Tag Archives: year of the horse

The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth quarter review

22 Oct

I am trying to play catch up with my blog after such a long hiatus, so the content posted in the last nine months was not up to previous standards.  That said – I was reminded by my friend Carissa at Everyday Adventures in Asia that it is not a competition and I should continue to blog for the pleasure of it.

The eleventh quarter (like the last 12 months) was one of lots of travel – I had just finished six months at my new job and was definitely in the swing of things.  Unfortunately, that meant that the time I had to blog was reduced quite dramatically – meaning that I had to cut my post schedule, but I did manage to continue, which is more than I could say for June, July and August!

Even with the reduction in posts there were some fun elements and wanted to take the time to relive a couple of my favorites.  Do you remember either of these?

  • I posted on part of our trip to Greece and taking wedding photos in front of a certain church in “Do you speak English? (A Santorini photo shoot).”  Every time I walk into my apartment I am reminded of that wonderful trip because our “money shot” has been blown up and framed on the wall above our couch.  Believe it or not, I have even more photos from Greece that never made it onto the blog – but at least I was able to give you a sense of the wonder of that honeymoon.  I would go back again in a minute!
The church and the two of us - a perfect pairing - the money shot

The church and the two of us – a perfect pairing – the money shot

  • Replacing things in the new year (part 2) – My saga regarding the main air conditioner in our apartment where I narrowly missed an electrical fire thanks to the circuit breaker flipping.
    Would you use this plug?

    Would you use this plug?

    We have continued to have to replace things in this apartment, but did decide to stay another year when our lease came up in September.  The price is right, the location good and the landlord very responsive.  That said – I will predict now that this is our last year in this place (but I’ve been known to be wrong before.)  The most recent change was we got a new refrigerator at the end of August which we used as part of our negotiations.  It is larger than our old one and does not frost over every other week, so both of us consider it a good trade-up.

The eleventh quarter also contained Chinese New Year – introducing the Year of the Horse and after the official holiday we did slip off for a lovely vacation, so I’ll see if I have the energy to post on that one.  Any guesses where we went?

The twelfth quarter I also managed to get a handful of posts together – though this is when my work travel really started to pick up.  I’ll be posting retroactively on some of my trips (like the Hong Kong post earlier this month) to give you a sense of where I was and what happened – so more to come, but I did want to call out this post on living in Shanghai that I posted in May:

  • Door to door service – talked about the convenience of a big city – the good and the bad.  I’ve had even more things delivered since this post – not having to carry them and getting lower prices is a strong incentive, but luckily I have not had any more visits from the police recently.

I also thought I would leave a teaser – not all my travel in the twelfth quarter was for work.  Li and I managed to slip in a trip to Bali at the end of April that was absolutely phenomenal.  Here are a couple of photos.

A temple - and beautiful blue sky

A temple – and beautiful blue sky

Exotic Indonesian fare

Exotic Indonesian fare

Finally – the thirteenth quarter when I started posting again.

My most popular post was on Taxi Roulette – trying to figure out the best way to get a taxi and get around this city.  I have downloaded a new taxi app recently and am trying it out as well.  We’ll see how the taxi situation continues to evolve here in Shanghai.  Also – as per one of the comments – I have finally seen the new gold taxis on the streets.  They look like London Black Cabs, but they are gold – and since I was in London in June, I have a pretty recent comparison.  I haven’t ridden in one yet and don’t know if they are more expensive or have any special features, so more to come.

There are a couple of posts that continue to rack up the page views – even when I wasn’t posting which I find very interesting and thought I would call them up here as well.

1) Buying a jade bangle – which I did in Hong Kong two years ago AND

2) The pineapple cake wars – my descriptions of the two main competing pineapple cakes in Taipei in the summer of 2013.

I am guessing that somehow these two posts have gotten picked up by one or more search engines and they provide a steady stream of visitors to my blog.  It was definitely strange when I came back to see that traffic had not dropped all that significantly – which could be a good thing or a bad thing!  Folks don’t tend to leave comments on those posts now though – so I really appreciate those of you who stayed with me during the hiatus and your support as I share about my jumbled life.

Now I am (kind of) up to date, so hope to be back here soon with more stories in Shanghai and looking back over the last year.

Did I miss any posts you would have put at the top of your list?


Happy Year of the Horse!

30 Jan


January 31, 2014 starts the year of the horse in the lunar calendar.  The year of the snake has slithered out the door and the horse strides in proudly.

