Celebrating the Spring Festival, Canton-Style

One of the most charming aspects of celebrating the Spring Festival holidays in Guangzhou is the fact that flower fairs proliferate all over the city during this special holiday period.

My Cantonese friends had advised me that it is a time-honoured and beloved tradition in this part of southern China to visit these flower fairs, entire family in tow, to browse the radiantly blooming flowers on display and perhaps buy a good luck offering (or three) for one’s home or workplace for the New Year.

The entrance gate of the Yuexiu Flower Fair, all decked out in festive lights. Such drama, we love!

The entrance gate of the Yuexiu Flower Fair, all decked out in festive lights. Such drama, we love!

Brisk trade in flowers and plants aside, usually there may also be lantern exhibitions and general musical entertainment to amuse the public, as well as masses of peddlers hawking everything from colourful snacks and traditional gifts, such as handcrafted spinning windmills for children to carry, to general rubbish (e.g. ridiculous Angry Bird hats, anyone?). In short, flower fairs are nothing short of all-around spectacles for the senses.

One mild winter evening, Herr Hubby and I grabbed the camera and braved the immense crowds to visit one of the flower fairs in Guangzhou’s Yuexiu district. Oh, how we loved it! We spotted other families of foreigners like us, enjoying the festivities as well.

It was certainly the happiest I’ve ever seen the Chinese people to be (well, apart from the ecstatic crowds during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing). Everyone was in merry, festive spirits – even the cops were all smiling – and why not??? 

Take a look at a few of our snaps  below and you’ll see why the festive mood at the flower fair was so infectious – no winter blues here, duckies!!!

To make sure you've got pots of luck for the New Year, buy 'em up in pots! Makes sense, no?

To make sure you’ve got pots of luck for the New Year, buy ’em up in pots! Makes sense, no?

Festive lanterns lit up the evening sky...

Festive lanterns lit up the evening sky…

...and if pots of luck weren't enough, you can load 'em up by the basketload!

…and if pots of luck weren’t enough, you can snap ’em up by the basketload!

Herr Hubby & I thought these were cute, so we bought a couple. The kitty cat for his office and the elephant for our home/my office...

Herr Hubby & I thought these were cute, so we bought a couple. The kitty cat for his office and the elephant for our home/my office…

...and may the gods of wealth smile benevolently on us all during this Year of the Snake!

…and may the gods of wealth smile benevolently on us all during this Year of the Snake!

On that hopeful note, we end our little foray into Guangzhou’s Spring Festival Flower Fair, our dear Stiletto-istas. Hope you’ve enjoyed the scenery as much as we did that evening.

Have a fabu-LOUS weekend, y’all!!!

Canton Fair 101: The Olympics of Bargain Shopping

The Canton Fair, the world’s biggest trade fair, which happens in Guangzhou every year for 3 weeks from mid-October until early November, finally ends today. For the past 3 weeks, we’ve tried to avoid going out as much as possible since everything, restaurants, bars, the train stations/airports, shopping malls, hotels, and indeed, traffic in the city, has been frenzied. It was ri-DON-culous trying to get a cab to go anywhere!

It was The Bamboo Stiletto’s first Canton Fair, so we were determined to experience it all for the first time and document accordingly. The Canton Fair is the mother of all bargain shopping experiences so for the benefit of those die-hard shoppingeras/shoppingeros out there, I’m sharing my experience here, in the spirit of, let’s call it, “best practices.”

How exactly do you navigate the Canton Fair? You are not an import-export wholesaler, trader or buyer. But you live in Guangzhou and rumor has it among your expat friends that shopping bargains can be had when the world’s biggest trade fair is happening at your doorstep.

The good news? The rumors are true. The bad news? The Canton Fair happens in three phases roughly spanning three weeks and individual shopping bargains can only happen on the last day of each of those phases, when traders are getting ready to pack up their goods and may be looking to offload their inventory of samples to save on shipping costs.

