Tamil New Year in Beijing celebration

Tamil community

On 14 April 2024 my friend Raja invited me to join the Tamil New Year in Beijing celebration.
Location was Hotel Mercure close to Ritan Park.
There are currently estimated to be at least one-hundred million Tamil people spread across distant seas, living in more than 70 different countries and islands. Among these are many thousands living in various parts of the world as refugees and asylum seekers.
More about the Tamil diaspora here.
See here the Tamil population by nation.
There are about 300,000 Tamils in the UK, of whom 200,000 are Sri Lankan while the rest are from India, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and other countries.

Discovering Tamil culture

The Tamil community showed an love for their culture by performing dance, singing, video clips, and praying. And of course Indian food. If the performances were not so “professional”, all showed unbridled enthusiasm.
When abroad it is interesting to observe how different expat communities respect and celebrate their country’s culture. My take on Belgians abroad: we mostly shine by being very low key…

Happy to meet some of my friends of our Old China Hands Lunch.

China National Opera House

Concert in the new Opera House

On 10 December 2023 I visited for the first time the China National Opera House, located near my home near Worker’s Gymnasium. The address: 115 Dongzhong Street, just south of Fuhua Building near the Second Ring Road.
The concert was performed by the Beijing China Philharmonic Orchestra (北京华夏爱乐乐团) and featured the themes of famous movies, my favorite being the James Bond theme. See the program in Chinese with an online translation.

The opera house is impressive, great architecture, modern and super clean. The acoustics are simply astonishing.
See the inside.
At first it seemed a bit empty but later many spectators filled the house and they were enthusiastic listeners. I was the only foreigner …
See part of the performance with the enthusiastic public.

China National Opera House background

The China National Opera House is affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It was founded in 1952 and was formerly known as the Yan’an Central Orchestra and the Luyi Art Troupe.
On April 20, 2022, a press conference was held at the newly built Opera House. The total construction area of the theater is 41,000 sqm.
On May 1, 2022, the National Opera House officially opened to the public.
On the evening of July 6, 2022, the opening concert of the National Opera House Theater was performed.
See some screenshots of the online articles about the House, in Chinese.
See also Wikipedia.
If you are in China, some of the links above need a backdoor…

Yingjie Museum of Stone Art

A unique museum

The Beijing Yingjie Museum of Stone Art is located in “A.C. Museum Hotel” in A.C. Embassy Hotel on Dongzhimenwai Avenue, pretty close to the well-known Paddy O’Shea bar.

The complete hotel is pretty much like an art museum but the Yingjie Museum of Stone Art is a pretty unique attraction in the basement of the hotel, accessible through an elevator.
It is not well known, which is a pity. The Yingjie Museum of Stone Art is dedicated to art in stones, most straight from Mother Nature. The “paintings” you see are thin slices of natural stones but they look like paintings of forests, rivers and anything according to your imagination.
Near the hotel lobby there is even an “Art Stone Bar”. Nearby more galleries with paintings and other art.

The website mentioned in their leaflet, www.acartmuseum.com,  actually goes to this website, no English. There are many pictures and videos but all in Chinese.

A lot to admire

We were invited to a VIP tour on 14 September 2023 and we were very impressed.
Most of the exhibits are related to natural stones, artwork with inlaid stones, statues, stalagmites, but also paintings (one from a Belgian artist), African art, Chinese antiques, European antique furniture and more.

Even the walls and the floors are pieces of art! Everything is of superb quality and craftmanship.
There is a section not open to the public where repairs are made, among other activities.

Huge Daliushu market in Beijing

A real surprise

A friend took me to explore the huge Daliushu market in Beijing. I never heard about it, I knew about Panjiayuan, Hongqiao, Pearl Market, Silk Market and some other smaller and less well-known markets. Daliushu – see the map – is in the South East of Beijing between de 4th and 5th ring.
The market is open during the day, till late afternoon and is just simply huge, several buildings and several floors. Prices are incredibly cheap, see the pictures of the clothes where they sell each piece like for 20 and 30 RMB. Immense sections selling textiles, shoes, jewelry, decoration, electronics, kitchenware, professional kitchen equipment, small shops (a lot of Russian imports), birds, crickets, name it.
We also found some real antique shops, in one we chatted for a long time with the owner.

On Tuesday evenings, starting around 4 to 5 pm, there is a vast, mainly outdoors flea market, where you find about anything, antiques, old electronics, camera, watches, old tools, decoration, toys, whatever.
We chose the right day, arriving on a Tuesday afternoon and sticking around to see the evening market. It’s also called “The last ghost market”.

For the whole duration of the visit I was the only foreigner, and no, no any Africans shopping…

I bought boots

Except some Russian dark chocolates I bought nice leather boots, 550 RMB. Those normally sell for way over 1,000 RMB.

Panjiayuan is the most well-known “antique market” (or called flea market or curio market) in Beijing, on the southeast 3rd ring road. I haven’t been there since maybe 15 years. The stores in the market open every day while the street stalls just open on weekends according to Travelchinaguide. More about that market here.

Guardian Fine Art Asia


On 2 November 2023 I visited the Guardian Art Center in Beijing for the GFAA (Guardian Fine Art Asia). The exhibition was held from 1 to 5 November to show Eastern and Western antiques, classic fine arts and more. One of the booths was done by Jan Hagemann, a German antique dealer coming to China for over a decade. We had a long chat and Jan joined our Old China Hands the next day.
See his website here.

In his booth some exceptional old letters, such as from Albert Einstein (my hero!), Richard Wagner and more. Also a unique and beautiful silverware collection with a rich history that only Jan can explain in vivid detail.

An impressive exhibition

I went around to visit other booths, many beautiful pieces, see the pics after the Einstein letter. As a collector myself, what a show to admire.

Sadly the present Chinese generation has mostly lost interest in collecting, be it antiques, stamps, name it. It is sad to notice how little they value their own Chinese culture and heritage. Seems they are more into expansive Swiss watches and lady bags, the LV, Dior, Delvaux, Rolex and other luxury brands. Interesting to note: Delvaux is a Belgian manufacturer of fine leather luxury goods founded in 1829 by Charles Delvaux. The company is the oldest fine leather luxury goods house in the world.
For unknown reasons the Delvaus shop in Beijing Taikooli is gone as for now.