Monday, 19 November 2012

SP Night Market - Third Edition

The Third Edition of SP Night Market will be this Sunday 25th November, hosted by Plug N Work. It will start at 1pm and there are going to be some of my favourite vendors and foodie people from Sao Paulo there - including Deepali, the indian food lady and Colombian empanadas, two of my favourites!! Check out the event, and other vendors here

** UPDATE: SP Night Market has just confirmed a Malaysian Food vendor! Whooppee!! 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

To com muita raiva!

I've had two really classy moments this month where I have been so close to having a freak out or breakdown, or both.. I can be a pretty angry person in English but this anger was compounded by the fact that I don't have any angry words to use in Portuguese. I know that people say that the first words you usually learn in a language are "hello", "thank you" and all the naughty words but I've been sheltered by the fact I'm surrounded by children most of the day.

The first episode was when we landed in Guarulhos, after 28 hours of travelling from New York (delayed, redirected to Miami, delayed boarding, delayed on tarmac) and American Airlines had lost our luggage as well! We were not the only ones but you as you can imagine we were pretty tired, pissed off and surrounded by crying, tired, hungry children. One Brazilian father had a complete wobbly, shouting at the staff and I thought, I need to learn some of those words! To be honest though, I think shouting here only encourages people to work s.l.o.w.e.r but it does feel good to shout. 

The second time was when I ordered new grass for our garden, and when they delivered it we only got half. When I called the guy I bought it from, he told me I needed to speak to the person who supplies the grass rather than him (the man I bought it from)! It's one thing trying to communicate without words when you need something - food, water, directions - but how do you communicate anger, over the phone? So I told him "Vou chamar a policia!", I laughed the moment it came out of my mouth - it was the most threatening thing I could say in Portuguese. The rest of the grass is yet to be delivered...

So I asked for it to be the focus of my portuguese lesson this week and here is a summary of some expressions you need to know:

Teve uma tempestade: Had a storm (of anger!)
Eu fiquei muito brava, ficar brava: I was very angry, gets angry
Eu to com muita raiva: I was with lots of rage
É muita sacanagem: This is a dirty trick, use it when someone does something mean
Vocês estão brincando, né?: Are you playing me?
Se vira!: Turn yourself around, i.e. go and sort it out!
Não quero saber!: I don't want to know
muito folgadas: very, very lazy person. I can be "folgada on a Sunday morning", for example. Reminds me of our plumber who would arrive at work at 10am, work for 1 hour, go for 2 hour lunch, have a 2 hour nap, work 1 more hour and then go home! He was "muito folgada" all week long. 

I have to plug our dirty.JAM. Brazilian Portuguese - all the dirty words and phrases they didn't teach you in class. I need to learn it myself!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Extending tourist visa in Sao Paulo

My friend needed to extend her visa as her 2 months (on her Venezuelan passport) is about to expire this weekend. A tourist can extend their visa once for the same period they got when they entered. She prepared all her documents (see list below) and went this afternoon, and it took her 2 hours, including travel time, seriously!

There is no need to set an appointment, just turn up. Make sure you have all documents prepared below.

Required documents:
Passport, copy of front page plus relevant pages (i.e. your first Brazil entry visa)
Copy of Entry form that you fill in when you land in Brazil (disembarkation form)
Copy of credit card, front (she also took a recent statement to show that she has the finances to stay but they only needed the copy of the credit card)
Fill in payment form here, and pay for it at any bank R67. There is also a payment counter at Federal Police Lapa (Rua Hugo D'Antola, 95)
Flight out of Brazil on the date that you expect to be leaving with your new visa (very very important!)

Check in at building reception and tell them that you are there to extend your tourist visa
They will direct you to another counter downstairs specifically for estrangeiros, and they give you an application form to fill out
Then they will send you upstairs to pay for your application (using the payment form that you filled online and printed out)
Then you go up to the 4th floor to submit all your documents and then wait until they call your name, where they return your passport with the new stamp in it!

I would take all originals plus extra copies, better to be safe than sorry! None of these need to be translated or cartorised.

Good luck!

Monday, 5 November 2012

For the fish lover in you

I have found a peixeiria in the Mercado de Pinheiros that delivers fresh fish! I usually only buy fresh fish if I am hear Mercado Municipal or at the Vila Madalena feira and therefore don't get to eat it often, unless it's sushi. I hate buying the frozen fish here and the fish at the supermarkets look so sad!

Anyhow, I have used this place half a dozen times already and think it's fantstic quality. Last Thursday I ordered

1 kg of salmon, skinned and filleted (4 pieces)
1 kg of badejo already cut in chunks
2 tuna steaks which he individually packaged and are sitting in my freezer
8 large pink prawns (or shrimps, depending on where you're from) that had been shelled

Total was R180 including delivery


forgot to add the link:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

New regulations for tourist / business visas

As alot of you know the visa process can be a maddening one, especially when the rules and regulations change during the time your process.

Below is an update I got today:


Dear Clients,

In order to permanently keep you well informed, we inform that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to the practice of International Treaties and Reciprocities, changed the period of stay of tourist and/or business visas of the countries part of the Schengen Agreement (treaty between European countries), as to the List of Visas attached. The countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden.
In the cases mentioned above, the maximum permitted stay is 90 days every six months, counting from the first day of entry in Brazil and not per calendar year. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

SP Night Market - Second Edition

The last SP Night Market was a success so we've decided to organise more! The next one is this Sunday 28th from 5-10pm, hosted by Plug N Work again (Av Nova Independencia 1061, Brooklin, just around the corner from Fogo de Chao

entry fee is R20 per person

I'm really excited as we have confirmed Chez Pierre, the french pate / foie gras man and Deepali, the indian chef who is bringing her famous samosas and also testing out her new chicken biryani dish! Of course there will be cupcakes, sausages and beer as well as a group of new vendors who we have been sourcing over the past couple of weeks. Check out our website for more information.

Hope to see you all there!

Friday, 19 October 2012


So we are almost there! (I feel like I've said this already some stages ago..)

We had our permanent visas approved a month ago, and went to the Federal Police 2 weeks ago to get the stamp in our passports, hand in our Temporary RNE's and pick up the RNE Protocolo - the piece of  paper with your photo and a stamp. I say "almost there" because it will take another 9 months before we get our Permanent RNE's... but it's the start to the end (of the process), or I should say the start to the start of living here properly.

