In the internet era, in this carnival of language, no one needs to worry about not having anything to say. Social media sites are literally abuzz with a dizzying array of jargon. In the presence of this raging torrent of information, everyone can use social media to disseminate information and to express their points of views. Even if you don’t have any imaginative opinions or abstract ideas, it does not matter. Those cute, sometimes nonsensical, universal words or phrases – network buzzwords – will save you in dire straits. Whatever the case is, just add an "I am drunk" or "Here comes the question, which excavator’s technology is the strongest?" plus a nose picking emoticon, and you are instantly upgraded to someone who is using the “insider language.” However, it is also the universal property of the sentence that greatly weakens the uniqueness of the expression. Because everyone is afraid of being “out of the know,” they latch onto these words and use them and reuse them until there is nothing left but a stack of bones. This relentless process explains how seriously this generation is suffering from the lack of communication skills. Now the real question is coming...
French sociologist Jean Baudrillard defined consumption as "a systematic behavior of the manipulation of symbols," whether it is physical or language, it must become a symbol in order to become an object of consumption. When a phrase or sentence is turned into a network buzzword, it is signified. A statement can have the possibility of being replicated only when it becomes a symbol, then it turns into a universal sentence to be consumed by all. In the eyes of Baudrillard, the nature of the modern consumer society is the difference of the construction. Consumption is not the material or the language itself, but the differences. When only a few people know how to use “excavators,” only a few people “are drunk,” then you can produce the exclusive pleasure by grasping and using the popular language. But when everyone is scrambling to use the excavators, when everyone is drunk, then the differences disappear. The people who are interested in network buzzwords can’t find the right word to express their feelings, so they consume the many fleeting network buzzwords to express their feelings, thus putting the words into the embarrassing position of becoming nonsensical through “endless repetition.”
Though some might look upon buzzword use as mindless drivel, they do indeed tell us much about the current culture. These words can describe new phenomena or provide a useful linguistic shortcut to describe complex ideas. You may not be a fan of using such clichéd language, but if you are a learner of Chinese, being able to understand the underlying meanings (and re-meanings) and to master the use of these popular phrases can be a wonderful tool in your box. However, buzzwords do fizzle out eventually, so while knowing these more recent popular sayings is a good thing, it’s up to you to continue keeping up with what’s trending. We've sifted through a plethora of Chinese network buzzwords in 2014 and come up with what we think were the buzziest buzzwords a buzzin’ last year. Some are more organically-derived, some a bit forced. Some of the buzz factor relates to the 90s generation’s nostalgia – harking back to the simpler days of their youth. Here they are for your consumption:
1. 萌萌哒 (méng méng da): So cute, so adorable
It is a well-known fact that most Asian girls like to be described as “cute.” 萌萌哒simply means too cute or too adorable. 萌萌哒 can also be萌萌的, but when de is replaced with da, the “adorable” index is greatly increased. Starting on Douban.com, it has gained in popularity because of a series of gifs released by the Palace Museum where the ancient emperor Yongzheng looks very cute. A more popular way to use this phrase is in the context of a selfie. You can raise your hand to make a scissor shape to put next to your eye or you can slightly pucker your lips and snap a shot. Post it on Weibo or WeChat and entitle it 感觉自己萌萌哒 (gǎn jué zì jǐ méng méng da): Feel myself so cute. This is a typical use by the 90s narcissist generation.
2. 且行且珍惜 (qiě xíng qiě zhēn xī): Cherish what you have at the moment
On March 31st 2014, Chinese actress Ma Yili posted on her Weibo about her actor husband Wen Zhang cheating on her. The full text is as follows: “Although it’s easy to love, marriage is not easy. Cherish what you have at the moment” (恋爱虽易, 婚姻不易, 且行且珍惜 liàn ài suī yì, hūn yīn bú yì, qiě xíng qiě zhēn xī). Wen Zhang admitted to his infidelity, and suddenly this sentence got popular all over the blogosphere inspiring people to weave it into their own posts:
A sports fan wrote: One goal is easy, but a streak is not easy, cherish what you have at the moment.
