Christmas in shanghai

My Christmas in Shanghai, Part 2. For me, Christmas does not stop at Eve: eldest of a family of six children, the real Christmas is on December 25th in the morning (or noon if Eve was late into the night!) and Shanghai or not, this is the kind of family tradition that it’s hard to give up.

So with Marieke we did everything for it. My previous article was completed on my Eve back at 3:30, I do not sleep immediately. And yes, we are preparing in France only Christmas Eve, maybe there quelq’un MSN to whom I can wish a happy Christmas? All right, my dear daddy just finished his day’s work, I watched him as surely on MSN and I give him a small favor … I log when it is midnight in France to wish a Merry Christmas to all my family gathered by interposed cam. Small favor yes, because France = midnight to 7am Shanghai or … argh! 4 hours of sleep after a long enough December 24, ah that would be to see his family for Christmas!
Then I woke up, and guess what? Webcam not working ;-( France side Luckily mine worked, my family has seen my freshness Then my phone rings, it’s calling me daddy behind him with the family together, or each emotion sequence go its “Merry Christmas”, unforgettable …

Then no longer have the strength to wait for the French deign webcam work, I go back to bed to wake me up … 3, 4 hours later and continue this Christmas special. Marieke we file with the gifts under the tree, and we prepare the breakfast table Christmas. Finally, Christmas brunch tell us rather look a little:
On the menu:
– Croissants and pains au chocolat
– Buns and rolls
– Chocolate cake
– Pancakes
– Hot chocolate
– Cheese (President!), Yoghurt
– Jam, honey, chocolate
– Strawberries, yellow cherry tomatoes
– Orange juice

Happiness …!
Also this year Santa has spoiled us, simply judging by our mines rejoiced!

My Christmas still is not finished, I had a word from Father Christmas warning me of the impending arrival of a gift in the mail … So this year, a Christmas extended in time and in space.
Thank you to Santa for gifts, thank you for telecoms allowing me to share the better time with my family, thank you for Auchan, Minhang its rays and other baked French rolls, thank you Marieke at daddy and others for making this a true December 25,

What a day nice day

I had an appointment Saturday morning in a factory in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and we took advantage of the opportunity, Cai Li and myself to spend the weekend.

I must say that, beyond the fact that Hangzhou is at the heart of the industrial area south-east of China, the city is nevertheless an important cultural and tourist center, particularly because of a massive lake, Xi Hu, or “West Lake”, whose banks are filled with historic buildings, medieval, and traditional.

In China, we have a proverb that says “in heaven there is paradise, on earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou”. Cai Li obviously stamped with the idea to go and have a look, as Hangzhou is famous in China.

When Cai Li and I opened the curtains to half past seven, which was not our surprise to see that négeait abundantly in Suzhou. And white coating on roofs and pavements showed that began during the night. Cai Li told me that it had been years since he had not snowed much in the province.

We have two hours to reach Hangzhou by bus … Where négeait at least as much. Surprisingly, as there was no wind, we did not feel the cold. But I must confess, when I refused for three years to this purchase, I am acquiring the full range Damart, pants and shirt, and shifted so thick it looks like a uniform Star Trek, or underwear western. Although this is not very graceful, believe me, when it freezes to split stone, it is very comfortable. Cai Li, in his thick jacket which falls to the ankles, we believe the ready to board a rocket Soiyouz.

On arrival in the tumult of the crowded station east of Hangzhou, the assistant plant manager was waiting for us. I asked him to make a hotel reservation for me and Cai Li, and we went to pick up the keys of the room before visiting the factory. Then, the boss invited us to lunch and then we started to do a little sightseeing.

Very gentimment, the boss of the factory dropped us on the banks of West Lake, at the other end of the city, lake I could not imagine greater. Beforehand, as I have a smart girlfriend, she did not fail to ask the same pattern, a local, what were the most interesting places to visit and which ones to avoid.

