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Where’s Ryan: One Tattooed Traveller’s Take on the Middle Kingdom
By Jemma Perry

Where’s Ryan? Panic struck through my entire body as I searched the crowded street in Beijing’s Wang Fu Jing shopping district for my brother who is currently on day two of his month long visit to China. Found him! His girlfriend shouts from down the street… he is just posing for another picture with another adoring fan.

Now any foreigner living or traveling in the People’s Republic has stories of locals snapping secret photos or shouting “Hello” as they pass on their e-bikes. I myself can fill a whole weekend of tales about crazy jobs I’ve had just because I’m British. But, no amount of forewarning could have prepared Ryan for the attention he has received. Fascination has been threefold over the bearded, tattooed giant that is my brother.

Young babies jump in their skins with shock on first glance then shy away behind their ayi’s from the strange man with flesh tunnels and a scaffold bar joining two piercings in his ear. In contrast, young women swoon and strike a Vogue pose for the “shui ge”. Once someone has had the courage to grab a selfie, we are stuck for twenty minutes while every woman in the vicinity fights over their chance for a cheeky cuddle too! School boys practicing their English bombarded him with photo requests in the Summer Palace for so long, we moved on to purchase a coffee and sat down to wait for the hottest new celebrity in town. An exaggeration maybe? I thought so too until I saw even the local policemen wanted a piece of the action!

Our thirteen-hour train journey to the Russain border was a whole new experience. Waiting in the queue for the toilet attracted a whole seating car of people leaning and pushing their way into a better position to gawp through the tiny window – the bearded man needs to pee! Train attendants stopped by our cabin to gaze and smile at the man with so much ginger hair on his chin, sometimes staying for so long, they forgot they were supposed to be selling snacks to other passengers.

After arriving in our frosty cold destination, he found fame once again amongst what can only be described as ‘the hippie culture of China’. They too were in awe of the sheer length and thickness of his facial hair and even more so of the little time it took to grow it. These men had beards themselves (of many shapes and sizes) and reveled in the chance to share their secrets of hair growth, as long as it meant they could remain stroking Ryan’s face whilst doing so.

Since returning to Hangzhou with me to spend his last week exploring ‘my hometown’, he’s confessed that although the whole experience has been overwhelming and at times hilarious, he has felt extremely touched by China as a nation. He told me, “A few years ago, I struggled to get a job in my own country because of my appearance. People were quick to judge and assumed I was a troublemaker because of the style I chose and how I used piercings and tattoos to express my personality.”

Ryan has had sixteen facial and body piercings but has removed all but five of them to get a respectable job as a prison officer in the UK. He has tattoos on both arms and right leg, which need to be covered up at all times whilst at work. And of course, don’t forget the thick beard which he has spent the past year growing. He admits to combing and grooming himself numerous times during the day to prevent it getting matted and tangled.

One day he said to us, “I want to commemorate my first trip to China with a tattoo” (obviously!) and with help from my husband, got a street artist to design the perfect tribute. Even this was eventful as everyone crowded around to see the man measuring up his leg to get the perfect size.

 

don’t judge a book by it’s cover”

Rambling through the backstreets near the south bus station, there was an eerie feel. The area and its residents are being relocated pending the G20 later this year, leaving the buildings deserted and the streets quiet (or at least quieter than usual, we’re still in China!). We had remembered passing an old tattoo studio a few months back and so we headed there. Keep in mind, this place is not for the faint hearted.

A box sized shack consisting of a sofa, a computer for designing, a tattoo bench and a chair… Just ignore the furnishings and the worn out posters on the walls and focus your attention on the owners, a couple from Harbin who didn’t even seem fazed to welcome foreigners into their shop. During Ryan’s 4½ hour sitting, tattooing over knee, shin and down to his ankle, we got a chance to ask a few questions, trying of course not to distract the artist from his work.

 

Profile: 

Name: Xu Xiao Meng

Age: 38

 

This talented guy self-studied with his brother in Singapore before returning to China to open this same little shop back in 2003. He has pictures on the wall behind him of work he has done, including an American basketball player! He told us the longest tattoo he has done was thirty-six hours with just four breaks during that time.

Once he had finished with Ryan, he posed for a quick picture and started straight away on another guy.

 

A word from Ryan…

For people wanting to visit China… do it! But be prepared for one of the most eccentric countries you’ll ever experience!

 

For people wanting a tattoo here… shop around. We went to a number of nicer looking studios where they wanted to charge ten times the amount I paid, and there were no real examples of their work to see. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and just go for it.