You can't just turn up to the Federal Police. Renata, our agent, made an appointment for us as soon as she was back in the city. The Federal Police were (are) on strike so I thought it was going to take forever - and it did. We were the first to arrive for the appointed time - though we would've been pushed to the front of the queue with the girls (rent-a-child-for-federal-police-visits would be a great business idea). It's up on the second floor still but they have opened up the office so it's so much more spacious. You can watch the process taking place over half  They said only one person could go in so Tim took all the documents assuming they would process everything together.

45 minutes later after a lot of shoulder shrugging and questions he walked out and then it was my turn, with Sophie. It turns out we had the one trainee who had to question everything (i.e. you were born in England but you are British, is this the same question... and unsurprisingly, she asked the same question for Sophie). The delay was because my first visa was stamped in my old passport, but since then it's expired and I obviously have a new one. There was a big discussion about where my new visa should be stamped. To me it was common sense that it should be in my new one, since the other one is technically expired and I don't want to carry it all the time.. but of course, it went in my old one.

It took 3 hours but in comparison to my first visits when I use to leave in tears, out of frustration, this was a walk in the park. Straight after we were interviewed by Band FM Radio. They dedicate their Thursday evening sessions to interviewing expats who live in Sao Paulo. I was quite nervous as it was going to be all in Portuguese and the questions were off the cuff but she reassured me that the listeners love all the silly mistakes foreigners make... It ended up being a lot of fun talking about our lives here, how much I love Brazilians (my Brazilian friends told me off for that), traffic and food. They are always looking for people to interview, so if you think your Portuguese is up to scratch drop me an email and I can put you in touch with them.

In the meantime we'll be working on driving licenses and registering my cupcake company, so this is not the end of my blogging about Brazilian bureaucracy!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Lançamento verão 2012/2013 - GomideChic&basic

My beautiful Brazilian friend Priscilla is launching her new clothing collection tomorrow evening. Sophie & Theo's Cupcakes will be sponsoring the event so please drop by to check our her elegant designs and eat cupcakes!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

SP Night Market

Wednesday 26 September
hosted by Plug N Work

The first edition of SP Night Market will be on Wednesday 26 September. An evening where you can network + mingle amongst specially selected vendors; gourmet food, wine, art and fashion and of course cupcakes!

Entry R$20/ person + chance to win raffle prizes from the selected vendors.

Through fresh eyes

I've been rediscovering Sao Paulo this week with my friend, Maria, who is looking to move here. She landed a week ago and her first days here have already been filled with so much awe and appreciation (she just moved from Dubai - could you get 2 cities any more different?), and good old laughs as she adapts back into Portuguese.

I threw her in the deep end up on her second day here by loaning her my car. Not only did she end up in rush hour traffic;  the clutch failed on the Reboucas turn off from the Marginal and she had to ask a CET guy help her drive the car up to an emergency bay. All those cars driving in their rodizio who drove past in the 10 minutes the CET man was distracted have Maria to thank if they don't get a fine.

It's been so great to see Sao Paulo all over again through Maria's eyes. She is SOOO excited about fresh fruit and vegetables, greenery, public displays of affection, drinking in a garage bar and not at a hotel bar,... all those things you can't get or do in Dubai of course. It's all about perspective right?

Check out her Sao Paulo blogging here.

And if you know of any company looking to hire a Finance / Commercial Director let us know because she really wants to stay!!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Get in the right frame of mind

Get moving!
Moving countries...cities... neighbourhoods, can all be pretty daunting. I met a lady the other day who is just about to move to Chennai, India with her husband's work. She was pretty happy about moving there. I can imagine having curry every day is a pretty good draw, and there are lots of cultural links with the UK and maybe she might be just plain excited about moving somewhere new. I have to say I'm a little jealous. Not that I want to leave Sao Paulo anytime soon but I love the idea of the unknown.  The running joke for us, is that now that we've got our Permanent Residency, where should we move to next? We have limited options now because the girls will be of (serious) school age in a few years so let's see..

Get some perspective!
I actually wanted to write about all the naysayers; all those people who hate the idea of Sao Paulo before they've even stepped foot in the city. To be fair, GRU is not the best introduction let alone the taxi ride down the Marginal into the city. Crime, language, traffic, cost of things can also be thrown onto the list. I've met people here who have hated Sao Paulo so much it seeps into their every day life... I always wonder if they are only like this in Sao Paulo or will they just move back to their own city and find something else to complain about.

Get in the right frame of mind!
  • Make the effort to learn the language, seriously. Make some Brazilian friends. We went to our local bar almost every night and learned a lot of our Portuguese through talking to anyone and everyone. A few caipirinhas don't hurt either. We went on a 4 day holiday as soon as we arrived with 8 Brazilians and the entire weekend was in Portuguese - I didn't understand a thing.
  • Find a house / apartment close to work / school so you have some sanity in your life, i.e. traffic-free.
  • Adapt and use Brazilian products - I love Granada soaps, Arezzo shoes and Pao de Queijos!
  • Make the effort to get to know the city - check out different neighbourhoods every weekend. This big, dirty city has SO much to offer.
  • Get out to the beach as often as you can for a breath of fresh air. We're going for the third weekend in a row!
Every city has it's pro's and con's and I'm not saying that Sao Paulo is the best place in the world to live in but for right now, it works for us. Maybe I'm being biaised because I AM a city girl... put me in the countryside and I might be writing a completely different blog here : )

Sunday, 19 August 2012


My weekend: A night of curry and scottish celidh dancing sandwiched by 2 long lazy Brazilian lunches.

Yes, this is a picture of Brazilians playing bagpipes and showing off their Scottish dancing skills!  Hearing bagpipes always makes me a little emotional - they remind me of special events, weddings, etc   - I want to say I felt homesick but I've only been to Scotland 3 times in my life... The night was hosted at the Brazilian British Center in Pinheiros and it was all about the dancing. I eventually got the hang of it- holding hands running around in circles, clapping and feet stomping though I think I was much too sober for my liking. The Scottish Society also host a Burns Night and the Caledonian Ball during the calendar year which is more about the whisky drinking than the cross legged dancing.

