Friday, August 31, 2007

Restaurants Will Stop Charging Customers For Using Disposable Utensils

This is the second most searched news on Yahoo China today, 1,177,301 searches in one day.

If you have been to restaurants in China enough, you probably have noticed that the restaurants sometimes place packaged wet tissues on the tables, which you would naturally think are free, but you will soon realize that you got charged 1 RMB for using one when the bill comes. After paying unwillingly a few times, I have learned to tell the waiters/waitresses to remove those wet tissues and make it very clear that I don't want to use the tissues and hence I shouldn't have to pay for them. It is of utmost importance to make it very very clear, as sometimes they think they can cheat by smuggling a couple of extra items on the bill especially if you are not a local. Apart from the cost, you really wouldn't want to wipe your mouth with some wet tissues that are saturated with unknown chemicals and sterilized to unknown standard. Okay to wipe the hands with, though, I think.

I haven't been to any restaurants that use disposable utensils myself, but apparently a lot of restaurants do the same thing with the disposable bowls and chopsticks. You only realize that you got charged for using them when the bill comes. China Consumers' Association is calling for a ban on this dishonest behavior and a new rule related to this issue will come into effect at the end of this year.

You might think that only the relatively cheap and low-end restaurants would do this, but no. Next time when you go to Jade Garden on Maoming Nan Lu, Shanghai, remember to ask the waiters to remove those pickles before you start ordering, because, yes, you will get charged for eating those.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How To Marry A Millionaire

"Search for millionaires' wives" is one of the most viewed news in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan today.

Think about it, it's pretty difficult for the average Jane to even meet a rich guy, let alone marry one. The social circles don't overlap in the least bit. Traditionally, good-looking girls would join beauty pageants or become movie stars/models in order to achieve their goals, but it takes time and some luck, too.  

One match-making agency in Shanghai came up with something that "guarantees 90% success rate in developing love". The agency is running a beauty pageant and the millionaires are the judges. The contest is divided into spring, summer and autumn divisions and seven lucky girls from each division will be able to join the millionaires on a romantic overseas trip together.

The criteria for the billionaires are as follow:

48 years old or below;

Owns net assets over 10 million RMB;

Is an elite of some sort (eg. CEO, outstanding achiever in a particular area, son of a rich person, or a socialite. I am not kidding, this is really what the website says.)

The service fee schedule is as follow:

7-star service requires 300,000 RMB and you can sit on the panel for all of the three sessions as well as the grand final.

5-star service requires 150,000 RMB and you can participate in two of the games.

3-star service cost you 50,000 RMB and gives you the right to check out the girls in only one of the games.

Of course a lot people are jumping up and down calling this pimping, but the girls don't care. 2,700 girls signed up for the spring division alone, and most of them were just university students. One 18-year-old said she joined out of curiosity and also because she wanted to become famous. 21-year-old university student Miss Chang said that regardless of whether she could develop something with the millionaires, she felt that this should definitely be good for her career anyway. Check out the agency's website for a good laugh.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Giant Mooncake

"The biggest mooncake in China" is the No.6 hottest search keyword on Yahoo China today, 926,084 searches in one day.


This giant mooncake is currently being made in a local supermarket in Shenyang, China. Traditionally, mooncakes are consumed during the Mid-Autumn Festival in China. Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of 8th month of the Chinese Calendar every year, and this years it is on the 25th of September (of the regular calendar).

I never liked the traditional mooncakes. They are extremely sweet and oily, not good for your arteries and waistline. However, in recent years, mooncakes have undergone a revamp to jazz up it's old-fashioned image in order to attract younger customers. Last year my husband received a gift voucher from one of the company suppliers for a Haagen Dazs mooncake, one that had a crispy chocolate outer crust and mango ice cream filling. I only heard that it was very yummy since he consumed it all by himself while I was away. By the way, the reason for that supplier to give him such a cheap present was because his company has strict rules on gifts (must be under $20 USD).

Haagen Dazs Ice Cream Mooncakes


It seems that the giant ones in Shenyang are more of the traditional flavor : lotus paste and jujube paste. I wonder if they will put any egg yolks in them. The traditional mooncakes seem to always have two egg yolks in them, so when the cakes are cut into quarters, it looks like there is a full moon in your cake!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Trend Magazine Celebrates 14th Birthday with a LOHAS Party

This is the hottest keyword on Yahoo China today, 820,924 searches in one day.

