About Me

I am a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) in New York City in my first few years of clinical practice. I am also a Certified Labor Doula (Childbirth International). I am a feminist, Jewish, and in possession of strong opinions.

I used to live in southwest China, where I worked at an international public health NGO. For several years I blogged about life in China and travels in Asia as BirdAbroad, a blog which went viral for 5 minutes over photos that I took of a fake Apple store in the city of Kunming. If you’re looking for those posts, you can see them here, here, here, here, here, and here, before I got tired of all that business and wrote about all the mistakes you shouldn’t make if your blog goes viral.

The views expressed on this blog are solely my own, and do not indicate the endorsement of anywhere that I have worked or been educated. The names and personal details of anyone I have encountered in a clinical setting have been changed to protect their privacy.

I can be reached at womansworkblog AT gmail DOT com, and on Twitter at @NYCMidwife.

110 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi there – I work for the Financial Times’ emerging markets blog Beyondbrics in London and really liked your Apple store post. I would like to reblog your post. Can we republish some of the photos you took of the store? My email is pan.yuk@ft.com and my office number is +44 207 873 3343. Please let me know. Kind regards, Pan

  2. Hi,

    I might have an issue regarding this post, I’m a little bit overwhelmed with those stores not being the real Apple stores. Im going to send Navy Seal team 6 to solve this problem as soon its daylight here in the Pacific coast.


  3. BirdABroad,

    We just returned from two weekds traveling China ourselves and it was awesome, but like your story about the fake Apple Stores, it was amazing all the rip offs there.

    One thing we did come away with after visiting some rural elementay schools and orphaneges, is that they also move their disabled infants out of the mainstream very quickly.

    We were total alarmed at the difference in care their unwanted children have (no) access to wanted to bring them all home with us.


  4. @ Stephen Jobs,

    Seal Team Six was upgraded to Group status and renamed DEVGRU, like, decades ago – do I still call your notebooks “iBook” and your handheld devices “Newton”? DO I?? And now go get ’em in Kunming, tiger… Er, Lion!

  5. Dear @ DHH

    I also own Pixar, so I can send Monsters Inc, or the Incredibles, whoever I want to take care of the situation. Btw I can even send the “Situation” from Jersey Shore to handle that, imagine Jersey Shore in China? So is a whole new level of fighting back piracy. About your behavior Ill put your name on my s**t list and you wont have an iPad3 or iPhone5 for Xmas. Try a android phone, you will be ripping off java for free, courtesy of Google.

    Try the new OSX Lion, it will make you smile 🙂 Available on a Appstore inside your Mac.

  6. Hi,

    I work for Tom’s Hardware and would like to use some of your pictures in a story we’re doing about your encounter with the fake Apple stores in your city. Would it be alright to use a couple of your photos (with full credit and links to you)? You can contact me at jmcentegart[at]bestofmedia[dot]com



  7. Hi, I’m a producer for NBC’s “Daily Connection” news program, and we want to run a short piece on this for Thursday’s show. I am wondering if you have these images in high-resolution that we could broadcast with the story. We’ll credit you on-screen. My email address is alyssa.kim@nbcuni.com, and my deadline is 10 a.m. Eastern (NYC) time Thursday, 7/21.

    Thank you!


  8. Pingback: The Rise of the Fake Apple Store - NYTimes.com

  9. well, i hope some of these places are going to pay you for these pictures of the fauxpple stores. Your blog is great. Your life is awesome, you and RP keep it up, you are living it.

    • I was thinking the same thing, hope BirdAbroad gets compensated. The audacity of others… too lazy/stupid/apathetic to research/write/produce real news themselves and so they wish to “use/borrow/appropriate” her actual news, and accompanying images, preferably hi-res, to try and catapult onto the au courant media bandwidth. Sigh.

  10. Hi BirdABroad,
    I know exactly where Kunming is. I passed it on a trip to Lijiang. I totally agree about the knocks off. They are constantly springing up and you have to be so skeptical about it all. Keep up the posts as I so miss that area of the globe.

