Birthdays Abroad

My birthday is this week. Counting up the years, I find that it is the eighth birthday I have spent as an expat.

That first overseas birthday in Zhuhai, I had only been living abroad for a few short weeks. We were still living in temporary housing, strangely enough the “Nanyou Oil Hotel.” Tired from a day in Guangzhou spent shopping for a fake Christmas tree, I was surprised by a knock on the door at 6 pm. Opening the door, a staff member stood before me with a birthday cake, some candles and a packet of matches. I was truly touched.

My First Chinese-style Western Birthday Cake

Apparently, taking passport details in China not only allows Big Brother to track foreigners, but can also be used at a force for good: treating homesick guests to birthday surprises.

This year, my husband and I went out to a fantastic dinner at the winkingly faux-retro, northern-Chinese-style restaurant, Bistro Manchu, and a late showing of “Skyfall.” As a lover of Asian kitsch, dumplings, lamb and James Bond, it was spot-on perfect.

Birthday dinner at Bistro Manchu

18 responses to “Birthdays Abroad

    • That cake was a while back, but if memory serves it was canned peaches or similar. Chinese birthday cakes are prettier than they taste…

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    • When (is it ever?) due for release on the Mainland? You’ll enjoy it: some nice shots of Shanghai and some nice shots of a completely imaginary Macau! Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  1. Happy birthday! May you have many more exciting adventures for years to come so we can all read about it 🙂

    • Oh, that was a few years back, but I think it was plain old sponge with lots of fake whipped cream and canned fruit inside. It was the first, last and only birthday in China that I didn’t bake my own chocolate cake.

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  2. Pingback: Nana’s Birthday |·

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