One middle class blogger wrote: Living is easy, life is not easy, cherish what you have at the moment.
A gamer wrote: Online is easy, offline is not easy, cherish what you have at the moment.
A relationship expert wrote: Making choices is easy, persistence is not easy, cherish what you have at the moment.
3. 逗比 (dòu bī): Funny dude
Dou bi is an easy phrase and can be understood as a “Funny dude.” Simply put, it is to say someone is very funny, a bit silly and cute. The use of bi adds to the “stupid” factor as it is also used to refer to a part of the female anatomy, so you will hear it used a lot in insults. We describe someone being silly as the number “2.” 二比 (èr bī) has the same meaning as dou bi. With the scope of the use of dou bi gradually expanding, more and more people use it as a neutral term. If someone is doing something, and this is something we believe to be silly, we can say he's a dou bi. If it is used to describe a stranger, it means that person is foolish. If used on a close friend, that is more like a joke!
4. 作死 (zuō sǐ): Seek death
Zuo si comes from不作死就不会死 (bù zuō sǐ jiù bù huì sǐ). At the moment, this saying is still widely used within the social network, even on mainstream media forums. It was reported that this phrase is also used abroad, receiving over 1,600 likes among Western social media users within just three months. It is so widespread that the Urban Dictionary, an American online slang dictionary, has included it and defined it as “no zuo no die.” From the Urban Dictionary: “This phrase is of Chinglish origin. Means if you don't do stupid things, they won't come back and bite you in the ass. (But if you do, they most certainly will.) Zuo is a Chinese character meaning to act silly or daring (for attention).” Nowadays it is simply written as “no zuo no die” and not it Chinese characters. Here are the examples the Urban Dictionary gives:
A: Some dude baked cookies shaped like iPhone, held it by the mouth when driving, tried to mess with traffic cops.
B: Did he pull it off?
A: Cop was pissed and ran his name through the system. Turns out he's got speed tickets unpaid!
B: No zuo no die.
A: Yesterday I wore sunglasses and watch movie using my flat computer with loud voice, at last, I found I lost my purse.
B: No zuo no die.
5. 也是满拼的 (yě shì mǎn pīn de): Working too hard
This is a very simple oral discourse coming from the second season of the popular TV reality show Dad, Where are We Going? Singer Gary Tsao said it several times during filming, thus making it famous. It’s now widely used all over social media. The meaning is that even though you work very hard, you achieve no success – it’s meant ironically. As with most buzzwords, the meaning has evolved. The most common current use for this phrase is to refer to someone as “working too hard” to do something of little worth. For example, let’s say a guy is getting ready to go through security at the airport. He has a bottle of milk and doesn’t want to waste it, so he chugs it down. His girlfriend can say sarcastically to him, “你为了不浪费，你也是蛮拼的!” (“Ni wei le bu lang fei, ni ye shi man pin de!”) or “You worked so hard so that you didn’t waste it!” Now these words “working too hard” are well entrenched in the social media language. Even Chinese president Xi Jinping, in an attempt to be “down with the kids,” used it in his 2015 New Year’s speech: “In order to do the work well, our cadres from all levels are working too hard.” He’s the man!
6. …的节奏 (de jié zòu): In the rhythm of…
This phrase popped up several years ago. Some say it was used by gamers playing World of Warcraft 3, but that cannot be substantiated. The song "The Most Unusual National Wind" really sparked the craze. The lyrics: “What kind of rhythm is so cool” (“什么样的节奏,” “Shénme yàng de de jié zòu”) were plucked from this popular song and began to be used in every which way. It’s a catchy phrase that can be appropriated for being “in the rhythm” of just about anything:
How come you are quarrelling again? Is this in the rhythm of a break up?
I ate way too much. This is in the rhythm of getting fat.
I have been working two weeks straight without any break. I’m in the rhythm of dying.
