Tag Archives: culture

Friend: the word to honour 2012

In response to my previous post, Chinese Character of the Year 2012 Revealed: From ‘Tiny’ to ‘Lust’, my friend Vera Poh from To Dad With Love told the world with a warm heart that she would choose the Chinese character 友 (pronounced as yǒu; meaning ‘friend’) to be her character of the year 2012.

Here is the character ‘friend’ in Chinese, as chosen by Vera.

Poh Character of the Year 2012If you have been on WordPress for a while, you might also share Vera’s reflections on this Chinese character. Aren’t we not grateful that we’ve found some genuine friends through blogging, especially on WordPress? The most invaluable experience on WordPress is that many friendships have transcended nation, age and culture. Friendships have flourished and minds are nurtured. Our life has thus been wonderfully enriched.

Fascinating Chinese Character of the Year 2012

In China, the character 微 (pronounced: wēi) has been chosen by some media in China as the character which encapsulates the year 2012. This character means tiny, small, micro and insignificant.

What do you think of these characters representing the year?

What do you think of these characters representing the year?

In China, the equivalent of Twitter is called 微博(micro-blogging; pronounced ‘wēibó’), which is powerful in breaking firewalls and has allowed the voice of the general public in China to be heard. A few Chinese idioms also carry this character. It may refer to people feeling ‘insignificant’ and powerless. It also refers to the selflessness of many ‘tiny’ people of China with their spirit of sacrifice. Continue reading

Why ‘Opium Den’ is an offensive name

I was in Oxford last weekend. I walked past an Opium Den.

Apparently, it’s a cafe, restaurant and a Karaoke bar.

If you’ve a basic knowledge about the Opium Wars between China and the British Empire, you know that the wars were humiliating, millions of lives were wrecked, and to China, unequal treaties (such as Treaty of Nanking) meant losing territories and dignity.

Is Opium Den a good brand?

Therefore, why using Opium Den as a brand name? If you think the name “Opium Den” is funny, it’s not. This name is offensive. It’s in bad taste.

It triggered me to think about branding. When you decide to have a brand name, what’d be on your mind? Continue reading

What is the secret of expert tea tasters? My tea-tasting at Ahmad Tea

Have you ever dreamt of becoming a tea taster? Tasting 600 cups of tea per day. How does it sound to you?

I had a wonderful tea-tasting session at Ahmad Tea London (not based in London, but in Chandler’s Ford in Hampshire.)

Strong fragrance of tea permeated this large, clinically clean tea-testing room. 100 cups of tea were ready to be tested (some by me! I’m not kidding.) I was quite excited.


Continue reading

5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Language

English is such a fascinating language. It’s common that people do not always say what they mean, or do not mean what they say. Below is a list of 5 things that I’ve learnt:

1) A Cream Tea is not a cup of tea with cream

On our honeymoon in Jersey back in 1999, my husband asked if I fancied some Cream Tea. I said yes as I was thirsty after a long walk.

He later gave me a plate with a fat, boring looking bun (I later learnt it was called a scone) with jam and cream next to it. I sat and waited patiently for my tea. “Where’s my tea?”  I asked. Hugh pointed at the fat, boring looking bun and said ‘You said you wanted some Cream Tea.’

Cream Tea means a scone. Continue reading

5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Culture

I’ve slowly picked up some survival tips after living in England since 1996. Here are 5 of them on culture:

1) Always starting your greetings with the weather, not food

Now I say ‘Isn’t it lovely!’ or ‘What a lovely day!’ to greet people, as ‘hello’, as opposed to saying, ‘Have you eaten?’, which is a Chinese way of asking ‘How’re you’.

And, I’ve learnt to agree with people when they praise or moan about the weather, because English people don’t expect you to disagree with them about the English weather. They just don’t. Continue reading

5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Food

I’ve been living in England since 1996. From being a student, a wife, to a mother, I’ve noticed my habits have changed quite a bit. Here is a list of my 5 changes regarding food:

1) I no longer own a rice cooker

The 2 British people in my life prefer pasta to rice. When my rice cooker broke a few years ago, I didn’t replace it, because I couldn’t find a good one even from John Lewis. I must be the only Chinese person under the sun without an electrical rice cooker. Now, whenever I need to cook rice, I use a saucepan and control the heat manually.

2) I enjoy drinking tea with cow’s milk

When I first arrived in England, cow’s milk in tea would irritate my body. I felt sick. I had tummy ache. After a while, my body slowly adapted to cow’s milk, and I’ve become a tea addict now and I drink tea with cow’s milk day and night. I also need a tea break very often.

3) I use a fork to eat rice on a plate

As we don’t eat rice a lot at home, when we have  rice, such as with Chilli Con Carne, we use fork to eat rice on a plate. In my previous life, rice was eaten from a bowl with chopsticks. Continue reading

An innocent scarecrow competition

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Last weekend, there was a Scarecrow Competition in our local parish church in Chandler’s Ford.

I was intrigued. I was determined to have a look after finishing my teaching in the morning.

Do scarecrows have to be made with straws? Are there any rules? I would be clueless with straws. In our house, straws are only used for our chicken run in the garden.

I’m not sure how popular scarecrow competition is in the western culture. It strikes me as something nostalgic, innocent, fun and silly. People like having fun, being creative, and showing a good sense of humour.

I like it.

Chinese version of Eats Shoots and Leaves

I read a Chinese short story to Ben this evening.

About 400 years ago, during a rainy season, like England in April, a scholar with the wit of Stephen Fry named Xu Wenchang (徐文长)was staying with his friend, but he somehow overstayed his welcome.

His friend left a subtly written note, which read,


xià yǔ tiān liú kè tiān liú wǒ bǔ liú

(Literally: Rainy days keeping guest sky keep I not keep)

There was NO punctuation marks!

A very witty Mr Xu Wenchang (1521—1593)

Continue reading