  11. Excellent article about the Apple Store knock-off in China. I found your website and article through the LA Times Blog which picked up your story.

  12. What a story, I remember visiting your blog in 2007 when I, too, lived in Kunming, now I was linked to you from none other than John Gruber’s daringfireball. Great piece, great photos, great writing.

  13. Hi,
    Just recently discovered your blog and I’ve enjoyed it very much.

    I was in Yunnan last year, just traveling for 3 weeks. I stayed in Kunming for about 4 days. Loved it there. Miss it dearly.
    Have you ever been to a small place called JingHong?

  14. Yup, I know all about Northwest Yunnan, my Lijiang map was scanned and copied by one of the 4 star hotels there and used as their own.

    Saw a lawyer in Kunming and was told they can do nothing unless I can have the “judge in my pocket” and then it will depend who has the deepest pocket.

  15. This story is amazing. I think what transpires the most is the incredible crave that people have for Apple products. Shame on Apple for not opening enough stores fast enough.

    If I was Steve Jobs (the real one, not the one that commented on this blog 🙂 ), I wouldn’t procecute too harshly. In all reality, these idiots actually ran the best (and free) study of the local market: “could an Apple Store have survived in this type of area in China” is a very expensive question to answer; but with two around the block from each other, Apple can now open stores in all similar areas with confidence.

    Just saying… 🙂

  16. I have been told by a few friends who travel to china for work that some good copies of items are in fact the real deal just done on night shift!

    Love your story well done..

  17. Hey J! I don’t know if I am allowed to use your names on here..
    Tell RP I say hi, by the way!

    I was surfing my favorite news site when I saw a post about a fake Apple Store; I clicked it and was shocked to see RP in one of the shots! I have been sending it around.

    Miss you guys!,

  18. ni hao BirdAbroad? found your blog via huffpost, read and then posted a link to your blog about the fake apple stores on FB. awesome that news outlets are asking your permission to use your work!


  19. Hi,

    Another Apple fanboy sent your way by the BBC.
    Great blog about the fake stores, you couldn’t make it up, but it appears they have!
    Keep up the good work

    Rob (NW London, UK)

  20. Amazing find out! I wonder if the products are fake as well? There are lots of Chinese people coming to Hong Kong and buy lots of Apple products back to China. Especially iphone 4. Oh, that might be too outdated for them.Tthey might be selling iphone 5 now in China. 😛

  21. I have been to the store and she has overblown the story. These stores are selling real apple products not fake products. This is probably one of the best retailer outlet and retailer should look into replicating this store.

  22. At the moment our computer screens are full with the News OF THE WORLD newspaper’s alleged mobile phone ‘hacking’, but I reckon your article beats even that. Well done, keep it up!!
    Ron Barnes ( worked in London, U K. most of my life, living at the moment in Argentina).

  23. I presume that one of the give away’s was the launch of Panda, the new apple OS designed specifically for the chinese market. It’s absolutely useless with poor functionality and no chance of making it in the wild. Copies are scarce due to huge issues with replication. I do believe that they are hoping to produce a couple of copies at Munich zoo later this year from their captive copy called, Job Job.

  24. hey birdabroad..

    the name of this blog itself is beautiful.. very good writing.. couldnt read all ur posts, but the apple store a great one!! keep up this work.. it would be a good use of this social media, if anything is done about this..

    Keep blogging..


  25. Hi there,

    I know this blog from our news site at Indonesia that post your article about fake of Apple Store. Now, every people in the world know you more.

  26. Hello, I’m a journalist with The Recycler magazine and we’d also love to feature this blog in an upcoming issue. Can we have permission to use one or two of your photos?

    We will of course fully credit the images and refer back to the blog.

    My email is m.brown@therecycler.com and office phone is +44(0)1993 899815.