In the car, gentimment and commercially, DG plant did not fail to move from French music, and I had to fader CD “Helen, I’m Helen” all the way. It’s crazy, but this is the only known French song here and listen grants for Chinese, the “cool attitude”. It’s quite simple, this song, I have to hear ten times a week, in stores or restaurants.

From there, we damn market. The Chinese kids, and Cai Li is no exception to the rule. It even has a childish side, not to mention child beyond me sometimes. I do not know how many snowballs she sent me and she stopped in front of each snowman with the frustration of not having doing itself. Finally, she decided, and it took, since it started with diligence and concentration, building their own snowman that I shot photos and video along with its creation. In any case, she has lived this snowy day with the same excitement as a child. And it was fun to see.

The West Lake, which has preserved its natural and forestry, remains no less a series of pagodas eternal ancestral homes, elegant bridges in donkey serene temples and on the banks. In addition, all facilities have been set up for visitors, with roads and in perfect condition, as well as directional signage at strategic points. And what is very nice is that, being preserved away from the city center, the lake is surrounded by mountains that give the landscape a side traditional Chinese painting the most beautiful effect.

Cai Li did not fail to tell me about the legend of the creation of the West Lake, known as the most beautiful lake in China. It is said that in ancient times, a dragon and a phoenix picked up on an island, a white jade. The stone dragon rubbed his legs and the phoenix picota with its beak. Eventually, the stone turned into a shiny pearl. Having heard the news, the Queen of the Heavenly Kingdom down to earth and snatched the pearl dragon and phoenix. These continued until the Heavenly Palace to retrieve the pearl. Embraced the dragon and the phoenix Queen attacked their beaks. Queen and dropped the pearl that fell from heaven to earth, becoming the West Lake, an extremely beautiful.

What was the most enjoyable, this Saturday, it was the snow. Snow changes everything in the atmosphere, and this is even more true in China. Why? Because the snow muffled, and when you live in a country as noisy, find some quiet in a landscape so serene is a very foolish. As the climate landscapes conferred on the idea that we can get a Chinese decor.

To eighteen hours, while most visitable buildings closed their doors, we returned to our hotel, where, although punctured after a quick dinner, we fell asleep without a problem.

The next morning, Li Cai had lots of ideas in mind: she wanted to visit Leifengta an iconic pagoda Xihu, and the “broken bridge” (in Chinese Duanqiao) because these high places are those which took place on made a legend well known in China, called the legend of the White Snake. Cai Li told me as she could, and I managed to complete it, to deliver it to you, thanks to the internet.

The Legend of White Snake is the tragic love story between a man, Xu Xian, and a snake, White Snake, who took human form in the guise of a beautiful young woman. The Day Qingming, Xu Xian, a clerk in a pharmacy, walks along the West Lake in Hangzhou. Caught in a shower, he is ready to go home by boat when a young widow dressed in white and wearing blue next ask him to board. This is the thunderbolt. A lowering of the boat, Xu Xian lends his umbrella both young women and has an excuse for review.

Some time later the White Snake and Xu Xian marry.

The Day of the Dragons boats, Xu Xian meets Fahai, a Taoist monk who tells him that his wife is a snake and gives him a drug to make him drink, to discover its true nature. After drinking, White Snake turns into a snake. Seeing as Xu Xian dies of fright. White Snake decides to fly to the islands of the Three Immortals and steal magical herbs that will save Xu Xian. The island must fight the guards. Moved by the young woman, the Star of Longevity intervenes and gives the grass Xu Xian bring to life.

Fahai does not admit defeat Xu Xian and removes it holds prisoner in the temple of Mont d’Or. White Snake implore Fahai release Xu Xian. As he refused, with the help of Blue Serpent, Dragon Kings of the four seas and their army aquatic White Snake is climbing the temple. In the blink of an eye, a huge mass of water up to the door of the temple. Fahai gives a dam that holds the water. White Snake, weakened as pregnant, can not resist, abandon the fight and returned to the waters of West Lake.

