Inspired by the skills of martial artists Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, 18-year old Tim Vukan and his friends were intrigued by this ancient art. After seeking guidance and training from Ving Tsun Gong Fu instructor Jan Hantelman, a connection was made for life. He shared with us stumbling across a tiny Chinese bookshop and discovering hundreds of books detailing the very art he loved. Intrigued by the images he found within the pages, he often went back to look around. It was here that he found the book that would change his life: Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. Being the only book he found written in German, it became a part of him, attached to him day and night. After watching a live performance from the Shaolin monks in Hamburg he knew it was time…
I first visited Georgetown, the capital city of Penang Island, Malaysia, in 2008. This was just before Georgetown gained Unesco World Heritage designation. I vividly recall the beauty of the decaying historical buildings dating back to the late 18th century British colonial rule. The multi-coloured shop houses with peeling paint stood stoically, telling countless stories of the centuries gone by.
The Hyatt Regency welcomes Raul Avendano, a 31-year-old chef from Chile, to “spice up” their restaurant and buffet. This South American hottie creates a flavor so refreshing it will whip your taste buds into shape and wake you up from a world of slumber. This talented chef started his career in the hotel business studying administration, but after one year he decided it wasn’t for him. He changed majors to be in the kitchen and everything fell into place.
To be honest, this is not exactly how I saw my Saturday morning going. After a good deal of persuasion, I had given in and decided to come to CrossFit Qiantang to see what all the fuss was about. Standing in a room full of about twenty-five athletic-looking sorts limbering up, little did I know that I was about to experience what would be one of the more intense twenty minutes worth of exercise I had done in my life.
Etienne Jeanne, guitarist with gypsy jazz band Three of a Kind, has been living in China for almost ten years. His Russian bandmates are based in Paris which means he mostly gets to play with them when he returns to France in the summer. This year however they are recording a new project in April and are hoping to embark on a world tour next year. I asked Etienne some questions about the band and the musical genre of gypsy jazz.
Where’s Ryan? Panic struck through my entire body as I searched the crowded street in Beijing’s Wang Fu Jing shopping district for my brother who is currently on day two of his month long visit to China. Found him! His girlfriend shouts from down the street… he is just posing for another picture with another adoring fan.
Throughout the winter we here at MORE Hangzhou have been monitoring the polluted state of affairs throughout the country. We’ve watched as Beijing shut down its schools and issued red alerts for air quality for the first time ever. We witnessed the elusive “beyond index” readings on our AQI apps. In short, we’ve lived through the second “Airpocolpyse”. Whether you are just passing through or are a longtime dweller, you know that Hangzhou is known for its greenery, the trees and the beloved Xihu. Unfortunately, Hangzhou’s beauty misleads people to think that Hangzhou does not have a pollution problem comparable to that of Shanghai or Beijing. However, in Hangzhou, which lies in the heart of one of China’s major manufacturing provinces, pollution is a reality here.
Don Munro, CEO of Efergy Technologies, has been in the energy saving business for almost ten years. His company produces a range of energy monitors to show how much electricity you use in the house. According to Don, “It helps people to understand where they are using electricity because normally you only get the energy bill at the end of the month and then you go “Crikey! did I use that?”
With fine wines becoming more and more popular in Hangzhou, many of the best wines have become available for tasting and purchase across the city. Cesare Benvenuto of Pio Cesare wines recently stopped by briefly in Hangzhou, and MORE was lucky enough to get the opportunity to meet up with him to learn a bit more about his wines and their brand.
Summergate Fine Wines & Spirits recently held a Riesling tasting event at the Four Seasons hotel in Hangzhou to introduce two Rieslings – one from German vineyard Dr. Loosen and the other one from Chinese vineyard Kanaan Winery based in Ningxia.
In the midst of a Hangzhou winter season, when the wind is blowing and nothing you do keeps you warm, try something new like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the Monster Fight Club just a short walk from Da Tie Guan subway station.
I bought a three month gym membership recently in a last ditch attempt to get fit for the Christmas season but quickly found myself lacking in motivation. In the evenings after work, the treadmills were all occupied, and finding mat space in the yoga class was like parking your ebike outside of Wu Mart! Impossible!
Tokyo, with over 80,000 restaurants, is a fantastic city for food lovers to visit and much cheaper than you think. For every category of Japanese food, from sushi to tempura to tonkatsu, there’s a range in price from budget eateries to Michelin starred establishments. Tokyo diners have a high level of reverence for food and they will go to great lengths to secure the ideal meal. It’s not uncommon for diners to book half a year in advance to get a reservation at a top sushi-ya or to line up for hours for a perfect bowl of ramen noodles.
Hu Jie is a bilingual host and anchor working at Zhejiang TV station. In her seven years working at the station, she has interviewed many big names including presidents of top universities and experts of finance. I met up with local girl Ms. Hu to ask her about her job, experience and plans for the future.
When Abel Pruñonosa moved to Hangzhou earlier this year, he had his sights set on bringing the art of sculpting to prominence in the city. Having exhibited his sculptures in various art fairs around Hangzhou, he now finds himself returning to his former vocation of teaching sculpting. Abel recently opened a workshop beside Fenghuang Shan (Phoenix Hill) in a location which he deems perfect for giving his students inspiration.
With the winter weather approaching, what better time to share some helpful tips about air pollution with MORE Hangzhou readers? Noah Willingham coordinates workshops for Smart Air, which provides affordable DIY air purifiers backed by publicly available test data.
Last year, Michelle Obama had some bad news for nutrition-conscious shoppers and food manufacturers: We’ve all been cheating. The first lady announced a series of proposed changes to US food labelling that seek to tackle the fact that the average serving sizes used to calculate calorie intake have lost track with the reality of modern American appetites.
Believe it or not, Indonesia has more to offer than Bali. Sure, Bali is genuinely beautiful with stunning white sand beaches, killer surf and unique Balinese architecture to please the eye, but more and more it’s becoming a haven for the bogans of Australia (young hipsters trying to eat, pray and love their way to enlightenment) and an overpriced destination for honeymooners from around the globe.
