Beijing Rotary a busy December

All pretty back to normal

Turns out it is for the Beijing Rotary a busy December.

On Tuesday 15 December we had our regular Rotary lunch meeting in the Kempinski Hotel. Janine Jakob, founder of full Potential Partners in Shanghai talked about leadership, how to become a leader with the right purpose, be it in Rotary, your company or your life.
She writes: “After having worked at American Fortune 500 IT company Hewlett-Packard (HP) for 7 years, I discovered myself more, found my purpose in life, and started my 2nd life phase by founding my own company Full Potential Partners in Shanghai. Now I’m following my calling on my path to have a bigger impact on individuals and companies in China and globally to make them happier and more successful.”

She also showed her book “365 days of motivation”, in English and Chinese versions.

Rotarian Mike presented a copy of his latest book (in Chinese) about the Forbidden City.
Rotarian René reported the good news that our communication with the Interact Club of Dulwich is back on track.
The club also decided to have our Christmas dinner celebration in Kempinski Hotel on 29 December.

Career talk

On Monday 24 December in the Yard House, a career talk by our IPR specialist Rotarian Benoit.

Thanks for (again) explaining the complex world of intellectual property rights!

Rotaract Christmas hotpot

As every year the two Rotaract clubs tried to join forces for the Christmas hotpot in the usual Ritan location, the Ritan Shuanrou in Ritan Dong Lu.
Nice crowd but some could not make it at the last moment as universities suddenly did not allow international students to leave campus. It has happened before on a regular basis, making the meetings of the West Club near impossible.

Happy to see our president of the Rotary Club of Beijing, Danny, attending!
Many potential new members took part and we had to explain more about Rotary and Rotaract.

40 years of China

Celebration or?

On 9 December 2020 I celebrated my exact 40 years of China with a dinner party for 40 guests in Morel’s Restaurant in Beijing. I arrived in Beijing for the first time on 9 December 1980 to open an office for a Belgian company (Ateliers de Construction Electriques de Charleroi, ACEC) and never planned to stay that long. Somehow I hesitated, should I celebrate, observe a minute of silence or ?

Forty years of China is a lot to digest. As I mentioned in my short speech, some suggested I show pictures or a PowerPoint. But condensing 40 years of changes in a slideshow is impossible. It’s like calling yourself a China Expert, which I never do. The longer you stay here, the more modest you become. I still have so much to learn.

The early days, my room in the Beijing Hotel, serving as office, bedroom, living room, (improvised) kitchen

It was a tough one to select whom to invite, as there was a limit imposed by the restaurant’s space, and my budget. Sorry to those who missed it.
Chef Renaat again prepared a fabulous buffet. In February it will be also 20 years I have been coming to his restaurant.

Friends and food

I had the pleasure and honor to welcome the ambassador of the European Delegation (we know each other since the nineties), the Belgian ambassador, and many other friends from our Old China Hands group.
We also welcomed our colleagues from UWEE with whom we work together for the Foreign Experts Committee under SAFEA, see here. They also gave me an unusual present with the socks!

Happy to have sold a few copies of my books, as I requested not to bring any presents.
There was plenty of food and drinks in the packed restaurant.

Speech, interview

I gave a short speech. Renaat and others then gave me a set of “bottles”, to make fun of my so-called month of not-drinking: a range of imported mineral water…

The EU ambassador brought a special present: a white board for all participants to sign as a souvenir.

I was also interviewed by China Today (La Chine au Présent), see here the online link (all in Chinese) with the UWEE video:

Or see here the PDF of the interview, along with a translation: 201209 ChinaToday interview


For those who cannot open the Chinese link and watch the video, see here (need VPN):

YouTube video:

“On 9 December 2020 I celebrated my exact 40 years of China with a dinner party for 40 guests in Morel’s Restaurant in Beijing. I arrived in Beijing for the first time on 9 December 1980 and never planned to stay that long.”

Thanks to Mark of UWEE for the great video!

Old China Hands 4 December

Full house

Our lunch for Old China Hands 4 December saw a full house with a total of 38, while two could not show up, otherwise we were 40.
Good to see a few of the missing members who made it back to Beijing.

