fell asleep at 15.15. She woke up a bit at 16.15 but after a small cuddle continued sleeping. I was really tired too so around 16.40 I joined her. Next thing I know is that we woke up at 18.00.......

Grandma texted me that they were still busy at the shop. I was in charge of dinner all of a sudden. It was too late to cook something because Lexie was already super hungry. She texted around 17.00 but we were snoring away then. We went Dutch with a sandwich with stroop and cream cheese. She gobbled it all up happily.

I figured Lexie wouldn't be sleepy at 20.30 so we went to visit Nicole (CH). The cat's toys and basket finally got played with ;) The cat never uses them, haha.
Around 20.00 we heard the neighbours coming back and they came in for a visit. All of a sudden Lexie started to fade fast and she just sat on the couch staring at Lynell and Tony. Time to go home! Once in bed she was out in seconds.

zaterdag 23 maart 2013


Yesterday I went to HK for a check up. I didn't really need one as I just went to see the private doctor 2 weeks ago. But yeah, what can you do? I delivered the report of the ultrasound and a nurse looked at my belly with a student. The doc was still busy with something so the nurse asked if it was OK for the student to examine me. No problem. They both touched my belly to check if everything was in the right place and listened to little one no.2's heartbeat.

First ever tie in Wordfeud
Then the doctor asked me if the baby was kicking well. I can assure you all: she is organizing sporting events in there! Another question was how I plan to give birth this time. A C-section is an option but so is normal delivery. Here in Asia they go the C-section way quite quickly but I'm not sure yet that I want another one. The decision has to be made around 34 weeks so I still have time to weigh all the pro's and cons.

Me, way back when......
Getting to the hospital didn't really go smoothly. There were no through train tickets left (the first two trains were sold out even on Thursday night when Haiwen went to the train station for me). That left the option of the 和谐号 (hexiehao); the harmonious train. That one goes to a border crossing in Shenzhen. It's a long walk through customs and onto the metro into HK. The problems already started in Guangzhou with traffic being slow as a snail. I decided to just take the cab to a metro station and to transfer to the metro. This worked fine and I made it to the station with 15 minutes to spare. By cab I would have arrived too late. It is not easy to buy train tickets these days because your ID number gets printed onto the ticket. Luckily I thought about this and gave Haiwen my passport when he went to buy tickets, just in case. Through train tickets can just be bought as you go through customs in the train station anyway.

It took 40 minutes to make it through everything in Luohu (the border crossing). I was in the special lane but somehow two families came back from behind customs and were cleared in front of me and a few other people that were waiting. A bit odd, I'd say......
A grandma totally ignored me on the platform to the metro and went to stand right in front of me. I was already standing next to another grandma and we were doing just fine. I was in no mood to be treated like air so I shoved back in front of her. The metro/train empties out completely when it arrives but she was just too rude to be ignored.

By the time we got to HungHum it was 11.00 and I had to be at the hospital by 11.30 latest.
I still needed to buy a through train ticket back first because I couldn't face another Luohu run on the way back! By the time I was done there was no time left to walk to the hospital so I cabbed it.

A moment of sanity
After the check up I had a nice lunch at a Japanese place. It is in the street where we stayed when Lexie was born. I decided to walk back to the station because I had a little time to spare. I was keeping cool but also not really. I sat down on a bench, set my alarm clock so I didn't need to watch the time and read my book for a while. It was very nice and it was good not to be moving!

Mmmmm, freshly cut grass (yes, grass like in a field)
The train ride back was fine. I did get a window seat but the lady beside me was very nice. I only went to the toilet twice so that's very good, haha. She went twice too ;) We even watched each others bags so we didn't have to schlep them into the bathroom.

When I arrived back in Guangzhou I was so sick of traveling that I joined Qiang for a cup of tea first. She was at the mall next to he station to oversee work on the new shop. By the time I left it was Friday night traffic hell time for real (already when I arrived basically) so I metro'd back. Once again I got offered a seat! No cabs in sight at the metro station so I took a public bus that leads to grandma's house. And behold: another seat freed up. I must look convincingly pregnant by now, hehe.

