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.”
angel: (1) A mythical being, possibly of either sex or ungendered, found or claimed to be common enough in heaven, hospitals, and on battle fields, but found chiefly in Victoria’s Secrets advertisements, catwalks, and the tabletops of strip-clubs; (2) the name of approximately one-in-14,000 Chinese girls born between 1980 and 1990. The former are often responsible for annunciations and are known to be present in delusions, while one-in-six of the latter are often totally irresponsible and thoroughly delusional with respect to the aptness of their name.
annunciation: (1) Notice of something too important for a text or Tweet, although rumors abound that Gabriel has followed the Supreme Pontiff’s lead and opened a WeChat; the word refers most often to an event requiring polished shoes and shirts with collars, and possibly an RSVP; (2) the wafer-thin neutral ground between pronunciation and connunciation, or it would be if there were such things as connunciations, which we think there should be.
baby: (1) The ultimate fashion accessory; (2) palpable, audible, and too often unfragrant evidence that one or both of the parties responsible for its manufacture have very bad luck, or else have lost hope in a fulfilling and rewarding future of independent self-actualization. When the baby is claimed to have divine parentage none of the foregoing applies, but chances are the cards are stacked against the kid and that things won’t end well for him or her, especially her.
bells: Even when on bobtails ringing, they toll for thee.
candle: Life, it once was said, is a game not worth one; and since the original was in French and quoted approvingly by Schopenhauer - Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle - who the hell are we to disagree, oui?
carolling: (1) Semi-musical harassment by people whose wardrobe comes exclusively from L.L. Bean and revere Garrison Keillor as divine erotica; (2) musical semi-harassment by gangs of apprentice stalkers. Why did this ever seem to be a good idea to anyone? (3) very likely the name of at least 160,000 Chinese women who either lack Anglophone friends, or whose Anglophone friends lack honesty; (4) what one does with Carol in private but wouldn’t talk about to anyone who knows her personally.
choir: (1) An intentional assemblage of aspirant soloists, each with too much free time on his or her hands and more than likely a terrible sex-life, and generally performing ensemble under the attempted direction of someone who cannot sing but has a large collection of Hummel figures; (2) in some English topolects, a synonym for the verb ‘to get’, e.g., “I’m hopin’ to choir some new Realtree camouflage for this sears wile pig hunt.”
December: (1) The last month you’ll ever need, even if you don’t deserve it; (2) the punctuation mark in an 11-month custodial sentence, typically an exclamation point or interrobang; (3) a thirty-day farce that began last December 31st with a 48-hour satyr play and follows upon a 48-week long tragedy.
driedel: If you have to ask, you’ll never get it.
elf (pl. ‘elves’): Before gaige kaifang (改革开放, “reform-and-opening-up”) the world’s leading manufacturers of toys. But that’s a thing of the past, now isn’t it? Note, too, that the Claymation elves of Rankin-Bass (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) look nothing like those in Lord of the Rings. There’s no freakin’ way Arroyn would be hunched over an assembly-line workstation in the sub-zero arctic assembling toys. So when did elves drop-out of the blue-collar semi-skilled labor force and become buff and hot?
eve: Short for ‘evening’, which itself is always either too long or too short. Note, not all evenings are correctly referred to as ‘eves,’ and when one is, rest assured it is going to be expensive.
Frankincense: A short-lived perfume by the people who created Boo-Berry and Count Chockula; (2) referring to nearly miraculous powers possessed by some Franks in respect to situations in which the honesty or credibility of one's intentions are in doubt, or where outcomes are uncertain, conjectural, or indeterminate; thus the word is followed by phrases like "when a fella's bluffin", "when it’s gonna rain like hell", and "if the fish are biting’."
festive: (1) requiring medical attention and antibiotics; (2) used to describe the atmosphere at an obligatory holiday event that nobody truly enjoyed. See also ‘seasonal.’
Feliz navidad: (1) How a large part of the BRIC says joyeux noel; (2) the title of a song, prolonged exposure to which may induce seizure activity and homicidal ideations.
garland: What every pipe cleaner wants to be when it grows up. The ubiquitous presence of these tinsel boas serves to constrict one’s ability to ignore holiday obligations, but we have yet to find one strong enough to use as a hangman’s noose or garrote. See also ‘tinsel.’
gift: Occasionally a genuine token of appreciation, esteem, or affection, bestowed kenotically and with pure intentions by one sentient being upon another, for the express purpose of causing joy or delight. More typically a ‘gift’ is a down-payment, fee, fine, form of tribute, wergild, or revenge, but with nicer wrapping than usual for these sorts of things. When in the form of a horse, it should under no circumstances be subjected to oral examination; when in the form of an oral examination, it should under no circumstances leave either party hoarse.
hark: Colloquial Angelese for, “Yo! Listen the fuck up!” But then again, the word is always colloquial in Angelese, and in Angelese only. For anyone other than a native-speaking Angelphone to use the word is just plain weird. See also ‘silent’ and ‘quiet’.
