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LInkin park

birding

ming wong

motorcycle clubs

2015/07

wet n’ wild

staying cool in beijing during the sweltering summer


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july 2015


A Publication of

出版发行: 云南出版集团 云南科技出版社有限责任公司 地址: 云南省昆明市环城西路609号, 云南新闻出版大楼2306室 责任编辑: 欧阳鹏, 张磊 书号: 978-7-900747-74-7 全国广告总代理: 北京广告代理: 地址: 邮政编码: 电话: Advertising Hotline/广告热线:

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深度体验国际广告(北京)有限公司 北京爱见达广告有限公司 北京市朝阳区关东店北街核桃园30号孚兴写字楼B座6层 100020 5779 8877 5941 0368 /69 /72 /77 /78 /79 6th Floor,Tower B, Fuxing Office Building, 30 Hetaoyuan, Guandongdian North Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100020 Michael Wester Toni Ma Steven Schwankert Robynne Tindall Kipp Whittaker, Margaux Schreurs, Patrick Li Susu Luo Xi Xi Joey Guo Jim Boyce, George Ding, Kyle Mullin Shane Zhao Jerry Chan Tobal Loyola Laura Su Judy Zhao Mengya Liu Cao Zheng Arvi Lefevre, Yan Wen Tom Arnstein Uni You, Sui, Ken Ivy Wang Sheena Hu Winter Liu, Veronica Wu, Emma Xu, Sasha Zhang, Olesya Sedysheva, Wilson Barrie Gladys Tang 5779 8877 editor@thebeijinger.com listings@thebeijinger.com sales@truerun.com marketing@truerun.com distribution@truerun.com

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july 2015


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CITY SCENE

What’s Happening: The most important dates this month Stat: Beijing’s average monthly salary is RMB 6,500 @Chinabuzz: Origins’ Laser Egg Best of the Blog: The most popular stories from theBeijinger.com Scene & Heard: Go on, take a look at yourselves, you beautiful people

COVER FEATURE

For this month’s cover feature we look at all things water-related in Beijing, to help you beat the summer heat. Splash out at one of Beijing’s best swimming pools; hop a fast train to Beidaihe (and check out Beijing Sailing Center while you’re there); or get under the water with our guide to scuba diving options in Beijing

Food & Drink

What’s New: Florentina, Red Bowl, Saffron To Go, Wushi Kongjian, Sir Teen, SOS, The Distillery by Capital Spirits Dining Feature: Specialist food stores Alleyway Gourmet: Qi Ye Back For More: Pebbles Courtyard Feature: Breakfast dishes from around the world Alfresco: Mulu Provincial Restaurants: Fujian Provincial Government Restaurant Dining Q&A: Simon Yuen, Executive Chinese Chef, New World Beijing Hotel Wokipedia: K is for … kongfu cuisine, koushuiji, kugua, kale Just Desserts: Awfully Chocolate Taste Test: Alcopops Drinks Feature: Tropical Drinks World Baijiu Day: Confessions of a baijiu drinker ...plus what we’ve loved eating this month

Go

What’s New Venues: Miniso, Old Navy, Cath Kidston Get Out: Alternative Hong Kong Feature: Terry Townshend, Birding Beijing Feature: Beijing’s motorcycle culture Feature: Cuandixia village

MEET

Feature: Linkin Park Feature: Ming Wong Feature: What to do in an emergency

EVENTS

What you shouldn’t miss this month

PEKING MAN

George embarks on making his own short film

NEXT MONTH: 24 hour beijing

juLY EVENTS DEADLINE: July 16 3

Sasha Zhou was photographed at the Kempinski Hotel Beijing’s Pulse Health Club. Swimwear courtesy of Oysho, www.oysho.com. Cover photo by Ken.

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LINKIN PARK

BIRDING

MING WONG

MOTORCYCLE CLUBS

2015/07

WET N’ WILD

STAYING COOL IN BEIJING DURING THE SWELTERING SUMMER


The most important dates this month

WHAT’S HAPPENING jul 3-5

XP Closing Party Say sayonara to Beijing’s only music venue dedicated to experimental music with a massive weekend of performances from some of Beijing’s most interesting artists.

jul 6-26 Tour de France 2015 This year marks the 100th anniversary of the world’s most prestigious cycling extravaganza. Witness all the agony and ecstasy of this epic race from the comfort of Paddy O’Shea’s.

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Beijing Future Tour Head inside Beijing Planning Exhibition  Hall to explore how leading scholars and  planners expect Beijing to develop over  the coming years. Demographics, wealth disparity, pollution – this one will really get you thinking.

jul 26 Linkin Park Performing live in Beijing in honor of their latest album. Linkin Park hardly require an introduction, especially in China where they are one of Beijing’s biggest rock names. Visit thebeijinger.com for even more events and details.

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For more events, see p66.

july 2015


Letter from THE Editor

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nd I thought our June issue was fun. Presenting a water issue in Beijing may seem strange – perhaps as strange as a major world capital not being located near a major body of water, whether it’s an ocean, lake, or even river (and no, Houhai doesn’t count). While June was pleasantly temperate overall, July always means the onset of serious heat and humidity, Beijing’s only wholly hot month. As such, get thee into a cool and refreshing body of water. We have a list of Beijing’s top swimming pools, including the exclusive, the attractive, and the accessible. Need some sand and salt air? Hop a fast train out of town and find yourself on the seashore at Beidaihe or Qinhuangdao. While you’re out there, pay a visit to the loosely-named Beijing Sailing Centre, where a day on the Bohai Sea could be just the remedy for the summertime blues. And if being on the water isn’t enough, we even tell you how to get under it, with, ahem, scuba diving options around Beijing. Elsewhere in this issue, we take a look at the diverse folks that call themselves Beijingers. Water not your thing? Birding Beijing’s Terry Townshend tell us where to enjoy the great outdoors, and see more birds than any Londoner or New Yorker. Kipp Whittaker slaps on his chaps and rides with some of the city’s toughest biker clubs. He also takes us one step closer to the biggest name to grace a Beijing rock stage in a while, in his interview with Chester Bennington, Joe Hahn, and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. We also have excursions to Cuandixia and Hong Kong, and a whole lot of dining, wining, and other good stuff in between. And July 31 could be a very special day for Beijingers. On that day, Beijing could be named the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, and become the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter Games. It’ll be like Spring Festival in July. I hope you enjoy the July issue of the Beijinger.

Steven Schwankert Executive Editor

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july 2015


CITY SCENE STAT // CHINABUZZ // BEST OF THE BLOG // SCENE & HEARD

6500 H

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in the city had an average monthly income of RMB 7,267. This discrepancy in averages is likely to be the result of a sample bias among readers of Women of China. The same report found that only 21.4 percent of women were satisfied with their family’s overall income. Another independent survey comes from Zhaopin. com, one of China’s largest job-seeking sites. According to the Zhaopin report, during the first quarter of 2015, the average worker in Beijing earns a monthly salary of RMB 6,688, which falls relatively close to the official figure of RMB 6,463. Although different statistics vary in small amounts, we could still reasonably set the average wage in Beijing at around RMB 6,500.

july 2015

PHOTO: beijingrelocation.com

ow much does the average Beijinger make? About RMB 6,500 per month, according to several recent studies. Earlier this month the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics along with the Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security released a joint report regarding the average yearly income of Beijing residents during 2014. According to the report, the average employee in Beijing makes RMB 77,560 per year, or RMB 6,463 per month, an increase of 11.6 percent over 2013’s figures, which were RMB 69,521 and RMB 5,793, respectively. Other publications have also released statistics on the same figures. For example, in May, the magazine Women of China released findings from a survey of their readers, which indicates that as of September 2014, women living


@chinabuzz

Beijing Startop Origins Offers Affordable, Palm-Sized Solution to Air Quality Monitoring

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the amount of refracted light hitting that reader allows it to determine the size of the pollution particles in the air. For now, users can utilize that function by carrying the Laser Egg on their person, but Bates envisions a network where Laser Eggs are positioned in venues citywide, letting users receive air quality updates on their mobile app from the nearest placed monitor. He adds that such a function is extremely useful because air quality levels can vary wildly from place to place and fluctuate greatly from moment to moment, which is a much more complicated reality than what most Beijingers understand about the city’s air pollution. The Laser Egg costs RMB 379 and is now available for pre-order via credit card on Paypal or Jingdong at laseregg. origins-china.com. Disclaimer: This article originally appeared as a sponsored blog post on thebeijinger.com.

photo courtesy of Origins

eijing’s air pollution is an expensive problem. The Chinese government has devoted tens of millions of renminbi to air quality monitoring, and the US government has spent USD 25,000 alone for the AQI reader at its Beijing embassy. But for the price of that single American sensor, an entire network of 300 of far more affordable sensors can be purchased, allowing Beijingers to track pollution in real time and know where they can go for a breath of fresh air. That’s the notion being put forth by Liam Bates, the founder of Origins, a Beijing-based startup that sells highly sensitive air quality monitors for under RMB 400 each. Dubbed the Laser Egg, this monitor shows AQI levels in the immediate vicinity. The way it works is brilliantly simple. A little gap at the top of its dome allows air to flow inside. Once the air enters the Egg it comes across an interior laser, causing that beam to refract in several different directions. A sensor rests under the laser, and

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july 2015


best of the blog Every month we tally the hits from thebeijinger.com and bring you the most viewed blogs from our website.

1. Survey Indicates Nearly 20 Percent of Chinese Middle School Students Smoke A survey completed by the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control indicates that smoking is more common among Chinese middle schoolers than expected. The survey took data from 1,736 primary and middle schools and the findings indicated that there were a total of 135 shops where underaged students from these schools went to buy cigarettes, and out of those, 108 shops illegally sold them cigarettes. 

2. Beijingers Become New York’s Biggest Spenders Beijingers will be the biggest spenders in the Big Apple in 2015, according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. About 430,000 Chinese nationals will visit New York this year, and spend a combined – wait for it – USD 1.3 billion. If ever any New York mayor or head of tourism said, “If we could just get every person in China to come to New York and spend one dollar,” well, they are now right on the money.

3. One in Five Beijingers is Obese: City Government That mark is a new high, hitting 22 percent in 2014. The rate is up from 19 percent in 2011, CRI reported. Obesity is classified as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher and does not include people who rank as“overweight”according to the same scale. People classified as obese are more susceptible to health problems such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease. For these stories and more, check out thebeijinger.com/blog 


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july 2015

photos: deweywebster.net, wsj.net, sinaimg.cn, beijingholiday.com, livebeijingmusic.com, bbci.co.uk

4. XP to Close: The End of a Beautiful Musical Error Beijing’s only venue dedicated to extreme music, XP, will close its doors on July 5. While we knew it had been hard times for this venue after a string of cancellations, we didn’t expect that it would come this soon. The folks behind XP were the same that founded D-22 about a decade ago, followed by Maybe Mars, and are committed to putting Beijing on the map as a breeding ground for alternative music.


5. First Confirmed MERS Case in China The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in China is a citizen of the Republic of Korea, hospitalized in Huizhou. MERS is a viral respiratory infection derived from bats. However, cases in the Middle East suggested that the disease was first spread through camels. Details about camel-to-human transmission remain unavailable at this time.

6. Epic Rant Advises Chinese Women: Don’t Sleep with Foreigners (Until You Know They Are Rich First) An epic anti-foreign rant went viral on WeChat in June, counseling Chinese women not to sleep with foreign men, mainly because they are losers who can’t find a job back home. The rant is loosely attributed to [New Oriental founder] Yu Minhong’s wife Xiao Yang, who according to the introduction, “has rich overseas experience, and wrote this essay based on her own perspective.”

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july 2015


SCENE & HEARD

the Beijinger 12th Reader Bar and Club Awards and International Foodie Weekend on May 30-31 Photos by Ken and Ricky Zhang

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july 2015


SCENE & HEARD

The Ice Cream Road Stopover in Beijing on June 6 Photos by Laurent Hou

Opera Bombana Two Year Anniversary Cocktail Party on May 14 Photos courtesy of Opera Bombana

Izakaya! Hagaki Kitchen Takeover at Jing-A Brewing on June 10 Photos courtesy of EAST Beijing

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july 2015


Take the Plunge Scorching Hot and Dripping Wet by Margaux Schreurs and Patrick Li

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ne perfect way to beat the heat is to swim it out – incidentally also the best way to get your exercise without overheating. This summer, go for a swim somewhere new, at one of these hotel pools, public pools, water parks, and spas. Whether you’re going by yourself early in the morning, or want to have fun with friends all day long, these are the best spots to cool down and chill out.

HOTEL POOLS The Emperor at Qianmen
This outdoor pool, on the rooftop of the Emperor Hotel, faces the Forbidden City – can you even imagine a better view during your swim? A pool experience like no other.
 RMB 258 (three hours). Daily 11am-midnight. 87 Xianyukou Jie, Dongcheng District (6526 5566) 东城区鲜鱼口街87号 The Kempinski Hotel Beijing Pulse Health Club
The site of our cover shoot, this 18th floor natatorium overlooks the Sanlitun embassy area and the northeastern part of the city. The pool is suitable for a quick dip or light laps.
 RMB 300 (adults), RMB 150 (kids under 15). Daily, 6am10pm. 50 Liangmaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (6465 3388) 朝阳区亮马桥路50号 Waldorf Astoria Beijing
An intricately designed indoor pool perfect for a more luxurious swim or relaxing dip. The pool here is quiet, and the water quality is monitored and

Westin Chaoyang Heavenly Spa
Experience city views and an ambiance of luxury at this 25-meter indoor pool, perfect for early morning or late night swims due to its long opening hours. The water here is on a 24-hour filtration system to ensure hygiene levels are up to standards. 
 RMB 19,800 (year, adults), RMB 8,800 (year, kids under 12), RMB 11,800 (half year, adults). Daily 6am-11pm. 7 Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang District (5922 8888) 朝阳区东三环北路7号

PUBLIC POOLS Sino-Japanese Friendship Center (21st Century Theater)
An Olympic-sized swimming pool popular with serious swimmers, this pool’s water is filtered using a mild salt solution, eliminating chlorine irritation and smell. The pool can be chilly, so warmup first. Bathing caps are mandatory for all swimmers.
RMB 98 for a single use, discount for multi-swim purchases. Daily 9am-9pm. 40 Liangmaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (6466 4805) 朝阳区亮马桥路40号. 


july 2015

photo courtesy of emperor hotel qianmen

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cleaned on a daily basis.
 RMB 18,000 (year), RMB 2,200 (month). Daily 10.30am4.30pm. 5-15 Jinyu Hutong, Dongcheng District (8520 8989) 东城区金鱼胡同5-15


Dongdan Swimming Pool This well-mananged indoor pool has great facilities. Busy in the mornings, but evenings tend to be peaceful. Water here is on a filtration system, and the pool is one of the city’s better public options. RMB 50 (adults), RMB 30 (kids and students). 10am-9pm. A2 Dahua Lu, Dongcheng District (6523 1241) 东城区东单大华路甲2号

WATER PARKS Crab Island
Family-friendly Crab Island has the option for fishing, go-karting, a zoo, an organic farm, aqua bumper boats, a lazy river, a wave pool, and an artificial beach. There’s a water circulation system in place, and the water is filtered and sterilized throughout the day.
 RMB 60 (adults), RMB 40 (kids between 1m and 1.4m), Free (kids below 1m). Daily 9am-8pm. 1 Xiedao Lu, Chaoyang District (8433 5566/5588) 朝阳区蟹岛路1号  Happy Magic Watercube Park
As the former site of the 2008 Olympics water sport competitions, the Happy Magic Watercube Park has now been turned into a water playground. There is a wave pool and a bunch of slides at varying intensities. The water is cleaned on a daily basis.
 RMB 260 (adults), RMB 220 (kids between 1.2m and 1.5m), Free (kids below 1.2m). Daily 10am-9pm. 11 Tianchen Donglu (in Olympic Park, near the Bird’s Nest), Chaoyang District (8437 8086) 朝阳区北四环中路奥林匹克公园内(近鸟巢) Happy Water Rubik’s Cube
The biggest open-air water park in the city, Happy Water Rubik’s Cube is worth the trip to Fengtai District. The park has many rides including flumes, raft rides, and a wave machine, guaranteeing that you won’t even remember how hot it is outside. The park is fitted with a water filter that operates 24 hours a day.


