Pet Misery

Last month was Chinese New Year and I still want to write a story about what happened to our cat… We went to Henan to celebrate and took our dog with us, but it was hard to take our cat too and we decided to leave her in a pet shop.

I didn’t feel good with that, especially when I saw that he was putting her in a small cage, but we had no choice. It was the evening before we would leave and I comforted myself that it was only 1 week.

We came back 1 day earlier and we even arrived quite early in the evening, so we could get her that evening. We went to the pet shop to see it closed, but it was already around 8pm, so we didn’t think too much of it and we would go back the next day.

The next day, I went there every 2 hours and it was always closed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have their cell phone number. My husband had the paper of registration, but couldn’t find it. There was a landline number, but nobody picked up. I saw there was a paper stuck on the front of the shop with a cell phone number, but a piece was missing and I just had the beginning of the number. I was even looking for the rest of the paper, but couldn’t find it.

It started to be late afternoon and I grew more and more furious as I could see that the pets were just left behind and were not being taking care of at all. I was already thinking of calling the police or break open the door.

Around 6pm, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I wanted to get my cat back. There was an iron gate and I tried to lift it up. I was surprised to notice that it was not locked, so I lifted it all the way up. There was a glass door that was locked, but there was a cell phone number on the door. I called it and after calling twice, a guy answered it.

I gave him my honest opinion, especially when I heard he was in Dongguan (all of a sudden my Chinese came out perfect and fluently) and he said he will be there after 1 hour.

In less than an hour, he called that he was at his shop. When I went there, he apologized over and over again and he said that he has to take care of 4 shops (which I don’t care, he just need to make himself more organized then).

All in all, it was a happy ending: I got my cat back healthy and well, without being too much traumatized, but it will be the last time that I will give my cat to a pet shop!


Star Wars and Tai Ji

Is Star Wars based on Tai Ji philosophy?

A couple of days ago, I went to watch the new Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
I never knew why it was and is still is such a hype. I never really liked watching these movies and am certainly no avid fan. But, a while ago I read an article that Star Wars is based on Tai Ji (Daoist) philosophy and being an avid Tai Ji practitioner, I wanted to see it with that kind of mind.

And I loved the movie and recognized many things that were based on Tai Ji philosophy. You have the Light and Dark Side (Yin Yang). But both are not entirely dark and light: people move over to the Dark side and both sometimes flow into each other, like Yin Yang.

The Force is everywhere and you need to tap into the Force within you to become a good Jedi. This is the same as nature or Universe in Tai Ji. With Tai Ji, you also have to practice to create more awareness in the world around you. When in the last movie Luke Skywalker teaches Ray to meditate, it’s entirely according to Tai Ji principles.

The Force within you is your internal energy, called Qi and through Tai Ji practice and meditation it becomes stronger until some Daoist monks can prolong their life and can even go into immortality. It is the same in Star Wars, where for example Master Yoda becomes a guiding spirit for Jedi masters.

The Wu Wei – Nothingness, a state of non-action is translated into the Code of the Jedi. Wu Wei states that the best action is sometimes no action, your inner nature has to be in harmony with the natural laws around you. Same as with the Jedi Master who has to follow the Force. He can’t resist it, can’t control it. He needs to feel the Force and let it guide him to the best action.

And so on. I can go on and on about examples of how Star Wars relates to Tai Ji. I invite you to go and watch the new movie and see for yourself.

I really love that even America bases such a multi-billion production on ancient Chinese philosophy. And that it has such a success among people all over the world should be a sign for Chinese to embrace their traditional culture. America can be the one that makes it into a fake, supernatural sci-fi movie, but it’s up to China to take it as a marketing tool to show how effective their ancient wisdom is.

Chinese culture nowadays is getting too much influence from American consumerism and Chinese people look up to American culture. Funny to see that Americans, or at least Hollywood is looking at Chinese culture and finds its inspiration there.

Indulge yourself in this new movie and learn all about the ancient teachings of old Daoist masters!
May the Qi be with you!


So many memories of my time in China. It’s been nine years since I moved here and the adventures that I have had so far I couldn’t have imagined in a million years.

Here are 2 videos of that time:
This one was by a National TV crew and broadcast on Chinese National TV in 2014

And this one my husband made about our honeymoon:

Expats back in their country

I am back in Belgium now for a couple of weeks and it is hard to be back. First of all, and the biggest problem, is that I have to live with my parents.

People here in my home country don’t know anything about the life I am living abroad. They haven’t changed that much, but I have changed and I am not used to the Belgian life anymore.

I have been living more than 9 years in China now and China is my home. Already for years I have a reversed culture shock. I don’t know much about life in my home country anymore. I don’t know the recent developments and what the popular trends are.

It has been harder and harder to come back. But, it is also due to the fact that I have to live with my parents and that they live in a small village with no public transportation. The contrast between the village and Shenzhen couldn’t be bigger for sure.

My husband came with me this time, so it was a good excuse to sometimes take my parents’ car and drive to another city to visit.

