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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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Hot-Pot King Haidilao Pilots “Do Not Disturb” Service

The Chinese hot-pot restaurant chain Haidilao is known for a lot of things, except being moderate. They will give you a free manicure and clean your shoes while you’re waiting for your table, provide a big stuffed animal to keep you company if you’re lunching alone, and perform an acrobatic dance if you order noodles.

Haidilao is the epitome of the “client comes first” mentality that will go to great length to provide you with first-rate service. However, as experience shows, some clients find that the best service is when they are left alone and not bothered by pesky over-the-top courtesy.

At one time Chinese Internet was replete with articles titled along the lines of “Don’t let Haidilao know your birthday, it’s too scary” where users would detail their experiences dealing with the restaurant’s overblown birthday service that included singing and dancing waiters holding LED lights and more. Some have even joked saying “If you hate your friend, go to Haidilao for their birthday.”

To tackle the problem and better cater to the needs of different groups of customers, Haidilao recently introduced a witty solution. Tables in some of the chain’s restaurants are now equipped with “Do not disturb” flip-boards. Customers who do not want to be approached too often by waiters can use the sign to fend off their insistent advances.

The flip-board also provides other options such as “I’ll serve dishes myself” meaning that the waiter does not need to help with the dishes frequently or “detailed services are not required” telling waiters that they are only wanted to bring dishes and clean the table.

According to Haidilao, the service is still in the pilot stage, and it will be tried in some stores. It will continue to be optimized according to the needs of customers and different situations. Stores and employees will be continuously encouraged to innovate and provide customers with more personalized services.

Though Haidilao's service has always been known as "perverted", but sometimes it is too intimate and it can cause embarrassment. A while ago, a post named "Don't let Haidilao know your birthday" went viral on the internet.

“I went to Haidilao with my girlfriend, we just asked if we could get a discount on birthdays, then a group of people appeared with LED lights and sang the birthday song, they even gave us a ‘Most Beautiful Girlfriend Reward” and asked us to read the girlfriend vows to each other.’

“Two of us went to celebrate my friend’s birthday at Haidilao, we hid the cake in our bag and sneaked some scoops every now and then, just because we were so scared that the waiters would find out that’s her birthday, then we would be the super star of the night.”

“Look at me, I looked so surprised and happy!”

Therefore, for many customers who like Haidilao, the appearance of "Do Not Disturb" flip-board is simply a relief and has been unanimously appreciated by everyone.

Top 10 Easy-to-make Winter Drinks

From a steaming glass of traditional mulled wine, brimming with spices, to an indulgent mudslide cocktail, our winter drinks recipes are perfect for seeing in the festive season. Curl up in your fluffiest jumper with a creamy peppermint hot chocolate, or get the party started with a batch of our marvellous mulled gin.

Keep everyone's glasses topped up with our favourite festive drinks, and mouth-watering non-alcoholic drinks for every taste. Find top mixology tips, reviews of our favourite products and even more triple-tested recipes in our cocktails & drinks hub.

Spiced Apple Syrup with Clementine & Cloves

Our spiced apple syrup with clementine and cloves will add a burst of fabulous Christmas flavour to any drink. Try adding to hot apple juice or mulled wine for festive fruit and spice. It's even delicious drizzled over ice cream for an upgraded frozen treat. It will keep for about a month, so store it in the fridge ready for impromptu gatherings.

200ml apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole allspice
1 mace blade
2 whole cloves
Small strip fresh ginger
1 clementine, zest finely peeled with a vegetable peeler
100g golden caster sugar

1.    Heat the apple juice with the whole spices, ginger, zest and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.
2.    Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the syrup into small bottles.

Mulled Wine

It wouldn't be winter without a steaming mug of mulled wine, complete with a glug of sloe gin for a sweet twist. Simply leave your wine, (we recommend an unoaked tempranillo) to infuse with seasonal spices like star anise and cinnamon and a little citrus zest. Keep a batch warming on the stove and let guests top up their glasses. Want to try something different this year?

