Chronicles of msadele

Welcome to my W O R L D

Je m’appelle Adele 

So today I had my first real French lesson.

The ‘not from a lonely planet phrasebook’ kind. Those are incredibly useful but if I want to have real life discussions, I need to extend my vocabulary past “une baguette s’il vous plait”. 

French lesson
“Terre des mots” is a text designed for primary school children. My tutor has high hopes for me.

I’ve only been with my French (now) husband for 7 years. Call me an avoider. It’s a difficult language and I’m a big chicken. There, I said it. Just too scared to fail because I suck at languages. My other half is the polar opposite, he’s a language sponge.He speaks a few of them. Sometimes I switch off when he talks about the “langue”. He doesn’t know this because I never let my eyes glaze over. Clearly I’m joking, sort of.

All jokes aside, there are very good reasons for me to learn.

Here’s my motivation list ….

  1. So I understand when my husband is talking bad things about me to my son, like “mummy won’t let you eat that chocolate, she said no”. That’s a diplomatic example.
  2. As above except applied to the in-laws. You feeling me?!
  3. Employment. Even though there’s a buhzillion foreigners in Paris who everyone tells me “seem to have easily landed English speaking jobs not speaking a word of the language”  – well, I am not one of those “lucky” ones.
  4. So I can say more than “putain” or “conard” when some ar*ewipe fails to adhere to basic road rules, like stopping at a pedestrian crossing while my son is on it! (that really gets up my goat). Insulting people politely and with a larger vocabulary seems important here. I need to get on that train.
  5. For myself. It’s a slow and painful death living in a foreign country with a language barrier. I need to expand my circle. My daily conversation revolves around “get your finger out your nose” and “no, you can’t have any chocolate” and my  personal favourite, “how many times have I asked you not to do that?!” Nooooooooo.

Back to my lesson …

One tram and four metro station changes later I make it to my teachers hood. Remember I live just outside of the peripherique, so going to the westside of Paris is like a day trip for me. I’m doing one-on-one lessons. We go to a local bar. I’m ensured it’s quiet. This is important as I sure as hell don’t want people listening to me.

I’ve learned a quiet bar in Paris is like a Friday afternoon knock-off drinks. Quiet, not quiet. Apparently it’s the a new cool thing to have your lessons out and about, submerged in the Parisian way. The only thing I was submerged in was phonetics, grammar and conjugation. Up to my eyeballs.

Kudos to my lovely tutor though (I’ll call her M), she kept her voice on the low down and leaned into me so I didn’t have to speak very loud. Bless her. M is ace and her French (for a native Italian) is excellent. M speaks four languages fluently. Puts me to shame. So much shame. M was very patient with me and made me feel really comfortable so after a while I didn’t give a rats bottom who heard me. M was very encouraging of my pronunciation, overall status and ability to progress. Felt pretty chuffed after my 2 hours came to an end.

Feeling pretty confident I can nail this. I’ll keep you posted!

à bientôt

Because parenthood.

4 years , 1 baby, a wedding and 2 continents later …

One hell of a blogging hiatus, right?!

A wise woman reminded me today that I used to write once, and maybe had a good thing going.

So, I dragged this site out of the trenches, gave her a good wash, and put her best frock on. Let’s see what I can do here. New continent, new stories to tell. 

You’re probably going to read a lot of toddlers rants cos that’s where it’s all at right now. 

 Here goes nothing … thanks for listening.

Not so squeezy …

For those who think their subway or train line is full.  You ain’t seen nothin baby !

About a week ago, I went to see a couple of suppliers located in the north-west of the Jing, past the 4th ring road.  The best way to get to the edge of the earth, is via subway.  A taxi takes minimum 1 hour each way, and for those who suffer from car sickness like myself, it’s really not an option.

This lesson was learned the hard and messy way. Cab drivers here love to put pedal to metal, then slam on the brakes.

So I took a cab from work to the suppliers office close to CBD, and they drove us to the call centre out west.  I sat in the front.

On the way back I took Line 10.  See map below – showing start and finish points, highlighting stops 1, 3 & 5.

For a little perspective …

Stop 1.

Line 10, Stop 1Stop 3.

Line 10, Stop 3Stop 5.