  27. Hi from Minnesota. Thanks for the great connections. I have been an Apple user since the 80’s and raised my sons on them. I am planning a trip to China in Sept and have been reading up on the place and even learning a little putonghua. Ni hao ma? Duoshau qian? Qing, bu yao zai wo!

    And, good thing I am really not in a buying mood. I visited the Soviet Union back in 1971 at age 24. I was an eco-hippie then. I look forward to following your blog.

  28. I live in Dali, Yunnan (just a few hours up the road from Kunming), and we have the same imitation stores here. One store is, oddly, selling both Apple and Lexmark, so the front is pure imitation Apple, while the back is devoted to printer cartridges. The sign says “Apple/Lexmark.”

  29. Hi. I don’t have an internet/facebook/twitter/allsuch identity, but
    you can call me Al, or Steve, or Pete or anything you fancy. I am a
    journalist/artsreviewerreporter NLE (no longer employed: the internet
    killed my full time job). I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a tiny
    province shaped like a lobster claw, hanging on for dear life to the
    right coast of Canada. I spend some of my time writing for both print
    and digital. I am also giving Methuselah a run for his money.

    I enjoyed your story on the fake apple stores, I admire your
    persistence, your cheerful spirit, your easy writing style and your
    sly wit. But, though computer literate, and internet semi-savvy, I
    could not find a path to commenting on your story, even after
    registering with my wordpress id, which was accepted and allowed me to
    join the growing list of those who like your story.

    I wanted to take the grammar cop to task for his/her scolding of
    another commentator for ending a sentence with a preposition. I guess
    she/he never heard of Winston Churchill’s priceless comment on the
    rule, and by extension all such dogged clinging to rules in general,
    rules that are made as we all know, to be, though very carefully,

    Churchill: “This is something up with which I refuse to put.”

    I have bookmarked your birdabroad site.



  30. Hey, My name is Craig i work for a company in the united kingdom specializing in web development and would like to offer you free hosting for your blog and to buy you the domain name girl abroad. if you are at all interested please email me.

  31. Great article…with a freak accident last week Wednesday with my Yorkshire Terrier, I had to unwilling hand him over to the Toronto Human Society; I miss him terribly.

    Maybe I should have taken a sample of his blood, and sent to China to see if they could clone my dog, since they seem to copy everything with such precision.

  32. First off, thanks for an excellent discovery. Please watch your back over there now.

    Second, I want to point out that the Chinese are spreading their influence in its neighbor country: Vietnam, which is not too far from where you are. I’ve been told the Chinese have been building mega shopping centers in Vietnam but give exclusive rights to only China-based businesses to open stores in those centers. This has created a bit of friction with the locals (cheeze, wonder why…)

    It looks like the Chinese are going too fast and ending up crashing like their high-speed train recently.

  33. Have careful about the “international” food stores (burgers, pizza tm, etc) – can be false, to… LOL

    When you enter on that one – ask for a certificate but… if this is false too let your stomach make the right chose!

    (The question is maybe the “fake” can be better then the real one – is not difficult…LOL)

    Cheers, from Iberia,

  34. This is her ‘about’ page. I wonder why everyone is posting on the ‘Fake Apple Store’ story on this page. Get a grip guys! This is going to be old news soon!

  35. There are a bootleg Apple store here in the Kingdom of Bahrain called “iStore”, complete with a Facebook page:

    There is another store recently opened called iMachines that is actually an authorized (or claims to be) Apple repair shop.

    The interiors of both stores resemble a typical real Apple store, but the prices are about three times what you would pay in USA!

  36. Oh man, some of the comments left here make me laugh! Especially the ones from Robert Gutierrez, and seeing the news companies scrambling to report from your blog post. Haha!

  37. You know it’s hard to do anything about fake anything in China since they can’t do anything about it here in Canada and the U.S. You won’t believe how many times I’ve gone shopping and got the “pst, come over here, I have designer knock offs” They have knock off clothes, purses, shoes, jewelry and now Apple stuff, what’s next, knock off cars? I’ll take a Ferrari please!