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RMB 230 (adults), RMB 180 (kids between 1.2m and 1.5m), Free (kids below 1.2m). Daily 10am-6pm. 11 Xiaotun Lu (next to Meishikou Lu), Fengtai District (8860 9999) 丰台区小屯路11号(近梅市口路) Hot Spring Leisure City
Located in Changping District, Hot Spring Leisure City features mineral hot spring spas with rich geothermal resources and has been the site of many crazy water-themed parties. There’s also a huge hotel and conference center attached to it, as well as a number of different restaurants and entertainment options.
 RMB 178, RMB 128 (online), RMB 100 (kids between 1.4m and 1.2m), Free (kids under 1.2m). Daily 9am-10pm. Beiqijia, Changping District (8178 8888) 昌平区北七家 Tuanjiehu Water Park
Tuanjiahu Water Park, one of the most central water parks listed, is not big but still boasts a beach and wave pool. There are also paddle boats, and other entertainment options such as roller-skating. The water facilities are linked up with a 24-hour filtering device.
 RMB 50 (weekdays), RMB 60 (weekends). Daily 10.15am8pm. 16 Tuanjiehu Nanli, East Third Ring Road, Chaoyang District (8597 4677) 朝阳区东三环东路团结湖南里16号结湖公园内 Qingnianhu
The perfect combination between water park and public pool, this centrally located swimming pool offers the option to swim for exercise or for fun. If you get bored of the pool, there are also slides of different intensities to keep you entertained. 
 RMB 40 (adults and kids above 1.3m), RMB 30 (kids below 1.3m). Daily 9am-5pm. Andingmen Waidajie, Dongcheng District (8411 6321) 东城区安定门外大街

july 2015


GET OUT SPECIAL EDITION: BEIDAIHE beijing’s nearest beachside escape by Robynne Tindall

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eidaihe’s cool coastal climate and proximity to Beijing have made it a favorite getaway for Chinese and foreigners alike since the early 20th century. While the city of Qinhuangdao is mostly a port town, the best beaches are to be found in the district of Beidaihe, just south down the coast. In 2013, Beidaihe ranked 60th on CNN’s list of the world’s best beaches and while we wouldn’t advise getting your hopes up too much, landlocked Beijing beach bums will still find plenty to enjoy.

What to do Beaches: Tiger Stone Park (admission RMB 8), named for its rock formations supposedly shaped like sleeping tigers, is one of the most popular beach areas. While this means that the facilities here, including restaurants, water sports (motor boating, sailing, and surfing), and beach volleyball, are among the best in town, it also means that the beach gets very crowded, especially on weekends. Other popular beaches can be found at Beidaihe Middle Bathing Beach and Pingshuiqiao Park. Lianfeng Mountain Park: If you get tired of the beach, the viewing area at the top of 153 meter peak of Lianfeng Mountain Park (admission RMB 30) affords a stunning view of the Beidaihe area. The rest of the thickly forested park conceals several temples, pagodas, and villas belonging to prominent Chinese figures, including Lin Biao. Shanhaiguan Great Wall: Heading north up the coast from Beidaihe, Shanhaiguan District is home to the eastern sea terminus of the Great Wall, Laolongtou (meaning “old

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dragon’s head,” admission RMB 50), extending out into the Bohai Sea. Just to the west, the Shanhai Pass, from which the area takes its name, is worth a visit.

Getting there Fast trains taking just over two hours leave from Beijing or Beijing South Station to both Qinhuangdao and Beidaihe at least once an hour. For a weekend getaway, train number G387 leaves Beijing South at 8.42am and arrives in Beidaihe at 10.32am (RMB 164.5/251), while G381 leaves Beijing South at 8.00am and arrives in Qinhuangdao at 9.49am (RMB 174.5/267.5). Book tickets online via Ctrip or via WeChat Wallet (found under the ‘Air Tickets’ tab, note that this page is in Chinese regardless of the language your phone is set to).

Where to stay Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts just opened their 43rd hotel in China in Qinhuangdao, 20 minutes from Qinhuangdao Railway Station and 25 minutes from Beidaihe Railway Station. With 330 rooms, the hotel is located minutes walk from the beach but comes with a 25 meter indoor swimming pool if you don’t fancy the sea. Rooms start from RMB 1,400 per night. Elsewhere, there are hundreds of cheap hotels and hostels lining the coast between Beidaihe and Qinhuangdao, most with unexciting, basic facilities. However, they are acceptable for a quick weekend getaway, and rooms can be found for around RMB 200 per night.

july 2015


More Watery Weekend Getawaysways Longqing Gorge Located about 90km north of Beijing, the scenery at Longqing Gorge is often compared to that of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River. In addition to the stunning scenery, the main attractions at Longqing Gorge include a cableway, boating, and bungee jumping. The giant covered escalator in the shape of a dragon that you take to reach the top of the Longqing dam is a bit of an eyesore, but fun nonetheless, particularly for kids. Getting there: Take bus 919快 from Deshengmen to Yinqing Nancaiyuan station. Change to bus y15 to Longqingxia station. The journey takes approximately five hours. Shidu Scenic Area Located in Fangshan District, Shidu translates as “ten crossings”, after the small ferry crossings that traditionally carried people over the Juma River. The majority of the tourist facilities are located around the ninth crossing, including the deathdefying bungee jump (RMB 200). In addition to simply enjoying the scenery of the natural karst formations, there are a number of water-based activities available, including kayaking, rafting, and water skiing. Getting there: Take bus 836 from Liuliqiao Dong station (near Liuliqiao Dong station on subway Line 9) to Jiudu station. The journey takes approximately five hours.

photo: ilya (flickr)

Chun Hui Yuan Hot Spring Resort Far enough out from the center of the city that it really feels like you’re getting away, but close enough for a short weekend trip, Chun Hui Yuan is one of Beijing’s better hot spring resorts, but don’t necessarily expect international five star accommodation. The resort has several large pools, all at about 40 degrees Celsius, as well as a number of smaller pools with different therapeutic effects dotted around the grounds. There is also a sauna, spa, hot stone room, and standard swimming pool. Weekend rooms can be booked on Ctrip starting from RMB 1000. Getting there: Take bus 942快 from Dongzhimen to Shunyi Yuzhuang station. The journey takes approximately one and a half hours.

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Fans and Fins

Where to enjoy sailing and fishing around Beijing by Steven Schwankert

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n a game of Beijing word association, “landlocked” will certainly make an appearance before “wet.” However, as the home of one of China’s largest and most active outdoor communities, Beijingers are always interested to try new sports, including those that take them onto or around the water. Local sailing and other water sports communities participate regularly in their chosen passions, and probably much closer to the city center than you might expect.

photo courtesy of beijing sailing center

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Sailing Beijing Sailing Center (北京航海中心) For purists who insist that sailing should be, like, on a real sea or something, located 90 minutes from Beijing by train, the Beijing Sailing Center is actually based in Qinhuangdao. Close enough. Beijing Sailing Center provides a range of dinghy sailing boats to suit all abilities and age groups, from Optimists for kids’ fun, Topper Topaz for adult learners, through to the Topper Omega for spinnaker and traipsing experience. Qualified English and Chinese-speaking instructors offer weekend courses for those wanting to gain experience (RMB 1,800), along with one-hour Sailing Experience programs, a gentle introduction to dinghy sailing and the features of each sailing boat. Beijing Sailing Center also organizes and participates in regattas both in Qinhuangdao and other areas of China. Travel to regular international sailing events, including exotic destinations like the Maldives and Thailand, is also available during winter months. Open May through October. 1401, Yufei Dasha, 42 Dongzhimen Waidajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing (400 1800 107) 东城区东直门外大街42号宇飞大厦1401室 Beidaihe Sailing Center, Huamao Weilan Beach, Beidaihe New Area (used to be Nandaihe), Qinhuangdao, Hebei 河北省秦皇岛市北戴河新区(原属于南戴河) 华贸 蔚蓝海岸 www.beijingsailing.com Aofan Sailing Club (北京奥帆俱乐部) Host to the rowing and canoeing events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, this refurbished venue is home to Aofan Sailing Club, a professional sailing organization aimed at “promoting and encouraging the sport of sailing in China, whilst providing the perfect environment to share the experience with friends and family.” The name “Aofan” is a combination of the Mandarin Chinese words for “Olympics” (aoyunhui) and “sail” (fan). Four types of boats are available for rent: the Optimist, a small boat ideal for ages six to 14; the Far East 11, a one-person boat; the OMEGA Monomer, and the WATA Catamaran, which hold four and five to six people, respectively, including an instructor. A variety of courses and memberships are available for individuals as well as families. Sailboats can be rented by the hour or day (ranging from RMB 200 per

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hour and up to RMB 600 and beyond per day), while memberships (ranging from RMB 5,000-8,000 for a family, plus certification training) are valid for the entire season. Memberships are the most economical once you’ve given sailing a try and decided you enjoy the ride. Aofan also organizes trips to sail in other parts of China, including Qingdao. Open March to November, Monday through Sunday. Olympic Water Park, 19 Baima Lu, Shunyi District (5949 4599) 顺义县白马路19号奥林匹克水上公园内 www.aofansail.com

Fishing Probably the most popular of all of the so-called water sports in Beijing, a number of stocked fishing areas and pools are available. Think of it as microwave fishing – enjoy a whole day of fishing in a matter of minutes or hours, depending on how much patience you have and how much you enjoy it. Here are a couple of spots worth visiting. Crab Island Holiday Resort (蟹岛度假村 ) in the northeast of Chaoyang District offers a pleasant leafy environment with plenty of species available. The cost is just RMB 10 for three hours, and you can pay to keep what you catch. 1 Xiedao Lu, Chaoyang District (8431 1865/8431 1919) 朝阳区蟹岛路1号 Penglai Fishing Garden (蓬莱垂钓园) offers the use of its four fishing ponds for RMB 18. The biggest pond on the site contains carp or li yu (鲤鱼) which, should you be very hungry, you can “catch and keep” all week long (RMB 80-150). Two ponds are strictly “catch and release” and offer chub or lian yu (鲢鱼) and other seasonal delights. Inside Penglai Orchard, Changping District (138 0107 2968) 昌平区蓬莱果园院内 Yougu Shengtang Fishing (幽谷神潭) allows free fishing for trout in the mountains inside the nature reserve. North of Duanshuling Village, Huairou District (6162 2569) 怀北镇椴树岭村北 Some material in this article appeared in previous editions of the Beijinger.

july 2015


Blowing Bubbles in Beijing

Scuba Diving Thrives in and around the Capital by Steven Schwankert

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which feels more than a little bit like a wet rubber ball. Certified divers may scuba with the dolphins, while noncertified divers may snorkel. You can’t dive the Pyramids, but you can dive the Great Wall. Note that this is not Huanghuacheng, the so-called Water Great Wall, nor Shanhaiguan, the Great Wall’s eastern sea terminus. The Underwater Great Wall is 300 to 400 meters of Wall that disappeared under the Panjiakou Reservoir in Hebei province, after a dam was constructed in 1977 to provide for the newly rebuilt city of Tangshan nearby. Diving the Great Wall is eerie and intimate. It’s a giant, sleeping dragon on the bottom that requires the diver to swim up close for a good look. The view reveals both craftsmanship and aquatic life, including tiny fish and shrimp. Water depth and temperature vary by season, but divers with even an Open Water Diver certification will be able to see parts of the Wall. To book any of these above adventures, contact SinoScuba on 186 1113 3629 or www.sinoscuba.com. Disclosure: SinoScuba Founder Steven Schwankert is the Executive Editor of True Run Media, the Beijinger’s parent company.