Line 10, Stop 5Within 3 small stops the train is packed, like a tin of off sardines.  Imagine yourself  in 35 degrees, stinking (yes, stinky!) heat at around 70% humidity.

Getting off the train was yet another frightening experience, involving a lot of shouting and pushing people to move, who consequently end up outside of the train on the platform, just so peeps can get off.   Wonder what the ratio is for people who successfully get back on ?!

It’s a charming experience, and not in the Collins dictionary kind of way.

To Expo, or not to Expo

Agricultural Exhibition Centre, Beijing.

They take their potatoes seriously.

Ride My Bike Until …

A chinese dynasty has past since I last blogged.

Where does one start when so much has time has passed? A wise man said to me, “you don’t have to write much, just post pics an summarise”. Thanks @cannizzaro.  I’m taking the advice and I’m starting with the present. Well, nearly.

Every foreigner in Beijing will know that the best, and believe it or not, safest way to get around this town is by bike.  Bikes come in all types in these parts, Malvern Star knock offs if you want the retro look, teeny tiny wheeled fold ups, electric bikes for the lazy, and you can throw in a side car if you want to take the family.

I went with the good old fashioned kind that you need to pedal.  So here’s my new wheels!

Thigh BusterBig, little wheels - fold up styles

*I think they do the peace sign differently in China.

Montezumas revenge

This afternoon I was hit with a diarrhea tsunami … goes a little something like this

you feeling me?
Serves me right for considering my thighs, and eating salad for lunch. Now, I went into this restaurant as it appeared to be a reputable establishment, filled to the brim with Lo Wai (and locals, that’s when you know it’s OK), some of which were eating salads!

Must be my lucky day, or maybe big brother honed in on the tweet I posted whilst in the restaurant, commenting on their poor service. Karma strikes again.

Story goes; I ate, paid my bill and went for a stroll. 20 mins later, I’m half heartedly running (with knees locked) in a mad panic, back to the apartment, approximately 300 metres away, praying to anyone listening that I make it home. Refer to my earlier post this week “Always bring the kleenex” for a snapshot of why I will never go to a public toilet in China again. On that note: given my experience today, I now understand why the toilets look like that.

For anyone who has experienced this before, you will understand when I say, it is a fate worse than death.

Big thank you to Element Fresh for the $19 enema – looks like I’ll lose a few kilos before I head to Phuket, can’t complain about that !

p.s. I must point out this is the first time it’s happen in the 6 weeks I’ve been in Beijing, so I’ve had a pretty good run so far. I really think someone read my tweet and thought ‘yeah! let’s payback this whining b*tch!” ;-)

BTW the salad I ate was delicious, couldn’t taste the salmonella at all !

Always bring the kleenex

Before you read, please note: I actually wrote this last sunday, however, due to connectivity issues, was unable to upload video to YouTube, and consequently, post this post. Thankfully, after a few vpn tweaks, uploading is all saaweet!  So …

It’s Saturday night, you’re new in town so it’s encouraged to accept invitations to go out whenever they come your way.

So, frenchy & I went out for dinner/drinks saturday night with a group of people frenchy had met through work.  We ended up in a popular and very traditional chinese spot called BeiXinQiao (pronounced Bei-Jin-Ciao, or something like that ;-).  You may want to Wiki that.

This area is quite stunning to look at, with the rows and rows of red lanterns lighting up the strip for about 1km on either side of the road – beautiful! Click here for a perfect shot that’s far better than what I could ever produce.

There were many, what looked like really decent places to eat on the main strip, and I was expecting at any moment, to pull into one of them.

Except we didn’t.  We went down an alley (in my experience the odds are 80/20 here, 20 being good) and ended up in a what I can only describe as a ‘cubby hole’ for very small people. So, I thought, “calm down, this will be an outstanding cultural experience for you”, so I shut the hell up and tried to enjoy what was coming my way.

Lessons learned: Always ask what type of restaurant you are going to – don’t be shy.  Key things to ask:

  1. is there an english menu (not always required but can really save the day! particularly when you don’t eat toads or seafood)
  2. is it non-smoking, e.g, no one is allowed to blow smoke into your personal space while you are eating.
  3. do they have chairs that don’t resemble very thin planks of wood that cut off circulation to your legs.
  4. do they serve alcohol that doesn’t also fuel cars and other heavy machinery.
  5. do they have appropriate facilities e.g, glassware and a decent toilet.

