Monday, 28 November 2011

Beijing Air is not healthy and where to get regular updates about Beijing Air Quality

I used to check the government website for air quality here. It provides daily the Air Pollution Index (API) and corresponding grade for about 85 Chinese cities.

But when you live in Beijing you would be interested in getting this information updated more regularly throughout the day. Especially, if you want to go for outdoor activities, you better check the air quality as the air is really bad in winter. Today early afternoon, the API was over 400! Now, 11pm it is down to 107.

You can find the information via

actual information and overview throughout the day

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Be an artist and add to the installation of Mo Yi at the Opposite House

During these cold winter days in Beijing, you might come along the streets of Sanlitun. And when the icy wind makes you shiver, stop by The Opposite House - the boutique hotel with the green glass front - for a hot tea or a tasty lunch - and for some fun creativity.

The Opposite House is hosting an installation of Mo Yi (see press release below) and is inviting guests to interact. Get your eyes photographed and think about issues related to sight. Write it around your photo in your language and let it be part of the growing installation. - You will also get a copy as a souvenir to take home.

You can be an artist while in Beijing.

This reminds me of a quote of the German provocateur artist Joseph Beuys: " Jeder Mensch ein Kuenstler" - everyone (is) an artist - meaning, that everyone can be creative and reflecting . It does not take much - and it makes the world a better place.

The installation will be running until December 31st 2011. The interactive session is from 11.00am to 2.00pm daily in the atrium of The Opposite House, Beijing. The photographer will be taking photo of the guests and adding the new photos to the installation.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hong Kong: Handbags by Bez & Oho

Bez & Oho online Boutique

The internet is a great place to discover new things - and that's why we all love it!

Today I found Bez & Oho in Hong Kong via Nicely Made in China. And you do not need to be in Hong Kong to see their colourful handbags made of receycled rice bags. They sell online.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Shanghai: HGTV needs Relocation Expert

Dear Readers,

After my last post about HGTV calling for casting here is another urgent request from the HGTV production team. For the HGTV show going to be produced in Shanghai they need a local relocation expert who is fluent in English.

Shanghai: HGTV Home and Garden Television Casting Call

Dear Expats living in Shanghai,

a few days ago, I found in my mailbox a message from a producer of Home and Garden Television (HGTV) who came across my blog. They are going to film a new show for HGTV in Shanghai!

The producers want to know if any of my readers or friends in Shanghai might be interested in applying to be on the show. As it is a very popular U.S. TV show, they call for American Expats living in Shanghai. The shooting will be after the golden week holiday in the week of October 10, 2011.

HGTV press release

Here the details from the press release:


Home & Garden Television (HGTV) is launching a new international series that features American expats telling their stories about what it’s like to live abroad.

HGTV Producers want to hear from fun, outgoing, enthusiastic Americans Expats who are living in Shanghai RIGHT NOW!

In each episode, our host will experience Shanghai through the eyes of expat families. From the design of your space (what features of your home are typical of properties in Shanghai?) to the lifestyle and culture of the area (what major life changes have you experienced as a result of your move? What do you do for fun?), the American Expats will give viewers a first hand look at what it’s like to live overseas.


HGTV International is a voyeuristic look at the stunning home properties and lifestyles of American expats. This program showcases home design, set within the hottest places to live around the world.

About the HGTV

HGTV, America’s leader in home and lifestyle programming, is distributed to more than 89 million U.S. households and is one of cable’s top-rated networks. is the nation’s leading online home and garden destination that attracts an average of 5.2 million unique visitors per month.