  38. A very well written blog….
    and when Mr jobs makes a movie about you…. make sure u get royalty( not just a mention in the credits

  39. Excellent blogger. I am really worried about you that you are still in China and busted a crime network.I have never been to China and have no idea about the mentality of the people there. As some people comment like Apple deserve this as their products are expensive for Chinese market, i believe some people encourage this type of criminal activities…..i simply salute for your courage.

  40. Wow, you’ve been around.

    At one point I was planning to teach English as a foreign language and work in China, but circumstances changed and we had to change our plans. Part of me still regrets it.

  41. I find it hilarious how people are so dumbfounded about how much fake stuff in China. Seriously? are people not aware what is going on?

    What I found even more funny in China, is the fact that there are people who make fakes, of fake.

    For example, someone copies clothes, someone else copies their clothes, and then someone may even copy those… It is hilarious!!!

    China owns!

  42. Ok, so you are not working in anyway for Apple, you are occupied in something that has nothing to do with Apple or related in anyway to computers, you are not losing money or anything because that fake shops, is this correct?
    Did you just felt attacked as American by that fake Apple store or what? Why did you showed so much angry to them? covering with lots of photos and commenting lots of details? I’ll be glad to know why, what did that blog entry reported or did for you or your familiy. Please tell us.

    China has been manufacturing copies and fake products for dozens of years, this is not new in anyway and will be like this for lots of years.
    But you got it, you got what it seemed you were looking for: Apple is now moving it’s legal machinery against all the fake shops, letting hundreds of employees without work. I hope you really see what you’ve done. Apple should give you a free headphones set for your free service!

    • Hi Julian – it doesn’t seem like you’ve actually read all the posts I put up about these stores, in which I say very clearly why I wrote about them. And unless you have serious insider knowledge that I don’t, your last claim is pretty silly: Apple hasn’t actually lifted a legal finger against these stores, and hundreds of employees have not been let go.

  43. Ah, the fake stuff… it has always been like that as I can remember from my childhood before I came to Canada. No only big brand from America, but big brand from their own. They have mastered this ‘copycat’ art for years… I am not surprise… Nonetheless it is hilarious….. KLG… hahaha…

  44. Hi birdabroad,
    I was introduced to your blog-and you – following the fake Apple Stores story. Until then I had no idea there was such a thing as a “doula”. Being Greek I became suspicious and checked it up. Just as I had suspected the word comes from Greek, meaning female servant or even slave. What a humble name for such an important job! Good for you.

  45. What a super group of blogs. I too have lived in Palo Alto, London, SF, and now live in Manchester. China is out of my range for today anyway. Truly exceptional writing, I hope to do half as well in my blog. Thanks for the inspirations!

  46. Impressive. Your little old blog with your Apple uncovered story is one of the main stories on the BBC app on my iPhone. I believe this makes you famous now;).

  47. Hello!
    I’m just a pre-dental student, but I somehow stumbled across your page; I like birds and the header picture is really cute. My name is Ava so I really like birds.

    Your stories were really interesting and I think that you must be amazingly skilled in languages to manage to do all that you have done. I hope to be able to use my Japanese in the same way–looking for something to do in my gap year and would really want to be in Japan again (but not like I could afford flights to interviews in the US all the way from Japan…)

    • Well I’m “just a pre-nursing student”, so we’re in the same boat. 🙂

      Are there any scholarships that you might be able to apply for that could help you get to Japan? I found that to really make my Chinese operational, there was nothing for it but to get myself to China!

  48. Hi, I love your site. I find China fascinating (like much of the East), and I enjoy getting someone’s perspective outside of the major cities.

    I am curious as to how much information about America you get where you live. I lived in the US for 14 years, and last year returned to Canada. Canadians are not that aware of what is going on in the USA, and I was curious if you know how much the US has changed since you left?

