Thursday, October 05, 2017

A scene in a bakery

It was hubby's birthday so I went to a bakery to buy a cake.
I was already not in good mood because my girls were fighting who got to choose the cake, and one decided to stay in the car.

I chose a cake that would suit the taste of most of the family members. The seller, with gloomy face, asked when I planned to eat it. I said soon, and she shook her head saying that it would be best eaten two hours later to let it defrost. I insisted to buy that cake but she was very reluctant. Instead she proposed me to buy some slices of similar cake which were in display. I can sense that I had no choice, she won't sell me the other cake anyway, beside I could choose different favors to please everyone. 

At this point, a man walked into the bakery. I was still in the middle of choosing and there was a woman beside me looking at the patisseries. The man walked directly to the cashier and asked to buy a baguette. The first seller, with gloomier face, pointed out that he was jumping queue, and that "ça se fait pas", meaning that we don't do this (jumping queue). The man apologized as he thought me and the woman beside me were together. The seller repeating that he can't do this, but the transaction was done, the cashier got the cash. Since the seller still bitching about it, the man got annoyed and raised his voice :"So what do you want me to do? Should I put back the baguette and queue again?" Then he left offended. 

I was all puzzled at this situation. Frankly it was not a big deal as we were still choosing. I was surprised at the way the seller pointed out the mistake, and how the man reacted to it. I can really see that customers are not king in this bakery. 



Back home, hubby said I chose his favorite slice. We all loved our slices except one who was disappointed at her chocolate favor. The girls fought again on who should hold the box with the slices, who should serve them, who should blow the candles, who can have the water bottle...I so need peace at home.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

First week of school

The little one has started to enroll into the French education system since the beginning of September. She was so eager to go to school. I guessed she wanted to do everything just like her big sister.

Back to the school for the eldest, first day of school for the little one.

The big sister had no problem integrating into her new class, as her three closed friends are in the same class. Everyday she told me that she is so happy to go back to school.

 Happy to go to school

Ok I didn't know kids start learning computer skills at kindergarten level

Things turned out differently for the little one. The first day we sent her to her class, she was exploring the classroom without problems. We waved goodbye and she just smiled at us, whereas a little girl one age older than her (they are sharing the same class between 3 and 4 year old), had problem letting go of her mother. I picked her up after school and she was all fine.

Surprisingly, she was all gloomy the second day. She refused to wake up, saying that she was sick, and the whole morning laying down on the sofa didn't want to eat breakfast. She kept saying that she didn't want to go to school. I didn't know what to do. The big sister didn't have this problem at all. She went to school 6 months younger than her little sister now, and since the first day staying after school till we picked her up at 6:30pm. For certain people the school day was too long for her but she never complained.

I decided to bring the little one to school as I had to sent the eldest anyway. I told her that if her teachers agreed that she could go home, I would bring her home since I worked from home that day. However, when I told the teacher about her situation, the teacher insisted that she stayed. She held her little hand, brought her to a corner and introduced her to new friends. The little one burst in tears hearing that she had to stay. I turned cold turkey and walked away. It was the right choice, as in the evening when I picked her up, she was ok. Her teacher said that she was a bit disturbed eating in the canteen. In the evening she kept telling us that she vomited in my car, which was not true, I didn't know where she got the idea.

Wednesday had half day school, they were both happy to go, and happy to see me when I picked them up. The little one even tried to sing us a song with hand gesture, I guessed she learnt it from school.

Thursday and Friday were big days for me. My company had moved to a new location since Monday, and I was going there for the first time since I worked from home at the beginning of the week to be able to send and pick up the kids on time. The school gate for the eldest opens at 8h35, but the little one only at 8h45. I was afraid to arrive too late at work, so I arranged that a parent with whom both her kids in the same class as mine would take care of them as soon as she arrives at the gate. They had to stay after school so I had to prepare a snack for them. But surprisingly, the snack box was untouched in the little one's school back so she didn't have her snack. On Friday the other mother told me that it seems that parents have to put the snack box in a different location, and she was going to ask for me as her kids didn't need to stay in the garderie after school. Till now, I didn't know what happened, the little one said she did have her snack, but the snack box was missing...

It seems that we parents have problem getting used to the new school year...



