mercredi, décembre 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

Today is the last day of 2008 and the office is really calm. Just a quick note to wish everyone a good year 2009 ahead.

Year 2008 has been good to us. Despite all the uncertainity of the financial world, we are not yet affected. Indeed, business is slower in almost all sectors. But Seb and I are blessed with good health and a new family member is in the making. That's what counts most.

For year 2009, there are many talks in the media that it will be a tough year. A french investor in New York had committed sucide due to the Madoff affair. That is such a shame. Even if one is bankrupt, it is not the end of the world. There are many people who are living in real poverty. Even if year ahead is tough, I pray that everyone will be able to brave through it.

vendredi, décembre 26, 2008

Boxing day

Seb and I spent a good Christmas with Seb's family in Chartres. This year, I had to abstain myself from eating smoked salmon, oysters and unpasterised cheese. Things which I always look forward to feasting during this year end festival. Seb did not even drink any wine as he had to drive us home after the Christmas lunch. That was difficult for him as he saw the good wine passing under his nose.

Today, both of us did not work. Seb's office is closed and his company imposed a day off for everyone. As for my office, today is considered a holiday for us. So though I did not work, I did not have to take a day off like Seb.

We went Paris for a walk. I had prawn dumplings noodle soup at Mirama in Saint Michel. Mirama serves the best dumplings and roasted duck in Paris. Even Angel's colleague who had been to Paris a few times for work agreed with me when we first met a few weeks ago.

After that, we went Carrefour for grocery shopping. At Carrefour, I took the queue reserved for pregnant ladies and handicaps. This was the second time I did that. Most of the time, I joined the normal queue as the priority queue was often just as long as the normal ones. And on both occasions, I heard remarks from people behind me commenting that I was abusing the queue. I had to justify myself by replying that I was more than 3 months pregnant. With my little bump hidden under my winter coat, no one could tell I am 5 months pregnant. At church, without my coat, I was talking to someone new and she thought I was a student in Paris. I guess I should take that as a compliment. Anyway, I just had my monthly check up and baby is doing fine, weighing 550g. That is the most important thing.

jeudi, décembre 18, 2008

Black rice vinegar and confinement

Angel was here on work trip recently and upon my mom's request, he helped me brought two bottles of black rice vinegar. Seb and I met up with him and his colleagues and we had a good dinner togather.

What is so special about this particular black rice vinegar? Well, Mom insisted that this is the only brand that I must eat during my confinement period. No other brand in Paris Chinatown will do. During the confinement period, it is necessary to eat lots of pig's trotters cooked in vinegar. I am not sure of the taste of this dish but since mom is such a good cook, I am sure I will enjoy it.

So what is confinement? This is something I explained to Seb long ago and recently explained to my mom-in-law and friends. It was never easy explaining and each time, I got bewildered eyes looking at me. Basically, confinement is something Singaporean women practiced for a month right after giving birth. Common practices include: No touching of water, no contact with wind, no heavy works, rest, rest and more rest.

I found two links that explained confinement really well. Mom will be my confinement lady; taking care of me. Since this will be her first time, I will negotiate with her to have showers every day!

mardi, décembre 16, 2008

Danger zone

Some explosives were found in Printemps shopping store this morning. The terroists group who planted these explosives in a few toilets sent out a warning note to the news agency AFP (Agence France-Presse). Apparently, these explosives did not have a timer. But the group warned that if their request for the withdrawal of French troops in Afghanistan was not met, there won't be a warning note the next time.

Seb sent me an email and pointed out the news to me. He told me not to visit big departmental shops from now on. I often shop in the Haussman area and would use the toilets at Printemps when nature calls. Small boutiques along the streets do not have toilet facilities. I was even thinking of going there this Sat to do our last minute Christmas shopping. I have yet to choose my present from Seb. These days, we can never be too sure of anything.

Good thing there is Vente Privée (a private sales website). It offers great bargains on well-known brands and I have been buying things from them. So far, I had bought books, cocottes from Staub, baby clothes from Absorba and Petit Bateau. For the moment, I will take my husband's advise and let my fingers do the shopping for me instead. Just hope that my wallet will not explode!

mardi, décembre 09, 2008

Christmas is coming again

I was not keen to get a Christmas tree this year. But when I saw a friend put up photos of her Christmas tree on her facebook, I was tempted to get one. So on sunday morning, we went to Truffaut and got a Christmas tree. It is about 1.1m. This is how it looks after being decorated. I am tired of the decoration and will definitely change them next year. The balls should retire as this would be their 4th annual appearance.
Je ne voulais pas un sapin de noël cette année. Mais quand j’ai vu sur Facebook les photos d’un sapin qu’une copine a acheté, j’ai craqué. Donc, dimanche matin, nous avons allés chez Truffaut afin de chercher un sapin. Il est environ 1.1m. J’ai décidé de changer la décoration l’année prochaine. Les balles sont utilisées depuis quatre ans et c’est l’heure de leur retraites.

On Sunday afternoon, we had Seb's family over for lunch to celebrate Seb's birthday. Our living room was really too small for 10 people after adding in the Christmas tree. But everyone managed to find their place. For entrée, I served vegetarian samosa and Wu-Xiang (bean curd skin pork rolls) that my mom made for me. I had already made a couple of my friends tried mom's wu-xiang and it was always well received. For main dish, it was baked stuffed female duck from Picard. Side dishes were potatoes wedges and buttered french beans. Cheese and cake followed. Everyone was satisfied with lunch and I had to give credit to Picard as it provides fresh, quality frozen food.
Dimanche après midi, nous avons invités la famille pour déjeuner afin de fêter l’anniversaire de Seb. Avec le sapin, notre salon est trop petit pour dix personnes. Heureusement, chacun a pu trouver sa place. Pour l’entrée, il y avait du samossas végétarien et wu-xiang (un sort de nem) fait par ma mère. Tout le monde aime ce que ma mère a fait. J’ai servi une canette farci de chez Picard comme plat principal. Il est accompagné avec des haricots verts et des potatoes. Ensuite, il y avait des fromages et le gâteau. On a bien mangé et je dois avouer que les produits chez Picard sont frais et bon.
As Christmas is round the corner, we have to move our butts this weekend to do Christmas shopping. As usual, it will be another stop at FNAC for books, CDs and games. December is always the month where I have to crack my head to get two gifts for Seb. For his birthday, it was an electrical Italian café maker from Bodum. For Christmas, I subscribed a year's supply of Hi-Fi magazines for him. I may just add in a CD too.

Bientôt, c’est noël. On doit bouger ce weekend et faire notre course de noël. Comme d’hab, on va aller chez FNAC pour les livres, CDs et jouets. Décembre est toujours le mois où je casse ma tête pour trouver les cadeaux de Seb. Pour son anniversaire, c’était un cafetière italienne électrique de chez Bodum. Pour noël, c’est un abonnement d’un magazine Hi-Fi. Peut-être, je vais ajouter un CD en plus.

mercredi, décembre 03, 2008

My virgin vote

I voted for the first time in my life. As I am still a Singaporean, I do not have rights to vote in presidential or general elections. But since I am working in France, I do have the right to vote for the election of the council of Prud'Hommes. If I am not wrong, Prud'Hommes is sort of a tribunal court dealing with complains and conflicts between the employers and employees. The union party elected will represent the employees.