Back in 2009, Hangzhou newcomer Trevor Lamb was browsing the adverts in the back pages of MORE magazine – as one might do when first arriving to Hangzhou – and stumbled across an ad for the Hangzhou Football Club. The ad read something like, “Hangzhou FC recruiting new players; current roster zero. Preferable individuals are chain-smoking, talentless hacks, although those with physical and football abilities will also be considered.” Five years later, Trevor and Felix Jones, two active members of the Hangzhou sporting community, launched the Hangzhou International Football League (HIFL).
Camping has been around as long as nomad tribes have roamed the world but it wasn’t more than a little over a century ago that recreational camping became popular as a means to escape the drudgery of modern life and those long hours of toiling in the factory. With that in mind it is not surprising why camping is beginning to catch on quickly here in China. Instead of expecting to see tents spread out on any available square meter of park space during the major holidays, China is undergoing a rapid shift towards building their own camping culture like we experienced years before.
"Come to Xi’an! I'll show you the food of my hometown." The invitation from my long-time friend Jing was ever present in my mind. This was around March earlier this year, and Hangzhou was just warming up with days of uninterrupted sunshine urging the flowering trees of West Lake to burst open. It was the best time to be here, did I really want to travel all the way to the interior of China and leave the comforts of Hangzhou? But Jing is a food lover, like me; she wouldn’t be in Xian for long, and I knew there would be nothing better than a food loving local showing you the best a city has to offer. With that thought, I promptly hopped on the Z89 train for the 16 hour overnight ride to Xian.
Electronic music has pretty well ploughed its furrow since the 50's and the first signals generators produced by big computers, through the invention of Moog synthesizers and rhythm boxes in the 70's, till the emergence of planetary renown electronic music artists such as Daft Punk, The Prodigy and Deadmau5.
Since the 1950s, Sound Systems (large mobile discos) have been an integral feature of Jamaica's culture. Outside Jamaica the word Deejay, or DJ, describes a person who plays music from records, or more commonly nowadays from CDs or a laptop. But in Jamaica the word Deejay is used to describe a person who raps over a rhythm. The style originated on Sound Systems where the Deejays used to chat between tracks. The style was influenced by disc jockeys on the R&B radio stations that reached Jamaica from America. The Jamaican DJs would imitate the style of the American DJ’s and start adding their own flavor. Eventually the person MC’ing was separated from the person playing the records, but the name “Deejay” stuck.
The two most beautiful seasons in the Zhou are spring and autumn. Period!! It used to be said, though, that Hangzhou only had two seasons a year because autumn and spring were so short – we didn’t even used to have to buy clothes for them. Ahhhh, but now, damn, ain’t this weather just spectacular?!? For the past couple of years, it has all changed. Summer and winter have gotten tamer, and we finally have proper autumns an springs. Is it global warming, is it the Buddha smiling down upon us, is it just sheer luck? Who knows? Who cares? All we do know here at MORE is we love, love, love it, and we are gonna head out and take advantage of it while we can (before we have to don those down coats once again).
Being English, the idea of my typical summer holiday is a stifling drive to the beach. Well, not a proper beach, as it’s England. You could certainly say it was sandy, but it takes the cheek of some over-zealous busybody working for the council to call it a beach. Like clockwork, upon arrival the dark clouds inevitably roll over and the family arguments begin. Perfect.
The summer is about to end soon. We have loved the BBQ and Anhui cuisine on the street. We have loved the crazy seafood behind Maya Bar on Baishaquan. So, we’ve decided to let you get in on five of our favorite local food. Wanna be local? Read on…
Saturday saw the Hangzhou Harlequins square off against the Fujian Tigers in the final of the China Rugby Plate Cup at Zhejiang University’s Xixi Campus. Several hundred people showed up to cheer on the local side in what ended as a complete routing of the visiting team. You almost felt sorry for the guests as Hangzhou scored try after try, with the final score concluding at an impressive 89-0.
After a jubilant trophy-lifting ceremony MORE Hangzhou interviewed the team,all of whom had big smiles plastered on their faces, despite being heavily splattered with dirt, sweat, beer and blood from a nasty collision late in the game. We spoke to Club Secretary Grace Midgley, President Jordan Weston, Captain Alphonso Bruna, Coach Frank Dubarry and Fly Half and Local Ne’er-do-well Felix Jones.
It’s always nice to get out of the city every once in a while, especially since I just had a baby boy three months ago. With all the sleepless nights – surrounded by a crying baby, the poops and the diapers – I needed a little relaxing time by myself. My sort of relaxing, for a mother who is still dealing with postpartum issues, is going to a five star hotel, pampering myself with a spa, indulging in a nice dinner and finishing with a few drinks with some friends, settling into a comfy bed for a night without having to wake up to nurse a crying baby, and topping all this off with a champagne brunch the next morning. And I made it happen!!
It has always been my dream to be an actress, especially a stage actress. I just love the passion that they share with the audience, the craziness, the laughter, the tears. Everything is right there, right in front of you, at that moment, no editing, no cameras cutting away, no multiple takes – you have only one shot! After watching a few plays by Meng Jinghui, I had an opportunity to speak to his favorite actress Huang Xiangli. From June 11th to 14th, Huang Xiangli will be at Hangzhou Red Star Theatre with her Letter from an Unknown Woman by Stefan Zweig . Drama lovers shouldn’t miss this show.
Mark Foxwell, 42, is the General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hangzhou, and he runs. Running is not just a hobby, it’s a way of life for Mark, and it’s changed his whole outlook on life since he began doing it seriously. He’s lived in Hangzhou for two years after travelling around Asia, including a seven year stint in Japan. He has run marathons in several countries, and with the marathon season in China beginning soon, MORE Hangzhou caught up with him to discuss his training, the ‘don’t hurry’ philosophy and the memories of the places running has taken him. It all started with a few drinks in Tokyo…
The word marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon (in which he had just fought), which took place in August or September, 490 BC. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly exclaiming, “νενικήκαμεν” (nenikekamen, "We have wοn!"), before collapsing and dying. Thank you Wikipedia.
