Thursday, May 31, 2007

I like Chinese

Visit apartment

Since we are moving people are coming to visit the apartment.

I had two appointments today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Well, the morning one didn't show up, didn't bother to call to cancel.

The afternoon one arrived late, and she took photos before first asking me. I didn't feel comfortable for her to take photos bcos she even took the bedroom, with all our personal belongings, but I'm not sure what harm it can make neither.

I don't understand this whole deal. There was a couple very interested, but the landlord refused to rent to them. Both of them will have internship in this city, they probably don't have fixed income yet. But, when we rent this apartment, both of us didn't have a job, and he trusted us enough to rent it to us. Does the evaluation criterias change?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tiger prawn and vegetables

I don't post recipes much bcos I always follow people's recipes and cooking. After reading Jamy's posts in Seay's kopitiam, I realised that using oven to cook is a lot easier than the Asian type of cooking, where you need to be there all the times stirring or frying.

So here's the tiger prawn and vegetables I made yesterday. In France people buy the shrimps cooked, so I usually buy frozen tiger prawns, especially those raised in Malaysia. I bought two boxes of them and the cashier reminded me to get the third one for free. Cool people here.

6 white mushroom - cut into pieces
1 zucchini - cut into slices
1 box of tiger prawn (around 14 inside) - remove the shells
some parsley for garnishing

2 tbsp of chicken oil (leaveover from roasted chicken)
1 tbsp of Texas BBQ power
1 tbsp of lemon pepper
1 tsp of white pepper powder

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree celcius
2. Put the mushroom and the zucchini in the baking dish
3. Spread the seasoning into the baking dish
4. Bake it for 10 minutes
5. Add the tiger prawns and bake until the prawns turn colour
6. Spread the parsley on top

Our first cherry tomato is here!

Gardening is such a rewarding hobby.

Mission completed: Puzzle done

I took me 5 days to complete this 2000 pieces puzzle. I spent a glad times dealing with them.

Day 1: I didn't have the camera with me so no picture. Basically just getting the border sort out and get the obvious pieces together.

Day 2: Second day already get more than 50% done.

Day 3: Now the painful sky part.

Day 4: The sky with crowds are easy to sort, but the sky with coherent colour is the toughest part.

Day 5: A big satisfaction. We are planning to frame it and hung it in our bedroom.

I didn't expect to finish this so fast. I thought it will take over a month. But I guess I was really into it. I hope all of you have your own hobbies that you are passionate about.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Admin day

Today is an admin day for me bcos I was seeing 4 different type of government agencies.

1. ANPE - as an unemployed people have to have this kind of meeting with the officer talking about the future plan.

2. Tax office - this time is to submit tax return for my hubby.

3. Prefecture driver license - yah finally got my French driver license, didn't cost me anything. I'm so glad that I don't have to retake any driving test.

4. Prefecture foreign affairs - got an appointment to renew my resident card.

Have to say all of the civil servants have been very friendly and helpful. Didn't give me any pains. They were all smiling and nice, except that the wait in the prefecture is always killing.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Puzzle arrived

My puzzle arrived yesterday. Spent 11 hours enjoying it. One of the things that can get away from internet.

It's a raining day, bad lighting for doing puzzle. Well that's my luck.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

Friday, May 25, 2007

The worst tourists

There is a survey conducted by expedia UK asking opinions from the hotel industries in the whole Europe, and the result was that:

The best tourists:
1. The Japanese - due to their politeness and cleanliness
2. The Americans - pay good tips
3. The Swiss - quietness

The worst tourists:
1. The Indians
3. The Chinese
5. The British

They didn't state why the French was chosen as one of the worst tourists, but I guess it's bcos they complaint all the times!! :-)

The painter

Our apartment complex is in the renovation mood so they will repaint all the doors and hallway.

The painter has made 3 appointments with me to paint the door. Yes he needs to do it 3 times to get it done.

The first day he came, he was 15 minutes earlier than the appointment time. I was sleeping so it pissed me a bit. I opened the door and politely said sorry it took me some times bcos I wasn't expecting him until the agreed time. He responded that oh it's almost time you know. Yeah, 15 minutes earlier for him is ok, but I was told that in the French culture it's rude to arrive earlier than expected.