Trend Media is a group that publishes the Chinese version of many of the magazines you are probably quite familiar with, such as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Bazaar, Men's Health, National Geographic, Food & Wine.....etc.. The magazine recently celebrated it's 14th birthday in Beijing by throwing a trendy and star-studded party. LOHAS was the party theme.


LOHAS (translated as 乐活 in Chinese) is becoming a trendy term in China these days. I have to admit that I didn't really know the term until today. It stands for Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability, and has a big definition (click on the hyperlink for a Wikipedia explanation) but basically means a lifestyle that's environmentally friendly, self-content and socially responsible.


I haven't personally come across any LOHAS behavior in China, though. Every time I go out to eat, I still see way too much wastage. Traditionally Chinese people like to over order food so as to appear generous to the guests or just to show that they can afford it. In Hong Kong, you can see Mainland tourists lining up outside stores of LV, Chanel, Prada, Gucci and the likes to buy a piece of the statement of luxury. My feeling that I got from staying here is that people really want to spend money on unnecessary things, which is a little un-LOHAS.

"LOHAS Calcium, opening up a new era of bone maintenance!"

LOHAS being used as a marketing tool.


Husky And Dog License

Husky (called 哈士奇 in China) is the most searched pet on today. In fact, Husky always ranks No.1 in this search engine's pet category.

But as I was digging around to find materials for today's post, I came across something that really shocked me.  

To keep a dog legally in China you need to register the dog and pay a licensing fee every year! And if the police finds your dog during a "dog sweep", you need to produce the right paper on the spot or the dog will be captured and sent to the compound to be destroyed, or sometimes killed on the spot.


Read more about the poor dogs in this following story from The New York Times:

The fee structures vary according to the location. In Beijing, the current schedule is 1000 RMB for the initial license and 500 RMB renewal fee every year afterwards. The outer and more rural areas are cheaper (but the these cheaper licenses may not save your pet's life during a dog sweep). Shanghai is much more expensive and is 2000 RMB a year.(

The application requires you to bring the dog and it's 1-inch photo to the local police station after you fill out the relevant forms that you have obtained from the community management center. However, if the dog is taller than 35 cm, it gets confiscated right away on the spot. There are also strict restrictions on when and where you can walk your dog; if the dog is caught outside the allowed time or areas, it's termination with no negotiation.

The blue one is the Dog License. I don't know what the red one is. Maybe you need both to keep the dog.


This licensing fee is actually very expensive for a lot of people, so according to non-official sources, the ratio of registered dogs to unregistered ones is about 1 to 10. Moreover, most of these "black dogs" are not immunized against Rabies, which poses quite a major health risk to people around them.

"Beijing earns 280 million RMB every year on Dog License" (Chinese)

"Increase in number of black dogs due to expensive license" (Chinese)

Friday, August 17, 2007

AIDS Infected Pregnant Women Swarm Hong Kong

This is the most viewed news in Hong Kong today.

Hospitals in China can refuse to take in patients if they are found to have AIDS, so some pregnant women think HK is their best bet to deliver the babies safely. Moreover, these Mainland parents usually abandon the babies soon after birth hoping that the HK government will take care of the AIDS babies.

In fact, Mainland parents frequently ditch the babies as soon as they find out there is some congenital problems with the newborn. Babies with AIDS, congenital heart problems, mental disability, or Down syndrome are frequent findings amongst those abandoned by the Mainlanders in Hong Kong.

Babies born in Hong Kong can get immediate residency status, which means that they can enjoy all medical and social benefits, as well as go to school in HK. This has motivated a lot of women from the Mainland to travel across the HK-China border when the baby is about to pop out. Despite of measures imposed by the HK government (such as requirement of a hefty deposit prior to hospital booking and at least one pre-natal check performed in HK), babies borne to Mainland parents make up a significant portion of births in HK (28% in 2006 and 2007). The trick is to go to HK as a tourist (by wearing lots of loose clothing to disguise the belly) then wait until the last minute when the water is broken, call the ambulance and have the baby delivered in the A&E.