750ml bottle red wine
1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones
2 star anise
4 cloves
2 strips lemon zest, pared using a vegetable peeler
4 tbsp caster sugar
100ml sloe gin (we used Gordon's) (optional)

1.    Put the red wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
2.    Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to infuse for about 30 mins.
3.    To serve, heat without boiling, stir in the sloe gin (if using) and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.

Winter Whisky Sour

Warm up from the inside out with our simple winter whiskey sour. Give the classic sour a couple of delicious tweaks and it's ready for the festive season. Add a splash of orange juice to your favourite bourbon, a little sugar syrup, some fresh fruit and some sparkle. Need some more help getting into the spirit?

Crushed ice
50ml bourbon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tbsp sugar syrup
2 slices of oranges

To decorate:
Honey
Gold edible glitter

1.    Using a small paintbrush (or your finger), brush some honey around the rim of two tumblers and use another small paintbrush to stick edible gold glitter around each.
2.    Fill each glass with crushed ice. Put the bourbon into a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice, orange juice and sugar syrup. Shake and strain into each glass, and serve with an orange slice and short straws.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Nothing says 'indulgence' like a velvety-smooth hot chocolate, made with rich dark chocolate and double cream. Stir our peppermint hot chocolate with a striped candy cane and let it melt into the drink for a refreshing minty flavour. These delectable drinks are hard to resist. Got something.

200g bar plain chocolate, broken into chunks
600ml milk
150ml pot single or double cream
Sugar, to taste
6 peppermint candy canes, to serve

1.    Put the chocolate in a pan with the milk. Gently heat, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Continue heating until the milk is steaming, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
2.    Divide the hot chocolate between 6 mugs, add sugar to taste and hang a candy cane on the edge of each. Pass the mugs round and let everyone stir their hot chocolate with their candy cane – letting as much of the sweet peppermint dissolve as they fancy.

Cinnamon Buttered Rum

Once you're tried our super smooth, gently spiced cinnamon buttered rum, it'll be your drink of choice when the nights draw in. Serve up mugfuls of this buttery brilliance for your next party. Neither sickly sweet nor too citrussy, this perfectly balanced tipple will warm you up in no time. Whether you prefer white or dark, spiced or smooth, we have a rum cocktail recipe to get your party started.

25g butter
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 small cinnamon sticks
200ml spiced rum

1.    Gently heat the butter, golden caster sugar and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2.    Stir in the spiced rum, then pour into four small heatproof glasses to serve.

Mulled Pear & Cranberry Punch

Our versatile mulled pear & cranberry punch can be served as a cocktail or a non-boozy version, simply miss out the sloe gin. The beauty of this all-in-one recipe means you can simply chuck your ingredients in a pan, leave to heat, then ladle out as needed. It takes just ten minutes to make, so no need to sweat it out in the kitchen.

1l pear cider
1l pear (or cloudy apple) juice
1l cranberry juice
Good handful fresh or dried cranberries
150ml sloe gin
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla pods, scored lengthways

Put all the ingredients into your biggest saucepan or casserole dish. When you're ready to serve, heat to just below simmering point, then ladle into glasses.

Mudslide

This creamy, coffee-flavoured cocktail is for adults only. Our mudslide is pure decadence, something to be savoured and sipped at your leisure.

50g dark chocolate
Ice
60ml coffee-flavoured liqueur
60ml vodka
60ml Irish cream liqueur
100ml double cream

1.    Put two small tumblers in the fridge to chill overnight. Put 30g of the chocolate in a shallow bowl and melt in the microwave in short bursts. Dip the rim of the chilled glasses in the melted chocolate, then stand them upright so it gradually drips down the sides. Return to the fridge until you're ready to serve.
2.    Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the coffee-flavoured liqueur, vodka, Irish cream liqueur and double cream. Shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold.
3.    Put a few ice cubes in the prepared glasses, then strain in the cocktail. Finely grate over the remaining chocolate and serve with a paper straw.