Since a month and a half ago, we received our electoral card and also pamplets of each participating union party.

In Singapore, I never got to vote since there was never opposition contesting for my estate. The last time I was able to vote, I was living in France and the nearest poll center was in London.

It felt good to cast my vote though I am not sure how it would affect my work life.

vendredi, novembre 28, 2008

Time for shopping

I need new clothes. No, I am not being vain here. My tops no longer fit me. Suddenly, it seems that my tummy has swell up and most of my tops do not completely cover my tummy. I am now 4.5 months pregnant. Today, I have to constantly pull my blouse to make sure my tummy does not show.

Tomorrow, it will be shopping spree time. Yipee! I will be reasonable.

dimanche, novembre 23, 2008

It's been 6 years

We were invited to spend the weekend with our friends in Jura, south-east of France. A couple is celebrating their 10 years wedding anniversary and Seb and I are celebrating our 6 years of marriage. However, I backed out at the last minute after visiting my gynaecologist on thursday. She felt that travelling 400 km on friday and another 400 km back on sunday by car is too much for a pregnant woman. Well, there will be another chance to visit the mountains of Jura.

Nous avons été inviter à passer le weekend avec des amis dans le Jura, est de la France. Un couple fête ses 10 ans d'anniversaire de mariage. Seb et moi, nous avons fêté nos 6 ans de mariage. Néanmoins, j'ai décliné l'invitation à la dernier minute après la visite chez mon gynécologue. Elle m'a déconseillé de faire un trajet de 800km aller-retour en trois jours. Bon, il y aura toujours une autre fois pour visiter les montagnes de Jura.

So yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of our "I do"s and "I will"s. Seb did the housework in the morning and even cleaned the fridge. After lunch, we went out for a walk in Paris. We walked around the Montparnasse area as I remembered that there was a street with a few baby shops near Le Bon Marché. It was a cold day but the sun was out. When we stopped for our Korean dinner, I was really tired out from the few hours of walking. We enjoyed our day and our simple and delicious dinner at Arbe de sel. Seb even bought 2 baby clothes for me. Looking at them just bring a smile to my face.

Donc, hier était notre 6ème année ensemble comme mari et femme. Seb a fait le ménage le matin et a même nettoyé le frigo. Après déjeuner, on s'est promené dans Paris. On a marché dans le quartier de Montparnasse car je me souvennais avoir vu quelque boutiques pour les bébés à coté du Bon Marché. Il faisait froid mais il y avait du soleil. Quand on s'est arrêté pour notre diner Coréen, j'étais vraiment fatigué à cause des heures de marche. On a beaucoup apprécié cette journée et le simple et délicieux diner chez l'Arbe de Sel. Seb m'a acheté deux bodies de bébé. Je souris chaque fois je les regarde.

Today, it was even colder in Paris. While we were at the St Denis market, it snowed lightly. I am glad that I did not go Jura this weekend. With the cold weather, I am sure I would be tired out and would not be able to enjoy the trip.

Aujourd'hui, il fait 6 dégrées à Paris. Il a neigé quand on a été au marché de Saint Denis. Je suis comme même contente de ne pas être aller dans le Jura. Avec ces temps, je suis sûre que j'aurais été fatigué et que je ne me serais pas amusé.

mercredi, novembre 19, 2008

Petrol prices drop

Our car drinks petrol. Last year when we first got our car, the price of petrol was at 1.299€/L. Since then, the price continued to increase until it hit 1.5€/L in May. That was really expensive but we only used our car mainly over the weekend.
Recently, we are seeing a new phenomenal. The price of petrol starts to drop. The last time I fed our car, the price was 1.17€/L. I heard over the radio that the price would continue to drop.
Now that I am pregnant, I drive to work. Public transport in the morning is always jam packed. I prefer to travel in comfort and in a less stressful surrounding. The journey to work by car or public transport takes about the same time. I am glad that petrol is cheaper. However, the petroleum companies are deciding to decrease oil supply in order to increase the demand and thus increasing the price. These companies never make a loss. They just want to sustain their profits. For the moment, I will just benefit a little from the economy downturn.
Let's see if the price will drop below 1€/L as mentioned in the radio.

mardi, novembre 11, 2008

Singapore curry

Today is Armistice 1918 and it is a public holiday in France. It is celebrated at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month where World War I was concluded.

Aujourd'hui, on fête l'Armistice 1918 en France. Vers onze heures, le onzième jours du onzième mois, la première guerre mondiale s'est terminée.

Seb and I did not work yesterday as Seb's company was closed and imposed an off day on everyone. I took a day off as well and we went Chartres to visit my in-laws. Since we had been out the last three days, we decided to just stay at home and rest.

Seb et moi, nous n'avons pas travaillé hier car la société de Seb était fermé et elle a imposé une journée de RTT pour tout le monde. J'ai prise une journée de RTT également et nous sommes allés à Chartres pour rendre visite à ma belle famille. Comme nous sommes sorties tous le weekend et hier, nous avons decidé de rester chez nous aujourd'hui.

I decided to cook chicken curry. I had two packs of curry pre-mix and chose to use Prima's first as it only required chicken and potatoes. There was coconut milk powder in the package.

J'ai voulu faire un curry de poulet. J'ai deux types de pates de curry et j'ai decidé d'utiliser celui de Prima car il a juste besoin de poulet et de patates. Il y a de la poudre de lait du coco dans la boite.

The result was pretty good. It looked good. I like the color and it tasted good. As I still had a piece of frozen roti prata, I fried it to go with the curry chicken as lunch. Yummy! There is still plenty for dinner.
Je suis satisfaite du résultat. Le curry donne une jolie coleur et il est bon. Comme j'avais encore un roti prata, je l'ai mangé avec le curry pour déjeuner. C'était délicieux. Il en reste encore beaucoup pour diner.

dimanche, novembre 09, 2008


When my family was here in late Sept, we spent four days in the Pays-Basque region. This area is in the south-west of France near the border of Spain. We stayed at a bed and breakfast nearby Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The place we stayed was lovely. It was a typical house of this area. However, I find the service mininal and the host was not as friendly as the ones in Dordogne.

We spent a day walking around Saint-Jean-de-Luz. In the picture below, the building on the right is the famous "Joanoenea" house. The future queen of Louis XIII, Anne d'Autriche stayed there before her wedding ceremony in 1660.

We also visited nearby cities like Biarritz and Bayonne.

On one of the mornings, everyone except me went up la Rhune by the little train. I was not feeling well that morning. Everyone loved the mountain top view. There were eagles soaring in the sky, sheeps gazing and the view of the sea and mountains surrounding was beautiful. That was the feedback I got. I do hope to have a chance to do it one day.