 

 

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National Rollout of Burger King's Impossible Whopper

The Impossible Burger patty in a Burger King Whopper is the biggest bang so far in the galaxy of plant-based meats, and now that bang is even bigger: The Impossible Whopper goes nationwide at all 7,200 Burger King locations in the US on Aug. 8. After a successful test in St. Louis, which is battleground over the definition of "meat", the Impossible Whopper spread to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami and other cities, but national rollout has always been the benchmark of a new era in fast food.

Nationwide availability of the Impossible Whopper does much to assuage concerns that plant-based patties are a fad, a concern cited as a reason that McDonalds hasn't yet made a similar move. When and if McDonald's does choose (really, anoint) a plant-based "meat" patty it will be a bellwether, thanks to the brand having twice the number of locations and nearly four times the sales as Burger King in the US. McDonald's introduced a McVegan in Germany using a plant-based "Incredible Burger" from Nestle that has all the hallmarks of clear broadside at Impossible.

The new McVegan made with Nestle's "Incredible Burger" debuted in McDonald's German locations shortly after the Impossible Whopper was announced.

While the big food chains offer burgers, tacos, breakfast sandwiches and soon bacon made with plant-based meat, an even bigger battle is shaping up in grocery stores. Impossible just cleared a major hurdle toward offering its plant-based meat in stores, thanks to a favorable FDA ruling over the safety of heme, the plant ingredient that allows the burger to "bleed." Barring any objections that offer new proof the heme is unsafe, Impossible could have its burgers in grocery cases by this fall.

Aside from a specially formed Impossible Burger patty that conforms precisely to Burger King's bun diameter, the Impossible Whopper features the same bun, cheese and condiments as a traditional Whopper.

The Impossible Whopper has moved from regional availability to taking its place on Burger King's main menu page.

"We're making meat from plants. That's never been done before," Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown told me, tacitly demoting competitor Beyond Meat's plant-based burger, which has been offered at most of the 1,100 Carl's Jr. restaurants since the beginning of 2019. "People have made plant-based replacements for meat, but they haven't made plant-based meat."

One way the Impossible Whopper will indeed differ from the original is price, costing a significant $1 more in an industry where brands have gone to war brandishing menus of items that only cost a dollar. As with electric cars, price parity with the established choice is a future linchpin to mainstream success.

On the left is the Impossible Whopper we hacked in Impossible's test kitchen. On the right, a traditional Whopper, indistinguishable visually and on the palate.

"Once we have products that taste the same or better and that cost less, plant-based and clean meat will simply take over," according to Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, which champions plant- and cell-based meats.

"So very little will change in people's everyday lives as more and more meat is produced either from plants or from cells. Consumers will continue to buy burgers, chicken sandwiches and sausages, [but] those products will simply not have the adverse impact on our environment and global health."

Impossible says its team spent an inordinate amount of time getting its burger to survive the "death-defying drop" at the end of the broiler-conveyor without breaking apart.

The Plant Meat Wars are Just Starting

Burger King doesn't break out sales figures for Whoppers, let alone its expectations for the more expensive Impossible Whopper, but some insights can be inferred from a 2018 survey by Faunalytics. Assuming price was no different between beef and alternative burgers, 65% of consumers polled said they'd still stick with beef, 21% would choose a plant-based burger like Impossible, and 11% would select a cultured burger grown from animal cells, which isn't expected on the market until the early 2020s.

But Impossible's Pat Brown feels such surveys leave out the qualitative experience. "If you give them our burger, and then ask them the question again, a very large majority of them say they would definitely buy it and would be willing to pay a premium for it."

Acceptance of plant-based meats turns not only on taste, texture and price but on overcoming momentum. Environmental and animal welfare arguments have triggered a million conversations and social media posts about meat's issues, yet US per capita meat consumption hit an all-time high in 2018.

A case of Impossible Whopper patties, the result of a long effort to comport to the realities of the fast food industry, not the other way around.

And while burgers are the American diet icon, steaks aren't far behind, and an even bigger challenge in alternative meat marketing may soon unfold at fast casual steak chains like Outback or Texas Roadhouse. Unlike burgers, steaks generally arrive on the plate unadorned, without bun, cheese or condiments to mask any shortcomings. Get steak right, so the thinking goes, and the plant-based dominoes begin to fall.

