Monday, June 30, 2008

Speed camera

Warning sign board for speed camera

During my first year in France, hubby gradually introduced me some of the French traffic signs. Among them there are some quite specific to this country, for example "priority to right", where you need to give way to any vehicle coming out from your right hand side. Another one that I found weird is the warning signboard for speed camera. Isn't it just wonderful that they tell you where the speed camera is situated? You just have to slow down and respect the speed limit when you see the signboard and drive at your own speed limit after you pass the camera. Beside, you can check out the fixed radars (speed camera) and flexible radars (police with camera) on the local newspaper everyday.
Speed camera with ASDL connection

Apparently this system works well as the average speed limit of French driver has dropped significantly. The camera takes a photo of any vehicle that passes the speed limit, and send the photo through ADSL connection to the transportation center which eventually find out who is the owner of the vehicle and then send out the fine. The fine rate depends on the speed bypass. If you drive 50km/h more than the allowed speed, they can confiscated your car. Wow, now this is serious.

Since I drive quite frequently now, I started to jot down the location of these fixed radars and my carpoolers have marked down several favorite spots for flexible radars (police). However, sometime you could pass one without realizing it when big trucks are driving on the right hand side thus blocking the signboard. It happened to me several times when I was not familiar with the road, so I pray hard these days that I won't receive any saman (fine in Malay) or PV (fine in French).

Sunday, June 29, 2008


French dessert: chou = cabbage

This was the birthday cake we had yesterday. Before the party I heard that the dessert of the night would be something called "chou" = cabbage in English. I told myself that the French are so creative that they managed to make a dessert out of cabbage and was expecting to see something green. Then I discovered this is "chou", that has nothing to do with cabbage. I had it before but just couldn't recall the name. People told me that there is one kind of dessert that is named "religieuse" = religious but it has nothing to do with religion.

One of hubby favorite desserts: religieus = religious

I like fruit tarts but don't appreciate desserts that are coated with sugar or caramel or cream. For me, after eating a heavy meal, I prefer to eat something digestive so usually I take some fruits. Luckily hubby doesn't have sweet tooth too so I hardly have to prepare any dessert for him. :-)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ha Ha Ha

I was reading a blog of a French lived in China and one of his remarks was just excellent. He observed that Chinese (in China) like to laugh and those laughs are actually quite fake. Here is an extract from his post:

"Au telephone en decrochant " ah c est toi Wang ? HA HA HA- tu vas bien ? AH HA HA , tu veux me voire aujourd hui HA HA HA je peux pas AH HA HA"

Translation: (In picking up the phone) Ah is it you Wong? HA HA HA - how are you doing? HA HA HA, you want to see me today? HA HA HA but I don't want AH HA HA

"Pendant le repas , accompagnes chacune de tes phrases par un "HA HA HA", n'hesite pas a etre tres tres bruyant."

Translation: During the meal, follow each of your sentence by a HA HA HA, do not hesitate to be very loud."

You can read his entire post here.

I found his observation funny but at the same time a bit shock. Of course I don't know a lot of Chinese from China, but out of the 10 that I know, only one laugh all the time but not as frequent as illustrated in his examples. And that just bcos this friend has a cheerful personality.

If a French decides to follow this rule and laugh HA HA HA at the end of every sentence, people might think that he is xiao (crazy in Hokkien). Ha Ha Ha.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meet Coco, a cock who just got his life saved

His name is Coco.

He is 6 months old.

His owner was ordered to kill him because he sang during the night, causing a neighbor filled complaint to the local court.

But he is saved now, as this neighbor didn't show up in the court, and the owner managed to get many other neighbors to sign a petition against the previous decision.

Congrats Coco! You should have the right to sing whenever you want. :-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

One year in our apartment

Time flies and it has been one year we live in this apartment. We are very with it especially the green surrounding.

We got to celebrate it with or new gadget: the induction stove. Thanks to all the friends and family who had contributed to our wedding fund which we used to finance this new purchase.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer activities

In France, almost every city and town would host a music festival marking the beginning of summer season. Artists or groups performed on the street and people got to enjoy a jubilant night out.