Xu Xian managed to escape Jinshan Temple and went to Hangzhou. In memory of his first encounter with the White Snake, he went to the edge of West Lake, near the Broken Bridge. Suddenly he saw his wife, but Blue Snake threatens to kill him because she accuses him of betraying the White Snake. The latter intervenes. Finally, all three find themselves. Time passes and the Feast of glutinous rice balls, White Snake gives birth to a baby.

Christmas in China

For the first Christmas in Shanghai, so many things to tell! In this first part, let’s go back a few days … December 24 is the last day before Christmas …
Or rather, even a day earlier, for starters. And yes, this year for the Christmas festivities I have started a little earlier. My university organizes every year in effect on December 23 a meal for all foreign students Minhang campus to celebrate Christmas. The menu, few numbers (more or less successful) by students and presented to a little over 350 people singing, reading poetry, dance and Thai guitar, with every scene … a staircase, a staircase right, but stairs …

Then a very good Chinese buffet, hot and cold dishes to enjoy with friends from all backgrounds. Each challenge will be the same gift of chocolate (good!). For me it was also an opportunity to pose with my Chinese classmates. Here, with Marieke, our three comrades North Koreans, Chinese and an assistant with his son, what the dream team:]

But of course, as a Chinese buffet Christmas dinner, when you come from France, we do not really get satisfied. So naturally, the next day you gave cover, but our sauce this time! This year, our meal for Christmas Eve, it will be … well a squeegee to us!
How did we do? Meet four French campus, adding girlfriends for some, the friend from France for another holiday, thank Maxim for its raclette (there are not that at all street corners in Minhang) and Elisa for raclette cheese which has supported the 10 hour flight and a stay in a fridge in Hong Kong, and voila! Excluded the images …

Who would believe then giggles between two French, one is in Shanghai? Some will find the meal actually quite modest for Eve, but Eve says does he not exceptional meal? And what is more exceptional than between French Christmas dinner around a squeegee in Shanghai, joy and good humor of rigor? Thank you all it was great!

But you think it stops there? That’s not counting all our resources] After the meal, the German management Eve with our neighbors across the street. The theme of the evening, Gluwein (forgive the spelling), poetry competition in English, requires international atmosphere, and exchange gifts … a program!
So there was the world that night on the balcony opposite, a glass of mulled wine statement cinnamon, lemon and orange hand, gloves, scarf, singing, each in his own language the classic Christmas around a barbecue with glowing coals … delicious …
Then the poetry competition, shortest to longest, good words and odes to Christmas, some have added a special touch: magic, camera apology for not preparing poem or composition on guitar. Selected pieces …

After the dice have allowed us to select each in turn one small gifts under the tree (ours that we paid for the night but we quickly recovered:]), there have disappointed and more excited as always with this game, but who cares, it was mainly to spend Christmas Eve together.

I know not really say where we spent ours in Shanghai, France, Germany, … Certainly not the family, but with friends it was Christmas Eve, somewhere on Earth …

So quickly!

After five minutes, I realized that the two cushy as cérébrés that molluscs were only there for one thing: to make us sign the lease, which is the most expensive, but act as a “business advisor “. Obviously, I was upset quickly these guys know nothing about business, and are yet in a position to interfere in ours, they do not even know in the dream content of the activity. They were ridiculous advice like “you should rather rent in this area, because there are German and American companies”. And then there is the usual Chinese and amadouante lourdaude, particulièremet annoying, to kick back, to spit compliments to two centimeters from the face, to offer you cigarettes like crazy while you have to crush one blows winks grotesque story you sign without thinking too much. I immediately took my distance, I cut short the conversation, to share with Ke Wang Rong our real needs in the field, trying to coordinate them with my policy cost. The outcome of races is that there certainly spent more time (an hour of scheduled maintenance, we went to four), but we saved over three years, half a million yuan . To Rong Wang Ke, which is Chinese with his delusions of grandeur, it is. For me, this is huge, and having the opposite approach would more concern that the lack of interest of economy.

