The Roots Restaurant

New kid on the block

Above the well-known Paddy O’Shea’s Irish pub in Beijing Dongzhimenwai, The Roots Restaurant has opened recently.
In a previous post I mentioned a small event we held there for a Rotary Fellowship Dinner.
This time we organized a small party in the restaurant for the Rotary, a post about it is coming out very soon.

Small but nice

The French manager Antoine is providing a good service with excellent food in a cozy atmosphere. The place only sits some 35 guests, it was formerly a Japanese restaurant, apparently a victim of the pandemic last year. They prefer to keep it small to make it cozy. The vacant rest of that floor where once the Indian Ganges Restaurant was (it seems also a victim of the virus), is now being remodeled and there would be another Indian restaurant coming.

Mediterranean food

For our group Antoine made a buffet with a North African inspired menu, said to be much Moroccan. It was delicious. I am a big fan of the sausages and the “stewed beef and tomato”, among others.
See the pictures!
Prices are very reasonable.
Our group was very happy with the food, the red wine and the Belgian Vedett beer.

Antoine also used his colorful North African tableware.

English Didi app is resurrected

Confusing for sure

After my warnings about the app on the iPhone, the app finally crashed. But now the English Didi app is resurrected. See the earlier post: Didi app disappeared from App Stores,

The Didi people had made warnings that the app needed an update and it would not work anymore at some point.
It continued however to work pretty well while requests for “updating” always failed.
That stopped late last year with an update for the iOS. The app remained on my screen but could not be opened. Luckily I did not delete it on my iPhone.

The app was still on the ‘purchased list on my Belgian Apple store but the app itself had disappeared. All the more confusing as the store has a Didi Driver app, to recruit drivers.
As I used Didi regularly I tried other channels:

– through the Alipay app: problem, all in Chinese. Then it also did not to work well for me, getting strange error codes like “bad pol id”. Ugh… Selecting a more expensive ride than seemed to work but without the easy use of the original English Didi app;
– through WeChat: also a bit complicated to find it and to navigate when using it. Again without the easy use of the original English Didi app. (screenshots added 21 Feb 21)

I looked into other services but missed the Didi app. And while the app was “dead” I continued to receive promotion messages…

Out of the blue

Then a few days ago suddenly there was a new message with Didi news. When I clicked, I could not believe: the app was working again without an update from the Apple Store!
I had to try several times to convince me, yes, it was working indeed.

Finding the version of the app is a challenge. It is difficult to locate and even more difficult to read. With some photo enhancing, see finally the version I have: V5.2.51.
How they did it, no idea but I am happy again!

No foreigners allowed in Pingyao

China Daily promotes tourism?

See this recent article, all nice but no foreigners allowed in Pingyao…
“Tourism gets back on track” 16 October 2020
Discover Shanxi by China Daily

“Pingyao, in central Shanxi and one of the top tourist destinations in the province, is known for its ancient city, old streets and time-honored firms established by the famed Shanxi merchants centuries ago. The county of Pingyao welcomed more than 300,000 visits during the eight-day National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays on Oct 1-8. The figure ranks it first among all tourist attractions in Shanxi province. Shanxi province received more than 52 million visits during the period and netted a tourism revenue of 31.64 billion yuan ($4.69 billion), according to the Shanxi Culture and Tourism Department. The department’s officials said the figures-almost the same as last year-show that local tourism has recovered from the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak that started earlier this year.”

Pingyao is a key tourist destination in Shanxi

I had the pleasure to visit it in June 2018 before the virus. A very interesting place.

I still need to go through the many pictures I took and post some.

Pingyao is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century. Pingyao county was recently listed among the country’s top 100 counties in terms of tourism strength in 2020.


The reality

My wife arrived in Pingyao this month to visit, together with Chinese friends.
They went to several hotels and all said, sorry. no foreigners allowed in Pingyao. Call to police did not solve anything.
They finally managed to enter with their car the old city. Found a small basic hotel where my wife said, sorry I lost my Chinese ID (she is Chinese with a Belgian passport). So she managed to stay the night (it was a very poor “hotel”).

I tried to contact the Shanxi and Pingyao government to complain. As always, either the contact details are wrong or no answer:

Shanxi Pingyao – Contact Us – Updated:2013-07-05 10:12 – Pingyao Tourism Bureau
Email: (does not work!)
Shanxi government contact:
Email sent, no answer.

Welcome to China! OK, foreigners not always welcome.

Old China Hands Lunch 5 June

Back again

Old China Hands Lunch 5 June marked our second lunch after the virus outbreak. Attendance was still pretty modest for several reasons: we were 17. All in all not too bad.
I have tried to have an idea about how many of our members are blocked abroad and unable to return “home”. Well, it is not a nice picture with close to 30 of our usual attendants unable to return; probably there are more, some did not yet reply to me. As I mentioned earlier, I expect many to give up on China for good, with their business, family life and social life wrecked. Chinese authorities couldn’t care less and there is no end in sight for the misery. China is losing many friends, that’s for sure. Really sad.


See the dishes I chose. The restaurant is now also well known for its collection of fresh flowers, done by Susan.

Next lunch

Tentatively planned for Friday 3 July.
All of Morel’s Restaurant staff has been tested for the virus and the restaurant is regularly checked by the hygiene department. As the restaurant observes all regulations strictly, they are one of the locations still allowed to operate.
I also must stress again to our members that the restaurant is giving us a very special deal and they should respect that. You are expected to pay for any extras. If you don’t like it, you go somewhere else.