I rested a bit at grandma's and also played with Lexie who was happy to see me. I was very happy to see her after a day with way too many modes of transportation. I had gotten too tired during the day so I couldn't fall asleep. Super annoying!!!!! And that with the TV shoot coming up I had today, but, more on that in another blog!

donderdag 21 maart 2013

This week so far in pics

Checking out a cat
Mom, a cat! 
Checking out a dog

Having fun

23 weeks today! Pic is 23 weeks -1 day ;)
Little downpour yesterday.......
Beautiful Chinglish

maandag 18 maart 2013


Our weekend starts very early these days. We get up around 7.00 to take Lexie to introduction class at school. The lesson starts at 8.45. She still likes it a lot and she enjoys looking at the other kids. Soon that will change into playing with them I guess.

Playtime in the school yard
After class we went out for some cheung fan. I dropped Lexie off at grandpa's and daddy went to play tennis. At 16.00 I picked Lexie up again and we played around. In the evening we all had dinner together.

On Sunday morning we took Lexie to the park on Ersha. It's basically a huge field with some landscaping in it, surrounded by a road. It's big enough and there's plenty to look at and play with. According to Lexie the sprinklers were the best thing there. She kept running from one to the next.

Not too impressed by the symbol of Guangzhou.......
The Kapok flower is the symbol of Guangzhou. They have opened up all around town and this one fell out of the tree as I was standing underneath it. Good opportunity to tell Lexie about the colour red and about flowers ;)

Who has seen this look before?
After lots of running we went to have dim sum at the Hilton. Qiang and her girlfriend joined us as well, as did the grandparents and an uncle. It's nice to have so many people to run after Lexie, hihi. The food was really good as always.
Lexie started to fade so Haiwen and I went home first. By then Lexie was fully awake again but she did fall asleep in the end. She was KO for two hours.

In the evening we went to grandma's where we had a Skype appointment with grandparents Tummers.
We had a good chat and when Lexie got fed up with the computer grandpa took her downstairs to play for a bit. Haiwen arrived later and had some dinner as well. After that everybody was busy with arranging stuff related to moving out of IN cafe. The new coffee shop will hopefully open up some time next week, fingers crossed!!

zondag 17 maart 2013

Korea, part 3

Ayaaaa, on Thursday my last in Korea arrived! 
Lida was flying to Seoul at 20.30 and my flight back to China was at 21.30. Plenty of time during the day.

We started the day with a walk on the other side of the wharf. This was a 'safe' option with only a few steps and no steep slopes. I didn't want to drag myself on the airplane in the state I was in on Monday....

It was coooooooold!! Only 6C and very windy. I'm not used to such low temperatures and wind chill. My cheeks weren't happy at all, brrrrrr. It was nice to experience a hint of winter though. I think most of my energy had been spent earlier in the week and I got a bit faint and dizzy. No time for afternoon naps of course, as I didn't want to waste my time in Korea with Lida sleeping away.

It can go wrong in Korea as well.
We made it to a nice coffee shop where I recuperated and re-grouped for the walk back home. After only a few days in Okpo I already recognized a lady walking down the road. 
There are a lot of coffee shops around and it seems that the Koreans are more onto this lifestyle than the Chinese. Good terraces are still hard to find but Lida and Pieter scouted the whole island and did find a few great ones.

'Final' lunch
For lunch we headed to a hotel on the other side of the mountain. It was too cold to sit outside but behind the glass it was very comfortable. After lunch we got gas for the car and headed home to chill out.

Frozen smile ;)
We left for the airport around 17.30. We got there in good time and Pieter drove back home. Lida came with me to check in. Nobody in line, hurrah! We had to wait around for five minutes to make sure my suitcase was cleared for boarding. No problems there so we headed for the domestic departure hall through the cold evening. Also nobody in line, hurrah again!

We enjoyed a cup of tea and then it was time for Lida to board. I headed back to the international hall and had a snack at Starbucks. The other restaurants were only serving food until 20.00 and I didn't feel like sour, spicy soup anyway.