Of course this doesn't sit too well with the HKers. But there is absolutely nothing they can do about it as HK is officially part of China now. In fact, there are plans to make it even easier for Shenzhen residents to go to Hong Kong. Good thing is that more HKers can speak fluent Mandarin now; bad thing is that the discrimination against the Mainlanders is just as bad as the pre-1997 era, if not worse. (the following link is a thread on one of the most popular on-line forums in HK)

More reading:,1,5754768.story?track=rss

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kenneth Lee Rothey

This is the No.9 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 733488 searches in one day.

CCTV has a program that tells stories about good people and their good deeds, and they aired the story about Rothey not long ago before the story took a sour turn. Initially people were impressed by Rothey because he is American and he cares about the environment in China. He often arranges various campaigns to raise people's awareness of environmental issues and picks up rubbish wherever he goes. They nicknamed him "the foreign Lei Feng". (Lei Feng was picked by Chairman Mao to be the ultimate Communist idol for his selfless devotion to Mao and the Party).



Then several days later some guy pointed out that Rothey is actually a fugitive wanted by the Interpol. Rothey is wanted for the following offences: counterfeiting/forgery, money laundering, organized crime/transnational crime, people smuggling, trafficking and illegal immigration.  Heated discussion across the whole country followed suit.

The good Rothey says he is not the bad Rothey despite of the same name and birth date. But the mystery should be solved soon, since apparently a lot of people have sent in his details to the Interpol over the Internet. If it turns out ok for him, then I think Rothey will possibly become the second most popular foreigner in China, after Dashan.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

IKEA's Free Air-con

This is one of the most discussed news in Shanghai in this hot summer time.

As the temperature hits record high on a daily basis (highest so far was 39 degree Celsius!) people are finding ways to cool down without spending too much. After McDonald's, IKEA's Shanghai branch has become the most popular place for some to enjoy the free air-con whilst taking a nap on the display couches there.


Some are considerate enough to take off their shoes so as not to dirty the sofas, but the smelly feet can be quite scary, too. According to the source, some enter IKEA as soon as the store opens at 10 a.m. and leave when it closes for the day. It has become a major headache for the store managers. Apparently it is much the same in the bedding area.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Andy Lau's Crazy Fan Shows Up In Nanjing

This is one of the most viewed news on today. (

This woman is named Yang Li-juan, and is basically a psycho who has caused quite a media stir earlier this year.

This 28-year-old from Gansu, China claims that she dreamed of Andy Lau once when she was 16 and has become crazy about him ever since (I guess she meant that literally). She dropped out of school to become a full-time fan, and more strangely, her parents sold their house and spent their entire life's savings to support their only child's Andy Lau chasing dream. At one time, her father even tried to sell one of his own kidneys to fund his daughter's trips to various Andy Lau events in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Earlier this year in March, Yang went to Hong Kong with her parents to join Andy Lau's Birthday Party that was organized by his official fan club. Yang was able to meet Andy Lau and had a picture taken with him, but she was not satisfied. She demanded that Andy Lau meet with her alone for an hour for a chat, and obviously nobody took her too seriously.

She was very angry and told her dad about her disappointment. The 68-year-old high school teacher was so angry with Andy Lau that he killed himself by jumping into Salisbury Sea near Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, leaving a 12-page letter condemning Andy Lau and his coldness towards his entire family. Yang and her mother blamed Andy Lau for the old man's death and demanded that again Andy Lau meet up with her to fulfill her father's last wish or they would refuse to claim the ashes of her father. Andy Lau was of course extremely shocked.

Read this following article:

Why the Father of Andy Lau's Psychostalker Committed Suicide

The most ridiculous thing was that after her high-profile exposure in the media, some people started to send in money to provide future funding for her Andy chasing activities. One newspaper in Gansu claimed that Yang "belonged" to them since they would provide all the air fares and accommodations. One guy, who had previously proposed to another nutty woman, Sister Lotus, claimed that he had dumped his old love for Yang and would like to provide comfort and love for this fragile girl. There was a plan for some movie producer to make a film on this story. 

Just when people have started to forget about her, she appears in Nanjing and the reason is that one plastic surgery hospital there will sponsor her surgical procedure because Yang believes that becoming more beautiful is the only way to attract Andy Lau's attention. 

