Books to Read in 2017

I’m not good at keeping New Year’s resolutions. I’m one of those who forgets/gives up a couple of weeks into the New Year or I’ll procrastinate and start the resolution when tulips are blooming, maybe. (What’s the rush? There’s 365 days in the year.) But this year will be different. I will not procrastinate as this resolution will be easy to keep: I resolve to read more. Continue reading

Montreal Celebrates the Year of the Rooster

I dropped by Chinatown this afternoon where the celebrations for the New Year were taking place. The Montreal Chinese Lion Dance Club was performing the ritual dance in front of various stores in Chinatown to wish them luck and good fortune for the new year. Here’s a short clip.

I wish you all good fortune for the Year of the Rooster!

Bye Bye 2016

To celebrate the arrival of 2017, my friends and I checked out the free festivities at the Old Port. I’ve spent many New Year’s Eves on a sofa with the remote control watching the ball drop in Times Square and fireworks around the world. This time, I decided it would be a good start to the New Year to get off the sofa, put on the long underwear, and brave the cold and the crowds.  Continue reading

A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

T20161210_170937.jpghere has been so much ridicule surrounding Montreal`s challenger to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree that I went downtown and had a look for myself. Yes, it is a Charlie Brown tree. It’s skinny and not as full and pretty as the one in New York (which I heard is actually made up of 3 trees wired together), but when lit up at night, I think it’s beautiful and does its job well, which is to bring people together to celebrate the holiday season.

Speaking of Charlie Brown, my absolute favorite Christmas album is A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. You can listen to it below. Continue reading

Exploring a Hutong in Beijing

One evening in Beijing, my tour group had supper at a family home located in a hutong. A hutong is an old residential neighborhood.  Many were bulldozed in the name of progress and replaced with skyscrapers, but apparently, the Chinese government put a stop to it in order to preserve those that remain. This was an opportunity to see a private home, and get away from the bland meals served by the restaurants that catered to tour groups, even if it was only for one evening.

To get there, we took an old mode of transportation: a rickshaw. There was at least a dozen of them lined up along a wide street waiting for passengers and we would need all of them for our group. The drivers happily helped us climb in and when everyone was seated and photos taken, the rickshaws rolled out one after the other, like a wagon train rumbling across a frontier.  Continue reading

A Matter of Language: Chinglish Signs

Language was definitely an issue for me in China. When sales people started talking to me in Mandarin, I’d stop them and ask if they spoke English. Luckily, there would be another customer close by who stepped forward to translate. So being a Chinese in China who couldn’t speak the local language, I found some local signs amusing, even if it was just a typo. My favorite is the last one. Continue reading

Light Show on The Bund, Shanghai

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One of the highlights of my trip to China in October was Shanghai. With a population of over 24 million, it is three times bigger than New York. If you combine Shanghai’s population with the 8 million who inhabit the city of Suzhou which is just two hours away, it almost equals Canada’s population which is just over 36 million.

Shanghai rivals New York City in razzle dazzle. Every evening from 6p.m. to 10p.m., it puts on a light show along The Bund that highlights the old and the new sides of the city. Here’s a short 2 minute video that I put together. It doesn’t do it justice, but I hope you enjoy it.