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photo: colin lee

harks, dolphins, and the Great Wall, oh my! For a capital city that’s hours from the sea and doesn’t even have a major lake or river nearby, Beijing is a great place for scuba diving. Beijing has three aquariums, with all three offering scuba diving opportunities. Of those, the most conveniently located is the New Zealand Blue Zoo Aquarium, right at the south gate of the Workers Stadium. Underground, the main tank, about three meters deep and the size of an Olympic swimming pool, houses five species of shark, two table-sized sea turtles, moray eels, and a host of diverse reef fish from around the Pacific. This is a perfect opportunity for the first time diver to discover scuba and some of the ocean’s most interesting residents, all in a controlled environment. Pet the shark – it’s not a euphemism. The Beijing Zoo near Xizhimen is best known for housing pandas and other zoo favorites like elephants, but within its gates stands the Beijing Aquarium, the city’s largest such facility. The Beijing Aquarium provides a unique encounter with Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Truth be told, these charismatic animals play with you more than you play with them. Hear their clicks and whistles around you as they race by, then swim up for a belly rub,


CLARINS UV PLUS ANTI-POLLUTION SPF 50 This light, water-based daily facial sunscreen is a one-two punch for both strong sun and high AQIs. Suitable for all skin types. clarins.tmall.com RMB 420

watermelon print tote bag If you aren’t juicing your watermelons for ice lollies, try them as a fun print for a very summery tote bag instead. This design comes courtesy of a Beijing-based taobao store. justwewe.taobao.com RMB 19.9

BEIJING SUMMER ESSENTIALS

photos courtesy of the brands

by Robynne Tindall

CHOSIGT ICE LOLLY MAKER Juice a watermelon, then use it to fill a set of these adorable ice lolly molds – then just try and complain that Beijing is too hot to handle. ikea.com.cn RMB 9.90

ALFRESCO ANTI BUG BITE MOISTURIZER Based on botanicals with natural insect repelling qualities like cinnamon, patchouli, and cedarwood, Alfresco is great for those who want to avoid DEETheavy insect repellants. alfrescoshop.com RMB 235

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ZING ANYTHING CITRUS ZINGER This smart water bottle infuses your water with fruit flavor via a separate container on the bottom. The more you move around, the more juice you’ll get from the fruit. chaoshi.tmall.com RMB 159


Sip, nibble, gulp, chew, guzzle, savor, feast

FOOD & DRINK

SPECIALIST FOOD STORES // BREAKFASTS // TROPICAL DRINKS // WORLD BAIJIU DAY

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PHOTO COURTESY OF WALDORF ASTORIA beijing

Legle France and Waldorf Astoria Beijing join forces to create Ruyi Gastronomy, poised at the intersection of French and Chinese culture. Guests can enjoy Chinese fine dining on porcelain from Legle’s Ruyi collection, served in the Waldorf Astoria’s atmospheric hutong courtyard.


nibbles and sips Openings and closings Last month saw a couple of high profile closings, including Chaoyang Park stalwart Chef Too, fine dining restaurant Brian Mckenna @ The Courtyard, and grilled cheese emporium The Corner Melt. Never fear though, both Chef Brian Mckenna and The Corner Melt’s Jimi Sides will be moving on to new projects – a gastropub set to open in August and a new venue, Punk Rock Noodles, respectively. Nali Patio welcomes a new arrival at the end of June in the form of Tafelspitz, the city’s only Austrian restaurant. Across the road, on Sanlitun Bar Street, Spanish restaurant Puerta 20 has launched an offshoot called Tapas 22, serving, unsurprisingly, tapas and pintxos. Initial reports on the food have been mixed, but it’s nice to see a place focusing exclusively on classic tapas. Happenings The Rug has launched their new summer menu, featuring a range of dishes with their signature fusion comfort food aesthetic. The surf and turf brunch plate with pork chops and Alaskan king crab legs will satisfy diners looking for a bit of luxury, but we preferred the South African-inspired Bunny Chow dishes, served in The Rug’s own homemade brioche. The Durban curry beef pairs particularly well with the slightly sweet bread. Speaking of brunch, The Meatball Company has started offering “Baller Brunch” every Sunday, 11.30am-3pm, at their Dashibei Hutong restaurant. Priced at RMB 100 per person, the brunch set includes three courses of openfaced avocado toast, pork meatballs with home-style potatoes and a fried egg, and baked French toast with cinnamon crumble and pineapple. Flamme have also updated their summer menu, trimming down the a la carte menu and adding lots of lighter summer options, refocusing away from steak and onto fish, seafood, and fresh summer salads. They are offering a range of set menus at their Sanlitun (RMB 98/198/398) and Indigo (RMB 198/298) locations. For a taste of Italian summer, head to XIAN for their new daily aperitivo, 5-8pm. Take your pick from a selection of bruschetta, charcuterie, and dips, while you sip on classic aperitivo libations such as Pimms or Campari.

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DINING feature

LET’S GET SPECIFIC W

hile it’s true that you can get hold of almost anything at Sanyuanli Market (without even mentioning Taobao), there is something to be said of going to a specialist store and having an expert help you find exactly the right ingredient. Luckily for choosy shoppers, there is a host of specialty stores scattered across the capital, offering everything from Japanese pickles to uncommon herbs. Read on for some of our favorites.

G’S N I J I E F B STORES O R U A TO IST FOOD L A I C E P S

pulses and grains: shucai bianlidian

Spanish: Taste Spain

Don’t leave without: 1. Lima beans (RMB 14 / 1.2kg) 2. Black beans (RMB 6 / 500g) 3. Buckwheat (RMB 5 / 450g) 19-2 Dongzhimen Nanxiaojie, Dongcheng District 蔬菜便利店:东城区东直门南小街19-2号

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Don’t leave without: 1. LA Organic Original extra virgin olive oil (RMB 199) 2. 5J Jamón de Bellota (RMB 388) 3. Ortiz canned tuna in olive oil (RMB 55) Daily 10am-10pm. 1/F, Nali Patio, Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6413 2663) 品味西班牙:朝阳区三里屯路那里花园1层

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PHOTOs: joey guo, robynne tindall, margaux schreurs

Tucked away near the Haiyuncang residential compound, this small local store (formerly called Dongbei Baoxian Zaliang Daquan) stocks a surprisingly Western array of dried grains and flours. The store’s location just south of Guijie makes it an excellent choice for hutong dwellers who don’t fancy the trip to Sanyuanli.

A mainstay of Spanish-themed Nali Patio, Taste Spain sells a vast array of preserved and fresh products to make all your Iberian dreams come true. Two side rooms off the main store stock hard-to-find Spanish wine varieties and Beijing’s best selection of jamón and manchego cheese, respectively. Look out for periodic wine tastings.


Vegetables and herbs: 鲜森活2015 Taobao Store

Based out of Sanyuanli market, 鲜森活 sells a vast array of seasonal vegetables, herbs, and fresh spices, many of which are hard to find elsewhere around town. Their online store is divided into sections such as “fresh mushrooms,” “salad vegetables,” and “specialty vegetables.” Fans of homemade Thai cuisine will be especially at home here, with a wide selection of imported ingredients, including lime leaves, Thai basil, and lemongrass, to choose from. Don’t leave without: 1. Parsnips (RMB 12 / 500g) 2. Shiso leaf (RMB 4 / box) 3. Artichokes (RMB 29 / 500g)

Korean: Beijing Baisijia Caishichang

This hidden-away market in Wangjing is a mecca for all things Korean – all things food-related that is. Whether you’re looking to spice things up with a little chili paste, or get funky with some aged kimchi, this is the place to get it, along with popular Korean cuts of meat (think bulgogi), imported Korean condiments, and a wiggling array of fresh seafood. Don’t leave without: 1. Kimchi 2. Korean chilli flakes (milder than Chinese varieties) 3. Pork belly rolls (all market prices) 413 Wangjing Xiyuan, Futong Xidajie, Chaoyang District 北京百思佳菜市场:朝阳区阜通西大街望京西 园413号

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Japanese: Yuqing

This tiny store in Maizidian packs a whole lot of produce into a very small space. The front of the shop is dedicated to seasonings, pickles, sake, and sauces, while the back holds chillers filled with everything from frozen udon noodles to sushi-grade tuna. We especially like their selection of fresh ramen noodles. They have a second store near Jianguomen. Don’t leave without: 1. Fresh natto (RMB 13.6) 2. Mizkan sushi seasoning (RMB 38.8) 3. Instant miso soup sachets (RMB 19.8 / 6 sachets) Daily 8.30am-10pm. East side of FX Hotel, 39 Maizidian Xijie, Chaoyang District (6500 0642) 鱼清:朝阳区麦子店西街39号富驿时尚酒店东 侧店铺

july 2015


Florentina

HIGH-END ITALIAN HITS LIDO

photos : joey guo

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WHAT’S NEW restaurants Daily 11am-10.30pm. 1/F, Bldg 2, 6 Fangyuan Xilu, Chaoyang District (8431 0027) 翡冷翠意大利餐厅:朝阳区芳园西路6号院2号1层

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1.25km northwest of Jiangtai (Line 14)

t’s not often that I visit Lido, but when I do, I always wish that I made it out more often. The tree-lined streets, particularly around Lido Park, feel more like Europe than Beijing. The street-level terrace seating at new Italian restaurant Florentina is no exception: the stylish white furnishings, trimmed hedges, and Migas-like lounge music are decidedly cosmopolitan. The menu at Florentina, however, sticks with the classics, treading a well-worn path through pastas, pizzas, and risottos, as well as classic Italian dishes such as osso bucco alla Milanese (RMB 268). Portions and pricing are designed with sharing in mind – the signature lobster risotto comes in a huge dish with several of the luxurious crustaceans positioned proudly on top. The dish is certainly spectacular, but unfortunately the flavor of the rice or the lobster didn’t quite live up to the presentation. We appreciated the kitchen’s talents rather more in the expert homemade spaghetti alla bolognese (RMB 98); although we didn’t care so much for the lengthy wait for the dish to be served. Those who are less inclined to share might appreciate the set dinner menu,priced at RMB 338 for three courses. On one same visit, having ordered pasta, our server warns us that the calzone ripieno gigante (RMB 228) is too big for two diners, but we persist regardless and are forced to sheepishly request a doggy bag for the remaining two-thirds at the end of the meal. However, don’t let this put you off if you are a small group – the generous ham and mozzarella filling and oozing egg yolk in the center are very much worth the potential embarrassment of leftovers. Robynne Tindall

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WHAT’S NEW restaurants

chicken fajitas

Red BowL

BUBBLING OVER WITH CHARM Daily 5.30pm-1am. 1/F, Rosewood Beijing, Jing Guang Center, Hujialou, Chaoyang District (6536 0066) 赤:朝阳区呼家楼京广中心北京瑰丽酒店1层 300m south of Hujialou (Line 6, Line 10)

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split hot pot base (RMB 78), half spicy Sichuan, half milder wild mushroom. Chili-fiends will find the spicy soup lacks punch, but the depth of the mushroom broth more than makes up for it. Slices of tender lamb leg (RMB 68), a cut above the frozen rolls served in lesser restaurants, melt into the soup in seconds, although our favorite addition was the crunchy beef tendon balls (RMB 48). Seafood lovers won’t be disappointed either, with prices starting from RMB 28 for clams from Dalian, all the way up to the ominous “market price” for fresh lobster and garoupa. With so many other options around town, was Beijing really crying out for an upscale hot pot restaurant? Perhaps not, yet we find ourselves drawn to the idea of a fine wine or G&T with our hot pot dinner. The crowds of well-heeled young diners filling even the earliest reservations on any given night would seem to agree with us. Robynne Tindall

july 2015

photo courtesy of Rosewood Beijing

ith its sleek concrete and dramatic lighting, the entrance to Red Bowl brings to mind that of an exclusive nightclub. The late night vibe continues inside, with Balearic-style beats playing out over a dimly-lit dining space anchored by a large bar at the front and an open kitchen at the back. The menu at Red Bowl is as well mixed as the house music playing through the speakers, offering a blend of northern, Sichuan, and southern takes on the traditional hot pot experience. However, the real upgrade on hot pot as we know it comes from the drinks menu, featuring Beijing-inspired cocktails (RMB 68) and craft beers on draft (RMB 60), a significant upgrade on the usual “warm Yanjing or baijiu” options. We heartily recommend the Hutong Daiquiri, a potent blend of Plantation 3 Stars rum, strawberry, and Sichuan peppercorn. Not forgetting about the food, we chose the yuanyang


WHAT’S NEW restaurants

Saffron To Go

authentic paella, delivered Daily 11am-8pm. 30208, Tower C, Galaxy Soho, Dongcheng District (400 088 7757)
 东城区银河Soho C座30208 100m southwest of Chaoyangmen (Line 2, 6)

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photo courtesy of saffron to go

t seems like you can have pretty much anything you want delivered in Beijing these days, but we definitely did not expect that range of items to include paella. Yet that’s exactly what Chef Yao Yang and the team behind Wudaoying Hutong Spanish restaurant Saffron have come up with for their unique paella delivery service, Saffron To Go. Saffron has been rightly famous for its authentic take on paella for many years and the delivery incarnation upholds their high standards. After ordering via their phone hotline (delivery is available within three kilometers of their Galaxy Soho address, if you are further away, please consult their team), the Spanish paella (RMB 299) arrives promptly, in stylish packaging, with more than enough to feed three to four hungry diners. The paella itself has a pleasant oceanic flavor and the seafood – prawns, scallops, squid, and mussels – avoids being overcooked despite its trip in the heatproof delivery container. Side dishes mostly stick with the Spanish theme, but include some forays into fusion, such as the roast cod with miso (RMB 86) and the spicy chicken wings (RMB 58). However, our favorite of the dishes were the good value potato tortilla (RMB 38) and Mediterranean roasted eggplant (RMB 38). Robynne Tindall

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Alleyway Gourmet

Qi Ye

A Taste of Hong Kong Daily 11am-midnight. 7-9 Sitiao Hutong, 14-230 Xinzhong Jie, Dongcheng District (6416 1512) 七爺清汤牛腩:东城区新中街14-230号四条胡同7-9号 1.2km northeast of Dongsishitiao (Line 2)

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ike any good repeat tourist, I have been going to the same wonton noodle shop on the same small street in Hong Kong for the 15-plus years that I have been visiting the Fragrant Harbor. While I enjoy the heft of northern Chinese noodles, there is something uniquely satisfying about the resilient stretchiness of the thin egg noodles that form the base of wonton noodle soup. I had been unsuccessful in finding an adequate replica in Beijing, until I stumbled across reviews of a new Hong Kong-style noodle place on Dianping, conveniently located across from the Great Leap Brewing #12 Brewpub. Said restaurant, Qi Ye, specializes in stewed beef brisket in clear soup and while it is this dish that is garnering the most praise on Dianping, it was mention of noodles “as good as Hong Kong” that had me running to visit at the next available opportunity. Luckily – for you and for me after all this narrative build up – the noodles didn’t disappoint. Their signature 7-Yeah

[sic] noodle with stewed beef brisket (RMB 32) brings tender beef atop a rich, clear broth in which float excellent noodles with just the requisite level of elasticity. A final sprinkle of chopped scallions brings necessary freshness. You may order the noodles thick if you wish, but we don’t recommend it. Don’t neglect to order a plate of boiled kailan with oyster sauce (RMB 15) either, the light, briny flavor a good foil for the richness of the beef broth. The only slight misstep among the dishes we tried on our various visits is the Chaozhou homemade beef balls (RMB 38, RMB 30 with noodles). While we usually appreciate Chaozhou-style beef balls for their bouncy and slightly crunchy texture, here they were rendered more ping pong ball than pleasant. Stick to the beef brisket and you will be rewarded with a satisfying meal whether you visit at lunchtime or after a session at Great Leap. Robynne Tindall thin noodles with stewed beef brisket

photo: photos: joey guo ken

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BACK FOR MORE

Shrimp Fajitas

Pebbles Courtyard Arriba, Arriba! Onwards and Upwards Mon 5pm-midnight, Tue-Fri 11.30am-midnight, Sat-Sun 10.30am-midnight. 74 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District (8404 0767) 沙卵石西餐屋:东城区五道营胡同74号 200m east of Andingmen (Line 2)

photo: ken

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exican cuisine is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in Beijing, with The Taco Bar flourishing and expanding onto an outside patio, Fiesta Tex-Mex opening up, and old favorites like Q Mex and Pebbles Courtyard, previously Sand Pebbles Lounge, expanding their menus. Pebbles Courtyard’s rebrand includes an expansion into the back of the building – covered with glass, the space provides for some dining under natural light during the day and as close as possible to an outdoor area in the summer when temperatures become unbearable in the rest of the city’s open-air courtyards. Their rooftop has also opened again – one of the neighborhoods’ best kept secrets. Having visited many times prior to the revamp, I had already settled on staple items, but was forced to re-think old go-tos with the new menu. Pebbles Courtyard now serves more salads, hamburgers, fish and chips, individual

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tacos (perfect for mix and match), and a number of different burritos. The large guacamole and beans nachos (RMB 55) remained generously topped with melted cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, fresh diced tomato, and of course, guacamole, and beans. Honestly, the best thing about the nachos at Pebbles Courtyard is that they’re laid out flat, so there are no soggy, topping-less, sad nachos left at the bottom, the pet peeve of any nacho connoisseur. We also had a fajita steak burrito (RMB 88), which now comes with a side serving of fresh salsa and a side salad. Pebbles Courtyard has a place in the heart of many residents near Andingmen or the Lama Temple, having served up big margaritas and solid burritos for years. The new space is even more welcoming with more tables for Gulou’s laptop warriors, or those who want to “work from home” with a margarita in hand. Margaux Schreurs

july 2015


Breakfast Dishes from Around the World International morning adventures in the capital by Margaux Schreurs

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photos: ken and courtesy of zach hoy

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eijing is an international city, but we bet that most of you haven’t thought past making your breakfast the way you did at home, or those steaming convenience store baozi. That’s fair enough, considering morning time constraints. However, on your days off you really have no excuse but to take your taste buds on a test drive through these international breakfast dishes.


feature American Breakfast The buttermilk pancakes at Lily’s American Diner are fluffy like they should be, and the portion solid. Choose whether you want your pancakes to be served with two eggs and bacon, or eggs and sausage. Alternatively, choose from one of the many different American-style breakfast items, for those who like to gorge on waffles or omelettes in the morning. Lily’s American Diner (Shuangjing). Daily 8am-midnight. Unit 2-18, Bldg 2, Tianzhi Jiaozi, 31 Guangqu Lu, Chaoyang District (8418 5497

Cantonese Breakfast Jindingxuan is open 24 hours per day, and thus is the perfect place to get breakfast any time of the day. They serve up a mean bowl of zhou, or congee, the traditional southern Chinese rice porridge, which can be upgraded with a range of toppings from meat to seafood. Prefer your breakfast bigger? Add a serving of youtiao, or fried bread sticks, for a complete meal that promises to keep you going all day.