This festival coincided with the surprise fathers' day celebration we threw for my FIL. My MIL requested to have a tour for the music festival with him and there was a group playing just opposite to the restaurant we wanted to take him. While they were enjoying the jazz group, we popped up. He was so touched and was having a big smile the whole night. Everyone was very happy with the yummy food, and the highlight of the night was this group playing some nice Brittany musics.

In the west region, Hortensia could be seen in every corner during summer.

We can finally eating on the terrace and having some bbq.

Having a walk on the beach.

First time I saw this. The store is recommending 60 different erotic picks for summer. Almost every book has a nake body on the cover.

One colleague told me that May and June usually see a peak in birthrate in France. I won't be surprised after seeing this kind of stimulator.

Have a nice summer everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Addicted to machine tomato soup

There is a vending machine on each floor in my company. It offers variety of coffee and tea choices, but there is one that I have never seen anyone trying: the tomato soup.

One day during the coffee break, I asked why nobody is taking it, and one of the responses was that people who took it already dead. :-) I built up the courage to try it once, and since then I'm hooked! It taste so good, the machine even manages to spread some herbs on it. I can have one in the morning as breakfast and it warms up the stomach. Some colleagues felt weird that I take soup in the morning, as soup is not very present in some French families and certain people only take soup during winter.

While some colleagues got addicted to their coffee, I'm addicted to the tomato soup.

Well, I didn't try to be different on purpose. :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You know your day started bad when

two cars parked in front of your garage and you can turn neither left or right. Yes you could go straight and hit the apartment in front of you.

Well that was what I discovered this morning.

The road in front of our garage is a fire lane. By laws nobody could park there.

Yet, people would park along the lane as parking spots are limited in this area.

We informed the guardian, we placed parking sticker, we put notices.

Situation improved but there are some stubborn regulars still decided to violate the laws when they couldn't find any convenience spot nearby.

Result: we couldn't got out of the garage, so we canceled our movie plan, parked the car some where else and keep checking back. Sometimes we honked and the whole neighborhood would throw us ugly glances, but at 7:35 in the morning we can simply do nothing.

I didn't believe we couldn't find a solution, even though the guardian said the police won't come and he can't do nothing.

So I wrote an email to the Town Hall. A week after a policeman called us and promise to interfere if this happens again. I got his number keyed into my cellphone.

So this morning we called the police and gave him the license plates. He checked through his database and called the car owners, but he couldn't reached any.

He came with his coworker, and they started to jot down the features of the cars before towing them away. Each owner will have a fine of 90 euros to pay.

The guardian arrived and commented that if the police do this this time, they would need to patrol the place everyday. If not, they will be complained and they will be the one that are guilty. I didn't quite get the logic, but apparently the guardian was not happy.

Eventually the guardian managed to identify one of the owners and asked her to move her car away. The second owner was not that lucky. Apparently he/she has to pay the fine plus the towing fees.

Hilarious, you should see the reaction of the owner. She came with a gloomy face, and the first thing she said was:"you know during the night spots are always taken." We were stunned at her reaction. No apologize, not feeling guilty.

I left immediately after as this has cost me one hour and I still have 80 minutes of roads ahead of me.

Later, I found out that the woman is planning to complaint to the Town Hall, logic being the police has no right to fine her.

I was extremely surprised at people's reaction over this issue. They are the one at fault, yet they are complaining. Once this woman (or her husband) threw the parking sticky in front of our garage after parking illegally. Then a man was extremely unhappy on one Saturday afternoon that we woke him up (by honking) to move his car as he has to work during the midnight. And now this woman is complaining that the police has no right to fine her? Wow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Induction stove, finally!

Beside gas and electrical stove, you can actually have induction stove.

I didn't know about this before coming to France. Hubby was so into it so we decided that our wedding fund contributed by family and friends would be used to upgrade our kitchen stove, from gas to induction.

