Tag Archives: 2016

2016 Review – Weddings, Traveling & Moving

So, as the last couple of weeks of this crazy year are whizzing past, I figured it was time to take stock in my annual review.

Let’s start with the not so pleasing aspects of this year.


Not very content with my blogging this year. Couldn’t say why exactly but I have been much less active and need and want to get back on track. There are a few new projects in the works for 2017, so I’m hoping to write and create much more content in the coming year.

Losing Stuff

I have to say 2016 has been absolute horror for my personal possessions. I am a clumsy person in general but never ever have I lost items on the scale that I have this past year. I am very much considering getting my head checked since I have been losing items literally every single week, from my metro card, which was linked to a public bike account, and caused a lot of hassle, to quite a few personal items of mine that I am still upset about and haven’t been able to admit to the people involved. I won’t recount here which they were because a) too painful and b) too embarrassing. Getting my scatter brain under control is a major project for next year.

So let’s move on to the more pleasurable parts of 2016.

First Time Skiing

Yes, CNY of 2016 has been the first time in my life that I went skiing. The same goes for Mr Li. And that from a former ice skater, I hang my head in shame, and secretly kick myself for waiting this long to try it. It. Is. So. Much. Fun. Even Mr Li, who is seldom over enthused with anything besides computer code (yepp, I’m an IT widow), couldn’t get enough.

Look at meeeeeeeee

Weekly WWAM Lunch

Following on from a few fun group activities with WWAMs (AMWF) in Beijing, I met two great women who incidentally work in the same area as me. As a result we started a weekly lunch routine, which has become the highlight of most of my weeks, especially the more arduous ones. Thanks to you two ladies for constantly putting up with my big gob.


German Wedding 

I need to say a massive, massive thank you to my awesome mummy, who single handedly organized the German wedding, including email instructions that could have been a strategic army action plan. All I had to do for my wedding really was pick a location, a colour, the food (most important of all!!) and show up. I’m so glad we had the German wedding since it was an opportunity to show Mr Li (and MIL) what a real Western wedding looks like. It was small and I loved every second! Big fat fank you mum for organizing my favourite day of 2016! And of course huge thanks to all the friends and family who made the trek into the hidden depths of the Black Forest to be with us on this occasion!

Ever the elegant munchkin bride
There’s a story behind the shoes…I’ll tell it someday.

More Work Travel

I definitely traveled more for work as the year progressed and got to go to some pretty cool places such as the Tibetan plateau of Sichuan, as well as a short trip back to Nanjing. I got to work on some amazing topics from China’s space programme to marriage pressure and pandas. It’s not always easy, but at the end of the day I’m so grateful for the people I get to meet and the places I get to see.

Fresh air in Sichuan

Xiamen Trip

FINALLY, after 4.5 years of begging and moaning and complaining I managed to drag Mr Li to Xiamen, my absolute favourite city in all of China. I am happy to report that at least on the topic of this beautiful island we agree – it’s the best place ever!

Can I move here please?

New flat

Oh yes, one of the big changes this year was our move from the Northern part of Beijing to a slightly more Southern area. It was bitter sweet since I had to say good bye to our cat army, a group of wild cats who moved into our garden as we started feeding them and soon multiplied to about 10 little rascals. Just staring at them eat was such a stress reliever and it broke my heart to leave them. Only binge cat-watching on Insta keeps me sane now. But we exchanged our over priced slightly tuhao (garishly luxurious) but tiny flat in the north to a two bedroom in an older compound down south and I couldn’t be happier. Mainly because of the  walk-in wardrobe, that I now call my own.

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

2016 truly has been a year of weddings, and funny enough majorly WWAM weddings. Three of them in total, and I loved every single one of them. Most people don’t enjoy weddings in China since it means giving Hongbao (red envelopes) and spending money, but for me there just is nothing like a good wedding. Especially cross-cultural ones, where you tend to get the best out of both worlds. They can be pretty stressful, as I found out, but they are so worth it!

