Sunday, March 01, 2009

It's over

As I am writing this, I am sitting in the hospital in Shanghai. Shiqi is sleeping. She is recovering from the birth, which took place yesterday evening.
It was a sad and difficult experience. Especially sad was the fact that she had to go through so much pain, knowing that at the end of it, we would not have a small healthy baby in our hands to compensate for it.

When the baby was born, it was dead already. I decided that I wanted to look at the baby, because I was hoping it would help us later in processing and accepting the situation.

I think I will never forget the site of this tiny, helpless, and lifeless creature. The belly of the baby was extremely big, and the fluid inside was clearly visible. It was clear to me that this baby did not have a chance.

The future will tell whether looking at the baby was the right decision or not. At the moment, I feel glad that I did.

Shiqi decided that she did not want to see the baby, and I think that was right.

Right now, Shiqi, even though tired, is doing well. I hope she will recover quickly and we can be back home in Fuzhou together soon. We are looking forward to that very much. And we are sure, we will be fine!

I want to thank you all for the kind and warm words we have received in the past days. It was nice to know that the thoughts of our dear friends and family were with us.

"... I had je graag heel even
1 seconde laten leven
ik kan je nu alleen niet laten gaan
nu je net voor dit leven al
dood bent gegaan ..."


("...I wanted to let you live for a moment, just for 1 second; I cannot let you go, now that you died shortly before this life ...")


These lines, from a song by the Dutch artist Maarten van Roozendaal have been going through my mind often during the past few days. I never thought they would mean so much to me one day.

May you rest in peace, little baby .....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sad news

It's a fact of life: there are good times and there are bad times.
Around 4 months ago, we were very happy with the fact that we were expecting a second child at the end of July.
During the first routine ultrasound check, last week, however, we were informed that there is something wrong with the baby. A large amount of water was discovered in the abdominal cavity of the baby, pressing away the inner organs and in this way influencing their development negatively.

At the moment, it is not clear yet what it is exactly, or what the cause can be. Fact is, that it's a serious matter, and the chance is big that we will have to terminate the pregnancy in the coming week.

We will go to Shanghai for the final tests on Tuesday, after which we will have to take the decision.

I can only hope that all will go well next week, and that we can put everything behind us soon.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dragon boat festival

This year, the Chinese government decided to cut down on the so called 'golden weeks'. During these golden weeks, practically the whole country is 'off-duty' and enjoys a whole week of free time. In previous years, there were 3 golden weeks: Spring festival (Chinese new year), the week around 1 May, and the week around 1 October (national day). Because most Chinese have very few days of annual leave, these golden weeks are traditionally used by many Chinese to go back to their hometowns. Consequently, an enormous amount of people is on the move, which results often in big congestions in public transportation, especially trains.

Therefore, the Chinese government decided to skip one of the three golden weeks, the May holiday; only 1 May is free. As a compensation, there are 3 extra national holidays, the Tomb sweeping festival (to honor the passed away relatives, on 4 or 5 April), the Dragon boat festival or 'duan wu jie' (5th day of 5th lunar months, this year on 9 June), and the Mid-autumn festival or 'Zhong qiu jie' (15th day of 8th lunar month).

In a previous post I already wrote something about the the Dragon boat festival.
This year, we did have a day off so we could go and watch the races. Actually, we did not plan to go and see it, because of the crowds, the races would undoubtedly draw. So instead, we went out with the Aguinaco's to check out a village in the area around Fuzhou. We never really made it to the village, but we did run into a Dragon boat race , as we were just on the ferry, crossing a river. The race was probably organized by one of two of the small villages in the area where we were. It was lovely to see, without the crowds we would have encountered in Fuzhou for sure.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Olympic flame reaches Fuzhou

Today, the Olympic flame also passed through Fuzhou. It was a great day for this event: sunny, a blue sky and around 25C with a little breeze.
The event drew big crowds. Already around 5 A.M. 10.000 people had gathered on "Wu-YI square" from which the 28km walk with the flame would start. Anywhere near the route, the traffic was thick.