And then the long lazy Brazilian lunches... today's lunch came about as follows. Received a phone call at noon inviting us to lunch at 1pm, made a real effort not to turn up on time so managed 10 minutes late, kissed everyone hello including children and dogs, drank out of a communal glass*, sprinkled some farofa (it's growing on me) on my delicious moqueca and then tried to add something intelligent to the conversation in Portuguese. One of the guests was a stand-up comedian and I think this is the true test of learning a new language. When I can go to a stand-up comedy night in Portuguese and actually understand it AND think it's funny, I will be justified in saying that I can speak Portuguese. Just might be a few more decades before I actually get there..

*I like this style, even if it is with people I've never met before. It means you get to taste all the different caipirinhas / sakerinhas!!  Today there was grape+pear, fresh coconut + passionfruit and lime+orange.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

In the news

I try to read the news in portuguese religiously - good for my portuguese and also good for dinner conversation with my Brazilian friends. These 2 links were posted on the INC Facebook page:

A woman yesterday was kidnapped, had a bomb strapped to her and then sent in to rob a jewellery store on Oscar Freire. Sounds like something out of a movie, nao e?

This student was stopped by police for drink driving, tried to light a 50 real note as a cigarette and start her car with a straw. "Canoodle" is one of my funny words here - always makes me think of teenagers "canoodling" in the back of the car when I have to ask for a straw for Sophie's juice. Bad word association.

Friday, 17 August 2012

In my head

Some stuff I've been thinking about this week:

I was talking to my taxi driver who is from my local "ponto" and he lives all the way over in Sao Bernando do Campo. I guess as the crow flies, it's not really that far but the traffic! I asked him why he would choose to work so far away but he told me it's the Prefeitura (of the city) that allocates pontos to drivers so no one gets a choice. I guess the pro of this is that it is all fair and equal,  irregardless of where you live. But on the other hand, would the traffic-monitor-people not take into consideration 45,000 taxis driving back and forth to their pontos as unnecessary for an already very busy city? On second thought, maybe these traffic-monitor-people don't actually exist...

Empregada + Feiras
I took my empregada to the local feira for some fruit and vegetables. She was horrified by the prices compared to her local feira. We don't even live in a "bairro nobre" so god forbid if I take her to one in Jardins or Moema...  but I like to buy and eat good quality fruit and vegetables. If I want to pay R10 for a punnet of imported japanese strawberries, I don't want to feel guilty about it. Advice to self: don't take her shopping.

Garotas da Programa
Don't people here care that there are "girls" working right outside the school that their kids go to? I'm trying to imagine that outside my old primary school in Wellington.

Plastic Bags
Some of you may have noticed after all the hoopla of banning plastic bags from supermarkets earlier this year, they have quietly changed their minds and the plastic bags are back in. This wasn't because of some en-masse complaint from the public. I'm being sceptical here... but someone has made a LOT of money selling re-usable bags!

Number 9
As per the plastic bags... someone is making lots of money from apps that insert a "9" infront of all your 011 phone numbers. There is an uneasy history of easy money making -  I say uneasy because it's so obvious but easy because no one seems to care. I've heard of new (now old) laws where every car had to have a first aid kit and luckily there were a few companies that had already prepared the millions of first aid boxes needed, or how about the law that that require employees to sign in and out each day of the office? Again luckily, there were companies already producing fancy new fingerprint machines for people to clock in and out of. I need to figure out a way to pass a law that makes it illegal not to eat 1 cupcake a day.

My new salted caramel cupcake
I've had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner..

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Olympic Torch coming through Sloane Square
Sunny London and Happy Londoners!

We have just got back from a month in the UK - enjoying the Olympics, and enjoying an unusually quiet London as everyone was told to stay away. Luckily we also had some sunshine! The Olympics were incredible and I am really excited for Rio 2016 irregardless of how messy and disorganised it might be in comparison.

While I was away in the UK this time I had this constant conversation going on with myself all day long:

Pushing buggy on nice evenly paved pavements...
"Oooh, could I live here again?"
Miserable Londoner snarls at Olivia for just being a baby...
"Sod all of you!" (in my head of course)
Walk past Waitrose....
"Ohhh I really miss Waitrose and all its lovely packaging...I could live here again!"
Pay for food...
"Shit, did I just pay £30 for 4 sirloin steaks!"

But as we landed back in Sao Paulo this weekend just gone the arguments left my head and I thought to myself, it's lovely to be home. And home it is for the while - our permanent visas have just been approved! So the next step is now to book an appointment with the Policia Federal which our agent Renata is organising for us.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Calling 11

Quick update if you haven't heard already. Everyone with a mobile number starting with area code 11 will have a "9" added to the beginning of your number, eg. 11-912345678, starting today.

There are conveniently apps available to add the "9" to all numbers in your address phone. Someone is about to make a fortune!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Shopping online in Brazil

I made my first Brazilian purchase online via Mercadolivre, the South American equivalent of ebay. A few Brazilian friends have just gone through the (painful) process of refurbishing their houses. As I walked through their beautiful homes I pointed at all the pieces, furniture, art that I loved, "Where did you get that!!?!". Some pieces had come from furniture restoration shops like Desmobilia, which I love but is incredibly expensive and even though I'm acclimatising to the cost of things here I'm still not ready to throw my money away at everything (apart from food..).

Both of them had bought old chairs from Mercadolivre and then taken it to a tapeceria to get reupholstered which can cost as much as the chair but still cheaper than buying it ready made from a shop like Desmobilia, and you would have a completely unique piece that no one else has. So I took it upon myself to be more budget and try the online shopping here. I've been looking for an old medicine cabinet for our bathroom like this one in Desmobilia, so I copied and pasted the text into the Mercadolivre search engine and voila, found a very similar one for about a quarter of the price! OK, the sides are missing, there is no key and I need to buy glass shelves to insert. I checked the seller's credit rating, paid via the site (though in hindsight, the sellers prefer you to pay in cash on delivery if possible so there is no fee paid out to Mercadolivre) and he delivered free of charge 2 days later. 

Today I went to my local glass shop "vidracaria" and ordered the glass shelves and side for another R200 and they are delivering tomorrow. So far one of my less painful shopping experiences in Brazil, and certainly won't be my last on Mercadolivre.