Since we were so near the border of Spain, we drove over to San Sebastian. There were many bars selling tapas. While waiting for lunch, we went into one of these bars. The waiter gave us a plate and we just filled it up with whatever we want. After that, we ordered our drinks and based on the contents in our plates, we paid before standing around and trying out what we picked. It was interesting and the atmosphere was relaxing.

We were blessed with good weather as it did not rain. We drove around the region and visited other villages and even a gorge. I tried to make my family try the local delights but on most evenings, we had chinese thanks to my GPS. It was able to suggest restuarants near where we were. Based on the name of the restaurant, we were able to second guess that it was an Asian restaurant. And it was always BINGO!

mardi, octobre 28, 2008

Craving for Yong Tou Foo

I dreamt of eating Yong Tou Foo two days ago. It made me really want to just make a trip to Singapore to satisfy my craving. However, we had no plan to go back Singapore for the moment.

When I told Seb about my dream, he said "Why go back Singapore just for that? Yong Tou Foo is just soup with veggies." Sigh. He just did not get it. This is my comfort food and the fish paste in the veggies makes this dish so unique.

When Seb was in Boston last week, he had a great dinner at an authentic Malaysia restaurant. And they serve Yong Tou Foo. Was that why I had my dream of Yong Tou Foo?

Next week I will be going Helsinki for three days. I will try to convince David to dine with me at the Panda Restaurant opposite our client's place. I had been to Helsinki so many times but never try this Chinese restaurant. I doubt they serve Yong Tou Foo but maybe there would be other comfort food.

Since Singapore is too far, Seb promised to go Chinatown with me this sat to get some Chinese vegetables. He is extra accommodating to me at this moment. He has not much of a choice. A pregnant woman's wish is the husband's command.

Il y a deux jours j'ai rêvé que j'étais en train de manger un Yong Tou Foo. Ensuite, j'ai vraiment eu envie de faire un aller-reour à Singapour afin de satisfaire cette envie. Néanmoins, on n'a pas prévu de visiter Singapour pour le moment.

Quand j'ai parlé à Seb de mon rêve, il a repondu "Pourquoi aller à Singapour juste pour ça? Yong Tou Foo est juste une bol de soupe avec des légumes." Zut. Il n'avait rien compris. C'est un aliment me réconfortant et la pâte de poisson dans les légumes fait toute la différence.

Seb était à Boston la semaine dernier et il a bien mangé chez un restaurant Malaisie. En plus, il y avait le Yong Tou Foo. Ce n'est pas par hasard que j'ai rêvé de ça.

La semaine prochaine, je vais aller à Helsinki pendant trois jours. Je vais convaincre David de diner avec moi chez Panda qui est en face de notre client. Je suis allée à Helsinki plusieurs fois mais je n'ai jamais essayé ce restaurant asiatique. Je ne crois pas qu'il serve du Yong Tou Foo mais peut-être y aura t-il autres aliments réconfortant.

Comme Singapour est trop loin, Seb a promis d'aller à Chinatown avec moi samedi pour acheter les légumes chinoise. Il est beaucoup plus accommodant envers moi. Il n'a pas de choix. Le souhaite d'une femme enceinte est un ordre pour son mari.

vendredi, octobre 17, 2008

Bias news

Go to this link. (
It says four in ten Singaporeans marry foreigners.
The images only show asian women with ang moh men.
And if you read the various articles proposed, most interviews were on local women with ang moh husbands.

Yet when you read the article, it mentions that out of the 8086 Singaporeans who married a non-citizen, 6200 were men and 1886 were women.

Aren't these images and interviews mis-representing the facts?
This gives the wrong idea that singapore girls prefer to marry ang moh while in actual fact, local men marry more foreigners than local women. Three times more!

PS: Ang moh is singlish for Caucasians.

mercredi, octobre 08, 2008

Felt like in Singapore

My family came and left. Put them togather in a room and right away, I felt I was transported back to Singapore. Auntie Lily made me pineapple tarts and in the morning, while watching the chinese program on TV, there was this surreal Chinese New Year atmosphere.

Mom made ‘Wu-Xiang’ in Singapore and steamed them. She then froze them and brought them over. My freezer was full of them but in two weeks time, we had already finished more than half of them. They were yummy. She also made some chilli sauces for me and my friend Sandra.

While my family was here, I was pampered with home cooked Nasi lemak, Bak Kut Teh, Lontong curry, authentic fried mee hoon, gluntinous rice with dried shrimps, mushrooms and peanuts, Otah (yeah, Auntie Lily brought them over) among mom’s other signature dishes. They brought so much food stuff that Seb could not recognise our kitchen. Auntie Lily even showed me how to make a pandan cake with pandan leaves from her balcony.

Other than just spending time in the kitchen cooking, I brought mom and gang to visit the usual tourist sites in Paris. We spent four days in Pays-Basque, South-west of France and we had good weather. It was chilling but there was sun. The scenery was great with the mountains and seas within view.

When we came back from Pays-Basque, it turned cold in Paris. We spent most of our time playing bowling on the WII game. Mom and Auntie Lily were really expert. Auntie Lily scored more than 180 points though she had never played real bowling.

It was great having them over. We were amazed that my grand-uncle aged 73 was able to walk as much as we did. My sister had Roquefort and liked it.

Mom will visit again next year. Till then, I miss the three dishes and one soup she prepared for dinner.

vendredi, septembre 19, 2008

A late summer vacation

Since the fire in the Eurotunnel on 11 September, the Eurostar trains had been greatly affected. On the Eurostar website, passengers are advised not to travel to London if possible for this month. Delays are expected since only one out of the two tunnels is in operation.

I had to cancel our London day trip. There is no point getting stuck at Gare du Nord and arriving in London just for a few hours. Now, I am brain storming on what to do for this day's activity.
Brussels, chateaux de la Loire, miniature France, Reims in Champagne........

Tonight, we will go pick up my family at the airport and my vacation of two weeks start from there. So, in two weeks time.......

Suite à l'incident survenu la semaine dernière dans le Tunnel sous la Manche, Eurostar effectue un service limité. Sur le site d'Eurostar, les voyageurs sont conseillés de ne pas aller à Londres si possible ce mois ci. Des retards sont prévus car seulement un tunnel sur deux est ouvert.

J’ai du annuler notre visite à Londres. Ca ne vaut pas le coup de rester coincer à Gare du Nord et d’arriver à Londres uniquement pour quelque heures de visite. Maintenant, je me demande quoi faire ce jour là. Aller à Bruxelles, visiter les châteaux de la Loire, France miniature ou bien Reims en Champagne..... A voir.

Ce soir, on va à l’aéroport et mes vacances de deux semaines commence à partir de là. Alors, à dans deux semaines…

mardi, septembre 09, 2008

Home alone

I have been on the quiet side these days as I am just not inspired to write. I know that there are a few people out there who will pop by sometimes. Here's a little update for you.
Seb is away in Germany for two weeks and I will have my husband only for the weekend. I am enjoying my time alone for the moment because in two weeks time, our home will be overcrowded. My mom and sister are coming, along with my grand-uncle and my auntie Lily; mom's best friend. That's quite an entourage, isn't it?

