Category: China

Global Blog Campaign – The 7 Links Project

By , August 8, 2011 4:04 am

I think this is an absolutely brilliant idea!!

I was invited by a fellow 2011 Singapore Blog Award winner (Best Lifestyle Blog), Bing, from storyofbing.com to take part in a global campaign known as ‘The 7 Links Blog Project’.

The idea, is that bloggers from all over the world list out seven of their top articles in a variety of categories (this is not actually that easy when there are literally hundreds of posts for me to choose from, and everything I write is usually inspired by an emotion or passion at a particular point of time – so how to pick just seven best ones?… Check out my selection and perhaps decide if you agree with me). The project continues by each blogger who has been invited, forwarding the request to three more bloggers to keep the campaign going (once again, out of all of my blogger friends and mates – how to pick just three?)

Anyway, a huge thanks to Bing for the invite and the very lovely words she wrote on her Top 7 Article!!

Without ado, here are my seven entries for this project:

My Most Beautiful Post

OK – so how to define ‘beautiful’? I guess the term is very subjective, and for me, the most beautiful thing in my life is my family… therefore, I have to break the rules (already) and enter three articles in this category – one each for Jaime and Casey and one for my beautiful wife, Sammi.

The one for Jaime was just a short while back – the cuteness overload saw the Singapore national Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao view the YouTube Video and subsequently interview me for a large print article that appeared about a ‘4-year old mixed kid Internet superstar’… how very proud was I??

The article (click to view), was titled, “WTH!? Huge Amounts Of Cuteness Overload – 郑家洋”

DSC_0367

The article for Casey was (of course) the miracle that was his childbirth (on the same date as my dear departed Dad). Click here to view “Miracle of Life – Casey Zheng Jiakai!!”

IMG_1736sm

Finally – the love of my life (aaawwww!), Sammi… I’ve obviously written numerous articles about the joys of our inter-cultural marriage, so it’s difficult to choose, but I decided on this one (Valentine’s Day last year – which won a prize from Reebonz)… I chose it specifically because it has our wedding video (short version) embedded. Click here to share with us and enjoy our wedding! – “Sharing The Love For Valentine’s Day”

ourwedding

My Most Popular Post

If ‘popularity’ for this 7-Links project is based on unique visitors and ‘hits’, then without a doubt the winner in this category, is an article I wrote a couple of years back, after much research on the oft-discussed language that is unique to Singaporeans and actually (I believe) culturally significant and something that all locals should be proud of – SINGLISH!

The article was entitled, “SINGLISH – A Language Guide for Foreigners”… Click here to read it.

singlishsign

My Most Controversial Post

The most ‘controversial’ is once again a bit subjective, given that I’m going now just on the sheer number of emails I received (and still receive) on this article that I also wrote a couple of years back… it was really a ‘test’ at the time to see what the feedback of readers would be, and is not a topic that I would probably broach on my blog these days – I think my writings and musings here at ‘Aussie Pete’ were perhaps much more controversial back in those days as I was learning to feel my feet in a new country.

This title of the post speaks for itself – click to read – “‘Ang Mo’ in Singapore and ‘Lao Wai’ or ‘Gweilo’ in China – Offensive to Westerners?”

gweilo01

My Most Helpful Post

This one is easy – without a doubt, the article that I wrote outlining our experiences and the processes that a PR (permanent resident) in Singapore needs to go through to purchase a resale HDB apartment in Singapore… it was also picked up (with my permission) and used as a 5-part series at both one of the popular online real estate companies in Singapore, along with Yahoo News – if I counted all the comments and traffic driven around the blogosphere by these ‘rewrites’, I could also say that this article was the most popular AND (for various reasons) the most controversial.

(NB: Due to changes in rules and regulations, some of the information may be a little outdated)

Click here for “Information For PRs – How To Buy A Resale HDB Apartment In Singapore”

ourapartment

My Most Surprisingly Successful Post

Obviously over the last few years, the content of my blog has ‘morphed’ a bit into what is now known as ‘WTH’ (What The Hell) – I say ‘obviously’, because I have won the award for the best WTH blog in Singapore for the last two years at the OMY Singapore Blog Awards.