Winter Pimm's Punch

This archetypal English cocktail isn't just for summer. Our Winter Pimm's punch is paired with sweet brandy and light apple juice for an instant cocktail cabinet winner. You'll probably have most of the ingredients already lurking in kitchen cupboards. It can be served warm or cool, depending on what you prefer.

500ml Pimm's
500ml brandy
1½ l apple juice
Ice

2 cinnamon sticks
Apple, sliced
Orange, sliced
 
Combine the Pimm's and brandy with the apple juice in a jug filled with ice, cinnamon sticks and a sliced apple and orange.

Mulled Gin

Looking for something a little different than the standard festive fare? Move over wine, this mulled gin is our new favourite Christmas cocktail. Infuse apple juice with aromatic spices like bay, cloves and cardamom, a few crushed juniper berries and a little honey for sweetness. Cut through rich canapés and sweet treats with this more delicate drink.

100ml gin
400ml apple juice
½ lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 small cinnamon stick
3 juniper berries, lightly crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp runny honey

For the garnish
4 bay leaves
2 lemon slices, halved

1.    Divide the gin between four small heatproof glasses or teacups.
2.    Tip the apple juice into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Heat gently until simmering, then strain into a jug. Pour the mulled apple juice into the glasses with the gin and stir gently to combine. Garnish each glass with a bay leaf and half a lemon slice and serve warm.

Irish Coffee

Perk up the after-dinner lull with a luxurious Irish coffee. A grating of fresh nutmeg on top of the thick layer of cream adds some seasonal fragrance. Need some help choosing the perfect dram? Read our review of the 10 best Irish whiskies, from light and smooth to rich and spicy.

2 tbsp double cream
150ml freshly brewed black coffee
50ml Irish whiskey
½ - 1 tsp brown sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1.    Lightly whip the cream just so it’s very slightly thickened, then set aside.
2.    Pour the hot coffee into a mug or heatproof glass, then add the whiskey and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently float the cream on the top and sprinkle the nutmeg over the cream. Serve hot.

Source: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-winter-drinks

It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It

My first encounter with Marco was through my friend’s WeChat moments. I can’t really recall for what reason we added each other, all I could remember were his big muscles and that bright smile hailing from L.A. Later on, we had more contact due to a few common friends who are involved with martial arts and I started to know him more.

Who is Marco

Marco has gained quite a reputation in the martial arts world since arriving in Hangzhou in 2018. He used to train at Checkmat Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in USA, an international academy, competition team, and family of Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Founded in 2008 by Master Vieira, Checkmat now has affiliate academies in thirty-four American cities and sixteen countries worldwide. You can find world-class, hands-on instruction that has been tested on the practice mats and proven on the competition field.

In Hangzhou, Marco started his own brand - Marcola Jiu Jitsu. It offers Jiu Jitsu training classes to people of different ages, whether professional or not. As one of the few black belt holders in China, his classes are really popular. Marco’s lifelong love of competitive athletics has molded him into both a lover and a fighter. His passion for athletics and a genuine desire to help people reach their fitness goals motivates him to continue learning each day, and develop new techniques to challenge himself and his clients. You see doctors, lawyers, students, law enforcers, businessmen and women walk into his class for the same reason - to get better at Jiu Jitsu.

Marco’s full name is Marco Alvarado and his Chinese name is rather cute: 马可乐. His Chinese friends would just call him 可乐, same as Cola. Before we tell you more, take a look at his incredible championship records below, the man is a real fighter.

Bronze Medal at International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Pan American Championship Blue Belt
Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation All Americas Tournament Purple Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF Pan American Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF World No Gi Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF American Nationals No Gi Brown Belt
Silver Medal at Jiu Jitsu World League San Diego Championships Black Belt
Gold Medal at NABJJF All Americas Tournament Black Belt


Marco has been involved in many kinds of sports - boxing, taekwondo, karate, running, American football – and also physical rehabilitation. Like many other athletes, Marco’s first coach was his dad who was a boxer. Marco was just 5 years old when his dad introduced him to boxing. It was the classic story, his parents decided to put him in taekwondo and karate training when they found out that little Marco was being bullied in kindergarten. Six years later, he received his first black belt in taekwondo.