Saturday, September 02, 2017

Milk formula : a real necessity or a result of marketing

Recently we had a gathering with friends in our place. I told some of them how parents attitude were so different between Malaysia and France regarding milk powder. At the end of the conversation, I told them that my kid has refused drinking milk before turning three, and I still had some milk powder left. When they left, one friend took the two tins of milk powder, saying that she would feed her kids with them. If they become sick, she would stop. These powder were already opened and on the tin it stated that it would be preferable to finish the powder within a month. This friend is a doctor.

These conversations just brought back my observations about how crazy the parents were in Malaysia regarding the quality of milk powder. They are willing to pay exorbitant price for a tin of milk powder. They believe that kids should continue drinking milk everyday until around 10 years old.

Several years ago I went back to Malaysia with my eldest daughter with a tin of Nestle Nidal. It didn't last for two weeks so I went to shop for Malaysian milk powder. I was so surprised to discover the price. A tin of PediaSure, weighted 900g, costed around RM50, wherease Nestle Nidal costed around 12€ at that time. So they were almost the same price as exchange rate was 1€ to RM4.4. But considering the minimum wage was around RM900 vs 1000€, the milk powder in Malaysia costed almost 5 times more than in France. And, low income group did not hesitate to buy expensive milk powder for their kids as it was considered necessary to help kids grow. I didn't believe at all that expensive milk powder could provide better nutrient, so I went for a cheaper brand. And last time I went back, the PediaSure milk powder has surged to RM90 per tin due to weak RM against USD.

When comparing the ingredients between the two brands of milk powder, I didn't see much different. Yet Malaysians were so crazy about the US imported milk powder.

They were huge price range in Malaysia for these products, it could go from RM20 a tin to RM100. These were not the case in France, milk powder was usually between 10€ to 20€.

Even organic milk powder didn't cost as much as those in Malaysia.

The milk powder companies were not allowed to advertise in maternity wards. So parents choose one according to their preference. I chose Nestle because it was the only brand I knew, and luckily both my kids accepted it without problem. I had heard that some parents had to change several brands as their kids refused to drink certain brand.

Milk powder is a necessity for babies so it has huge market potential in every country. In China, due to the one child (now two) policy, parents fight to provide the best milk to their kids. Due to the scandal that put down their own local milk powder producers, most of the Chinese parents buy their supplies from overseas. I have known of several Chinese friends here working part time as resale, they buy milk powder in French supermarkets and send to Chinese customers in Mainland China. Hong Kongese were mad at their Chinese counterparts as they smuggled the milk formula from the shells while visiting, leaving the local mothers facing the shortage of milk formula.

My mother had asked me several times how could we afford to let go of milk for our kids. I always explained that in French healthbook for kids, kids need dairy products which could be obtained not only from milk, but cheese, yogurts... so milk formula was not compulsory after they turn one or two year old. However, France had had the period where milk was forced into every household, and the real reason behind was that the milk industry was producing too much milk so their lobbyists influenced the government to force the milk consumption. 

Now I wonder, is the consumption of expensive milk formula in Asian countries, partly, or largely contributed by the excessive advertising and marketing campaigns in the that region?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Black bread is the new trend?

There were a some bakeries chains with French name in Busan : Paris Baguette, Tous les jours...they were everywhere and quite popular among the locals. So I figured they must be selling French baguette. One day I went inside a bakery in the biggest shopping center in Busan and my eyes were caught on these breads.

Well, these black color breads didn't look too appealing to me. 

 A black baguette with foreign filling, it must looked weird to French people.

But no, France also selling black baguette, bake with charcoal. Saw this here.

It must be the new trend.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Busan Trip : Lost in Translation

After Perhentian, we had one week trip to Busan, leaving the kids with my mother and my sister. I heard that in some part of Korea, only Korean is being used. It was very true, sometimes we landed in restaurants that only had Korean menus, buildings that only had Korean signboards...What caught my attention was the translation, either in English or in Chinese. Sometimes, it was poorly translated, or when you read one language to another, they just don't match.

We were in Gamcheon Culture Village, and we saw this "No Way" sign. I think it wanted to indicate "No Outlet", but I'm not sure anymore. It could mean "No Entrance"?

Still in Gamcheon, I think this sign asks the visitors to put the umbrella outside. I got the meaning from the drawing, as I think the sentence in English was not complete, and the sentence in Chinese had grammatical mistake.

