Quarantine back to China

Returning to China is an serious challenge

Facing quarantine back to China is only one of the difficult barriers one faces when trying to return, reason I am stuck here since late 2019.
Getting a valid visa is one hurdle, forget visa for tourism or a quick business trip. Lately China has started to show some flexibility but for many it is still very hard.
There are the exhaustive requirements for COVID tests, green code through the China embassy, getting a flight reservation on one of the very few and horribly expensive flights.
Every country of departure has different regulations, in principle one has to go on a direct flight from the country of your nationality. Other flight routes are possible but even more complicated.
For a family with two children, the cost is outrageous, due to the flight tickets and the cost of quarantine on arrival – you pay for the hotel and the food.
Overall conditions and regulations vary and change without warning.

Quarantine conditions vary

Quarantine back to China is mostly beyond control, it depends on the flight and the city you must first stay. If your destination is Beijing you can quarantine in cities like Xian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Xiamen, … rarely in Beijing.
Worse are the hotels. Mostly you have no choice at all, they put you where they want, not you. You can be lucky to stay in a 5-star hotel with nice room service or be locked up in a horrible local no-star hotel with rubbish food and zero room service.

The experience of a European diplomat couple

The couple landed in a local hotel. With little electricity, no WIFI, infested with mosquitos, cockroaches, ants and other insects. The poor couple is having a crash course in Chinese (unidentified) insects. Only one towel for the couple. Window (closed) to the corridor. Bathroom as in 0-star Chinese hotels. Rotten walls and woodwork.

I wish our European countries would force Chinese arriving to go through the same ordeal. European food, no hot water, insects, whatever. Oh well, the EU has no balls to enforce reciprocity.

Outdated “zero-COVID” policies

We are all permanently terrorized by draconian and arbitrary rules. One needs negative test results in the mobile that vary: last 24 or 48 or 72 hours, to the whim of the location. And pray the test result does appear in your mobile.
Worse, totally out of control is the “contact tracing”. The system checks where you go and where you enter by scanning a QR code. Bad luck if a “suspected case” was in that neighborhood, you might end up with alarm pop-ups that block you from going anywhere, you can (in the best case) be locked up in your home for one or two weeks, or worse, you are dragged away to a far-away “quarantine location” for one or two weeks. Good luck.
Several friends have faced consecutive lockdowns and quarantines for many, many weeks.
And forget travel to anywhere. That can end very badly.
In other word, stay away from China. Many expats are now leaving China for good, many being “Old China Hands”.
My American daughter is visiting Belgium. No tests, no masks, all open, all back to normal. Most of her Belgian family had COVID. That was all OK, just like a flu, a few days at home only.
We remain in our “cage”, before it was China, now it is Beijing. Or a District in Beijing.
Right now I was/am in lockdown for reasons I can call unfounded, unscientific, irrational. Who compensates us for all our losses?
The policies here were initially great and successful. Now it has become unsustainable. But the government sticks to it after adapting the wrong strategies in the past year.
And we are not allowed to complain. Hey! We love it here! It’s all great!
All in all it makes us sad. Because we considered Beijing to be our home.

Forever bicycles good and bad

Spotted by a friend

I found out – Forever bicycles good and bad. A friend took these pictures on the street in Beijing. Intrigued I looked up the brand, as we were impressed by the design and the apparently sturdy quality.


Turned out the brand is Chinese and well-known. Shanghai Forever is one of Chinese oldest bicycle manufacturers whose brand is one of the most popular among the Chinese bicycling community. Founded in 1940, the bike quickly became a Shanghai staple before expanding into the rest of the country.
In 2001, the Zhonglu Group purchased the Forever brand to develop ‘Green’ and environmental friendly products. The brand is known for their creativity and stable approach to building bikes at a cost effective price.

Their website: https://www.forever-bicycle.com/sy
The website is pretty well-done. But of the 208 different bikes shown, no trace of that one.


I used the contact listed on the website to enquire. Bad luck, as so often Chinese websites are not updated and don’t have a valid contact. Pretty sad for such a company.
So, will.yang@forever-bicycle.com did not work.
What could be the reason? Make a choice:

– the bike is a fake Forever
– Will was doing the website but left the building long time ago
– Will does not read English
– the company does not give a damn
– this is China!

