Old China Hands 4 June lunch

Full house for an anniversary

For our Old China Hands 4 June lunch we again had some surprises, celebrating our 8th anniversary with a group picture and an unplanned musical performance.
Actually the lunches started in April 2013 but we were too busy in the previous lunches and wanted the celebration to be the main focus. Again with team work we got a banner that we used for the group picture. Some new faces but happy to see again our Aussie friend Geoff back and out of quarantine.

As Morel’s Restaurant had some staff issues I had to be the cashier at the door and forced to have part of my lunch while raking in the money.
And mobilizing the gang for the group picture demanded some calls to order, made easy as I am the Sergeant-at-Arms in Rotary. We were 35 exactly with a special table for the Flemish gang.

Impromptu performance

Our member Peter has some remarkable talents in shooting music videos. He surprised us by setting up a short trio performance. He has his own band, music studio and video company (more than 100 songs where he did composition and Chinese lyrics). He certainly has a very interesting professional background too…
See the vimeo clip, need VPN in China.

Our lunches are never boring!

Another author among our members

Our (new) member Caroline surprised me with her book: “Les trente glorieuses chinoises de 1980 à nos jours – Caroline Puel”. See here: https://www.france24.com/en/20110120-caroline-puel-journalist-author-30-years-that-changed-china

I promptly bought the book and I started reading it – looks very interesting. So few people know about the real history of modern China.

And yeah back back again

Honestly, a bit too much of Morel’s Restaurant?

The same evening back, to have dinner with friends. I had the spaghetti, the best one in town, really. And see what else came on the table.

Old China Hands 7 May lunch

Always something special

Our Old China Hands 7 May lunch was again in an unusual week: though a “working day” it was for many still in the middle of the May 1 holiday week. Others were just back at work and super busy but we were exactly 29 total.
We surprised Tibor with a Happy Birthday mini-firework…
The previous day Luc and me had our second vaccine shot; a Dutch friend who had it too was too unwell to attend the lunch. Everybody has different reaction to the vaccine…

Saying bye to Kent

I had prepared a special gift for our friend Kent (musician, chef, painter) who is leaving Beijing soon to be reunited with his wife in USA.

As always a happy crowd in the fully packed Morel’s Restaurant.
Next lunch planned for Friday 4 June.

Old China Hands stars

Our members are interesting figures

As mentioned in my previous post our Old China Hands stars come in different colors.
Here more about some of them, we have several other stars! Proud to have this community and sad each time one has to leave Beijing (like Kent).

Terry Crossman

You can call him the Hutong guy, well known around the Houhai area and featured in many media. He speaks Chinese fluently and sometimes I think he is more Chinese than American.

Many articles on the net with all the interviews he had. See this one from Haivision (Hainan Airlines magazine). I just was on Hainan Airlines but the Haivision on board did not have the article yet.

210403 TerryCrossman

Mark Levine

He is plastered all over the Chinese Internet and appears in all kinds of official meetings, often as a juror or something for English language competition and other.
See the article in China Daily of 1 April 2021. (Link)

He is a teacher (Minzu University and more) and musician, also a member of our foreign experts team (see: https://blog.strategy4china.com/2019/05/china-international-talent-exchange-foundation/).

I had the pleasure of being on a few assignments with him where he used his musical skills well as a bridge between the West and China. I was also one of the first to be in the audience for his public concerts.Article and video Introducing the documentary short film “Music Life” by Dr. Mark Levine, a foreign expert from Minzu University, here the full article, one other recent interview:

210401 MarkLevine_Minzu

Our hard rock (?) guy

Kent Niepert is one of our regular “Old China Hands” at the monthly lunch. He is also a painter, chef (loves to cook) and plays some great guitar, here with his two gifted sons who form a band. I missed his concert of 3 April 2021 but I hope to make it at his next one on 17 April 2021.

See a short video clip of his recent concert: https://youtu.be/e0z_xI4hA9s

You can see that Beijing’s (night) life is not exactly boring, even in these COVID times.
Kent has been constantly surprising us, bringing some great deserts to our lunches and handing out some “original” paintings of our members (like me). See earlier lunch reports such as this one.

Old China Hands 2 April lunch

Start of the Tomb Sweeping holiday

We had our our Old China Hands 2 April lunch on what was actually Good Friday (nobody seemed to notice it). Many of our members were already away to take advantage of the long weekend for Tomb Sweeping. We were still near 30 to chatter away for hours while enjoying as always the food of Morel’s Restaurant (packed as always). But Easter was everywhere in the restaurant with the decoration of eggs, cute little chicks and flowers.

We also welcomed our youngest member, Oliver, son of Didier with well over ten years of China!
Our Belgian friend Benoit first thought to be alone at his table but some late comers ended his isolation.

Always something happening

Our artist member Kent presented his painting of Mark and Fu Han to Mark. Well done!
Sadly our artist/musician/chef Kent is planning to leave us for the USA to be finally reunited with his wife.
And I introduced a fellow author and long-time friend, Rainer Thomm, whose book “China Mission Impossible” I help to promote, see my book report here.
I hadn’t seen Rainer since ages as he left for Guangdong, far away from the mad crowd of Beijing.

In next post I will talk more about some of our famous Old China Hands members. We have a few remarkable and unique fellows really. Stay tuned!

Old China Hands 5 March

Full house

Our monthly lunch for Old China Hands 5 March had again to fight to get enough seats in Morel’s Restaurant. Initially I got 30 seats… then up to 40… Giving a chance to the people on the waiting list!
We were 36 exactly, pretty impressive number.
While we had some concerns with the “Double Meetings”, it all went well. As usual the restaurant was fully packed…

Kent is leaving

One of our enthusiastic and regular members, Kent, is sadly leaving us soon. His has been separated from his wife (stuck in USA) for over a year. They finally decided Kent will leave Beijing for the USA. One more victim of the virus pandemic. Will miss him as well as his great deserts he brought us! Kent is talented…. painter, musician, cook, …

Kent wrote on Facebook (unedited):
“Due to my plans to leave China in May, today will probably be my last luncheon with my foreign expat friends. Every month on the first Friday about 35 of us gather from various countries and have a lunch together in a famous Belgian restaurant named, Morel’s, after it’s owner Chef Renaat Morel. Our organizer, Gilbert Van Kerchove, who is also Belgian and has lived in China over 40 years was also honored by me today. Instead of today being a going away party for me, I presented Renaat and Gilbert with a portrait done by me as gratitude for all of the great food and fond memories that they have helped cultivate for all of us that are part of the Old China Hands group.”
Thanks my friend (yeah my correct name is Kerckhove hehe).

Thanks for the painting! Though my wife said I should check a skin specialist for the suspicious growth on my face.
We even had (once more) a birthday celebration, our Aussie lady Rebecca.

A famous foreigner joined

We had also the famous Cao Cao joining us. I will write about that in another post. I already mentioned him here.

Next lunch

Next lunch is planned for Friday 2 April. Lucky it is not 1 April. And I hope I will not mess up (again) my invitation email… with the wrong date somewhere…