Media over here.

Before moving to China I had no idea what a VPN was.

“It stands for “Virtual Private Network” A virtual private network is “tunneled” through a wide area network WAN such as the Internet. This means the network does not have to be located in one physical location like a LAN. However, by using encryption and other security measures, a VPN can scramble all the data sent through the wide area network, so the network is “virtually” private.” (

Huh??? I’m still not sure exactly what it is but basically, in order to access websites that are banned in China – such as WordPress and YouTube – I have to use a VPN.  If the internet connection in China was actually stable, writing these posts with my VPN would be a simple task. Unfortunately that is not the case. This week I had no internet connection for 2 days. More often than not the connection is very poor and according to some seasoned expatriates, the strength of the connection is closely related to the political events at the time.

As it turns out, not many Chinese know what a VPN is either but many tech-savvy locals are using other means to express themselves such as WeChat (a successful combination of Facebook and WhatsApp), micro blogs and the like.

If you don’t hear from me again, you’ll know that I’ve been censored!


Who needs media anyway!                                                Michael Leunig – The Stick and other tales of our times.


We discovered another cool Art Space last Wednesday afternoon – this time the Power Station Museum where we enjoyed an umbrella dance and some innovative ideas such as making a bowl from sand using solar energy and a 3D printer.

Shanghighs‘: This week, for the first time, the children didn’t complain about going to school.  This has been the biggest relief.

Shanglows‘: Our daughter Blanche had a spectacular fall from her scooter and knocked her two top front teeth so badly that a trip to the dentist was necessary. The international hospital didn’t offer emergency dental treatment on the week-end so I found myself in a crowded local hospital …

Shangunusuals‘:…. the unusual thing is that the long wait that I was expecting didn’t happen!  After paying 14yuan ($2.50) Blanche was seen immediately and her teeth were extracted (without anesthetic) in seconds.

This week I was approached by a modeling agent who was looking for child models (this was before the tooth incident!).  I find it disturbing that perhaps over 50% of advertising here features Occidental faces.

Before: in the dental chair.

Before: in the dental chair.


After. I actually think that this unfortunate scooter incident helped with Blanche’s integration at school. It certainly made for an exciting Monday morning recount and all of her peers were suitably impressed.



Back from Xi’an

Xi’an is about a 2-hour flight west of Shanghai. It was the capital of China  on numerous occasions in the past and is now a tourist attraction principally due to The Terracotta Warriors being discovered there in 1974. These sculptures depict the armies of the first Emperor of China and were constructed to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

I was half expecting to be disappointed but as I stood looking over the immense site I was left in awe as I tried to begin to imagine it’s construction – which took place over 2000 years ago and involved over 700,000 people.


Equally impressive was the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi which was built a little later during a period of ‘nonaction’ or ‘noninterference’ and -unlike the armed warriors – these statues were much smaller and depicted eunuchs, mistresses and domesticated animals.


The Drum Tower in the center of town was impressive by day and night and the old center was surrounded by a massive wall (one of the few in China that is still standing).


Perhaps my favorite thing about Xi’an was the extensive Muslim quarter which offered some delicious specialties. The people in this quarter originate from the north-west of China in a region known as Xinjiang which is populated by a turkic ethnic group known as uyghur.  This ethnic minority has been in the news recently as members are suspected of committing the  horrific terrorist attacks in Beijing and Kunming.  They are angry at the Chinese government for repressing their culture.


Hand-pulled noodles/ biang biang noodles are a specialty from this region which every member of the family adored.  We also liked the cold sesame noodles (majiang liangpi) and the yangrou paomo – flat bread torn into a bowl and covered with broth and mutton.




Unlike the rest of China, no pork to be found here…. just lots of lamb.


Upon our return our little 3-year-old turning 4 couldn’t decide whether he wanted a dragon, monster or dinosaur party, so I chose the easiest option!  4 friends from his former school and 4 from his new school ate dinosaur eggs (quail eggs and coated peanuts) trees (broccoli), green slime (jelly) and did some activities such as dinosaur egg and spoon races, decorating dinosaur cut-outs and….


… melting ice in which little dinosaurs  had been ‘trapped’. A fun way to complete the week-long vacation.


Not exactly sure why Antoine decided to put on his firefighter outfit!