Mom had been to France alone twice and I asked her to come with someone this time. Auntie Lily agreed to come along. Then my grand-uncle decided to come along too. And at the last minute, my dear sister joined in. Good thing we have two spare rooms so all the ladies shall squeeze in one room and my grand-uncle in the other.

They will be here for two weeks and I have already planned our trip. Yeah, I am taking two weeks of leave to spend time with them. Though France itself is very big and two weeks is not enough to visit everything here, my visitors would like to taste England. So we will be doing a day trip to London. Gare du Nord is just a station away from my place. With the new Eurostar station in London, it takes only 2hours 20mins to get there.

We will also spend 4 days in the south-west of France. We will travel by train, rent a 7 seater car and stay in bed-and-breakfast. I hope my visitors will enjoy Pays-Basque. I shall be able to write something about Pays-Basque in October. In the meanwhile, I doubt I will write much again.

Oh yeah, Mamamia is out in the cinema tomorrow. I am going to watch it with Anca. Her husband is also on business trip this week and none of our husbands wants to watch it. So we shall have a great ladies' nite.

vendredi, août 22, 2008

Public transport in Paris (Ile de France)

As a student in Singapore, I used a monthly bus ticket to go to school. It was a concession ticket for students and with it, I did not have to pay for bus rides. As a working adult in Singapore, no such concession ticket was available. We had to pay full amounts when taking public transports to work. It cost me about SG$4 a day to go and come back from work. In a 20 working days month, that would be SG$80. This obviously did not include afterwork appointments with friends in town area or weekend outings.

Quand j'étais un étudiant à Singapour, j'ai utilisé une carte mensuelle de bus pour aller à l'école. C'était une billet à titre de concession pour les scolaires et dans les bus, je ne payais pas. Quand j'ai travaillé à Singapour, il n'y avait pas ce type de billet. On devait payer le plein tarif quand on prenait le transport en commun pour travailler. Il m'avait couté SG$4 par jour pour le trajet aller-retour. Dans un mois avec 20 jours de travail, ça coutait SG$80. Ce montant n'incluait pas les soirées après bureau ou les sorties du weekend.

In Paris, various tickets are available for the public transports. I have a monthly ticket which I can use as many times as I want in a day and even on weekends. I can use it freely on RER train(regional express), suburbs trains, Metro, tramway or bus so long as the zones I travel in are within the limites of my monthly ticket. Actually what I have is a touch card known as Navigo. It is very much like the EZLink card used in Singapore except that it is personalised. Each month, about 67€ is deducted via GIRO. As the public transport network in Paris is extensive, I travel around with my Navigo card most of the time. On top of that, in order to attract people to work in Paris, employers absorbed half of the public transport fees. I have no idea who decided this (Paris city hall or labour law) but it sure is a good deal. So each month in my pay slip, about 33.50€ is credited as transport allowance. Of course, we have to provide justification that we own a public transport card.

A Paris, plusieurs types de billet sont disponibles pour le transport en commun. J'ai une carte d'orange mensuelle et je peux la utiliser autant fois que je veux dans une journée et même les weekends. Je peux l'utiliser dans le RER, le train, le Metro, le tram et le bus du moment que je voyages dans les zones indiqué sur ma carte. En fait, j'ai changé à la carte Navigo à la place de la carte d'orange. C'est similaire à la carte EZLink à Singapour sauf que Navigo est personnalisé. Chaque mois, environ 67€ est prélevé de mon compte bancaire. Comme Paris a une vaste réseau du transport, je me déplace souvent avec ma carte Navigo. Afin d'attirer les gens de venir travailler à Paris, les sociétés remboursent la moitié du prix. J'ai aucune idée qui a décidé (le mairie de Paris ou la législation du travail) mais c'est une bonne plan. Donc, chaque mois, environ 33.50€ est crédité dans mon salarie comme indemnité de transport. Bien sûr, on doit fournir un justificatif d'achat.

I really appreciate this Navigo card. The pricing is by zones. Zone 1 and 2 covers Paris and the greater paris. I live in zone 2 and my office in La Defense is in zone 3. Each morning, I would have to take the RER train from home(zone 2) into central Paris(zone 1) and change to another RER train to La Defense (zone 3). So my Navigo card includes zone 1 to 3. Looking at the map of the public transport (it does not show the bus routes), for 33.50€ a month, I can visit anywhere in Paris anytime I want.

J'apprécie vraiment cette carte Navigo. Le tarif est par zones. Zone 1 et 2 couvre Paris et le grand Paris. J'habite dans zone 2 et mon bureau à La Défense est dans la zone 3. Chaque matin, je prends le RER chez moi (zone 2) pour aller dans Paris (zone 1) et ensuite, je prends un autre RER en direction de La Defense (zone 3). C'est ainsi que ma carte Navigo comprend les zones 1 à 3. Regard le plan Ile-de-France (il ne monte pas les bus), pour 33.50€ par mois, je peux aller partout à Paris quand je veux.

jeudi, août 21, 2008

Brittany = crabs + lobsters

Summer did not visit Brittany this year. It had been a cold and rainy August. However, I was glad that in the 4 days we were there, we managed to go out to sea once.

Cette année, l'été a oublié de visiter la Bretagne. Il faisait froid et il a plu pendant tout le mois Août. Mais je ne me plaints pas car pendant les quartes jours là bas, nous avons pu faire une sortie en mer.
Seb's father has a small fishing boat. If the weather and sea conditions permit, he would go out to sea in the morning to drop his cages. We took the opportunity on 15 August to go out to sea with him to bring back his catch.
Mon beau-père a un petit bateau de pêche. Si le temps et la mer le permettent, il va à la mer le matin afin de lancer ses casiers. Le 15 Août, nous avons profité de l'occasion d'aller à la mer avec lui pour chercher ses casiers.

There were several crabs in one cage. They were not like the crabs in Singapore. They were slightly reddish in color and their shells seemed to be thicker.

Il y avait plusieurs crabes dans une casier. Ils ne ressemblaient aux crabes de Singapour. Ils sont plutôt rouge et les carapaces semblent plus dur.

We decided to make a crab cake as entrée. We boiled the crabs and I helped to unshell the crabs. It was a difficult job. There were three pairs of hands helping out and our end product was a big bowl full of crab meat. Yummy. I even fried noodles with the rest of the crab meat and it was well received.

Nous avons décidé de faire un gâteau aux crabes. Nous avons fait cuire les crabes et j'ai aidé à les décortiquer. C'était un travail pénible. Nous sommes trois a mis au travail et le produit fini était un grand bol plein de chair des crabes. Délicieuse. J'ai même sauté des nouilles avec les restes des crabes et les gens l'adoraient.