So, one of the first things you need to do is identify which products are being traded on which phase. For instance, home decor/furniture, gifts & toys may be traded during Phase 2 and fashion/clothing & shoes/bags may take place during Phase 3. Ask around, read the newspaper or check on websites like City Weekend Guangzhou (plug, plug:-). You absolutely have got to get the dates right for the items you like.

Once you’ve got that down, just like any elite athlete, you then have to prep big-time because the Canton Fair is like the Olympics of bargain shopping!

The next thing you need to do is obtain a Canton Fair overseas buyer’s pass. Never mind that you are a Guangzhou resident and that the only things you’ve bought lately were milk and eggs from the Corner’s Deli. Prepare to bring your passport, an ID photo, a business card and RMB 100 (about USD 16). You can apply for your pass at any of the overseas buyers’ registration counters at most five-star hotels in town.

Can’t find any of these counters? Head over to the Canton Fair venue itself, at the Pazhou Exhibition Center, and follow the clearly marked signs indicating the spacious and airy hall for “Overseas Buyers Registration.” Friendly, smiling trade fair staff, all speaking perfect English, will be on hand to efficiently assist you with forms and payment, provide you with a Canton Fair guide map and within minutes…voila! You are now an overseas buyer. The cool thing is, the pass is good for a lifetime, so if you want to return for more bargain shopping expeditions in future Canton Fairs, better keep your pass safe.

Officially registered to spend some shopping money!

Now that you have your pass and can sling it around your neck – like all the real buyers do at the Fair – you then plan your transportation strategy. Going there is a no-brainer. You can take the Guangzhou metro, cab it or see if you can swing a ride on any of the free Canton Fair shuttle buses proliferating at any of the major five-star hotels in the city. No, going there is not a problem at all…it is your exit transportation strategy that you should be carefully planning. If you don’t have your own, preferably very spacious, vehicle, then our recommendation is that you splurge a little bit and hire a mini-van with a driver.  Make sure you’ve got the driver’s mobile handy and remind him to stay alert, for when he needs to pick you up (with your vanload of purchases) at any of the exits afterwards.

Lastly, before you actually enter the hallowed halls of the Pazhou Exhibition Center, do a mental checklist of your clothing and equipment. You must have your Canton Fair buyer’s pass and guide map in hand. Wear the most comfortable walking shoes you own. Don’t tote one of your heavy designer handbags; this is not the day for showing off your latest “It bag” purchase to your girlfriends. Carry cash – lots of it, if you can. Don’t forget your mobile – essential for communicating with lost friends and the aforementioned exit strategy driver. And bring a large suitcase or large shopping trolley – with wheels. 

Gurlfriendz, at the Canton Fair, we’re gonna need bigger trolleys than these!

You are now ready to go shopping!

Once inside the Fair, give yourself a couple of minutes to get your bearings and simply gawk. The sheer vastness of the trade halls, the mass and diversity of people from all over the world are overwhelming to the senses. Yet everything is well-organized, with clearly marked signs for directions. Cafes and restaurants offer refreshments and meals, courier companies vie for packing and shipping services and bathrooms everywhere are well-stocked and clean. To get from one trade hall to another, there are covered walkways, with carpeted “sidewalks” for those on foot and “lanes” for those riding in comfort on little electric trams that shuttle back and forth in between trade halls. Try not to get run over by an over-eager shuttle and stay safely on the “sidewalk” instead.

Study the map, figure out which trade hall you want to hit, then attack.

In the beginning, you will probably browse slowly among the stalls because you will be so overwhelmed. The quality of most products at the Canton Fair is simply superb, truly export-worthy and world-class and the sheer number of gorgeous items all in one vast place is visually staggering.

Some traders cannot be bothered to sell to individual shoppers and some of these traders already have makeshift signs posted outside their stalls, saying: “No sale.” This means that unless you’re willing to buy in volume quantities, don’t even bother them. Some traders who are willing to sell, have signs saying so, “Sale” or “Stock sale”. However, not everyone willing to sell posts signs, so, if you do see anything you fancy really badly, it is still best to ask. Simply walk into the shop, quickly point at the stuff you want and say outright:“Mai, bu mai?”  (buy, cannot buy?) After a while, you will be amazed at how swiftly you can do this at so many shops and how much ground you’re able to cover in minutes.