Panic around the world

Contagion spreading

Panic around the world as several countries in East Europe, in the Middle East, along with Italy and others went into emergency mode with new cases of COVID-19. Reaction is at times chaotic, uncoordinated, and with hostility towards Asians and returning nationals. And closing borders.

On 24 February Coronavirus hammers financial markets

Will those countries be able to organize and implement the necessary measures as China did?
E.g. could Belgian hospitals cope with 5,000 sudden cases? How many hospital beds does Belgium have? And the whole system is plagued with stifling bureaucracy. Will people respect quarantine rules?
At least France is systematically preparing hospitals for the possible influx.
Let’s hope they can keep it under control…
Yes, pandemic is at the door. But let’s not forget that every year in Europe some 40,000 people die of the seasonal flu.

I you want to read a detailed insight on the pandemic, here is a good one:
“Is It a Pandemic Yet? It’s now clear that the coronavirus epidemic was never going to be contained. What’s next?” (NYT 24 February)

Some excerpts:
Iran announced 43 cases and eight deaths. Some 152 cases (and at least three deaths) were confirmed in Italy on Sunday. The number of infected people in South Korea jumped to 763 (and six deaths) in just days.
As of Monday, Covid-19 was detected in at least 29 countries. In nations with few or no reported cases so far, particularly in South America and Africa, the absence of evidence shouldn’t be interpreted as evidence of absence. More likely, it reflects lack of testing.

China Economic Review on 23 February

As reported earlier, impact impact…
I also mentioned earlier the international supply chain is being affected and manufacturing around the world will suddenly be deprived of components made-in-China. As happened to a friend a few years ago, his factory stopped in Belgium because … special screws from China were not arriving.
Reason to worry as overseas factories scramble to find other suppliers, and might then stick to those.
It is thus to hope the Chinese industry can restart soon… The big challenge now.
See below some more news from CER…

Millions of Chinese firms face collapse if banks don’t act.
With much of China’s economy still idled as authorities try to contain an epidemic that has infected more than 75,000 people, millions of companies across the country are in a race against the clock to stay afloat, reported Bloomberg.
A survey of small- and medium-sized Chinese companies conducted this month showed that a third of respondents only had enough cash to cover fixed expenses for a month, with another third running out within two months. Without more financial support or a sudden rebound in China’s economy, some may have to shut for good.
“If China fails to contain the virus in the first quarter, I expect a vast number of small businesses would go under,” said Lv Changshun, an analyst at Beijing Zhonghe Yingtai Management Consultant Co.

China’s passenger car sales tumble 92% in first half of Feb. due to virus outbreak.
Retail sales of passenger cars in China crumbled 92% on an annual basis in the first 16 days of February, according to China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), as the coronavirus outbreak slammed the brakes on businesses across the country, reported Reuters.
 “Very few dealerships opened in the first weeks of February and they have had very little customer traffic,” it said.

The supply chain is badly hit

If you are still an optimist, read this:
“Coronavirus: China’s manufacturing supply chain pummelled from all sides in efforts to restart. Coronavirus costs keep mounting for manufacturers, who are facing huge losses in sales and struggling to ramp up production. Logistical logjams persist as transport networks struggle to find workers and navigate lockdowns across China.”
SCMP 20 February 2020

The article details the problems I mentioned since long. One of the many “small” details:
There have been reports of cargo ships being marooned at sea, with ports in countries with strict coronavirus quarantine rules such as Australia, Singapore and the United States not permitting shipping personnel to enter their ports if they have been in China over the past 14 days.
Need I explain?

Eating out? Partying?

Incredibly enough some bar in Beijing was still holding a party with crowds inside, most without a mask. Saw the video. That was really stupid and irresponsible.
Those locations might have an unpleasant visit from the authorities with very unfortunate consequences.

See how one of my favorite restaurants does it according to the rules, Groovy Schiller’s. Also the limited opening hours of Kempinski Hotel (not sure about their seating rules…).
With those rules many restaurants prefer not to re-open.. too much trouble for too few customers… I wonder when and how Legend Beer may try a “soft” opening (later this week?). Morel’s Restaurant wisely keeps the door locked, while we all so miss the food. No Monthly Old China Hands Lunch in early March. Too early.

Our Rotaract meetings also cannot take place as usual but we had a ZOOM meeting on Monday evening…
We all hope we can soon go back to our Beijing life…

COVID-19 comes from?

Coronavirus did not originate in Wuhan seafood market, Chinese scientists say, as per SCMP on 23 February 2020.
Analysis of genomic data from 93 samples of the novel coronavirus suggests it was imported from elsewhere. The busy market then boosted its circulation and spread it to the whole city, research shows.
According to the study analysis suggested that the coronavirus was introduced from outside the market. The crowded market then boosted COVID-19 circulation and spread it to the whole city in early December 2019.
The research went on to say that based on the genome data it was possible that the virus began spreading from person to person in early December or even as early as late November.
A researcher at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV on Saturday that people infected were contagious two days before they showed any symptoms.
Chinese specialists still believe the virus comes from wild animals and the government has (finally) prohibited all trade of those.

French embassy notice

See here again: notice about the quarantine in Beijing from the French embassy.

Well done!