This morning he came again, only 3 minutes earlier so it was acceptable. Then he told me I need to leave the door open for 3 hours before closing it.

And then he will come next week again.

I wonder why can't he just have it done in one day.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Second chance

I watched in the Chinese channel a movie that touched me so much.

Two elderies met in a park and they fell in love. Both of them have lost their spouse years ago and they were happy to found their second love.

However, the old lady's son was totally against it bcos in the Asian culture this is an issue of "losing face", how are they going to explain to all the relatives and neighbores about this shameful old lady loving an old guy, blah blah blah. So the son went to scold the old man and strongly against his mother to ever see him again.

But, the man was really in love with the old lady. He waited everyday in the park. This has impressed the old lady so they decided that if she can come meet him, she will call at 4.30pm, 3 rings and hang up and they man will come meet her.

On the second day, she rings, he never showed up. One week passed and the old lady was still trying. The old man's son came to tell her that his father was involved in an accident, now he's paralysed, but every day at 4.30pm he will wait for the rings and cry after.

The movie ended when the old lady come to visit the man with his favorate food. They both cry.

In terms of love the western culture is always more open minded. I have seen so many old couples in France living together after their spouses die, and their children will even meet together to celebrate Christmas. The society does not displease with what they are doing. Nobody is badmouthing about them. Love is not a shame afterall.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Work accident

There is another case here proving how inefficient the adminitrative is here.

I had a work accident in April, I thought it was not a bit deal so didn't do anything to it.

Until I saw my doctor, she advised me to report this work accident so that next time if I have any problem related to this accident, the CPAM (the French medical reimbursement) will be wiling to pay. So I called up my employer and she agreed to send me something.

That something never came, but I received a letter from an agency who deals with work accident, and she requested my livret de famille (family book) to proceed with this report. I sent it.

Today I received another letter from the same woman, asking me for another document: medical certificate.

Why can't she ask from the first letter? Just include everything she needs and I will give her everything at once. Does she have to verify that I'm really married to a French guy then only she can proceed to the next step?

I don't know what medical certificate she wants, as the doctor gave me some document but she told me to send them to CPAM, not to this agency.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Please wish me good luck!

Back to the tax return problem.

I went to the tax office yesterday, and she won't let me fill the 2005 tax bcos in my carte de séjour I entered France in Aug, thus not fulfilling the 183 days requirement of staying in France. In fact I came in Jun but as a tourist, so she asked me to prove it.

I came back this afternoon with my passport, but the woman was busy so I was handled by another woman, who happily accepted my form without any questions.

Now, the tax return is submitted, but who knows if they are going to give me pain again? I need this tax return badly. If I don't have it my bank will cancel the mortgage loan, and we will have to negotiate another one with higher interest rate and longer term of paying back. Yes we are talking about thousands of euros here.

I secretly counted my stay in France in 2005, and if I count the 4 days in January I was here for the Christmas holiday, it makes 183 days. Talking about luck.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Express your opinion

Walked in downtown Nantes and I saw this in Place de Royale.

It reminded me of this, took in Boston in 2003.

So far I have not seen this kind of thing in Malaysia, maybe I was just not sensitive enough. Yes the western world has a lot of freedom to express themselve, but one thing is they are selfish don't you think? They are using the public space to do what they want. Saw a report on TV that SNCF has to spend million a year to clean up those street drawing on the trains. During a party in US, my American friends were hitting George Bush's picture so hard that I thought he must have done something to this lady who was hitting him. In the freedom of expression I didn't know that we can ignore the respect to the public properties or a simple respect to the leader.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

They are doing good

We grow chinese parsley, basilic, chili and some cherry tomatoes. They are all doing well. Can't wait to eat my first cherry tomato!!

Cocktail Scandinave

We discovered THE furniture shop we both love yesterday!!! It was in Rennes and it's like the Ikea style but all of the furnitures are made by wood and they are not expensive!! Tks M for bringing me there.

I started shopping for the bar chair but we will need to see how our apartment looks like after some small renovation.

Not bad to have a library like this. Besides it will match with some of our living room furniture.

Not bad at all to have bathtub like this.

La trocante

One thing that my husband is afraid of me is when I go to the second hand furniture shop. Yeah he knows I won't come home empty handed! I found a nice shop in Rennes that led to us buying our dining table. And yesterday we found us 4 chairs.

See they match totally with our table. Even our teddy bear said it was a good deal. Hey 49 euros for 4 wooden chairs, not bad at all, plus they look new!!! Go in any shops and you will get this one for 49 euros EACH, totally new. One thing my friend reminded me is that it's wood so people's asses can get hurt. Opps all these years I sit on wooden chairs in school my asses were all ok. hehe. Ok ok will buy some chair cushions.

We discovered these 2 bedside small table for 35 euros. Good deal I will say.

Our last bought was this baby.

The French have their own taste of old furniture, especially those with wood sculpture on it.

This table was sold for 200 euros, in damn good condition. Suitable to put inside a big house or a castle as it's expendable and it comes with 6 chairs.

Aghh I don't know why people like this but it was sold for like 300 euros eventhough it was old and broken somewhere.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sexist remarks uttered in Parliament Malaysia

Please click on the diagram below to see the sexist remarks uttered in parliament Malaysia from 1995.

The latest comment created a controversy in Malaysia as during a debate in the parliament about the leaking ceiling in one of the buildings, one member of the parliaments responded that:"Where is the leak, the representative from Batu Gajah leaks every month too!" Since the representative he refers to is a woman, immediately it was interpreted as a sexist remark and insult.

I'm not sure whether this has/will happened in France or any other developed countries, but certainly the quality of the parlimental debate has to be improved. Notice that all of these comments were made by the Malays representatives? Is it bcos there are less seats hold by the other races or the Malay men are still insensitive enough towards women?

Taken from

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Please declare your zero income!

If not bcos of this incident I wouldn't have known that as a foreign student I'm obligated to fill the income tax despite the fact that I was not allowed to work so had zero income . Gosh! Why the school have never even thought of telling us and now this is giving me a bit mess.

I almost/could've/might be screwed up the whole mortgage application just bcos I didn't fill the 2005 income tax. The mortgage loan is even signed, but the banker "threaten" to cancel the whole thing if I can't provide him the avis d'impôt 2005. He could have told us 2 months ago that he will need this and it's mandatory. Now the contact is signed and he realised he has committed a professional mistake, he got scared and want to screw us up. I'm not sure if it's even legal that he can cancel a signed contract just like that, as in the contract he's supposed to have satisfied with all the documents provided.

So, I went to the tax office and was told that they can't handle my case bcos I was a foreign student in 2005 thus I'm not fiscally recognised by them. I sent an email to the tax office hoping someone else will give me different response but I got the same reply. Here was what I got:

En réponse à votre question, je vous confirme qu'étant étudiante étrangèreet n'ayant pas de revenus vous n'avez pas à souscrire de déclaration. Le service ne la prendrai d'ailleurs pas en compte. Je suis désolée mais dans votre situation, je ne peux accéder à votre demande. Vous n'êtes pas fiscalement reconnue et je ne suis pas habilitée à vous délivrer une attestation.

I gave up but my hubby continued his battle and he successfully got someone agreed to let me declare my zero income. I went to the place this morning to realise that the office was meant for "courses" and the yellow page has mistakenlly included a "tax services" to this address. This guy was very nice and after hearing my situation, he said that foreign students DO HAVE to declare their ZERO income and it will all be handle in Paris. He then sent me to another office for a more accurate advises.

I have finally arrived in the right office, and the receptionist said that I can fill the income tax but I will only get it in 3 months.

Lessons: Declare all your incomes eventhough it's zero, who knows in ten years you will still need to provide it to someone else. When you get a "no" from a French administrative, try another office and never give up until you get a "yes".

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Conversation class

In our conversation class today, we discussed for like 30 minutes before the teacher can start doing what she wanted for the day.

It was all started bcos a new student comes from Turkey then everybody starts talking about Turkey should be in Europe and it then led to the sensitive topic: Islam. The conversation continued about how in Turkey woman is free to wear what they want.