Cargo bikes

Those bikes are mostly called “cargo bikes or cargocycles” and come in a variety of models. As far as I know you find quite a number in The Netherlands and Belgium.
See here more details:

Carry Kids On Bikes
Source: https://cargocycles.com.au/carry-kids-on-bikes/

Front mounted child seats
There are a couple of options for front mounting a child seat, and probably the simplest is a seat that attaches to the top of the handlebars – however, the added weight on the steering and much higher center of gravity can affect the handling of the bike.
Better options are front seats that attach to the top tube and steerer of the bike (which requires a level top tube), or to a bar that mounts between the seat post and head stem.

In our experience front mounted seats are best suited to smaller passengers. As they are situated under your chin as you ride, height becomes an issue. Some riders also need to resort to pedaling with their knees splayed out which can be uncomfortable on longer journeys. The big benefit of a front mounted seat is you and your child are able to interact easily, and they often participate in the riding experience (holding the handlebars, ringing the bell etc.). They are a great introduction or stepping stone for shorter journeys and will help your little ones get used to being a passenger on a bike.

Beijing Worker’s Stadium taking shape

Impressive progress

Beijing Worker’s Stadium taking shape, this time one can see the outside perimeter and the rooftop being constructed.

See here earlier posts of what is going on in our gongti area:

Beijing Gongti demolition

New Beijing Workers Stadium

Gongti strip to disappear

See pictures taken 30 October and 18 November 2021.

The construction area is immense and as said earlier, other arenas and buildings are coming up besides the main stadium.
The area also has many container buildings to house the dormitories and offices for the construction companies.
Leaving across the street I must say we have no any problems and have not been hindered by the huge construction, despite a continuous flow of concrete mixers and other heavy trucks. Many start delivering in the late evening and it is all pretty efficiently organized.

What we can expect

See here how the stadium looked around 1959, seen from the south. The whole area around it has changed dramatically. And a few pictures of what we can expect.

Here also an article in Chinese with Google translation about the new stadium.

211126 Newgongti

“In 2023, the new sports club will host the opening and closing ceremonies and finals of the Asian Cup.”
I keep you posted of the progress, thanks to a Dutch lady who makes the panoramic pics from her apartment.

Les étrangers en Chine

Retrouvé l’auteur

En travaillant sur un dossier j’étais tombé sur un long article ‘Les étrangers en Chine’, dont je n’étais pas sûr de l’auteur ni des détails. Grâce à mes amis de ‘la Chine au Présent’ j’ai retrouvé l’auteur qui avait en effet fait un entretien avec moi. Ben oui, oublié car c’était en 2013 et oui beaucoup de journalistes aiment venir chez moi…
L’auteur, Bruno, a revu l’article de 2013 et je le publie ici.
Car même si beaucoup a changé pour les résidents étrangers depuis 2013 son analyse n’a pas perdu beaucoup de son actualité. Aussi intéressant de voir comment les choses ont changé.

Bruno Vandergucht a vécu quatre ans en Chine. En 2013, il travaillait pour le mensuel ‘la Chine au Présent’. Durant son poste il m’a contacté pour un entretien.
Il travaille actuellement au Parlement Belge, au service du compte-rendu parlementaire. Voir: https://unionisme.be/LE_COMPTE_RENDU_PARLEMENTAIRE.htm
Il s’occupe aussi du Centre Bouddhiste Dhammaramsi à Rivière (Profondeville, Province de Namur). Voir: https://dhammagroupbrussels.be/en/front-page/

L’article date de septembre 2013 – révision octobre 2021 – données statistiques de 2009.
Cet article de neuf pages propose une réflexion à bâtons rompus sur les étrangers en Chine, leurs motivations et leurs difficultés, ainsi que la façon dont ils sont perçus par les Chinois.
L’article est agrémenté de huit témoignages d’étrangers d’origines très diverses et actifs dans différents secteurs en Chine. Il est étayé par de nombreuses statistiques et études officielles chinoises.

Résumé de l’article :

(texte de Bruno)

Qui sont aujourd’hui les étrangers en Chine. Combien sont-ils, quelle est leur nationalité ? Est-il possible de comprendre ce qui les amène dans ce pays. Les statistiques dont on dispose permettent de classer les étrangers selon certaines catégories, en fonction de leur employeur, et du secteur dans lequel ils travaillent, mais pour comprendre leurs motivations, le mieux est encore de s’adresser à eux directement. En fait, à l’instar de Romily Koh, Singapourien d’origine chinoise, les expatriés placent le plus souvent l’argent en tête de leurs motivations. Ceci est confirmé par une enquête de la banque HSBC.