Keep a watchful eye open for stalls whose staff are already busy clearing the stall and packing their items into wooden crates as they will usually be more amenable to giving items away at hefty discounts, or if you’re especially lucky, for free. This usually happens in early afternoon, right after lunchtime.

By early afternoon, after two or three hours at the Fair, you might find that even your large suitcase or shopping trolley will not be adequate for your purchases and you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to transport everything outside the trade hall to the exit gate. Make sure first, at the last stall where you’ve made big-ticket purchases (like, a piece of furniture) that you are issued a gate pass so that you can exit the trade hall with all of your purchases without being questioned by security.

Just as the Fair slowly winds down, you will notice an army of ayis (literally, aunties, in China, to mean, older ladies or maids) pulling flat wooden trolleys with rope, wandering the halls. Hail one of these ayis and negotiate in your best Chinese for her and her friend to load up their trolley with your items and take you to the nearest exit gate, in exchange for a small fee.

Once at the gate, it’s a simple matter of calling your driver to pick you up and load up all your new goodies in the car.

Exhausted but triumphant, The Bamboo Stiletto & fellow Stiletto-istas looking like a bunch of bedraggled garbage ladies, surrounded by our purchases as we wait for our driver at the Fair’s exit gate.

And, duckies, you must be wondering what on earth got our stilettos into a twist at the Fair…here’s a peek at what we picked up (after 2 hours of shopping – we were too dizzy to continue any further):

Blue Tray (free)

Scored the darling blue tray for free from a hastily departing trader…now it’s part of a charming vignette in the guestroom.

Red tray (free)

From the same trader, also scored this beautiful red tray for free…now it makes a striking bar tray in a corner of the dining room.

Red Eames Chair (RMB 120, approx. USD 20)

This lovely red Eames chair, now sitting in a corner of the living room, was selling for only RMB 120 (roughly USD 20), can you believe it???? Trader, who specialized in modern mid-century furniture (my absolute LOVEZ!), was in a hurry to get out of town & just wanted to get dump his samples. Was dying to get my hands on an Eames rocking chair but wasn’t “chop chop” (hurry, hurry) enough…someone snatched it up from right under my  nose!

Metallic Chinoiserie Stool
Inspiration Scenario: Lobby, W Hotel Singapore

Since I spotted these metallic chinoiserie stools in design magazines, browsed vintage versions on Etsy.com & spotted them IRL (in real life) at the W hotel, Singapore (lobby pictured here), I’ve been harbouring an all-consuming lust.

Metallic Chinoiserie Stool (RMB 400, approx. USD 66) & Lime-Green Tray (free)
Actual Scenario: Casa Stiletto 

I was beside myself with excitement at the Fair when I spotted the silver chinoiserie stool (foreground) & the trader agreed to sell it to me for RMB 400 (about USD 66). He had a gold one too, but I knew the silver would be perfect in our living room at Casa Stiletto, as a side table ideally serving as a perch for coffee or a drink, the occasional book or magazine, next to our Eames lounger & ottoman. Oh, and btw, that lime-green tray you see on the purple ottoman? That’s a freebie too 🙂

Congratulations to moi…we’ve successfully navigated our first Canton Fair!!!   Now, life in Guangzhou can, hopefully, get back to normal.

All Things Weird & Wonderful: The 10th Guangzhou National Sex Culture Festival

Why oh why, of ALL weekends during the year….did the 10th Guangzhou National Sex Culture Festival have to take place on a weekend following the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays, so that we were out of town???

We completely missed the colourful shenanigans, from pole-dancing, lingerie fashion shows to inflatable dolls and vibrators on sale  – DARN IT!!!! – but thank goodness, Tania Branigan of the UK’s The Guardian newspaper has written an extremely interesting, well-researched article describing the comings and goings at the fair, so to speak.