Hanukah: A much more sensible tradition based on a much more credible story, but, like, nowhere near as fun as its gentile counterpart. Kugel isn’t that good.
Ho ho ho: Why the KTV was very very very expensive.
holiday: Literally holy day, although very few holidays have anything holy about them anymore. Thank god. ‘Holiday’ is generally translated into Chinese as jie or jie ri (节, 节日), which is itself often translated into English as ‘festival.’ The semantic extension of ‘festival,’ however, does not overlap exactly with that of the word ‘holiday’, viz., there might be a festival in the absence of a holiday, and not every holiday is a festival or consists of distinctly festive aspects. Fair enough. (See also ‘festive’.) ‘Festival’ has its origins in the word feast, and although neither all holidays nor all festivals traditionally require or actually result in feasts, that can’t be helped. The allied etymologies make the phase holiday feast sort of redundant, but the phrase “It is a very festive holiday full of feasting and festivities” is intelligible, if repellent. See also ‘holy.’
holy: “Is something holy because it is loved by the gods, or, do the gods love something because it is holy?” With this question thus did Socrates torture poor young Euthyphro on the archon’s porch – though the former sure got his comeuppance, didn’t he? The word describes something amenable to or capable of being subject to desecration – viz.
If it cannot be desecrated, then it is not holy;
It is holy. ------------------------------------------
Therefore: It can be desecrated.
Note however, that the syllogism…
If it is holy, it can be desecrated;
It is not holy. ----------------------------------------------
Therefore: It cannot be desecrated.
…is strictly speaking invalid, having commit the fallacy of denying the antecedent, and one should never, ever deny one’s antecedents, whatever precedent they might have inadvertently set. So what, then, is the true nature of the holy? We might advance upon an answer of sorts by observing that this adjective is most commonly appended to vulgar synonyms for faeces and fornication, and thereby used to express surprise or shock. Draw your own conclusions.
holly: What any self-respecting cactus would prefer to be, if it could.
immaculate: Cleaner than you could possibly conceive.
jolly: Used to describe someone who is good-natured, prone to laughter, and on the chubby side. No one with washboard abs or anorexia was ever described as ‘jolly.’ See also ‘merry.’
k: The eleventh letter in the English alphabet; when appearing after an ‘o’, it expresses agreement, affirmation, capitulation, or resignation; when appearing before an ‘o’, it expresses sudden and acute incapacitation; when following any number larger than ‘0’, an indication of a remuneration aspiration; when it appears on its own, it is special.
Kwanza: Multiculturalism’s finest brain tumor, well-intentioned but non-benign.
list: He’s making one, and checking it twice – see also ‘Schindler, Oskar’
love: For some, the ruling Force or Power in the universe; for the rest of us, the root of the trade in blood diamonds and the leading cause of divorce.
magi: Plural of ‘magus,’ which shares roots with ‘magic’ and hence ‘magician’; in the context of Bethlehem, it refers specifically to a trio of wise men who followed a star to a barn in order to dole-out hard-currency, incense, and body lotion to the kid of a couple they didn’t even know. Just try that today. (2) the variant ‘Magii’ is sometimes used as the plural form for “two Maggies”, though in our experience one Maggie at any one time is more than enough to deal with.
manger: One who is in charg, like a supervior; noun form of the verb to mange.
merry: Something one makes, apparently. See also ‘jolly.’
messiah: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, James Bond, Gandhi, and Will Smith all rolled into one para-apocalyptic musical masterpiece that eventually becomes tedious and lacking in credibility.
mistletoe: One of two well-known and proven herbal excuses for kissing a complete stranger, and not the one we prefer. In the holiday context, an essential part of a creepy tradition that allows Party A to plant one on Party B just because s/he had the misfortune of standing beneath a species of poisonous plant at a party. “But there was mistletoe overhead!” is not known to be an acceptable defense against charges of frottage or sexual assault.
newborn: (1) The first installment on a lifetime of obligation; (2) the preface to a book that’s better to read than to write oneself – see also ‘baby’ and ‘sleep-deprivation.’
North Pole: According to Comet and Cupid, used by Dancers – as well as Prancers and Vixens.
O: come all ye faithful [Ed.]
ornament: The opposite of necessity, though the precise definition depends entirely on your hood. Ornaments are to staples what chocolate is to nutrition, hence their much-deserved popularity.
poinsettia: Species of hunting dog popular south of the Mason-Dixon line.
present: (1) Not yet, and not-yet historical; (2) now; (3) when used as a verb, a polite way of saying “Whip it out!” as in, “Please present your passport and boarding card for inspection.” See also ‘gift.’
quiet: (1) When all is calm, or, when someone’s not too bright or, is very bright but just bored; (2) the correct immediate response to ‘hark.’ See also ‘silent.’
resolution (New Year’s): (1) The last-minute rationale for much New Year’s Eve dissolution and gratuitous self-pollution; (2) elevated aspirations generally contemplated in the light of chronic self-deprecations.
return policy: After cash, the only gift you ever need.
ribbon: What your friends will give you for your shite wrapping – or shit rapping.
rum-pa-tum-tum: The family-values version of Bang a gong/get it on, this was apparently an acceptable form of currency in Roman-occupied Palestine. Note however that playing a rum-pa-tum-tum on your drum is nowadays not quite the gift it once was, and will rarely make friends and influence people in the way a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label or a carton of Chunghwa cigarettes will (unless, of course, you are responding to an annunciation). No drum? Not to worry. There’s an app for that.
SAD: Abbreviation for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which was added to the DSM-III(R) when really insightful graduate students at Harvard Medical School noticed that acute onset but non-comorbid depression seems to afflict a number of otherwise healthy people in northern climes during the month of December, particularly those stupid enough to live year-round in northern climes and who for that reason tend to lack sufficient exposure to sunlight during winter months, and who for unrelated reasons have had more than sufficient exposure to the reality that the holidays can suck.
seasonal: (1) Adjective referring mainly to qualities, properties, or features of non-durable consumer goods that you neither missed nor needed one month earlier and will neither need nor miss one month hence, for which reason you probably shouldn’t get too excited about them in the first place. If eggnog and gingerbread were really that good we’d be taking them in our coolers to the beach, but we don’t now do we? (2) adjective describing the predictably recurrent but ephemeral, and the dust-collecting. See also ‘holiday.’
silent: Similar to quiet, but quieter. The idea of “silent night” (nox silens), in these latitudes, somehow became ping’an jie (平安节), “Peaceful-Night Festival,” which, on the face of it, seems like a nice gesture to Joe, Mary, the miracle baby, and to all parties who hold The Birthday in especial reverence. Fact is, ping’an jie is one of Middle Earth’s biggest piss-up nights of the year; swaddling clothes, benumbed stable beasts, and the fulfillment of messianic prophecies ain’t got nothing to do with this jie, which has about as much ping and an as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has sports. Book your tables in advance, and make sure your employer is giving you the 26th off so ye merry gentlemen (and women) can rest -- dismayed or otherwise. Silent, my ass. In metro-China wise men and virgins alike will be running with the bulls, and a few lions lying with not so silent lambs, and lying to all of them.
stockings: Articles of clothing which, for the young, are hung from the chimney with care, hopeful that one will awake on the morning of the 25th of December to find them stuffed with goodies; for adults, articles of clothing clumsily clutched at or teased-off with toes the night of the 24th of December, mindless or heedless of the fact that - sometime around noon on the 25th - you’ll probably want to find both of them and fly up the chimney before s/he awakes.
tinsel: (1) Singularly responsible for more chronic and terminal respiratory failure among quality vacuum cleaners than any other object in the known universe, except possibly for pine needles; (2) silvery material generally made of non-fibrous textiles and used to further humiliate once proud Douglas Firs and other conifers which were minding their own business before they were murdered by a redneck with a chainsaw to satisfy the quixotic pagan winter whims of gentile and Jew alike; (3) anything cheap used to gild a dying lily.
upon: A curious word, the existence of which is owed to the fact that ‘on’ simply wasn’t good enough for some people, who, being petty and never satisfied with what they had, began clamoring about the need to be able to describe in one fell swoop how a thing is both up and on another thing at the same time, viz., “The star is not just on the top of the tree, it is up on the top of the tree.” As if Down on the top of the tree would make any sense at all. And so, without permission to do so, a number of otherwise sensible folks began to stick ‘up’ next to ‘on’; and since dissent was minimal, they got away with it.
But were they satisfied with that? No. Before long they then began to complain about the space between the up and the on, insisting that it was simply too much to bear; viz.,
A: There, are you happy now? I have put a star up on the top of the tree!
B: Well that’s fine and good; but what do you intend to do about that gap between ‘up’ and ‘on’? I don’t like the way it looks, and we’re expecting guests. Fix it.
Why that should have been the case is anybody’s guess, although it is true that Nature abhors a vacuum and that some publishers pay by the word; and so with a removal of the vacuity between ‘up’ and ‘on’ Nature and publishers got their way. As they usually do. We have been living with the consequences of this ever since, but no one seems to care.
