Old China Hands Lunch 5 July 2024

Summer is here

We were worried about a low turnout for the Old China Hands Lunch 5 July 2024 but we still had 31 participants, Many people start leaving Beijing for their holidays, next lunch 2 August might be a challenge, also being the hottest week normally…
Renaat was away but still kept an eye on us through the CCTV system… Susan made sure all went well.

The menu was great as usual. See some pics of the dishes. The choice:

  • pancake stuffed with ham & mushroom in cheese sauce OR Monaco eggs salad OR Morel’s chef salad (ham, blue cheese, pan-fried chicken, beef on lettuce OR fresh daily soup
  • veal sausage with curry sauce served with salad and Belgian frites OR sliced cold roast beef served with potatoes and mixed salad OR red snapper Provençale style served with daily vegetables and mashed potatoes
  • fresh daily dessert

A great loss

One of our regular OCH has passed away. Peter Hogg was a real gentleman and loved by all. We often talked about the Aussie Bar he supported, later closed due to COVID. RIP my friend, we are so saddened by the loss.

See two pictures of Peter attending our OCH, June and September 2023.
Read more on this Facebook page. You can leave there your condolences.
Camilla Adele wrote:

“On Wednesday 26th June, Daddy died. We have few words to describe the last six months since his fall in Beijing although have so much gratitude and love for all who supported him and us through those dark days. Through it all he showed such tenacity. Since his return in April to the UK whilst he remained in hospital, he regained his twinkling smile, love of puddings, reuniting with friends & spending time with family, and most importantly in spite of everything he was content.
Daddy was easily spotted in a crowd due to his love of colourful clothes, flamboyant eyebrows, loud hearty laugh and ability to respond to any situation with a silly face. He was often the first on a dance floor, generous to a fault with a wry sarcastic sense of humour! With friends from around the world he was as international as he was a true English gentleman.
A supporter and confidant to us and so many others and in turn an amazing father, friend, colleague, manager, and mentor.  He is so very loved, and so very missed. We are so thankful for all the many adventures we had together. He is reunited with his parents and friends who have gone before and we hope he is up there dancing away.”

Luxembourg National Day in Beijing

Many memories

On 27 June 2024 I had the pleasure to attend the Luxembourg National Day in Beijing, in the garden of the ambassador’s residence. Always special for me as I have many souvenirs of the early eighties when I was a close friend of the first Luxembourg ambassador, Carlo Ketter, and his lovely wife. We were both living in the Beijing Hotel and we met many times. I also helped a bit with advice when he was dealing with the challenges to fix the old building, said to be the former Pakistan embassy. It is located in a hutong, the only diplomatic building to be in the old city as far as I know. The small buildings at the entrance served as the embassy in the eighties, later the embassy moved to a modern office building on gongti bei lu.
The building is old but charming and has a beautiful garden.
I was also close to the first secretary of the embassy, Dory Schmitz. Many memories of the eighties in Beijing…

A sumptuous buffet

Schindler’s did the catering and offered a wide choice of goodies to the far over 300 invited guests. This time the weather was not that hot and bearable…

Nice to meet some fellow Rotarians as well as our Belgian ambassador. Also met again our Belgian friend from Arcelor Mittal.
A Chinese Vice Minister attended the reception.

The food

You can watch here a short video showing the event with a view on some of the dishes. There were also stands with ice cream and of course drinks. (Need VPN in China)
I have been several times to Schindler’s Tankstelle in Beijing, recommended!

This is the Sanlitun restaurant. Schindler has another new and big location at the south gate of Ritan Park. They do a lot of catering.

Despicable or pariah countries

Depressing world news

Watching international news is really bad for your mental health, it’s depressing. Many countries show their worst side. Can we rate some as “despicable or pariah countries”?
I made a quick compilation of media comments, most common opinions found from a Western perspective. Feel free to add a country or add *, or comment. All subject to individual opinions…
It’s not about the people, it’s about the regime.
Sadly the list could become longer. Looking at politics today one loses faith in people and certainly in politicians. Western countries are surely not role models. The U.S. has lost much of its shine as a beacon of (real) democracy.

A draft list

It would be interesting if a reputable survey company could do its own poll… Or was it done already? See here an tentative list, in alphabetical order.

  • Afghanistan
  • Belarus
  • China *
  • Cuba *
  • Ghana #
  • Iran
  • Iraq #
  • Israel *
  • Myanmar
  • North Korea
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan *
  • Somalia
  • Syria
  • Uganda #
  • Venezuela *
  • Yemen

* opinions differ
# LGBT issues mostly

Example: many vilify China but I live here since decades and the truth is pretty complex.
Other countries like Iran and Afghanistan leave little doubt. They went back to the dark Middle Ages.