After that, he decided to move on to a new sport: running. From sixth grade till he graduated college, he never stopped running and he became one of the US national athletes in track and field.

Eventually, he knew he needed to find another new sport to challenge himself. One day, he went to a free Jiu Jitsu class at his college. Someone caught him in a choke, he had no idea what to do and that got him really interested. He wanted to know how it happened, how he did it, and how to do it back. He was 22 at the time. 10 years later, he won the Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Championships.

It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It

As an amateur boxer who has only been training for 4 months, there was a question I really wanted to ask so I brought it up when we were having a lunch break at Blue Frog. “Before you had your first fight, how did you overcome your inner fear?” Marco took a bite of his big, juicy burger and said “My first Jiu Jitsu tournament was six months after I started training, I was very nervous. We sparred every week in college, so I learned how to deal with the fear, but this time was different. I knew who my opponents were, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. I got destroyed badly in two fights, one guy caught me in the armbar in 20 seconds, the other guy beat me so bad like 20-0. I left deflated and frustrated, but I wanted to do it again, I wanted redemption. This gives you more motivation to go back to train harder and learn from mistakes. In the fights later on, I started to get into my rhythm and started doing well. Sometimes maybe you don’t want to tap and lose in practice, because it hurts your pride for a day or two, but you come back for more training. It’s ok to lose, just learn from it. That’s an important life lesson.” During Marco’s career, his arms were almost broken a couple of times, he tore some ligaments on his knees and he got two broken teeth. With all these injuries, he had to learn about physical therapy in order to fix himself.

“Martial arts is more about avoiding problems than anything else. These days, there are always those untrained people or the ones who watched too much UFC and are looking for trouble. If you trained a little, you’ll have respect for your body. This stuff is no joke, it can really be dangerous.” Marco continues, “My teacher used to say if there is a fight, he’ll just run away, because he would feel bad for the guys once he’s had enough. He would turn around and fight.”

Why Hangzhou?

Back in L.A, Marco was teaching in a big chain gym where he soon became friends with a Taiwanese trainer. He followed his friend’s journey that brought him to Hangzhou to continue teaching for Checkmat and he became aware that there are a lot of blue and purple belt holders who opened Jiu Jitsu schools in Hangzhou, but there were only 2-3 with a black belt teaching here. Marco thought that he can bring people more advanced technique and professional training. So in June, 2018, Marco came to start his first job in a gym in Xiaoshan, teaching conditioning and creating a Jiu Jitsu program.

MMA vs. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts

I couldn’t help asking what Marco thinks about this outspoken Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong a.k.a. “Mad Dog”. Mad Dog has made it his mission to expose fake kung fu over the past two years by pulverising fraudulent traditional martial arts “masters”, but his actions have drawn the ire of Chinese authorities. “In my point of view, Bruce [Lee] was the first MMA fighter in the history of martial arts, because he was always so open minded about everything. He took things that he thought were useful and added on something unique of his own. I think Xu Xiaodong’s mission is to show that not one martial arts is dominating. If you know a bit of everything, that is more effective. I think Jiu Jitsu is very useful and complete, cause you go from standing to the ground, you can also go back up to defend yourself, knowledge is powerful. Martial arts is changing, and you need to keep yourself updated. Back home, some guys can use their chi to make someone fall. This is not video games, we call it McDojo.”