Read the original news in Chinese:

I wonder why there aren't any psychiatric hospitals that want to sponsor Yang and her mother's treatment. Maybe Andy Lau should sponsor that, it's for his own good anyway.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


You will hear this term everywhere when you go to China.


PK in China means fighting one-on-one or comparison. The Acer poster above is saying "If you don't like it then PK" roughly meaning if you don't like the price then let's compare (with your laptop). I don't think it means fighting one-on-one here.

The use of "PK" became popular when it was used in the Super Girl Contest where it meant one contestant was challenged head-to-head by another contestant, for example, Li Yuchun PK Zhang Liangying. When I first heard it from my Chinese colleagues, I thought they were talking about stuff related to boxing (I mixed it up with KO). Later I found out originally PK meant "player killing" in on-line gaming or "penalty kick" in soccer.


According to one report, "PK" is now possibly the No.5 most well known English word after "Yes", "No", "Bye-bye" and "OK".

PK is especially a powerful term to use in marketing. It is widely used in product comparison, eg, Fuji PK Canon. I found this "Google PK Platform" website where you can look up different "PK value". Although I am not quite sure if it is owned by Google since the font looks a little odd:

Please note, that "PK" can be interpreted as "Puk Kai" in Hong Kong, and it means "go to hell" or "asshole" (it is a versatile term that can be used as a noun, verb and an adjective). So be careful with your PK use.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

We Are Ready

This is the most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 604,400 searches in one day.

This is in fact the name of the official theme song for the 2008 Beijing Olympic one-year Countdown celebration. Note that it's just for the countdown meaning there will be another song for the actual Olympic Games cum 08/08/08, which is a good thing, because the song is really so not ready.

Watch the MV of "We Are Ready", performed by 133 pop singers from the Greater China (ie, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. But actually, most of them are Chinese singers, only Elva Hsiao is from Taiwan and the HK team only has Joey Yung, Gigi Leung and Alan Tam). You can catch glimpse of singers we have previously discussed such as Li Yuchun and Zhang Liangying.


Maybe it's just me, I am really turned off by any happy-go-lucky, done-for-the-public-good, everybody-is-a-nice-guy kind of songs sung in the "We Are The World" format. Because they are just so pretentious and usually not even pleasing to the ears. In fact, I don't even know if the Olympic Games are so meaningful anymore. There are still wars, famine, racial discrimination and nuclear weapons no matter how many Olympics Games we have. Really, the last Olympics that made me excited was the 1984 L.A. one, and I have grown bitter and jaded since then......

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Zhang Jingchu : The Next Zhang Ziyi?

For those of you who likes Zhang Ziyi, watch out for this new comer. Zhang Jingchu (张静初) has just made her Holywood debut a few days ago. Hoping to tag along Jackie Chan's Holywood success, Zhang Jingchu plays the role of grown up version of the Chinese Ambassador's daughter, Soo Yung, in Rush Hour 3.

Zhang Jingchu at Rush Hour 3's premier at the Chinese Theater in Holywood, July 31st 2007.


Born in Fujian in 1980, Zhang Jingchu graduated from the prestigious Central Academy of Drama in China (she was one year below Zhang Ziyi and twelve years Gong Li's junior). In 2005, she was chosen by Time magazine as one of the Asian Heroes of the year:


I haven't seen any of her movies yet so cannot comment on it. But I remember seeing this photo above on a different website. That website asked a well know Korean plastic surgeon to comment on the top 10 female movie stars in China and he chose Zhang Jingchu's face as the perfect face for an Asian women due to the good proportions. I also think she is quite pretty. Anyway, if Zhang Jingchu does make it big and becomes the next Zhang Ziyi, just remember you first read about her here, in my blog!

Rush Hour 3 Official Website

Monday, August 6, 2007

Smileangel Foundation

This is the most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 500,501 searches in one day.

Smileangel Foundation was set up in 2006  by pop singer Faye Wong and her husband Li Yapeng to help children born with cleft palate/lips to get corrective surgeries that these families could otherwise not afford. In China, there are 2.4 million people that suffer from this congenital condition but only a very small portion of them can get the appropriate treatment.

Faye Wong and Li Yapeng had a baby daughter with the cleft palate last year but fortunately for her, her parents are rich enough to fly her all the way to L.A. to have the corrective surgery done. For most other kids in China, they just have to live with the condition and a lot of them were abandoned by their own parents at birth. Faye and husband felt that they should do something about it especially since they can understand how the families must feel. Smileangel Foundation is managed by the Chinese Red Cross and has to date raised 12 million RMB.