A year of cross-cultural weddings

So overall, while the world around my seems to be going to shambles, looking at this past year I think it’s been a pretty good run. How has yours been?

Wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy new year and the best of luck in 2017. I hope I’ll see you there!


Bookworm ’16: “Buy Me the Sky: The Remarkable Truth of China’s One-Child Generations” 

This post is part of my review of the Bookworm Literary Festival 2016.

So, Xinran’s track record is pretty impressive. Not least because she started out as a reporter in Nanjing, just like myself, I felt instantly drawn to her. I have to admit that only after my colleague was in awe when we discussed she was going to give a Bookworm talk, I picked up my first Xinran book, and now I will have to read them all.

Her stories give a voice to the marginalized in Chinese society and she manages to unlock secrets most of us journalists only ever imagine they could find; stories of the hardships of Tibetan women and those mothers who had to give up their baby girls or worse; and her latest book, a look at the one child generation, or the Little Emperors, as they are often half mockingly, half critically referred to.

The event was eye-opening and inspiring in many ways. Xinran’s outlook on life, or the one she presents to the public in any event, is incredibly positive and derived, according to her, from a Tibetan woman’s anecdote on how to view the world.

The story she tells is that the Tibetan woman explained in their culture if a young boy stubs his toe on a rock, rather than saying “poor boy”, the mother would tell him he should be honoured that the rock chose to cross his path; based on the practice of Buddhism.

I do think this sunny disposition and her incredible charm is how this charismatic woman has managed to dig up some of the most secret and tragic stories of China’s past, of abuse, neglect and even murder.

During her talk she touched upon a point that honestly brought me to tears. “Those German soldiers who murdered in the name of Hitler. They weren’t all believers. Some of them just needed to feed their families.” As a German with a heap of Nazi guilt hearing someone express this simple truth just really got to me. I cannot say that I face a lot of heat for being German nowadays at all; I really don’t. But somehow the way in which we talk about the Reich in Germany is very simplistic in that anything remotely related is bad, bad, bad. To have someone from the outside offer such a multifaceted and sympathetic view was incredibly unexpected.

Mr Li got to learn a little bit about himself as well. Both of us never really understood why he is, quite frankly, terrible at reading out loud. He is incredibly intelligent and speaks English fluently, but no matter in which language he will switch out entire verbs while reading. It was not until Xinran explained that his generation were never allowed to read out loud in class that he had an utter “aha” moment. He told me afterwards that when he was at home also, his mother would tell him to not read out loud because she couldn’t hear the TV if he did. I will bite my tongue about parenting at this point; she didn’t know any better.

But this is the power of Xinran, she manages to touch the people she speaks to in these profound ways. With a few simple words. She has a clarity paired with a compassion I have rarely seen in people.

She is not much about the figures but all about the heart. Personal stories of real people. And there is a place for that. It makes for an incredibly powerful narrative.

As much as she is an inspiring person; this review should really be about the event. Since “Buy me the Sky -The Remarkable Truth of China’s One-Child Generations” was the name of the event, I did expect the focus to be on her latest book and on the one-child topic; instead it was more of a tour of Xinran’s entire bibliography. This was interesting, yes, but I still would have preferred to learn more about the one-child generation; partly for very selfish reasons – I want to gain an insight into my husband.

The other slight criticism I had was regarding the following panel discussion. While I do agree with many of the narratives Xinran presents, her main argument is that the Chinese people have spiritually not yet caught up with their economic development. And for some reason, this seemed to be her answer to every single question paused by the audience, including whether the two-child policy will reverse the gains Chinese women have made in education under the one child policy as they didn’t lose out against male siblings, and a question by an actual Chinese orphan adopted by Americans about whether there is a place for her in China. Every answer seemed to be almost the same; probably in part a move of caution.

Overall it was a great event with some very interesting insights and truly touching.


I award this talk 4 out of 5 Aubergines.

Reads for this talk: Xinran’s entire body of work, mainly “Buy Me The Sky”, “Messages from an Unknown Chinese Mother”, “Sky Burial”.