It’s time to sign up your kids to go to school next year. Actually it might be too late for some kindergartens, so act quickly. Here’s my guide to getting in. I’m assuming that because you’re reading this, either you or your spouse is a foreigner, so I’m not going to talk about what it takes for a local kid to get in. Here’s how you do it. There are many different types of kindergartens out there, and your spouse might be angry at me for saying this, but I firmly believe that it doesn’t really matter which one your child goes to.
Here at MORE, we feel that we’ve been a bit remiss in our offerings to the family folk out there. To our readers it may seem like Hangzhouvians’ lives are all about drinking and party. It’s may be true that there are tons of alchies and party animals out there, but there are also lots of mommies and daddies, and they are wondering where they can take their kids to picnic or on a weekend trip, or maybe just be on a farm to get close to nature. Spring is in full throttle, and it’s a fabulous time to get out with the tiny tots before the unbearable heat of the Hangzhou summer engulfs us. So, here we have gathered a collection of info for those of you who have children, and for a change, we are giving you parents some fun places to explore. Enjoy!!
In the 1930s, Edith Piaf, a slight woman of four feet eight inches, stunned the world with her powerful voice and became known as La Môme Piaf (The Little Sparrow). When I hear Annie Chen singing robust songs with deep tones, I can’t help but think of Edith. The beautiful and dominant English songs heard are not what you’d expect to come from such a small woman. We are in JZ Club where she will be performing for the next two months. It is an hour before she is to go onstage, and music sheets are scattered on the tables before her.
Hashing originated in 1938 in Malaysia when a group of British officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run in a fashion patterned after the traditional British paper chase or "hare and hounds" game. One of the members suggested the name "Hash House Harriers" after the club where several of them happened to live and dine, known as the "Hash House." Their objectives were “To promote physical fitness among our members; To get rid of weekend hangovers; To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer; To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel.” At present, there are almost two thousand chapters in all parts of the world, including Antarctica. Hashing has been in Hangzhou off and on for over seven years but died out again in 2010. I am sitting with Rogier Luijenburg, a Dutchman who revived it last year with some fellow hashers.
Located on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, Man Wah Cantonese restaurant has long been a premier dining spot in Hong Kong, offering breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour in an elegant Chinese style room with golden bird cage lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
When Chef Li Man Sing joined Man Wah in 2010, he revitalized the menu and improved the presentation of dishes. His modern interpretation of traditional Cantonese cooking quickly attracted the attention of the culinary world. In 2012, Man Wah was awarded one Michelin star and repeated the honour in 2014 and 2015. MORE Magazine had the chance to have lunch at Man Wah and chat with Chef Li.
Living in China, we often have the need to go to Hong Kong for business, leisure or the routine visa run. Why not make it a truly memorable trip, go on a splurge and treat yourself to a stay at a true Hong Kong institution? MORE Magazine visited the flagship Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong to give you an idea of what to expect at this iconic hotel.
So you want to open up a bar, huh? Well, and this is coming from a bar owner himself, let me just say that it’s no easy task. Your immediate friends will not just show up at your place each and every night willing to pay for drinks and make your dream come true. Yeah, we’ve all thrown great parties over the years, but owning a bar means that you’ve got to throw those parties constantly. But seriously, you know this because at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to pay your rent, your suppliers and your employees, not to mention the taxes, and other fees (let alone have a good time). So here’s my very condensed guide to opening a bar in China. Maybe one day, I’ll write a book on it.
The word whiskey comes from the Gaelic uisge, a shortened version of uisge beatha meaning "water of life," also known as aqua vitae in Latin. Whiskey was originally used as a medicine for both internal anesthetic use and as an external antibiotic, predominantly distilled by monks.
As a travel destination, Singapore is a food lover’s paradise offering fabulous food from its Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures and of course the local Singapore must-eat specialties prawn laksa, Hainanese chicken rice and chilli crab. Whether it’s in the colourful open-air hawker centers found in every neighbourhood on the island, in the air conditioned food courts or in upscale fine dining western restaurants, you will be spoilt for choice. Furthermore, Singapore has an endless parade of glitzy shopping malls, and The Great Singapore Sale held every year in June and July has heavy discounts attracting tourist from around the region. The clean air, safety and green tropical environment also makes Singapore a wonderful place to discover.
I am a Whisky Lover. My passion is whisky, most especially Scotch whisky (or whiskey for you yanks out there). It’s the AQUA VITAE, and for me it is the essence of life. Every bottle has its own story and every brand or distillery is unique and special. Drinking whisky is FUN and meant to be an experience that should be enjoyed responsibly. It can be drunk alone in your pensive moments or with loved ones or friends. It should inspire moments and create memories. There is no such thing as bad whisky, just bad drinkers if not enjoyed responsibly. The aim should be to saviour the taste and aromas of whisky. Excessive amounts of whisky can cause damage to your health as well as create undesirable happenings that are better forgotten (and just might be depending on how inebriated you are).
We all have our social lives. Birthday parties, farewell parties, company parties, housewarming parties, family gatherings, social dinners, and the many, many holidays that hit us at the end of the year, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s, Chinese New Year… all give us so many excuses to eat and drink. Now that the holiday season is over, have you started worrying again? Yeah, there is a price to pay for unbridled gluttony. How much holiday fat have you put on? Those of you who weigh yourselves every morning have probably already begun muttering to yourselves, “Gee… I’ve gotta get back in the gym. Spring is coming.”
Choosing and booking activities for a vacation can be time-consuming with hours of research to find the right operator. http://www.eOasia.com/ is an activity booking website that makes your vacation a breeze by doing the research for you and choosing a range of activities covering over 30 destinations in 12 Asian countries. EOasia members are avid travellers themselves and have personally met with each operator and tried the service to ensure the quality. They have every activity imaginable, such as paragliding, helicopter rides and cooking lessons, just to name a few, and at competitive prices. With one website you can conveniently book and manage all your activities. They have over 400 activities in Bali, and we tried 5.