The English level in Korea may be even worse than in China. People are very friendly and like to help you out but cannot tell you in English what is up. I just used single words and that seemed to work well. We were looking for shredded coconut at the supermarket but couldn't find it. I asked one of the staff: 'coconut??' She went to the spot were it was available before, saw there wasn't any, searched around a bit and then came back with her arms crossed; the sign for 'no'. She also said 'no more'.
Well, that's basically all we needed to know! I kept forgetting what hi and bye was (somethingseyo and somethingsamnida or such) so I stuck to English. Worked fine for the time being ;) 

Learning to read Korean is not too difficult since it is phonetic. I can recognize a few 'letters' that Lida taught me. The hard part is learning what the sounds actually mean.
We did have some fun when Lida was driving the car and I was trying to look up some Korean phrases. Turns out that Lida's phone can speak Chinese, very handy! ;)

Korea, part 2

On Tuesday we headed towards Busan, the biggest town in the area.
Lida and I have been there before for about 7 hours during a stop on a cruise, many years ago.
We continued our then unfinished sight seeing. Not that there is much to see, haha.

In Korea one has to recycle!
We got into town before the shops opened so we went for a coffee first. Then we walked around a bit and visited the international market. It resembles some of the markets in Guangzhou but is much more comfortable since there is more space. Being outside instead of a building bursting out of its seams is a big plus too.
International market
I bought a new phone cover and a wallet. I realized that the wallet was too big for my small bag so I also had to buy a bigger small bag ;) After shopping it was lunch time and we headed for a restaurant with a nice view. Yes, the view was more important than the choice of food as my stomach was once again acting up. We had some simple stuff and went to the second floor for coffee and an even better view.

View in Busan
After lunch Lida and I drove around town a bit more before heading back to Okpo.

In the evening we all went out for Korean BBQ. It was absolutely delicious and Pieter and I ate way too much. To walk some of the food off we headed to one of their favourite cafes for a quick drink. It was a nice, cozy place. I started to fade fast so it was time to head home, 'hiking' back up the hill.
Spring is in the air
Wednesday morning started with the Okpo ladies coffee. A very different affair from the GWIC coffees. 
There weren't that many people and we had to sit around in a circle. The opening question was that you had to tell the group something about yourself that they didn't know yet.
Easy peasy as they didn't know me at all.

Tucked away GuanYing.

Then a Korean lady gave a short introduction to Korean herbs. Not too bad. Another big difference with the GWIC coffee is that this one has a host so it is pretty organised. The host made very nice strawberry bread and brought some Korean snacks. I think Lida is hosting in a week or two ;)
After the whole ordeal, including some trivia quiz, was over we joined some ladies for lunch.

Looking around the wharf 
In the afternoon Pieter drove us around the ship wharf. It is a huge place where they build enormous ships. The worlds biggest oil(?) tanker was there for maintenance and also some of the biggest gas carriers. 

They build new ships from scratch and the logistics are mind boggling. The whole wharf is buzzing with activity and everybody has their own specific task. The crane you see in the picture above can carry a thousand metric tons!

Rainy wharf
It was very interesting to see where all the bits are made and put together and together and together until you have a complete ship.

For dinner we decided on cauliflower with cheese sauce, meat balls and potatoes :)

vrijdag 15 maart 2013

Korea, part 1

Last Saturday night I arrived at Busan international airport. Lida and Pieter were waiting for me on time, even after being stuck in a huge traffic jam. The arrival was smooth and easy and there were no lines at customs, just the way I like it!

There were some lines in Guangzhou but I avoided them as I can now go through the special channel. The security check was ridiculously strict. They scanned my shoes in the X-ray machine and also swiped the bottom of my feet...... I wonder what they were hoping to find there. The flight was on time and landed a bit ahead of schedule. It wasn't completely full so I had an empty chair next to me.

First terrace in the sun. A place named Schumann & Clara ;)
We drove from Busan to Geoje island, Okpo city in about an hour. We were all hungry so we went straight to dinner. Choice of the evening was German food. No rushing into Korean food needed as that is available in China as well..... None of us are kimchi fans anyway.