Here are a few stimulating snaps to please the perv in us (all images courtesy of The Guardian):

A model gets ready to shoot with her water pistol, to promote a condom brand.

Pole-dancing to promote the 007 condom brand…hmmm, wonder if Daniel Craig had a go at that pole? I, for one, wouldn’t mind watching, hehe!

Bargaining over the price of “instructional” sex DVDs…you can’t put a price tag on good education, people!

It’s not quite Victoria’s Secret…but these snap-happy gentlemen don’t care. Let’s show some skin, baby!

So you never have to be lonely….Ha! Is that Mitt Romney??? Last year, apparently, Obama inflatable dolls were the most coveted items at the fair.

Hmmm, teal or purple?

Can you be my girlfriend?…Get your filthy hands off me, you pervert!!!

Ding DONG, dude! Keep the schlong in the sarong, will you?

To read Ms. Branigan’s full article in The Guardian, please click here.

This is one of the reasons why we love Gonzo Guangzhou…for all things weird, wicked, wild & wonderful that happen in our city. Keeps us smilin’! 🙂

Have a wonderful week ahead, everyone!

Gweipor Anecdote: Accidental Comedy during Mani/Pedi

My dear Stiletto-istas, I must ask you a question that’s been incessantly bugging me for some time now: who died and laid down the commandment that manicures and pedicures must now be mandatory?

Now don’t get me wrong, babes – I love, absolutely love going for mani/pedis, especially when enhanced with unlimited mojitos and a gabfest with gal pals! – but wasn’t there a time when these excursions were considered an indulgence? A treat?

These days, when I’m out and about in flipflops, peeptoes or open-toed sandals, if I haven’t been to my manicurist in a few weeks and my pedicure is showing slight signs of chipping, I feel so self-conscious I might as well be showing visible coloured panty lines to the world! No, mani-pedis have become routine, to be regularly scheduled, just like visits to the dentist, with mojitos substituting for Novocaine.

This week, a particularly virulent bug of unknown origin infested us and we were down with a nasty bout of the sniffles. Deprived of our torture bootcamp sessions, as well as running, tennis and yoga, we made valiant attempts at working – but the bloody colds medicine was putting us straight to sleep in front of the computer – so after a couple of futile attempts, we gave up and decided instead to go for a manicure and pedicure.

In the expat ghetto where we live in Guangzhou, the “beauty salon” is run by a Cantonese husband and wife team; he does hair while she does hands and feet. They are immensely popular and on weekends, it is necessary to make appointments well in advance. Having operated their salon in the compound for several years, they’ve seen countless expats come and go, and feel it is their responsibility to vet any newcomer who ventures into their shop. I was casually peppered with several questions as to where my husband and I were from, where did he work, what did he do, etc. I was then asked where I work, what do I do, etc.

Not feeling brave enough to tackle Cantonese and anxious to please with my Mandarin, I replied (with a fair amount of confidence): ” Wo shi tai tai.” (I am a wife / I am a housewife).

My manicurist shot an incredulous look at me…then glanced quickly at hairdresser husband, followed by rapid-fire Cantonese where the only word I understood was “tai tai”. I was given another once-over (head to toe) then…they both burst out in loud, hearty guffaws of laughter. They laughed so hard that the wife, my manicurist, had to stop buffing my nails for a few minutes.

Eager to join in the hilarity, I wiggled in my seat and asked (in English):” Why? What’s so funny?”

Quickly composing herself, my manicurist assumed a straight face and returned to buffing my nails, stating:
“No…no funny. No funny.”

I was confounded. When I pressed her again, she just kept repeating the same words:”No funny.”

I inadvertently glanced at myself in the mirror and remembered their head-to-toe once-over. I had absolutely no lick of make-up on, my hair carelessly pulled back in a topknot ponytail, and I was dressed in a scruffy t-shirt and shorts combo that had definitely seen better days. Honestly, I could have easily been mistaken for an ayi (housemaid). Except that even ayis (especially recalling the ones we had in Shanghai) were better dressed and groomed.