Just the mere mention of Bali will bring up images of an exotic island paradise. With spectacular volcanoes to the north and stretches of golden beaches in the south, Bali offers the traveller a heady choice of destinations. If you’re looking for rest and relaxation, a place to recharge and renew yourself, then Ubud is the place to go. It is the spiritual and artistic heart of Bali, with an abundance of ancient temples, rice paddies, dense tropical forests and steep river ravines. In recent years, Ubud has become a top spa destination and is also a great place for shopping and restaurants.
Christmas has passed, and the new year has been brought in, meaning that Valentine's Day is fast approaching, which for most people means precisely diddly squat! But for those of you who do give two hoots about Valentine's Day, the just-now-self-proclaimed messenger of Venus, the God of Love, hero to the hopelessly clueless romantics, and saviour of February 14th – meaning me – will give you a quick crash course of what NOT to do this Valentine's Day. Here are five failsafe rules to guide you away from eventually consummating a relationship with somebody who looks like one of the Twits.
It’s that time again folks. Time to bid adieu to the Horse and give a hearty hello to the Sheep, which also means it is time to bring you yet another edition of our MORE’s Zodiac Predictions for the coming year. We climbed the highest mountains and journeyed to the remotest parts of Hangzhou to consult with only the best Chinese astrologers in order to present you, our dear readers, with these prognostications because we know just how important having your horoscope is to you.
In the internet era, in this carnival of language, no one needs to worry about not having anything to say. Social media sites are literally abuzz with a dizzying array of jargon. In the presence of this raging torrent of information, everyone can use social media to disseminate information and to express their points of views. Even if you don’t have any imaginative opinions or abstract ideas, it does not matter.
Many countries around the world are famous for their wine, countries like France, Italy, Chile, Spain, Australia, South America, and even the United States. It would come perhaps as a surprise to most that Lebanon, a small country in the Middle East that borders Syria and Israel, is the home to the world famous Chateau Musar wines. Adam Levin, of Slim’s burger renown, invited us to a special evening at his new Binjiang location for a Chateau Musar wine tasting. It was, we were told, to be a night we would never forget, and we can easily say this was completely true. Wine tastings are always exciting, all the sparkling glasses lined up waiting to be filled and paired with delicious food. This night at Slim’s will remain in our memory not only for the wine and the amazing food prepared by Chef Adam but frankly because of what a delightful experience it was meeting Serge Hochar and his son Marc Hochar, the vintners of Chateau Musar.
Now that autumn has come to an end and the winter months have settled down for a short while, us poor devils have to do all that we can to prevent ourselves from succumbing to the frostbite. An exaggeration, I know, but nevertheless, the Chinese Hot Pot is a real cockle warmer and the perfect antidote for a bad case of the winter blues.
As the weather has turned cold, there is truly one suitable meal that warms the cockles of your heart and brings people together – Hot Pot or huo guo. Hot Pot is perhaps one of the most widely enjoyed meals in China. You can travel as far north as Mongolia to find this popular dish, go west to Sichuan, even way down south in the warm climates of Hong Kong you will be able to find Hot Pot in some various iteration. And it doesn’t stop there. It goes by the name Steamboat in some Southeast Asian countries and nabemono in Japan, with varieties including Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki. Go to Korea, Vietnam, and even Thailand, and you can find their own versions of this broth-based meal. Sure, China remains famous for dumplings, dim sum, and other tasty delicacies, but if you are a foreigner residing in China, you have certainly at one point or another come across the ubiquitous presence of Hot Pot.
Being away from “home” at Christmas is a strange thing, especially when it's not generally a celebrated tradition in the country in which you are residing or travelling. Every year, the holidays have come around and festivity has visibly infected the population like a Christmas Ebola virus, especially when the classic Coca Cola advert first appears on your TV set.
Let’s face it. Whether this is your first Christmas in Hangzhou or your 15th, celebrating one’s own traditions far away from home can be a difficult if not near impossible task. Some people give up all together. Other’s make a bit of effort on Christmas Eve -- maybe finding a nice restaurant or something. But this year the MORE team is here to push you out of your winter doldrums, and change your inner bah hum bug Scrooge into a Hangzhouvian who appreciates this magical and spiritual time of year, no matter your beliefs. Taking our cues from Christmas Carols, we have scoured Hangzhou for 10 ways to help you embrace the holiday spirit and spice-up your holidays.
In our region, November is truly the bridge between autumn-weather and winter-weather. The average temperature in Hangzhou is around 12C, which is cool and comfortable if you hail from a northern clime and brisk if you don’t. If you’re into wooly jumpers, tights, chunky socks, tweed blazers, microfleece, and boots, this is the month for you. (If you’re more the t-shirt, sandals, and shorts type, get out now while you still have a chance.) During November we have on average five hours of sunlight per day, and can expect to have no more than seven wet days over the course of the entire month.
Here are two things I know about lobsters.
(1) If you flip a lobster onto its back and repeatedly stroke its underside, you can put it to sleep. I do not know whether this is actually putting the lobster to sleep, or tranquilizing it, or freaking it out so much that it goes into a kind of paralytic shock. I also don’t know lobster anatomy well enough to know what one might be stoking when one strokes a lobster’s underside. But I do know that rubbing a lobster the right way knocks-out the lobster, and that – if you want – you can stand a knocked-out lobster on its head.
The amount of digital ink that was spilled during Jack Ma’s US roadshow was staggering, and while the Amazon-sized torrent has slowed-down to a Qiantang trickle, there’s nary a week that passes without another commentary about, analysis of, or paean to Hangzhou’s e-commerce savant. Here on the mainland, both mainstream media and Wechatter have given reportage a distinctly nationalistic flavor. Little to be wondered at: for many Chinese observers, Wall Street’s $25 billion dollar bet on Ma is seen a kind of validation of China, its peoples, and their potency.