I don't read Korean so I could only understand this signboard by reading English or Mandarin. 
The translation in Mandarin sounded weird to me. It didn't really match what it meant in English.

I'm still confused about this mailbox. It looked like a mailbox but it seemed that it was not a real one. The Chinese sentence on the right hand side indicated "The only mailbox in the world that doesn't deliver letters". We almost dropped a postcard there, why would they put a mailbox as decoration in a tourist spot?

I had the same confusion in Guangzhou Airports. What does this mean? "The Exit of Flight Cancellations"? I have not noticed this kind of exit in other airports. They made a specific exit in case flights are cancelled? 

I wonder if all these were the results of Google Translate. It could be.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A little big of privilege

When we pass through the Malaysia Immigration once we touched down in Malaysia, we usually use the little privilege we have : passing as Malaysians even though I'm the only Malaysian. I just need to tell the officer that they are my family, and the officer would nod his head, no question asked. There were several counters for Malaysians and it usually went very fast. Different story for the foreigners lines, it could take a lot of time if several big flights arrived at the same time. When we got back from Busan, there were huge lines for foreigners, and I just told the officer that my husband was with me and we probably saved one hour. Thanks Malaysian officers for granting us this little privilege.

I said it is a privilege because it was different story going through immigration in French airports. I was always asked to queue in the foreigner line. Even when my daughter was 18 month old, she was crying seeing mommy queuing on the other side, nobody took pity on us. Since France is one of the most visited countries in the world, the foreigners lines could be long. Once we asked to queue as a family in the EU line but it was refused. I don't remember what happened later, another officer told my husband that I was allowed to queue with them. Anyway, this time, the privilege was extended to France because both times we went through the EU line.

Malaysia is a country that practicing price discrimination between locals and foreigners in some tourist destinations. For example, to visit the Petronas Twin Tower, a Malaysian adult would pay RM30 whereas a foreigner adult would have to pay RM85. Hubby was quite annoyed by this practice, sometime he refused to go to a place just because he had to pay higher price than Malaysians.

When I book our trip to Perhentian, I was warned that we needed to pay a Marine preservation fee, and foreigners had to pay a higher price. Tourists were paying in Kuala Besut jeti before going on the boat. When it was my turn, the officer asked if the white man beside me was my "suami" (husband in Malay), I nodded, he gave me two tickets for adult and one for kid. He just applied the local price to hubby because he was my "suami". Thanks for giving this small privilege!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Perhentian Escape : Another form of burkini

In Perhentian, we met a lot of French Muslims. They probably feel comfortable having beach vacations here as no one is going to tell them wearing burkini is a form of provocation to the society.


In perhentian, not only the Muslims are covered up. The Chinese from China too. I didn't dare to take a photo of them directly. Just checked out the photo above, the woman on the top right wore a black swimsuit that covered her whole body. Her kid in the middle wore the same type of swimsuit. In fact, my mother told me that my nieces and nephews also wear them. The only difference is they don't cover up their hair. I'm not sure if French are going to protest if Chinese tourists wear these showing in any French beaches. I grew up wearing T-Shirt to the beach, as we didn't use sunscreen. It could be the natural protection from sunburn. So covering is really not a big deal in the water, unless you want to show your body.

Perhentian Escape : The sweet burden on the back

This day, we paid for a half day trip to Pulau Rawa. The girls took turn to ride on husband's back. Aelig has been going to swimming classes, so from time to time she was comfortable enough to stay in the water by herself, with life jacket on.

 We went to snorkelling in Perhentian 4 years ago. This was Aelig riding on hubby's back.

Aelig 4 years ago.

And he had Awena on his back, the same age as Aelig 4 years back.

Three of them snorkelling around while I waited on the boat.

We brought with us some bread to feed the fishes, but she decided to eat some of them.

I stayed most of the time on the boat as I didn't feel like doing snorkelling. At one point I saw that hubby wanted to go further and deeper, so I went into water and put Awena on my back. As a non swimmer I didn't know how to well control myself in the water so I bumped into some corals and stones and hurt my foot and ankle. 

There were other people on the same boat and by chatting, I realized they were from the same hometown as me. They both had a girlfriend from China who enjoyed Perhentian very much. They were jeolous hearing that we could took one month off work to travel. It is true, annual leaves are usually one or two weeks in most of the Asian countries.