inside thoughts on China and beyond

Posts tagged “fun

Hong Kong -Whatever You Want (HK.2)

Hong KongTsim Sha Tsui is home to an amazing large collection of exclusive brand shops and endless shopping malls. While delivery trucks, tour buses, Masserratties and Bugattis congest the long streets and narrow allays, mainland Chinese visitors crowd the sidewalks and shuffle through the malls. All along the famous Canton Road, entrepreneurial Indians scout for tourists and every 10 steps one would come up to me with a you’ve-always-been-my-most-precious-friend-client-and-it’s-so-nice-to-see-you-back-again-and-do-I-have-just-the-right-suit-for-you talk. They will try to tailor your suit; line your trousers, renew your cuffs, repair your collar and sometimes even sell you your Rolex watch back. Friendly though they are, they prey like vultures. One by one, they pick out Caucasian tourists and as such, for all my faults, I am quite outstanding. (more…)


Hong Kong Hassle (HK.1)

Hong KongHong Kong has always been an intriguing city. With its rich colonial history, its endless skyscrapers and neon signs, its ever present hilltops and, of course, the dizzying busyness between Kowloon Bay and Victoria Harbour, it was the Crown Jewel of the British Empire for most of the last a century. It was the optimum of opportunities for daring entrepreneurs and the dream of many. It was the ultimate sensation of the Orient. Hong Kong has, as Prince Charles once said, “created one of the most successful societies on Earth.” Hong Kong, in short, is a place you had to have seen before you died. But for all its magic, I tell you, never go there after Chiang Mai. (more…)


Guest (TT.4)

GuestI was staying at a guesthouse that was nicely tucked away along the eastern shore of the Ping river and under the shady canopy of an ancient tree that fully umbrellaed the grounds here, and that of at least 3 neighbors. Everyday during breakfast a Dutch radio channel announced the day’s traffic jams (more…)


Big Business

Disclaimer: do not read this article while eating! And with that said, let’s dive right into it: China is changing rapidly and its toilets are changing with it. Notably slower though.

But toilets have always, how shall I put it, intrigued me. After all, we spend quite some time there. As a boy I would sit and study the patterns of the floor and walls while doing my business. In the shapes and lines on the concrete floor I would see the outlines of countries, of wild roses at the point of withering; the list of what I saw was endless and always growing. Sometimes though, I would see faces. An old man with a sharp nose and deep eyes, a girl’s face with wavy long hair falling down her bare shoulders. Sinterklaas. Well, today it happened again. (more…)


The Stroller

My traffic light is red. I stop. (Do take note of this; stopping for traffic lights isn’t anyone’s second nature after more than 10 years in China – remarkable, really!) I wait and watch thick raindrops splash on my windscreen. Soon I will need to switch the wipers from interval mode to constant. A young woman is crossing the road. With one hand she pushes her stroller loaded with Aldi shopping bags hanging heavily on the handlebar while holding an umbrella with the other. (more…)


Milk Rush

It’s been awhile since I last was in Holland. One year to be precise, or, as my assistant puts it: 12 boxes of Nutricia baby milk powder ago. She measures time by what is dear to her, and don’t we all?  My daily drive to work used to take me 4 songs, but after we moved to our new home it only takes one song. Sometimes even less than that and then I drive around the block just to hear the end of a Mozart cantata or Sting’s ‘Mr. President’.  (more…)


Chinese Dream

In 1963, Martin Luther King spoke his legendary words: “I have a dream” and within days it became the dream of millions.  Exactly 50 years later, Xi Jinping revealed his slogan: “Zhongguo meng” the “China Dream” (also translated as: Chinese Dream). That was months ago, and millions are still wondering what he meant by it.  (more…)


Earthquake Expert

There are those days you will never forget. They stay with you forever. Not that we always want to, but they do. Just take a second. While reading this, I’m sure something is popping up in your head ‘while we speak’ so to speak. And for your sake, I surely hope so. No life can possibly be so boring that it has not one moment of deep hardship or glorious fortune, not one moment of lonely obscurity or unbridled fame; not one moment that you will always remember. All that to say: today was just one of those days. (more…)


Exit Xichang

clothIn America, striving for happiness is as fundamental as the Declaration of Independence itself. In China, it is the government’s worry number one, as it has been for centuries. To maintain a ‘harmonious society’, they are working hard to keep the people happy. But happiness doesn’t always come easy.  (more…)


Portfolio – Men at Rest

Portfolio – Men at Rest

November 2012

In a booming economy in this land of opportunities, one needs to be purposeful with time. Moments of rest are crucial.  Though it would be unfair to say that only men (read: the males) rest, they do seem to devote more time to it. Here a reflection of men (now read: men and women) at rest. (read more)


Twisted Care

Yesterday, I twisted my ankle, if not worse.

All I know is that while cutting trees and branches in my back garden, I jumped off a wall, onto a chair. Well, that was it. Not that I haven’t done that before –from higher walls even. Of course, I blame the chair. Never jump on Chinese chairs. They are just not made for it. Anyway, I jumped onto the chair, the chair made movements I’ve never seen it do before (more…)


The Mooncake Myth

Mooncake

MooncakeIt all started long, long ago.   And by that I really mean long ago: when the earth still had 10 suns and many goddesses and immortals flying around. The world was a hot place to be. Too hot, for most. An early day global warming was about to set in and a savior was needed. Jesus could not come for another 2000 years, and thus, China came to our rescue.

(more…)


The Vow

Motionless he stood there. Physically present but mentally in another world. Looking to the horizon but seeing nothing. Thoughtless.

His father had been a farmer. A poor, hard working, small-time farmer. Each morning before dawn he was under the cows, followed by long days pulling weeds and clearing ditches. Five cows, 1 and 1/2 pig, 8 sheep, 13 chickens and one rooster and with luck, some eggs. Cats were always walking around but he was never sure how many. They always disappeared in the winter when on some Sundays the whole family ate a special meal. The dog had died and was never replaced.

He made a vow to work his way out of this cruel  life. Away from this simplistic and enslaving primitive lifestyle.  For him and his family. The road to prosperity. (more…)


Table Talk

All progress has a price. Well known are of course the issues of over-population and pollution and corruption and spoiled kids. But not often mentioned, surely not in China, is the issue of equality. Yes, you read it correctly: the issue of equality. Equality as an issue.

So I called Alain de Botton. Not really, of course -for who am I?- but real enough to include this philosophical thinker and popular crowd speaker on this matter in an imaginative roundtable talk. (more…)


Shangri-La Experience (2)

Heavenly Hotels (2) (click here for part 1)   (Note: This blog was meant to be published after part 1 -seems logic, doesn’t it?!- but somehow got blocked rather than blogged, then delayed and forgotten …Here it is anyway…)

Ever forgot your 20th wedding anniversary? Take heart: it can only happen once. And it happened to me -nearly. I know, I know, how could I? -don’t get me started. To be honest, I was a bit surprised myself because as far as I could remember, our tenth anniversary was only a year ago.

As it was, my wife was much too busy to complain about it and first I intended to let it quietly slip-by; I was busy too. Maybe she won’t notice. And, hey, didn’t we already go on holiday twice a year?

My wife remained quiet. My friends didn’t. (more…)