In a recent poll, most people chose religion as the root cause for conflicts and suffering.
Not all studies support that, see here.
But many of the terrible conflicts do have their root in religion.

Yes I am an atheist…


With the war in Gaza, we see people coming out to protest because of the civilian casualties. I can only say it’s more complicated than those protesters shout about.
There have been so many atrocities in very recent decades, I just give one “small” example.

The Yazidi genocide was perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2017. It was characterized by massacres, genocidal rape, and forced conversions to Islam. Over a period of three years, IS militants trafficked thousands of Yazidi women and girls and killed thousands of Yazidi men. The United Nations reported that IS killed about 5,000 Yazidis and trafficked about 10,800 Yazidi women and girls in a “forced conversion campaign”. By 2015, upwards of 71% of the global Yazidi population was displaced by the genocide.

Some details:
10 May 2017 – Nearly 10,000 Yazidis killed, kidnapped by Islamic State in 2014, study finds – By Lin Taylor REUTERS
At least 9,900 of Iraq’s Yazidis were killed or kidnapped in just days in an IS attack in 2014, according to the first study to document the number of Yazidis affected which could be used as evidence in any trial for genocide.
About 3,100 Yazidis were killed – with more than half shot, beheaded or burned alive – and about 6,800 kidnapped to become sex slaves or fighters, according to the report.

Also this extensive description: “ISIS genocide of Yezidis and Christians

Who came out on the street in London, Brussels, Paris, … to stop the horrible killings? And shout “Free Yazidis”?
And there is also Syria, Sudan (More than 14,000 people dead, more than 8 million people displaced, yet Sudan is rarely mentioned in our media headlines),… a long list.

Old China Hands lunch 7 June 2024

Good attendance

Despite the heavy rain the Old China Hands lunch 7 June 2024 scored a total of 34 attendants, old friends and new faces. As usual lively chat over good food.

See here the impressive menu, see most of the dishes in the pictures:

  • Russian egg salad OR salad Niçoise OR fresh daily soup
  • pork piccata Provencal style served with grilled tomato and pan fried potatoes OR thin sliced beef tenderloin with wine merchant sauce served with market vegetables and Belgian frites OR pan fried snapper with mustard sauce served with daily vegetables and mashed potatoes
  • daily dessert

Included: one drink and coffee or tea.

Focus of the month

The focus is this time the incredible performance of the Morel team during the Official Opening of the New Belgian Embassy on 1 June.
The team: Renaat, me, Gordon, Miriam, Corinne and Sophie.

From 1 pm till late night we served Belgian fries in the afternoon to some 2,000 people and Belgian fries with Belgian Beef Stew and Pork Meat Balls in the evening to some 500 people.
We served 2,500 people using 252 Kg of fries, many liters of ketchup, mayonnaise and sauce andalouse. That makes like 100 g of fries per portion.
Sauce andalouse is a Belgian condiment commonly served with Belgian fries. The sauce is also popular and widely used throughout France and Luxembourg. It consists of mayonnaise, tomato paste, and peppers, such as pimientos or roasted bell peppers.

We were exhausted but it was a great and successful experience. Our team while small was extremely efficient!

Belgian Beer in Beijing is updated

Updated list and pics

My Page of Belgian Beer in Beijing is updated, more pics and the list now counts 220 different beer bottles.

Morel’s Restaurant and Café

We can say that Morel’s is our “stamcafé” in Beijing. Besides having great food it is also the place for friends to meet, chat and drink.
“Stamcafé” can be translated as “favorite bar or pub / habitual hound” and “Stammtisch” in German.
Elke Vlaming zou verplicht een stamcafé moeten hebben”: “Each Flemish person should forcibly have a stamcafé”

An interesting article about our beer culture: “5 September 2018 – Beer-mad Belgium moves to save historic drinking dens” – China Daily.
“Belgians are famous for taking their beer seriously, but authorities are now moving to preserve some of the historic cafes where drinkers have been quaffing since the early 20th century.
In the heart of the village of Alsemberg, in the Dutch-speaking Flemish Brabant region, south of Brussels, the PastaCafe is one of those that has best kept its 1920s and 1930s decor.”

With my friend Renaat Morel we have been trying out Orval, Gouden Carolus and Westvleteren. And many more.