08/5/17

Change through the years

Photo with a Chinese girl in 2010

Living a Dream in China is a 7 year old kid already and even though blog’s birthday was two months ago already, a friend inspired me to look into the changes that have been happening.

On of my first posts was Are they looking at me? and it discussed the problem of being watched no matter where you went. Now 7 years later more and more foreigners live in Guangzhou and I don’t get nearly as many looks as back then! Perhaps I’ve grown older, but it’s true that seeing a foreigner on the streets in Guangzhou isn’t as big of a deal anymore.

The first apartment I rented defintely wasn’t the average expat home in China. It cost 600rmb per month and in the end I had to move out because foreigners weren’t allowed to live in that village. What has changed? 7 years later I’m living in another village just 5km from the first one! At least our new home is a lot nicer and we are renovating it bit by bit to build a dream house of ours.

Back in 2012 I was wondering how immersed I truly was in China. Back then I estimated I spoke Chinese 80-90% of the time, right now it might be a bit less as I need to speak more English when I teach beginners. Perhaps 70-80% is still a good number. Eating Chinese or Western food was 50/50 back then and after that I’ve eaten more or less the same amount of Chinese food. With people I’m denitely spending a lot of time with foreigners now, being a teacher and all.

I also touched the topic of being a poor westerner in China. I came to China as a student and I know what it’s like to count your coins even though I still consider my self lucky. The amount of money I use for eating out in 2017 would have terrified me back in 2012.

Finally in 2013 I met my future husband, visited Hengshan snowy mountain with him and the rest is history.

During the years Guangzhou has changed a lot, but even more I have changed as a person. I have finished my degrees, started my career and business, got married and started a family.

I best the next 7 years are gonna be even better!

06/15/17

Moving to Guangzhou: Choosing where to live

Moving to Guangzhou for work, study or with a family is an exciting adventure and many problems have to be solved before one is settled in the City of Rams. One of the most common questions I get through email is where to live in Guangzhou. Which compounds are good with kids? In order to solve this, I asked my friends and accquittances to tell me a bit about how they chose which compound to live in Guangzhou.


Oakwood Gold Arch Guangzhou

Oakwood Gold Arch, Ersha Island

“I moved here because of the great expat community”.

“It’s close to the American school where I wanted my kids to enroll.”

“Ersha Island and especially Gold Arch is green, quiet, great for kids. We have a nice pool, playground, indroor playroom. Here it’s really easy to socialise with parents and other families. It’s also close to American School”

“My child goes to American School so most of his friends live here too.”

Canton Mansion

Canton Mansion, Liede

“We love the  community here. My children spend a lot of time with the local swim lessons, tennis lessons, playground and play dates. Convenient shops, delis and restaurants all downstairs.”

“The convenience of the location is what matters the most.”

“The facilities, service and location are perfect for us.”

Golden Lake Guangzhou

Golden Lake, Baiyun

“Nice environment and houses feel like living in USA, which is where we moved from. Good neighborhood feeling and supportive network.”

“Green area, pool and proximity of the school are important for us.”

Other compounds

One Link Apartments, Tianhe: “Easy access to public transportation and shops.”

Fraser Suites, Tianhe (next to One Link Apartments): “Central location is convenient and near metro station.”

Favorview Palace, Wushan: “The French school was located here when we arrive. Plus I liked the green areas. It’s also away from hustle and bustle of the city center.”

COSMOS, Zhujiang New Town: “Bright and spacious.  Within our budget and easy commute to office.”


How to choose?

When choosing the place to live inside Guangzhou, many expat families first consider the location of the school and then the location of the workplace. If there are multiple options, then things like greenery, play areas, transportation and local services come into play. Some prefer to be right in the city with convenient bus and metro routes, other prefer more quiet compound in Panyu or Baiyun districts.

In  the next post of the Moving to Guangzhou -series I’ll be sharing the reasons and tips on choosing which school to sign your kids in.

02/1/17

Two Sides to Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Lanterns

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and an exciting time. Almost everyone gets a holiday, go back home and spend quality time with family and friends. This was my 8th New Year in China and I could write two very different posts about it, but instead I decided to compare the both sides in one post.

Worshipping gods and ancestors

Lovely Chinese New Year With Family

Spring Festival is an important time to spend with family and honor the ancestors as well. Offerings will be given to ancestors and then burned so they can enjoy them, dinner and special dishes are made for the family members to enjoy together. During this week-long holiday we have had many lunches and dinners with my husband’s family, relatives and family friends.