Vatican (City): Europe’s smallest independent state of denial.
White Christmas: (1) “Thank you for flying Bogota Airlines. We hope you have a pleasant destination, and wish you a safe journey to your final trip;” (2) ardently desired by children and by anyone who has never needed to operate a snowblower at 5 a.m. in pajamas, or go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house in an old Datsun with bald tires and no rear-window de-icer.
wreath: a symbolic display of amputated vegetable matter that shows in miniature how the circle of life starts to look unpleasant and smell funny after a few weeks’ worth of exposure to life.
Xerox: The name of the machine you defaced and assaulted with your bare buttocks while drunk at the office Christmas party where you subsequently lost consciousness and your co-workers’ respect. [Ed.]
Yule: The first part of a spoken command, prediction, or threat, and most often followed by with words “just have to get used to it”, “love it, trust me”, and “be sorry”.
Z: (1) the 26th and final letter of any halfway-decent alphabet; (2) in the plural, colloquial for sleep – but always and only in the plural. How a single letter can have a plural form is beyond us; but like it or not no one ever talks about “catching a Z” or “needing a Z,” even when it might make perfect sense to do so – e.g.:
- intern: Oh, man. I’m dead tired. I need to catch some Z’s before I crash.
- doctor: I’m afraid there’s no time for that; but I’ll let you have one Z right after we finish this appendectomy. Just one and you’ll owe me big-time.
(3) entities that elude children, both naughty and nice, on the evening of the 24th of December, excited as they are about the prospect of a nocturnal visitation by an obese senior citizen with a ratty beard and sack full of electronic goods; (4) entities forsaken freely by adults, both naughty and nice, in their annual pursuit of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.
zymurgy: The process by which yeast breaks down sugars to make alcohol, and by extension, the holidays, tolerable for those unfortunate enough to have to spend it with their families. [Ed.]
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…
After six years of intensive training and teaching in Hamburg and Münster, Tim took the plunge and moved to Dengfeng, Henan to practice directly at the source. Home to many academies and thousands of students, he chose to study at Wushu College where a little girl took him by surprise: “The best teacher I had was a nine-year old girl. She taught me high kicks and how to perform very difficult techniques. She taught me to be honest and kind to people.”
What was the most difficult part of your course?
The most difficult part was we had to train very hard every day no matter what condition our bodies were in. Training started at 5:30am and continued all day until 6-7pm. After three weeks of intensive training, I couldn’t walk up the stairs and suffered from heavy muscle tension pain in my legs. Once I was lying in bed, I felt calm and peaceful until the loud Chinese march music woke me up in the morning and it started all over again. This pain is necessary to understand your body. If you want to perform Shaolin Gong Fu and to reach a high level we must go further to feel what it means to have focus.
In Chinese there is a saying 先苦后甜, which means after hard and bitter work there will be sweetness. It means that we have to work hard if we want to achieve something. Everything we do is to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and to learn how to control our body and our mind in different situations. Our body is sometimes weak. Learning Gong Fu is a way to train our minds to tell our body what to do and when to stop. I learnt jianchi 坚持 – it doesn’t matter if we fail or succeed, it is more important to go on. Our body and mind each have their own language and we are able to control our body with our mind. If there is a strong mind and a clear heart, there is a strong body. Many diseases are based on an imbalance of our body and our mind. If we stay focused in the moment, we can prevent illnesses and have a happier life! Gong Fu is a way to choose health and happiness in your life.
After Henan, Tim moved to Yangshuo, Guangxi province to continue with taiji quan classes. There he met a woman who was offering taiji sword lessons and became her student, learning taiji next to the Li river. She taught him many things like Chinese cooking and the art of bartering. He felt happiness getting to know a culture which he had always wanted to learn more about.
During his travels in 2004, he really enjoyed Hangzhou. Growing up in Hamburg, he was a part of nature. In Hangzhou, he found he could still have that in the beautiful mountains and bamboo forests surrounding the city. From the beginning of his martial arts career, he often came into contact with Chinese medicine. In 2005, he decided to start studying it. In ancient times, masters of Gong Fu were often also doctors of Chinese medicine – it was a natural progression. Zhejiang Chinese Medical University offered him a place.
We hear a lot about the pressure of education in China, did you feel a lot?
The Chinese education system can be very challenging for foreigners. First to master the language and then to get used to the way of teaching. Asking questions doesn’t have much space in classroom; it’s very different to the west. Chinese students are not used to communicating with their teachers, only listening to gain information. This caused a lot of pressure while studying. Preparing for a test required memorizing and repeating facts instead of putting the theory into our own words like back home. Every culture has its own specialties, especially when it comes to education. Now, I often meet young people in the clinic telling me about their life and study and that it made them sick. Young students are often overwhelmed with pressure. I start telling them my story, hoping to inspire them to find their own way to learn.