Another site to check out is elo7 which is their version of etsy. I don't think the standard is quite there yet but maybe in time.. 

Crap, I think I've just jinxed myself. I should've waited to post this once the glass shelving is delivered tomorrow...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Little Peanut Mummy & Me Classes in Sao Paulo

A fabulous Mummy friend is setting up an English speaking Mummy & Baby group here in Sao Paulo called Little Peanut. She's starting it in September and will be running classes for different age ranges.

There is certainly a culture here of sending children to day care from very early on. It is very common for both parents to work here, so if you don't have family nearby to help you either hire a full time nanny or you send your baby to a berçário / day care. If you meet other children in the park it's likely to be with their nannies.

It probably took me about 6 months to realise that we weren't going to make any friends for Sophie in the playground, so I joined the INC as they have a weekly baby group which is free. Sophie had also just turned 1 and needed more activities and interaction with other children, not just going on walks through Vila Madalena and looking at art and drinking coffee. The INC is a good alternative to sending your child to a day care as you can meet some lovely mothers who hopefully just live down the road from you. Museums, 1 o'clock clubs (god i miss these in the UK!) and clean playgrounds are just not that accessible here. I've listed a few places here that I've found over the past couple of years.

If you are pregnant, or if you have just had a baby here, there is also a great group that has been set up which does coffee mornings once a month and provides a general forum on facebook for any questions you might have. Email me if you would like more details as it's a private group for now.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Restaurante Natural com Artes

I stole this photo from their website of the dining room
looking through to the kitchen.

My mother would let me get away with blaspheming* here if she had come with us to Restaurante Natural com Arte last weekend. We were invited to a little girl's first birthday. They are not Brazilian so they chose one of the prettiest spots I've seen yet to host her birthday lunch. No clowns, no trampolines, no monitors or hotdogs... though of course they had beautiful pink brigadeiros, essential for a birthday here.

This restaurant is located in Embu but not in the main part of town that some of you might know. When you drive there you might think you are lost along this little dirt road, but stop at No. 340 as this is their house - it has no restaurant name on a plaque. They are a family run business - Felipe Senatore is a painter (hence 'artes') and Tatiana Cardoso is the chef, and they grow all their vegetables organically in their big back yard. They have a beautiful set up with an open kitchen (i want one) and a charming little dining room which seats probably up to 30 people.

A man with a guitar singing in the background old Brazilian classics. Champagne to start, with fresh bread from the brick oven built into the outside wall of their house, and delicious little antipastos. Fresh vegetable soup for the children and babies. A sit down lunch consisted of a beautiful fresh salad with a to-die-for spinach quiche, mozzarella and basil ravioli, and then a buttered white fish that had been roasted over hot coals (in a giant pot plant). Their heritage is italian, greek, brazilian.. and it all comes together wonderfully in their home.  I really felt like I had been away for the weekend being pampered in such a beautiful setting.

They have a restaurant in Moema which is open only at lunchtimes. If you want to go and check out their home, they will only open for reservations - don't just turn up! The usual clientele are politicians, actors etc... so save it for a special treat, and I would definitely suggest lunch so you can laze around all afternoon eating. I would go every Saturday afternoon if that was possible... We were lucky enough to be treated to this extravagant lunch, but I don't doubt one bit that it is close in the price range of DOM or a Fasano restaurant in town.

If I was turning 1 again, this is definitely where I would want to have my birthday!

*My english is getting so bad now I have to really root around in my head for a word in english... is blaspheming even a word?

Win Amazon Kindle!

So my other baby (along side my real children and the cupcakes) is JAM Language which I've been working on with Maria, my partner based in Dubai, for over 3 years. We produce flashcards for learning languages online - we have over 30 products under our belt including Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian... and other cute offerings like dirty.jam slang, jam.financials and

We've just released JAM Brazilian Portuguese Flashcards which is available on Kindle (and you can download Kindle to your ipad, ipod, iphone or to an android device).

In celebration of our birthdays the ‘J’ And ‘M’ in JAM are giving away an Amazon Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display.  For chance to win  LIKE the Facebook JAM Language page AND write ‘Happy Birthday’ in your native language!  Good Luck!  Winner will be drawn on July 4th.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Mocotó e Lumini

Courtesy of

We celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary a few weekends ago. Hard to believe this poor man has been married to me this long ... So he did his best to surprise me, and surprises don't come easily to him. We went to a restaurant I have been DYING to go to, Mocotó. He had to tell me as I would've complained the entire (long) drive there. We haven't made it out there before mainly because of practicalities. It's far away and I hear it's crazy busy on the weekends. I'm not really one for queueing for anything, let alone with 2 hungry children on a street corner. But I say this now, I will queue all morning for that Caldo do Mocotó!

What I love is that it is considered one of the top restaurants here in Sao Paulo and you sit in this restaurant / bar (it use to be his Dad's cachaçaeria) you actually feel like you are in Brazil. On the other hand, a restaurant like D.O.M could be anywhere in the world; though there food is not so bad either : ). It is super casual (thank god I put that "special occasion" dress back in the wardrobe) and you can't make a reservation. We were told to get there before 8pm to make sure we would get in on a Saturday night. We only had to wait 30 minutes which was spent supping my kiwi-caipi and people watching. 

The food is North-Eastern so has lots of flavour and chilli. Yay for my asian tastebuds! There are dishes where you can choose the size you want and share. I'm going to talk about the Caldo again... yes, it was that good. I wish we had ordered the largest bowl possible. I can't remember the name of the other dishes but one was rice based, another was a stew of some sort and we also got a plate of Carne do Sol. Our entire meal came to just under R100 including tip. 

So the plan for the second half of the night was a Love Motel. I've never been to one before but you see them dotted along the marginal. He had been doing alot of research to make sure it was a good, and more importantly a clean one for me. He picked one called Lumini Motel in Barra Funda, which has been rated No. 1 by Playboy. So I didn't quite know what to expect.. coming from a western minded upbringing, you always think of love motels being dirty and seedy. I've been told that most Brazilians lose their virginity in one. The Hong-Kong-in-me was super impressed with the efficiency. We drove up to the counter Mc-Donalds drive-through style, chose our room (Deluxe) on the screen infront of us, and handed in ID*. The gate opened, and so did our garage door as we approached it and we drove straight in to our private garage. The room was above the garage and had a spa and sauna, plus a retractable roof. For R200 we had 4 hours in the room but by hour 2 I was bored of sitting in the spa and just plain old tired, I just wanted to go to my own comfy bed to sleep!**

On the subject of Love Motels, I've heard that for Rio 20 next month they don't have enough hotels so they've had to block book Love Motels for all the UN officials. Where are people going to go when they want an hour of getting down and dirty?? I can just see it now... no one is going to be getting any, the whole city is going to be frustrated and angry, crime is going to go up and there's not even guaranteed sunshine this time of the year. Moral of this blog: don't go to Rio in June.