The fallout from this, is that now and then I write posts that may be considered by many (including myself) as downright crazy and even disgusting. One such article received huge amounts of (search generated) traffic and is perhaps a good example of how the digusting and perverted can be of interest to thousands of ordinary people.

Click to read about the “Sick Chinese Video Craze – Pretty Girls Crushing Bunnies (Warning: Graphic)”

crushrabbit06

My Most Under-Rated Post

Once again, I’m selecting one of my older articles for this… I wrote this one just a few weeks after we bought our car, and I was very alarmed at the speed of motorists in car parks. Two years later, I still feel very strongly about this, and would love to see this post get more exposure to create awareness.

Car Parks – Slow Down or Kill Someone – Click to read about it!

slowdown

Post I Am Most Proud Of

So perhaps the actual article link here is not the only one I’m proud of (although it was an awesome experience meeting such an inspiration as Lee Hsien Loong (PM of Singapore)… in general the post is a reflection of the pride and self-satisfaction that I feel from volunteering as a Grassroots leader. To be able to help out in the community in such a variety of ways is extremely gratifying, as well as enabling my family and me to reach out and meet so many wonderful new friends and neighbours in Sengkang West – OUR HOME!!

Click here to read about “The Day I Met The Prime Minister of Singapore”

pmlee01

Finally, it’s time to pass the baton on – so the three bloggers who I will invite to participate in the ‘7 Links Blog Project’ are (in no particular order):

ALVINOLOGY
http://alvinology.com

“Alvinology is a light-hearted blog maintained by a regular Singaporean dude called Alvin who lives in Potong Pasir.

Like most Singaporeans, Alvin likes to travel and eat. Hence a large number of blog posts are devoted to these two topics. He also likes to read books, watch movies, check out the funny as well as chee ko pek issues online”

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
http://thelongnwindingroad.wordpress.com/

“Once told that it was his destiny to wander through life, the Wondering Wanderer takes a wide eyed view of life’s wanderings through the eyes of the child that he was and blogs about the many things that has captured his imagination through life’s journey.”

FUNNY LITTLE WORLD
http://kirstenhan.me/

“Since moving back to Singapore in 2010 from New Zealand after being deemed “too tall” to play a hobbit (while “too small” for anything else), Kirsten has been working on documentary and film projects.

Kirsten recently won the ‘Best Y Bloggist’ award in the ingapore Blog Awards 2011, and is on far too many social media platforms for her own good”

Healthy Eating Means A Healthy Mind And Body

By , July 31, 2011 11:26 pm

A slight diversion from my usual subject matter…

Most of my readers are probably very weary of reading about my weight loss, and the last thing you want to hear from me, would be how much of a hard effort I put in each and every week at the gym.

So, I’m going to change gears a little and talk about the huge changes that we’ve made in not just my eating habits, but those of my entire family.

You see, although I was quoted in Men’s Health magazine talking about the basic mathematics behind weight loss – calories burned minus calories taken in – what I didn’t touch on, is the other benefits of eating healthy… it’s all about moderation, balance and variety.

A couple of key things to remember – LESS SALT and LESS FAT in your foods!

When it comes to our 4-year old Jaime, for example, we are very lucky in that he is extremely adventurous when it comes to trying new foods… and even luckier that he does not have much of a sweet tooth, nor does he like very salty foods – in fact, give him a bowl of steamed green vegetables and mushrooms, and he will be as ‘happy as Larry’!

herbaljaime02

When it comes to me personally, before I met my wife and developed any depth of knowledge through diverse cultural experiences, I had spent the greater part of my life never understanding or even knowing the benefits of natural Chinese herbs.

After spending many years in Asia (the first few in China), I quickly became exposed to many foods which I had never even heard of let alone consumed. At the same time, I was amazed at how well I felt as a result of many of the various natural herbal soups that my father-in-law made for me – and each time he served, he took the time out to show me the herbs in their pre-cooked state and explained the benefits of each one – whether you’re looking for herbs to increase overall wellness, improve your eye-sight, reduce blood pressure or ward off the next season’s common cold or flu… there will always be something just for you!