The bridge between Busan and Geoje
After dinner we went home and chilled out for a bit. I went to bed completely knackered. I can tell I'm not traveling by myself anymore! 

Sunday morning started with a cozy, leisurely breakfast. Very yummy and Western food only ;) Think pancakes, jam, sirup, bread........
Then it was time to head out and explore the island. We drove around and enjoyed the scenery.
I had to pee very frequently (no wondering why there) and this was the first toilet stop of the day:

Nicely placed toilet!
Oh the joy of hanging out with Dutch friends :) They understand that terraces are made to sit on whenever the weather allows. They also understand that there is no need to run off as soon as you finish one beverage. Nope, most likely you order another one. 
Even after almost 12,5 years of marriage Haiwen still has some problems with this very important aspect of life ;) After terrace number 1 we drove around some more, until we ended up at terrace number 2.

View from the second terrace in the sun
On Monday Pieter had to work. Lida and I went for a small hike. It was nice to be in the forest and later around some rice fields. Some of the path was quite steep but nothing compared to other hikes in the area. Spring hasn't arrived fully yet so nature was mostly brown. Maybe the hike wasn't so small for bump and me after all: in the evening I could hardly walk! Soaking in a warm bath eased up most of the tension in my lower back so then I was OK again. Wish I could take a nice bath right now because my left hip has gone achy. 

Lida, bump and me on the second terrace
At lunch time we met up with Pieter and went out for Mexican food. After lunch Lida and I went to another town to look around a bit. We also did some grocery shopping for dinner. 
'Andijvie stamppot met spekjes' was on the menu. There's no andijvie available in Korea but chicory comes close enough. Yum, yum!

Okpo by day
The weekend before I arrived, some important snack creation had been done: bitterballen!!
We had them a few times throughout the week, mostly as an afternoon snack. It really was a trip back to Dutch food. Not only for me, but also for Lida and Pieter ;)

Okpo by night
Lida is right on top of Dutch TV developments so we watched a lot of downloaded Dutch shows.

zaterdag 9 maart 2013

Busy week!

It's Saturday morning and it is the first time this week that I can sit down and write a blog! It was a nice week with lots of socializing.

Playing Lexie's favorite animal game
The ultrasound on Monday brought only good news. The baby is healthy and right on track with all developments. I only went to HK for the scan so I was there for only 3,5 hours in total. Haiwen went as well but he came back later after taking care of some banking. No point for me to hang around and get tired! I went to work in Huangpu on Tuesday and that always takes a lot of energy. First there is the trek to get there (taxi 15 min, subway 30 min) then 3 groups of clarinet students followed by the trek back. Hubby did come to pick me up at the metro station so that was nice. On the way over there I got offered a seat on the subway. Cool huh? I went to the 'special' section at the beginning of the train where the old, disabled and pregnant are supposed to hang out, haha.

These slippers fit!

On Wednesday I had lunch with Helen and her baby Rose. Rose likes me so we are good. Since the weather was gorgeous (and has been all week) we went to eat outside. It was really lovely to be outside and not to die of heat and humidity. Grandpa told me that the Kapok flowers are opening up which means that the cold will not come back. Looks like an early summer. Belly and me may hide out indoors in the AC if it gets too hot ;) After lunch we had a little stroll and then it was time to go home.

Nail clipping... done best on the subway?!
On Thursday I tried to go to the GWIC morning coffee since my student had cancelled at 1.00 AM. for a 10.30 lesson. Yes, 1.00!!! How rude!! Luckily my phone was off. I told her this is not acceptable and that this kind of behaviour will only be excused once. We'll see how it goes. If she does something like this again she can find another (English) teacher. 
No point in dwelling about it so when grandma came by to pick up Lexie we all went downstairs to play a bit. All of a sudden they started to spray bug spray on the plants so we took Lexie away immediately. Grandma and Lexie went to ZhongHai and I went to catch a cab. 