The classmate from Iran then described about the situation in Iran. He said that the young Iranians these days are very modern and the government couldn't control them bcos they are using internet to communicate and have since discovered many things. I threw him two facts: Women in Iran need approval from their husband when they want to travel or move around; in the case of divorce, children will follow their father (the facts that I learnt from the book "Never without my daughter"). Another classmate through him the ultimate question: After exposing to occidental culture, what is your stand on this issue?

He started his long speech and we got to hear the history of Iran. He said 30 years ago Iran has a lot of discos and tourists, and it was due to some oil price issue that the Islamic fanatics took over the country and since then the status of the women changed. Conclusion, he blamed everything on the politic and he declared that Iran will never have the knowledge and intelligence to produce nuclear power so the whole world don't have to be afraid of them.

Sitting beside him, is my fellow American classmate. I couldn't help but wonder, should one day the US decides to invade Iran, would these two still be friend?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Two visits

This morning I had two visits for the apartment as we are moving out next month. The first was a couple and they didn't express much their thought about this apartment.

The second took some times to jot down some criterias, commenting that his wife will not like those ancient wallpapers and blue carpet. It seems that he will renovate the apartment. But, he's renting and he wants to renovate a rental apartment? Weird. Anyway, he left as soon as he realised that we are using electric for the stoves and he couldn't find any connections for gas. He said a gas stove is better for cooking.

What's the matter for these people? We had problem finding an apartment using electrical stove and have no choice to settle on buying one that is using gas. While these people finding electric unbearable.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's day

Today is Mother's day in Malaysia. I didn't call home. I called on Thursday and I don't know what to say today. Wishing my mother a happy mother's day? It's really hard to say this kind of thing. It was not a big event in our childhood, no we were not taught to design a card for mother. This day is being commercialised, and only recently, my family go out and have a nice treat for my mother. The only gesture I made was when I was in highschool and the school was selling carnation for a fund raising event. So I bought one and just put it in a vase. Then my sisters were making fun of me, telling mother that I bought the flower for her and was not dare to say anything.

Whenever we try to do something on mother's day, my mother's typical response:"You guys don't have to waste money doing this for me, as long as you don't make me angry I will be fine. " Yes, typical Asian mother who doesn't want the children to spend money on her. My father's response is totally different:"yes let's go feed our stomach hehe".

All these years living abroad I have learnt to not tell her sad news but just reporting good things happening in my life. Sometimes I'm afraid to call her bcos she will be asking what I'm doing and I don't know how to respond. Whenever she knows I'm still studying French she will be sad and said all these years studying is just a waste and now I'm sitting at home or doing flower picking job which is totally a waste in her eyes.

I'm very jealous of my sisters who can live close to her or always go visit her. But when I call, she would tell me that she is mad at them due to some tiny little thingy and then they will not talk to each other but later they will make up and then go into the dispute-make up circle. She's always in dispute with someone, either my aunt or my father or my sister in laws or my sister or even my nephew. All these years I don't know how she feels about me, but when she cried at the airport I realised she does care for me. She might have anticipated that once I'm flying away, there will be no turning back. Just like indicated in my name, the beautiful swallow, will one day fly away.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

First pay

I got my first pay ever in France, for the muguet job. I worked 35 hours for 5 days. I didn't know that if you work on Sunday the minimum wage per hour is 12,41 euros instead of 8,27 euros for the normal day.

Anyway, after the 21 lines of taxes deduction, which took away about 30% of the total amount, I got 269,08 euros, which translate into more than RM1200, a monthly salary for certain Malaysians. No wonder so many immigrants are willing to work legal or illegally in France, bcos they are still earning more than in their home country.

One of my friend worked from 6pm to 12am to earn 20 euros in a Chinese restaurant. A Thai girl got 15 euros for the same type of job and she is very happy about it. It's sad that eventhough they know it's one kind of exploitation, these Chinese restaurants and grocery, there are still tons of people willing to work for them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

La poste

I was in the post office this afternoon, and an odd thing happened.

I used the weight machine initially, but it didn't want to accept my card when I pay.