And – looking like this trainwreck! – I had introduced myself to them as a “tai tai”. Aiya! No wonder they had gone into hysterics!!!

Note to self: when calling oneself a “tai tai”, remember to look and dress the part next time. 🙂

If she had said, “Wo shi tai tai”, I bet no one would have reacted with hysterics. Haaay! (photo courtesy of the 2006 film “Gweipo”)

Gobsmacked: Shopping at Sanyuanli Clothing Market

Up until today, we’d ventured to all kinds of wholesale markets in Guangzhou, from the pet fish market to the bling-bling market… but we’d actually never been to a clothes market. Duh! It was high time to rectify the situation so, with two girlfriends whom I’d bamboozled into showing me the way, off we went.

Our destination was the wholesale clothing market district of Sanyuanli. My girlfriends had forewarned me that because of the overwhelming sheer volume of clothes for sale, it was best to tackle the shopping by going one market or building at a time. So, baby steps, dear Stiletto-istas, baby steps…

I thought I was used to shopping in markets by now, in Beijing & Shanghai, in Bangkok & Manila, but when we got there, I swear to God, I was still overwhelmed. Absolutely gobsmacked. This market had five storeys and there were sooooooo many shops, selling soooooo many clothes, from women’s, men’s, children’s clothes, you name it, they had it all. Piles upon bundles, plastic bags upon sacks, it was insane! Some shops had prices quoting by the kilogramme! Some shops didn’t bother about any sort of display at all; clothes were simply strewn about, spilling out of plastic bags that looked suspiciously like the black plastic garbage bags you see only in kitchens. Walk into these shops and you feel like an unwitting extra in that horrifyingly addictive reality TV show, “Hoarders.”

And to think this was just in a single building…this entire district had streets upon streets, with buildings upon buildings, all devoted to clothing. For instance, a quick peek at the building next door revealed an entire barrio crammed with shops all selling jeans.

Anyhooz, I was busy walking around wide-eyed with mouth agape, that I completely forgot to take photos of the market for you guys. I do apologize for that but – worry not! – our morning wasn’t completely wasted.

In order not to go completely batshit-crazy in the market, I’d decided to concentrate on hunting for very specific clothing items. Clothes which I know I can always use here in Guangzhou or Hong Kong, with sub-tropical climates, are always handy in tropical countries like the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and can always be counted on as summer staples.

Stylish white cotton tops and/or dresses: this was my mission.  It took a couple of hours of combing through that market but I’m happy to report…mission successfully accomplished! When I got home, I then had fun playing amateur stylist and putting together outfits and accessories to go with my newly purchased whites. Here are the results!

White eyelet smock top with 3/4 sleeves. Pair with candy-hued shorts (like this scarlet pair) & accessorize with a funky necklace to enhance its simple neckline. Doesn’t the white top just pop?

Another white eyelet number, this one with an elastic waistband & shoulder (so you can choose to bare both shoulders or go assymetrical, with one shoulder bared). For a soft yet sexy look, pair with white denim cut-off minis (like this) or your scruffiest Daisy Dukes. Accessorize those tanned bare shoulders with a dramatic statement necklace.

This entire outfit is so totally moi, it’s practically my uniform! Loose white embroidered top (check out that gorgeous detailing around the neckline & sleeves) paired with creamy khaki shorts & a matching jute & wood necklace. Slip on flat or wedge espadrilles & you’re good to go. Gaaah, so adorbs!

The party top! All sleek, shiny & sequinned in a very simple, chic cut. Imagine with your favourite skinny jeans and…your sexiest pair of STILETTOS, OF COURSE, DAHLINGS! Sizzle, sizzle!