Sheep’s-head fiddle, guitar, dancer, vocals, bass, all kinds national instruments, ethnic percussion, and woodwind; these elements constitute The Herdsman Band. Enter Yunnan, a magnificent and majestic land from the great Nujiang canyon, alongside which runs the mighty Mekong, back up north to Mojiang. There are the lands of the Pumi, the Lahu, and the Hani, where they hold singing completions for the sole purpose of passing on this great tradition. The mysterious, multi-ethnic composition of the band and the original non-material cultural heritage, walking all the way to the ancient nomadic music, singing all the way to the ancestral rhythms… Listening to the Herdsman Band allows one to feel the rhythm of the nation, experience a return to nature. One is touched by the most fanatical dance between heaven and earth, whereby \old memories pass from generation to generation.
China used to be a very different place to the one it is today. In 1949, Mao Zedong - commonly known as Chairman Mao - and his political party, the Communist Party of China, assumed power of the People's Republic of China. Since then, nothing has been the same.
Nothing prepares you for the deft ability of this Japanese instrumental post-rock band to convey raw emotions without a single lyric. In an age of frilly pop concoctions that can barely sing without auto tune, the music scene feels like it has a bad case of ADHD. Our lives are pleasantly or unpleasantly numb to the sounds of real life. MONO is just the drug to punch a whole through the fog. Like real emotions, MONO’s songs begin soft and gentle only to roar to life in a wave like crescendo of intensity that reverberates through you. Influenced by experimental rock and shoegazing genres, classical music, minimalism, film soundtracks such as the work of Henryk Gorecki, and the American band Sonic Youth. Their sound is infused with the lead and rhythm guitar’s reverb, distortion, and delay “noise” that gives a highly emotional quality to their work. They have been likened to the Scottish band Mogwai but that is an oversimplification of the nuances of this band, which seeks to transcend genre.
Two things. First, this is not an advertorial. We were not compensated for these two pages. We paid, and we are neither contractually nor ethically obliged to pull punches or gild lilies. Second, our hour-long ride on a vintage motorcycle was one of the most interesting things we’ve done in Shanghai in a very long time -- and had it not been we’d not be reporting on it.
Setting up a business, finding reliable administrative staff and a workspace can be a very difficult task - the latter being a legal requirement in China - especially when you consider that just navigating the bus routes around Hangzhou can result in a brain melting experience.
“Macau is a city of duality. Its fortresses, churches and the food of its former Portuguese colonial masters speak to a uniquely Mediterranean style on the China coast, intermixed with alleys, temples and shines. On the other hand, it’s also the ‘Vegas of the East’ – the Special Administrative Region of Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal.” - Lonely Planet
Every week, from Wednesday to Sunday at 9.30 to 1.30am, a funk, soul and Latin influenced 4-piece band, create a huge feel-good vibe around Eudora bar and restaurant with their own funky sound and energetic performances. I originally went as a spectator, but after only ten minutes of unrelenting head nodding, foot tapping (and maybe a cheeky bit of body popping) to the funky sound of a uniquely covered version of Superstition by Stevie Wonder, I knew I would be leaving a fan.
25-year-old Beijing native folk ballad singer/songwriter Song Dongye(宋冬野) ain’t handsome, ain’t fashionable, ain’t got an athletic body, in fact he is a bit chubby, standing tall and strong, sporting a clean crew cut, black T-shirt and casual shorts. Song Dongye looks more like a passers-by than a celebrity. From being relatively unknown to a popular name on the lists of performers for music festivals, Song Dongye was pulled out of the rut by one song—“Miss Dong."
The most striking thing, from a geographical point of view, which is to be seen along the China coast is the recurrent phenomenon which we are about to describe. The rugged coast line, the many bays, the chain of islands fringing the coast, the whole gamut of geological and geographical forms which one encounters in an intimate coastwise journey, are all very striking and grand, and yet they are static—passive, after all. Notable as they are, they are but silent witnesses of those restless and resistless forces which have brought them into being.
Much as we loved our Giant Turtle King, we didn’t buy another one – nor did we opt for a Giant Elm, even though the “Vespai” brand is making some gorgeous classic Vespa-style reproductions with 70+ watts of power under the saddle. We went with a “Little Turtle King(小鬼王)”. Here’s why:
Spend enough time in China and you’ll no doubt experience all kinds of Chinese cuisine, meet all kinds of people, and see all sorts of amazing sites, but every year the Dragon Boat Festival comes and goes and what did you do to celebrate it? Eat zongzi? Yeah, they are super yummy, but honestly you can get those anytime. How often do you get the opportunity to get behind the oar of a dragon-shaped boat and compete for pride and glory?
This month, I present to you a present, part two of a two part series exploring different places to explore next month, in case you plan to leave this place during your summer leave. Ahem. Sticking with the theme of the Philippines and Indonesia, let’s dive into one of my all-time favorite past-times: scuba diving.
His hands were not what we expected. They were scrubbed for lunch, yes, but they were not the callous knots of hardwood we thought they would be, given that this custom jewelry designer and craftsman found himself at the jeweler’s bench by way of mig welding and armor-making, and that his weekly routine includes kickboxing.
Craning one’s neck upwards to watch human activity was never easy, but it is increasingly difficult in an age where our chins are often tucked tightly into our bosoms, eyes locked onto the screens of our smartphones. The force of Fuerza Bruta isn’t especially brutal, but it is literally a pain in the neck.
I love my heavy leather wingtip boots, but I don’t wear them in July, or with a dinner jacket; a fine sherry is a wonderful thing, but I don’t have a glass of it with my morning oatmeal; and while I adore the finale of Saint-Saen’s Symphony No. 3, I don’t blast it while serving a romantic home-cooked dinner for two. I mean, if ever I were to cook a romantic dinner for two. Last time I tried that (Aberdeen, Scotland, 1995) didn’t work out so well. Turns out that girls are not the fans of lentil porridge I’d thought they were.
It’s not easy starting your own business, especially in China. Between the language barrier and the intricate regulations that can overwhelm even the most adept laowai, registering your business in Hangzhou can be a nightmare, and that’s just the first step.
Case-in-point: Turner Sparks has come a long way since he arrived in China as an English teacher in 2004. From that job, the entrepreneurial Sparks pivoted into other pursuits, including bringing Mister Softee to China, before starting China’s first stand-up comedy group in 2009. In anticipation for his upcoming show at Shares Bar this month, we sat down with Sparks to discuss comedy, his views on China, and everything else in between.