The Distance Between China and the World

Many are also immersed in the joy of Zhang Weili who won China’s first Gold Belt in MMA. She is now gearing up to defend her UFC strawweight title against the former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk on March 8, 2020. Marco thinks that China has started to close the gap with the other western countries and now there are more and more young Chinese fighters in UFC. Marco told me, “With Jiu Jitsu, specifically, China is a little bit behind. Brazil and US now are the two countries with the best fighters. There are a lot of 15-18 years old kids that have been training since they were 5. That means they have over 10 years of experience on the mat which is more than me. They have all those tricks that I have never seen, the level is just incredible. Even though China has a lot of catching up to do, they are doing a good job.”

How Did My First Jiu Jitsu Class Go?

I joined Marco’s class at R8 a few weeks ago. I was not only impressed by his superb Jiu-Jitsu skills, but also his passion in coaching. When a fight moves down to the ground, it can be quite brutal, especially in Jiu Jitsu where there are so many different kinds of chokes. It seems that getting bruises, breaking teeth or arms are normal in this sport. Plus, did I mention that if you are practicing with a guy, you’d better get used to some rather odd positions? Even Marco himself admitted that Jiu Jitsu positions can sometimes be awkward. 

So I didn’t go in with a lot of confidence, but Marco’s explanation and demonstration of each move made everything seem possible. It is a grappling-based martial art where the central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Jiu Jitsu is centered around the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. All those awkward positions can be very effective; the basis behind it is all about leverage. It’s about using the whole body on another body part, even if your opponent is a bodybuilder, he can’t win. If you are skilled in Jiu Jitsu, you can definitely hold yourself against 95% of the population; most people don’t even know how to fall down properly.

The Beauty of Jiu Jitsu

Marco has about 30 tough students at the moment and he’s determined to stay for a much longer time. Recently he took 7 people to attend the Shanghai Tournament and got 10 gold medals, this shows that this tiny team is going in the right direction. For the next step, Marco wants to create a kids’ program. He wants to share what he has with the next generation.

"It's important to stay focused and keep an open mind when it comes to learning Jiu Jitsu." The Jiu Jitsu lifestyle goes beyond just training. It's about taking care of yourself, making friends, and striving to put your 'best foot forward'. Setting your mind to learning and improving every week will help you to improve mind, body and soul. His over-all team goal is to improve at least 1% every week and this requires a positive attitude.

Ten Hard-to-Find Bars and One Restaurant

While there might be a certain amount of irony in writing an article about hard-to-find bars. I decided that the value of sharing these unassuming venues far outweighed the underlying irony. After all, each of the bars listed below have gone without the usual crowd-drawing tactics (flashy look-at-me signs, foot traffic-orientated locations etc.), surviving instead on their good work. That makes the following bars more than just a collection of hard to find bars, but also one which features some of the best tasting drinks in Hangzhou.

Using Didi? In most cases I would write the bar name in English, otherwise I’d copy and paste the Chinese address into Didi for either language version.

Coordinate: East
Dr.Ink S
(Same name for Didi)

Shop 3-4, Building 13, Maozuo Plaza, 95 West Genshan Road 
艮山西路95号茂宸金座13幢底商3-4号

Once you’re inside though, see if you can spot the hidden guest rooms and bar. Usually the English service is excellent and for an awesome variety of highballs OR a serious list of twists on the classics, Dr.Ink have great service and style. (There is also a Dr.Ink at 168 Nanshan Road but you have to go upstairs to find it!)

Coordinate: North
Jason's Library 杰森图书馆
(Same name for Didi, might display 杰森图书馆)

Shop 529, Building 4, 515 Yuhangtang Road
余杭塘路515号矩阵国际4号楼1楼商铺529

This Jamie Oliver inspired venue is more restaurant than bar but they serve good drinks too. If you haven't been here yet - it's worth a visit. When you enter the main entrance of the complex, turn right and next to Mona Vale Café, pass through the library shelves for awesome Scotch Eggs, delicious roast beef or a very well prepared Beef Wellington as well as my favourite lemongrass Mojito and chili gin tonic.  Spoken English is very limited BUT language doesn’t affect service, food or environment.