Let me share a secret with you, seeing as we’re all besties here and all: I actually already had a similar top to that top above sitting in my closet at home, the exact same cut, style, fabric & sequins, but in silver, not in white. Except that my old silver top was purchased at Calvin Klein and had cost me an absolute BOMB (this was when The Bamboo Stiletto was still a corporate rat racer and was earning accordingly, having no time then to bargain-hunt in markets). You will absolutely die when I tell you how much the white Calvin look-alike above actually cost me. 🙂

Speaking of corporate rat racers, here’s a stylish look for the office. Working girl, you can go from business meetings to a working dinner with this ensemble:

A practical yet pretty white top with lace & eyelet embellishments is feminine yet businesslike when paired with a pencil skirt in neutral hues like this grey. Amp up the style with a simple necklace or an elegant belt. When heading out for dinner with work colleagues or business clients, a stylish alternative to the usual blazer is a great scarf.

And, lastly, here’s a sweet look that’s ideal for a surprise lunch date with the boyfriend or the hubby. Especially if it’s a special lunch date, y’ know, like meeting his Mom for the first time (wanna make a good, demure ladylike impression, right, babes?) :

A simple white eyelet sheath spells dewy romance when paired with soft pearls & strappy sandals. A statement scarf – such as this gorgeous silk beauty designed by our creative & talented friend VAL – definitely adds ooooompppphhhhh! Interested in snagging a signature VAL scarf like this for yourself? Easy-peasy. Just click on http://expressionsbyval.wordpress.com/

So, those were the results of our morning hunt for alles weiss at Sanyuanli. Not bad, eh? And NOW, apres le shopping, you nosy Stiletto-istas may be asking, what was la damage? Let’s see, you can see that we bought a total of 5 tops & 1 dress, correct? Our total cost for this entire loot came to RMB 415 (approximately USD 70). Less than a hundred bucks, can you believe it? The Calvin look-alike sequinned top? That was the best bargain of the lot, costing me RMB 35 (about USD 6!!!). The dress was the most expensive, with a cost of RMB 120 (about USD 20).

My girlfriends reminded me that actually, the cost per item was still rather high because I had only bought one piece of each item and seeing as we were in a wholesale market, the prices could still have gone lower if I had bought multiple pieces. Gaaaah! Whaaaa…??? How on earth do these people make any profit? The mind boggles!

So now that we’ve successfully completed our baby steps-shopping at Sanyuanli, we look forward to sharing our future, more confident shopping forays with y’all. Excited, Stiletto-istas? Because we sure are! 🙂

How to get there: Very simple. Take the Guangzhou metro to Sanyuanli station, take exit D and the market is right on top. No need to even get out onto the street. Another, more comfy option, is to cab it & ask the driver to drop you at Sanyuanli ditie (metro station), walk down into the station and look for exit D. Make sure to bring cash only, plastic not welcome in most places in this market. Happy shopping!

Casa Stiletto Welcomes Max…in the Nick of Time

Awesome newsies for us Guangzhou residents!

Yesterday’s New York Times ran an article about how last week, the Guangzhou city government had started implementing car license plate auctions and lotteries in a bid to halve the number of new cars on the city’s already clogged streets. Considering that the red-hot Chinese economy has been experiencing a recent slowdown, this move, which sacrifices car companies’ profits and government tax revenues in order to ease pollution and improve the quality of city residents’ life, is remarkably progressive.

The trusty little Korean sedan now sitting pretty in our garage used to be the Guangzhou Israeli consul general’s car and when their family returned to their home country, we decided to purchase it and promptly named it “Max” (Herr Hubby and I have a tendency to name our cars).  However, we needed to switch license plates, from diplomatic to the regular foreigner’s plates in China. Luckily, we handed in our application before the lottery began.

While we’re happy for all of us who live in this city, traverse its roads and breathe its air everyday, we couldn’t help but feel relieved, for our own selfish reasons, that the crackdown happened only after we had already welcomed Max as our latest addition to the Casa Stiletto household.

To read the New York Times article, please click here.

Max, welcome to Casa Stiletto

“Mm hou yi si, hai bin dou?”

