Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas is cancelled

Due to the current financial crisis, Christmas is cancelled (AHREF=

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Mid-Autumn

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

IFA Berlin

The international trade fair for consumer eletronics opened its doors to the public from August 31st to September 5th. The first section I visited was dedicated to computers, with the latest innovations from the major manufacturers on display, in addition to vendors of accessories of various kinds. Acer had a large cybercafé where young people were playing games. Panasonics, Sony and Cannon showed the width of their offering of digital cameras. For household items, Miele had organised a great show promoting washing machines with its latest innovations for saving water, energy and detergent. Some companies displayed robots able to clean windows or perform other household chores. A large part was dedicated to Chinese companies for partners for joint ventures, often supplier of the main Western companies. Most evenings some artists were performing at the fair, on Sunday it would have been the famous German band Ich & Ich with can be translated and I and I. My only regret was to have taken the afternoon ticket, thus I missed 4 hours which could have been used for mmore in-depth conversations with the exhibitors. The fair was located close to the international bus station and I could catch the night-bus back to Brussels directly after the fair.

To know more about the fair, you can visit its homepage:
IFA Berlin

Looking forward to coming there again next year.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Return Culture Shock

Slowly adjusting to life back in Europe after two years in the remote Northwest of China. Here is a short list of surprises:

- Being able to cross the street safely as a pedestrian, cars even stop when it is red for the pedestrian and green for them and they think you may be interested in crossing the road
- Suddenly in a restaurant only the dishes' number has to be used instead of their name
- Now being able to read the signs on the road or in a menu
- Having to readjust to using forks and knifes, even in Chinese restaurant
- The chefs of Chinese Restaurant seem never to have been in Asia in their life
- All prices have been multiplied by a huge factor
- Having to walk for hours to find a decent karaoke
- The only known brand are in Chinese-owned import supermarkets
- Celebrating Mid-Autumn, Mid-Winter, Dragon Festival instead of the local traditions
- Being able to hold a conversation with almost everybody around
- Missing tea-making facilities when staying at a hotel

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back in Europe

After a pleasant China Eastern flight, I am back in Europe after two years in China, looking forward to being able to use again Blogger ot Twitter which were almost impossible to access from behind the Great Firewall. Also wondering how the reverse culture shock will affect me and my friends. Soon my blog will be reimported to Blogger from a previous platform.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Venice of the East

After a 24-hours train journey, I reached Suzhou for an extended weekend, waiting for the time to board the plane in Shanghai. Suzhou is a pleasant town with wonderful gardens and small canals which earned the city the nickname of Venice of the East. In addition to the gardens,a few buddhist and taoist temples are worth visiting, both in the city and its satellite towns like Mudu and Tongli. In the evening local music can be enjoyed in teahouses. There are also plenty of buses leaving Suzhou for both airports in Shanghai, taking only about two hours for the trip.

Impressions of Suzhou

Friday, July 8, 2011

Horsetrekking on the Sichuan Border

Enjoying the end of my contract in China and taking a few days of vacation in the province. It went towards Sichuan, stopping just on the border, the route followed by the bus even crossing into that province. Langmusi was the destination though I only reached it on the second day, a missed connection made me spent a night in Hezuo, a vibrant trade town home to a monastery housing all sects of Tibetan Bouddhism and therefore 8 storeys heigh. It was also a good opportunity to get acclimatised to the increased altitude. Once in Langmusi I explored the two monasteries, one on the Sichuan side and the other in Gansu. Afterwards I started a three days long trek with horses through the grassland, staying in Nomad's tents. The Tibetan nomads live a harsch life, exposed to strong sunlight, in basic tents, although some have small solar panels to provide them with electricity. They herd yaks and those stay close to the camp during the night. On the second day of the trek, we left the horses to climb a sacred mountain reaching 4200 meters after a stenous climb. On the last day, the horse was angry because of the rain and I fell on my first attempt at getting on it, but managed to control my fall to avoid injuries. I almost missed a connection that would have made me stay one night in Xiahe but decided not to linger too long as I had a few last obligations in Lanzhou.