You’ve founded your own company, how has that been? Do you have good support?
I founded Wushan TCM, a Chinese medical network, with the goal to connect the east with the west and to offer Chinese medicine education to students and current practitioners. There are live webinars and recorded online courses about the theory and practice. I also arrange local treatments for foreigners with Chinese medicine and take care of the language translations and clinical arrangements. I work in cooperation with Chinese medical doctors whom I’ve met during my studies and practice over the past twelve years. I want to help people to come to China and to gain their individual experiences.
You’ve studied tai chi, TCM and lots of other ways of healing. What would you say is the best medicine?
In our modern times a practitioner has to have knowledge from both western and Chinese medicine to offer the patients the most accurate and suitable diagnosis and treatment. Even though western and Chinese medicine are very different from each other, they can be combined in many different ways. While western medicine is treating the illness, Chinese medicine is treating the symptoms of the patient and finding the source. An example of how they work in harmony would involve undergoing surgery for an external injury (western) followed by Chinese medicine to strengthen the patient help to recover in a more comprehensive way. Both medicines have their limitations and their benefits.
I won’t say that TCM is the best medicine. I believe Chinese medicine can help a lot of people, where western medicine cannot. Above all, the best medicine is when people take better care of themselves and gain more understanding of how we can keep healthy and prevent illness. It’s about our lifestyle, our emotions, our living and working environment, our family situation, our nutrition and so much more. I want people to gain more sensibility about their lives and what makes us ill.
What plans do you have for the future?
I would like to combine my life in China with the life in the west. At the moment, I am preparing the German natural license test to be allowed to work and to treat in Germany with Chinese medicine. In the future I want to offer more lectures, seminars and tours in Hangzhou and to give more students the great opportunity to learn from professional doctors. More and more foreigners are interested in coming to China to study TCM. I want to help them however I can. The world will become more connected. Let’s become a part of it!
Tim Vukan has been studying and practicing Chinese medicine for more than ten years at the Zhejiang Chinese Medical University in Hangzhou. He founded Wushan TCM in 2008 to connect Chinese medicine practitioners and students by offering Chinese medicine online courses and training tours to enable an authentic education in the theory and clinical field of Chinese health cultivation methods. To learn more, visit the website at www.wushantcm.com.
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.
In 1786, Britain established Georgetown to rival the Dutch trading port Malacca in a bid to gain control of the important trade routethrough the Straits of Malacca which connected Europe, the Middle East and India to the west with China, Southeast Asia and Japan to the east.Georgetown began attracting Chinese, Indian and Malaysian merchants and settlers. Each group broughtalong their language, food and religion making Georgetown a very special mix of cultures living together in harmony.
Georgetown’s Unesco World Heritage zone is a compact, easily manageable area that you can walk around in two to three hours. Start at the grand KapitanKeling mosque, built in 1801 by Indian Muslim settlers with its Mughal-style domes and Indian-Islamic minaret, from where the call to prayer can be heard five times a day.
Then wander around Little India with Bollywood music blaring from shops and colorful silk saris on display. Tantalizing skewers of tandoori meattempt you to stop and nibblewhile tables piled with samosas and Indian sweets are hard to resist.Then further to the north, near the coastline are the British colonial buildings that now house banks, western bars and restaurants.
Turn a corner and head towards the Chinese area with colourfulclan houses, temples and shops. Bustling hawker stalls line the streets, selling Penang’s famous street foods like CharKwayTeow, Chee Cheong Fun and HokkienMee. The Chinese community has roots from Hokkien, Cantonese and Hakka and they here are a linguistically talented bunch who easily switch between conversations in Cantonese, Mandarin, their own Chinese dialects, English and Malay.
By the time I visited in 2008, much of the historic area had fallen into disrepair. Then came the Unesco World Heritage designation breathingrenewed life to Georgetown and historic buildings were restored and converted into cafes and boutique hotels. Previously, Georgetown mainly offered budget guesthouses and one very top end hotel. Now, there’s a growing range of boutique heritage hotels for visitors to choose from.
Campbell House was one of the first boutique hotels to open in Georgetown, and work on converting the building into a hotel began even before the Unesco World Heritage listing was announced. The owners, wife and husband team Nardya Wray and Robert Dreon, both saw the potential in Georgetown and had faith in its future. Nardya has a personal history with Penang, having been born in Malaysia before moving to UK andthen often returning to Penang to visit family.
Robert and Nardya bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, both coming from successful careers in London’s luxury hospitality industry.The couple embarked on restoring the hundred-year-old corner shophouse, completely gutting the building down to the original beams and structure.Working tirelessly over three years, they lovingly restored the building and filled their dream hotel with antique furniture sourced from around the region.