According to a “comprehensive business index” formulated by CBN Weekly, Hangzhou “is now recognized as a super city with comprehensive capacity and potential.” Fourteen other municipalities are in fact now recognized as ”new first-tier cities” including Chengdu, Nanjing, Wuhan, Tianjin, Xi’an, Chongqing, Qingdao, and Dalian.
Wang Wen is one of the few rock bands in China that consistently surprises with every new album release. They are one of the bands that shaped the Chinese indie scene for the last decade and they have been the most prominent instrumental rock band in China. With seven albums released over the past 15 years, they have definitely put in the time. They’ve already toured Europe twice and their music has been featured in films and advertisements, including a very successful Nike campaign. I had a chance to catch up with them ahead of their spring tour, which brings them through Hangzhou, playing at 9 Club on June 21st.
Outside the workshop, a motley aggregation of fiberglass molds throw shadows upon the concrete walkway, which is grey and cold but punctuated at random intervals by bright green weeds. There are giant warriors with thick hands holding tight their weapons. A small flock of life-sized sheep. An enormous stag. Some figures are distinctly Greco-Roman, pulled from the pages of Bullfinch’s Mythology, others, from The Romance of Three Kindgoms, making this perhaps the most international mingling Hangzhou has ever known.
She doesn’t have a name, but she is dear to me. White and shiny, with gleaming faux chrome and fake LV upholstery on the saddle, this is my battery-powered plastic pinto. Ever-ready to whiz through the city streets with speed and style, the 60-volt, 1500 watt motor of my Duracell Ducati hums like an electric typewriter on an aluminum tabletop. Sprightly as an arthritic leopard and as nimble as three-legged mountain goat, she cruises through the metropolitan tangle of spokes and shoes with the grace and power of a largemouth bass swimming in vegetable oil. She is sexy. She is illegal. And she is now in someone else’s possession.
If you compare it to the majority of wineries around the world, Gaja is unique and fascinating. In reality, very few wineries are individually owned. They are instead run by a large corporation, hiring wine-making experts and enthusiasts to build a brand and market it.
Lately, there’s been something odd going on with the taxis in Hangzhou. One Saturday morning in March, on a particularly nice day, I’m out looking for a taxi at my usual spot. Sometimes it can be difficult there, but I rarely wait more than 10 minutes.
International whisky expert, sommelier, and “Keeper of the Quaich” Stephen Notman has surely had better days. We know. We’ve stumbled at the lectern, choked on-air, and crashed-and-burned on-stage more times than we care to remember.
“Mai Jia is described in the publisher’s blurb of this absorbing and unusual book as ‘the most popular writer in the world that you’ve never heard of.’ Now, with the translation of his 2005 debut being published in the west
It is a fact: The egg preceded the chicken. Unfortunately, explaining why is well beyond the scope of this article. Readers are invited to take as scientific gospel the words of Samuel Butler, “A chicken is simply an egg’s way of making another egg,” and ponder instead the question: Where does Hangzhou get all its eggs? In short: A chicken’s ass. For those of you, however, looking for a more detailed and possibly more accurate explanation, the following is for you.
Finding Yoga Summit is no easy feat.
Trudge along the steps from Wushan Square until your gut tells you to take a left up a winding road, then slowly make your way up the incline until you come across more steps hidden between two traditional-looking buildings. Slowly but surely, the scene around you will transform from the ubiquitous bustling crowd found anywhere in China to a calm serenity that is unique to Hangzhou. You can almost hear yourself breathing now. Surrounded by greenery all around, you walk past families playing games under the cool shade as you make your way deeper into the trees. Your gut once again tugs and tells you the increasing number of tai chi practitioners means you must be getting closer. With a calm quiet surrounding you, this environment was made for yoga.
All was quiet on our western front. And eastern. In fact every front was conspicuously quieter than it should have been that evening, given the season in question. The air did not smell of sulfur and carbon and chlorine, or vibrate gratuitously with the report of recreational ordnance. Fireballs of blue and yellow and green did not rain down on balconies, or ricochet off buildings, or bounce upon the roofs and bonnets of cars. The ground was not sprinkled with the red, singed paper tesserae that decorate the sidewalks on Chinese New Year. The Year of the Horse arrived with a sprightly cantor, not thundering gallop; and the collective din of the annual snap, crackle, and pop was less of a bang than a whimper.
Hollywood has done a great job of immortalizing an unforgettable collection of tropes to live by (and to die by, if you recall any of those over-the-top death scenes) especially when it comes to personal bodily phenomena that most people can relate to, but don’t necessarily feel comfortable discussing in mixed company. From intestinal rumblings that result in explosive gaseous evacuations from either of two orifices, to the equally exaggerated effect of liquid regurgitation, it’s all about something violently spewing forth from the human body, while appreciative laughs from the audience fill the room.
It’s not every day you meet someone who has traveled across all 33 provinces of China, let alone an expat. Covering over 35,000 miles (that’s 56,000 km for the non-Americans) on his two-year journey, Tom Carter has rightfully earned the recognition of being “one of China’s foremost explorers” by The World of Chinese magazine. From his two-year journey came his first book, CHINA: Portrait of a People, hailed as one of the most comprehensive books of photography on modern China ever published by a single author.
In any given English dictionary, the word love falls pretty much in the middle. ‘L’ is the 12th letter of the English alphabet and ‘o’ the 15th; and when one factors in the regrettable paucity of ‘x’, ‘y’, and ‘z’ words, that places love very nearly at the nucleus of the lexicon, or, if you prefer, at the center of its pulsating heart. Whether you consult Webster, the OED, or any lesser compendium, you will always locate love after locust, loop, and loser, nestled snugly between law and lye. It lingers somewhere between joy and nocturnal, and on any given day of the week it can be found minding its own business at the crossroads of abyss and zenith. Love appears after haemophilia, homewrecker, and hysteria, and before parasites, parturition, and paternity. Always. Without exception.
Thoughts like these repeat over and over as James Zheng pushes to keep up the momentum, struggling to bike uphill. Already at a height of more than 5,000km above sea level, he ignores the elevation-induced nausea forming in his stomach as he reaches the end of a roughly 140km biking day.
Days like these are tough for James and his biking team, which consists of himself and three co-workers, Austin, A-Sen, and A-Kun. A former personal trainer, James and his buddies embarked on an intensive seven-day bike ride from Qinghai to Lhasa last August. Spanning approximately 1,200 km from start to finish, the long days of biking were rewarded with breathtaking view of the plains, mountains, and local life they passed along the way.
If this is your first Chinese New Year, you are in for a crazy treat. The chaos of New Years Eve in China is unlike anything in the world. My first experience with fireworks, like other Americans, was a 4th of July display. They occur yearly, under controlled circumstances, in a large field, with airspace and people cleared for one mile. They obtain police permits and follow strict city ordinances, ensuring ambulances and fire trucks are nearby. In China however, these explosives can be purchased by anyone and ignited anywhere: on busy streets, in small alleys between 20-story apartment complexes, from rooftops.
We’ve yet to work out how best to say ‘2014’ in Chinese, because ‘14’ (yao si) is a homonym for yao si, 要死 – “want to die,” and as you very likely know, four is more or less a taboo number in these parts. (The lift in our building not only skips ‘13’ but also ‘14’, leaving residents stranded on the improbable 12Ath and 12Bth floors. That’s just silly.)
There are vacation destinations where you will have something planned every day: Day 1 is the Eiffel Tower, Day 2 is the Louvre, Day 3 is the Notre Dame Cathedral. There are vacation destinations where every day is an adventure, a whirlwind of photographs and experiences that, in retrospect, almost seem too distant to be reality. And then, there’s the island of Boracay in the Philippines.
My first Chinese teacher was every Beijing taxi driver who ever had the privilege of toting my foreignness around town. The dialogue between laowai and shifu follows a predictable pattern. First, laowai demonstrates advanced Chinese proficiency by saying “ni hao.” Shifu then complements laowai as speaking very standard Chinese, and subsequently peppers laowai with questions about his homeland. Eventually this conversation turns to food and he is forced to explain which is better, Chinese or Western food. For me, this is when my hands get thrown up in the air and I try, in vain, to explain you cannot compare one cuisine with the other. Food is good, awesome, and also delicious. It is among my favorite things to eat. I sometimes eat it with every meal.
Laifu was eaten recently. We presume that this was not her fault, but one never really knows with these sorts of things. Whatever the case, there was little or nothing Laifu could have done to change either the prejudices or the appetites of her owner, who being both local and a carnivore is quite probably beyond fault, or not worth the effort of faulting. Up to now we had held him in reasonably high regard, or at least reasonably low disregard. We’re not sure how we feel about him now, but what’s done is done.
2013 has been a crazy year for Hangzhou. We have endured a summer of record-setting heat with three straight weeks of the mercury rising above 40˚C. Families hung out in the subway for hours with no intention of actually going anywhere. This fall, we saw enough rain to shut down Xueyuan Road for three days. Waves from buses engulfed pedestrians as they waded through the knee-high water.
L.A. City Beat Magazine inducted him “The King of Hancock Park!” Norwood Young doesn’t just live up to but thrives within his royal Hollywood socialite status. A longtime veteran of the entertainment business, he started singing at 6. Norwood soon after signed his first album deal with major label, MCA/Magnolia records, where he recorded an album titled “I Can’t Let You Go!” This album garnered major critical acclaim and was quite successful in the UK. Songs like the remake of, “Time Be My Lover,” (a classic by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes) and “Shoulda Been US Together,” turned Norwood into a UK celebrity, and are considered R&B classics! This album toured Norwood all over Europe, Japan, and even Lima Peru where fans loved the music of “Norwood B.”… Norwood got his first big break on “Star Search.” He later became owner of a very lucrative nightspot Club Collage in Germany, saw the world as a singer on both concert stages (as one-time lead singer of the R&B/Jazz band Pieces of a Dream on its gold-selling single, “What Can I Do”) and Broadway musical theater stages as Jimmy “Thunder” Early in an off-Broadway revival of “Dreamgirls,” and was a regular on the reality TV series “High Maintenance 90210” (on the E! channel).
- from Norwood Young, A Biography
It would be worth going to South Africa just to be in the wilderness, to see animals from big to small, meat eater to ant eater, primate to reptile. It was on one of the game drives that I began to realize just how much life is teeming under this big canopy of the national park – both seen and unseen by my untrained eyes.
adoration: (1) The state or condition of adoring, which is more or less like a state or condition or loving, but with antiseptic properties, the aroma of white linen, and the taste of weak, warm chamomile tea; (2) an unspecific expanse of time, e.g., “I’ve been waiting for quite adoration to get my 12-piece McNuggets.”
She had peed on her feet, something the taxi driver had no way of knowing. Indeed he had no way of knowing that she had peed on her feet for the first time ever in her life, and had done so while wearing sandals and shorts, in a public convenience with poor ventilation, trillions of fat flies, and all the unpleasantries found in and around popular municipal lavatories at the zenith of summer.
This ”City of Learning and Burning” may be lacking in grandiose icons like the extravagant marble mausoleum in Agra, or the historic forts and opulent palaces of Rajasthan, but Varanasi is to be experienced, to be felt, and to be touched.
I’d say caveat emptor, but since you didn’t pay for this magazine, I’ll just figuratively flick a desanquinated slice of lime in your general direction and deliver the intel with no more pomp than either you or the circumstances deserve.
Yu Hua, one of China’s most internationally-renowned contemporary writers, and the first Chinese author to receive the James Joyce Award, often chronicled the Cultural Revolution with startling ruthlessness. His most famous novel, To Live, was turned into a film by China’s most famous director, Zhang Yimou and starred China’s most famous actors, Ge You and Gong Li. While it was banned in China due to its politics, it went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Ecuador, also known to many as the “Middle of the Earth,” straddles the Equator, from which its name derives meaning, “equal.” My journey began in Quito, the country’s capital, situated at an altitude of 2800m above sea level, ringed by six volcanoes, two of which are still active.
The other day I was having dinner and drinks with some Singaporean friends. The topic turned to living in Hangzhou, as conversations among foreigners are wont to do. I asked them to list the top five things they liked about Hangzhou.
What? You mean Xinwen Lianbo, the nightly national news from CCTV? Or perhaps the ever-charming and always candid Yang Rui, who demanded a sweeping-up of foreign trash and called Melissa Chan, an American-Chinese reporter at Al-Jarzeera, a “bitch”?*
Heavens, no – we mean The Voice of China, the runaway hit reality show produced by Zhejiang Satellite TV.
Imagine you are a fish – a shimmering, iridescent pelagic beauty, fluttering about and zipping through a three-dimensional world that you feel weighing upon your every scale. Life is good – you had a whale of a time in school, and now your friends include Hollywood starfish. But in your suburban saline universe, scallops live in the sorts of places your fish mother warned you about -- the muddy, gunky parts of town you don’t want to visit after dark. But you are not a fish, thank Neptune, and so none of the foregoing is relevant. But not being a fish, you know that these fascinating marine molluscs are among the finest flowers in the aquatic protein bouquet. My hometown, as it happens, is as famous for its scallops as it is for the heroin junkies and Azorean riff-raff who harvest and shuck them. They are my favorite treat from the briny breadbasket, and one among the very few edible creatures I know anything about. (Woodpigeon is the other. Long story.) Now I can tell you, preparing scallops adequate for the domestic dining table is considerably easier than whipping-up lobster thermador, and roughly on par with the skill-level needed not to hopelessly screw-up a tolerable Shrimp Mozambique. But to cook scallops well is no easy feat, and those served to me at Kikaboni by Stiller weren’t good. They were divine.
From the moment you meet her, it’s easy to see why Kerry Dixon knows all about babies. The proof isn’t just found in her own big family (which includes four children by birth, two children by adoption, a husband... and even a dog named “Twix”) but also in her naturally calm, reassuring, and nurturing demeanor. On top of that, I can personally attest to her ability to operate under duress as well. After all, she had only been in China for about 48 hours, but still graciously allowed me to thoroughly “grill” her, in spite of the effects of jet-lag.
Of course, I tried to make it as painless as possible. Here’s what we discussed:
For the past quarter century, China has undergone a sustained period of economic growth and development, giving rise to a middle class hungry for all the accouterments that come with accumulation of excess income. Just look at the development in our cities over the past ten years. Gone are the utilitarian 6-story walk-ups. In their place are luxury high-rise apartments and freestanding homes that wouldn’t look out of place in any Western suburb. Gone as well are the rickshaws and pedi-cabs that once shared street space with city buses and smog-spewing agricultural conveyances. Replaced they’ve been by a gridlock of gleaming new BMWs, Mercedes, Volkswagons, Peugeots, Ferraris, Fiats, and, inexplicably, Buicks. Revolution area uniforms have been pack away to make room for European couture, and old peasant homes have been renovated to house French restaurants and tapas bars. Read on.
This has been a rough month for this intrepid food reviewer. When the editor asked if I could do a review of all the brunches in town, I was thinking, “Yes. A million times yes.” But after roughly a gazillion brunches in a week, it may be a while before I go to another brunch/eat ever again. Lucky for you, I’ve done the hard work of checking out the breakfast/lunch combo options in Hangzhou, so when you get up late on Sunday morning and want some good brunchtime eating, look no further than these great options, so eat, enjoy, and then go take a nap.
Travelling is an experience of landscapes. People who choose to travel are captured, usually at an early age by the idea of seeing strange places, places unfamiliar. We tend to focus on places to see when we think about travel, but travel is an experience of the senses. What makes a place unique is more than geography.
More than any other element of the culture, it is the sounds of China that makes the place such a mystery. As soon as you arrive, the sounds of the world here, the sound of language, the sound of music, signal that indeed you have arrived in a foreign place. Yet, it is impossible to describe the sound of China to people who have not visited this place, where everything has a different cadence and tone. If you attune yourself to listening you will hear that even the ambient noise signals a world on the other side of the world.
I thought I’d dedicate this month’s column to the same theme as the cover story and give you a few ideas for some summer coolers and cocktails that can be easily made at home and drank outside on your balcony. All the ingredients have been carefully considered for inhabitants of this city and therefore should be easy to obtain.
Vertical Road is the most extended and yet the most concentrated dance piece Akram Khan has made in a long time, and much of it represents a compelling return to form. The choreography gathers the eight dancers into churning vortices of movement, accentuated by pale lights and shadows. The dance is beautiful and harrowing, and, for the first half, draws us into a strange, potent world of memory and self-discovery.
Before I drop the bomb, though, here’s the disclaimer: I am by no means saying that this is the “best” place in town, although I quite willingly accept responsibility for telling you that it’s currently one of the greatest culinary experiences you could treat yourself to in our fair city.
As this issue attests, we here at MORE occasionally descend from our posh downtown offices to explore our fair city’s natural wonders. We suggest you do the same. To that end, we have assembled a list of some of Hangzhou’s better hikes and outdoor experiences.
Peru has been on my list of dream destinations for almost fifteen years since my husband; Theng Hwee shared his travel tales of this fascinating country with me. He was in Peru, hiked the Incas trail, almost twenty years ago.
Like a snake sloughing its skin, or a sheep shedding its wool, it’s time to strip off those winter layers and don your new wardrobe, get some colour to your flesh and head to the venues in town that offer al fresco drinking and dining options this spring. Nothing could be finer than eating and drinking outside with friends or loved ones on a balmy afternoon or early evening; so here are our plum choices when you want to defy those plum showers.
In China, long before tea became the beverage of choice and a way of life, it was considered a medicinal staple. Tea was not only a treatment for individual illnesses, but was also a general health tonic, said to promote long life and vitality.
We've been asked the keyword "brunch" on our official wechat so many times that we have to admit that you don't really have that many options in Hangzhou. We are trying our best to put them all together for you, and believe there will be more soon, so stay tuned.