In total 208 people ran a distance of arond 200m with the flame. The oldest 'runner' was 94 years old!

At the moment, there is a lot of positive excitement about the Olympics here, for a while already.
Today, we saw many people with a small Chinese flag sticker on their cheeks, small flags on their cars or in the garden of their houses.

And even the Carrefour has become extra careful and supportive after the recent protests against the supermarket giant. On a banner over the entry of the Carrefour closest to our house it was written in Chinese "Cheerio, China, another 89 days!".

Besides the Olympic flame, also the Olympic fever has reached Fuzhou.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Censorship

Recently, the army of censors and propaganda officials of the Chinese government have been extra busy. Normal nuisances were blocked websites (like blogspot and wikipedia) and extremely slow connections (<5 kB/s)to foreign websites. Typically also is the news on TV in which critical reports about the developments in Chinese society are generally lacking. But since the start of the riots in Tibet, the censor and propaganda have become extra explicit and disturbing.

CCTV was very quick in reporting from Tibet about the riots. But soon after the riots started, it was announced that life went back to normal again. Normal Tibetans who were interviewed on the street, all confirmed to be happy that everything was fine again, together with some bad words about the protesters.

During an item about Tibet on CNN, the TV image was suddenly gone; right at the moment the Dalai Lama appeared. A minute or so later, the image was back again with a speech of prime minister Wen Jiabao. Less than 2 minutes later, the image disappeared again when it was reported that some European countries are studying the possibilities for boycotting the Olympics.

Today, it seems that all foreign reporters were sent out of Tibet. The only news that comes out of the region, comes from official, government controlled channels. It is clear that the Chinese government is very concerned about the stability of the nation, especially so shortly before the start of the Olympics, a milestone in the road to a modern China. And it seems to believe that strict information control is an essential ingredient of their recipe to maintain stability.

Usually, there are ways around the censor; the routes to information on the net are plenty. But for sure it's getting harder. And sadly, I don't have the time to look for new and creative ways. So, I guess like many others, I digest, what's provided to me by easy-to-access media and these are controlled by the state for sure. It seems to me that the many hours of overtime of the army of censors has not been without result. Alas!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Spring Festival Pictures

For those of you who are interested: a selection of pictures that we took during the Spring Festival holiday can be found here on Flickr.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

National forest park Qi Shan

During the spring festival holiday, we drove to the Qi Shan (Qi mountain). Qi Shan National Forest Park is located to the southwest of Fuzhou city. It's an easy half hour drive from the city to the foot of the mountain. Once there, however, a 22 km extremely curvy and pretty steep and narrow road leads onto the mountain, to the park entrance. That 22 km road takes around 45 minutes, provided their are not many slow cars in front of you (sometimes they drive so slowly that walking up would have been faster for the passengers).

The tiring ride is rewarding, though. Qi Shan is a beautiful mountainous forest area with a few well marked wandering trails. You will be welcomed by many guides offering their service for around RMB 50 per two hours. It's not really necessary to use a guide, but if you want to concentrate on the beauty and not on the route, it's a good option. The park entrance is RMB20 per person. We took the three hour round trail, which leads past a couple of pretty spectacular water falls. You can even climb up to the highest one, with an extremely steep stairway (one way only: up).

We were lucky that the weather was beautiful (although cold) so we could enjoy a few very nice panoramas of the mountainous scenery.

After the long walk, we drove down the mountain again and had lunch in a famous "farmer food" restaurant at the foot of the mountain. This was an interesting place for itself. Many Fuzhounese come here in the weekend to eat, drink, sing karaoke, and play ma jiang. The food wasn't great, but the scenery and an empty stomach made up for that.

Conclusion: Qi Shan is good news for those of you who are afraid there isn't much to see or do around Fuzhou. Very nice!