“Mm goi, hai bin dou?” – our Cantonese Phrase of the Week, meaning “Please/excuse me, where is it?” or “Please/excuse me, where at?” was extremely useful during a week when we vowed to eschew riding cabs and instead, use the efficient Guangzhou public transport system (buses and the subway) for our appointments and errands around the city.

A formidable task and one which I am proud to announce that I bravely accomplished with flying colours…well, except for one instance, when the 40C degree heat and almost 90% humidity finally got to me after a bout of sightseeing in one of Guangzhou’s prettiest spots: Shamian Island (more about this charming historical destination next week). Dizzy, I flagged down the first cab I spotted and sank back with eyes closed as we drove home.

” Mm hou yi si, tsing mun, dim heui Shamian Dao?” – Excuse me, may I ask, how to go to Shamian Island?

Sometimes, a girl has to know when to surrender to airconditioning. And how’s YOUR summer going???

Lost in Translation: Gweipor Tennis Court Anecdote

The tennis court in our residential compound, where I’m proving to be a sucker for humiliation each week, as viewed from our apartment balcony. In the central distant background is Guangzhou’s IFC (International Finance Centre), where Herr Hubby works at the Four Seasons hotel.

The other day on the tennis court, our coach Willis (yes, as in Bruce and who, like his Hollywood namesake, also sports a shining bald pate) kept yelling at me (in thick Cantonese accent): ” Aiyaaaa!!! (common Cantonese expression, to communicate dismay, frustration, horror) Touch yourself! TOUCH YOURSELF!!!”

Bewildered, I turn to my girlfriend Ochan: “Why the frack is Willis screaming at me about masturbation?”

Ochan, who had been taking tennis lessons with Willis for about half a year and was familiar with his funny foibles, said: “He means you should be following through.”

From “touch yourself” to “follow through”…I mean, what the whaaa? Ochan must have read the expression on my face declaring, “I’m not connecting the dots here!” because a further explanation from her then clarified things. Immensely.

Apparently, what Willis meant was that upon making contact with the ball, my tennis racquet should then go all the way back, such that it should be touching me in the back, which is what he insists is perfect form for a follow-through. My shots were always falling short because indeed, I wasn’t “touching myself” enough!
Hahahaaaa!!!

Stiletto-istas, tennis, anyone???

Attention, Kate Beckinsale’s character from the Underworld movies, if you ever need a serious weapon to take out those pesky werewolves, girlfriend, it’s time to ditch the silver bullets and buy yourself THIS!

We had thought our ride yesterday in Guangzhou wasn’t too shabby, folks. Herr Hubby and I were hanging with a couple of expat bosses from BMW and cruising around in their 5 series sedan (fantasizing that it was ours, haha!) WHEN we all spotted this sexy little silver chrome Mercedes Benz sitting pretty in a side street while its 20-something Chinese owner (who didn’t look at all like the Silver Surfer or anything liquid metal out of a James Cameron movie) nonchalantly sipped espressos with his Lambo-owning pals at a sidewalk cafe.

The car was such an astounding sight that we all gasped, gawked and grabbed our various iPhones to take instant shots. Yes, even the BMW guys!

This is one silver medal we wouldn’t mind getting our hands on…

Ah, TIC (This Is China). Indeed!

– our Cantonese Phrase for the Week: “Delicious!” or literally, “very good taste”. These were probably the very first words I learned in Cantonese! Which gives you a very good idea about Guangzhou…at the end of the day, this city is really all about food.

Very appropriate considering as it feels like we’ve literally been eating our way through Guangzhou these past couple of weeks. With Cantonese cuisine reigning as one of the four legendary regional Chinese cuisines – and with our penchant for “yumcha” (Cantonese dimsum) on weekends – we’re constantly surrounded by food that’s all “hou hou” (very good) but not very flattering for one’s waistline.

It’s time to apply some much-needed self-discipline and just say “Ngaw bau laa” (I’m full) to all that delicious food and get up early during these summer mornings and exercise. Ouch. But what’s a girl to do? LET’S JUST DO IT!!!

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