*remember that you have to have your ID every time you check into a hotel / motel here
** yes, i'm one of those boring married people

Thursday, 24 May 2012

boba bubble puba tea

Bubble Tea from Teahouse
picture courtesy of yakisobanao

We've hunted down the real deal... Boba Tea, Bubble Tea or Puba Tea as it's known here can be found at the Tea Station on Rua da Gloria, 283 in Liberdade. It's been open since last July and I must've walked past it hundreds of times..

It's really simple - a bar with a computer and some canisters to make the tea. On the wall there are lots of post it notes from adoring customers and some pictures of Taiwan, home of the Boba Tea.

R7.25 for your simple milk bubble tea, and they have lots of different flavours. So if you're looking for another excuse to head down to Liberdade (aside from dumplings, fresh noodles, peking duck and massages).. here it is!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

How far I've come

No, I dont' mean as a human being though I hope there has been some general progress in my lifetime.... I mean since we arrived here over 2 years ago. I had this revelation on Saturday when I had to go to TIM (cellphone company) because I had lost my phone (again).

1. I can speak Portuguese (mais ou menos)
2. I know that I need to bring my passport, RG, CPF and proof of address
3. I got there before lunchtime so there was no queue

These are the 3 vital points that made this visit SO pleasant, particularly when I look back to our very first visit to get some sim cards when we first arrived in Sao Paulo.  Our questions back then were:

1. Why do you need my parent's names?
2. I want a pre-paid sim card, why do you need my address? Of course I don't have one, I only arrived in Sao Paulo yesterday.
3. Why doesn't my passport count as ID? What is an RG? What is a CPF?? F**k, I have to wait until we get all these before I can get a sim card??!!"*

Except my portuguese was so basic back then, all we could ask is

1. "Porque??"
2. "Porque??'
3. "Porque !!$%???"

My visit this time took 20 minutes, thankfully, as I was really hungry and kept telling Deborah that she needed to hurry up : ). She gave me a new sim card (R10) which is why your pre-paid sim card phone number is registered to you, and I also swapped from pre-paid to a post-pay which means I get a contract in the mail every month instead. My blackberry contract comes with pretty much unlimited calls, SMS and data for R110 a month but an iphone contract is R20 less for some reason....

Another thing to take note of is if you have a pre-paid phone you need to recharge it every 3 months (you can do this at newspaper stands, supermarkets, loterias etc) otherwise you will lose my number and with post-pay you need to make sure you use it within 4 months. If you are travelling out of Sao Paulo for a while but want to keep the same phone number, make sure you call them to let them know you still want to keep your number. You can close the number while you are away so you don't have to pay the bill, and then open the line again when you return. My fab TIM agent Deborah gave me all this information at the same time as she was registering my details. Multi-tasking in Brazil.. made me feel like I was back in Hong Kong! Maybe I was just lucky to have sat down with Deborah... hunt her down in the TIM store in Shopping El Dorado.

*We got my pre-paid sim card based on Tim's work visa, using his office address. 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Co-working space inauguration

I just stopped by the co-working space this afternoon to drop off cupcakes for the party tonight. It is SUPER cool. If you aren't doing anything tonight then head down there tonight to sample some samosas, listen to some cool tunes from their in-house DJ and of course eat a cupcake!!

Just (don't) say "sim"

600 Chevrolet Cupcakes

884 cupcakes baked this week... 200 for the INC fair, 600 for Chevrolet for the AMSOC Gala dinner, and a few orders in between. All out of my little oven and with the help of some fab mummy friends to put the boxes together, I managed to survive having replaced my travelling husband with my super (overtime-overworked) empregada.

So my Brazilian lesson this week was never to do business in Portuguese on the telephone. It was a good reminder that 50% of the time I have no idea what I'm talking about, or what they are talking about! Hah.  I can laugh about it now. We had pencilled in the Chevrolet order a couple of weeks ago and had been chasing the agency for the logo to go on the cupcake. I really wanted a week to prepare the boxes, cut out logos so I could concentrate on the final 24 hours baking cupcakes.

Day 3 before the event I get a phone call to ask if the boxes will be all complete when they arrive, with stickers. I say "SIM", my favourite word which always gets me in trouble here.. They confirm the order. 10 days after my deadline. I don't why I bothered!

Day 2 before the event.. apparently I have said "SIM" to printing and putting Chevy stickers on all the boxes (we had our logo on all the lembracinha* boxes since we were doing this at a special price for our AMSOC friends), and printing and tying tags. I know now what a tag is... but because I had never heard of the word, my brain obviously just ignored it when he mentioned it on the phone the day before. So now I had 48 hours to print, cut, stick and tie their logo and message to my cupcake boxes as well as bake 600 cupcakes!

24 hours before delivering. 600 logos to cut out, 600 tags to cut, 600 ribbons to cut and tie and 600 cupcakes to bake, frost and put the logo on. Tick, tick, tick! Thanks to some friends and some hired help we got it all done with an hour to spare. The evening was a great success; well done to the AMSOC Board! They raised over R46.000 just through the silent auction, the food was delicious and we had great company on the table. I wasn't sure about their DJ selection though...  it was when I was dancing to Boney M at 1am that I thought it would be a good time to leave! I gave my cupcake to my taxi driver - I hope he appreciated all the hard work that went into that little cake!!

*lembrancinhas are little gifts given to everyone as they leave a party. Brazilians give these away at every function, event, party, wedding, birthday, anniversary, new baby event!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

AK Vila

Vila Madalena has so many new restaurants I want to check out - they all look so FUN everytime we pass by. I'm driving home with my 2 small children in the back of the car, and lamenting the lack of fun in my life.