Ke and Wang Rong, after discussions, the baby catches up, telling me that we were in China, and we had two ways of dealing with the relationship: either we fight against the administration (ie, consider the two clampins for what they are: two small scale without servants, but who are the lords of the castle with their very poor little power), or we played friendship without limits, like poles old regiment, to exchange favors. I personally have never been in the army,’m keen weapons upon receipt of the e-tax, so I left my partner this option work for me. And so it was partly for this great friendship that road to get drunk consors to obtain favors. The result is that it still fell a little rent, suggesting that part of the difference is personal support offered both idiots.

Both officials said that money should not be a problem, and have brought one of their “friend” banker in the quarter of an hour: that is, a bank employee, regardless of the content reassuring or alarming the balance sheet that we will present, we will obtain a loan, we will have to determine the amount to our way, knowing that the above said bank employee will determine accordingly the Committee under the table.

To close this transaction, we went to dinner and sloshed together. As in China, one of the ways to be recognized and respected, is how to keep the alcohol (believe it is impossible to do business without this, and even though I ironically, I’m not kidding ), Ke Wang Rong let me handle this part of the transaction. And even if I went zigzagging, I got the approval of the officials, who it seems, we will open all the doors.

Is this legal? Of course not. And yet, the operation of the country, and the durability of the system, based in part on it. So, despite what the government says, showing shots of brilliance in the fight against corruption is tolerated as well as prostitution, rampant, yet officially prohibited as well as the sale of CDs and DVD pirates, is completely prohibited, while all stores have a storefront. And why can not change? Just because we are in a dictatorship, the government, for the sake of social cohesion, muzzles the press could report, and thus jeopardize cohesion. In short, it is not about to change.

Chinese Unity

In summary, the Chinese unit is in little things: a language officially imposed, and a federation of ethnic groups that are not necessarily in line with the lands on which they are located, with significant variations in traditions and cultures that the government is trying to smooth. What would happen if China, the current system was overthrown in favor of a democratic regime? There would, potentially, a civil war inter-ethnic, inter-provinces, where some minorities would assert their difference and sovereignty. At the level of twenty percent of the world’s population could no longer talk of civil war, but World War.

Successfully maintain cohesion in such a complete anthropological disparity is a challenge that the Beijing government can maintain. This disparity, it is real and palpable. In the West, we have a stereotypical idea of ​​the Chinese population, which is not a reflection of reality. Myself, I do not have morphological characteristics that make me look like an Asian, and yet it happens, sometimes it takes me to a Chinese (when I speak little Mandarin, and the few banalities that I spit the oral ring true). It does not take me for Han, the main ethnic group, which is part Cai Li, but a man of Xinjiang, a western province of China. This gives you an idea gives physical differences there may be between nationalities.

So, good western crying wolf for the establishment of democracy in China, I can not do it. It’s not that I’m against. It’s just that I can not take a position … And whether it will be a real benefit to the country … And the world (again, we’re talking about China, and not a country the size of Luxembourg).

By cons, what I can not tolerate, and yet is the basic principle of the Chinese government is controlling the information. Here, all media, whatever they are, are controlled by the administration. We can not talk about information, but propaganda. Make no mistake: the control of information, and its orientation, also exist in the West … But to a lesser extent. As in the West, we can expose political scandals, and try to change things, pushing governments to exit under popular pressure. In China, it is obviously impossible, and instead the media claiming that shots bursts, often fabricated by the administration.

In China, there are some national dailies in English. The first year I bought them from time to time. Finally, I completely stopped. At first, not knowing the country work superficially, I found all this amusing, saying that perhaps the information was arranged a bit. Now that I know the wheels much deeper, I realize how everything that is reported is a tissue of lies they used to pasture in western passage.