Seb's father had earlier on caught some lobsters and had them frozen until our arrival. I meant my arrival since Seb is a vegetarian. The lobsters were grilled in the oven and they tasted good.

Mon beau-père a perché des homards quelque jours plus tôt et il les a préparé quand on est arrivé. Je vais dire mon arrivé car Seb est un végétarien. Les homards sont grillé au four et ils sont délicieuse.

We spent our time eating and drinking. What else could be expected since we had such lousy weather. Oh, Seb's mom and sister and little Mattéo went cockles picking during low tide at the port. As I did not have any waterproof shoes, Seb and I went for a walk around Le Conquet. This is a typical house of this region. Charming, isn't it?

Nous avons passé notre temps à manager et à boire. Avec ce temps pourri, il y avait rien d'autre à faire. Oh, ma belle-mère, ma belle-soeur et le petit Mattéo étaient allés au port pendant la marrée basse pour chercher des coques. Comme je n'avais pas les bonnes chaussures, Seb et moi sommes allés faire un tour au Conquet. Ceci est une maison typique de cette région. Charmante, n'est pas?

lundi, août 18, 2008

A question.

I think this may be a stupid question but I do need an answer.
Singapore just turned 43. Before that it was part of the Federation of Malaysia.
So Singapore exists as an independant country since 1965.
How is it possible that Singapore clinched its first Olympic medal 48 years ago?

Who failed?

Lee was talking about the Chinese singaporeans.

Extract from news:
He voiced particular concern about the Chinese community, whose fertility rate is the lowest of all Singapore's ethnic groups at 1.14. "They fail," Lee said.

It is so difficult to be a Singaporean. We are a branded lot. Singaporeans who stayed are
losers. Singaporeans who left are quitters. There are also elite and non-elite groups. Now, Chinese are failures because they do not produce enough babies.

What a word to use on Singaporeans who are so afraid of failure. We are a kaisu bunch. No one wants to fail in school, at work, between friends and family. The pressure to succeed is great in Singapore.

That aside, Singaporeans is not a term the Singapore news use often. People interviewed in the streets are referred to as Singapore residents. I won't blame the reporters since a quarter of the population are not native born.

dimanche, août 10, 2008

Olympic, NDP and balcony updates

Time flies. It has been more than 4 years since I stay in France. I did a blog entry on the opening of the Olympic games back then and I was amazed that I had been writing for 4 years now. I must say that I had forgotten about some trivials and reading them in my blog months/years later helps to bring back my memory.

Le temps passe vite. Je suis en France depuis plus de 4 ans. J'ai écris sur l'ouverture des jeux l'Olympiques il y a 4 ans et je suis surpris de toujours écrire. J'avoue que j'ai oublié quelques petites choses et en lisant mon blog de temps en temps, j'ai retrouvé ma mémoire.

08 August 2008 08.08pm: As I was working during the opening of the Olympic games, I could only catch it from time to time on internet or on the office TV. I managed to see 2 seconds footage of a group of Singaporeans passing by. I enjoyed the performances put up by the chinese though I think it would be more spectular watching from the stadium itself. Somehow, the TV could not display the right lightings and brillant colours.

08 Août 2008 20h08: Comme j'ai travaillé pendant l'ouverture du JO, j'ai regardé de temps en temps sur Internet ou la télé du bureau. J'ai réussi à voir pendant 2 secondes le groupe de Singapouriens. J'ai aimé la performance donnée par les chinois même si je pense que c'était certainement mieux de le voir sur place. La télé n'arrivait pas à montrer les luminaires et les couleurs avec précision.

09 August 2008: Happy birthday Singapore. Singapore has turned 43. However, I missed the National Day Parade as I was out having lunch with granny-in-law. I do wish prosperity for ALL Singaporeans.

09 Août 2008: Joyeux anniversaire Singapour. Singapour a 43 ans. Je n'ai pas regardé la défilé car j'étais en train de déjeuner avec belle-mamie. Je souhaite la prospérité à tous les Singapouriens.

10 August 2008: Balcony updates again. My cherry tomatoes are turning red. So far, I had harvested 50 of them out of my 4 tomatoe plants. I used them in salad and during aperitif. They tasted good. There are still a few dozens on the plants. The ROI (return of investments) is pretty high. It feels good to be eating my own crops though for the moment, it is limited to cherry tomatoes. I even gave a dozen to my neighbour this evening.

10 Août 2008: La mise à jour à propos de mon balcon. Mes tomates cerises sont rouges. J’en ai déjà cueilli une cinquantaine parmi mes 4 plantes. J’en ai utilisé dans la salade et pendant l'apéritif. Elles sont bonnes. Il en reste encore quelques douzaines. Le ROI est justifié. C’est bon de manger ma récolte. Mais, pour le moment, elle est limité aux tomates cerise. J'en ai même donné une douzaine à ma voisine ce soir.For the rest of my plants, they are not doing so well. It is very windy on the balcony and most of my flowers are faring badly. I wonder if this windy season is unique as it is our first year in this appartment. I have to source for hardy plants for the next planting season. Any recommendations?

Pour les autres plantes, elles ne vont pas bien. Il y a du vent sur mon balcon et mes fleurs le supportent mal. Je me demande si ce vent est unique pour cette saison car c’est notre première année dans cet appartement. Je vais me procurer des plantes vivaces pour la prochaine saison de plantation. Les propositions sont les bienvenues !

mercredi, août 06, 2008

August is summer holidays

It is really calm in the office. August is always the period where most people go on vacation.Summer holidays in school last two months beginning from July. Since kids are not going to school, this is the best time for parents to bring their kids on holidays. Most of my colleagues are parents. Though not all their children go to school, they are also affected as their baby sitters who have schooling children go on holidays during this period.

C'est calme au bureau car Août est toujours la période où il y a le plus de monde en vacances. Les vacances scolaires commencent en Juillet pour une durée de deux mois. Comme les écoliers ne vont pas à l'école, c'est le meilleur moment pour les parents pour emmener leurs enfants en vacances. La plupart de mes collègues sont parents. Même si leurs enfants sont petits, ils sont impliqués car les nounous partent en vacances pendant cette période aussi.

Seb and I never take long holidays in August. We like the calm in office, around our neighbourhood and even in Paris. There are always many tourists in Paris but one can tell that most Parisiens are on holidays as there are more parking spaces available in the streets. Still, we were always kept busy during the weekends. We attended a wedding on the last weekend of July. We helped Seb's sister did housemoving and also went on furniture shopping 30km from Paris on the following weekend. This weekend, we will be doing grocery shopping in Chartres with Seb's granny. After that, it would be the weekend of 15 August.

Seb et moi ne prendront jamais de longues vacances en Août. On aime le calme au bureau, dans notre quartier et même dans Paris. Il y a toujours de touristes à Paris mais on voit que beaucoup de Parisiens sont en vacances car il y a plus de parking libres dans les rues. Néanmoins, nous sommes toujours occupés les weekends. Nous avons assisté à un mariage le dernier weekend de Juillet. Le weekend suivant, nous avons aidés la sœur de Seb avec son déménagement et ensuite nous sommes allés chercher un meuble à 30km de Paris. Ce weekend, nous allons à Chartres afin de faire des courses avec la mamie de Seb. Ensuite, ce sera le weekend du 15 Août.