As far as I understand, this kind of heating (flameless) uses magnetic power, where all pans and pots would need to have bottom equipped with magnet (another expenses to consider). It will only heat when it senses the magnet and will be off immediately the pan is off the stove. Therefore, if you put your hand there, nothing is going to happen, safe for children. Beside, it only consume half as much electricity compared to an electric stove. Most importantly, it could be cleaned easily.

The stove will only arrive in 2-3 weeks so we are crossing our fingers for the first induction cooking!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

10 years old kids on strike against bad canteen food

Some parents discovered a notice tucked inside their children's exercise book:"We are organizing a strike to protest against the canteen. If you agree to let your child participate, please bring in your own lunch."

So, kids at 10 years old went on strike. Even though there was only 3 of them bringing in their own lunch, they managed to send an effective message to their canteen operator that they are not satisfied with the food and strongly requested some improvement.


I'm not against strike and I think it is a nice to teach children to speak their mind. The strike was done in a peaceful way: they didn't stop students who still wanted to buy from canteen from doing it; they didn't destroy the canteen's properties and they let the canteen workers carried on with their job. These culture should be preserved.

I just hope that the adult protectors would do the same and won't go block public transport and want everyone to suffer with them, this for me is just pure egoism.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Time to read some French novels

I have yet to finish reading a French novel. I started some but they were not interesting enough or too difficult for me to finish. In fact, I only started reading English novel when I was in US, when I learnt enough vocabularies.

So, it's time to go through the pain again: read ten lines and have to check dictionary for at least 40% of the words. But no pain no gain right? Another reason that just keep pushing me away from French novel is the usage of past simple tense. While reading I like to analyze how a sentence is structured. Since I have never learnt past simple tense (some professors said it is seldom used in conversation), sentences become unfamiliar compared to those in newspapers.

Another channel is by reading blogs and forum, which usually have topics that interested me. I realized that I picked up some vocabularies here and there when reading someone's blog or forum (in English), but less effective when reading newspapers, as they sometimes use fancy words that you won't see them again.

I joined a forum in French a while back but was disappointed at the quality of written French. Some people just don't bother to put the French accent, respect the punctuation rules or simply use short form for a lot of words. Worst they included profanity which really turned me off. I read some French blogs from time to time but to find someone who write correctly as compared to some English blogs I read is just too difficult.

If you happen to know of French blogs who use quality written French please let me. :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Malaysian with 25 children granted by court to take his fourth wife

He is 49 years old.
He has 25 children.
He has three wives.
He earns RM20k (around 4k euros) a month as property negotiator.
All his wives agree on him taking a fourth wife.

Fact: Muslim men can take up to four wives in Malaysia if the Shariah court believes they can provide financial and emotional care for all their spouses and children. But it is uncommon for Malaysian men to take more than one or two wives.

For full article read here.

I don't know anyone who takes more than a wife legally. I wonder whether any rich man who could show the financial ability could get a permission to take 4 wives. I couldn't understand who his wives are willing to share him with another women. What would his children think? Are they going to do the same when they grow up?

Question to hubby: Would you take 4 wives if you were rich?
Answer: No, one is already required a lot of work. :-)

Good answer.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Viva Eurocup 2008!

While I'm not a fun of football, I really don't mind seeing people going home earlier to watch the games. Less traffic jam! How cool is it.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

How I regret saying these...

We were in a house warming party and from time to time I managed to clip into the conversations. At some point I made a comment of the French people and I immediately regretted it, but the damage was done. For whatever reasons my friends here have never reproached me on my criticism towards this country. They have been extremely patient and tolerable with me.

I said something like that:"The French just like to wait for things dropping from the sky."

I have an impression that in France, when a person or a group is having problems, they expect the government to do something. Isn't it too familiar with certain society in Malaysia? I remember vividly how Dr Mahathir (former Malaysia Prime Minister) was crying over certain bumiputeras (certain ethnic groups who enjoy privileges over others) who kept asking him for more governmental contracts even though he told them to look out for business themselves. He wanted to lift the crutches which have handicapped some citizens and was causing them to rely too much on the government. I felt sad for this kind of mentality. Certainly government can't solve everyone's problem.