So I first stopped by this restaurant AK Vila one weekday afternoon as we were looking for somewhere for a coffee. My cousin was in town from Singapore and all she wanted was an iced coffee. They had no idea what one was (you would think the name was a give away) but in their defence they went away with our instructions on how to make one and they did it perfectly. I like people who can think out of the box.

And I liked their chairs. So I decided to get some made (in Embu). 

So third, and probably the most important, thing I needed to check out was the food. Started off with a delicious bruschetta of dates and gorgonzola, and a tuna tartare with avocado. I'm one of those people who finds everything appealing on the menu (probably because I'm always hungry) and then I want to order last because I want to see what everyone is ordering, so I can change my mind at least once, or ten times. I finally settled on the Stinco de Cordeiro, I know, doesn't sound so appealing but it was a Lamb Shank on creamy polenta. It was really, really, really good. What you want on a relatively cold and rainy day in Sao Paulo.  I'm a lamb lover (ok no NZ / sheep jokes please) and it's a very difficult meat to find here unless you go to a specific butcher or are happy to just buy frozen in the supermarket. The others had a Peruvian soup with rice and prawns. It was spicy, properly spicy. The risotto was only OK. The rare tuna steak was the winner of the day. I'm going to have to go back specifically to have that whole plate to myself. Meal was R120 per person with a cocktail or two each.

NOT a kid friendly place. My first impression walking by the first day was that it was. I saw a group of ladies having lunch and one of their babies was with them, sitting in their bumbo chair on the table joining in in on all the girly chat. I thought, how civilised. But a Sunday afternoon is a different matter. The restaurant was packed and there were people waiting, our girls were fine but our friends' 1 year old was all over the place. Brazilians are the most accommodating when it comes to children but as the parents having to run after that said child, it's a different matter.

Leave the kids home, go to AK Vila.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

He was lost but now he is found!

That was one of the most stressful days of my life - even more stressful than going to the Policia Federal 5 times!!

Our doggy George and his friend Zoey escaped out of the gate on Sunday afternoon without us noticing until we came back from lunch 3 hours later... It's one thing losing your own dog, but to lose someone elses' dog is a complete nightmare! We all scoured the streets that evening but Tim had to fly out for a work trip, just to add to the stress. 

Neither of the dogs had a tag - we had one with an old phone number on it - so we decided to print some posters and plaster them around the neighbourhood the next morning. Our hope was that someone had taken them in to look after them. USP is known for where people dump their dogs, and the police pick them up but our doggies weren't there at the main police academy. We spent the morning walking 10x 10 blocks around where we live talking to everyone, and putting up pictures. Good places to put up signs are padarias, supermarkets, bus stops, despachantes, newspaper stands, loterias, pet shops.. I even handed them to the homeless and the "garotas". If anything, from this experience, I've gotten to know everyone much better (and now everyone knows George too!).

I also  had a massive portuguese fail when the guy at a local restaurant thought I was trying to order 2 hotdogs... perdeu dois cachorros / pedir dois cachorros (hotdogs). Starting my portuguese lessons again this week....

It wasn't until that afternoon that we got a call to say that the dogs were found... 2 blocks from our house at a garage. They had obviously tired of their little escapade / honeymoon but didn't know how to get home. After 24 hours of worrying about these dogs, I just burst into tears. I was never a dog person before but now I know how much I love this silly dog!!! So now I'm one of those dog people. 

The advice I've been given is to get a tag with more than one contact number without his name so he can't respond to strangers. Well to be honest, he doesn't really respond to his name with us and there is going to be no chance of him ever getting out of the gate again cos i'm going to chain him to a tree first!!

For all those doggy lovers in SP. this little guy is looking for a loving home.  His name is Pudim and he is 3 years old... house broken and all.  His current mommy recently had a baby and decided to put him up "for adoption".  If you are interested, please contact me and I will put you in touch with the lady who is helping him find a home.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Lost dog in Butanta

George is 10 months old

What a nightmare! We have lost our dog George and our friend's dog, Zoey, who've been looking after. We were unloading some stuff from a truck and the gates were opened, and we watched on the security cameras after, both dogs making a dash for freedom without us noticing : (. It's one thing losing your own dog but losing a dog owned by 6 years olds is particularly awful. I think for now they think Zoey is on an extended holiday with us.

George is a 10 month old black lab with a limp and is really scared of cars and big roads. Zoey is a 9 month old beige lab and is full of energy. By the time we got back from lunch they had been missing for 3 hours (and my husband was about to fly out for a business trip, worst timing ever).

We are putting up lots of lost posters around Butanta but think they could've made it over to Cidade Jardim or Morumbi if they haven't been picked up by a kind stranger. Neither of them have tags or contact details on them so just trying to get the message out.

If you lose a dog there are are a number of websites to register or check:
and a facebook group called caes e gatos desaparecidos

If you live in any of these areas please keep an eye out for them!!!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sushi & Truffles, Empanadas & Ceviches & more curry

I've had a treat with food over the past couple of weeks and haven't managed to catch up on blogging about each one..

Huto is a japanese restaurant located Av Jandira, 677 Moema. After lychee-sakerinhas to start, we ordered the chef's menu  plus a few options from the menu that sounded to good to miss out on. The food is in the same vein as Aizome but the experience in Aizome is much more traditional and serious. Beautifully plated dishes - alot of it with truffle oil, yum (so don't go if you don't like truffle oil). Even the chawanmushi came with truffle oil. I would recommend this restaurant as a treat; definitely one of the higher-end japanese restaurants in the area but in this city there are too many to choose from... It cost R180 per person and I think the degustacao was R120, but there were different variants of it.

El Guaton, a chilean restaurant. This was a last minute lunch the other weekend. It's a chilean hole-in-the-wall located on Rua Artur de Azevedo 966 in Pinheiros. The car park is a derelict building next door to it. It has so much character (some charm) I imagine you feel like you are in Chile  (though I've only ever been through the airport in Santiago). For you fish lovers, they have seafood empanadas - prawns and cheese, clams, fish. They are delicious and a sizeable starter. The portions of white fish ceviche were definitely enough to share between 2 people, depending on how much you like ceviche. If I was on my own I could've done one portion and I guess we almost did, having ordered 3 portions for 4 adults. The other adult and the kids (Brazilian) wanted picanha and chips, which again was a decent sized portion and could've been shared between 2-3 adults. It worked out to R70 per person but think it would've been even cheaper if we had all eaten ceviche, or all eaten picanha. There seems to be always a queue when I go by on the weekends so get there early (13h is a normal lunchtime for non-Brazilians, early for brazilians).