7. 有钱就是任性 (yǒu qián jiù shì rèn xìng): Because I am rich I can do what I want
This is a true story. In April, Mr. Liu spent 1,760RMB online buying a healthcare product. Soon after, he got calls from a stranger who persuaded him to buy other similar medicinal products. In the following four months, Mr. Liu paid a total of 540,000RMB to the swindler. When asked, he said that he had already known he was being cheated when the mark hit 70,000RMB; "I just wanted to see how much they could take from me," he said. Early on, this phrase was used sarcastically (or begrudgingly?) to refer to the way that rich people arbitrarily do things. We saw it being used quite often on Weibo to flaunt wealth between friends. The famous Weibo blogger Wang Sicong wrote, “When I make friends, I don’t care if they are rich. I’m rich anyway.” It’s now been usurped to by netizens to establish their own sense of entitlement: “I’m great at exams, I can do whatever I want;” “I’m young, I can do whatever I want;” “I’m a MORE writer, I can write what I want;” and the list goes on.
8. 画面太美，我不敢看 (huà miàn tài měi, wǒ bù gǎn kàn): The picture is too beautiful, I can’t look at it
This buzzword comes from a sentence in Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai's song "Prague Square" (2007). The lyrics “画面太美我不敢看” are intended to describe a thing so weird that one "can't bear to look at it." In the song, it is meant to be positive; however, now it has been twisted to express disgust. Take for example the Vietnamese remake of the 90s TV drama Huanzhu Gege. Bloggers said the show was “too beautiful to look at” to express their shock at the ugliness of the Vietnamese actors, actors whom in their own country are considered very good-looking (true, the commentators repulsion may have been triggered by current events). This buzz phrase is often used in negative reviews, especially of mainland movies and TV shows because they are just so over-the-top that you just can’t stand to watch them.
9. 也是醉了 (yě shì zuì le): I am drunk
This buzzword originates from Jin Yong's novel The Swordsman. The hero in the novel, Ling Huchong, satirizes others' flattering by saying, "The moment I see those who flatter me would I feel so uncomfortable as if I were drunk." A group of DotA players began using this phrase. Later on, it started being used in the game League of Legends (which the 90s kids are crazy about). Whether one's skill is good or bad, they will say "我也是醉了," meaning "Are you kidding me?” You can use it when you feel helpless, depressed, speechless… It can also express admiration and surprise for something or someone: Look at what he’s doing, I am drunk! It can show your contempt and disdain for slag as well. For instance, an editor might write: This writer is taking too long to finish the cover article, I’m drunk!
Played the whole afternoon. It is full of teammates like pigs here. I am drunk. I have nothing more to say. (A quick note about “teammates like pigs.” This, too, is an oft-used gamer buzzword 像猪一样的队友– xiàng zhū yì yǎng de duì yǒu – it means stupid and/or lazy teammates.)
Cactus can really block radiation? I can’t believe you would ask such a stupid question. I am drunk.
Have argued so long with people like you who have the IQ of pond scum. I am drunk.
10. 拉仇恨 (lā chóu hèn): Courting envy
拉 (lā) means “pull” and 仇恨 (chóu hèn) means “hatred.” The three Chinese characters together mean “courting envy.” This phrase is often used when someone boasts to his or her friends in order to make them jealous. When someone shows off to his or her friends – anything from a newly bought bargain to weight loss achieved in a short time – some of the friends will say, as an indirect form of flattery, that it is an act of courting envy. Another common usage is when someone posts pictures of food that s/he is eating in the middle of night; that most definitely is la chou hen.
She takes photos before she takes off, after she lands, her lunch, her sunbathing, even her feet. That is totally la chou hen.
Tom bought the latest iPhone 6 Plus, and he is posting it on his WeChat. That is soooo la chou hen.
11. 辣条征服世界 就是辣么任性 (là tiáo zhēng fú shì jiè jiù shì là me rèn xìng): Hot strip conquers the world, so arbitrary
La tiao means hot strip. It is a cheap spicy snack made from flour that was especially popular when those of the 90s generation were children. Recently, netizens were shocked to learn that it costs $12 a package in some foreign countries, inspiring the phrase: "Hot strip conquers the world." The underlying meaning is that in these more developed countries, they will pay the equivalent of 74RMB for a pack of la tiao that can be bought for a mere kuai here, and inferring that this is the only thing that China has to offer to the more industrialized countries. Now people use it to ironically state that they are moneyed. So, if a guy says to you, “I will buy you 100 packages of la tiao. Will you go out with me?” he is telling you that he has money. Unfortunately, this fad of the la tiao won’t seem to die (though you might if you eat them). Posts on Weibo inviting “a foreign teacher to eat la tiao” have inspired numerous followers to post photos of their foreign teachers trying la tiao. (A clever marketing ploy one might ask???). Maybe they are just trying to slowly poison their teachers, as CCTV news has exposed that la tiao are, in fact, carcinogenic.