So, I queued for a while, the odd thing was, the letter was charged 1,57 euros by the machine, but with the teller it was 2,11 euros. I posted 3 letters the same weight so the difference was 1,68 euros!! I asked the teller why the machine was charging me cheaper, and she said the machine made a mistake.

Later I realised that the machine didn't accept my card payment bcos it has to exceed 10 euros to pay by credit card. I will make sure I bring enough coins next time since the machine costs cheaper!!!

Another thing, my in-laws sent a bunch of photos to my parents in Malaysia, after two months it has still not arrived. Weird thing was that they sent to my sisters as well and they have received it. Gosh, I hate when letter lost and you don't know who actually have it. I wish those wedding photos won't be stolen and be used in any bad way.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

In the future world

I read two novels recently about the world in the future.

In the first novel, human gave up the tedious cooking, and they get all the necessary vitamins through a kind of paste like from the toothpaste. Desserts like chocolate were extincted.

In the second novel, guys can get pregnant, so a man was telling his wife that he wants to stay at home and bear a child by himself. Since man doesn't have womb, he needs to stay at home to suffer the process of injecting the hormones and grow the womb inside his body. His wife's rection to the request was first rejecting then accepting.

My gosh, how can we give up the delicious foods and replace them by paste? There's no way.
Then, it will be weird that guys stay at home waiting to deliver a baby while the wifey is working to support the whole family. I certainly request equality in terms of working salaries between man and woman, but I think man and woman have their own roles in a family environment.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I love puzzle. I remember spending months finished a 3000 pieces puzzle while I was in Austin. Saturdary night we were invited to a friend's party, and it has an unfinished puzzle in their living room. I played for hours there, couldn't stop myself. Later I couldn't stop myself to buy one set on Here's what I'm going to get. 2000 pieces and I hope to hang it somewhere in our apartment.

Tahiti, my dream destination.

They are efficient

I would like to praise the French election system. The voting closed at 6pm in most of the places except several stops in Paris (until 8pm). At 8pm, the TV channels announced the result. Very punctual and efficient. First image was the candidate who won and the percentage of the vote he got.

In Malaysia, the party wins when it wins 2/3 of the parlimental seats. It usually take a while to announce the result, so you just have to stick to the TV the whole night waiting for the moment.

The same in US. We waited pass midnight for the 2004 presidential election to know the result. They have to know whether the candidates won in the majority counties that lead to victory in the entire state, and the electorate seats it has in the state adding towards the candidates. There was no fixe timeline when we could know who is the president.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

So he won, next?

So Mr Sarkozy won the presidential election. What would be his next agenda, expecially about the immigration? I heard that he's going to tighten the entrance to France. Does it mean he will impose tourist visa to more countries, including Malaysia? I hope not.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Beer no beer

We went to the Gite where we are going to have the wedding dinner in September, to discuss about the details.

Come to a point, where the owner asked whether we would like to serve beer.

My parents in laws' reponse: No, nobody serve beer in a wedding dinner.

Husband: "Yes, it will be nice. "

I don't know what is going to be the decision, but it's always like that in a wedding preparation. Old generation Vs young generation. I insisted in my wedding dinner in Malaysia that no sharkfin soup should be served, but I lost to the old tradition of including this fancy dish.

Let's see who can convince who this time.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Who will be the first lady

Between Cécilia Sarkozy and François Hollande (a guy), who will be the first lady of the republic of France? This is in the front page of Yahoo news today.

The French (or the world) certainly are not getting used to a woman president, so they keep making fun of the spouse of these women. I think it is a huge insult for François Hollande, himself holding a high position in his party, to be called "first lady".

I feel that in the spouses issue, the US politicians and the French politicians have a totally different opinion. I remember during the presidential election in 2004, George Bush's family was always with him during the election, showing a happy family picture. But in France, except that Français Hollande himself a politician, I didn't see Cécilia too much, not even their children. Like Sarkozy said:"You are voting for a candidate, not a family."

Ségolène, have 4 children but have not married with her partner, will certainly create a scene for the medias if she was to be the candidate in US. The fact that she's not married but living with a man and having children, will certainly not getting support for those conservative Americans who emphasis on traditional family values.