Singaporean Breakfast Kaya toast – toast with coconut jam and butter – can be found at Toast Box outlets across the city. The Raffles City Toast Box branch serves up a breakfast set, which includes kaya toast, a choice of coffee or milk tea, and an egg (boiled fully, or half-boiled the Singaporean way). Although the toast did have a bit too much butter, the combination makes a great start to the day for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Indian Breakfast For a southern Indian breakfast, try the vada at Punjabi Indian Restaurant. Accompanied by masala chai, this makes for an unusual but satisfying option to start the day. A vada is a frittertype snack made using lentils, commonly found at railway stations and other street stalls in south India. If that’s not your thing, they also have many different types of paratha on the menu.

Toast Box (Raffles City). Daily 10am-8pm. B1-01, Raffles City Mall, 1 Dongzhimen Nandajie, Dongcheng District (8409 8892)

Punjabi. Daily 11.30am-10.45pm. 2F, C-8 Lucky Street, 1 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District (5867 0221)

British Breakfast Slow Boat Brewery’s fry-up comes as a huge portion with bangers supplied by Beijing Bangers, and whipped up by Chef Jai Harman who picked up the sausage-making trade in the UK and proudly uses only traditional recipes. Accompanying his bangers are grilled mushrooms, a generous portion of whole wheat bread, and eggs cooked to your liking. As it is Slow Boat, you can couple your breakfast with one of their many beers. Slow Boat Brewery. Available Sundays 11.30am-2pm. 56 Dongsi Batiao, Dongcheng District (6538 5537)

Sanyuanqiao

Jindingxuan (Ditan). Open 24 hours. 77 Hepingli Xijie, Dongcheng District (6429 6699)

Sanlitun Dongzhimen

Israeli Breakfast Shakshuka at MoxiMoxi is the quintessential Israeli breakfast item and adored by many international tastes. Actually, it is a suitable meal at any time of the day. Eggs boiled to perfection in a combination of tomatoes, aubergines, and onions presented in a pita bread topped off with tahini sauce. Healthy, tasty, and also a great idea if you like having your breakfast in the evenings, with a beer at Cellar Door.

Dongsi

Wangfujing

MoxiMoxi. Daily (except Monday) 5pm-late. 55 Fangjia Hutong, Dongcheng District (158 0168 0406)

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Central Business District


Alfresco

MULU

DEFINING HUTONG CUISINE

photos: joey guo

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Alfresco Tue-Sun 6-10pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am-3pm. 7 Xinsi Hutong, Dongsi Shiertiao, Dongcheng District (6400 3627) 东城区东四十二条辛寺胡同7号 500m northeast of Zhangzizhong Lu (Line 5)

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e love a good hutong roof terrace and we love a good brunch, although up to now options that combine the two have been limited to Alba and the roof of the (admittedly very lovely) Orchid. So we were happy to find that hutong restaurant Mulu, which first opened in early 2014, had recently renovated and introduced a weekend brunch menu. Mulu feels like the courtyard home of your classiest friend. An open kitchen and expansive dining space on the first floor gives way to a second floor dining room and a roof-top garden with seating for 20 people, all decorated with cool colors and Chinese-style furnishings. Mulu’s owners describe the food as “hutong cuisine.” In practice this means a fusion of Western, Chinese, and Malaysian culinary techniques. A strange mix, maybe, but one in capable hands when you consider that own owner hails from Malaysia and the Chinese head chef has a background in Western cuisine. The brunch menu (RMB 268 for four courses, RMB 298 including house wine) offers an array of main courses including a trio of eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, spinach, and prosciutto, or an authentic laksa Sarawak with tiger prawns. Taken on the terrace overlooking the hutong rooftops, either is a pleasant choice. On the dinner menu, these forays into fusion produce varying degrees of success. A laksa risotto, prepared with more than 30 different spices, is a triumph, the al dente rice giving way to a broth reminiscent of a Southeast Asian-scented lobster bisque. A dish of glazed black cod with sweet and sour lentils, however, fails to reach the same standard, although for us it comes as the sixth course of an eight-course menu, so it’s possible we were just entirely too full to appreciate it. Robynne Tindall

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Provincial Restaurants

Fujian Provincial Government Restaurant Average Food, Great Dessert Daily 9.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-11.30pm. 3F, Fujian Dasha, 11 Anzhen Xili Sanqu, Chaoyang District (6442 8833) 朝阳区安贞西里三区11号福建大厦3层

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a Fujian style bowl of noodles in satay sauce (RMB 26), stir-fried tofu and bamboo shoots (RMB 38), and stuffed glutinous rice balls stuffed (RMB 24). The crisp-fried dried tofu rolls were were served with a refreshing, sweet chili sauce. The sautéed sweet and sour pork tenderloin was also not too bad, but the water chestnut took us all by surprise. Note that the noodles are not made using satay sauce as we know it, but rather a local Fujian variation. However, credit where credit is due: the glutinous rice balls were awesome, and came stuffed with a delightful mix of crushed peanuts and sesame seeds, covered in black sesame powder. They were so good that I might actually go there just for the desserts – the menu is home to a few other attractive sounding desserts, including deep fried taro rolls, egg tarts, and ma yuan. In the end we were lucky that there was a chuan’r and beer garden nearby so we could make up for lost calories. Let’s hope that my third time picking a provincial government restaurant is lucky. Margaux Schreurs

july 2015

photo: ken

was secretly hoping that this month’s provincial restaurant wouldn’t be as depressing as the Anhui entry in June, but our visit to the Fujian Provincial Government restaurant wasn’t that enlightening. It wasn’t bad, but it also isn’t quite worth the trip, especially if you don’t have a specific Fujian dish that you love in mind. The restaurant itself looks quite posh – big tables with clean tablecloths, hordes of attentive staff that may have never seen foreigners before, a clean carpet, and actual wine glasses on the table. However, the problems started as soon as we opened the menu: shark’s fin. Right. Firstly, the dishes were extremely expensive (shark’s fin soup at RMB 328). Secondly, who even eats shark’s fin anymore? We don’t, and neither should you. After flipping through a couple of pages of over-priced, show-off ingredients that are or aren’t endangered and/ or poisonous, we finally made our decision: crisp-fried dried tofu rolls with minced pork (RMB 42), sautéed sweet and sour pork tenderloin with water chestnut (RMB 48),


WHAT’S NEW restaurants

WUSHI KONGJIAN EPICUREAN EXCLUSIVITY

50 Dongsi Wutiao, Dongcheng District (186 0113 6684) 吾十空间:东城区东四五条50号 700m northeast of Dongsi (Line 5, Line 6)

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photo: robynne tindall

s a diner who enjoys smugly sharing pictures of exclusive, invite-only meals, I am a big fan of the crop of private dining, pay-in-advance restaurant spaces that have opened up in the hutongs recently. The latest, Wushi Kongjian, serves Yunnan-inspired cuisine in a restored courtyard art space. The restaurant is tucked away on Dongsi Wutiao, just northeast of Dongsi station. To dine at Wushi Kongjian, you will first need to book your meal via their 微店 (Weidian store): 吾十小 院 (wushi xiaoyuan). Payment can be completed with WeChat Wallet or Alipay, at which time you will be able to tailor the meal according to your preferences or dietary requirements. Currently, a meal for two is priced at RMB 500, going up to RMB 3,120 for dinner for 12. Either way, this will get you a torrent of dishes, served by owner Abby and her introverted Yunnanese chef. The menu changes often, but on the day we went highlights included a heaping bowl of tender carp in sour soup with pickled vegetables; a surprising dish of steamed Yunnan ham and goat’s cheese, in savory broth; and a plate of cooling-yet-spicy cold rice noodles. With the option to dine in the courtyard under the shade of an ancient tree, we see ourselves holding many dinners at Wushi Kongjian before the summer is out. Robynne Tindall

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Q&A

Cooking From the Heart Simon Yuen, Executive Chinese Chef, New World Beijing Hotel by Robynne Tindall

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ith over 30 years of experience in five-star hotels around China and Beijing, Executive Chinese Chef Simon Yuen is bringing a fresh take to the menu at New World Beijing Hotel’s flagship Chinese restaurant, 8 Qi Nian. He talks to us about staying true to his Cantonese roots and the changes he has seen in Chinese cuisine during his extensive career. How has Chinese cuisine changed in the more than 30 years you have been working as a chef? When I first came to Beijing to work at China World Hotel in 1990, China was just opening up. We were starting to receive fresh imported ingredients from overseas, such as lobster from Australia. However, at that time most people couldn’t afford it – the lobster we were getting was RMB 72 per 50g. Prices have decreased as living standards have increased, meaning more and more people can afford to eat out. What do modern Chinese diners want? Different age groups and economic groups have different

needs. A group of middle-aged business guests have different expectations from a group of young office workers. However, on the whole, today’s Chinese diners are much more concerned with value. They are willing to spend money, but they want to know that what they are getting for their money is really worth it. This ties into issues of food safety and food quality, which is also an important consideration when people are dining out nowadays. How does working in a hotel restaurant different from working in a non-hotel restaurant? We have to meet strict hygiene standards across the entire food production process, from suppliers to the preparation we do in our own kitchen. This is true for most aspects of working in a hotel; everything we do has to follow a strict set of rules or processes. For example, the owner of a small, independent restaurant might be able to visit the market in the morning, look at the produce, and decide “This is what I’m going to cook today.” That would be very difficult for us. What is your food philosophy? I believe that everyone can cook, but not everyone can be a chef. To be a chef, you have to approach every dish with precision. Furthermore, a good chef has to have good ingredients to work with. I believe in using seasonal ingredients wherever possible.

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photo courtesy ofnew world beijing hotel

How have you maintained your relationship with Cantonese cuisine after all these years travelling around China? I always try to stay true to the roots of Cantonese cuisine. Of course, you can change the ingredients or even incorporate new techniques from other Western and Chinese schools of cuisine, but if you stray too far from Cantonese traditions, then what you are making isn’t Cantonese food. Nevertheless, when I visit a new place, for example Dalian, I look at the local produce and try to combine it with traditional Cantonese techniques. So in Dalian, I was cooking a lot of local seafood in Cantonese style.


WOKIPEDIA

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…kongfu cuisine 孔府菜 Literally translated to “dishes of the Confucian Mansion,” this obscure subset of Shandong cuisine is strongly influenced by Confucian principles such as balance and harmony. Dishes are typically given high-falutin’ names like “pupils paying tribute to their master” (zhuzi gongshi), a dish which uses bamboo shoots to represent the pupils, since the characters for pupil and bamboo shoot are homophonous. In addition, great importance is attached to fine tableware, and the combination and presentation of dishes. …koushuiji 口水鸡 One of the most famous, and most popular, dishes in the Sichuan culinary canon, koushuiji (literally translated as mouth-watering chicken) consists of poached chicken served cold and dressed in a sauce rich in chili oil and Sichuan pepper, and optionally sesame paste. Our favorite versions in Beijing can be found at opposite ends of the Chinese dining spectrum, at the Sichuan Provincial Government Restaurant and Transit. … kugua 苦瓜 Resembling a rougher, paler green cucumber, bitter melon is thought to reduce blood sugar, and treat stomach and intestinal problems (although these claims have not necessarily been medically proven). In Chinese cuisine, its bitter flavor is employed in strong-flavored stir fries, for example with pork and black beans, or in cooling chilled starters. …kale 芥蓝 While the kale you will recognize from a million healthy salads and green juices has not yet achieved widespread popularity in China (although the market traders at Sanyuanli are quick to try and sell you bunches of it), its close cousin, jielan, is a mainstay of dining tables across China. Also known as gai-lan or Chinese kale, kai-lan has a similar flavor to broccoli, although more bitter.