High Noon Entertainment, located in Denver Colorado, produces HGTV International. In addition to HGTV International, High Noon produces many other shows including VH1’s Tough Love; TLC’s Cake Boss; Food Network’s Unwrapped, Challenge; HGTV’s My First Place, House Hunters; You may learn more about High Noon at


If you’re interested or if you have any friends that might be in applying, please contact the producer immediately and email photos of you and your family along with photos of your home to:
Callie Zanandrie

Monday, 9 May 2011

Beijing Blames Foreigners for Its Fears of Unrest | China Digital Times (CDT)

Beijing Blames Foreigners for Its Fears of Unrest China Digital Times (CDT)

Ai Weiwei and others are still detained. Even in Hong Kong two were arrested for spreading Ai Weiwei graffitis downtown yesterday.

CDT reports about foreign embassies under pressure, culture forums, school programs and more needed to be cancelled.

Some years ago, I attended a speech about Feng Shui at the Beijing China Culture Club. They told us that it is not well seen by the government to talk about that subjet. Just to give you an idea, what kind of culture programs might already be considered to threaten the harmony.

It is sad to see what is happening.

My blog statistic shows 0.8 % of my readers are from China. This is the Great Fire Wall of China. Becoming even greater.

This blog was always holding back from politics. I was a guest of this great country. And I liked it most of the time.

It is the harshest crackdown on free speech in years. And no one knows where it will end.

UPDATE: Ai Weiwei is alive, they give him his medicine, they do not torture him. His wife was allowed to see him for 15 min. (after 6 long weeks of no notice!). A little progress. I hope they let him go soon.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Free Ai Weiwei !

Artist Ai Weiwei in the ruins of his demolished studio in Shanghai in January 2011 (via Getty Images)

Ai Weiwei (or Ai Wei Wei), probably the most internationally known Chinese artist who often criticises the Chinese Communist Party for many good reasons, is still detained in Beijing by police since April 3rd.

 Ai Weiwei's international popularity allowed him - so far - to express outspoken social critics without being arrested. However, according to himself, he was dangerously beaten up by Chinese police while protesting in Sichuan after the 2008 earthquake where hundreds of schoolchildren died due to poorly built school houses.

There are many other Chinese artists that make money by selling art to the international market that's subject is criticising former chairman Mao. But there are not many artist that dare to openly criticize the actual government.

Although, Mr. Ai continuously built up international relationships with galleries and museums in the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Austria etc. and additionally used the new media twitter (#Aiww) to create a kind of public protection around him, he lately was under house arrest in Beijing and now is detained.

I am really sad and shocked to hear what happened to Ai Weiwei.
I liked to live in China, I liked Beijing.
I like the Chinese cultural heritage.
China's economical power is growing and Chinese citizens are proud of their nation.

Why on earth does the Chinese government need to detain this artist?

Most of the Chinese citizens will not care about Ai Weiwei, I am afraid. They will believe the government that this silly old man has committed a tax fraud or so.

When I say "FREE AI WEIWEI", I am not (only) saying that to the Chinese officials, I am saying this to the Chinese people. Please, stand up, stand behind him. His critics are human. He is not asking much. He is a bright and intelligent man. His art is not commercial as the one of many others. He is doing this for a better China. - When this man is arrested, they can arrest anybody.

When the German chancellor Merkel is asking to "Free Ai Weiwei", most of the Chinese people will not understand her and dislike this involvement - as they did, when she said something in favor of the Dailai Lama. Chinese citizens are proud of their nation, once again, they do not like to be criticised by the West.

It is like someone is talking bad about your parents. You need to grow up to understand that your parents are not always right. It feels like most Chinese have not grown up yet. And this is why I feel sad for Ai Weiwei: While he is putting his live at danger to improve human rights in China, most of the Chinese don't care.

This dilemma drove him abroad where he made sure his concept work and installations become well-known in the art world. But as a Chinese born he also feels connected to China and therefor lives in Beijing with studios in Beijing and Shanghai - the latter was demolished by the government in January 2011. However, he was said to open a gallery in Berlin soon and even move there. He must have felt very unsafe.

It is in the Chinese mentality that critics are not appreciated by superiors. - Will this ever change?