Campbell House offers eleven suites, each with an individual character representing a different element of colonial Malaysia, such as the Colonial Room with a four poster bed or the Sari Room graced with a headboard made from sari silk.
The rooms are luxuriously appointed and feature modern fixtures and technologies like flat screen TV’s, Nespresso machines, chilly central air-con, rain head showersand newplumbing. You may be staying in a heritage hotel with antique furniture, but you will not lackfor any modern comforts.
Campbell House is located on Campbell Street, right in the heart of Georgetown and makes a great base for exploring the city. The next street over is LebuhChulia, one of the main roads of Georgetown, where you’ll find many bars and street food.
Leaving behind the chaotic colourfulstreetlife and stepping into the peaceful tranquility of Campbell House, the first thing you will notice is the lovely lemongrass scent. Then the friendly receptionist will get you checked-in and pull out a map to show you where to find the best food and attractions.
Respecting the original architecture, there are no elevators in this three story house, but the hotel staff will use a clever pulley system to get your luggage to the top floor. Smoking is not permitted indoors, but you can do so on the rooftop terrace.
As is the tradition in Malaysian houses, guests have to leave their shoes in the public area before proceeding upstairs to the rooms. This ensures that the living areas are immaculately clean and you get the warm feeling that you are an honoured guest in a private house. Each guest receives personalized attention and you can even make special requests for breakfast to suit your dietary needs. The library invites guests to lounge and chat with each other and we had many lively conversations with our fellow travelers there.
Rooms are cleaned twice a day, and atnight they will leave iced tea and some sweet treats in the fridge. The soft and fluffy king-sized feather-topped bed is so comfortable, there seems to be a magic spell around it because as soon as you lay down you almost immediately fall asleep.
Breakfastis served in their Italian restaurant from 8am-12pm, so guests can leisurely sleep in or go out for an early morning walk before temperatures get too hot and still have ample time to return and enjoy breakfast.The breakfast spread includes a basket of freshly baked bread, a selection of housemade jams like coconut, orange marmalade and pineapple, a large platter of fresh fruit and a choice of entrée such as Eggs Benedict or Welsh Rarebit.
Their Italian Restaurant, Il Bacaro, draws on Robert’s Italian roots and offers an alternative to local cuisine. As much as I love curries and fried noodles, sometimes you just crave a fine Italian meal. It’s become a trendy dining destination for travelers and locals alike.
Georgetown is a city you can come back to again and again and never grow tired of.The Unesco World Heritage designation came just in time to save many heritage buildings from demolition. Though developmentis bringing about changes, its soul and authenticity still remains, just a scratch beneath the surface. The introduction of a heritage hotel like Campbell House means you can now visit Georgetown and stay in style and comfort.
Campbell House is a World Luxury Hotel Award winner and is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for B&Bs in Georgetown. Rooms range from 600-800RMB per night.Air Asia flies from Hangzhou to Penang, transferring in Kuala Lumpur.
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.
“When I put on my uniform and take my knife, I feel different. I get this intense feeling, just taking the raw ingredients and transforming them to something incredible.”
Raul has been cooking in top hotels all over the world. After four years traveling in Mexico, he moved on to Macau to open a new branch of the Banyan Tree. He was also the chef in the pre-openings of Dubai’s exclusive beachfront bar and restaurant Zero Gravity and the Grand Hyatt Casino Hotel in the Bahamas.
His Mexican Flautas are a good place to start if you are unfamiliar with Latin cuisine. Succulent chicken breast cooked in a tomato base and wrapped in a crispy flour tortilla, topped with sour cream and fresh salad. Next, we tried the Pork Loin Roulade with onions, garlic, dried cranberries, nuts and apple sauce, pan seared and finished to perfection in the oven. This was served with roasted potatoes and a chorizo-like sausage. If that wasn’t tantalizing enough, the final surprise was the Green Lamb Chops marinated with lemon and served on a bed of creamy quinoa risotto that really got our tongues tingling! We managed to have a chat and find out ‘more’ about the man himself for all you readers of MORE Hangzhou.
So Raul, you have quite the resume! Can you tell us which of your experiences have been the most rewarding so far?
A great place for me to work was Dubai. It was challenging at first because of the religion and restrictions. In Chile, we like to cook with red wine and experiment with new ingredients and spices, but there I could not use alcohol or pork. But, the supply of fresh meats, vegetables and spices was endless and we had good contacts with the suppliers. In the end, I really honed in on other techniques and flavors. It was a memorable time.
We all know how difficult it is to get certain ingredients here. Why did you choose China?