Free mr froggie

Now, I’ve watched an “Idiot Abroad in China”, (courtesy of the one and only, BK Scorcese) so I’m aware they do find a toad quite tasty here.  I did not however, expect to find a pond in the foyer area, with toads in tow.  Very similar to a western chinese restaurant back home, where they have the live lobster, fish etc in the tank and you choose which one you want.  “Ah, excuse me waiter, I’ll take the toad, the one that has the most warts on it please”. Stomach churner.

Commonly referred to as ‘Chairs’

Moving onto the the chairs, that were quite literally very thin planks of wood welded onto poles. I’m not a carpenter but have heard the expression 2 x 2? Really wish I had my camera! No luxury for your rump here peeps. Not that there will every be a next time, but, I would encourage anyone who goes to this place, of which thankfully, I cannot recall the name) to bring a pillow, or put on a few kilo’s in the behind area before you go.

Le menu

The menu was all in chinese and there was no one to translate. No uncommon so not complaining, it just really helps a lot when you know what you are eating, particularly wen you have serious food allergies. Basically, they bring our their ‘house specials’ and we either accept or reject them. A few of the crew had been to this place before, and knew what was good and bad.  I ask myself “why would they go back?”.

Now, to be fair, albeit at some points I had no idea what I was eating, there were a couple of dishes that were very tasty. Unfortunately, those dishes, were placed at the other end of the table, where the peeps just dug in and didn’t really pass around for a bit of sharing is caring action.  So by the time it got down our end (if it did), there wasn’t much left.

Another small point, when I say ‘dug in’, I mean take your chop sticks that you have put in your mouth, and continue to pick up the food from the main dish with those chop sticks, then put the food in your mouth with the same chop sticks – repeat action.

I understand why vaccinations are required.  NB: must get booster shot immediately.

Between this, and the numerous smokers at the table who light up whilst you are eating, the evening made for a very lean dining experience.

My saviour

“Baijiu” to the rescue …this is not a drink for the dabblers. It is anywhere between 80 – 120% proof!  It comes served in a wee little silver jug, which somehow, never empties :)  It is not delicious, it’s equivalent to drinking Grappa, or Methylated Spirits.  Advised not to drink near a naked flame.

Yes, my friends, it gets your motor running!

This is drunk via a bowl, no glasses here, jsut bowls.  Hard to shoot the shot from a bowl.  Maybe you aren’t supposed to shoot it?

A few of these and who cares about the toads, food or chairs … and hell to it, let’s light up a cigarette. After all, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

Il Gabinetto (toilet)

I have no words for this other than, ” I did not go!”.  Warning, a barf bag may be required when watching this video. Yes, no camera but I had my FLIP HD.

Princess, or not?

Now if I had of asked the above queries and received truthful answers, I would not have entered the shack from middle earth.

If having these very basic items at your disposal in a restaurant makes you a princess, then hell to it, I am.

I’m not going to pretend that I would like to trek through Mongolia, eat 5 week old meat, drink horse milk, get diarrohea and make numerous ‘poop in hole’ stops on the way to the top of the mountain.  I’m not a rough it kind of gal, and this restaurant experience left me feeling dirty and dying for a pee!

However, it was eye opener and not something I’ve not experienced in any other country, so I’m very grateful the opportunity came my way :)

The end.

The shame

It’s been so long since my last post, that I dare not count the days in the fear that I’ll totally lose my mojo (for blogging!).

To the very few people who thought me interesting enough to ready my posts, I’m sorry.

There really are no excuse other than I’ve been in holiday mode, so engrossed in having fun, that it really didn’t enter the equation.  Perhaps there should be penalties for this, might give people the kick in the proverbial they need to keep blogging, or are most people adamant writers, who can’t let a day go by without putting fingers to keypad?

Nevertheless, I’ve made an oath to myself that I can at least manage one blog a week!  Although I haven’t signed up for the WordPress, blog a week challenge

So without further adieu, I’ll create a post tonight! NB: it will be short.

Tout de suite :)

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