That cab was not to be found. I walked around for half an hour with no luck. I got really hungry since I left without breakfast. There's nice food at the coffee so no need to spoil your appetite. 
I made it up to WangGuo mall but it wasn't open yet. I was in need of some food so I went to Starbucks right beside the mall. Not the healthiest option but I was running on fumes.
I sat for a while and when I was done the mall was open. 

I must admit it: my feet do not fit into size 36 anymore :( 1,5 pregnancies have taken their toll and I'm well on the way to 37! Luckily the Sketchers store had a nice sale and I bought 3 pairs. In the store I ran into a friend and after shopping we headed back to Starbucks for a chat. We sat outside and enjoyed the balmy temperature. I had to go home to open the door for ayi. She was very early and arrived 1 minute after me. Pretty perfect huh? I wasn't in the mood to sit around so I went out for a haircut.

On Friday Lexie was here for her afternoon nap. It took half an hour before she went to sleep. She was sleepy but that doesn't mean you should sleep when you are 16 months old!! She finally dozed off and slept for 2 hours. We went to play outside when she woke up and later I brought her to the grandparents. I did some packing for Korea and got ready to go out. The Dutch club was meeting at Paddyfields so I went by to hang out a bit. It was nice to be out for the first time in months! I lasted until 22.30. The street was still very crowded so I had to use my cab getting skills and this time they did work. It's easy really; walk up against the traffic and don't stay on the sidewalk behind the barrier.

It's 10.28 and HW will drive me to the airport around 11.00. I'm going to visit Lida and Pieter :)
I'll be back in Guangzhou on Thursday night.

maandag 4 maart 2013

zondag 3 maart 2013

Kindergarten time

On Saturday, 8.45 it was time for Lexie's first lesson at the kindergarten!
There are 2 groups going through a kind of orientation to let them get used to school. The second group starts at 11.00 but that time really messes up your day. She (that means we) will go every Saturday from now on. The exception is next Saturday because that is a free day after International Women's Day.
Nice planning as I'm going to Korea to visit Lida and Pieter that day.

Drawing with daddy
I sat with Lexie for the first part of the lesson. My lower back was not amused and got really achy. Grandma stepped in and daddy did the first part after the break. Lexie is not interested in sitting still so it was a bit of a struggle to keep her with me at the beginning of the lesson. It was a bit boring so I don't blame her; the teacher called all the children one by one and they had to walk to the teacher to get a sticker.

Grandma is the old headmistress of this kindergarten. It is affiliated to the sport association of Guangdong province. It is right next to a stadium and they have lessons in there as well. Pretty cool huh? Not just a tiny little lawn to play on but a whole football field. The current headmistress is friends with grandma so grandma is still in the loop. By now all the teachers know Lexie and me. Haiwen does business with the husband of the current kindergarten boss: he has a printing company.

The stadium as seen from the 4th floor.
Some stuff in the class was still a bit difficult for Lexie. They had to line up blocks in a pattern of red-blue-yellow. Lexie thought the blocks of her neighbors were far more interesting! 
Some typical chinese behaviour also occurred: the mom sitting next to us was taking pictures of Lexie, without asking me or Lexie of course. So rude!! And that during class, sigh.

Hallway of the 4th floor
When Lexie went to the teacher to collect her sticker the teacher remarked how beautifully white Lexie's face is...... Sigh, again. I guess there's a lot more of that lying ahead of us. Luckily it is meant well so I'll do my best to get used to it ASAP.

Yes, I'd like to sell my stock options, please.
After class we went out for dim sum. Grandpa came to join us as well.
The day started to turn worse for me as I had an achy back and pelvis pain. Not cool at all!!
I hope it was just because I was too tired as I couldn't sleep all night (I was too uncomfortable to drop off). I did sleep well last night and I feel a lot better right now. Maybe I'm just not accustomed to temperatures under 20C, brrrr. It got as low as 11C yesterday so that's pretty cold in these parts of the world. The temperature is supposed to go up to around 21C during daytime from tomorrow so maybe that will help.

And so it begins!