    Sean Gillhoolley

    • I’m sure I don’t even know how much I don’t know. 🙂 I feel as though I’ve basically missed the Obama years entirely! When I heard about the various people stepping up for the Republican nomination I was like “Wait a sec- didn’t we just have a presidential election? Oh right, that was 3 years ago.”

      It doesn’t help that ever since the New York Times website went behind a semi-pay wall, I generally only the Guardian. (But then again, they seem to report mostly on news from the US, so perhaps I’m better informed than I think!)

      • None that I found! >< Fulbright might have been nice but I was really slow on figuring things out and deadlines passed before I realized they even existed…:/

        I'll try out some research during my gap year, enter dental school, become a dentist, then if I am lucky, I will get to go to Japan after that and work there–Ho hum–

  49. @ Sean Gillhoolley

    I used to live in China myself and for Bird I am sure it is probably the same. There are a few websites that are blocked, but they can still be accessed. I just used CNN, thought the site was always slow. However, as for TV, (CCTV) one would rarely see anything about what was going on in America.

    China also blocked facebook, so people cannot get their information from there either. Though in all honesty, when your in China you rarely think about what is going on in the states and just focus on what your doing today and tomorrow in China. I lived in Shanghai and really enjoyed it, the cost of living and expenses are a joke. After everything was paid, I had a $1000 a month to spend and lived like a King in China. Eating out 3 times a day, daily maid to clean the flat and wash my clothes, 5 Gallon spring water delivered every 5 days, daily 1 hour foot massage, took a taxi or subway where ever I went.

    • Haha – you would probably love Kunming, Janos. I’m in Shanghai right now and all I can think is “DAMN why is everything so expensive here?!”

  50. Hey Bird!

    Next time I go back, I’ll have to check it out. The city looks really nice and has some great history. Dianchi Lake is huge!

    So far I only been in Shanghai, Guangdong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Fujan, Nanping, Changshan, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Xiamen and Zhangzhou. Shanghai is nice because it is very easy to get around to everything. Hangzhou is a beautiful city and has amazing tea. Shenzhen and Xiamen are beautiful cities and the air quality there is really good.

    Shanghai is probably very expensive for those outside the city, but its fine for the locals. I am sure Beijing is the same.

    I am sure then in Kunming, you can live very comfortable on $1K USD.

  51. Hi. I am an English teacher and I have been offered a job in Kunming. I am currently in Hanoi and have made the decision to leave as the air quality if so horrific (I have lived overseas for 10 years and this is the worst I have experienced). I know there are many problems with air quality in Chinese cities. Is this the case with Kunming? Also the offer is for 8000 a month plus free accomodation. Is that liveable? Thanks for any advice you can give me.

    • Hi Kim –

      Yes, on 8000 a month with free accommodation you will be more than fine! That’s more than I ever made. Luckily the air in Kunming is quite good – real blue skies, as opposed to the fake Blue Sky Days of Beijing. 🙂 In that respect, it’s paradise compared to Hanoi.

      Enjoy the city!

  52. Hi,
    I am an American living in Xi’an, China. 28 weeks pregnant. I can’t return to the states, with my husband (Chinese National), for a home birth which was our original plan. Can you offer any help/advice? We’d be willing to travel to Yunnan to birth.

    • Hi Mariah! Congratulations on your pregnancy, and I’m sorry to have taken so long to respond to you. I can offer you some advice based on my experiences in Kunming – please drop me an email at birdabroadblog AT gmail DOT com!

  53. Hi! really enjoyed looking at your blog a bit. Thanks for taking time to share!
    We are presently in Boston, moving back to Kunming this August and are looking at birthing options for the future there. Are you still in the are there? May I contact you for some connections for myself and some other friends that are moving back to the area as well? Thank you, Britney

    • Hi Britney! Unfortunately I’m no longer in Kunming, but please do email me at birdabroadblog AT gmail DOT com. I would be happy to pass on any contacts that would be helpful.

  54. I was looking for information about Nakhi culture and the Jew’s harp. started out as Jews in Yunnan and the silk road. I am going to Kumming in sprint.

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