Langmusi Horse Trekking


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tour of Qinghai Lake

This year's international cycling competition, the Tour of Qinghai Lake, finished in Lanzhou province for the first time, with the last two stages ending there. The Saturday went from Xining the capital of Qinghai province to Lanzhou, mostly flat and slowly downhill. It ended as a mass sprint won by the New Zealandese Rico Rogers in from of Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu. The last 500 meters were blocked to spectators. However it was easy to come close to the road just before that place. On Sunday most of the bridges accross the Yellow River were blocked, jamming traffic everywhere to allow the city race to take place with 6 rounds along each sides of the river. I managed to get a good spot to view the race from the bridge of Qilihe. The Italian Sacha Modolo won the race in a sprint, most competitors reached the finish in the same time. The Tour was won by Gregor Gazvoda from Slovenia with a four seconds margin ahead of Dimitry Gruzdev from Kazakhstan.
After the race I went to a trade fair, showing local produces of Gansu province on the ground floor and some products from the rest of China on the second floor, including a small import section with food from Vietnam or Thailand and some jewellry from Myanmar.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dragon Boat Festival

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

In China, people eat some glutonous rice and in the South of the country they take part in dragon-boat races. Here in the Northwest, we do not have these competitions, saw some on television. Otherwise, it is one day off work, which gives one more day to relax and prepare some things to be sent back to Europe in the coming days in preparation of my return to my continent of origin.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Qinghai in May

At least I made it to Qinghai lake. Visited with a Chinese tour operator and was the only non-Chinese on board the bus. The lake is at an altitude about 3000 meters and the locals are mostly Tibetans. The tourist spot has been changed into some kind of amusement park for Chinese. On the way, we stopped at Dangaer, whose old town has been rebuilt according to what it could have looked like centuries ago, and a street was full of small museums and tourist shops. We only stopped briefly at the temple of the sun and moon as the altitude of 4000 meters meant it was cold and windy, too much to be worth a visit. After one more night in Xining, I moved on to the Salar Autonomous County and the town of Xunhua. The local are of Turkic origins and on the bus I could hear more Turkic than Chinese spoken. Xunhua is a good place to visit a beautiful lake in the mountains, Tianchi, though in May it can still be cold and I experienced some snow showers during my visit. The Yellow River flows nearby and is still beautifully blue, not as polluted nor muddy yet as it is further downstream. The way back to Gansu led me to Linxia, the Mecca of China, through an awasome mountain pass.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mayday Business Trip

The traditional May Holiday trip for the foreign experts of Gansu took us to Tianshui, the second largest city of the province, half-way between Lanzhou and Xian. The city features some Taoist and Buddhist temples, a highlight were the grottoes of Maijishan. An unusual features was the visit to a research center for improving the production of vegetables, some of their seeds are sent into space for treatment by radiations and they seem to produce plants that better resist pests, or can grow larger.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year (Nepali, Punjabi, Tamil, Bengali, Burmese, Thai, Cambodian...)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Chongqing was taken out of Sichuan to become a separate municipality as a was of promoting the development of the West of China. The food is spicy, locals pretend even spicier than in Chengdu. The city is mainly built on hills which means that bicycles and motorbikes are very few, leaving place to cars. The confluence of the Jialing and Yangtse rivers is a good place to walk around, do some shopping and enjoy some Western luxuries. A visit to the town of Dazu is to be recommended, it is known for Buddhist rock carvings.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

South China Sea

Nanning the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is a good place to base oneself for exploring the nature wonders of the province. The proximity to Vietnam is not only geographic but also cultural. Many motorcycles drive as crazily as cars in other Chinese cities, and they do not pay attention on the sidewalks.
Beihai is a sea resort on the South China Sea, rooms with seaview can be obtained for a good price in February, as the water is too cold for a swim. There were still tourists walking on the beach during the day. In the city center, the old street features colonial style houses and plenty of small shops for tourists, with bars, cafés and vietnamese food.

Pictures of Beihai

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hong Kong

Enjoying free Internet access in Hongkong, moving my blog entries to Blogger for my international friends to read, answering obsolete Facebook messages and accepting friends requests from people who must have forgotten they sent it. When I landed in Guangzhou a few days ago, just before the New Year, there was almost no traffic, a great surprise, showing how the city had been almost deserted. Luckily there were still enough restaurants open to enable visitors to have an early dinner on New Year's Eve.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone

May the year of the rabbit bring you happiness and prosperity

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tibetan New Year

For the Western New Year, I went again to Qinghai, the nearby province. Even though it was at a higher altitude than Lanuzhou, Xining felt warmer. It is a place where one can watch Tibetan and Chinese Muslim coexist. Near the train station are a few good Tibetan restaurants. After the provincial capital, I moved on to Tongren, a small Tibetan monastery at 2600 meters of altitude. Besides there are a few other monasteries within walking distance. Due to the winter, the town was not crowded and the dry weather guaranteed some great blue sky, far away from the pollution of Lanzhou, where some peaks where experienced around the second half of December.

Pictures of Tongren

Saturday, January 1, 2011