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The Pondville
By Jack Cameron

Review of Books (September 2013 Vol.1 No.1)

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.

More to Consider
This is More. Each issue, you know what you’re getting, and can predict safely in advance more or less what you’re getting into. But there’s more to life than knowing where to fidget, frolic, feast, fuel-up, and fool around. Not much more, really, to be perfectly frank. But as a French figment of my imagination once hissed at me after too much sun and too many Negronis, escargot without the shell is a slug, not a delicacy, no matter what you drizzle or sprinkle on the slug.

That analogy is wide of the mark -- wider than the print of .44 Special fired from a three-inch barrel and aimed at an empty pack of PallMalls 100 yards downrange in a headwind. But there’s simply not enough written about slugs these days, and I thought the gummy little creatures would appreciate the gesture. Not that they will, but, that’s neither here nor there, and unless you are a slug or related to one, it isn’t any of your business.

Point is,
More has tried this month to tease a gossamer thread of Apollonian curiosity out of the loving horde of Bacchants that relies upon this publication mainly in order to slaughter stylishly their brain cells.  As well they should. Not that it matters, but in my opinion More should hereafter avoid consecrating to pulp any string of words which might wrongly if inadvertently suggest that the publishers have any literary pretensions whatsoever, which thank Zeus we all know full well they do not. But the pompous syphilitic philologist who penned Also spracht Zarathustra was onto something when he wrote “We are experiments -- and yes, let us also want to be them!”, and I’m not too proud to give the devils their due. 

That is to say: These pages are experimental, and there’s not a damned thing in the world wrong with experimenting. You of all people should know that. So just go with it. Rolled-up into a tight paper thyrsus, there’s still enough heft in this mag to allow a scrawny and aenemic nine-year-old girl to give a sound whallop to a deserving cockroach. And sometimes, that’s exactly what makes any publication useful and valuable. What appears on these next few pages might seem heavy, but they don’t make this monthly any lighter.

Wander
lust, Incaution
Pope (Essay On Man) wrote, “On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail, reason’s the card but passion’s the gale”. Whatever brought you hence – and whatever it is that keeps you knee-deep in lotuses and lajiao – it is never too late to think about the advice Crusoe senior gave his son. Love the gale. But treasure the card. Foresight is the very best of tools.

In a famous essay that nobody ever reads (
Child’s Play, 1878), Robert Louis Stevenson proffered the view that the popularity of Robinson Crusoe is due in large part to the fact that “the book is about tools, and there is nothing that delights a child so much. Hammers and saws”, he wrote, “belong to a province of life that positively call for imitation”. Right he is about that. Carlyle would surely have agreed. “[O]n the whole”, he observed, “Man is a Tool-using animal... Weak in himself… [n]evertheless he can use Tools, he can devise Tools… Nowhere do you find him without Tools; without Tools he is nothing; with Tools he is all” (Sartor Resartus, Chapter V, 1833/43).

And then again, Robinson Crusoe
himself  is not a character that calls for imitation – positively or otherwise.  Arguably the best of a genre increasingly popular in the eighteenth century, and in any case an enchanting romance of resilience and self-reliance, the key to understanding the novel (and to understanding Crusoe, the original McGiver) is found in the first few pages of the first chapter:

Being… not bred to any trade, my head began to be filled very early with rambling thoughts. … I would be satisfied with nothing but going to sea; and my inclination to this led me so strongly against the will, nay, the commands of my father, and against all the entreaties and persuasions of my mother and other friends, that there seemed to be something fatal in that propensity of nature, tending directly to the life of misery which was to befall me.

Robinson Crusoe
is not really a cautionary tale as such; but being a shipwrecked castaway myself – drawn to fair Cathay by reckless wanderlust - I cannot reread the novel without lingering a while on this passage:

My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design.  ...  He asked me what reasons, more than a mere wandering inclination, I had for leaving father’s house and my native country, where I might be well introduced, and had a prospect of raising my fortune by application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He told me it was men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road; that these things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of low life, which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the world…  He told me I might judge of the happiness of this state by this one thing—viz. that this was the state of life which all other people envied; that kings have frequently lamented the miserable consequence of being born to great things, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this, as the standard of felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.

Untimely Meditations 
on Local Time 
Apart from a handful of scholars, few people read - or even know of - the novel which followed Melville’s Moby Dick (1851): Pierre, or, The Ambiguities (1852). It was a colossal failure, and was panned immediately by critics – not in the least for its indelicate (read: immoral) subject matter.

A grand, melancholy romance? American Gothic? (American post-Gothic?) Melvillian philosophy wrapped in a farce? It isn’t easy to tell, and though there’s a lot to recommend the novel, most readers will be more richly rewarded by attempts to swim in the whirlpools of Melville’s
The Confidence Man – his last novel, published in1857. On April Fool’s Day.

