What does it look like when 1.3 billion people set off fireworks at the same time?

Here are some (shaky) videos I took from the plane window as I left Beijing for Sydney on the first official day of Chinese Spring Festival celebrations.


A call to charitable accountants, web-designers and aspiring do-gooders

I admit that I failed miserably at maintaining my blog in 2012, but a new year has arrived and I am determined to do better this time…

Instead of making my first post of 2013 an angry rant about the cold weather and intolerable smog that have plagued Beijing for the past month (if you do want to hear about the smog, see Liat’s excellent article here  or click here for some cool but depressing pictures of just how bad it is), I want to start the year on a positive note and tell you about an amazing cause I recently committed to support and see if any of you can also help or contribute in any way.

For several years, my friend Alexa has been supporting a small orphanage in Myanmar (Burma) called the Life Garden Home.  Myanmar is experiencing some incredible growth and development at the moment, but as a side-effect of this, the Life Garden Home is finding it more and more difficult to cover its rent each month.  So, this year, alongside planning her wedding, which will take place in two different countries, neither of which she or her fiancé lives in (she is an over-achiever), Alexa and her fiancé, Prashant, have resolved to raise enough money to buy a plot of land and build the orphans a home of their own.

To fulfill my New Year’s resolution of being a generally better person and in support of a really good cause, I have volunteered to help them.  So, in my first act of self-sacrifice, I am turning to you to ask if you can help me help them help the orphans… please!?



Helping doesn’t necessarily mean money.  At this stage, your skills, time, ideas and guanxi (to make use a Chinese term) are just as important for getting things up and running.

If you answer yes to any of the below and would like to get involved (or know someone else who might), please get in touch…

Can you design and donate a great website?

First things first, to get the word out and ensure supporters are kept up to date on how their money is being spent, they’re looking for a talented web-designer to create a website for the cause.  In addition to the warm glow that will surround you following your good deed, you will of course be given full credit for your efforts and can add a great website to your portfolio.

Are you a charitable accountant or finance expert?

All the donations and fundraising need to be managed transparently to minimise any costs and make sure all laws are being abided by, so it’s really important to find someone knowledgeable who can help oversee the finance side of the project.  Do you think you could be that person?

Do you have any fundraising ideas or want to organise an event?

There are already some great ideas for events we’d like to host in Beijing, many of which should be easily exportable to other locations.  If you’d be interested in organising one and want to hear more, or if you have your own ideas on how to raise funds, please let us know.

Do you have advice from your own fundraising experience?

This is all totally new to me, but I know some of you have experience managing big fundraising projects like this.  Any pearls of wisdom you’d be willing to share on what works/doesn’t work would be much appreciated

Would you (or your company) like to make a donation or sponsor an event?

Money isn’t the first thing on the agenda, but it’s ultimately what’s needed.  If you think you or your company can help by making a donation, either directly or by sponsoring an event, get in touch.

I know I haven’t seen many of you in a while, but if you’re reading this and are interested in supporting in one way or another, or just want to share your opinion on what we’re trying to do, please don’t be shy in getting in touch.

Thanks for taking the time to read and I really hope some of you will want to get involved!


P.S. Below are some pictures of LGH orphanage to show you some of the great work that’s already happening there




Suzy’s Fact of the Day #4

China is home to half of the world’s pig population — that’s about 450 million pigs. In the last few years, the government has been building up a Strategic Pork Reserve (SPR) to avoid the potential catastrophe of a disruption to pork supply.

(Sources: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/25/how_food_explains_the_world

Suzy’s Fact of the Day

I know it’s been a while since I last posted anything – and I promise I’ll write something a bit more substantial soon – but to encourage myself to update this a bit more regularly, I’ve decided to introduce a new feature to my blog… “Suzy’s fact of the day.”

I don’t promise that I’ll do it every day, but every time I come across a funny or interesting fact, I’ll share it with you.

So here’s my very first (Asia themed) fact of the day:

In the Philippines, the Frank Sinatra song “My Way” has had to be removed from many karaoke songbooks because sub-standard renditions provoked a string of killings. 

You couldn’t make it up.

(Source:The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9508353/Chinese-toddlers-karaoke-tantrum-ends-in-bloodbath.html – thanks Alexa :))

Beijing 2012

As most of you probably know, sports, and exercise in general, aren’t really my thing.  In fact, I go to great lengths to avoid them.  But last week, the Olympics started in London and for some reason I felt enormously disappointed not to be there.  I’ve never had any interest in the Olympics before, other than marvelling at the gymnasts if they happened to be on TV while I was flicking between channels. But this time it’s different.  Maybe it’s just because it’s in London and I’m a little homesick.  Or maybe the fact that I recently succeeded in standing up on water-skis after dozens of failed attempts (and consuming unhealthy quantities of sea water) has given me a new found love for all things sport.  Whatever the reason, I decided to find out a bit more about the legacy the 2008 Olympics left for the people of Beijing.

This is the Olympic stadium in Beijing, known as the Bird’s Nest (for fairly obvious reasons).


Overall Beijing’s Olympics cost more than two and a half what the UK has coughed up for the London games ($44 billion to the UK’s $17 billion), but their stadium was actually a bit of a bargain – apparently they spent half what London did building it.

I was surprised to find out that that it’s hardly used anymore.  After the Olympics in 2008, it was opened as a tourist attraction, costing ¥50 RMB (about £5) to go in and have a look around (not something I’ve done given my previous lack of sporting/Olympics interest).    On the night of the opening ceremony in London It was used to host a smoggy, money spinning friendly between Man City and Arsenal, but before that it hadn’t been used since May.

Whoever you think is the better Olympics host, there’s no denying that China’s athletes are far outshining the Brits (and pretty much everyone else).  They’ve already won 23 medals, including 13 gold, and they’ll probably have a few more even before I post this.

There has been a lot of speculation around the performance of the Chinese competitors and how they got to be so good. Are they taking magic, untraceable drugs?  Are they trained in Olympic torture camps?  Call me an optimist, but I choose to believe that they just have a lot of natural talent and practice a lot, but who knows…

If you are interested in learning a bit more about the training academies in China, I can recommend reading Mao’s Last Dancer.  It’s set during the Cultural Revolution so the conditions are a lot more extreme than how I imagine they are today, but worth a read.

Not quite in the same league, but these male gymnasts are outside my apartment block all the time.  Last Sunday they were practicing for hours and hours in sweltering heat.


One of the sad things about the Olympics in Beijing is that in an attempt to modernise the city before presenting it to the world, they destroyed many of the Hutongs where people traditionally lived.  I took these pictures in the The No.2 Nanluoguxiang Hutong, near the Drum and Bell Tower, which is protected and is now a major tourist area


Right, that’s it for this time.  I’m in Bali right now waiting for Sophie to arrive.  Just took a walk on the beach – here’s a sneak peak of what I hope the next 10 days will be like…


And finally, in case you don’t believe that I actually managed to stand up on water-skis, here I am… Oh, and I’m also now an expert synchronised swimmer.



Suzy xx