The second thing that is for, not really wanted by the government, the regime in China, corruption is total and constant. Since the government can not be changed, that nothing is done in government can not be criticized, that all the little scandals, more or less recognized are choked … That means that citizens do not have the opportunity to escape the corruptive system. In France, if you go to the police, and the cops do not help you, you have the possibility of appeal: the hierarchy, other administrative or judicial authority or the press. In China, no. If a cop does not help you (and in general, it is not because you disturb), you will démerder alone. If you criticize, contact the media, I do not know what you could have problems, or to see the doors close … And the only recourse is the relationship you have.

A very nice market

Located in the southeast of the Old City of Shanghai, is a bustling street known mainly local but increasingly frequented by Westerners: the market for fabrics Dongjiadu Lu, the largest fabric market in Shanghai.

If I had heard from friends before, I had not had the opportunity to go there before moving to Shanghai Cecile and Sophie.
In my defense, the difficulty of access to the famous market for the more motivated metro to Huangpi Nanlu can count at least 30 minutes of walking, but a taxi will take you there willingly. As some drivers do not know the site very touristy Yu Garden located at a short distance, as “Dongjiadu read” and “May Yifu of difang” (place to buy clothes “) will immediately understand!

Moreover, we do not be deceived: the taxi drops you off at the end of the street where these predecessors leave in reverse. The street bustles with customers, mostly women, not only Chinese, you will understand why …
The first stalls encountered mainly offer traditional fabrics, and there is something for all tastes, colors, patterns, there has to be tempted

These shops also offer all the usual souvenirs fabric: table sets, kits and other covers.

But so far nothing new compared to the shops found in the Old City for example.

To do this, you have to push a little further …
The first shops past, you find yourself going through the corner of one of them and, surprise surprise, not the corner leads to another, but on a real covered market full of stalls fabric by the meter. Clothes of all colors of any style, but more modern fabrics and garments. And yes, it is here that the Chinese come to make their clothes



And it is surely no coincidence, given the choices presented and especially savings that can be achieved! I take for example my two traveling companions, Cecile and Sophie have made to several tailors cashmere suit 25 euros! Choice of fabric with lighter test support, négocation difficult abacus in hand and choice of models in the catalog, this is a case which was carried out efficiently to speak Chinese this is a serious asset, and two strong client satisfied with the result

Try or not?

No need to walk long to notice in China, the Chinese take a very special position when they want to take a break at a given location.

This squat is at least suggestive, and if everyone will have a smile crossing one or the other quietly installed, there are those who have not hesitated to give a name to the position: the position called “the mud “((c)

Handy when there is nothing to sit itself in the neighborhood, rather than stand, hop on squats!

What is the origin of this position seem so incongruous in our region filled with benches, I have no idea. Still, it is also popular among young people than among older people, I even saw a sculpture depicting a Chinese life including a man in the position.

Easier said than done for some, because it seems that the Chinese (among others) are naturally predisposed to adopt such a position, which technically should be taken with heels glued to the ground attention.

However, I’ve tested that many Westerners do not are simply not capable issue morphology can be personally and in my case anyway, I do not find it particularly relaxing

And you? you tried?

Vatican / China

Things are moving between China and the Vatican, amid denials and ranting. Unprecedented happened in the Cathedral of St. Ignatius of Shanghai, Tuesday, June 28, which could support the idea of a change in Chinese behavior on the thorny issue of the appointment of bishops. During the ceremony devoted as auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi, 42, revealed true before 2500 and regime officials that his appointment was the result of an agreement between the Vatican and Beijing authorities.

This information, once released by the agency Asianews was denied, Wednesday, June 29, by an official of the Religious Affairs Office of Shanghai. Disclaimer embarrassed Bishop Xing was chosen by the Catholic Church (official) and Shanghai appointment approved by a “college of bishops of the Catholic Church in China.” Fuzzy concept, followed by the development: “This has nothing to do with the Vatican.”

