Old China Hands 8 January

Full house again

Our lunch for Old China Hands 8 January saw a pretty full house with a total of over 30. For once not on the first Friday as that would have been 1 January.
All not bad at some are still stuck abroad, some are still afraid of “crowds” and some are too busy.

This time Chef Renaat prepared a special desert: “Galette des Rois”, in English “King Cake”.
About King Cake and the Festival of Epiphany, see here:

A figurine, “la fève”, is hidden in the cake. A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the “king” (or queen) who finds the fève in their piece of cake. To avoid dental accidents Renaat used a peanut instead of a coin or other. The lucky “King” was Allan!
See how it came out of the oven. The cake is special, some do not like it that much but that’s the way it is.

Next lunch

Just before the rush for Chinese New Year (12 February, Year of the Ox) we will have our next lunch on Friday 5 February. Hopefully the virus situation will not worsen and we can have our lunch without issues.
Morel’s Restaurant will be closed probably as from 8 February, not decided yet.

Another interview of Gilbert

After the lunch I was (once more) interviewed by CRI (China Radio International), that is now part of the new group China Media Group. Later more about that…

Belgian community in Beijing

In Morel’s Restaurant

As reported earlier our Belgian community in Beijing is getting more active.
The “BiB” was set up earlier, see: Launch of the Belgians in Beijing Club

On 26 November 2020 we all got together in Morel’s Restaurant. considered as our Belgian home far from home.
The Belgians will celebrate New Year’s Eve also in Morel’s, see the menu. For very personal reasons I will an “observer” will will drink a glass together.

On 1 January 2020 there were 1555 Belgians officially registered in China, according to the official figures of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Of the total, we have 1059 adults and 496 children (under 21), 560 female and 995 male. There might be more Belgian around, not registered with the embassy or consulate.

Vlamingen in de Wereld

There is a worldwide organization for Flemish people abroad, called “Vlamingen in de Wereld“.

We have since this year a local representative, Tina Heyninck, see her article here: “In Beijing is alles constant in beweging”.
On 15 December 2020 Tina launched the Beijing section with a reception graciously hosted by our Belgian ambassador in his Beijing residence, along with the FIT representative Marc Struyvelt.

I am not sure since when I became a member of VIW in Beijing, it could be from the mid-eighties. I am trying to check… Always happy to receive my printed copy!

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.”
See: https://meet-janine-jakob.jimdosite.com/

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: http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/zw2018/spzg_4957/202012/t20201211_800229877.html

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: https://youtu.be/vXcAlD4Aheg

“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!

Rotary Club of Beijing meets

Lunches and dinners

The Rotary Club of Beijing meets now regularly with in principle 3 lunches and one dinner each month.
Our Rotaract Clubs try their best, the West Club with online seminars and the Sanlitun starting again the career talks. The upcoming career talk is by Rtn Benoit, our IPR guru.
On 1 December we had the Annual General Meeting with the elections of the new team for 2021-2022. Next president in July 2021 will be our PE Didier (Belgium) with as the new PE Benoit (yes, Belgium!).

As such the meeting was members only. Some members joined by ZOOM to vote.

A gourmet dinner

Rtn Regula invited us on 5 December 2020 for a real gourmet dinner, prepared by a Chinese chef who worked many years as the cook for ambassadors. Terrific job by the guy who is like 80 years old.

I then also let the people guess who was in this picture dated 1 June 1986,
Yes the two ladies were at the table…

Let’s talk bread

On 8 December 2020 dinner in Morel’s Restaurant for the Rotary Club of Beijing, members and guests.
Guest speaker was David Colin, Mexican CFO of one of the largest bread companies in the world, “BIMBO”.
BIMBO is a Mexican company that has conquered the world and China. David spent some 14 years in China and told us about its development of the company and about the regular culture shock between Mexican and Chinese way of life.
Bimbo (Beijing) Food Co., LTD manufactures and distributes bakery food products. The Company produces bread, bread-type rolls, cakes, burgers, sandwiches, and more. Bimbo (Beijing) Food mainly conducts businesses in China. See here.

In our home we were regular customers of their bread! Pretty tasty!
Our guest Emily got the well-know apple pie of Morel’s as her birthday cake!