Now here’s the slam-dunk – while most western ‘preventative’ medicines or healthy food may not always taste that great, through centuries of handing-down and sharing of key learnings, most Chinese herbal soups taste absolutely fabulous – and within a very short time after eating, you are guaranteed to feel absolutely on top of the world… a true natural high that’s also legal 🙂

The downfall of all of this, is that neither my wife or I have the knowledge or experience to prepare the ingredients to produce our own herbal soups at home.

Last night, we found a way to overcome this lack of knowledge, and I’m about to share it with you now, dear readers…

Check out this picture below – believe it or not – our very own home cooked Chicken Herbal Soup with American Ginseng, Huai Shan, Gou Qi, Yu Zhu and Long Yan!

herbalsoup

Upon boiling the chicken (with no salt or additives), the soup took just minutes to prepare. This is thanks to a new collaboration between two companies, both experts in their respective fields and very trusted brand names – Eu Yan Sang and Maggi!

herbal01I recommend that you check it out for yourself – YANG SHENG LE – it’s a concentrated Herbal Soup. Thers is a range available of these herbal chicken soups, and according to the website which I had to check out after dinner, they are all made from premium quality Chinese herbs and natural ingredients. You can pick them up at selected supermarkets and all Eu Yan Sang shops.

Some of the other attractive features of these ‘ready to boil’ natural soups for dummies (don’t tell my wife I called her that), include: No Preservatives, No Added MSG, No Added Artificial Colouring or Flavouring and they are easily prepared in minutes.

It’s very important to point out that the ‘oiliness’ you see in the picture of our soup, is due to the chicken – I’ve since found out that to reduce this, simply remove the skin from the chicken before you begin :p

After we ate this soup tonight (the American Ginseng one), I asked our number one critic in the house to rate the flavour – Jaime gave it a full thumbs up. I then checked with our in-house nutrition expert and critic, Sammi, who likewise gave it a more than positive decision.

For me – I’m just stoked that something that tastes so good and fills me up after taking it in moderation, is full of the balance and variety I spoke of above, has little salt and fat content, and keeps my calories “intake and burn” balance well and truly in check.

So there you go – a healthy choice for all of the family – simple to prepare with all of the knowledge of centuries of Chinese herbal benefits, that will leave you feeling good inside and out! Perfect also for those of you living a busy lifestyle!

Source: Aussie Pete

WTH!? Huge Amounts Of Cuteness Overload – 郑家洋

By , July 11, 2011 1:52 am

Ok – here’s a very important message for all TV and Movie producers and directors, talent and casting agents and modelling studios – you better get in quick!!

Just check out this absolute CUTENESS OVERLOAD!! Some kids are just born to be stars, and the talent put forth by this particular child along with his amazing good looks will leave audiences in the future wanting more.

Cuteness Overload - Jaime 郑家洋

Cuteness Overload - Jaime 郑家洋

You may well be right to say that I am extremely biased (and overwhelmingly proud), given that Jaime is my son, but please – just look at the pictures and watch the short video below… there is no way you could disagree!

At almost 4-years of age, Jaime Zheng Jiayang (郑家洋) is a product of my Australian heritage (Caucasian, with some indigenous mixture a couple of generations back) and my beautiful wife Sammi (Chinese race – Shanghainese by birth). When it comes to a video camera or DSLR, he is as photogenic and confident as you can possibly get.

Another short note – watch out for his younger brother also (Casey), who is now coming to 10-months old.

A FEW PICTURES FROM HIS KINDERGARTEN PERFORMANCE:

Jaime Zheng Jiayang

Jaime Zheng Jiayang

Jaime Zheng Jiayang

Jaime Zheng Jiayang

Jaime Zheng Jiayang

VIDEO OF A SONG IN PREPARATION FOR SINGAPORE NDP (国旗国旗我爱你 – National Flag, I Love You!):

[youtube Pa8LonfyFzY]

For auditions and bookings – just feel free to email me 🙂

Source: Aussie Pete

Man vs Wild OR Aussie Pete vs Shanghainese Food

By , February 9, 2011 8:30 pm

Bear GryllsThis is an article to make even the infamous Bear Grylls envious!

OK, so at least the star of the hit Discovery Channel show has more courage than me – he eats his exotic dishes raw (and even still alive) most of the time.