In August, there is a public holiday in the middle of the month. During this weekend, the highways are heavily charged with cars. As 15 August falls on a Friday, Seb and I decided to go Brittany by train for a long weekend. Seb's family will be there and they would come fetch us from the train station. The train tickets are expensive for this period but we think it is wiser to take train than to go by car and get caught in a big traffic jam.

En Août, il y a un jour férié au milieu du mois. Pendant ce weekend, les autoroutes sont chargées avec des voitures. Comme le 15 Août tombe sur un vendredi, Seb et moi avons décidé d’aller en Bretagne par train pour un long weekend. La famille sera là et quelqu'un viendra nous chercher à la gare. Les billets de train sont chers à cette période mais on pense qu’il est plus prudent d’aller en train qu’en voiture afin d'eviter le risque d’un énorme embouteillage.

lundi, juillet 28, 2008

A wonderful reunion

Seb and I were invited to a wedding last saturday. This was my first time attending a wedding in France and boy was I excited. The bride was my great friend, Anca and the civil marriage took place at the city hall of Asnieres. The couple had a small guest list and we were able to interact easily with everyone. It was really an international event. There were people from Marocco, England, Czech Republic, Germany and of course many Romanians. Children who did not speak a common language were able to play with each other. That was amazing.

Seb et moi étions invités à un mariage samedi dernier. C'était la première fois que j'assistais à un mariage en france et j'étais tellement excité. La mariée étais mon amie Anca et le mariage civile s'est déroulé à la mairie d'Asnières. Le couple avait une petite liste d'invités et nous avons pu communiquer facilement avec toute le monde. C'était une événement international. Il y avait des invités en provenance du Maroc, d'Angleterre, de République Tchèque, d'Allemagne et bien sûr, de Roumanie. Même les enfants qui ne parlaient pas la même langue jouaient ensemble. Inside the city hall, the couple took their vows in a magnificent hall. The whole event with saying 'Oui' and exchanging of rings took about 15 minutes. Our next destination was Malesherbes about 100km from Asnières.

la mairie, le couple ont prononcés leurs voeux dans une salle magnifique. La cérémonie a durée 15 minutes. Notre destination suivante fut Malesherbes situé à environ 100km d'Asnières.In accordance to French tradition, the wine of honnour was next in the programme. We drank champagne until it was time for dinner. Dinner started around 8.30pm and was accompanied with speeches, games and dancing. Everything spoken had to be translated from french to english and romanian.

Selon la tradition française, la suite du programme consiste à assister au vin d'honneur. Nous avons bu du champagne jusqu'au dinner. Le dinner commença vers 20h30 and fut accompagner de discours, de jeux et de danse. Tout les discours durent être traduis en français, anglais et roumain.
At midnight, the wedding cake was brought out. We ate and drank too much. Luckily, upon Anca's advise, we had booked in advance a hotel nearby. Anca told us that in Romania, people would be dancing until 6am. The romanian gang was dancing their traditional dance and I even joined in. We left the wedding place at around 3am.

A minuit, la pièce montée a été apporté. Nous avons trop bu et trop mangé. Heureusement, suite au conseil d'Anca, nous avions réservé une chambre d'hôtel proche. Anca nous a dit qu'en Roumanie, les gens dansent jusqu'à 6 heures du matin. Le gang de roumain dansa leur danse traditionnelle et je les rejoignis. Nous avons quitté la salle vers 3 heures du matin.
The following day, we were invited for brunch.

Le lendemain, nous avons été invité au "brunch".

Normally, in a french wedding, people could be invited to different events. Usually, there are a larger number of people invited to the ceremony. After that, some are invited for the wine of honour (vin d’honneur). And after that, only close friends and family are further invited for the dinner.

Normalement, pendant un mariage français, les gens peuvent être invités à des évènements différents. Traditionnellement, beaucoup de gens sont invités à la cérémonie. Ensuite, certains sont invités au vin d'honneur. Puis, seul les amis proches et la famille sont invités pour le diner.

I really enjoyed myself and I wish Anca and Régis happiness in their journey togather as a married couple.

J'ai vraiment apprécié ce moment et je souhaite à Anca et Régis, plein de bonheur dans leur voyage de vie de couple.

Thanks to Seb for the translation in Franch. I was too lazy to make an effort.
Merci à Seb pour la traduction. Je suis trop fainéante.

dimanche, juillet 20, 2008

Sam's visit

Sam came visiting last week for several days. I showed him around Paris and we walked alot. We also ate a lot. Like my other friends, he is into pastry and we tried different macarons. He tried lots of different flavours like rose, lavendar, strawberry with balsamic vinegar among others.

Sam m’a rendu visite pendant quelques jours. Je lui ai montré Paris et nous avons beaucoup marché. Nous avons beaucoup mangé également. Comme mes amies, il aime les pâtisseries et nous avons essayé les macarons. Sam a essayé macarons en rose, lavande, fraise balsamique . . . .

During his stay, we visited Chartes. While Seb was doing grocery shopping with his grandmother, I made Sam discover the uptown of Chartres. After that, the four of us had a good lunch togather. Sam took a lot of photos of Chartres. Though I visit Chartres so often, I realised I had not taken many photos there. So, it was good that Sam downloaded his photos on my computer.

Pendant son séjour, nous avons visité Chartres. Pendant que Seb faisait les course avec sa grand-mère, j’ai montré à Sam la centre ville de Chartres. Ensuite, nous avons pris un bon déjeuner. Sam a pris beaucoup de photos de Chartres. Malgré mes nombreuses visites, je n’ai jamais vraiment pris des photos de Chartres. Je suis contente que Sam ait copié ses photos sur mon ordinateur.
On Sunday, we went up Montmarte at night and spotted many fireworks set off in the various suburbs of Paris. It was National Day eve. The fireworks were really far away but at a moment, we saw 5 fireworks across our panoramic view.

Le dimanche soir, nous sommes allés à Montmarte et nous avons vu plusieurs feux d’artifices dans les banlieues de Paris. C’était la veille du 14 Juillet. Les feux d’artifices étaient loins et en un moment, nous avons vu 5 feux d’artifices grâce à cette vue panoramique.
On National Day itself, we went to Champ Mars to see the fireworks. Since last year, there had been a rock concert at Champ Mars before the fireworks started. The last time I came for the fireworks was a few years ago. This time, we were met with tight security. There were a lot of people and we did not had a good view of the fireworks. Still, it was always nice to see fireworks light up Eiffel Tower.