Our friend Kent again surprised us with his culinary skills, bring deserts for all of us, cannoli and Apple strudel. Well done!
Cannoli: see here the details of the Italian pastry dessert: Not to be confused with the Italian pasta dish, cannelloni.
Apple strudel (German: Apfelstrudel): see here the details:

Next lunch

As 1 January 2021 is a Friday, the lunch will be exceptionally on Friday 8 January.
Chef Renaat has kept the very low price for the set lunch in 2020 but he will have to increase the price to RMB 130, the normal price being 148 (without coffee or tea) and we also get a coffee extra, value 28.
Happy Holidays to all and see you in 2021!

Rotary Beijing in action

Rotaract Club of Beijing

Rotary Beijing in action, also includes our Rotaract Clubs. The West club is still struggling as most of its members are unable to return to China and many universities impose restrictions for students to leave their campus. They do however organize regular online events.

Rotaract Club of Beijing

We did have a few meetings of the Sanlitun club, in Yard House (SOHO Sanlitun), like on 23 November.

Lunch in Kempinski

On 17 November the Rotary Club of Beijing had the regular Tuesday lunch in Kempinski.
Rtn Piper once again patiently explained the complex financing tools we have for our projects, the so-called Rotary Foundation and related.

We also welcomed a new member, our Belgian friend Benoit who is an IP specialist. He is also a member of my “Old China Hands Lunch”.

Dinner at Morel’s

Once per month we have a dinner instead of the usual lunch.
Again we could welcome a speaker, our new member Benoit who refreshed our knowledge of IP. Yes, all that complicated stuff of patents, etc. Think about all the fake GUCCI, Red Label and other on the market here… China being the champion of fakes… despite the clampdown by the authorities.

“Intellectual property rights are legal rights that provide creators protection for original works, inventions, or the appearance of products, artistic works, scientific developments, and so on. There are four types of intellectual property rights (IP): patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.”

Not to be confused with IP address… “IP address stands for internet protocol address; it is an identifying number that is associated with a specific computer or computer network. When connected to the internet, the IP address allows the computers to send and receive information.”

Another nice dinner by Morel’s Restaurant!

What is peperkoek

Peperkoek – ontbijtkoek – kruidkoek

So, what is peperkoek?
Some translate peperkoek as gingerbread or spiced cake or honey cake; pain d’épices (au miel).

According to Wikipedia :
An ontbijtkoek (literally translated breakfast cake) or peperkoek (pepper cake) is a Dutch and Flemish spiced cake. Rye is its most important ingredient, coloring the cake light brown. It is often spiced with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, succade and nutmeg. Several parts of the Netherlands have their own local recipe, of which the most famous is oudewijvenkoek (old woman’s cake)[citation needed], which is mostly eaten in the northern regions, and is flavored with aniseed. Ontbijtkoek is traditionally served at breakfast with a thick layer of butter on top, as a replacement for bread, however, due to its sweet taste it is also served as a snack. It is best eaten the day after it is baked.


What is onbijtkoek?
Onbijtkoek, or peperkoek, is a traditional baked cake of Flemish and Dutch origin. This spice bread is made from rye flour, all-purpose flour, milk, honey, black molasses and brown sugar. It has a fairly dense texture and a dark brown coloration due to the presence of rye flour.
Very flavorful, it contains many spices: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, vanilla and anise.
Across the Netherlands and parts of Belgium, there are many varieties of ontbijtkoek available in stores. Some contain candied fruit, ginger or even nuts and are sprinkled with pearl sugar.

In the north of the Netherlands, the local variant is called oudewijvenkoek, which can be translated to “cake of old women”. It is very similar to ontbijtkoek, the particularity of oudewijvenkoek being that it is more flavored with anise.
Another version is called kroninger koek, and for its part contains pieces of candied lemons.
Finally, Deventer koek, which takes its name from its origins in the city of Deventer, is traditionally flavored with bitter orange.

I love it

While I must be careful with sugar and carbs, I love my peperkoek, having two slices for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, with butter. My preferred brands are Meli (not the one with pearl sugar on top), see their famous Honingkoek (couque au miel) ( and Vondelmolen.


My Dutch friends satisfy my craving by bringing the Dutch versions such as Bolletje and Peijnenburg; they come is nice plastic containers I use for the Belgian ones. The taste is different but they are very nice too.

As for now it has not been accepted by Chinese customers, the general reaction is “too sweet”. A bit strange as some Chinese deserts, sweet and snacks are nearly pure sugar. Maybe they should try them with afternoon tea and with butter!