Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Beijinger online

We all know that The Beijinger, the popular monthly magazine, has a website which is a great source for information and a comprehensive directory. But beside that website, they also blog actual news. And further more, you can read their monthly issues online (via issuu)!

Now out: MAY 2013 issue (click left)

I read the article "Taxing Times" on page 88 about the new annual test that taxi drivers have to take now. It's a measure by authorities to improve the city's cab service. Another change is that passengers apparently have to pay a 50 RMB "vomit fee". Not sure if that applies only to Sanlitun area at night or allover Beijing. 

Monday, 4 March 2013

About this blog and closure with China

It is almost five years since we have left Beijing.

Here in Thailand, where we live now, sometimes, I come across people who also have lived in Beijing. Then we have our subject: "How did you like Beijing?", "When have you been there?", "Where did you stay, and how long?".

And we compare life here in Bangkok with life there in Beijing. And we speak of Beijing in high tones. How we liked riding our bicycles around town. That we all studied Mandarin. And how interesting life in China was. Then we laugh about some funny episodes. How fast everything developed towards the Olympics. And how much more Beijing is developed versus Bangkok. And that they do have a city planning!

But at the end, we all say, how sad it is, that China is polluting its country and putting its own people at risk. So badly, lately. Air, soil, water, food, all polluted. It is getting worse and worse.

Just yesterday, I met a lovely couple. She is working for an EU organisation, he is a journalist writing for Time Magazine among other. They just have moved from Beijing to Bangkok. They have moved away from China for the same reason some of my other friends have left the country.

Air pollution is always reason number 1. Before food scandals, heavy traffic and Internet issues.

Last week, another friend left China after 13 years of successful and happy life in the Middle Kingdom. You can read his "Bye Bye China" at Shanghaied Weblog. He and his wife searched the globe for a new home and decided for Vancouver, Canada. Their kids will grow up in a much more healthy environment and experience nature. (Read also Marc's opinion on

So, what has this all to do with my blog?!

I loved living in Beijing. And that is why I was writing about living in Beijing. And I wanted to keep the blog going. But maybe I need a closure with China?

After having left China, writing fresh posts about Beijing related subjects became more and more difficult for me. Sometimes, lovely PR people sent me press material about cultural events and upcoming exhibitions in cool galleries. But, I don't feel motivated anymore posting news that I cannot experience in person.

I am not going to close or delete this blog. There are visitors on Beijing Notebook every day. And yes, readers still can get valued information from my well researched articles. Most posts are valid for ever.

I even think to finally write some more posts about the TCM lessons I took with the "guru". It is a pity to leave his wise words unnoticed in my tiny handwritten notebook. His knowledge should be on Beijing Notebook, at least as much as I have learnt from him.

Dear readers and subscribers, please keep subscribed and come back. This blog will be updated again and stay open for interested readers and comments always.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Ai Weiwei alive and kicking

What seems another fun, harmless, and maybe not even very artistic Gangnam style copy by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, together with a group of friends, is a way to keep him going. It looks like he enjoyed the crazy dancing. And of course, Ai Weiwei wouldn't be Ai Weiwei if the video would not transport a message. The Chinese title, "grass mud horse", sounds like a swearword and showing off in handcuffs is to criticise Chinese censorship. No surprise, that his video has been taken down from Chinese websites. Some commentators joke, it was because of the lousy dancing.

Ai Weiwei cleverly use all kind of social network to communicate with the world. Here he is just riding on the wave of success of Korean singer Psy's original song and video to transport his message: I am alive and kicking!

But much more serious is the video below. Please take a moment and watch this interview with The New Yorker from October 9, 2012 to understand a little bit more Ai Weiwei's situation and his thinking:

Friday, 24 August 2012

CCTV Tower: Ready to move in - Who would have thought it will take so long?

Beijing CCTV Tower out of a taxi cab in February 2012

The CCTV Tower, now, one of the most famous landmarks in Beijing was proudly presented to the world during the Olympics in 2008. From the outside, the building seems finished - since over for years. But who would have thought, that only now, in these days, the CCTV employees are gradually moving from their old office in a communist building to the new avant-garde headquarters?!

The construction of this futuristic monument, started in Beijing back in 2004. For the speed of China, regarding demolishing old and building new, this project is indeed an exception. But it's architecture is as well exceptional.

Rotterdam-based star architect Rem Koolhaas and his firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) co-designed the building with the young German architect Ole Scheeren. OMA won the design competition for the project ten years ago. Scheeren calls the L-shaped elements, that connect the two angled towers, a "loop," a symbol of cooperation. The CCTV Tower is said to be the world's largest media building, and it contains more expensive technology than any other structure. It's completion was scheduled to be in May 2009.

But why is the tower only now ready to move in?

During Chinese New Year in February 2009, an uncompleted neighbouring building that is part of the complex, caught fire when illegal fireworks were launched by CCTV employees. It took about five hours and 600 fire fighters to get the massive fire under control. The building was severely damaged. This incident delayed the whole project. (To read more about the fire go here).

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Beijing which was supposed to be the main tenant in this building (in the one that caught fire, not in the CCTV tower) has no opening date scheduled. The building is still under construction. (If anyone has more information, please let us know.)

CCTV = China Central Television (HQ building see above photo)
TVCC = Television Cultural Center (the uncompleted building that caught fire, next to the CCTV tower)

Friday, 6 April 2012

Sanyuanli Fresh Market

my favorite market stall at Sanyuanli no 101
It is one of the best fresh markets in Beijing - quality and cleanness wise. From the main street - you will see a big sign in roman letters "Sanyuanli" over the entrance. The market stretches in one long corridor. It starts with the fruit section. Then some stalls selling tea on the left.

Chinese tea at the market

On the right you can buy some yummy fresh pastry and bread, Chinese style. It smells so good! Further on, you will find some shops selling can food, special spices and sauces in bottles, and then small household items.

In the middle section, you might not want to look too close. This is the wet section. This is why these markets are also called wet markets. There are a few butchers that cut entire veal legs on wooden blocks - right in front of you. They have cheep heads on display and all other parts of animals that are eatable - Chinese way. There is also all kind of seafood on ice. Or it still swims in containers. The ice melts slowly, and drips on the market hall floor. You do not want your pants dipping in the puddles of the wet middle section.

When you made it through the middle section - that is indeed interesting and serves for great photo shoots - you will be in the third and last section selling all vegetables you can think of. They even have those veggies usually not available at Jenny Lou or even Carrefour, not in large quantities though and slightly higher in price.

I have chosen my vegetable stall some years ago by looking at the vendors face - their products are mainly the same, so the quality and the price.  So it was the vendors smile and her stall no. 101 that I thought makes the difference.

Now, I was shopping here again at Sanyuanli, after 3 1/2 years of absence. And guess what? All the vendors I used to buy from, recognised me!

They smiled and waved and greeted. I was very touched! My veggie lady was very happy (see her smile above 1st pic) and the fruit vendor sprang up from his seat and gave my and my friends 3 big red strawberries to taste. They were very sweet and tasty indeed. Not like the other Chinese strawberries that are pale pink and even green from the outside, and white from the inside, and tasting like sugar water - because these strawberries during their growth were injected with sugar water.

fruit section at Sanyuanli market

Sanyuanli is my favourite market. Shopping their is fun. Vendors are friendly and beside the floor of the wet section, that is probably not dirty, but just wet, it is very clean. Prices are up in comparison to my last stay, but no wonder with the yuan being up 10% every year!

Sanyuanli Market (三源里市)
Shunyuan Jie, Chaoyang District (朝阳区东三环顺源街), North of Sanlitun
Open: daily 5am – 7pm


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