12. 那么问题来了挖掘机技术哪家强 (nà me wèn tí lái le wā jué jī jì shù nǎ jiā qiáng): Here comes the question, which excavator’s technology is the strongest?
Twenty-four years ago, Lan Xiang Occupation Technical School began running their famous advertisement. It goes something like this: “Which excavator’s technology is the strongest? Find Lan Xiang in Shandong, China. There are one hundred excavators for students to practice. First learn, pay after. Your first month's salary is the tuition. Free of charge for a one-month trial!” This commercial has been shown, unchanged, all around China since the 90s – its simple message repeatedly bombing the brains’ of viewers, attempting to brainwash them into compliance. How is it that this uninventive ad has successfully invaded the blogosphere? What "charm" does Lan Xiang's excavator have? Every time a netizen finishes a comment rather abruptly, they can simply add, "Then here comes the question, which excavator’s technology is the strongest?" It can be used fairly randomly (as with most buzzwords, many people hide behind them when they don't have a firm grasp on the concepts). Sociolinguistically speaking though, the “excavator’s technology” might just be the 90s gen’s way of subconsciously being self-deprecating (Or do we give them too much credit?). Or, it might just be one big joke on this generation by the person or persons who decided to start this buzz phrase buzzing. Maybe they are using this to make a social criticism on the repetitive, mindless use of buzzwords that members of the 90s gen incessantly bat back and forth to each other across the social network, because they can’t manage to pull anything more original out of their own brains. The mind reels… Strictly speaking, however, for the majority of the “excavator” users, it is merely meant to show that they are indeed in-the-know, down with the terminology, up on the latest trends, in fashion, trending with the trendy. Observe in the samplings below:
After watching the episode one of the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I can already guess the second. The Absorbing Man is so strong a normal car can’t hurt him. Agent Coulson must use large machinery to deal with him. So here comes the question, which excavator’s technology is the strongest?
The teacher said to me that I’m not good at examining the topic, and I don’t know how to dig out the thoughts, and I should ask a classmate for help. I wanted to ask her which classmate is good at digging out the thoughts, but instead I asked, “Teacher, which excavator’s technology is the strongest?”
Learning that her ex-husband was back together with Faye Wong, the pain in Cecilia Cheung’s heart was unbearable. She slapped her own chest crying out, "Which excavator’s technology is the strongest?"
Want to talk like a Hangzhounese? Here are some words you can try to impress your Hangzhou friends:
色阔 (sè kuo) Goodbye
莫牢牢 (mo láo láo) Very much
千色色 (qian se se) Too girly
上毛子(sháng máo zi) Last time
色基 (sè ji) Eat
熬扫 (áo sáo) Hurry up
册空 (cè kóng) Finding troubles
困告 (kùn gáo) Sleep
结棍/色照 (jiē gún / sē záo) Strong
阿岁铜板 (a suí tóng bai) Red envelope for CNY
搞搞儿 (gāo gāo er) Play
背寺老到 (bèi si láo dāo) Long-winded
拷瓦派儿 (kāo wā pái er) AA
勒个子 (lè ge zi) Armpit
择撒 (zé sā) What?
落位 (luó wéi) Comfortable
拷位儿 (kào wéi er) Fall in love
跌色拜倒 (diē se bāi dào) Hastily
发靥 (fā yè) Cute
接个套 (jiè gē tāo) What’s up?
哈人到怪 (hā rén dào guai) Scary
窝封叽糟 (wó féng jī zao) Dirty
克冲懵懂 (kē cóng méng dong) Sleepy
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