Here more information about Ai Weiwei and his detention at New York Times:

And check blogger Peking Duck's post with over 200 comments of both sides:

You may also like this post with my links to Ai Weiwei:

*** Comments and critics are welcome! ***

UPDATE May 3rd:
Still nobody knows where AWW is detained.
A friend gave me this link to read:, an article about China's recent crackdowns by The Economist from April 14th, 2011

UPDATE May 16th:
His wife met him yesterday (May 15th) for 15 minutes after 6 weeks of no notice. They give him his medicine, they do not torture him. At least a sign of life. His wife said, he seemed very quiet/serious and only said he does not understand for what he is accused. More discussion on this subject was not allowed during that meeting.
I hope they will let him go soon.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Japan Nuclear Situation: Due to westwinds no danger for China (update)

A hypothetical "radiation cloud", from either Fukushima Daiichi or Onagawa, will most likely  be diverted to the East due to typical westerly winds.

Source of photo and read more about it at


But on the other hand: winds can change.

Look at this video, that shows an animation of the radioactive cloud over Europe and parts of Asia after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl (Tschernobyl) in April and May 1986. Very sad!

For now, the accident in Japan is rated 5 on the INES scale from 1-7, while Chernobyl was a major accident and rated 7.

Chinese Government should install lots of windmills!!!
Sorry, no time for jokes.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Jasmine Revolution in Beijing ?! - no way !

When my mother, living in Europe, called me yesterday and told me that there are demonstrations in Beijing and other cities going on, starting the so called "Jasmine Revolution", I had to question her Western media sources. Of course I read about some calls for protest rallies on Sundays, but also that nobody came - or those who came were arrested (which I do oppose of course).

Not sure what the Western Media is hoping for. Democracy in China or a higher circulation ?

Chinese are definitely not going to rally because they neither want nor need a revolution. Chinese are proud of their nation that is moving forward. Their quality of live is getting better every year. Money rules the Chinese World ! And the government is aware of what needs to bee done to secure "harmony" (in a positive way, I hope). That is the difference to the other middle East countries.

When I checked my favorite blogs, I found these very good posts that worth reading for a quick insight:

and this:
or this:

In my blog I hardly say anything about politics. But what makes me angry is to see the so called free and intellectual Western Media writing constantly negative about anything Chinese.

But on the other hand (to be fair, I have to mention that not everything is China is great), what bothered me most while living in China was the Internet censorship. Facebook, twitter, blogs, all blocked and certain web content blocked or deleted. After Egypt used the Internet so successfully to organise its revolution, the Great Fire Wall of China will become even more strict. But does it really bother Chinese enough to dare to protest on the streets? And if yes, it would not lead to a downfall of the government, maybe not even to an improvement of the censorship or human rights. These changes only come slowly, when the government feels sure about a harmonious society.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Still Winter in Beijing

IMG_4248 f
Originally uploaded by Liping Yang
What a beautiful picture by Liping Yang ! He took it on February 16, 2011 at the Summer Palace in Beijing. It must be still very cold when the lake is frozen. And although winters are cold, snow is seldom in Bejing. So, it's an event for kids when there is snow and even enough to make a snowman !

However, skiing is possible during winter - with a few fun slopes, but with artifical snow only. (But now, as you can see, with some additional real snow!) 

Friday, 25 February 2011

Modern Chinese Furniture: Seat for T. by JinR

We found them ! Remember, that my girlfriends and I had lunch at the Green T. House Living in Shunyi, outside Beijing last October and we saw these awesome red acrylic horseshoe shape Chinese chairs (see my post) and wondered ever since if they would be for sale? My friend Yvalie, beside other talents, she is a very talented web surfer, found them at the Green T. House online shop and at an US online shop here.

Quan Chair red acrylic (as seen at Green T. House Living)  

Interior of the Green T. House in Sanlitun, Beijing

The above acrylic chair is also available in clear and in another shape. When you click on the first picture, you will see the price, and this is not so funny anymore... 3,755 USD.