Jason's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Gentleman
Girls - The Windsor Gardens

Coordinate: West
Show Lounge 秀 Lounge
(For Didi paste秀 Lounge could display 杭州秀酒店 SHOW HOTEL)

B1/F, 381 Wen'er Road
文二路381号秀酒店B1楼

The first time getting here can be confusing so use the WanTang Road entrance of the SHOW HOTEL which is close to the corner of Wen'er and Wantang. When you pass the lobby, head downstairs to the basement where you will probably see the highest back bar anywhere. English service is usually ok. 秀 (Xiu or Show) often feature guest bartenders and regular singer songwriters.

Show's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - SHOWTIME
Girls - Midsummer Night Dream

Coordinate: Downtown
Spy & Smuggler
(Same name for Didi)

Shop A20, B1/F, Can High Centre, 208 North Huancheng Road
环城北路208号坤和中心地下一层A20

You want to find the steps down to the Water Bus Terminal. It’s easiest to walk out to the main road being Huancheng North Road. Walk beneath the pedestrian overpass and turn left at the driveway for Can High Centre. In Can High you can take an elevator to the basement or use the outside steps down to the wharf. At the wharf level, facing the canal, turn left to find Spy & Smuggler’s “gallery” of ill-gotten gains. Twist the correct “ornament” to open the secret door to one of two hidden bars. Spy & Smuggler have excellent English and their menu features fun and interesting twists upon classics.

Spy & Smuggler's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Old Fashioned
Girls - Bees Knees

Coordinate: Downtown
Crossroads Whisky Bar
(Same name for Didi)

468 Yan'an Road
延安路468号

At the crossroads of Fengqi and Yanan, (Fengqi Station exit D4) you might find limited spoken English but the excellent menu, service and drinks more than make up for it. My sweet tooth loves their Foaming Midori or for a strong drink Crossroads has Myrcia and star anise flavoured bourbon with Drambuie. Head 100 meters down the driveway towards the hospital and you will see the Crossroads sign on your right. Lift the telephone to enter.

Crossroads' Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Rio de Janeiro
Girls - Nan Shan Road

Coordinate: South
染*Mist
(For Didi paste 染 mist 西湖礼物)

89 Nanshan Road
南山路89号

The car park and buildings might look very dark, it’s the address of the West Lake Museum. Go to the driveway on the right hand side of the museum building and walk 200 metres to the rear of the building where you will find Mist another 50 metres away on the left. English service is excellent and the bar offers tea in the day and a cocktail programme at night.

Mist's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Like You For a Long Time
Girls - I Love You Too

Coordinate: South
Quarter
(Same name for Didi)

591 Qingtai Street
清泰街591号

When you go inside, don’t go to the “café counter” on the left but go through the dark narrow doorway straight ahead to reveal the candlelit stairway. Push the panel at the top to enter the century old Apothecary. Not always confident in English but the room, drinks and service are warm hearted and personable.

Coordinate: South
Xanadu
(For Didi paste品 Xanadu)

255 Zhongshan Middle Road
中山中路255号

You’ll see a large Muslim restaurant to the right of a narrow alleyway. Go into the alley a short way and turn left at the large white entrance. Play the arcade game Street Fighter to open the door to the stairs. Xanadu open a little later than other bars, usually from 8pm. There’s a fantastic range of spirits and creative cocktails based on your suggestions as well as excellent conversational English at all times.

Coordinate: Binjiang
Harbour Island Bar 哈珀酒吧
(Same name for Didi)

Shop 31, Chunjiang Licheng, Binjiang
滨江春江郦城31号商铺(春江郦城东门旁边)

To unlock the door, don’t spend your time spinning the wheel but put your attention on the world map. Upstairs you’ll find a well appointed bar with great service and reasonable drinks. If you end up heading (accidentally) to 324 Fengqi Road in downtown Hangzhou, don’t be alarmed – the similarly named bar HarBour is also a speakeasy – press the anchor to open the door.