Source: CNET

HIS Celebrated with a Groundbreaking Ceremony at its new site

At the auspicious time and date of 10:08am, August 8th, Hangzhou International School (HIS) celebrated with a Groundbreaking Ceremony at its new site on Huxi Road (close to Yingcui Road). Students, Parents, Faculty, Board Members of the HIS Community attended along with a number of VIP guests, including Deputy Secretary General Of Hangzhou Mulnicipal Government, Mr. Cheng Hua Min, Deputy Secretary of Hangzhou Education Bureau, Ms. Zheng Li Min, Deputy Chief of Hangzhou Education Bureau, Mr. Mao Wei Min, Chief of Binjiang District, Mr. Li Zhi Long, etc.

Hangzhou International School (HIS) was first opened in 2002 at its current site in Binjiang, alongside the campus of No. 2 High School. HIS serves students from 2-18 years old and is the first International School and only IB and WASC accredited school in the region. The school enrolls over 700 students from over 50 nationalities. Graduates attend top universities around the world. The Director of School, Mr. Jeffry Stubbs, has worked with HIS for thirteen years and has seen the rapid growth of student enrollment over the past years.  As the current school has reached capacity, the new campus will accommodate up to 1300 students and include state-of-the-art purpose-built facilities, including: 25-meter swimming pool, 650 seat theater, two soccer fields, three gyms, 3 libraries a design center, and separate early childhood facility.  The new school will also meet the highest ratings for energy and environment design.

Since 2017, Hangzhou International School (HIS) has worked in collaboration with the Hangzhou Municipal Government, Hangzhou Education Bureau and Binjiang District government, to establish a new facility for future growth.  In December 2017, HIS signed an agreement with the Binjiang District to lease land and build a new campus in the White Horse Lake area of Binjiang District.  The new HIS campus is located at the foot of beautiful Langdai Mountain and surrounded by water canals and park space.  White Horse Lake is located about a 15-minute drive from the current site.  While the current HIS has been a wonderful home with many memories and achievements, the HIS community is excited about the additional facilities and 21st century design of the new campus.

HIS is an IB World School that offers the expatriate community in Hangzhou an inclusive international experience and curriculum (Nursery to Grade 12) based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework. HIS is the first and only international school that is fully accredited by an international accrediting association and authorized by the IB. The school currently serves students from over 50 nationalities. As a community, HIS administration, staff, parents, and students work closely to achieve high levels of success for every child. Graduates attend prestigious universities throughout the world.

Flying Frenchman Successfully Cross the English Channel

Second time lucky: Daredevil French inventor Franky Zapata, 40, becomes the first person to successfully cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard a week after his first, failed attempt.

·   French inventor Franky Zapata has crossed the English Channel on a kerosene-powered hoverboard
·   The 40-year-old is the first person in history to complete the flight following a failed attempt last week
·   He landed on the White Cliffs of Dover after just 23 minutes of flight following takeoff at Sangatte, France

Flying Frenchman Franky Zapata today became the first person in history to cross the English Channel on a kerosene-powered board not much bigger than a tea tray – saying it 'feels magnificent!'.

The 40-year-old set off towards the White Cliffs of Dover from Sangatte beach, in Calais, at 7:16am UK time in front of a cheering crowd.

Within seconds he was soaring through the skies looking just like a high-tech version of Marty McFly, the character played by Michael J. Fox in the ‘Back to the Future’ films.

There were shouts of ‘Allez le Flying Frenchman!’ and ‘Go Franky, go!’ including from Mr Zapata’s wife, Kystal.

And at 7:39am – 23 minutes later – the triumphant Mr Zapata landed at St Margaret’s Bay in Kent, saying: 'Frankly, this feels magnificent!'.

The army reservist and former Jetski champion lifted an arm in the air in triumph, shed a tear, and savoured his incredible success.

'There were no problems this time,’ he told waiting reporters. ‘Frankly, I’m tired – I’m not on holiday, but I’m elated. Thanks so much my team, and to my wife'.

'For the last five to six kilometres I just really enjoyed it. Whether this is a historic event or not, I'm not the one to decide that, time will tell.'

'We made a machine three years ago...and now we've crossed the Channel, it's crazy,' he said, before breaking into tears.

Ms Zapata had been left hugely disappointed on July 25 when he failed in his first attempt to complete the same 22.4 mile journey.

Then, he had crashed off a refuelling boat 12 miles into the trip, but this time a larger vessel and landing platform were used.

The self-styled ‘Flying Frenchman’ travelled at a speed of some 87mph, staying at least 49 feet above the water.