The fascination came from when I was a kid, you know. Growing up, I loved the Chinese movies with Jackie Chan, and I was amazed by the different culture and, of course, the food! Then I worked Macau and I learnt so much! I thought “I’m here! I’ve done it.” China is a place that people from the west think they know until they arrive here and it all opens up. It’s a whole new world. After I left Macau and went back to South America, I thought… “Something is missing in this kitchen… the woks!” Working on a line with these tools and producing a different taste was incredible, and I am happy to be back working with a talented group of individuals.
What’s the greatest difficulty you have here?
It has to be the language. I’m learning slowly but it will take time. I always say “I have no problems, just challenges,” and because I have no problems, I have more time to find solutions. I love working in this team. To these chefs, it isn’t just a job, it’s their passion and that’s what make this food very special.
Where did your motivation come from? Did your mum cook at home?
Oh no, my love for cooking comes from my Dad’s side of the family. My aunt and my Grandmother, they have good taste. My teachers too, they really inspired me to do more. I hope the people in Hangzhou can be open to try new flavours and enjoy eating my food as much as I enjoy creating it.
If you would like to join the taste fiesta, then head down to the Hyatt Regency hotel for their Latin Festival which lasts until April 10th. The buffet, which includes the dishes we tried, will run you 348RMB from Sunday to Thursday and from Friday to Saturday 368RMB (both prices have a 15% service charge).
Raul is in the process of creating a whole new a la carte menu that will be available after the festival with other dishes of Latin taste to tease you too! For more information on this, go ahead and contact the hotel or pop by for a sneaky peak at Raul himself hard at work in Café at the Hyatt. Buen Provecho!
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.
In the car on the way to the gym, after having signed up for the class, we found out what the WOD (workout of the day) was. That day it would begin with 150 Burpees, a movement which involves going from standing to lying, to standing and a jump to finish. Then, 100 Wall Balls, requiring you to throw a medicine ball to above a line high on the wall. These two exercises were to be completed as a team, shared and in rotation. The final part, 5x200 meters, would be an individual effort.
After stretching and warming up, we were put into teams of three, our team name placed on the board, thereby riling up the competitive spirit in each and every athlete present. As the countdown began from ten, the crowd erupted, and as the music got louder, the tempo in the room sky-rocketed and the anticipation became unbearable.
Then, the room exploded as the battle for supremacy began, each team pitted off against each other in an effort to achieve the best time. During the next twenty minutes, I found strength in me that I didn’t know existed as my team and trainers (and even the opposition!?) spurred me on to reach the finish line in as fast a time as possible.
So this was my experience of CrossFit, a way of working out that has taken countless countries by storm and is now rapidly spreading through the mainland of China. For a better explanation of what CrossFit actually is, I spoke with the founder of CrossFit Qiantang, The General. Summing up my experience perfectly he told me, “It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone. CrossFit is fun, but at the same time it can be brutal because it pushes you to your limits. The purpose of CrossFit is to train at your threshold area, which means you need to push your margin out.”
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit has three core fundamentals: constant variation, functional movement and high intensity. The first, constant variation, aims to improve your overall fitness, offering new and completely different workouts each time, using muscles you never knew you had, in contrast to a more focused improvement that some sports or traditional gym training offer: “We want every single one of our athletes to have a great general, broad fitness, which means they are prepared for the unknown,” said The General. In addition, you only find out the WOD after having booked the class, so if it’s something you don’t like, there’s no backing out: “You have no idea what you are going to be doing that day, just like real life. Life is unpredictable... CrossFit is the same thing.”
Functional movement involves using non-artificial movement – many gym machines promote a movement that is not entirely natural, whereas functional movements are more daily-life based and can therefore be used more in everyday situations.
High intensity is fairly self-explanatory, the benefit being you can put in less time but get more benefit. Rather than spending countless hours on a treadmill, CrossFit can condense this into around fifteen or twenty minutes of actual workout time (not including warming up or down), and yet offers results to match and even surpass longer, less intense workouts.
Why do CrossFit?
Aside from obvious health benefits, the most valuable thing CrossFit can offer is community. Looking lost on my first time in the gym, I was warmly received by trainers and members alike, as they approached me to introduce themselves and confess their great love for CF. Jenny had been CF-ing for around six months and was quick to praise the social aspect CF offers. She’d been working out in traditional gyms for years, rarely meeting anyone new: “I would be next to a guy on a treadmill every week for five or six years and have no idea about his name or who he was. Coming to CrossFit, there is a real feeling of community; everyone is very friendly and a strong bond is formed.”
This bond can only serve to improve your workout input as when you are making that final push, those around you shouting your name are sources of admiration and inspiration, team members who want nothing more than to see you do that extra rep, sprint that last 100 meters. They expect nothing less than 100%, and that is exactly what you should give them.