Le jour de la fête nationale, nous sommes allés aux Champs Mars le soir. Depuis l’an dernier, il y a un concert de rock aux Champs Mars avant le commencement du feu d’artifices. Il y a quelques années que je n'était pas allée voir le feu d’artifices. Cette fois ci, il y avait beaucoup de contrôle de sécurité. Il y avait beaucoup de monde et nous n’avons pas eu une belle vue. Néanmoins, c’est toujours quelque choses de voir le feu d’artifices à coté le Tour Eiffel.

On Wednesday, I met up Sam during my lunch time and baded him farewell before he headed to the airport. But alas, he missed his flight by 5 mins. His luggage was already checked in. It was at the security control that held him up. So, he stayed another night and cooked Seb and I a sumptuous dinner.

Mercredi, j’ai déjeuné avec Sam pendant ma pause déjeuner et on s'est dit au revoir avant qu'il parte pour l’aéroport. Mais il a manqué son avion de 5 mins. Sa valise était déjà enregistrée. C’était le contrôle de sécurité qui l'a ralenti. Donc, il est resté encore une nuit et il a préparé un dîner superbe pour Seb et moi.

Sam will be in London for the next 2 years. We are sure that we would have a chance to meet up again soon. After all, he had only visited Paris and France offers so many gastronomy opportunities for him.

Sam est à Londres pour les prochains deux ans. Je suis sûre que nous nous verrons bientôt. Il a visité seulement Paris et la France offre tellement d'opportunités gastronomiques.

Note: Photos courtesy of Sam.

vendredi, juillet 18, 2008

Random reads

I read an article about an interview given by Lee Kuan Yew on the Middle East Times.

One of the questions was : "So how do you see the future of capitalism?" Mr Lee replied : "As chairman of the equivalent of our Sovereign Wealth Fund, we examine and decide where to invest our money, in equities or bonds or what have you. Our fund managers are paid five times what I get. Why? Because they have had good track records in growing our fund and we know what they could command in the private sector. They are dealing with billions of dollars every day and must be compensated accordingly. "

He also added; "So here we also stay with the losers, make sure they have enough to live on, with healthcare, equal education opportunities for their children whose parents can no longer afford it. It's very important they not feel abandoned. So we have workfare and ingenuous ways to keep them working as we don't want layabouts doing nothing. We also subsidize homes which they would not be able to buy. A society can only survive if there is a sense of equity and fair play."

After this article, I read another article about sovereign wealth funds. Temasek was heavily referenced.

Extracted from the article "Barclays is expected to add two new sovereign wealth funds to its existing duo of China Development Bank and Singapore's Temasek, which came on board last July to help the British bank raise its - unsuccessful - bid for ABN Amro. That is in addition to its negotiations with Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, which is expected to invest around £500m as part of a new business relationship with Barclays.

Yet both have already lost more than half their investment, paying 720p a share for their combined 5 per cent stake compared with last week's price of around 320p.

It is not Temasek's only loss: last December, it paid $4.4bn (£2.2bn) for a stake in US banking giant Merrill Lynch; last week, that holding was worth just $3.4bn. "

Are you thinking what I am thinking? Fund managers paid five times more than Mr Lee Kuan Yew while they were losing billions of Singaporean's hard earn money?

As for the subsidize homes, that is another interesting point. I remembered I read a while ago about this subject. However, I could not find back the article. I did however found a similar opinion in
Dairy of a Singaporean Mind.

Below is just an extraction:
Understanding the Market in Market Subsidy

Have you ever wondered what will HDB flats costs if the PAP did not change the rules and allow CPF to be used to pay for them? Have you ever wondered what they will cost if only 12 year housing loans are allowed instead of 25 yr loans?

Since the HDB supplies 70-80% of property market, it is a virtual monopoly. Given that HDB is part of the govt, it also has control of the property market in terms of policy. So Singaporeans are subsidised against a market that is created by the HDB and govt.

Note: If you are interested to read more, click on the hyperlinks. Happy reading.

mardi, juillet 01, 2008

Samaria National Park

When we were in Crete, Seb and I went on a day trip to the national park of Samaria. The gorge of Samaria is situated in the National park of Samaria, in the White Mountains in West Crete.

Pendant notre vacances en Crête, Seb et moi avons fait une excursion au national parc de Samaria. La Gorge de Samaria est situé dans le parc, parmi les montagnes blancs en Crête de l'ouest.

The trekking from the starting point of the National Park down to the end was about 13km. We had to walk an extra 3km to reach the sea at Agia Roumeli. Over there,we would take a boat to have a view of the white mountains from the sea.

La randonnée compte 13km. Il faut marcher encore 3km pour arriver sur la mer dans le village Agia Roumeli. Là bas, nous avons pris un bateau afin d'avoir la vue de la mer sur les montagnes blanches.

The entry to the park cost 5€ and it started at an altitude of 1250m. For the first few kilometers, it was steep slopes all the way down. As I was not prepared for this trip, I did not have adequate shoes. My knees were killing me after a few hours of walk.

L'entrée du parc coûte 5€ et la marche commence à une altitude du 1250m. Pendant les premiers kilomètres, il n'y avait que des pentes abruptes. Comme je n'étais pas préparé pour cette randonnée, je n'avais pas les chaussures adéquate. Mes genoux m'ont tués après quelque heures de marche.

This walk is greatly discourage for elderly people and people with health problems. On our first kilometer, we saw an elderly man sitting on the ground panting for air. His companion was trying to help him. I had seen donkeys at the park entry. I assumed that these donkeys would be used to carry people in difficulties out of the park.

Samaria n'est pas une promenade facile. Elle est fortement déconseillée aux personnes âgées et aux personnes avec des problèmes de santé. Pendant notre premier kilomètre, nous avons vu une personne âgée par terre et il avait des difficultés pour respirer. Son compagnon essayait de l'aider. J'ai vu des ânes à l'entrée du parc et j'ai pensé que ces ânes transportent les gens en difficulté hors du parc.

There are many resting points in the parc. As a natural park, there are no vendors. However, there are fresh water points and we could always refill our bottles from the fresh cooling spring water.

Il y a beaucoup d'endroits pour faire une pause dans le parc. Il n'y a pas de vendeur mais il y a toujours une source d'eau potable. Nous avons rempli nos bouteilles avec de l'eau fraiche.

At the base of the mountains, part of the valley was narrow. We felt so small walking between the mountains. The view was beautiful.

Dans la gorge, il y a des parties qui sont très étroites. Nous nous sentions petits entre les montagnes. La vue était magnifique.

There were a few small streams to cross. The villages around drink from this source. So we were told not to touch the water.

Il y avait des ruisseaux à traverser. L'eau potable est utilisée par les villages aux alentours. Donc, il est interdit de toucher l'eau.

At the end of the trail is the sea. We set off at 8am and reached the seaside around 2.30pm. We were really hot and sweaty. Most of us changed into our swimwear and went into the sea for a cool dip.
A la fin de la randonnée, nous sommes arrivés à la mer. Nous avons commencé à 8h et nous sommes arrivés vers 14h30. Nous avions très chaud. La plupart des gens ont mis leurs maillots de bain et ont profité de la mer.