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just desserts

Awfully Chocolate The Answer to Your Cacao Dreams

Daily 10am-9pm. LG07, Indigo Mall, 18 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (8426 0917) 朝阳区酒仙桥路18号颐堤港LG07单元 50m south of Jiangtai (Line 14)

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butterscotch brownie (RMB 27), a chocolate mille crepe (RMB 37), and even a flourless chocolate cake (RMB 30). On the drinks side of things, Awfully Chocolate serves up a genuinely good macchiato, if that’s your thing. We went with their specialty treat: a slice of super stacked chocolate cake. This is seven layers of fudge and chocolate making for a perfectly moist and tasty, if incredibly rich, cake. Apart from visits to the store, Awfully Chocolate may just be the best place to get that birthday cake for your chocolate-addicted friend who deserves nothing but the best. Another, larger, outlet has just opened on the basement level of Taikoo Li Sanlitun South, opposite BHG Supermarket, perfect for those who prefer their chocolate a little more centrally located. Margaux Schreurs

july 2015

photo: uni

ingaporean franchise Awfully Chocolate tried to take Beijing once before with two stores that unfortunately closed down. A new store has very recently opened in Indigo Mall and we wholeheartedly approve because the shelves are filled with chocolate-y goodness of every size, shape, and form. Their modern store features big wooden tables that create a calm and welcoming atmosphere for people to sit down and chat with friends, or quietly do some work while satisfying that chocolate craving, multiple times over. The tough part is choosing what to indulge in. The options are plentiful, including a slice of super-stacked chocolate cake (RMB 27), a roll of white chocolate and butterscotch (RMB 35), a piece of cold poached chocolate (RMB 35), white chocolate crème brulee (RMB 33), a salted


p.s. we ate you Every month, we like to shine a spotlight on the most delicious dishes we’ve stumbled upon recently. Chow down! beer-butt chicken Plan B, RMB 180 Shuangjing bar  Plan  B  serves  up  some  of  the  juiciest chicken in town. The secret? A big ol’ can of beer inserted where the sun don’t shine. Each five-pound chicken  is  marinated  in  garlic,  paprika,  and  butter,  before  it  and  the  beer  are  slow-roasted  on  a  closed  barbecue. The beer can steams the chicken from the inside, adding extra moisture to the meat. brunch burrito Slow Boat, RMB 55 Slow Boat’s brunch burrito is stuffed with Beijing Bangers’ juicy cheddar and jalapeno sausage, scrambled eggs, cheddar, and Slow Boat’s own crunchy salsa. In case that wasn’t enough, it comes with a side of hash browns. Italian hot dog Union Bar & Grille, RMB 85 Like a delight off the kids’ menu, but in an adult portion. Union’s take on the Italian hot dog is more of a pizza dog, with melted mozzarella cheese instead of onions, peppers, and potatoes. It’s like an American fun food smackdown, and it gets the one thing right that almost every other hot dog in town doesn’t – the bun. That’s a real hot dog bun supporting an all-beef frank. Take us out to the ball game. chicken schnitzel pita MoxiMoxi, RMB 35 The boys at MoxiMoxi have expanded their menu and added an item for all the carnivores out there: a chicken schnitzel pita stuffed with fresh lettuce, chopped cherry tomatoes, onions, and delicious tahini sauce. We love this dish, but beware, it is extremely addictive. chilled tom yum crab Crab Girl, RMB 108 Southeast Asian cuisine knows a thing or two about spicy food in hot weather, but sitting down to a bowl of steaming anything in these temperatures just isn’t appealing. If you agree, you might want to try new restaurant Crab Girl’s tom yum flavored crab, which, unusually, comes in a chilled broth infused with Thai aromatics.

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july 2015


TASTE TEST

Alcopop Adventures open the door to your youth by Margaux Schreurs

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ixing your own drinks might be fun, but if you explore the fridges at your local convenience store, there’s a whole world of bottled, somewhat unidentifiable, and inappropriately branded concoctions waiting to be discovered. We go all in to tell you which to pop, and which to avoid like the plague. We wouldn’t want you making the same mistakes we did.

Hello Kitty Limited Edition RIO: Vodka and Fruit Punch (RMB 13.8) “Special edition you say? It tastes a little bit like my childhood.” “It’s definitely getting better the more I try it, a little bit like something is killing my taste buds.” “Grease-themed Hello Kitty alcohol. That makes sense.”

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Bacardi Breezer: Orange (RMB 12.8) “What is there to say? It’s a breezer, and I’d be surprised if I should ingest this much sugar in one go.” “Looks like if my childhood hamster, Scuttlebutt, were able to fill a whole bottle with pee.” “Beibingyang to get you lit.”

photo: joey guo

RIO: Whisky and Rose (RMB 13.5) “First impression: it looks like the color of toilet water after you put one of those cleaning cakes in the cistern.” “This tastes chirpy… much too chirpy.”


VERDICT Although most of these were much too sweet for our personal taste, and the childish themes seemed a little inappropriate, the pre-mixed Jack Daniels was a success and will definitely steal the show at our next party. Other than that, the Skyy mix was also not too heinous, and might go down easier if you add a slice of real lemon, or mix it into another cocktail.

Zima Pink: Cherry (RMB 13.8) “I can’t tell if that smell is the drink, or my tainted mug.” “This would be something you could use to kill the Powerpuff Girls.” “It’s made using cooking wine, I am not sure if I approve of that.”

Skyy: Vodka and Lemon (RMB 16.8) “Smelling it might have burned off my nosehair.” “The lemons on the pictures must be overripe, they also kind of look like flashcards in the classroom.“ “This is actually really not that bad, if you don’t want to mix your own drinks.”

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Jack Daniels: Whisky and Coke (RMB 18) “This tastes like the first year of university, except more posh.” “Finally! We get to the good stuff.” “We shouldn’t have done this taste test on a Monday morning – I’m enjoying this drink too much!”


Drinks Feature

Taste the Tropics Where to Quench That Equatorial Thirst by Kipp Whittaker

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Fog Cutter: Phil Tory of Bungalow Tiki and Cocktails (RMB 50) I wanted to put this on the menu, but I wasn’t sure if it would appeal to a lot of people. I like it because it has a very different taste profile than other tiki drinks. Along with being a Trader Vic original from the early 40s in San Francisco, it fulfills three things that I feel make a great cocktail: it has a history, the flavor is unique because the rum plays second fiddle to the sherry (extremely rare for a tiki drink), and finally, I love drinks with a cool name. The quote from the creator of this dangerous grog is that “if you drink three of these you won’t even see the fog (or smog in our case).” Ingredients: 60ml Havana Club Puerto Rican rum 15ml Orgeat 15ml Bombay gin 30ml Renault brandy 60ml Lemon Juice Float the Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry

july 2015

photos: Kipp Whittaker

Más Punch: Ross Harris of Más (RMB 60) Last summer we had a classic Planter’s Punch on the menu, but it didn’t sell very well. Maybe people have pre-conceived notions about what a Planter’s Punch is because they’ve been served terrible 80s vacation versions, which is a similar issue that plagues Mai Tais. So I decided to make a riff off of the original using nearly every delicious fruit flavor combination imaginable along with strong bitters and that funky Myer’s Rum. The result is the most tropical drink imaginable: fresh, sour, sweet and refreshing. Ingredients: 60ml Myers’s rum 15ml orange curaçao 30ml homemade fresh pineapple syrup 30ml homemade fresh passionfruit syrup 15ml honey 30ml lemon juice 2 barspoons Thai coconut cream 5-7 dashes homemade tiki bitters


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ur city might be a landlocked mess of blistering temperatures during the summer but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a little respite in the taste of the tropics from some talented barkeeps. We asked selected masters of spirit what they think is the ultimate summertime cocktails to keep you lubricated and not burnt to a crisp this season.

Kiss Me, Spank Me: Travis of Daily Routine (RMB 50) I always love drinks that are tasty and refreshing but have a hard kick in the end. That’s the kind of experience I wanted to give the customer via this cocktail. I tend to think of this drink as a beautiful lady with attitude. Round after round of sipping this one down, you’ll find out that the banana flavor is like a sweet tropical kiss, and the hot pepper is a playful spank on your bottom when you are bad. Finally, I use fresh coconut water because it quenches your thirst and is pretty decent at fighting hangovers. That’s my way of making sense of this creation. Ingredients: 1/2 banana 30ml fresh coconut water 30ml Thai lime juice 15ml acacia honey syrup 15ml Hot Monkey hot pepper infused vodka 15ml Sailor Jerry rum 15ml Lemon Hart overproof rum 30ml Bacardi white rum 1 dash of coconut bitters 1 dash of hellfire bitters

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Prague Spring: Eric Liu of Mao Mao Chong (RMB 45) Here’s something we thought up that touches all of the bases for what a tropical drink can and should be. This drink is based on the sour family of cocktails and combines three totally tropical ingredients together, which are kaffir lime leaves, lime, and pineapple. The fresh materials must come first. It has fresh pineapple chunks, giving it an intensely creamy base, and kaffir lime leaves to add a slight, complex bitterness to all of the sweet and sour in the mix. Ingredients: 30ml kaffir infused vodka 15ml simple syrup 30ml lime juice 4 pineapple chunks 4 lime leaves

july 2015


WHAT’S NEW BARS & CLUBS

Sir Teen

the dreams of teens Daily 9pm-late. 6 Gongti Donglu, Chaoyang District (8821 9999) 朝阳区工人体育场西路6号二层 700m southeast of Dongsishitiao (Line 2)

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point for many dance clubs in Gongti is action movies of the 80s and 90s. Surprisingly, the cocktails that we sampled were all delectable. We tried the Old Fashioned, and it happened to be a prime example of what this cocktail should be. Alhough the price was on the high side (RMB 70), this is a standard price for the clubs in this location. A couple weeks ago they had a Doraemon-themed party with creepy blue figures adorning the entire length of the club. Some of the sexiest human beings Beijing has to offer crowded the venue taking selfies with these popular Japanese figures. Later on this month they will have a Da Vinci Code themed party, called “The Sir Teen Code.” We have no idea what this means, but we are definitely intrigued by whomever comes up with this stuff. Kipp Whittaker

july 2015

photo: Kipp Whittaker

magine a club with mostly seating areas where you can order up a bottle of expensive bubbly or Chivas Regal to share among your equally fancy yet despondent crew of companions. Sounds like a really boring scene if you ask us. The oddly named Sir Teen might fit this uninspired trend, but they are also trying to make it much more by incorporating some 1940s Parisian cabaret elements into the mix. The style at this new club shoots back and forth between this and your run of the mill EDM party hall in a very interesting way. At points, it reminded us of the “The Ink & Paint Club” from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with plenty of garishly dressed patrons and a whole gaggle of sequined, multinational Jessica Rabbits. When they switched over to EDM, we expected a SWAT team to burst through the ceiling and take out some high-profile criminal syndicate. We have to admit that our reference


WHAT’S NEW BARS & CLUBS

sos

Great New Buzz in Gulou Wed-Mon 7pm-2am. 77 nameless alley next to Xiaojingchang Hutong south entrance, Dongcheng District (186 0020 6778) 东城区小经厂胡同口旁边77号进去即到 500m west of Beixinqiao (Line 5)

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photo: Kipp Whittaker

aving lived in Tokyo for a bit, one of the first things I noticed about the nightlife scene is how there was a bar for every type of subculture. While Beijing isn’t exactly there yet, it does seem to be moving in that direction. SOS may just be the first watering hole meant for noise heads and other musically-minded degenerates, people exterior to popular musical culture. They have a selection of both beers and cocktails at moderate prices. We very much liked their specialty cocktails, which included the Acid Mothers Temple (RMB 45), named after the infamously banned-in-China Japanese psychedelic group, and rocking a concoction of red wine, crème de cassis, lime juice, and Calpis. We also downed a Moment for a True Man (RMB 55), served in a giant glass goblet, the receptacle of choice for any true man. Filled with fresh pear juice, beer, vodka, gin, and rum, it proved tasty, and a little girly, the pear juice masking the taste of the strong spirits within. The space has a casual vibe with picnic tables stretching across the length of the room. There’s also an amazing roof terrace for barbecuing and such. Erotic material and soft hentai adorns the walls and a giant Japanese folk mask with a big phallic nose hangs from the ceiling, making me realize that I sometimes enjoy subtle displays of virility in a watering hole. Expect great music any time of the day, ranging from noise rock and jazz to even a selection from Beijing’s top music minds. We feel that SOS will soon become an essential hangout for music or creative heads of all kinds. Kipp Whittaker

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World Baijiu Day

Confessions of a How People Get Into the Spirit by Jim Boyce

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before moving to Phnom Penh, and who, as a bartender, has experimented widely. His first experience, in Yunnan in 2004, was not a positive one given the baijiu “tasted strongly of burnt plastic”. But when he moved to Beijing he “approached baijiu with the enthusiasm of a bartender discovering a whole new family of spirits!” “Whilst the flavors were initially quite new to me, it was great to taste things analytically and that helped to pull out the styles that I enjoyed more, and to pair them with things in cocktails,” says Mathew. “I still find some of the flavors challenging, but it’s easier to appreciate the sweet,

july 2015

photo courtesy of jim boyce

f you hail from a nation where whisky, gin, or tequila rules the liquor cabinet, professing to enjoy baijiu to a compatriot in Beijing is likely to be seen as treason. First comes a look of shock, then sarcasm that you obviously have a developed a refined taste for jet fuel and paint thinner, and finally dismissal that you aren’t really [insert nationality here]. Plus, what’s next? That you also like stinky tofu? The interesting thing is the blinders many visitors, including me, have worn when it comes to alcohol in Beijing. There are people who enjoy Islay single malt, including ones described as having an “iodine” element, and who resolutely dismiss any and all baijiu as “nail polish remover”. People who favor Jack and Coke while mocking Chinese club-goers who drink Chivas with sweet green tea. And people who scoff at locals who mix red wine and cola even though this is a popular tipple in Spain and elsewhere. Going local with the booze just ain’t easy. But when it comes to baijiu, the reality is that far more people like it, or are curious about it, than many might suppose. I saw a shining example of this a year ago when I moderated a Q&A session with Derek Sandhaus, author of Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits, during The Bookworm Literary Festival. The room heaved with people from around the world, who kept up a continuous flow of questions and in most cases were genuinely interested in tasting the four different baijius on offer. I’ve seen a similar response elsewhere, whether at baijiu-inspired bar Capital Spirits, while hanging out with wine trade people when a bottle of white spirits came out, or on social media, where a recent post on baijiu drew comments like “take a sip or two of a premium brand and you start to get it” and “if you get the good stuff, it’s surprisingly clean.” A few months ago, I created a section called Confessions of a Baijiu Drinker for the World Baijiu Day site to show how people, including those in the alcohol trade, first tried baijiu and then came to appreciate it. Take Paul Mathew, who spent five years in Beijing


Baijiu Drinker

floral and fruity characteristics now without the surprise that first time baijiu drinkers face!” Writer David Volodzko, who runs the site Rational Consent, also first tried baijiu during a trip to Yunnan. “The stuff we tried was made by local villagers and, being an Appalachian kid, I drank it like moonshine from a jar I had packed full with berries,” he says. “I also tried a little on its own, but immediately thought better of it.” It took an intervention to show him the spirit’s potential. “When a friend from Guizhou asked if I liked baijiu, I hesitated, and he practically force-fed me several cups

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of Maotai,” says Volodzko. “That was when the lights turned on.” “I like the peachy fragrance of a Luzhou Laojiao, a steely Kinsmen Kaoliang 58, or a pungent Wuliangye, but there’s nothing like getting lost in the flavor labyrinth of a smoky Maotai,” he adds. Nick Van Leeuwen, co-founder of organic wine importer Australian Natural, says he first began to appreciate baijiu in 2011, “when I started regularly attending banquets and dinners.” “I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try a wide range of different baijiu brands and flavors,” says Van Leeuwen, who says he’s “a big fan of strong flavored baijiu” and lists his favorite brands as Mengzhilan, Wuliangye, and Shuijingfang. And Ophelia Cai, born in China but raised in the UK, says that she tasted baijiu very early – “I have Chinese parents you see, so they were dipping their chopsticks in baijiu and drip feeding me from the very start, whilst my grandparents calmly smiled on.” – but her appreciation of it came later. “Funnily enough the head start actually put me off for a long time, as the taste is not particularly child-palate friendly,” says Cai, who recently started an Asia alcohol blog called Each Sip Sweet. “Baijiu is still not something that you would necessarily crave at all times of the day, but there are moments when the feeling of firewater just hits the spot.” Does this mean everyone, with enough exposure, will enjoy baijiu. No, but as with many spirits – from whisky to tequila to gin – you don’t know until you try. And making that effort doesn’t make you a cultural traitor. Also, stinky tofu is awesome.

july 2015


WHAT’S NEW BARS & CLUBS

the distillery by Capital Spirits The House that Spirits Built Mon-Thu 8pm-midnight, Fri-Sat 8pm-2am, closed Sun. 23 Xinsi Hutong, Dongcheng District (No phone) 东城区辛寺胡同23号 100m northeast of Zhangzizhong Lu (Line 5)

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Unlike their other location, this Capital Spirits will not sell flights of baijiu or have any for sale. This new location will be a cocktail bar of the classic variety with your standard options of neat pours or classic cocktails and craft brews also available. We had a couple of dirty gin martinis, which were served in a frosty glass and went down with great ease. The space itself is larger than their original venue, with an intimate second floor, just begging to be seductively lit with candles and enhanced with the sultry vibe of Sade’s early catalogue (the Nigerian songstress, not the Marquis). While we were unable to sample the craft tipples they will be brewing up, rest assured that we will drop by again for a tasting when they are ready. After all, there’s a fine line between “craft” and a “crafty” marketing attempt. Kipp Whittaker

july 2015

photo: Kipp Whittaker

apital Spirits continue with their streak of firsts. Having opened a bar dedicated to baijiu in the latter half of last year, they now move onto building Beijing’s inaugural craft distillery, at their new and vastly improved Dongsi location. Here they will specialize in making craft spirits, such as vodka, gin, and light rum out of their new high-tech distilling contraption that is sure to turn a few heads – if not blow up the entire neighborhood – with its otherworldly appearance. While we are just kidding about that last part, as the still looks exceptionally safe and professional, we are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to damage our livers with the high proof spirits that are sure to bubble up from their completed chemistry set, which features a six-plate copper column still with a gin basket, and has a 90-liter capacity, enough for about 20 bottles of product per batch.


Things to do, places to be, stuff to try

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photo courtesy of the organizers

OLD NAVY // BIRDING BEIJING // MOTORCYCLE CLUBS // CUANDIXIA

GHOST: THE MUSICAL JUL 1 - This paranormal love story adapted to the stage, turned the dirty deed of throwing clay on a potters wheel into an erotic act. When you add a little "Unchained Melody" into the equation you'll be swooning in no time. RMB 180. 7.30-9.30pm. Beijing Poly Theater (6500 1188)

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WHAT’S NEW Venues & shops

Miniso

Made in China to Look Japanese Daily 9am-10pm. Bldg A, 12-14 Qianmen Dajie, Xicheng District (No phone) 前门大街12-14号A栋 200m south of Qianmen (Line 2)

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bastardization of the Japanese language. On their website they have a hip-looking Japanese designer named Miyake Junya, from “Tokyo, Janpan,” [sic] who is praised for being “the global wave of life consumer goods excellent initiator.” We guess that proves that he is the elusive brains behind the operation, but the whole company still smells a bit fishy to us. Where this place succeeds is in its value, and the wares on sale all look relatively well made. Who cares if it’s a ripoff of Japanese designs if the store is a great place to stroll about buying some good value (if potentially of limited real application) crap, like belt organizers, portable battery chargers, or sunscreen ( we perhaps wouldn’t recommend the latter)? This explains why every time we’ve been here it has been loaded with people rejoicing in the age-old tradition of cheap commerce and giving the lady in the Big Hero 6 costume hugs when exiting the premises. Kipp Whittaker

july 2015

photo: Kipp Whittaker

magine a high-end dollar store, with products that you actually want. This is what Miniso is offering. To our knowledge, these outlets only exist in Guangzhou and the Qianmen area of Beijing, but they are likely to multiply significantly with their line of “Made in China”, but designed to look Japanese, products. What will you find here? Well, almost anything from cosmetics and skincare products, to cookware, smartphone accessories, bags, and snacks. Everything we looked at had a price tag considerably less than RMB 100. It’s a far cry from the Dollar Generals in the US, where you might run into Gulf War trading cards or obscure purple-flavored drinks that will likely sow the seeds for a Quasimodo back hump. Many people online are saying that the overall aesthetic is a Chinese knockoff of Japanese brands like Muji and Uniqlo. They use an odd mix of hanzi and katakana on their packaging, making for an interesting but incoherent


WHAT’S NEW Venues & shops

Old Navy

A New Vibe at Old Navy Daily 10am-10pm. F1-21, Bldg 2, U-Town Lifestyle Center, Sanfeng Beili, Chaoyang District (8572 8060) 朝阳区朝外大街三丰北里2号F1-21层 200m east of Chaoyangmen (Line 2)

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PHOTO courtesy of Old navy

his month we welcome Old Navy to Chaoyang’s U-Town Shopping Center, marking the arrival of America’s premier shop for moderately-priced clothes for men, women, girls, and boys with a taste for colorful, comfortably casual threads. The two-story, 1,500square-meter shop is their ninth store in China, and they are doing their best to conquer the market with their take on fashion basics. As a kid, I remember when my mom would say “time to go over to Old Navy,” and I would slump in my chair and let out a deep breath of despair, which I’m pretty sure was because of their kitsch graphic tees and uninspired designs that only a mother could love. This time around I was expecting more of the same but was pleasantly surprised by the selection of decent-looking prints and summer threads that give H&M a serious run for their money. There is only a relatively small bump in the prices compared to their stores back in the US. Denim products are available for around RMB 199, and shorts and buttonup shirts go for about RMB 149. Totally reasonable by our standards. This has always been the cheaper alternative to Gap or Banana Republic, so you can expect more or less the same styles that are offered in these stores. For those who shy away from simple styles, you should still check out their low-cost underwear and socks because they are simple enough to accommodate any outfit without clashing. Kipp Whittaker

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july 2015


get out

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS AN ALTERNATIVE GUIDE TO HONG KONG FOR REPEAT VISITORS by Robynne Tindall

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silver stands with a selection of seasonal teas. Afternoon tea for one is HKD 278 plus 10 percent service charge (the Hong Kong dollar is worth approximately 20 percent less than the RMB). Shopping Give it a miss… IFC, Harbour City, et al. Go instead… Argyle Centre, Mongkok It’s hardly a secret that most tourists come to Hong Kong for the shopping. If your style is more “cheap chic” than Chanel, head to Mongkok’s labyrinthine Argyle Centre for trendy clothes at bargain basement prices. Imagine a bricks and mortar version of Taobao and you will have the right idea – sparkly phone cases and imported face creams compete for space with the latest fashions from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. There are also plenty of cheap snack stalls for when you need a break from the retail onslaught. Sightseeing Give it a miss… The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery Go instead… Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden The 34-meter-tall Big Buddha on Lantau Island is undoubtedly an impressive sight, but the expensive cable car and tacky tourist village surrounding it have made it more of a miss than a hit (not to mention that with Hong Kong’s humid, cloudy weather you’ll be lucky to visit on a day when you can see the Buddha’s head). Instead, take the MTR to Diamond Hill station in Kowloon and visit hushed Chi Lin Nunnery, a Buddhist temple complex renovated in Tang dynasty style. Together with the adjacent Nan Lian Garden, lush with foliage, it is one of the most unexpectedly serene spots in Hong Kong.

july 2015

photo: issac lee (flickr)

visit to Hong Kong, whether for a visa run or a slice of Westernized escapism, is a rite of passage for many a newly arrived Beijing expat. But what about those of us who are on our Nth visit and are looking for something a little different? Here we present the Beijinger’s alternative guide to Hong Kong for repeat visitors. Dim Sum Give it a miss… Tim Ho Wan Go instead… Man Mo Café Yes, the char siu pork puffs at Tim Ho Wan are delicious, and yes, it is one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, but the long waits and canteen atmosphere, particularly at the IFC branch, always leave us feeling dissatisfied. For something completely different, head to Man Mo Café. Nestled among the antique stores on Cat Street, Man Mo Café serves up kooky dim sum with Western flavors twists, such as foie gras xiaolongbao or Nutella-filled sesame balls. Of course, for the traditionalists there’s always shabby-chic Lin Heung Teahouse on nearby Wellington Street. Afternoon tea Give it a miss… Afternoon tea at The Peninsula Go instead… Afternoon tea at the Clipper Lounge, Mandarin Oriental If you’re tired of waiting in line at The Peninsula with scores of Chinese and Japanese tourists clutching bags of luxury goods, head instead to the equally venerable Mandarin Oriental and the exceedingly genteel Clipper Lounge. Decked out in muted colors and subtle oriental accents, Clipper Lounge’s afternoon tea is served on traditional


WHAT’S NEW Venues & shops

Cath Kidston

Vintage Floral Heaven in the Basement of Taikoo Li Daily 10am-10pm. SLG23, Taikoo Li Sanlitun, Chaoyang District (6416 0090) 朝阳区三里屯太古里SLG23 1km northwest of Tuanjiehu (Line 10)

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directly to heaven. A branch has finally opened in Taikoo Li Sanlitun, and compared to some of the other stores around in the area, their products’ prices actually reflect their quality. The Sanlitun branch of the store stocks everything: clothes, bags, wallets, shoes, phone cases, and things for around the house. You can find anything you can think of that can be wrapped in the flowery patterns and polka dots that define this company’s style. Carry-alls and shoppers start off around RMB 360, with wallets coming in around RMB 400-600. Clothes are a little more expensive, upwards of RMB 500. If you want to know more you’ll just have to pop by next time you find yourself in Taikoo Li. Margaux Schreurs

PHOTO:joey guo

eijing may have nothing in common with an English village, but we can now bring a little bit of that English countryside atmosphere to our lives with Cath Kidston. Cath Kidston set up her first store in 1993 in London’s vintage-obsessed neighborhood of Holland Park, creating fabrics and patterns inspired by her childhood, including “My bedroom with its pale blue walls and striped rosebud curtains, the overblown chintz in our playroom, the colored Formica worktops and gloss paint,” she writes on her website. If you don’t know the brand, vintage florals and polka dot patterns sum it up pretty well. If you like flowers, entering this store will feel like you have died and gone

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feature

Birding beijing Terry Townshend looks to local skies and sees hundreds of species by Steven Schwankert

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the former that Townshend made what he considers perhaps his top spot. On a cold day in February 2014, while accompanied by British birder Alastair Henderson, he sighted a Przevalski’s Redstart, which breeds on the Tibetan Plateau, and which hadn’t been seen in Beijing in 70 years. “I quickly extended the legs on my tripod and trained my telescope onto the bird, and it showed magnificently, allowing us to see its beautiful mix of orange, grey, black and white plumage. Wow,” he writes on Birding Beijing, recalling the moment. In the city, even the casual observer can see a wide variety of birds. Doves, woodpeckers, and white-checked starlings are all birds that are locally resident, the Beijingers of birds, if you will. Seasonally, there are warblers, swallows, and swifts. Although Beijing is not always immediately associated with biodiversity, its position between sprawling Siberia and tropical Southeast Asia makes it a birder’s paradise. Townshend referred to a “huge eastern fly-way migration” that passes over and through Beijing, especially in the spring and autumn. As temperatures warm up, birds head for the vastness of Siberian and the short summer there. When it gets cold again, many species turn tail and fly south for the winter, many to southern parts of Asia, but some go even farther. In May, Townshend was part of a group of scientists and birding enthusiasts that proved what had previously only been suspected about the birds that lay their eggs each year in the eaves of the Summer Palace’s buildings: that Beijing is the starting and ending point of a 26,000kilometer annual migration. In 2014, 31 Beijing Swifts were briefly captured and a geolocator attached. In order to ensure that the devices were light and would not impede the birds’ flight, these particular recorders did not have transmitters, leaving Townshend and his group on pins and needles until their return this spring.

july 2015

photo: Kipp Whittaker photos courtesy of terry townshend

erry Townshend loves birds. You can tell when he starts to talk about them. When he rattles off the name of species after species of birds that grace the skies over Beijing, his eyes light up, as if they are seeing those winged creatures again for the first time. “Beijing is actually a very good place for birding,” said Townshend, the founder of Birding Beijing, with typical English understatement. What he means is that over 460 species of birds can be spotted in Beijing, either permanently nesting here or passing through seasonally. That number surpasses the variety of species that can be seen regularly in London or New York, respectively. Later he concedes, “Beijing is a world-class birding destination.” Townshend, who is an economist by trade, became interested in birds in his own garden in England at the age of four, a hobby his parents supported with books and identification guides. “The great thing about birding is that you can do it anywhere,” he says. For people who look into the Beijing sky and see only gray, Townshend points out that both world records and China records have been established in Beijing for quantities of birds from a single species sighted locally. “In any [Beijing] park, you’ll see migrant birds” in season, he says. A person can see 100 different species of bird around Beijing in a day, Townshend adds. His current favorite spot is the Miyun Reservoir, northeast of Beijing. As a primary source of potable water for Beijing, the area is protected, a boon for avian species that live or alight there, permanently or seasonally. “The water quality is very good. It has scrub, it has trees. Of course you see water birds there. It’s possible to see hundreds of thousands of birds there in a single day,” he says. Another top spot is Lingshan, Beijing’s highest point, west of the city. That should not be confused with Wulingshan, on the border between Beijing and Hebei province, and also an excellent birding area. It was at


Thirteen of the 31 Beijing Swifts were recaptured in late May, with their flight data recorders proving what had been previously believed: that the birds migrate each year from perches in northwest Beijing, across Central Asia, then south across the Arabian Peninsula and into Africa, finally reaching Namibia, where they spend three months before returning along a similar path to Beijing. Townshend was elated at the news. “‘Woohoo!' was the shout when the first geolocator-carrying swift was caught,” he wrote on the Birding Beijing website. Townshend believes that more and more Beijingers are becoming aware of their environment, both positive and negative, and prefer to see birds in nature, rather than in the traditional Beijing way, which is in cages. “I think I love birds because of their freedom, their ability to fly. If you put them in cages, you’re taking that away,” he says. Learn more about the common swift ’s journey and other Birding Beijing events on their website. www.birdingbeijing.com

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july 2015


THE WILD ONES A Journey into Beijing’s Burgeoning Motorcycle Culture

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motorcycles and the principles of taking part in a more disciplined and active motorcycle club than you would normally find in China. The Expendables, on the other hand, began as a scooter club in 2010, and have since turned into a similar organization to that of the LMMC, with a system of patches and a governing body, but are less focused on the gear, as they normally ride less expensive, locally-made Chang Jiangs. This allows for more focus on the camaraderie that is created by riding around and partying with fellow club members. Club secretary Jimi Sides mentions that with an MC like The Expendables, “you have this brotherhood of guys creating a bond together through group rides and activities. It is less about being like a fraternity or something and more about the responsibility there is between brothers to help each other out.” One of the most important skills these Westerninfluenced Beijing clubs bring to the scene is the way they ride together in a formation. If you encounter them on the road they may appear like a football team, using the classic formation of a blocker in the front and a sweeper in the back to prevent drivers from passing and making sure

july 2015

photos: jimi sides

utlaw motorcycle clubs like the Hell’s Angels are known for being fierce tribes of rabble rousers that destroyed the post-war American status quo with pirate-like fervor, raining hellfire on anyone who stood between them and a good time. When it comes to Beijing’s own motorcycle clubs like The Long March (LMMC) and The Expendables, though they might look a little rough around the edges, it’s less about being transient bandits than about having fun with the club on the back of a motorcycle. Here’s where they came from and why they exist, and some ways you can get involved. LMMC was initially founded as a sidecar club in 1997 by a bunch of Scandinavian engineers living in Beijing. It was eventually inherited by longtime American biker, Clay Jones, who transformed the group into a fully developed Chinese motorcycle club (MC) with all of the necessary Protocol, ranks and patch systems in place that go along with this kind of organization. Clay explained that “first and foremost the purpose of our MC is to have a good time.” Although this is the foundation for the LMMC, they are also very dedicated to the mechanics of their


all riders reach the destination safely. This helps the club get the most out of their rides while maintaining a kind of badass safety in numbers approach to the road. China is apparently a cool place to ride and in the 15 years Clay Jones has been blasting about on his machine here, he has never once been cited for a traffic violation. Recently he was featured on Beijing TV's program Beijing, appearing with China's oldest active motorcyclist, who will soon ride cross-country in the US at the age of 89. He asked Clay the number one consideration for riding a motorcycle in America and what he should be the on the look out for. Clay answered "da police!" The laws of the road are more enforced in the US. While these clubs are gaining traction throughout China, these organized bodies of motorcycle wisdom aren’t the easiest institutions to join. Primarily, it is getting increasingly difficult for riders to obtain all of the permits necessary to ride legally, as it now costs about RMB 100,000 for a Jing A tag – and that’s via a secondary market, as new plates are currently not being issued. Also, these motorcycle clubs will only allow new members that exhibit trustworthiness as a rider, promising safety

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and adherence to the rules of the road so as not to give the club a bad name. Above all, these clubs are about education and creating a proactive community of motorcycle worship and comradeship to develop skills as a road warrior so that members can be free to ride their bikes without being hassled by The Man. Motorcycle Friendly Venues and Club Hangouts: Punk Rock Noodles 25 Donggong Jie, Gulou Dongdajie, Dongcheng District (No phone) 东城区鼓楼东大街东公街25号 Mandrill Café Jingyuan Art District, 3 Guangqu Donglu, Chaoyang District (158 0142 8521) 朝阳区广渠东路3号竞园艺术区 Café de la Poste 58 Yonghegong Dajie, Dongcheng District (6402 7047) 东城区雍和宫大街58号

july 2015


feature

Cuandixia Village

A Peek at Ming and Qing Dynasty Village Life by Margaux Schreurs

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the village. Within the village itself, you can stroll around for about an hour to see some of the traditional houses and courtyards, as well as the old Maoist slogans that still adorn the walls. Some remnants of traditional village life have been retained too, including traditional cooking styles, showcased in the various restaurants dotted around, which double as perfect venues to stop and relax.

How to get there: The ride to Cuandixia is a beautiful 2-2.5hour-drive. One of the easiest ways to get there is to book a driver beforehand. Alternatively go to Pingguoyuan Station, at the west end of Line 1, and from there you can either get a taxi or a bus. Take bus 892 to Zhaitang (this takes about two hours and 20 minutes), which is 6 km from Cuandixia. From Zhaitang, take a taxi, which should cost about RMB 10 per person. If you jump in a taxi straight from Pingguoyuan you will probably pay around RMB 150 – make sure to agree on a price beforehand.

What to eat: Traditional dishes up in the hills of Cuandixia include a lot of wild greens. For example, try the mixed lily magnolia buds, or ban mulanya, which is a popular local dish. Alternatively, there are a few different dishes that are made using mountain mushrooms, or shanmo, for example pork fried with mountain mushrooms (rouchao shanmo), or chicken stew with mountain mushrooms (xiaoji dun shanmo). Most restaurants throughout the village serve these dishes. Pick a busy restaurant popular with locals to ensure that ingredients are as fresh as possible.

What to see: Once you get close to the village you’ll have to pay the RMB 35 entrance fee to Cuandixia scenic area. From the car park (and the drop-off spot for taxis and cars), you can walk up the mountain facing the village for hiking opportunities, to visit the nearby temples, and to reach the perfect altitude to take some snaps overlooking

Where to sleep: The village is dotted with guesthouses, courtyards, inns, and people’s homes which are opened up to tourists over the summer. Just walk around and ask whether people have rooms available, check the room out in advance, and agree on your price. Most courtyards have fairly basic but acceptable facilities.

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photo: margaux schreurs

400-year-old village with more than 70 preserved courtyards, Cuandixia village is a popular day trip, located about 90 km away from Beijing. The village is sometimes called the“Potala Palace”of the Beijing region due to its location on a slope. While that may be a bit of a stretch, the area and surrounding scenery is beautiful and makes for a good 12-to-36-hour escape if you have returning visitors who can’t be bothered going to the Great Wall yet again.


Introducing the people who matter

MEET

PHOTO courtesy of the organizer

LINKIN PARK // MING WONG // WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY

Daedelus JUL 7 – The MIDI ninja Daedelus comes to Beijing to blow our minds with his fierce mastery of sample manipulation and manually punching out beats and loops in real time. A true legend of electronic music, like his mythical namesake suggests. RMB 50. 10pm. Dada (183 1108 0818)

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july 2015


Linking up With Linkin Park Talking Shop and Their Intense Love For Chinese Cuisine by Kipp Whittaker

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merican rockers Linkin Park have remained a dominant force in the popular music scene since their formation in 1996. Through constantly adapting to the changing musical landscape and continuing to sell millions of records, the six-pack is ready for their first full tour of China. the Beijinger spoke with LP’s Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda, and Joe Hahn about their latest album and their first return to China since 2009. Make sure to catch them live on July 26 at Beijing Workers’ Stadium – that is, if you can still get a ticket.

PHOTO courtesy of the organizers

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feature It’s been six years since you last played in China and your third time here overall. Now, with a stadium level tour taking Linkin Park through five cities, what do you feel most excited about? JOE HAHN (JH): I’m excited to play in front of people who have never seen us live ever and also for those fans who’ve been to our shows in previous years. Being Korean-American, China is a special place to me and I’m looking forward to meeting people, hopefully doing a little sightseeing, plus checking out the culture and art and all that fun stuff.  CHESTER BENNINGTON (CB): I’m most excited to have the opportunity to see more of China and visit all of the great cities that I have only heard about or seen on TV. That is really exciting to me. Your new album, The Hunting Party, is quite a departure from your previous records. What triggered the shift?   CB: It was a creative impulse from within the band. The trigger was when Mike switched gears about not wanting to write the songs that he’s been writing, but instead decided to write heavy, hard rock songs. We all went, “ok!”  Could you select a couple of your favorite songs from the new album and explain to Chinese fans why they are special? CB: All the tracks that we have guests on are really great and special. I loved the experience of being able to draw from working with other artists who came in and joined us in the studio. It’s stuff that you can’t get when working with the same people. Even simple conversations with these artists on their process are really interesting.  Can you tell us more about how the band wrote this newest album? CB: On this last record, we wrote together more as a band. Typically, we write in groups of two or individually and we don’t really sit and jam. But on this one there were more sessions with multiple guys than usual. We usually work more like a hip-hop production crew in the studio and behave more like a traditional band during post-production. 

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The new album is your first self-produced endeavor. How has the process of recording this album differed from previous experiences?  CB: We invited guests to play on this record. That was the main difference. We’ve never had guests on proper LP studio albums. This was a departure for us but it was really cool since it kept the inspiration going throughout the process of the record. You guys have a Weibo account, and even a WeChat account now, too. That’s not very common for foreign celebrities in China. Can I assume you really value communicating with Chinese fans?   CB: Absolutely. We value communicating with our fans all over the world as much as possible. Social media is the easiest and most direct way of communicating with our fans so for us it is a natural thing to do.  We saw Linkin Park's official Weibo when you held up a piece of paper that said "what are you most excited about our tour?" Let us throw that question back at you, Mike, what are you most excited about this tour in China? MIKE SHINODA (MS): We are actually visiting a lot of cities that I've never seen before. This is a wonderful opportunity for me and my family to experience China. We wrote about it. This is the longest tour we have done in China and in the most cities. We will get there, meet the fans, experience the culture, eat the food, and go sightseeing. It is really an exciting trip for us. Do you guys have a must-do list for this time’s visit to China? Anything you really want to explore? JH: I’m looking forward to eating soup dumplings, checking out the art district, visiting the Great Wall, seeing what local life is in these places, plus checking out the cool skyscrapers that are being built.  CB: I’m going to explore as many different food options as possible. That’s what I look forward to most when I go somewhere new.  What's everyone's favorite food to order in Chinese restaurant? JH: There are so many different types of Chinese food.  I like dumplings, spicy food, and dandan noodles. There’s so much.

july 2015


LGBT Feature

PHOTO courtesy of UCCA

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Ming Wong Queer Performance Artist ming wong Talks about Identity, Science Fiction, and His New Exhibition, ‘Next Year’ by Margaux Schreurs

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ou’re a foreigner, you’re an artist, you’re gay, what else can you be that’s not mainstream?” Singaporean artist Ming Wong studied Chinese art in Singapore while working in a theater. He then proceeded to study fine art in London, and was introduced to working with video during his time there. His first solo exhibition in Beijing, Next Year, has just opened at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), and is comprised of two new works. The first piece, Next Year, “is most clearly viewed in postcolonial Shanghai’s ‘Western-style’ Marienbad Café, where Wong’s cinematic language and conscious structuring of the film are emphasized,’” UCCA says. His second piece, Scenography for a Chinese Science Fiction Opera, fuses the aesthetics of the spaceship as referenced in Chinese as well as American cinematic history, and traditional cloud patterns based on the Chinese cosmology and the universe. The pieces are a fusion of everything Wong studied and loves, as well as his perspective on the fusion between time and space. “I shot [Next Year] in the French concession in Shanghai”, he tells us. “I went to do some location scouting in Shanghai last year, and of course [the French concession] has gone through a lot of changes so you ultimately have the experience whereby every time you turn a corner you don’t know if you’re in Shanghai or in Paris, you don’t know if you’re in the past of the future, you don’t know if you’re in a rich place or a poor place. And it keeps changing.” Wong plays in his own piece, both the male and female protagonist. “This question of cross-dressing is found in a lot of theater traditions, so you have it in pantomime, you also have it in Beijing opera, for example, but I like to think that for me even when I play a man it’s drag, and when I play old or young, or when I speak a foreign language, it’s also drag, it’s not just about being a woman.” “When it comes to cross-dressing, when I do this socalled ‘drag,’ it crosses off all aspects of identity. It’s just

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playing with gender, age, nationality, body type, language, ethnicity, and social status. And all of these are interlinked. [That’s] the nature of identity, it’s always in flux,”Wong says. “This kind of miscasting is something that I use very often, it’s a way to make the audience stop and think about who or what they are looking at, which breaks down the illusion, and is kind of distancing. Why is this guy acting like a 1950s American black lady? It sounds wrong, it looks wrong, everything is wrong. But that’s precisely what I need to do to get the audience to think,” he says. Wong believes that delving into these issues of identity is even more powerful here in China, where being different is not always accepted. “I think the power in that actually lies in alternative visions of the future. I think that’s why I was doing this kind of future related work in China but I think it’s also a sign for a lot of countries, a lot of young people, where there’s frustration with how things are going politically, and people are frustrated and there needs to be an alternative,” he says. He credits his identity, and his being “different” as one of his main strengths, as it provides an alternative perspective and provides a distance to be able to oversee from afar. “I’m in Beijing, I’m in China, I’m shooting this stuff, but I’m not a citizen, I’m not a Chinese national. It allows me, because of the way I look, and because I can understand Chinese, to put myself into scenarios so that I can see what’s going on, which maybe my Chinese national friends can’t see themselves as being a part of.” “I can’t grow a beard. That’s so mainstream now in Berlin and I’m the only guy in the bar that doesn’t have facial hair. You know, I like these sorts of things, because it makes me think, “what are you guys doing?!”” Ming Wong: Next Year will be shown at the Nave and Central Gallery at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in 798 between June 11 and August 9. For more information follow UCCA on Twitter (@UCCA798), Instagram (@UCCA798), or Facebook (www.facebook.com/UCCA798).

july 2015


In Case of Emergency
 A tragedy highlights the need for planning for the worst

By Steven Schwankert and Nimo Wanjau

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ragedy struck the Beijing community in May, when international school teacher Jonathan Sokoloff was involved in an accident in the early hours of Saturday morning while riding his scooter home. An American expat from Florida, he had been living in Beijing for almost two years, his teaching salary going to support his mother. The situation may have highlighted a critical but often overlooked facet of life for foreigners in Beijing: the need to prepare for the worst. Sokoloff’s medical treatment may have been delayed due to a lack of proper identification and insurance at the time of the accident. We take a look at what Beijingers should be carrying at all times so that documentation can speak for us if we are not able to speak for ourselves, and how to otherwise be prepared for the worst when we least expect it.

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Hospitals and Medical Care International hospitals are usually wholly foreign-owned enterprises ( WFOE) or a joint venture between an international medical operator and a Chinese hospital.

july 2015

photo: emergency first response, wikimedia

What the Law Says
 All foreign residents of Beijing, whether they are just visiting or living here long-term, are required to carry proof of identity at all times. While the law specifically requires that foreigners carry their passports, in most cases, though not all, clear photocopies will likely be accepted in lieu of the genuine article. Along with the identity page of one’s passport, make a copy of your current visa, and the most

recent immigration stamp. Consider preparing an emergency document that can be with you in a wallet or purse, something that you carry with you at all times. We recommend carrying a document that includes all of the following in both the person’s native language and in Chinese: full name; nationality; passport number; allergies, or special medical conditions or restrictions; China visa number; contact phone number for the person’s embassy’s emergency number; contact phone number for a Chinese-speaking emergency contact (employer or family member); family or other designated contact (can be in home country); relevant insurance information, including insurance company name, policy number, group number (if applicable), and pre-approval contact number, especially if a China telephone number is available. This will at least allow responding officials such as police or emergency workers, or authorized representatives from your family or company, to take you for medical care and show that payment for treatment will be available.


feature Foreign patients will find the process and surroundings familiar and therefore comforting, but bear in mind that the attending doctor will likely still be Chinese – although English-speaking – and that not every internationalstandard hospital is equipped to handle all scenarios. For example, patients requiring major surgery – particularly emergency surgery – may need to be transferred to a Chinese hospital, both for the operation and for continuing care post-surgery. These cautions aside, international hospitals will likely be the first choice for most foreign residents for both urgent and routine care. They offer notices such as reminders for checkups and some have more than one location, offering access near your home, office, and school. There will also be a greater emphasis on preventative care. Paradoxically, while Chinese locals will go to a hospital for even minor maladies like the flu, most foreigners avoid hospitals, seeing them as centers for serious care. Beijing residents should be aware that not all medical facilities will treat everyone. For example, Chaoyang Hospital, south of Sanlitun, does not handle pediatric cases. Other hospitals will turn away people with emergencies, or emergencies of some types. As surprising as this may be, the only way to know this will be to do your research ahead of time. The closest hospital to your home or office may not be the best choice, depending on the situation. If language isn’t an issue and/or you don’t have medical insurance, you might try visiting a local hospital. Expats often recommend Peking Union Medical College Hospital (founded in 1921) and the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, which served as the primary hospital for athletes, coaches, and officials of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Both have “VIP” sections with fewer patients and some English-speaking doctors.

refuse to take injured or sick passengers for fear of being held liable for any negative outcomes. Some international hospitals have their own 24-hour emergency call centers with English- and Chinese-speaking operators. However, ambulances are still subject to traffic constraints. Insurance for the Uninsured
 For those who aren’t insured by their company or whose insurance doesn’t cover care at international-standard facilities, self-pay options are available. Some larger hospitals offer their own membership programs, which provide discounts on services. However, for full insurance, companies like NOW Healthcare and William Russell that specialize in serving expatriates offer coverage for medical treatments and often repatriation, should the person wish to be treated in their home country or a third location. Americans should note that most of these plans require separate riders or plans for care within the United States. Insurance agents in Beijing such as Expat Solutions Consulting Ltd. and Pacific Prime Insurance Brokers can give prospective buyers options based on their needs and wants, including family coverage, repatriation, and any other special considerations. Portions of this article previously appeared in the June 2015 issue of our sister publication beijingkids. Read more about it online at www.beijing-kids.com.

Emergencies
 The emergency phone number in Beijing is 120 (999 for English speakers). Keep in mind that ambulances in Beijing have a mixed record for two reasons, a) getting lost and b) being perfunctory in their treatment of nonemergency patients. Also, Beijing’s traffic situation isn’t exactly conducive to the quick transfer of patients to medical facilities, and drivers here aren’t yet in the habit of yielding immediately to ambulances. There’s no simple solution for this. Many taxis will simply

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What are you planning to do?

EVENTS

OUR EDITORS PICK THE BEST OF THE MONTH upload your events at thebeijinger.com/events

Nancy Whang from LCD Soundsystem & The Juan Maclean & Soulwax JUL 17 – Nancy’s sets echo the glory days of the NYC scene when disco, proto-house, postpunk, noise, electro, and Latin influences all conspired to create a witches brew of innovative dance music. Presented by “One” with support from Ni Bing, Justynn, Watermelon. RMB 60. 10pm. Dada (183 1108 0818)

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PHOTO COURTESY OF the organizers

find all venue info AT THEBEIJINGER.COM/DIRECTORY. please call venues ahead of time to confirm details.


don’t miss DON’T MISS – DANCE PARTIES

Syndicate Sessions

JUL 3 – Closing in on the end of their 11th year in operation, Beijing’s longest running party brand will be keeping the vibe summery and the music bassy. The whole Syndicate crew is back in full force for this one. Be there. RMB 30. 10pm. Dada (183 1108 0818)

Sanlitun Vice

JUL 3 – This summer a small group of dedicated enforcers return, ready to purge Sanlitun of lame-o pop repetition one record at a time. Armed with thumping Nu Disco, 80s New Wave, and laser Boogie grooves aimed in all directions. RMB 60. 9pm. The Bar at Migas (5208 6061)

Psyfidelity: Rigel Made’s Leaving Bash JUL 11 – Say goodbye to one of Beijing’s supreme fathers of psytrance. Rigel Made will heat up your brain with flashes of telekinetic energy produced by his superb guru like ability behind the decks. Take this chance to show your appreciation for all the effort Rigel Made has put into pushing the Psytrance scene in China. RMB 50. 10pm. Dada (183 1108 0818)

Dim Sum Disco

JUL 4 – Beijing’s finest selectors of new and old disco, Boflex and Crystal Bones, return to the Migas rooftop for another late night dance session that won’t stop till you get enough. While the summer heat will be heavy, an exclusive Dim Sum Disco themed cocktail will be on hand to hydrate all the dancers as they sweat it out on the dance floor. RMB 60. 10pm. The Bar at Migas (5208 6061)

the Morrissey Disco Party

JUL 19 – No, Morrissey won’t be here, but these Morrissey/ Smiths disco parties have gone global viral, and one is happening right here in Beijing. A full night of The Smiths and Morrissey songs on the stereo, and videos on the screens. Free. 10pm. Dada (183 1108 0818)

The Loop

JUL 9 – Eddie Lv brings his eclectic party to the Migas Terrace for the first time. This time he’s joined on the decks by ELVIS T and they’re accompanied by Kris on the drums and Fabrice on the saxophone. Expect the unexpected, as this group brings the good vibes of The Loop to the great outdoors getting you moving under the stars till the sun comes up. RMB 60. The Bar at Migas (5208 6061)

Alan Shanyinde and the Black Eyeliner crew

JUL 24 – Scottish DJ Alan Shanyinde has been breaking boundaries in Shanghai for years, with his all-vinyl sets of off-beat techno, left-field electro, and abstract house. Finally, we got him down here in Beijing, where he will be showing off his amazing chops for the first time. Free. 10pm. Dada (183 1108 0818)

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EVENTS

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3 1. Halloween in July! Beijing Misfits, Free Sex Shop, Bread Tsars

JUL 1 – At some point you reach an age when you discover that every day is Halloween. Why not celebrate with the resurrection of the Beijing Misfits? They will have a one-off performance of all the Danzig era hits to chop up this static age and send XP into the grave. RMB 30. 9pm. XP (6406 9947)

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2. Beijing Bikini Cookout

JUL 4 – Join the Jing-A boys and girls for some summertime fun, Annette and Frankie style with a bikini party. They will have on tap their special Beijing Bikini Watermelon Wheat beer that is sure to bake a few clams. Free. 11am-5pm. Jing-A Brewing (6501 8883)

3. Rocks, Mountains and Trees

JUL-SEP 20 – Three renowned artists Qiu Anxiong, Yang Xinguang, and Ricard Chiang will explore the significance of nature in the visual arts. The works chosen engage in a dialogue between man and nature, the eye, and the landscape for magnificent results. Free. 10am-7pm. Instituto Cervantes (5979 9666)

4. Too Much Shit on the Table Vol. 3

JUL 2 – Performers Serbey Gubka (Acid Pony Club), Noise Arcade, and Kipp the Menace get together to show off just how many musical machines they can play with at one time. It will be a maniacal display of live electronic musical prowess. RMB 40, RMB 30 (advance). 9pm. DDC (6407 8969)

5. Scratch Night

JUL19 – Scratch Beijing returns with their particular brand of theater for crazy people. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it might even give you nightmares. There’s no telling what kind of journey these savvy provocateurs might take you on. Free. 8pm. Ball House (6407 4051)

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july 2015


EVENTS 1. Dive In

JUL 12 – Join Modo, Moka Bros, Mosto, and  Migas as they join forces for the ultimate summery  Sunday at a secret swimming pool location,  accompanied by non-stop cocktails, Mediterranean inspired  nibbles, and of course, the best house music sessions from Migas’ DJ dream team. Ticket price includes transportation and all food and drinks. RMB 530. 11.30am-5pm. Nali  Patio (5208 6079)

2. Brainstorm for Beijing Design Week

JUL 18 – Beijing Aquaponics and Beijing Bamboo Bicycles are working together to design a community installation for Beijing Design Week at the end of September and they would love your help to design an interactive hydroponic/ aquaponic system made from recycled and up-cycled materials, including bamboo. Free. 7.30pm. Culture Yard (8404 4166)

3. Monthly Tavolata at Swiss Taste

JUL 3 – The first in a series of monthly dinners held at Beijing’s only Swiss Restaurant, Swiss Taste. The theme for July’s sharing set menu is Tour des Alpes (tour of the Alps). Bookings must be made for a minimum of four people. RMB 248 per person. 6.30pm. Swiss Taste (6579 9229)

4. Indian Cuisine Festival

JUL 6-15 – Experience the vibrant flavors of authentic Indian cuisine as the Grand Hyatt’s all day dining restaurant Grand Cafe welcomes guest chef Anil Khurana from Hyatt Regency Delhi. Highlight dishes include paneer tikka, rogan josh, and traditional desserts. Price TBC. 11.30am-10.30pm. Grand Cafe (8518 1234 ext 3628)

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july 2015


EVENTS

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3 1. DJ Krush

JUL 18 – DJ Krush has established himself as one of the most respected artists and producers in the hip hop industry, both in Japan and abroad. With his experimental beats and instrumental sounds, DJ Krush changed the face of hip-hop at a time when it was dominated by the American rap scene. RMB 150. 10pm. Dada (183 1108 0818)

2. China Through Cinema Presents the Films of Jackie Chan

JUL 19,24 – Experience the mad acrobatic and comedic skills of Jackie Chan as Culture Yard presents a month of his most engaging action films. These present Jackie at his absolute best and set the stage for him to become one of the most famous action stars on the planet. RMB 50. 7pm. Culture Yard (8404 4166)

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3. MING WONG: NEXT YEAR

JUN 11-AUG 9 – With his exhibition titled ‘Next Year’, Ming Wong explores non-linear conceptions of temporality in a site-specific installation fusing the aesthetics of Cantonese opera and science fiction movies. Free. Tue-Sun, 10am-7pm. UCCA (5780 0200)

4. LES BOOZE

JUL 3 – An inclusive and open event for queer women and their friends, Les Booze takes place every first Friday of the month at Chill Bar, an LGBT friendly location that provides a safe space for all queer women and allies to mingle, drink, and connect. Free. 9pm. Chill Bar (6405 9575)

july 2015


EVENTS

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1.JOLIN TSAI

3. DJ PayPal

2. XP CLOSING PARTY

4. Fourth of July Bluegrass Barbecue and Bonfire

JUL 5 – Jolin Tsai, world-renowned Taiwanese singer, dancer, and actress, also known as the “Queen of Pop” in Taiwan, is visiting Beijing on her tour titled Play. Having sold more than 23 million albums, you don’t want to miss this night. RMB 290-1090. 7.30pm. Capital Indoor Stadium (6217 2797)

JUL 3-5 – Burn the house down at XP’s final party. They will be putting together a lineup of Beijing’s best bands to properly shut it all down in true avant-garde fashion the entire weekend. 9pm. XP (6406 9947)

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JUL 16 – Anonymous South Carolina by-way-of Berlin producer “DJ PayPal” makes ecstatic disco/footwork music that sounds so future, your kids will love it. His biggest fan, Beijing’s Bloodzboi, warms up. RMB 50. 10pm. Dada (183 1108 0818)

JUL 4 – Secret-sauce chicken, juicy steaks, and fresh trout fillets will be going on the barbecue at The Brickyard as they put on a special event to celebrate Independence Day. There will also be a fireworks show, and a special bus service returning to Beijing afterwards. RMB 188, RMB 88 for bus service. 6pm. The Brickyard (6162 6505)

july 2015


PEKING MAN

Making a Movie in China: Part 1 - Permission by George Ding

A

few years ago I produced a short film in Beijing with my friend Mike, who was also the director. We planned to shoot around Xihai and Houhai for two weekends, and though we could have made the film guerilla-style, Mike wanted to do things by the book. We’d be setting up lights and rigging equipment, which would draw attention. In case something went wrong, Mike wanted proof that we were allowed to be there. Mike and I had gone to film school together and we had both worked on films in China, but neither of us had produced a movie here, certainly not from scratch. After doing some research, we realized the first thing we needed was a shooting permit. So one day we took the subway out to the Shichahai Public Security Bureau, just north of the Beihaibei subway station. We expected to be rejected or told to get this and that form, but instead the officers said they weren’t responsible for issuing permits and directed us to a different office up north, near the entrance to Xihai. Using Mike’s phone to locate the address, we walked up a narrow hutong with no signs and into a bland concrete building. The place looked abandoned and we had to go to the second floor to find an office with someone inside. When we told the startled woman we were here to get a film permit, she looked at us like we had just asked for a shot of bourbon in a mosque. The woman said we were in the wrong place and directed us to the Shichahai PSB. We told her we had just come from there. “Then I don’t know where else you can go,” she shrugged. Like the officers at Shichahai, she didn’t know whose responsibility it was to issue film permits, she just knew it wasn’t hers. Mike and I walked all the way back down to the Shichahai PSB but they insisted that they weren’t responsible. When pressed, they recommended we try the larger PSB branch at Di’anmen. The princess was in another castle.

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So we took a cab to Di’anmen but got the same answer there. Although no one knew where we were supposed to get a permit or how the process worked, they were sure it would be illegal for us to shoot without one. We were told to wait for the ranking officer to come back from lunch. He would know. “When will he be back?” I asked one officer. It was already the afternoon. “I don’t know, could be a few hours.” As we walked to the subway, I told Mike that we should just film the thing as quietly as we could. It seemed easier to ask forgiveness than to obtain permission. But Mike, who had a larger responsibility as director, wanted to make sure the production was protected. So we did a little more research and returned to the Di’anmen branch a few days later with a permission request a friend had helped us draft. The guy in charge was again absent so another officer took our request and told us to come back in three days. When we went back three days later, we found our request was rejected. Again, no one could tell us how to actually secure a permit – all they knew was the way we had pursued wasn’t it. At this point even Mike gave up. When we began our quest, I believed that the answer to who could issue a film permit at least lay somewhere. But now I realized that there was no answer. There was no answer because no one cared. We were just two guys; we weren’t important enough to deserve an answer. Maybe if we’d had an eight-figure budget, someone would have materialized to issue a permit and collect a fee for their trouble. But a small film like ours wasn’t worth it. Sometimes, asking for forgiveness isn’t just easier – it’s the only way. In the end, we shot the film with no permits and no problems. Except for a man who claimed to be a government official and tried to shut us down. But that’s for next time.

july 2015


Profile for The Beijinger Magazine

the Beijinger July 2015  

Wet N' Wild: Staying Cool In Beijing During the Sweltering Summer

the Beijinger July 2015  

Wet N' Wild: Staying Cool In Beijing During the Sweltering Summer

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