French naval vessels kept an eye out during the crossing in case of trouble.

Calais authorities also gave him permission to keep the refuelling boat in French waters, something they had refused the first time around due to safety concerns.

Temperatures were above 25C on Sunday, the sun was shinning brightly, and there was next to no wind or waves.

The state-of-the-art device, which was built from scratch, resembled a souped-up tea tray and could reach an altitude of 10,000 feet. It was powered by five turbojet engines.

Mr Zapata wore a flying suit inspired by the lead character in the superhero movie Iron Man.

There was a maximum of 42 litres in Mr Zapata’s backpack, meaning he once again had to refuel half way across the Channel.

This meant landing on a boat, and swapping backpacks during a stop of no more than two minutes.

He added: ‘We created a new way of flying. We don't use wings. You are like a bird, it is your body that is flying. It is a boyhood dream. We want to follow a little bit in the footsteps of the pioneers of aviation.’

Mr Zapata hopes his device will one day enter commercial production, as a revolutionary piece of military hardware.

Last month, the board impressed crowds at France's annual July 14 Bastille Day Parade, where Mr Zapata zoomed through the air 50ft above Paris's Place de la Concorde dressed as a soldier and brandishing a rifle.

The Home-made Hoverboard that Flies at 120mph and Can Reach 10,000ft

Franky Zapata's designed his home-made hoverboard himself, which is inspired by the flying suit worn by the lead character in the superhero movie Iron Man.

Powered by five jet engines, the impressive 'Flyboard Air' can propel its driver through the sky at impressive speeds of up to 120mph and reach an altitude of 10,000 feet.

The state-of-the-art device, which he built from scratch, is powered by kerosene which is widely used as a fuel in the air industry.

Mr Zapata admits it is very similar to the hoverboard used by Marty McFly, played by Michael J Fox, in the Back to the Future films.

However, current models of the Flyboard Air can only stay airborne for about ten minutes on a single tank of fuel.

The impressive board operates via a small joystick and the rider must maintain a rigid body position while using small movements to help steer.

Last week, the Flyboard Air wowed crowds at France's annual Bastille Day Parade, where Zapata zoomed through the air 50ft above Paris's Place de la Concorde, donning soldier's uniform and holding a rifle.

Mr Zapata now hopes it will one day enter commercial production, as a revolutionary piece of military hardware - and he was even granted £1.26 million by France's Ministry of Defence to develop it.

Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said that the board would be 'tested for different uses, for example as a flying logistical platform, or indeed as an assault platform.'

He previously broke a Guinness World Record by using the hoverboard to travel more than 7,388ft off the coastal town of Sausset-les-Pins - but was almost prosecuted by France's Civil Aviation Authority for the impressive feat.

He has since flown the Flyboard Air across a stretch of the Arizona desert.

Mr Zapata initially designed a board powered by water jets a decade ago, using a hose from the exhaust of a jet-ski to power an aerial device.

It can blast riders roughly 30ft above the waves, and allow them to perform somersaults and other tricks.

It has been in commercial production for several years now and is popular among thrill-seeking holidaymakers across the world.

Mr Zapata then spent four years developing a device that does not need to be connected to a jet-ski, so can fly over both land and sea.

Resource: MailOnline

New 2,000km Highway Through Russia Will Connect China to Europe

The missing link of the “New Silk Highway” is set to finally be completed. Construction has begun on a new highway that will stretch from Russia’s border with Kazakhstan to Belarus, serving as a critical part of the China-Western Europe transport corridor—an infrastructure mega-project that has been described as the “construction of the century.”

Once completed, the China-Western Europe transport corridor is meant to be the primary nervous system of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the overland portion of China's Belt and Road initiative. The corridor begins at the Chinese port of Lianyungang on the Yellow Sea and stretches along the Lianhuo Expressway, China’s longest road, to the Khorgos dry port on the border of Kazakhstan before moving through Russia en route to Western Europe. The corridor is meant to eventually combine road, rail and air transport hubs into a multi-modal ecosystem which could revolutionize the economic role of the central stretches of Eurasia and alter our paradigms of how goods are shipped between China and Europe. Ideally, this highway would allow trucks to travel between China and Europe in just eleven days, as opposed to 30-50 days by sea and 15 days by rail, making it the fastest overland option of the New Silk Road.