We took the boat at 3.30pm and rode along the southern coast until a few villages away where our bus was waiting for us to bring us back to the hotel. It was a great excursion and I have no regrets doing it though Seb and I had muscles aches the next day.

Nous avons pris le bateau vers 15h30 et nous sommes remontés de la côte sud jusqu'à un village plus loin. Nous avons ensuite pris le car pour l'hôtel. C'était une formidable excursion et je l'ai beaucoup aimé malgré les courbatures le lendemain.

lundi, juin 30, 2008

Last weekend of June

I have decided to write in two languages. I guess most readers are english speaking but I would like to improve my french.Maybe you would be interested to learn some french too. But I can't promise that my french writing will be perfect.
J'ai décidé d'écrire en deux langages. Je crois que mes lecteurs sont anglophones mais je voudrais améliorer mon français. Peut-être que les anglophones seront intéressés pour apprendre le français. Mais mon français n'est pas parfait.
We spent our weekend at my in-law's place in Chartres to celebrate my birthday.I received a lot of gifts. Seb gave me two books about balcony gardening, a wallet and a MP3.I also got a beautiful umbrella, a binoculars and a chinese wok. With the strong winter winds, I broke one umbrella each year. I do hope my new umbrella would last me longer.While Seb and I were trekking in the National Park of Samaria, I wished I had a pair of binoculars for bird sightings.And of course, a chinese wok would come in handy when I need to stir fry vegetables.Seb had helped me to upload songs into my IPod Nano. This little thing weighed less than 6 grams and seemed so fragile. I used it this morning on the way to work. It would be most helpful for my work travelling on planes and trains.

Nous avons passés notre weekend chez mes beaux parents à Chartres afin de fêter mon anniversaire.J'ai reçu beaucoup des cadeaux. Seb m'a donné deux beaux livres à propos du jardinage sur le balcon, une portefeuille et un lecteur MP3.J'ai aussi un jolie parapluie, une paire de jumelles et un wok chinois. Chaque année, je casse un parapluie avec le vent d'hiver. J'espère que ce nouveau parapluie va avoir une durée de vie plus longue.Pendant notre randonnée dans le parc national de Samaria, j'ai souhaité avoir des jumelles pour regarder les oiseaux.Et bien sûr, je pourrais utiliser le wok chinois pour sauter des légumes. Seb m'a aidé à copier de la musique dans mon IPOD Nano. Ce petit machin pèse moins de 6 grammes et il a l'air très fragile. Je l'ai utilisé ce matin sur le trajet de travail. Il va être très utile pour mes déplacements dans les avions et les trains.
We had BBQ for my birthday celebration. It was great to dine outdoors in the garden. The cherry tree had lots of cherries and I helped to pick cherries. They were really sweet.Back home, my cherry tomatoes were starting to get bigger each day. Granny-in-law gave me an extra gift. A long pot of flowers. They were beautiful.

Nous avons fait un BBQ pour ma fête. C'était génial de manger dans le jardin. Le cerisier a plein de cerises et j'en ai cueilli beaucoup. Il sont très bons.

Chez moi, mes tomates cerises sont plus en plus grosses. Ma belle-mamie m'a offert en plus de mes cadeaux un bac de fleurs. Elles sont magnifiques.

Our balcony is starting to look like a jungle. Soon, we would be running out of space.

Notre balcon ressemble à une jungle. Bientôt, nous n'aurons plus d'espace.

dimanche, juin 22, 2008


We visited the biggest city in Crete for half a day. I was tempted to call Heraklion the capital of Crete but Crete was not a country.

There was a public bus that stopped by the hotel to bring tourists to Heraklion, also known as Iraklion. For the return trip, we were restricted to take the bus at 2.30pm as that was the only bus heading back to hotel.

We spent our 4 hours walking towards the old port and the old fortress. After that, we walked up the main street and visited the cathedrals before having lunch in the central square dominated by the fountain of the Lions.

After lunch, we headed towards the Archaelogical Museum of Iraklion that housed most of the Minoan findings in Crete. When we arrived, we were told that the museum was under renovation and only one room with the most precious artifacts was under exhibition.

The room was indeed small but impressive. I spent 30mins viewing every item with attention. Most were discovered at Knossos and created between 1000 to 2000 years before Christ.
I just loved the vase below. Its description said "libation vase (rhyton) of rock crytal with glided ivory discs on the neck ring". It was made around 1500 to 1450 BC. I find it really delicate and exquisite.

When we reached our hotel at 3.30pm, it was back to the sea deck. :)

jeudi, juin 19, 2008

Peninsula Hotel in Crete

Seb and I had a good week of rest at Peninsula Hotel in Crete, Greece. The weather was sunny and the sea was really blue and clear. Apart from an afternoon visit to Iraklion; the biggest city in Crete, a day trip to the National Park of Samaria and a day of driving around visiting other cities, we spent our days lazing around the pool and sea deck.

As we were on half-board, we had breakfast and dinner at the hotel. There was always a wide variety food and the food quality was not too bad. We had read in Tripadvisor good comments about this hotel and I was not disappointed. One negative point had to be our room. Though we had a sea view, the room was really basic. Only two bars of soaps were provided. No shampoo, shower cap etc...
The hotel was built along a cliff and everyday we had to descend many flight of stairs to get to the seaside. I preferred to swim in the salt-water swimming pool while Seb preferred the big blue sea. I am not a strong swimmer and felt more comfortable in a confined parameter. I feel safe being a gold-fish in its fish bowl. Seb, however, is like a dolphin who loves the caresse of the gentle waves and the depth of the sea. He could swim for hours in the sea. Well, I did manage to find distractions while lazing around on the deck chair.There were these two middle-age couples who were at the sea deck everyday. The men would snokler around the rocks and corals and picked up sea urchins. They showed the curious sun-bathers how sea urchins could be consumed. I joined in the conversation and had a taste of the sea urchins. They said that sea urchins tasted better than caviar.
Only the female sea urchins were harvested and once opened up, we could see five custard-like, golden sections. These were what we ate. They tasted really fishy and salty. Yeah, what would one expect? Still, it was an interesting discovery for me.
There were many french and retired couples in this hotel. In the evening, there were activities organised like Bingo, Karaoke, Disco, Dance lesson and a Greek Folklore evening. We attended the karaoke night and went back to our room to watch TV after listening to only three songs. It was terrible. Claire and gang could sing much better.
I do not mind coming back here as the staff were helpful and friendly. They seemed to be working round the clock. I was told that the hotel closed during winter. So the staff members only work about 8 months a year. The standard of living in Crete is lower than in France and I dare say lower than Singapore's as well.

Another interesting thing I saw was this sign in every toilet. What did "any paper" mean? Toilet paper as well? My curiousity got the better of me and I finally asked the receptionist after four days. She confirmed that toilet paper should not be thrown into the toilet bowl as the latter would clog up easily. I tried to respect this sign but some habits were just too hard to kick off.