The horse year is a good and lucky one – supposedly good for marriages, births and money.  One of the phrases that I especially like is a play on words.  Each year there seems to be at least one phrase that is specific to the animal’s name.  This one plays on the word for horse 马 (Ma).  The phrase that everyone is throwing around is: 马上有钱 (Ma Shang you qian).  There are two meanings – you see that the first character is the same as horse (Ma – 马).

Literally – the phrase means that “Money is coming immediately.”  However, it can also mean – “Money is coming – on the horse.” Since it is the year of the horse, people take it to believe that the year of the horse brings money – soon!

Decorations from our office cross-office new year's celebration for the year of the horse

Decorations from our office cross-office new year’s celebration for the year of the horse

I have a feeling that the horse year is going to bring lots of good things!

For those of you who were born in the year of the horse (remember the cycles are every 12 years – so 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014) they say that you are modern, popular and nimble.  Not sure if that means there are lots of yoga lovers born in those years or not!  Personally – I think many of the horses on the decorations look like My Little Ponies – however there are “warrior horses” as well – so take your pick.

We have already decorated the door and will be celebrating with a large new year’s eve dinner and then watching the annual country-wide Annual New Year spectacular to get a real good sense of Chinese culture.  The fireworks should be great.

Prosperity for you!

Prosperity for you!

Happy Chinese New Year to all!  I wish you and your families a healthy, safe and prosperous year of the horse!

A new year’s ritual – the company new year’s party

11 Jan

The annual dinner or Nian Hui (年会) happens at almost all Chinese companies this time of year.  They run the gamut – the more traditional being elaborate seated Chinese dinners with masters of ceremonies dressed in formal attire to smaller events at a department level.

All of the annual dinners I have attended to date have involved friendly competition, performances and lucky draw raffle prizes to make sure everyone leaves the event in a good mood.  They all also will involve the new Chinese zodiac animal that is coming into season.  Next year is the year of the horse, so horses featured in the 2014 festivities.

Now that I have switched companies I have had the opportunity to see another style of annual dinner.  We celebrated last week and really had a great time.

Similar to my first year in China, I was asked to participate in one of the show elements – a song choice with back up dancers.  It was the Alison Gold song – “Chinese Food.”  The song was ridiculed in the US press because it is not politically correct, but my colleagues were the ones who suggested it – and given the applause we got, enjoyed by all.

My costume for the Chinese Food performance.  I found out later that this is a traditional garment for unmarried girls in North East China.  It was also very hot with the fur collar!

My costume for the Chinese Food performance. I found out later that this is a traditional garment for unmarried girls in North East China. It was also very hot with the fur collar!

Unlike my previous annual dinner experiences though – this wasn’t a sit down dinner – it was a buffet and then followed by the show – which meant that people paid more close  attention to the performance because they weren’t eating simultaneously.  In addition – this event focused on the management team much more than at my previous company – to the point that a lot of the jokes were at the management teams’ expense.  Luckily I got a little bit of a heads up beforehand!

The event was a spectacular – the theme was “Asian style.”  From our Chinese Food performance, to wishing the team happy new year, to a troop of three belly dancers (normally mild-mannered employees), to a “princess choosing her prince” spectacular involving cross dressing and of course a sweet love song – there were jokes and applause for all.  We also selected over twenty people for gift certificates and other prizes.

The final event though, was the re-enactment by the management team of a scene in one of the hottest soap operas running on Chinese TV.  It was a Qing dynasty event – the scene where one concubine accuses the other of having a baby with the doctor instead of the emperor.  A paternity test is demanded and it is found that the first concubine fixed the results.

None of the management team was aware of what the challenge would be prior to that evening and we were broken into two teams – each to reenact the same scene, then the audience would vote.  To make matters more complicated, I don’t read Chinese well and two of the others didn’t read Chinese at all, so it was an English/Chinese mix, but that added to the humor.  My team decided to switch things up – our emperor was a woman – and the favored concubine was the chief legal counsel (a man).  I never would have guessed their hidden talent at acting – it was hilarious.   We were given period dress to wear as well which helped with the humor.

I’m happy to say that my team prevailed with our twist.  I laughed so hard that my sides hurt.

After the festivities were over, about twenty of us headed across the complex to a karaoke bar and sang into the wee hours of the morning.  It was the perfect capstone to a wonderful evening.  We rocked out to Chinese and English hits and celebrated a birthday with cake.

I won’t forget this annual dinner for a long time.  This is one ritual I will stand behind.

Are companies in the US still doing holiday parties?  I know that with the economic downturn many of these events were stopped – but I think that coming together with colleagues outside of the normal leads to another level of trust which results in superior teams.  When was your favorite holiday party?

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