Now I’m not talking about your every day food that can be found anywhere in most parts of Asia – such as fish head soup, chickens feet or pigs trotters – whenever I’m in Shanghai, I often find myself outdone by my wife when it comes to how much my stomach (and mind) can handle (and she’s not very happy that I’m ‘making fun’ of the local food – but really, I’m not… I truly am envious!!)

For my ‘western’ readers, perhaps now might be a good time to look away if you’ve yet to eat dinner tonight.

The following are pictures I’ve taken of a few examples of the dishes that have been served to me over recent days here in China.

Let’s begin with something that I’d already previously had the pleasure of partaking in (once in Taiwan)… the well-known and recognised ‘ducks tongue’:

Ducks Tongue

Next – and maybe not that exotic to many – ‘spicy frog‘… for those connoisseurs of European food, I’m not talking about your expensive delicasy that is frogs legs… this is the real thing – the whole frog in all of it’s glory!:

Spicy Frog

We’ve all eaten our share of prawns… but quite frankly, I prefer mine cooked and not still twitching:

Raw Prawns

The thing that I was so impressed about when we were served this deep-fried snake, was the very skillful way they carefully sliced then rolled the skin to form parts of the side ‘salad’ (the black and white striped slivers in this picture):

Deep Fried Snake

OK – so maybe we were not really asked to eat a cow’s head… but I was intrigued to see our beef served up on a platter that was the real skull of a once-live bovid:

Cow Skull

Last but not least – we didn’t actually eat this, but it is a common belief in many parts of China, that young children when they are ready to start weaning on to solid foods should first be given a very small sip of soup made from the stock of a goose head – this is said to help if the baby should fall down as they start toddling… it is believed that extra strength will be given to the neck to avoid the baby hitting their head – so this dish was especially for Casey… Jaime also had a sip of the same when he was ready to start weaning:

Goose Head

Oh Dear, SIA!! – Why Hast Thou Foresaken Me?

By , December 2, 2010 11:03 pm

Whenever any friends, family or even readers of my blog have contacted me for advice or suggestions on which airline they should engage to travel within the region, I have unhesitatingly always replied, “Singapore Airlines… they may be more expensive than many other carriers, but for the service and comfort that they offer, I think it’s worth the extra investment”.

Kris FlyerIn literally decades of travelling around Asia, whether for business or leisure, I have always booked my (and my family’s) flights through SIA. Over the years, I have always been either a Gold or Silver Kris Flyer member (some years I’ve travelled more than others).

In all, I consider myself to be a completely dedicated and extremely loyal customer of the airline (even though we’ve sometimes had the odd mix-up in seating arrangements and non-availability of an infant’s meal a couple of times – these kind of issues are not commonplace and have not been enough to discourage me from still keeping SIA as my carrier of choice).

Unfortunately, just today, all the faith and confidence that I’ve built up over the years was completely crushed. Oh my dear SIA – Why hast thou forsaken me??

I don’t wish to complicate our plight too much with detailed explanation, so I will simplify and summarize as briefly as I can (at least I’ll try, anyway).

Singapore Airlines

In preparation for our annual pilgrimage back to visit immediate and extended family in Shanghai for Chinese New Year, 2011, my wife had done the usual research on how we could get the best deal through SIA for our preferred departure dates.

All was looking quite encouraging. Flights were available and we had enough frequent flyer miles to secure two adult tickets (which require payment for just the taxes and charges).

The total cost scenario for booking online, without using frequent flyer miles, for two adults, one child and an infant would be as follows (on a ‘sweet deal’):

SIA Price

That’s not too bad, right?? – So far, so good!!

So, next step was to actually make the booking. Given that we wanted to use frequent flyer miles to redeem the two adult fares, I knew that I would need to contact SIA customer service to make sure that there were enough seats available on the same flights for the whole family, also to link the redeemed itinerary with the kid’s tickets… of course, it’s not possible to book a flight online for a child or infant without booking a flight for at least one adult at the same time. NOR can you link current adult tickets or itineraries online to make a booking for a child or an infant.

OK – *ring, ring* – the customer service hotline was very efficient – I got through to a representative almost immediately. Smiling to myself, knowing that this is the kind of service that I’m used to from SIA, I began to explain my requirements.

