LAYman's Chronicles: Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving Time

As a card-carrying citizen of the United States of America (no joke, we must carry cards), the last Thursday of the month of November is required by law to be celebrated as Thanksgiving. This entails cooking an enormous bird and serving it with mounds of food to anyone who crosses the threshold. This national holiday is quickly followed by a second national holiday previously known as Recovery Friday (as in recover from gorging on food the day before). However, nature abhors a vacuum (except in space) and so Recovery Friday was transformed by the shopping malls of America into Black Friday – a venerated day of shopping that often starts in wee hours of the morning. None of which has much to do with my topic. Where was I?

Schooled: Dressed for Success - Three students weigh in on school uniforms and dress code policies

Few articles of clothing raise such spirited debate among parents, students, and educators than the school uniform. One side contends that uniforms simplify the process of getting ready, minimizes the chances of inappropriate dress, and takes the emphasis away from trends. On the other hand, some claim uniforms hinder self-expression. But what do students – the ones at the center of the whole debate – think? To find out, we spoke to three Beijing high school students, two who attend schools with uniforms and one who doesn’t.

Snail Shells and Mastiffs in Panda Suits: A Chat with Dr. Chris Brown from "Bondi Vet"

Dr. Chris Brown, one of the stars of Bondi Vet, was recently in Beijing to film segments for his show at the International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS). Bondi Vet follows Dr. Chris and his colleague Dr. Lisa Chimes as they treat animals both out of veterinary practice in Sydney's Bondi Beach and across Australia. Before coming to Beijing, Dr. Chris traveled to Chengdu to meet pandas. Over the weekend, we spoke to him between takes about his time at ICVS and pet culture in China.

Tell us briefly what you’ve been up to in the past few days.
I’ve had a couple of days that have been very much out of the ordinary for me. I normally work as a vet in Sydney by the beach in Bondi, and treat dogs, cats, cows, horses, kangaroos, koalas, and all sorts of Australian animals. The last few days, I’ve been working in a vet clinic in Beijing treating everything from hamsters to snails to turtles – all sorts of very Chinese pets that have absolutely had my head spinning. But I’ve loved every second.

Stay an App Ahead Special: Thanksgiving Apps


Thanksgiving is once again upon us and this year there are three different alternatives to getting the family tradition going or starting a new one, whichever it is be sure to check out our Thanksgiving roundup here. For this edition of the series, this is going to be a roundup of Thanksgiving blogs that feature either entertainment or education value to let the kids have a go at them during the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving.

Shunyi Happenings: Thanksgiving Pies, Carols for a Cause, Skiing and Snowboarding, Christmas Sale

If you’re looking for pies, to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey feast, why not get some sweet and savory ones delivered straight to your door. With pumpkin and apple pies for dessert, beef and chicken pies for mains, and sausage rolls for the buffet, there’s a flaky pastry for everyone from Two Guys and a Pie. Nothing says Christmas is on its way more than carols being sung by a choir. This weekend you can enjoy some wonderful singing, whilst shopping for Christmas gifts and treats at Beijing Riviera Clubhouse. After the carols, we’ll be heading home to put up our tree, and deck the halls. Whilst Ikea is one of the best places for decorations, wrapping paper, and fairy lights, you need to be in the right mood to face the crowds. Which is why, it’s so great to have Roundabout right on our doorstep, a one-stop-shop for all those Christmas needs. Dreaming of a white Christmas? Shunyi doesn't get a lot of snow, but if you love to ski and snowboard, or would like to give it a try for the first time, now you can with Imagine.

The Echo Chamber: Candle in the Wind

It was a humid summer night in August during our visit home to Canada and we were staying at Laolao and Laoye’s house. The moisture in the air whispered that rain was on its way, so I quickly asked my mother where she kept the candles. We lit them in various places around the house as the sky got uncharacteristically dark around 6pm.

My 2-and-a-half-year old daughter, Echo, likes to point out the obvious as all toddlers do, so she chimed excitedly about how it was “getting dark out!” and the sun was “going sleepies!” As she stood by the open sliding glass doors, she hastened to describe what she felt from the air as the sky gathered itself up. “Mommy, look outside!” she said, calling me over.

Dulwich Student Wins First Prize in CCTV 2014 Piano Competition


Year 8 student Tony Yun (Canada) from Dulwich College Beijing was recently awarded first prize in the CCTV 2014 Piano Competition. The prestigious competition is held every three years and attracts a large number of talented participants who travel to Beijing from all over China. Competing in the “15 and under professional” category, Yun was the youngest of the three finalists and played Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor (third movement) as his final round piece. Notably, Yun played the piece with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in front of a live TV audience. Tony answers a few questions about playing piano and his recent win.

When did you get started playing piano?
I started playing piano at four years old. Now I play 3-4 hours during school days and 5-6 hours on weekends and holidays. I will practice more if I am preparing for a concert.

Your 2014 Pizza Cup Champion: Gung Ho! Gourmet Pizza Kitchen

It’s official: your 2014 Pizza Cup Champion is and favorite pizza in Beijing is Gung Ho! Gourmet Pizza Kitchen.

After a grueling month-long battle against 64 Beijing pizza parlors, Gung Ho! was elected the 'Jing’s Best Pizza in the Beijinger’s 2014 Pizza Cup, with a narrow victory over boozy pizza slinger The Tree, which had a respectable showing and ends the cup as the runner-up.

In the battle for third place, also decided in the last round of voting, Eatalia overcame a challenge from The Rug to secure the bronze.

LAYman's Chronicles: Do You Need a GoPro Camera? Probably Not

The winter holidays are fast approaching and people, even in Beijing, are scratching their heads and wondering what to buy for friends, family, and people they have no choice but to give gifts too. What’s a person to buy? This year, more people are contemplating buying GoPro cameras. I know this because people are asking me if they should buy them (it’s the kind of thing people like to ask a photographer).

Beijing Baba: Layer Cake - Birthday parties come in all shapes and sizes

My wife Savvy is loath to mark her own birthday. Over nearly two decades of marriage, rarely have we even gone out to dinner to celebrate the occasion. This has nothing to do with age, but rather how she received her date of birth. Since she was orphaned during the Cambodian Civil War with no knowledge or record of her past, the authorities at the refugee camp said, “You look about 5,” and assigned her a birth date. No surprise then that she doesn’t feel any particular attachment to her government-given birthday.

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