The Ming Chair (left) with a 2,30 m high back, costs even more. What a pity, these chairs are so cool.

The Green T. House(s) is famous for JinR's creative concept offering sophisticated dishes on unique plates in a minimalistic surrounding while sitting on special seats. Now JinR has even launched her "Seat for T." collection.

Sometimes it is difficult to believe that behind all this beauty is just one master mind. JinR, originally a musician, when she became a tea house owner in Sanlitun, later a restaurateur, interior designer of her restaurants and now even a furniture designer. I think she is not only very pretty, but also very smart and has some very good consultants working for her. An allround entrepreneur that I admire!
JinR the creator of the Green T. House

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Happy New Year of the Rabbit !

If you have forgotten someone in the West to wish a Happy New Year in December or January, now, it's the right time to grab a nice red greeting card and send your best wishes for a Happy New Year of the Rabbit.

Chinese do not celebrate the arrival of the New Year in just one night. It is a week long celebration. Traditionally, in the last days Chinese would have been cleaning and decluttering their homes to let new energy flow. They would get a hair cut, to get rid of the "old". Especially kids are sent to the hairdresser these days.

Today, is the merit making day. Food, especially oranges and cakes are brought to the temple or house altar together with flowers and incent sticks.

Tonight is New Years Eve and you will hear fire crackers in the streets, they can be really loud and scary. And lots of fireworks, everybody shoots everything! I remember my first Chinese New Year in Beijing, it was in 2007, the first year, that fireworks were allowed in Beijing after a long ban. A war zone cannot be worse. It started in the afternoon and lasted til 2 am the next day. The longest and wildest firework ever! We lived between the 2nd and 3rd ring road, and people had parked their cars on Dongzhimenwai and took out tons and tons of fireworks of their completly full trunks and blow one after the other. Even from appartment buildings they were "shooting" out of windows. The next year, it was already much more moderate. Inside the second ring road the use of fireworks is limited to tonight due to risk of fires in hutongs.

Tomorrow, February 3rd 2011, is the first day of the Year of the Rabbit. In Chinese cities and in Chinatowns around the world people will be out in the streets and watching the lion dances, dragon parades and Chinese opera performances. Lots of Chinese would dress in traditional costumes or at least wear something red. The red colour stands for good luck, and the noise of the fire crackers is meant to scare evil and daemons away.

Eating and celebrating with family and friends is what happens in the next days of the Chinese New Year week. Sharing food and even sending food to far away relatives is a tradition.

However, some of the Chinese New Year sweets do not look that appealing . The nian gao ?, no, not really. So why not make your own Chinese New Year muffin or cup cake? Since the Western tradition is baking for Christmas or Easter, you might do your own Chinese New Year Baking as well. My friend Carrie (who I know from Beijing where our boys went together to kindergarten) created these absolutely beautiful cupcakes:

cupcakes by Carrie Nyon

She is so crazy about baking that she has just started a business, the "Cake Inc" in KL, Malaysia - where she has moved after Beijing - and where you can order these cupcakes and other cakes for your special occasion.  

Xin Nian Kuai le !

May the New (xin) Year (nian) be Happy (kuai) for you !

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Happy New Year from Harbin

Happy New Year ! and  thank you! to all Beijing Notebook readers, returning visitors, subscribed friends, friendly commenter, linked sites and sponsors for supporting this blog in many ways.

The above photo (via Reuters) shows fireworks over stunning ice sculptures in Harbin, northeast China during the 27th famous Ice and Snow Festival's official opening on January 5th, 2011.

The festivals starts every year in December and lasts until the end of February. It is extremely cold during this period in Harbin, it gets easily - 20 to - 30 degrees Celsius !, which allows ice sculptures to last long and to attract many visitors from all over China.

Harbin is only a two hours flight away from Beijing and could be an exciting weekend trip for the whole family!

Happy New Year,



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