Furthermore, CrossFit supports and encourages its members to leave their comfort zone behind and do things they never thought they were capable of. The General explained, “The vast majority of people in this world only want to do the things they can do well… we like to give you something that you’re not good at… just use four or five hours a week to do this and your life will change completely.” So rather than doing something which comes easily to you, something you’re used to and can handle with relative ease, why not improve yourself by doing something you’re terrible at. Makes sense, right?
Some go to church, others go to CrossFit
For most, CF is more than just a workout. It’s way of life, a way of thinking that seems to make people want more from themselves. For one member, Adriana, CF was the missing piece of the puzzle, and after discovering it, her life came together, leading her to quit her job and become a shareholder in the company. Like many of the members here, you too may find yourself starting a new chapter of your life. Discover a new you, meet new friends. There’s really no excuse, so go on down and meet the CrossFit Qiantang family.
Give it a shot
For those of you thinking of joining, the first step is to sign up for one of their trial classes, either on Saturdays at 10am or Wednesdays at 8pm. The Saturday morning class will include members, so you’ll have a chance to meet the whole gang, something I strongly recommend, whereas the Wednesday evening class will include prospective members only. Also, many different membership schemes are available depending on your availability, ranging from a one-off drop in fee to a five-times-weekly membership.
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.
How did you meet your bandmates?
The three of us met in Paris in 2002. I had just moved to Paris when I was 18 in order to start my career as a professional musician, and met Aliocha and Vladi separately while doing gigs in Paris. It was the beginning of the "gypsy jazz revival" at the time. They were performing in an old Russian cabaret every week. I went to jam with them and found we had a strong connection right away so we decided to form a band. We've remained friends ever since.
How do you define gypsy jazz?
Gypsy jazz is a musical genre developed by the late great Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in the late 30's, on the initiative of Hugues Panassié and Charles Delauney who wanted to build and promote a unique type of European jazz. That is why the Hot Club de France were the first "strings only" jazz quintet ever, innovating jazz music with a totally new sound never recorded before.
Is gypsy jazz the hardest genre to play on guitar?
It definitely requires strong guitar skills to play gypsy jazz, but not only that. A certain knowledge about jazz and gypsy culture in general, and an acuity for improvisation are also important.
Do you think there is a large audience for this type of music?
There is undoubtedly a large audience for gypsy jazz as this type of music is getting more and more popular. When I started to play this music, it was kind of a geek thing known principally in France and a few countries around (England, Germany, Holland, Italy), and now there is a Hot Club in every major city in the world, such as San Francisco, and even in Beijing! This style of music is pleasing to the ear, non-aggressive, and visually strong as you can see guitar players and violin players going crazy on their instruments! Plus it involves the guitar, which is the most popular instrument in the world, so people tend to identify themselves with it even more, especially metal guitar players.
What's the best thing about playing to a live audience?
Two things; the reward of an intense practice at home for years when people are clapping their hands, and the freedom to re-arrange our tunes, improvise, and make people surprised with a brand new show each time. To record is to leave a trace in time, to play live is to feel carefree again.
Where's your favourite place to play in Hangzhou?
I personally like to play in JZ Club because the venue is well adapted for live performances. There are many other places in Hangzhou offering the possibility to watch live bands, but not enough in my opinion. That is why I still need to work in Shanghai regularly since there are more opportunities. Fingers crossed about more musicians coming to Hangzhou in the next few years.
Has Chinese music had any influence on the music that you play?
Chinese music had an influence on the way I write originals indeed, we also cover a few songs from the early 30's Shanghai jazz repertoire.
Which bands are you following at the moment?
In the field of gypsy jazz, there are a lot of good musicians upcoming from all around the world although I think this type of music is precisely the legacy of Django Reinhardt, and hasn't really improved yet. People tend to copy the "authentic gypsy style" too much instead of working on their own interior music, which I think wouldn't have been the wish of the creators of this revolutionary musical genre.
If you would like to see Three of a Kind playing live, you can check them out at the venues below.
April 2nd @ ABC Café (Starts at 7:30pm)
1/F, Changjian Mansion, 415 Huanxing Rd, Binjiang, 滨江环兴路415号长建大厦1楼
April 8th @ Amigo (Starts at 9pm)
8 Yugu Rd, 玉古路8号
April 17th @ JZ Hangzhou (Starts at 9:30pm)
6 Liuying Rd (Nanshan Rd) , 柳营路6号（靠南山路）
April 22nd @ Reggae bar (Starts at 10:30pm)
131 Xueyuan Rd, 学院路131号
April 23rd @ Schänke (Starts at 9:30pm)
Room -3 and 2-2, Building 32, Qingchunfang, Qingchun Rd, 庆春路青春坊32幢1-3室和2-2室