As 2011 draws to a close, it’s time to look back and take stock of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Year of the Rabbit was marred by concerns about health and safety issues like air pollution, recycled oil, child kidnappings, and ongoing milk woes. In pop culture, we puzzled over “Tofuboy,” steamed over self-hating Eurasians, scared ourselves silly with Chinese ghosts, poked fun at tiger moms, and had a good laugh over their kids’ wily responses. On the bright side, we covered children’s charities, welcomed many new faces, expanded our definition of “family,” and put on a bunch of fun events for Halloween, the holiday season, third culture kids, and more.
But what were the top draws of 2011, the newsmakers and reviews that most tickled, enraged, worried, and touched beijingkids readers? Without further ado, we present to you the top 10 blog posts of 2011. Thanks for reading!
10. Shunyi Happenings #7
Published on January 19, this edition of Charlotte Moreau’s Shunyi Happenings column kicked off 2011 with a slew of information about Shunyi’s expat community, including brunches, closures, and informal gatherings. Combining chipper commentary, gossip, and news, Shunyi Happenings is a lifeline for the residents of this popular Beijing neighborhood and a prime example of what beijingkids does best.
9. Breast Cancer Hitting Chinese Women at a Younger Age
This shocking blog post highlighted a trend towards Chinese women developing breast cancer at a much younger age. Nearly 40 percent of 4,200 patients surveyed got the disease between the ages of 40-49, an average of almost “10 years younger than in the West.” The biggest culprit appeared to be diet, highlighting even further the need for vigilance with food safety issues.
8. Page One: New Bookstore Opens in Guomao
The opening of the Page One bookstore in Guomao caused a flurry of excitement among expats in Beijing, where quality foreign-language bookstores are few and far between. About 65 percent of Page One’s books are in English, including many kids’ books. The bookstore was described as “sexy” by the Beijinger Arts & Culture Editor Marilyn Mai. You might say many families booked it there as soon as possible…
7. As If the iPhone Craze Hasn’t Gone Far Enough Already…
This story about baked iPhone treats just cements the popularity of Apple products in China. The smartphone-shaped cakes were going for the astronomical sum of RMB 228 per unit. (No word on the taste, though.) That’s how the cookie crumbles, I guess.
6. Storybook Apps to Add to Your Child’s iPad or iPhone Bookshelf
Continuing on the Apple theme, tech-savvy beijingkids columnist and court jester Christopher Lay gives parents the lowdown on storybook apps to supplement their child’s bookshelf at home. The difficulty of finding foreign language children’s books in Beijing, coupled with the explosion of Apple products in recent years, make storybook apps a convenient and natural choice for many expat families.
5. beijingkids Home & Relocation Guide 2011-2012
No surprises here: beijingkids’ Home & Relocation Guide is one of our most popular issues. The magazine is chock-full of information on how to move to Beijing, switch apartments, pay your bills, take your pets out of the country, open a business in China, understand fapiao, insure your family, and so much more.
4. Hamburger University: Harder to Get Into Than Harvard
One and seven – in percentage points, there are the respective admittance rates for McDonald’s Hamburger University in Shanghai and the venerated Harvard University in the US. Here’s another number: 26 percent. That’s China’s unemployment rate for university graduates, which is partly to blame for the dizzying number of applications to Hamburger University.
3. China Cracks Down on Dairy Farms
Emblematic of the food safety issues that continue to plague China, this post highlights the measures taken by the Chinese government since the melamine milk scandal of 2008. Though regulations have tightened up, it looks like the country’s milk woes won’t be going away anytime soon.
2. Talk of the Town: Amy Chua
If you’ve never heard of the infamous Amy Chua, destroyer of small children, we’re going to assume you’ve been living under a rock. Whether you love her or hate her, the Tiger Mom’s controversial parenting tactics have raised both the ire and admiration of parents everywhere. In the blog post, Kara Chin recounts Chua’s rise to infamy via The Wall Street Journal. Now, “tiger mom” is short for a harsh and authoritarian style of parenting and has inspired the contrasting terms “wolf dad” and “panda dad.”
1. Sold! 1.5 Million Dollar Dog
Undoubtedly the dark horse (dark dog?) of the pack, this post about a million dollar rare Red Tibetan Mastiff called Big Splash went unexpectedly viral. The post garnered 6,100 reads – over 2,000 more views than the second-place story about Amy Chua. What is it about this expensive pooch that fascinates us so? Perhaps it’s his shrewd Machiavellian owner, who had only the following to offer:
“The buyer told me he thought [Big Splash] was a good investment. As a male dog, he can be hired out to other breeders for as much as 100,000 yuan a shot. He could recoup his money in just a couple of years,” [breeder Lu Liang]said.
Fair enough, we say. Happy New Year!
Note: These are the top viewed posts authored in 2011. Several older stories cracked the Top 10 as well, but weren’t included in this list.