Village life is, I guess, in most places all over the world the same. People don’t like change; they want to keep the traditional way of living. So, we have been eating traditional meals with a lot of fries, Belgian waffles and of course a lot of chocolate. But, it’s not all about food. I feel that I have evolved into a life that my family knows nothing or very little about. They talk about Belgian things and assume I still know, but I have no idea about it.

All this makes me go into a little identity crisis sometimes: am I still Belgian or am I becoming more and more Chinese? This is the most difficult question and I don’t think I can answer: I consider myself still as Western, but not as much as pure Belgian.

Even though, I know it is also because of this village that I feel this way. I have a friend who lives in a big city here in Belgium and I still feel more connected with her. It is difficult to stay nice to my parents, though. I want to have a great time with them while I am here but I am getting annoyed with their close-mindedness and they still treat me as the little girl they knew.

All in all, it is always good to be back in my home country, because it makes me realize how much I have grown over the years. I am glad I got out of the village and took responsibility to live the life that I want and not one that society wants me to have.



Western habits

I am teaching at a Chinese company now for a couple of months. They asked me to help them to practice their English, because they will have to go to a conference in London in November to try to attract new business partners.
I love to teach them as they are very eager to learn and they are curious about the Western life and mentality. I realize that I have much experience now about Chinese habits too and am able to tell them that not all foreigners are used to China, its culture and habits.So, we should always bear in mind that when we are abroad people are not familiar with our way of living.When they asked if they could invite potential business partners to dinner, I also realized that I will have to teach them about the Western style of dining and the table etiquette. I know this is now also big business in China! I love it that we can learn so much from each other’s culture.
At home, we are a bit in the same situation. Our tickets are booked to go to Belgium in October. It’s going to be the second time for my husband, but I can see he is already getting nervous and wants to eat more Western food and want to eat with fork and knife again just to get used to it again.
I, on the other hand, love to eat with chopsticks. Even when I was in Belgium I would sometimes eat the food with chopsticks, because I am so used to it and I love the feel of it. I am amazed to see on how it opened my mind to live in another country and in a totally different culture. I appreciate things from Belgium much more when I am there, but on the other hand, I miss things from China a lot as well when I am there.

I feel that I have one foot in Belgium and one foot in China. My husband thinks of moving to Belgium in the future, but I am not so sure. Although, I do miss the European life, because it is more relaxed and quiet, but I also miss China when I am in Europe. I think once you are familiar with 2 cultures, it is hard to choose which one you like more: you learn to love and hate certain things of each culture. I do think it would be good to move to Belgium for a certain period, so my husband can experience what it is to live in another culture and also so he knows my culture more. But only the future will tell where we will live permanently.

Boating on the sea during a typhoon

Again an item I can check off my bucket list, although this one was definitely not on it in the first place. But, being married to Eric, I could have known this would end up on my list…

So, what happened? Eric got an inflatable boat and knew about an island 4km off the coast of Shenzhen. His plan was to row to the island and camp there for 1 night. We had a lot of stuff with us: tent, water and snacks, fishing net,…

After 1 hour on the sea, the weather changed and it started to rain. Not much, just a shower and so we continued, even though for the half hour it rained, we couldn’t see any land anymore. The second rain shower lasted a bit longer and we had to scoop water out of the boat. The waves got a bit higher. But again, we continued, as we were halfway and we thought we could reach it in just one more hour.

After that, 1 paddle broke and the waves started to get higher. All of a sudden, the heavens broke and it started pouring rain. The waves became scary high and it rained a lot. We had to keep on scooping more water out of the boat. The rain didn’t stop for 2 to 3 hours. We saw a container ship and started waving our paddles. Eric’s phone didn’t work because of water damage and I didn’t bring mine, just because I thought it might be damaged.

The ship was not far from us, but didn’t pick us up. After what seemed like a lifetime, the rain started to pour down less and we started to see the contours of mountains. After a while, we could see land clearly again. I started to get courage again and started paddling like crazy towards land, afraid that another shower would come and we wouldn’t see it again.

After 2 more hours, we were closer to land and it started to rain heavily again. The waves started to build up in strength and we were again at the mercy of the sea. We were being put closer and closer to land. At that point, we had to make sure that our boat wouldn’t be thrown onto rocks. We started to keep the paddle in our hand to use if a rock would be too close to us, but it was useless. We were going up and down on the waves and had no control over the direction.

In the end, we went closer and closer to land. Eric got out of the boat to try to steer it a bit, but the sea was too wild. A few minutes later, a big wave swept under the boat and I flew out of it and was thrown on the rocks. The last I saw was Eric being caught between a big rock and the boat. I started shouting as I didn’t see him the first minute. He came out of the water and I could feel my own body: my knees and hand were hurt, but not too bad.

We got all of our stuff by wonder, because the waves were smacking on the rocks. We packed everything and we had to walk another 3 km over rocks, through water, mud and a small forest back to our car.

Eric’s comment: we wanted to eat free fish, but we almost got eaten by fish!

Yeah, I guess that is going to be my life story with him. He already thinks of trying to do it by kayak next time.