The first lady with whom I spoke was very helpful, but did explain that I would need to make the online miles redemption for the two adult tickets first, so that I could provide them with the booking reference (not just the flight information), for them to check availability for the child ticket and a bassinet confirmation for the infant fare.

That’s ok – quickly back online, and I use what is a very efficient service to redeem the two adult tickets using frequent flyer miles. All confirmed, and at a total cost of just $548.60 (taxes and charges), thereby saving $1,100 (the top line of the above ‘sweet deal’ price). Pretty neat, hey? And feeling very proud of myself at this stage!!

Singapore Airlines - Economy Class

So – *ring, ring* – back to SIA customer service again – and the same prompt service and immediate answering of my call.

This time, I spoke to a very helpful gentleman. I gave him the booking reference for our two adult redeemed tickets, and he very gladly looked up the flight availability for the child fare. Great news – there are plenty of seats still available. He told me that he will hold the seat for me, while he quickly checked the availability of a bassinet seat for the infant.

Before moving to this next section of the call, he explained to me the cost of the child ticket onboard the same flight… this is where things got very ugly indeed!!

I almost fell off my seat when he explained that the cost for one child would be $1,380.80!! Furthermore, because I was making the booking by telephone, I would be subject to a $50 processing fee – total child fare of $1,430!!

Wait a minute!!! That’s three times what we could purchase the child ticket online for! That’s more than half of the original cost to book all four tickets online – two adults, one child and one infant!

Absolutely aghast, I asked the customer service representative to repeat what he had just said… I know my hearing plays up sometimes from the years that I spent as a DJ in a nightclub in my early 20s. But alas, no, I did indeed hear him correctly!!

I proceeded to explain to him this gross price difference, and although very empathetic, the gentleman just replied that this was the best deal he could offer me over the telephone. I then asked if I could escalate this to someone more senior… “Of course, Sir – but this is still the best deal that we can offer you over the telephone”.

usdollarsHe also explained that if I made the booking online I could get a cheaper price – I reiterated that I could not book online, because the system requires that at least one adult ticket is booked at the same time and that we already have both the adult tickets (through frequent flyer redemption), nor can we somehow link our current tickets or reference to a child and infant booking online. He replied, “Yes, I know that Sir, but that’s the best deal I can offer you over the telephone”.

* SIGH!!!!! *

Now, I’d been left with two choices:

1. Pay the full child fare as offered by SIA along with the infant fare, thus taking the total price with our adult fare taxes and charges to almost the same full price of $2,500, which I could have paid for online with no miles redemption for all four of us. This means I would have practically forfeited 68,000 frequent flyer miles for no value – at the ‘sell price’ offered by SIA to ‘Top Up’ miles (US$40 per 1,000 miles), I would be forfeiting US$2,720 worth of frequent flyer miles!!!

2. Cancel the online miles redemption tickets I had purchased just 15 minutes earlier and purchase the entire package of flights for $2,525.80. The catch?? – A $40 cancellation fee!!

Let’s just pause a moment and do the math:

Booking through frequent flyer miles and adding child and infant tickets:

Total Tickets, Taxes and Fees Cost (app S$2,200) + Cost of Flyer Miles (US$2,720)
= well in excess of S$5,000!!

Booking directly online for two adults, one child and one infant:

= S$2,525!!

Curse WordsSo there you have it… I obviously opted for choice number ‘2’, but when cancelling the tickets I had already redeemed, and finding out also that it takes 10-days for SIA to return the money back to my credit card (minus the $40 fee), then booking the full suite of tickets for $2,500 ($1,100 more than I thought I would be paying thanks to frequent flyer miles accrued as a result of my ongoing commitment and loyalty to the airline), I couldn’t help but feel the blood pressure rising in my cheeks, and I sincerely hope that my colleagues could not hear the very obscene curse words that escaped my lips!!

In all, I feel that I was punished financially for SIA’s system inadequacies of not being able to link redeemed flights with child or infants tickets. The system is not flexible enough to cope with something that I would think might be a fairly common scenario, thereby costing me serious $$.

Even with such system inadequacies, I would have hoped that SIA customer service would have been much more attuned to their customers’ needs – especially long-term, loyal and committed ones like me. The staff I spoke to on the phone were very professional and even empathetic (sympathetic?), but at the end of the day, that served very little purpose nor does it make the bitter pill any less difficult to swallow.