While the China-Western Europe transport corridor got its start in 2009, it was hamstrung by Russia’s reluctance to give its portion of the project proper attention and funding. For years, the corridor served as a high-speed transit route into the heart of Eurasia, rather than a bonafide “Silk Road” which properly connects the east with the west. Trucks would speed across China and Kazakhstan on one of the world’s most modern highways only to run aground at the Russian border, where they would meet head on with infrastructure of a more modest persuasion. However, the fortunes of this mega-project may soon change.

Dubbed the Meridian highway, Russia’s long-awaited portion of the China-Western Europe transport corridor is now under active development. It is to become a 2,000km toll road from the Sagarchin crossing point with Kazakhstan to the border of Belarus.

This new highway is slated to cost in the ballpark of $9.3 billion, with most of the financing coming from private firms rather than public coffers—although investors have sought $500 million of government backing to hedge against potential unforeseen political upheavals, such as the closing of borders. The main player behind the project is a Russian investment holding called LLC Meridian, a company that’s fronted by Alexander Ryazanov, the former deputy chairman of Russian gas giant Gazprom and current board member of RZD, Russia’s railway monopoly, who claims to already be in possession of 80% of the land the road is slated to pass through.

The Meridian highway is primarily being developed for cargo transport, and the main stream of revenue is expected to come from tolls, which Ryazanov estimates will take at least 12-14 years to recoup his company’s initial investment. However, the highway is also posited to generate a large amount of knee-jerk development along its route and create new jobs, in addition to reducing transport times from China to the west of Russia three-fold, according to the Russian Ministry of Transport.

One concerning aspect of the project is its geopolitical overtones. Jonathan Hillman of the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, points out that the route of the new highway subverts Ukraine, which “would add to a series of Russia-led transport projects that limit Ukraine’s connectivity with the east." Political objectives adulterating transport routes and countries battling their rivals with large-scale infrastructure projects are nothing unusual on the New Silk Road. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway, for example, takes a conspicuous long-cut around the contour of Armenia, further cutting the small country off from its neighbors and putting it on the outside of the trans-Eurasian cargo flows that are starting to trickle through.

Hillman also pointed out that Russia could improve the future of this project by removing glaring trade barriers in the Eurasian Economic Union. One of the biggest bottlenecks of the Belt and Road isn’t just the fact that there are gaps in key trans-Eurasian transport routes but Russian sanctions against the import and transit of many products that could otherwise be shipped overland between Europe and China, which has actually given rise to a competing new corridor that bypasses Russia to the south.

While Russia has always officially been a participant in China's Belt and Road initiative and the broader New Silk Road, the country's level of actual commitment has always remained in question. Spanning across much of the Eurasian landmass, Russian participation is necessary if China's Belt and Road is to flourish. Two of the major overland routes between China and Europe pass through Russia, and Russian and Belarusian transport companies are often the workhorses behind the scenes that actually make these corridors function. However, Russia has carried out policies, including the above mentioned sanctions, which run directly against the "win-win" nature of the Belt and Road, and have been prone to delay or otherwise hamper the development of key infrastructure projects that must pass through their realm. The start of the Meridian highway is a good indication of where Russia is leaning as the Belt and Road picks up momentum.
Source: Forbes

These Pools Failed to Pass the Water Quality Inspection

Last week, we posted an article titled “Do You Know How Much Urine is in the Swimming Pools?” The survey at the end of the article showed that more than 60% of respondents have peed in the pool.

Recently, the supervisors of the Municipal Health and Wellness Committee conducted random monitoring of 289 swimming pools in Hangzhou. The first list of pools that failed the inspection was announced. Let's take a look at them, you might have been to quite a few.

Remark: According to the "GB9667-1996 Swimming Pool Hygiene Standards", the standard value of free residual chlorine (pool) is 0.3-0.5mg/L; the standard value of urea hygiene is ≤3.5mg/L; the total number of bacteria is ≤1000CFU/mL.

The results are not all bad and there are some safe and clean swimming pools in Hangzhou. Check out the list of A-class swimming pools, and go ahead to have a nice swim.

A Little More to Know   

Free Residual Chlorine: The requirement for free residual chlorine is to ensure that the water in the pool has a continuous ability to disinfect and can inhibit the re-propagation of residual bacteria in the water.

Urea: Urea in the pool is mainly derived from our sweat, secretions and excretions. Excessive urea content indicates a higher degree of contamination of the pool water.

Total bacteria: The total number of bacteria can be controlled when there is enough disinfectant in the pool, the pH value is kept within the specified limits, the circulation of pool water is appropriate, the swimming pool filtration equipment is often cleaned, and the swimming pool hygiene management is strengthened.

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