According to the agency in Paris Churches of Asia, which takes its information from the diocese of Shanghai, the new bishop has been elected on May 17, a college of priests, religious and laity. But he also received the approval of Rome. And attendance at the ceremony of the regime’s political representatives confirmed that Beijing has not objected to the appointment. In Hong Kong, Bishop Zen Ze-chun, famous activist Human Rights, confirmed the fact: if bishops ‘official’ have already been ordered in the past, with the consent of Rome, this is the first once such an agreement is made ​​public.

a Chinese anecdote

I remember a small anecdote, when I returned to China in January. The knowledge of the conversation I had yesterday with Cai Li, this story takes on a whole different scale.

Last year in France, attended the riots in the suburbs, and I have always insisted on security problems in France with the Chinese, as their image of Epinal in the homeland of wine and the fragrance is beautifully idealist. Well, I was just a little too stressed, because when I arrived at the airport in Shanghai in January, I spent a call immediately to Cai Li, to tell him that I was leaving the plane, and I took the bus to Suzhou. She told me on the phone this time I was surprised, “That’s it? Are you in China? Aaaah … Now you’re safe.” I did not try to understand more before this remark, which felt to Cai Li, the evacuation of a major concern. I’d say it was definitely a good laugh about the situation made claimant season in France, including CCTV and we had folded ears. What we must add that I stayed focused on the TV set once we talked about on the news. In fact, I realized that there was not that much. There was also the result of a communication policy Orwellian to believe that Chinese living in the best of worlds.

Yesterday, Cai Li told me that since his childhood, at school, we kept him teach the benefits of Mao, revolution, the system in place in relation to any other, and therefore m ‘ explained that there was endoctrineur education, not secular. There must be a slight downside for this: in France too, even if we do not advocate the benefits of a political party at school, but also demonstrates, however, the superiority of a democratic system in relation to everything else. Do not make me say what I did not write against a potentially undemocratic approach. The purpose is not to take sides, but to attempt a retreat analytical and therefore completely dispassionate.

Last night to conclude the conversation, Cai Li was stunned to hear that if foreign countries were currently kowtow to China was due to the international economic situation, which made inevitable the country, while for everyone in the West, China is still a country without freedom of expression, where human rights are the most widely abused primary. And I felt uncomfortable. Everything he had been taught was collapsing, and that evil be, I feel, not from the fact that we had directed his thoughts from his youth, but rather the fact that Chinese patriot, it does not recognize the undoubted superiority of his country. Simply estomaquant.

Cai Li and then asked me a very direct question, as laying a teacher: “do you, yourself, the system in China is the worst that we can have?”. And, I admit, I have mixed feelings. Why? Because there is the ideal, conceptual … But there is also the reality of things. I lived in a democracy thirty years, and three years in a dictatorship. This allows me to have an opinion in relation to any Westerner who has not lived elsewhere, or in relation to Cai Li who has known as China, is that I’ve tasted the two. You can not blame Cai Li, or any Chinese they have known it. Their reference to their own ends, through ignorance of the rest. And similarly, we can not blame the West, who have the experience of democracy as a repository.

I answered Cai Li trying to weigh the pros and cons. China is nearly a billion and a half people. China is thirty provinces. China is fifty ethnic groups (here, we call it “nationalities”), with disparate cultures, economic and social situations ranging from modern high-tech for the South East in the Middle Ages Western countries. China, are tens of thousands of dialects alive and active, Federated solely the obligation to learn the Beijing dialect in school (because Mandarin is the dialect of the capital). But we must see that there are still many people who do not know, because of a lack of education disturbing. To give you an example, I often hear Cai Li receive calls, and after a few seconds of conversation with his interlocutor, screaming into the phone “speak to me in Mandarin” because the speaker in question spoke in Suzhou dialect, which she does not know a word traitor … His birthplace is two hours drive from Suzhou.