NB: As well as posting this very unfortunate experience on both my highly-trafficked and award-winning blog, http://www.aussiepete.com/ and my ‘star blog’, blog.omy.sg/aussiepete, I will be forwarding a copy of this article to SIA directly and through any official PR route, of which I am yet to determine. I do this in the hope that Singapore Airlines will address this process inefficiency and improve it in such a way that no other (loyal) customers are disadvantaged in this manner in the future.

‘Fetishists’ Paying Chinese Girls To Crush Innocent Bunnies On Video (Warning: Extremely Graphic)

By , November 26, 2010 1:20 am

I often embed videos in my articles, because it makes for a more entertaining and interactive post.

crushrabbit02But I am so sickened by what I’ve just watched online, there is no way I would subject my readers to make the association of my blog to the sickos that are paying young Chinese girls between 200 and 400 yuan (S$40 to S$80) to crush small rabbits to death.

Known as “crush fetishists”, the people who have uploaded these very graphic videos have taken a hammering from Chinese netizens (after a ‘human flesh’ search discovered the identity and located one of the girls from one of the scenes in the video).

In a country where internet censorship rules the day, I am bewildered as to why the sites and all of the embedded videos are still available online to the 420 million web users in China. In the series of videos, several smiling and young attractive girls can be seen first cuddling and playing with small bunnies… then moving onto crushing them and giggling all the way like young schoolgirls.

crushrabbit03There is a scene where a young woman puts a bunny on the table, covers it with a sheet of glass and then sits on it for close to a minute. When she’s finished, she lifts the glass up to show bunny corpse – with blood oozing out of its its nose.

In another scene, one of the girls crushes one of the helpless animals under her high heel shoes.

According to China Radio International, the identified girl, is Huang Xiaoxiao. She is quoted as saying that she had been paid to appear in several videos – payments range from 100 yuan for crushing fruit, 200-300 yuan for “other small animals” and as much as 400 yuan for rabbits.

crushrabbit06

Apparently these kind of animal crush videos are sold to fetishists who get some kind of sexual satisfaction from watching them. (WTH – How?) According to the US-based Humane Society, there is a bill to ban such videos ready to be voted into law in the United States, where many of the customers buying the sick DVDs reside.

The website that started all the commotion is extremely popular and often controversial. Let me warn you right now, the following links contain very, very graphic material and not for the squeamish… I consider myself pretty immune to many things, but these images and videos have left some scars that will take a while to heal, let me tell you.

Link to all the graphic detail at ChinaSmack

Link to Mop

After a little bit more research, I soon discovered that this is actually not something new. Read on…

crushrabbit04

According to a very detailed background on the ‘crush fetish’ groups (source: China Smack):

“Many Mop netizens and even more netizens would believe this is an isolated incident, would believe that the girls in the video have psychological problems. Actually, this is not so, because behind these girls is an entire interest group, an interest group known as “crushfetish”, and all of them, including the other girls that appeared in the video, are members of abusing to death little animals. Their reason for making videos of abusing and killing animals is to make enormous profit, by making their videos into compact discs [CDs/DVDs], and exporting them. As with the the videos of a middle-aged woman abusing cats, abusing rabbits, abusing dogs that appeared online before, she is just one member only.

After the video and information about the woman abusing and killing rabbits were made public, at 3pm today, a netizen shared everything he knew about the profiteering group/organization that abuses and kills animals to make videos, having infiltrated this cruel group for have a year. However, due to high security within the group, he was unable to make much progress for a long time. After a lot of asking around, he obtained this group’s chat records and content and photos, as well as many of this group’s videos involving the abuse and killing of animals.

In relevant chat records, a person called “天堂之音-老R” made a comment regarding opinions about the video that appeared at the time in March involving a woman abusing various animals. He said: Those who like CF [Crush Fetish] are not people who like violence and murder as is commonly propagated, but rather an extension of SM [sadomasochism], a level, a desire to be trampled to death by a female, giving one’s life to her…and those who [are proponents] for legislation against animal abuse and killing, [they] should ask themselves if they are vegetarians.”

crushrabbit05

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