But there is one section in
Pierre that screams-out for attention: “Chronologicals and Horologicals”, known often as “The Pamphlet”.

“FEW of us doubt, gentlemen, that human life on this earth is but a state of probation; which among other things implies, that here below, we mortals have only to do with things provisional. Accordingly, I hold that all our so-called wisdom is likewise but provisional.

“This preamble laid down, I begin.

“It seems to me, in my visions, that there is a certain most rare order of human souls, which if carefully carried in the body will almost always and everywhere give Heaven’s own Truth, with some small grains of variance. For peculiarly coming from God, the sole source of that heavenly truth, and the great Greenwich hill and tower from which the universal meridians are far out into infinity reckoned; such souls seem as London sea-chronometers (Greek, time-namers) which as the London ship floats past Greenwich down the Thames, are accurately adjusted by Greenwich time, and if heedfully kept, will still give that same time, even though carried to the Azores. True, in nearly all cases of long, remote voyages—to China, say—chronometers of the best make, and the most carefully treated, will gradually more or less vary from Greenwich time, without the possibility of the error being corrected by direct comparison with their great standard; but skillful and devout observations of the stars by the sextant will serve materially to lessen such errors. And besides, there is such a thing as rating a chronometer; that is, having ascertained its degree of organic inaccuracy, however small, then in all subsequent chronometrical calculations, that ascertained loss or gain can be readily added or deducted, as the case may be. Then again, on these long voyages, the chronometer may be corrected by comparing it with the chronometer of some other ship at sea, more recently from home.

“Now in an artificial world like ours, the soul of man is further removed from its God and the Heavenly Truth, than the chronometer carried to China, is from Greenwich. And, as that chronometer, if at all accurate, will pronounce it to be 12 o’clock high-noon, when the China local watches say, perhaps, it is 12 o’clock midnight; so the chronometric soul, if in this world true to its great Greenwich in the other, will always, in its so-called intuitions of right and wrong, be contradicting the mere local standards and watch-maker’s brains of this earth. …

“But though the chronometer carried from Greenwich to China, should truly exhibit in China what the time may be at Greenwich at any moment; yet, though thereby it must necessarily contradict China time, it does by no means thence follow, that with respect to China, the China watches are at all out of the way. Precisely the reverse. For the fact of that variance is a presumption that, with respect to China, the Chinese watches must be all right; and consequently as the China watches are right as to China, so the Greenwich chronometers must be wrong as to China. Besides, of what use to the Chinaman would a Greenwich chronometer, keeping Greenwich time, be? Were he thereby to regulate his daily actions, he would be guilty of all manner of absurdities:—going to bed at noon, say, when his neighbors would be sitting down to dinner. And thus, though the earthly wisdom of man be heavenly folly to God; so also, conversely, is the heavenly wisdom of God an earthly folly to man. Literally speaking, this is so. Nor does the God at the heavenly Greenwich expect common men to keep Greenwich wisdom in this remote Chinese world of ours; because such a thing were unprofitable for them here, and, indeed, a falsification of Himself, inasmuch as in that case, China time would be identical with Greenwich time, which would make Greenwich time wrong.

“… [And] though man’s Chinese notions of things may answer well enough here, they are by no means universally applicable, and that the central Greenwich in which He dwells goes by a somewhat different method from this world. And yet it follows not from this, that God’s truth is one thing and man’s truth another; but—as above hinted, and as will be further elucidated in subsequent lectures—by their very contradictions they are made to correspond.”

Truth?
Who Cares? 
One needn’t have an expert’s background in either philosophy or Chinese literature to enjoy the work of Francois Jullien, but it helps. Among the most engaging – and happily: most easily-available – of Jullien’s work is his paper (2002) “Did philosophers have to become fixated on truth?”.

This is an excellent question, one which might have presented itself more than once to anyone frog-marched through Philosophy 101 as an undergraduate. From Plato onwards, the search for Truth (capital-‘T’) has been the paramount concern of much of Western philosophy. Not all philosophers, for sure, have had this fixation, or suffered from it in equal measure. But Jullien does us a great service by reminding us of the legitimacy of the question:

Philosophy undoubtedly was fixated on truth. In the first place it was formally tied to it and explicitly attached the highest value to it. But also, once its insistence was recognized, it stayed with truth and never freed itself fromit. From then on it never ceased to set its sights on truth, never shifted. It was in the “plain of truth,” where principles and forms lurk, unchanging, that philosophy continued to “graze.” There, it proceeded tirelessly to build upon foundations of theory towering constructions from which the truth could be “contemplated”; and there it delved, following the subterranean paths of reflection in search of hidden deposits. Higher and higher it soared to discover the truth, and deeper and deeper it dug for it, never abandoning that objective, never clearing a different path for thought to follow. But China, it seems, did open up an alternative path…