On se rend compte toutefois au fil des discussions que c’est loin d’être la seule motivation. Ainsi, c’est l’envie de comprendre une culture radicalement différente qui a poussé Nicolas Godelet, architecte belge, à s’expatrier en Chine. Nastia Pensin, d’origine russe, et Stephen Bwansa, d’origine congolaise, souhaitent explorer d’autres modes de vie et de pensée, et cherchent à s’inspirer des qualités des Chinois.
Les motivations qui poussent les étrangers à venir en Chine peuvent être négatives aussi : fuir le pays d’origine, quitter un travail dont ils sont lassés, s’éloigner d’une famille trop envahissante… Pour Shelly Shiner, enseignante américaine, et Takashi Komaru, consultant pour une société chinoise dont tous les clients sont Japonais, la crise économique dans leurs pays respectifs a certainement joué un rôle dans leur expatriation.

Parmi les motivations des étrangers, les relations amoureuses jouent aussi bien sûr un rôle, comme ce fut le cas pour Simon Criqui, jeune Français qui s’est marié cette année à une Chinoise.
Comment les Chinois, quant à eux, perçoivent-ils les étrangers ? Les étrangers se reconnaissent-ils dans la façon dont les Chinois les dépeignent ? En se basant sur des exemples concrets, l’article cherche à comprendre certaines différences culturelles qui peuvent être à l’origine de conflits ou de malentendus.

Enfin, l’article aborde les frustrations dont font état les étrangers. Les personnes interrogées provenant d’horizons très différents, on obtient une vision aussi objective que possible. On s’efforce aussi de faire la part des choses entre les stéréotypes véhiculés par les uns et les autres, et la réalité sur le terrain, c’est-à-dire les conditions légales du séjour et du travail des étrangers, notamment avec Gilbert Van Kerckhove qui est resté plus de trente ans en Chine et a obtenu une carte verte.

Le document complet

Les étrangers en Chine, version PDF : Les étrangers en Chine

Pole dancing is a sport (part 2)

More about pole dancing

Yes pole dancing is a sport (part 2), see part 1 .
More about what happens in China and the history of the new sport and fitness craze.

The Way of The Pole

China’s pole dance pioneers vie for a spot on the international stage.
14 July 2013 See: https://www.theworldofchinese.com/2013/07/the-way-of-the-pole/

Cao Nao poses on a pole over the Tianjin skyline on the roof of the CPDSTC studio, where China’s pole dancers go to become pros

I quote:
The China Pole Dance Sports & Training Center located in the heart of Tianjin is where China trains its premier pole dancers. The sport is getting a lot of attention and not just because of the opportunity for lechery. When standing in a room full of  beautiful, scantily clad women, it should be made clear that it is actually a room full of beautiful, scantily-clad champions.
Though pole dancing has a reputation as more of a striptease than a sport, it is taken very seriously by a select few. Everything from the height of  the pole to the duration of the song is taken into account, and points are deducted mercilessly; a minor slip or a bent leg could cost you an entire point out of 30.

Why is Pole Dancing Sexualized?


I quote:
The reason pole dancing is sexualized is because of its western modern origins where traveling circus-like crews would mount tents with a pole in the center holding it up and women would seductively dance around the pole in order to entice the male crowd.
From there it jumped to bars and clubs where the sexualization became even more accentuated. Clubs would build stages with the intention of having women dancing and stripping to attract the male clientele.

But as more and more people started participating in the activity and the popularity of the hobby grew, different avenues started to emerge especially when the physical benefits where acknowledged.
A massive change started to occur and the notion of stripping started drifting farther and farther from simple pole dancing to take a more sportsmanlike approach.
Pole dancing evolved from its infancy stage and matured becoming more of a means to achieve fitness rather than a form of sensual entertainment.

For too long the words pole dancing has been associated with stripping because both strippers and pole dancers use a pole to perform their routines.
it’s origins definitely tainted the term, but it’s an outdated notion, people need to be aware of the differences between now and then, there’s a need for more information about the topic; this article will be helpful in putting a stop to misconceived, outdated ideas.

Hilton Hotel: pole dancing competition

As I posted on 24 November 2010:

Zeta Bar at the Hilton held one more pole dancing competition on Saturday 13 November 2010 – I had missed the first one in May. The bar was fully packed and we “did not have a seat”. Lucky us, we were sent upstairs where we ended up having the best view of all.
Some of the girls were great and “attractive”, can’t say more, my wife was there too!
I had intended to stay till midnight but the whole family decided to watch till the very end and we were back home at 2 am.
See the pictures in the original post.

The movie – Posted on 6 December 2010: