A Winter in Summer – a short memoir of my life in Bangkok

Winter is slowly but certainly on its way to Switzerland. Last month I occasionally had to put on a winter down jacket and now I’m definitely wearing my winter boots each time I go out of our lake house.

The view to the lake with mountains as background can be fantastic when the sun shines above from the sky. I should look out of the floor-to-ceiling windows more often, as anytime from now, the lake and the mountains can just disappear into “a pot of thick soup” – meaning covered by heavy fog, before snow takes its turn.

Winter is coming.

People flee to tropical islands for “refuge” and indulge themselves in the midday sun, until they could as if hear the “roasting” skin sizzle.

5 years ago, I was so lucky and meanwhile so unlucky, that I had to move to Bangkok to live.

Prior to living in Bangkok, I had happily visited Thailand a dozen times. I was familiar with many beaches, resorts, and Thai dishes. Ironically, since I lived there, I only had the craving for Chinese food.

I arrived in early summer when the rainy season started. Everyday there was a one-hour thunder storm. It was so accurate and never missed its duty to pour in the city and wipe it completely with flood. The flood usually went away after a couple of hours. Before I got used to this daily ritual, I’d been caught a couple of times somewhere in a long narrow winding lane, standing on one of the few dry spots, desparately waiting for the flood to retreat into sewage drains. No, there was no crocodile crawling at the time. But one year before, there were quite a few as they escaped with the high water from a crocodile farm, and there was water and food “famine” in the city – all the supermarkets were “robbed” by customers, who were convinced that food had to be stored at home.

I was lucky. The daily flood was just temporary. And eventually the rainy season was over. It was followed by winter – the winter in summer.

My craving for Chinese food didn’t retreat. I was looking for Chinese restaurants constantly as my cooking instinct was not awakened yet.  Then one day I found this particular restaurant. I don’t remember the name or the address of it. But I still keep some snapshots of it and its bathrooms, both men’s and women’s.


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Most first-time travellers in Thailand have the idea that Thailand, especially the capital city Bangkok, still wears its ancient traditional veil. In fact like Shanghai, it has become very modern, international and commercial.


I have been to such shows, to taste the old Thai culture.


I have also undoubtedly been to this landmark to enjoy the splendid night view of Bangkok city and sip the most expensive champagne in my life. (about 65 Swiss Francs for one glass)


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And I will never forget the hot-summer-like Christmas season embedded in the commercial atmosphere. It seemed joyful and absolutely skinny-people-friendly. (one of my theories is that fat people have better insulation system in winter. I’m one of those who hate cold weather.)

However, before the spring came, I moved back to Shanghai. I wrapped myself up in thick winter clothes and stayed in the artificial warm wind blowing out of the air conditioner at home. Before long I took off for California, chasing that “California Dreaming”.

gold and emerald rings

Morning dew dancing on the water lily leaf…

18K gold and emerald.


unique Prague

So, I spent a whole week in Prague, walking, visiting, savouring. There are already so many beautiful (even highly photoshopped) photos of Prague on the internet. I wasn’t that skilled at taking photos and would only like to share some photos of the objects that I personally got very attracted to.

First of all, I must say, the beauty of Prague isn’t replaceable or replicable. I insisted on walking in the old town which is much bigger than many old towns in European cities, and would walk approximately 15KM a day. Just because there was so much to see, and each time I turned, in every corner I discovered something amazing – aesthetic historical buildings, statues, paintings, etc. Below I will introduce you to two unique statues and two paintings that I found particular in Prague.


“Piss” by David Cerny

It is right in front of the Franz Kafka Museum. The two standing men are peeing into a Czech-shaped pond. Sometimes they rotate and sometimes they move their penises up and down. It’s said, their pee is not random, and they actually write famous quotes from Prague residents into the water! Oh, how come I didn’t recognise that their intelligent penises could spell letters!


“Youth” by Milos Zet

I had heard of the superstition – if you touch his penis, it will bring you good luck. So I especially went to the old castle compound to look for it. How could I ever miss such an opportunity to have more good luck?!

The funny thing is, I looked and looked, but couldn’t find it. I think I circled around in the castle’s compound at least five times and was too shy to ask anyone about the statue. When I finally entered the information centre, I saw many people line up waiting to buy tickets for visiting the old castle and the magnificent cathedral. The serious atmosphere beat my courage off. I left without any more info and decided to visit the last sight before leaving the whole compound. I was honestly disappointed and texted a dear girl friend back in Shanghai, telling her that I should be more positive, and not be affected by such a small unfulfilled wish.

I entered almost each little tiny medieval house in the Golden Lane imagining their lifestyle in the 16th century, and then skipped the dungeon after spotting a hanging skeleton – oh no, please no bad dreams at night. Then, something wonderful happened. The boy with the golden penis was just standing there, as if waiting for me all the time. The moment I saw him, the handsome but lonely young boy who had a proud and tenacious look on his face, I associated him with the main character in Paulo Coelho’s classical novel “The Alchemist”. The shepherd boy was on a long journey looking for the treasure that he had dreamed of, only in the end when he was about to give up, he found it in the place where he had started.

I then proudly went up to touch the golden penis. My treasure of the day.


“Zodiac” by Alphonse Mucha

Stepping into Mucha Museum was another happy surprise for me. I was always a big fan of Japanese manga. Now I guess I know where this kind of manga art originated. The Art Nouveau seems very similar to the Japanese mango that I like. Mucha became famous overnight in 1895 in Paris by creating posters for the then most famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt.


When I was strolling through and around Charles Bridge, I suddenly spotted this on a wall. Passion! I saw passion. When the woman in red presses the man against onto a wall and fills him up with a French kiss, meanwhile one of her feet lifts up from the ground, her heart is full of passion for him, and for life.

I loved my Prague trip and will definitely go back, hoping to discover more.



colourful and lively Portugal

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The trip to Portugal was memorable. Perhaps I have lived in the tiny peaceful village in Switzerland for too long, I felt so alive when I was walking up and down on the narrow steep city streets, panting; when I was hearing dozens of seagulls sing (or rather scream) non-stop with their full power; when I was taking a ride on an old-fashioned wooden tram enjoying the city view and hearing the crispy bell ringing; when I was savouring the famous Portuguese custard tarts and being intoxicated; when my travel companion – one of my dear girl friends from Shanghai now living in Toronto – and I were enjoying each seafood course and being ecstatic for its extraordinary taste; when we were wandering in the fairytale-like castle called Pena Palace… We left our steps and shadows in Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, Porto and Braga.

The colours, the smells, the noises, the crowds, and hence the chaos – were all deferent from everything in Switzerland, yet, quite exciting. Oh, how I miss life! Portugal is full of life.


so far the best party in Switzerland


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Russian Summer Night party at Gustav Restaurant in Zurich. So far this has been the best party I’ve been to in Switzerland. I guess, it is because it was not organised by Swiss people and most attendees were not Swiss. :-p

Most women were dressed up and wearing high heels. Many of them were even carrying a Chanel handbag. The DJ used his music selection to make the party alive. Some guests just started to move their bodies. That was rare (usually, and somehow still surprisingly) at a party in Switzerland. One of the explanations is Swiss people are too shy, even at a party.

The food was tasty and healthy and met its expectations. The whole concept itself of the party was quite interesting already – Russian artists and their artworks, Russian flying dinner and wine, Russian National Holiday celebration and yet all of them were happening in Zurich. That is why part of the program was to visit the Gustav serviced apartments locating above the restaurant and just a stone’s throw away from the central railway station. We could therefore indulge ourselves on the rooftop terrace enjoying the sunset. That was a very beautiful Monday evening.

play with the light

Never thought I would be able to wear a halo before I enter the heaven. ;p

In a photography class of only three students (including my husband and myself) we learned this trick (skill) from our teacher and it was in fact very simple. First I set manual focus on my “toy” camera which was just a small and light Sony NEX-5N (otherwise in the dark the camera would’t want to work), then followed by ISO 400, F11 and 5 seconds. The light came from a mobile phone. For the very first try, I was satisfied with the result. For the 2nd try I decided to be an angel. 🙂

my first English novel PILLOWS

Are you fascinated by the far East, especially modern China with Shanghai – such a metropolitan city – on focus, meanwhile you are wondering how it was like some decades ago?