Coordinate: Binjiang
MILL7
(Same name for Didi, might display MILL7酒吧 滨江店)

4317 Binsheng Road, Binjiang
滨江滨盛路4317号

The photographic art studio and gallery opens to a large whiskey and cocktail bar. This is spread across several floors including a hidden terrace bar. Try a drink from the secret menu if you feel game enough to ask. Service is always warm and personal. Look out for one of  Mill’s many other venues across Hangzhou.

MILL7's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Why Women Kill
Girls - Macha Grasshopper

Coordinate: Xiaoshan
Siren
(For Didi paste SIREN 塞壬酒吧)

890-2 Jincheng Road
金城路万象汇890-2号

At the end of the Xiaoshan MixC Mall is a beautifully designed bar. The menu is creative and features twists on common elements. English might be reasonable depending on who is working. In any case, service is personable and friendly.

Get Lost in the Maze-like Concentric Rings of Buildings "Tulou”

Uncover the Secrets of the Fujian Earth Buildings

T I M E 


Tour Signup Deadline: December 20th
Tour Date: December 21st – December 24th

V E N U E 

Xiamen, Fujian
福建,厦门

T I C K E T S 

Price: 1,999RMB/adult
(Min 10 Pax, Max 16 Pax)

There’s no doubt – if your destination is Fujian and the south-east, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you miss these mammoth World Heritage wonders! Take four days to visit the Tulou closed settlements (pronounced “two”-“low”) for an encounter with China’s ancient Hakka culture, then let a local guide you to experience the real heart of life in Xiamen.

Highlights

1. Explore the Tulou and discover why these mammoth communal dwellings were deemed precious items World Cultural Heritage – study their wisdom to get a unique look into Hakka culture!

2. Spend the night in comfortable Tulou tavern room lodging at the Hongkeng Tulou cluster’s Renquan’yuan Lou, ‘Square’ Lou or Wufeng Lou.

3. Get lost in the maze-like concentric rings of buildings inside the “King Tulou”, or seek out the ‘slither of sunlight’ in the Gaobei Tulou cluster. Had enough of Hakka Tulous? Then explore a different mystery in the Da’di Southern Min Tulou groupings in Hua’an.

What's included

1. 8 Meals (Including Breakfast x3,  Lunch x3, Dinner x2)
2. 3 Night’s Stay in Comfortable Hotels(Double occupancy, for single supplement please add 550 rmb)
3. Activity costs and admission fares for all items on the itinerary.
4. All transportation costs for the itinerary (Airport and Station pickup not included)
5. Full travel accident insurance for the duration of the trip.
6. Full bilingual guide accompaniment.

Not included

1. Transportation costs to Xiamen and Xiamen Plaza Hotel
2. All additional costs incurred by the individual not mentioned in the itinerary above.

Important Information

1. This is a coupled Chinese-foreign tour, meaning your tour group will include both Chinese natives and foreign expats. There is a minimum 10-person (maximum 16-person) signup threshold that must be reached for this tour to go ahead. If you sign up and the threshold is not reached, the cost of the tour will be refunded in the means by which you paid.

2. Want to come? Signup can be completed through the TA mini-program. Once the group reaches the minimum number of attendees you will receive a message from TA customer support confirming that the tour will go ahead.

If after successful payment and signup you become unable to attend your booked tour, your refund will be processed minus deductions as per the following scheme by the Trendy Adventurer Financial Affairs team:

- 14 or 14+ days before the activity date: 1% of the signup cost;
- 7 or 14 days before the activity date: 10% of the signup cost;
-7 to 3 days before the activity commencement date: 40% of the signup cost;
-3 to 1 day(s) before the activity commencement date: 55% of the signup cost;
-Within 24 hours of the activity commencement date: 70% of the signup cost.

Refunds will be processed within 5 working days after the date of conclusion of the tour.
(if the air ticket is included in the itinerary and the air ticket has been issued, 100% air ticket loss shall be borne, because the group ticket cannot be changed or refunded)

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