What was that path?
It would take rather a lot of space to explain it in all the detail that it deserves, and I would be overreaching were I to attempt to do so. But the gist of it is: Ever since Plato (and Whitehead was only slightly exaggerating when he described Western philosophy as a series of footnotes back to him), the headline acts from the occidental Thinkery have been obsessed with Truth.  The sages of Chinese antiquity, however, succeeded in finding in episodes of human existence a number of things that seem to be reliable truisms about the human condition, and therefore valuable to one who wishes to live well.  To grasp fully the difference, one need only remember that Plato (literally) deified Reason, and that the Greek version of the Old Testament would identify the demiurgic creator-god with Logos itself.

Now, in fact, the gap between these two intellectual traditions is not at every point along the margins of the canyon as broad or as deep as it may sometimes seem. But here’s a passage from Zhuangzi, one characteristic of Zhuangzi’s daoist approach:

Confucius was looking at the cataract near the gorge of Lu, which fell a height of 240 cubits, and the spray of which floated a distance of forty li, (producing a turbulence) in which no tortoise, gavial, fish, or turtle could play. He saw, however, an old man swimming about in it, as if he had sustained some great calamity, and wished to end his life. Confucius made his disciples hasten along the stream to rescue the man; and by the time they had gone several hundred paces, he was walking along singing, with his hair dishevelled, and enjoying himself at the foot of the embankment. Confucius followed and asked him, saying, ‘I thought you were a sprite; but, when I look closely at you, I see that you are a man. Let me ask if you have any particular way of treading the water.’ The man said, ‘No, I have no particular way. I began (to learn the art) at the very earliest time; as I grew up, it became my nature to practise it; and my success in it is now as sure as fate. I enter and go down with the water in the very centre of its whirl, and come up again with it when it whirls the other way. I follow the way of the water, and do nothing contrary to it of myself - this is how I tread it.’ Confucius said, ‘What do you mean by saying that you began to learn the art at the very earliest time; that as you grew up, it became your nature to practise it, and that your success in it now is as sure as fate?’ The man replied, ‘I was born among these hills and lived contented among them - that was why I say that I have trod this water from my earliest time. I grew up by it, and have been happy treading it - that is why I said that to tread it had become natural to me. I know not how I do it, and yet I do it - that is why I say that my success is as sure as fate.’

I don’t know how I do it
, but I do it, the swimmer says. So much for the most celebrated pretentions of Western philosophy, which has for more than 2000 years tended often to tie Gordian knots which it then insists on severing with rusty epistemological blades. Had Socrates rather than Confucius been standing on the riverbank, the old man would likely have ended up intentionally drowning himself. Or Socrates.

Jullien concludes his paper with this paragraph:

A sage will no more fix upon [“wisdom”] than he will upon the truth. In conclusion, then: a sage is someone who no longer asks about Meaning (as unconcerned by the alternative between mystery and absurdity as by the alternative between that which is true and that which is false). A sage is someone who takes the world and life for granted, someone who is content (so no longer needs) to say, That is how things are. Not, So be it, as religion, in its desire for acquiescence declares, nor, Why is it so? as philosophy, with a jolt of amazement, asks. Neither accepting nor questioning, the sage simply says, That is how it is. A sage is one who reaches the realization that it is so.

Not
questioning is, in the Western tradition, the greatest anathema, the most wicked apostasy. (Saint Socrates, after all, was martyred for questioning – and in so doing, for “corrupting” the youth of Athens.)  What is philosophy if it is not the rigorous, systematic questioning of our assumptions and presupposition? Jullien’s ouvre addresses that, too.

Jesting Pilate, they say, asked
What is truth?, but didn’t stick around for the answer. Perhaps Pilate was wiser than apologists for the unlucky Nazarene carpenter would have us believe.

“Did Philosophers Have to Become Fixated on Truth?”, Critical Inquiry, Vol.28, No.4 (Summer 2002). Do check-out Jullien’s other works – Amazon.com is a great way to start exploring his work. For those with institutional access, Jullien’s paper can be found on JSTOR, here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/341235. Most of the works cited or referred to in this series can be found on-line at the Gutenberg Project (www.gutenberg.org) and the Chinese Text Project (www.ctext.org).

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My journey from West to East

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.

Campbell House

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.

Bon Provecho!:

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!

CrossFit:

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.

To play live is to feel carefree

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

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