Are you interested in interracial relationships? Say, Western men (white and coloured) try to develop romantic relationships with Chinese women in Shanghai, how the other Chinese people look at such things?

Or, you might be more business-minded and interested in doing business with Chinese people, especially in a very fast-paced international environment like Shanghai where opportunities pave the roads and streets, would you want to read about the business behaviour described in my book?

Then, again, love… LOVE,  this perpetual topic – seriously over-discussed but also seems never enough-discussed. How would these contemporary Chinese people enjoy love and be torn by love?

I hope you will find out everything that you have been looking for in Pillows. Now it is available on all Amazon websites. US$14.99 for a paperback, US$2.99 for a Kindle eBook.

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the wheel of fortune

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5 years ago, 2012. It was an absolutely eventful year. The wheel of fortune turned. The inevitable happened.

I threw 2 birthday parties in Shanghai, went to Marseilles for MBA graduation ceremony, toured quite a bit in Europe, back in Shanghai and attended a couple of stylish parties. Then, I had to leave Shanghai, leave China, unprepared.

I borrowed a line from Harry Potter to encourage myself, “It’s not our abilities that show what we truly are. It’s our choices.”

In the following 5 years, I’ve asked myself quite often – what am I truly? Sometimes I asked myself more frequently and intensely; sometimes I tried to avoid this question. So far I still haven’t gotten an answer.

Voluntary joblessness, involuntary miscarriage and loneliness. All happened shortly after I left Shanghai and in a foreign country. The hottest country in the world seemed extremely cold to me. Later on there was just one voice echoing in my head – where is my passion? I decided to go back to Shanghai where I had always belonged. The return trip was set, my things were packed, goodbyes were said and truly meant. Then, fate took control over me again. A real big adventure was only then just about to begin…


Spring indeed visited us…


We spent 3 weeks in (rainy) Shanghai and 1 week throughout equally cold (but dry) Germany. So a whole February was put away. When we returned home in Salenstein, Switzerland in early March, surprisingly, we saw the digital thermometer show 30 degrees Celsius in the sunny Wintergarten (“winter garden” in English) in our house.

Therefore, we knew, the spring had arrived.

Inside and outside of our two gardens (indoor garden and outdoor garden) every plant had its green sprouts. It looked so promising that I needed to immediately engage myself in assisting this process. That means, gardening.

I never thought one day, someone like me––a big Shanghai city girl––should do gardening herself! I indeed thought, one day, I would live in a big house with a big garden, having one or two professional (and sexy) gardeners do it for me. LOL! Thus, I know, I’m not rich enough yet living in a labour-wise very expensive country. There are mainly two types of people living in Switzerland based on my very shallow observations––locals, who DIY everything; foreign billionaires, who can afford to have local labours do everything for them. My hubby and I don’t belong to either of them, and it’s apparently easier to learn from the first type.

So the spring came and lingered for a while––approximately one month––and left today, leaving us with furious snowstorm and minus zero degree in the evening.

We are not defeated, nor frightened. We live in Switzerland, thus must think and act like the Swiss locals. Our house is next to the old residence of Napoleon III and on a small street called Weinbergstrasse, which literally means wine hill street in English. If there wasn’t enough sunshine during the year, how could the locals plant so many vines and produce wines? And why would Napoleon III’s mama (Hortense de Beauharnais) choose this place to reside? So here we are, putting on ready-to-wear winter clothes, all relaxed, indulgently drinking our own homemade hot chocolate and watching the snowflakes painting our outdoor garden into white, humming “What A Wonderful World”.