Govinda on Rua Princesa Isabel, 379 near Shopping Morumbi. I love curry. If you follow my blog you will see I've checked out a few of the other indian restaurants (Tandoor, Sabores da India, Delhi Palace, Madhu)*. Govinda is a big restaurant with a shop as well, and private rooms (maybe a bollywood themed birthday party for Sophie this year?). We were there for lunch we were one of 2 tables in there. The food is really god - no butter chicken swimming in campbell's tomato soup. They had all of the standard curry dishes (we had murgh makhani, keema naan, dal, samosas, pilau rice, aloo gobi), and some of them had a proper kick to them. But there were no poppadoms - two big thumbs down for that. I've actually been cooking alot of indian myself as I bought back all the spices on one of my last trips but it's pretty time consuming. Between the 4 of us it worked out to R60 each.

*As I wrote that list I thought, wow, there are way more Indian restaurants here than you think there are considering there only a handful of expats that like curry here.

Co-working space in Brooklin

A friend has just set up a co-working space in Brooklin. Why? Simple, people want to have a creative space and other people to orbit around. These spaces are usually hard to find and expensive in Sao Paulo (the other one I know of is on Rua August). If you are setting up a company, or here for the long-term and need a space to work out of check it out!

Plug n Work
Av. Nova Independência, 1061 - Brooklin |
Telefone: 55 11 9193-5306

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Learning to drive in Sao Paulo

I swear this is what some Brazilians dress up in before
they get in their cars and drive on the Marginal...

I've had a few of these self-realisations in my life, like "Oh my god, I'm a mother".... and the most recent one was sitting in a car and saying to myself "Oh my god, I'm a driver"! I've always been in awe of people who can drive (and ride bikes.. I'm a city girl ok!). I learnt to drive when we lived in London a few years ago but I was never very confident. We had a Gulf GTI Mark 1 which was previously owned by my husband's father so it had alot of sentimental value, and he did not want me to drive it once I passed my test (it only took 3 times). This was until I was pregnant and he realised he had a sober driver from the pub every night. He would always comment on the drive home that he would still be a better driver drunk than me sober - I would've had to agree with him.

So I've put off driving here for a long time. We've lived in areas (Moema, Vila Madalena, Jardins) that I could walk to restaurants, supermarkets, parks etc but now that I have 2 children (a buggy, let alone a double buggy, is impossible on the pavements here) and we live in Butanta, and my husband is about to start travelling every month, I have finally caved into driving. 

I was recommended a teacher Vavá*  - if I was going to drive in Brazil, I needed to learn to drive like a Brazilian. I booked in 10 sessions with him - each session being 50 minutes, and I did 2 at a time. 10 sessions cost me R500 (if you paid per lesson it would be R100) and did my 5 sessions in less than 2 weeks. He wasn't the most attentive instructor (he talked on the phone alot, read the newspaper, and we went via Faria Lima so he could deliver some easter eggs...) but for the price I'm not complaining. If you need someone to sit in the car with you just so you can work out how to drive on the otherside of the road and car, he did the job. I'm still beyond people that can smoke, do their makeup and sing loudly all at the same time as driving. I've managed so far not to have an accident by never changing lanes (how fast do those motoboys go!!), estacionamentos are my new best friends, and I never signal (no one cares or will ever let you in). 

With regards to a driver's license, I've been told (and I know there are various versions of this...) that we can drive on our International Driver's License, which we picked up at the post office in London, until we've been here for 6 months on our current visa. But because we are in the process of our permanent visa**, once that is approved we have another 6 months to change over to the Brazilian driving license. If you need to check your particular situation I would highly recommend checking in with the agent we use, Renata on  

If you are looking for more information check out Angloinfo.

Vavá's numbers are 2924-4950, 9721 4950
** The guy from the Ministry stopped by yesterday to see that we did live here and said that our visas would be published in the Diario Oficial da Uniao once it's been approved. It will take 2- 9 months - nothing like a little bit of accuracy!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Lollapalooza Brazil

I had one of those 'menos' moments yesterday at Lollapalooza. We walked to the Jockey Club and tried to go through Portão 6 which was the closest to us but they only told us at the turnstiles that we had to go through Portão 2 which was on the other end. When we finally got there, another 15 minutes walking in the blazing sun, they wouldn't let us in as we didn't have ID for the girls... I'm learning to deal with Brazilian bureaucracy at the best of times, but at my worst (hungry, hot and thirsty) I don't fare well. The guy would not let us through after arguing it hadn't stated it on our ticket, they are only 2 years and 5 months old, they're not drinking, we're not getting on a plane... so instead me and the girls waited on the roadside while Tim went home to pick up all our passports.

Nevertheless once we were in (typical Brazilian style, the entrance for kids had a set of steep concrete steps) I cheered up. It was the first festival for the girls and we  had a few bands we were really keen to see - Thievery Corp, Friendly Fires, MGMT. There was also a Kidzapalooza which was super cute - a tent with musical instruments hosted by the infamous music school Souza Lima who do music lessons for kids from 3 years old, as well as local bands. We saw Crianças Crionças by CID Campos who sang about bears and butterflies - super cool, seriously. It was a great hide away when the rain started too!

Sophie taking photos of some festival girls

Playing the xylophone - new favourite instrument - at Kidzapalooza

So then my slow brain finally worked out why the Brazilians are so strict about ID for children. We had matching number wristbands with the girls so it meant that no one could just take our kids and leave the festival. This obviously didn't work in practice - we just walked out of there with no one checking but it's a reminder that we live in a country where some people take other people's children*. And when I think about it logically, I would rather them be more strict about this than not. I would like to apologise to the guy at Portão 2 whose life I made difficult for 5 minutes.. .

Taking children to music festivals is not common here. There was one other 5 month old and a handful of older children, but people were either really excited for kids to be there (we got alot of 'Parabéns', and interviews and photos from random strangers) or absolutely horrified. I have to admit, Jane's Addiction is not really my cup of tea but both Sophie and Olivia fell asleep to them. When the rain started properly we decided to be responsible parents and take the girls home, and listen to Arctic Monkeys from our garden.