Speaking of family, this week was the first time after our daughter was born that me and my husband had a week-long holiday together at home. We took Anna out to parks, met with friends and even to a new horse stable that have opened near our home. It’s been a valuable time to spend with our daughter.

This holiday I’ve really enjoyed spending time with our family, going out to meet friends, eating good food and getting to relax with a movie.

Chinese New Year Firecrackers

Spring Festival of Obligations and Noise Pollution

One of the reasons my husband isn’t a big fan of Spring Festival are the countless obligations that come with it. You need to meet with lots of distant relatives and family friends you might not enjoy spending time with. You need to prepare lots of red envelopes with cash which creates a financial burden. And if you want to escape it all and go traveling, prices go up to double or triple during the Chinese New Year.

For us with a toddler at home, the fireworks and firecrackers brought up another set of problems. Getting our 1-year-old daughter to sleep was challenging with the loud noises all over the village. During the day she was also easily scared of the loud sudden noises. The firecrackers also severely affects the quality of air during the holiday.


Next year is going to be a new tradition for us as we are planning to travel out of China during the Spring Festival!

12/13/16

Not so funny things my ayi has done

Sometimes photo instructions are needed

Having an ayi or a housekeeper is really common in China, solving the big issue of childcare in many families. After finding our ayi, I wrote a few words about training her, but now after few months it’s time for a new post. This time I’m listing not so funny things my ayi has done and that have made me to reconsider having her.

I won’t even mention how hard it is to train someone to clean the house by your standards, but what made me see red was how she broke my mixer and almost broke our rice cooker the same week! Luckily we don’t have too many fancy electrical appliances in our kitchen, but I hope nothing else gets broken.

Then she lost our daughter’s fork which wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it was bought by my mother. A nice gift from grandmother probably got thrown away in the trash as she still haven’t found it to this day.

What almost got me to fire her was when she was wiping the bookshelf and a needle fell into our daughter’s toy box. Luckily I found it first! I was forced to give her a stern lecture on how she must be careful with things, especially around Anna. I also shared this in our family WeChat group so my husband would see what happened too.

I don’t know if it’s with all ayis, but at least with ours have to keep a constant eye on her on how she does things. Sometimes I remind her, sometimes just quietly fix things after her like closing rice and spice containers to keep them clean.

So why haven’t I changed to a new ayi then?

She is doing a great job with our daughter and their bond is very good. Anna  trusts her and she mostly takes care of her the way we want. Besides taking care of Anna, she also cooks and cleans, sometimes with long hours. My friend said that many women train their ayis for a year and then enjoy a very good relationship with them for years. That’s what I’m aiming for.

Do you have any funny or not-so-funny stories of your ayi? Any tips for me?

11/3/16

What to do when you get into a traffic accident in China?

These quick stations are around the city as small crashes happen all the time

These quick stations are around the city as small crashes happen all the time

Getting into a traffic accident in China is a topic I wish I knew nothing about, but based on my quite resent experiences, I wrote a step by step guide for you. So here’s what to do if you are in a car crash in Guangzhou.

  1. Stop right there where the accident happened, don’t move your car or allow the other person to move theirs. Safely get out of your car and take photos of both of the cars and your surroundings. As changing lanes is when many accidents happen, take photos which show the location of both cars and the road markings. Is you car over a line or is theirs?
  2. If it was a major accident or there is any dispute between you two, don’t move the cards. Call a traffic police at 122 to come and settle it.
  3. If it was just a small crash and nothing too serious, head to the side of a road in a safe place to discuss it with the other person. Was it your fault? Then no need to call the police if you can settle the matter calmly. Was it their fault or not sure? Is the other person angry or trying to argue with you? Call the traffic police at 122 and let them decide whose fault it was. If you moved the cars, they will want to see the photos you took.
  4. Follow the traffic police’s instructions on how to continue. Call you insurance company and explain the situation to them. In small crashes or bumps where both cars can still continue driving, you can drive to a 快速理赔 (Quick claim settling station) to report the incident and get the correct documents for your insurance company.
  5. At the small station (just a hut usually) they will take photos of cars, you and your papers, then they will fill in report forms and give them to you for insurance purposes. You will also need those papers when you go and get your cars fixed.
  6. When both cars are fixed, all the documents has to be given to the one responsible so their insurance company can handle the paperwork. In my case the crash was my fault, so the other person sent their documents, I paid her and the insurance company will pay me back. Our car dealer shop, where we bought and fixed our car, will help us with all the paperwork.

Have you been in a traffic accident in China? Share your stories in the comments!