But who am I to judge this country who has thousand years of history compared to a mere 50 years old Malaysia? It might sound absurd to me but a culture is formed overtime and over many generations. At least the French have the right to express themselves and go on strike. This is definitely an area where we Malaysians have to fight for and learn from France.

I will try not to bitch about France in the future but more into discover the positive side of this romantic country. Please bear with me.

Friday, June 06, 2008

3 years in France!

3 years ago we moved from Austin to France. It had been three very important years with many milestone in my life:

- Pick up French and can now get things done without hubby. Sure there are still rooms for improvement and long way to go before I can speak and write eloquently, but if I continue to live in this country it will come along I presume.

- Got married to someone who likes me as I'm.

- Finally set one foot in the working world.

- Traveled with my family in France and part of Europe

- Received and shared the Malaysian cultures with some of the friends

- Learnt to drive with a manual car on the left hand side. Overcame the fear of driving in France.

- eventually set up a website and several blogs and met friends in the cyber space.

- gradually seeing the good sides of socialism

- discovered plenty of good foods!

I would say the hardest years had gone and it is just a matter of time I will see France as my second home. Good luck to me!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Missing lunch buddies

Two months into my internship, I have yet found a lunch buddy. You know, someone you eat with everyday. I got so used to lunch buddies that I felt so bad eating alone. Now I gradually getting it and actually enjoy eating alone.

My lunch buddies during University time.

I have never faced this kind of awkward situation before. First day into the job, my manager couldn't have lunch with me so I had to go buy my own lunch. One week into the job, nobody invited me to join them for lunch. I didn't know what was wrong, and was very glad to share some lunch moment once a week with a group of friends. But still, eating with co-workers is very different compared to eating with friends.

I waited a while to build up the courage to actually invite some interns to go for lunch. I got rejected over reasons: already had lunch appointment with friends, eat at home, skip lunch, prefer to eat alone ... I decided to bring my own food as I couldn't stand eating sandwich everyday (for me a sandwich is not a meal) and I certainly do not like to eat in a restaurant alone.

A typical French baguette sandwich: sometimes I have to chew so much that my mouth turn sore.

While eating in the company kitchen, I met some people who like me do not have lunch buddies. We got known to eat other and finally made a trip to a restaurant. It turned out ok but it was hard to make a second appointment. One of the them do not want to spend money in restaurant.

Why doesn't France have economy rice store or hawker center? They don't even have a food court!

Slowly these people disappear from the cafeteria, I was found alone again. I used the time to read French newspaper to catch up with some reading and jotted down some vocabularies. The routine got broken as I was making friends with some Indians, but they have gone back to Indian so I'm all by myself.

This week, out of no way, the girl sitting in front of me invited me and my manager to join her for lunch. It didn't work as I had lunch plan already. Still, it is a good start.

I discussed this phenomenon with some friends and I realized that not all French are like that. Hubby was invited over lunch since the first day, and he always eat with his lunch buddies. From my observation, some French enjoy their privacy. One of my managers told me that she enjoys having lunch at home as she can just sit in the patio overlooking her garden. They can effort to eat at home as it is tolerated to spend one and a half hours over lunch.

So now, I eat once or twice with friends during the week, and eat in the company kitchen for the remaining afternoons. I met some people in the kitchen and we struck some nice conversations. In summer, I will probably picnic in the park across the street overlooking a tranquil lake.

Enjoy lunch at the patio, the French really know how to enjoy their life.

Living in France always teaches me different ways of doing things. Eating alone and catching up with some reading, why not?

Monday, June 02, 2008

French cuisine: Mouillettes & tartiflette

Bread dipped into half boiled egg. I love this but it was weird eating it during dinner. I would eat it as breakfast. But hell it is weird for the French that we eat noddles and rice for breakfast!

Tartiflette, lots of cheese and potatoes.