On the other hand, Cécelia Sarkozy has said that she is not eager to be the first lady, as she prefers to wear in jeans and do whatever she likes. Will she be forced to change her personality to play the first lady role if her husband is elected?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Since it's free

I have to praise the medical system here. Under the careful treatment of a doctor, my hand is recovering well. I procrastinated the treatment until a week after the accident, as I didn't think it is a big deal. I still have the Malaysian mentality in terms of seeing a doctor, go only when it's really serious. Well, since it's free and people around keep telling me about the risk of tetanus, I went to see a doctor. The doctor actually injected the tetanus vaccin, in which I don't know whether I had taken in Malaysia. Now I'm given a small card to record all the vaccin I have taken. The doctor is very professional and friendly, she knows that I don't understand all these medical terms so she patiently explained them to me one by one. Yeah, more vaccination to take to catch up with the French. :-)

On the other hand, I was told by an optician that I can replace my glasses for free. I'm hesitating so much as my current one is still in good condition. Brief, I don't need a new pair of glasses. But it's free he claimed. At this time the Malaysian mentality still overtake the French one. No wasting eventhough it's free. But give me a couple of years, I will think like the French. Scary.

The presidential debate

In 2004 I watched the US presidential debate: George Bush Vs John Kerry.

Yesterday night it was for the French presidential debate: Sarkozy Vs Ségolene.

When will I watch a Malaysian presidential debate? I would have to wait for a long time I guess. We don't have president but prime minister, how do we vote for a prime minister?

Anyway, from the debate, I realised that what the candidates said might not be what they will do when they got elected. How many people will remember what they said tonight and compare what they do in the future? There were so many promiss giving out, are all of them going to be fulfilled?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

She is going home

In Malaysia, having an Indonesian maid is very common. They work long hours, no vacation, low pay: basically their working conditions break all the French labour laws.

She was only 16 when she came for the first time in Malaysia, working in my sister and brother's house. She is very cheerful, work hard, but she has many heartbreaking stories to tell: sick mother, poor family, lots of brothers and sisters, dropped out of school...

It has been more than 2 years that she hasn't seen her family and her homeland. Due to my wedding in Malaysia she extended her stay to help. But now she's going home. She said her father will not allow her to come back to work again, as for her age she needs to get married, raise kids, work in the farm. She told me she would like to go back to school again, there's no high level job in her town, a big city is like 6 hours away from where she lives.

I just wish that will be able to hold on to her earnings to her own benefits. Most then likely her father will take away everything from her, or she could be robbed on the way back home, or get cheated by the sneaky agent. She has a hard life compared to a lot of us, but she is just among million of Indonesians in the same situation.

I really believe that instead of helping her alone, the world should help her country to strengthen up. If they have enough jobs, even low level, manage to support their own families, there won't have million of Indonesians crossing the Malacca Straits risking their lifes and dignities, working illegally in their neighboring countries.

Fear of driving

Eventhough I drive in Malaysia and US, I have no courage to drive in Nantes because:

- I don't know when there will be a roundabout ahead, so I can't drive assuming it's a straight road
- I'm afraid of driving on the tramway line or driving beside a tramway
- I'm afraid of driving on a tiny road sharing with big buses, bicycles and then a row of parking on the side
- Afraid of double roundabout
- Afraid of priority to the right
- The road is usually not straight, it has a lot of road barriers on the side that I don't want to bump into
- Not getting used to adjusting the gear so many times to pass through roundabout

On the other hand, I like driving on the highway, bcos it's the time I'm sure it's a straight road so I can drive the speed I want, and there's no bicycles, tramways running beside me. Besides, the road is broad, no barrier everyway.

I have to salut the French who can read the sigh board, the instructions on the roadline, and traffic light at the same time and predict what's going on ahead.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

We visited some vineyard on Sunday. We just passby this Saint Nicolas Vineyard and they were having open house. So we tasted lots of wine plus homemade breads with cheese. Nice weather nice wine nice companies on a Sunday. We then continued our journey to Chinon, it has a huge castle. There seem to be castle everywhere in France. It would be interesting if you like history and want to find out what happened in every castle.

Castle in Chinon

The grape trees are going to bloom soon. I have never seem grape flowers before.

The vineyard on the way to Saumur.