Check out Tim & Sophie being interviewed here!

* I know this obviously does not only happen here in Brazil but there is definitely more awareness (documents required) if you have children here. E.g. you need a form (notarised of course) to be able to leave the country if you are travelling on your own with your child. You (we..) should always carry ID for the girls because if you are stopped by the police for any reason you need to prove that the child is yours - this is happened to us once before and we didn't have any documents, small panic attack.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Hiring a maid in Sao Paulo

The other week I was able to attend a seminar on Household Help, organised by the International Newcomer's Club. It's run by Patricia de Luna, who is one of those people you are secretly jealous of and admire at the same time - she's a lawyer for fun, a dentist by day and takes upon herself the publishing of the Dicas (a very useful book of tips published by the INC every other year). She organises this seminar as hiring household help is full of legal minefields - everyone always has a story of a friend of a friend being sued. All sounds pretty stressful!! I've avoided any potential pitfalls by doing everything according to the law - the problem is working out what that law is! Some people employ agencies to do this for them which is certainly not stress-free either, and also very expensive.

The history of slaves in Brazil is extensive and sad. Brazil had the largest slave population in the world. In 1888 it was decreed illegal and the slaves were set free.. but most of them didn't have anywhere to go, so continued to live on the farms and were paid in board, food and money. When the laws for employment came into being it focused on the idea that the employee is always the disadvantaged party - and these are the same laws that are still in place today. It is important to take this into account when looking at some of the laws in today's eyes that might seem unfair (being the employer).

The one thing I really took to heart was Patricia talking about salaries. It is normal that expats pay above the going rate (an exceptional empregada is paid R2000 a month, and I heard of someone paying their driver R6000 a month! I would be their driver if I could drive : ) ..... some because they don't know any better, or others that really want to help someone out.

The problem is that expats are always going to leave, and leave behind someone who is a good worker but wants above the going rate. They will find it difficult to find a job that they are happy with. I paid my last baba (nanny) R900 per month for 4 (easy) days of work. She left us in December and still hasn't found a job even though she has been offered numerous jobs. I get a call or text from her every week.... that job was working too much, this salary was too low, she doesn't want to stay overnight, she doesn't want to work in this area, she doesn't want to iron... It's such a different mindset from mine - if I was out of a job, I would take any job just to make means until something better (even if it is ironing!!).

Here are some points from Patricia's seminar that I wrote down:

  1. The employee be registered from Day 1 of work and the trial period of up to 90 days can be written in the carteira da trabalha. 
  2. Salary must be paid by the 5th of the following month.
  3. The employer needs to pay INSS which is 20% (8% can be taken out of the employee's salary)
  4. Travel costs must be subsidised.
  5. A trial period can be up to 90 days where neither party needs to give notice. After this it is 30 days notice. 3 days per year worked is accumulated up to 90 days max notice that has to be given.
  6. The employer can only keep the carteria for up to 48 hours and after this time it must be returned to the employee.
  7. For up-to-date salaries use datafolha (which is updated every month).
  8. Annual raise is not mandatory.
  9. There are no set work hours, and no overtime pay but the average is 44 hours per week.
  10. If you go to Caixa (the bank) to pay the INSS (which needs to be paid by the 15th of the following month) they will work out any fines due. Best is to make sure you pay before the 15th. You can also pay online via your bank account, or at a Loteria.
  11. The employee receives 13th month  and 1 month salaried holiday (only available to the employee after one year, and at 1.33%, which is received before they go on holiday).
  12. Holidays can't be shorter than 10 days at one time, and the employee can sell back up to 10 days to the employer. The employer can dictate when the employee goes on holiday.
  13. When you pro-rate, always divide by 30 days, 52 weeks or 12 months - don't count the actual working days.
  14. If the employee is pregnant she is guaranteed job stability from confirmation of pregnancy (this is the date she finds out, she is not obligated to tell the employer but I'm sure the employer would work it out eventually...) until 5 months after the delivery date.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Dim Sum Yum Yum

Dim Sum means a little bit of heart (lit: point of the heart). They are a variety of little parcels of steamed (and sometimes fried) happiness. I know that sounds all cheesey but it really does make me so happy!

I haven't had much opportunity to seek out dim sum restaurants here. There is the obvious one  - Ping Pong in Itaim, a franchise westernised restaurant which I wouldn't have bothered even turning my head for in London ... but a girl has to eat (especially a Hong Kong girl). The food is OK, the drinks are good and it's all pretty expensive.

Today we went to check out Wan Wan, Rua Galvao Bueno 555 which are open for breakfast every morning. Yes, we eat dimsum for breakfast as I tried to explain to my empregada today who is making me bolo de milho verde for tomorrow's breakfast (I'm not complaining about cake for breakfast either).  This small restaurant is run by a family of chinese immigrants from Guangzhou. I was testing out how bad my cantonese is still but I couldn't even work out what language I was speaking: just a random mix of cantonese/english/portuguese. But I managed to order a few dishes (my cantonese food vocab is pretty good, of course) while waiting for my friends to arrive. I meant to take a photo for this blog but I was too excited to eat!

For 6 of us the bill was $24 each - pretty cheap by sao Paulo standards.. We had charsiew cheongfan, pork and century egg juk, sticky rice, siu mai, hargow - all standard dimsum fare. It was OK - better than Ping Pong but not as good as the greasy, straight-off-the-steamer like it is in Hong Kong style. I guess I just need to go back to Hong Kong to get a real dose (unless anyone knows of another place to try?!?!). Dimsum is definitely not something I'm going to be bothered learning to make. I've also ordered some Singapore noodles as take away but haven't been hungry enough to dig my chopsticks into it.

Our Italian friend said half way through the meal "You Chinese girls are the same as Italians - always talking about food while you are eating food." I can't help it - food makes me so happy!

*Just an update on dimsum in Sao Paulo. We went to Ping Pong for their "Lazy Sumdays" which is rodizio dimsum. Yes. Seriously. I wouldn't be caught dead in Ping Pong in London but here in Sao Paulo a chinese girl has got to do what a chinese girl has go to do. Opens at noon and it's R75 per person.