Smileangel Charity Ball in Beijing


I sincerely hope there can be more people like Faye Wong and Li Yapeng in China, celebrities who are willing to use their publicity for a good cause. I would also like to see pharmaceutical and medical devices companies doing more charitable health treatment for the poor. Many of them have made tonnes of money in the rapidly growing China market and I really think they should give back a little, just a little.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hottest Travel Destination in China -- Jiuzhaigou Valley (九寨沟)

This place ranks No.1 in the Travel Destination category on Yahoo China almost everyday, and it is also one of the places that I really want to go personally.


Jiuzhaigou Valley, meaning "Valley of Nine Villages", is a natural reserve located in the northern part of Sichuan province. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, it covers 240 km² and consists of broad-leaf forest and woodlands, mixed mountain and highland systems. It is particularly renowned for it's numerous colorful lakes. The water contains high concentration of calcium carbonate and possesses high degree of clarity and the most beautiful turquoise blue I have ever seen.

Five Flower Lake (

Pearl Waterfalls


Strangely, it is not the No.1 destination for most foreigner visitors in China. Most of us will just go see things like the Great Wall or the Forbidden City when we go to China for the first time. I only learned about Jiuzhaigou Valley when I was watching the weather forecast on TV (you know how they show pictures of different touristy spots when doing the weather forecast) on one of the local channels. Guess it's because the location is  not as accessible. As for myself, I will go one day when my fear for long-haul bus rides and public toilets is overcome.

Five-Color Pond


Thanking Your Party

The No.7 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today is "Henan Coal Mine Workers Rescued". 415452 searches in one day.

If you haven't heard about it, one state-owned coal mine in Henan province in Central China experienced flooding 4 days ago and 69 mine workers were trapped inside the coal pit.

Fortunately, all of them have been rescued yesterday. News reports described that the miners "want to thank the Party and the Government for their rescue effort!"



(Photo of government officials giving their welcomes to one of  the rescued mine workers. Note the huge red banner declaring the rescue action, I though it was quite funny, it's just such a show.)

I probably make a very lousy Communist since if this happened to me, the first thing I would like to do is to sue somebody's ass off (instead of thanking my Party). Then maybe write a book about it, sell the exclusive interview right to a tabloid magazine. Yes, I admit it, I am a selfish product of the ever-so decadent Capitalism.

But I really genuinely feel sorry for the mine workers in China. With all that impressive economic growth, China's coal industry is the deadliest in the world. On average, 13 people died everyday last year. I don't think this risk is appropriately compensated for, either. And it doesn't look like it's going to improve in the near future since the two most important factors, business ethics and stringent government regulation, are both missing in China. All of a sudden the toxic toothpaste and chemical laden fish look quite insignificant now compared to dying  in a coal pit.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Natural Body Odor

Actually this is not a keyword you will find on Yahoo China, it is my personal experience. However, as the temperature hits record high on a daily basis, I feel compelled to talk about it.

When you go to China the first time, you may be mesmerized by all the nice and tall buildings, sighting of expensive cars everywhere and fashionably dressed women. You think: wow, China is so advanced! In big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, things can be even more expensive than back at home. But soon, especially in summer time, you realize that no one, and I mean absolutely no one, uses deodorant.

This really puzzles me. If you look at the market, Chinese women are not hesitant about spending huge dollars on expensive imported cosmetics and high end fashion accessories. But they don't care about how they smell. I tried to search for the word "deodorant" on Chinese search engines with very dismal results. The summer time has become more and more unbearable for me, someone who is hypersensitive to all olfactory stimulations, both good and bad. Just imagine this: 38 degree Celsius + huge crowds + high humidity + bad ventilation in subway + people raising arms to hold onto rings = you get what I mean.

What puzzles me even more is that no deodorant companies are interested in this huge uncontested market. Come on, I know a lot of business people read this blog, I beg you, please start selling deodorant in China. With the right marketing strategy, I am sure it can be quite profitable. If hamburgers and fried chicken can beat dumplings, and if carbonated drinks and coffee can sell better than soy bean milk, then one day deodorant will beat natural body odor in China!