Connecting Captains Capturing Contemporaries: Beijing 捕捉现代典雅掠影: 北京

When I first stepped foot in Beijing 20 years ago, it was big city with a perfect blue sky and most of its inhabitants do not know how to drive. Traffic was pleasant with the exception of thousands of bicycles either on roads or parked like sardines in open spaces near offices or metro stations.

20年前踏上北京时,那还是个拥有完美蓝天的大城市,而人民对于开车显得相对陌生。路上交通非常顺畅,除了成千上万的单车在道路上或密集停泊在办公室与地铁站附近。

I still remember my customer then Mr. Jia Wujun who had come to pick me up from the airport. While it was a perfectly normal day for me, it was his first day behind the wheels. He was as stiff as a stick as he handled the steering wheel with full concentration moving at the speed of a snail. He and his five brothers were farmers before but decided to take a leap of faith to dabble in a small seafood business when China opened its doors to the international market.

Today, Jia is one of the leading seafood importers in China who owns a factory in Thailand importing big volumes from all over the world in order to satisfy huge local demands. Not remotely a surprise, considering his connection with Thailand, he took me to one of the three Thai restaurants he now proudly owns. Thai Mei is a new venture that serves authentic yet not-too-spicy Thai cuisine.

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当时我的客户贾武军前来机场接我,对我来说这是平常的日子,但却是他第一天开着汽车,身躯挺直僵硬得像根棍子,全神贯注操作着方向盘,以蜗牛速度移动。他和5名兄弟在这之前都是农民,但在中国开放进入国际市场的时候,信念飞跃,决定参与小型海产品业务。

如今,作为中国领先的海产进口商之一,他在泰国拥有一家工厂,从世界各地进口产品以应对大量需求,因他与泰国间拥有的商业关系,因此他领我去参观其拥有的3家泰国餐馆之一泰美(Thai Mei)时,我并不感到意外。这是家全新餐厅,提供口味正宗却没那么辣的泰餐

The Chinese have become a lot more well-off although the capital of China today is choked up with traffic jams and hazardous environment where sometimes one will find it difficult to see and breathe. If one would prefer to spend some quality time with fresh air and a ‘peace’ of mind, then award winning hotel Sunrise Kempinski Beijing where I was invited to speak in the China’s Business Family Heritage Forum 2016 would definitely be a good choice to stay. Although the Chinese wealth is exploding and with the expectation of its second generation to continue this fairy tale, many families are facing issues of successions as children inheriting the family business face difficulties in differing cultural upbringing and being raised in total comfort and well-protected environment. The forum’s primary focus was to bring together foreign companies that have succeeded in passing the baton through generations: to share researches done by local academics; and to explore the success stories of Chinese companies that have performed well in both domestic and international platforms.

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纵然首都北京面临严峻交通拥堵和雾霾环境问题,如果随着生活趋向富裕的中国人愿意花费一些时间享受新鲜空气和沉静氛围,那么获奖酒店-北京日出东方凯宾斯基酒店是不俗的住宿选择。我在受邀出席2016中国家族企业传承论坛会议担任主讲者期间曾入住该酒店。中国的财富处于爆发阶段,也期待第二代可以坚守家业,但许多家庭依旧有着不同的继承问题,因为家族企业新一代在迥异文化教育和处于舒适良好保护环境,面临竞争困境。论坛主要是聚集成功进行世代更迭的外国企业;还有地方学者分享研究,并且探索国内与国际平台上表现亮眼的中国企业之成功案例。

Although distantly located away from the city, the hotel offers a near perfect environment for those who wanted to be free from noise and air pollution as described by hotel manager Sebastian Thomas. Its interior has an impressive architectural design served with immaculate facilities especially the fitness centre and the hotel pool. The breakfast menu provides a delicious spread of choice ranging from the East to the West. The hot Chinese soup noodles and healthy yogurt were simply my choice to start the day. One should also try the signature in-house grilled fish and the braised sea cucumber with rice in the Magnolia Chinese restaurant. The double-boiled hasma in papaya dessert would be an excellent choice to call it a day. The welcoming dessert presentation in my room, I must say, was the best I have seen so far.

Beijing is a big city conveniently connected by its subway system taking away most travellers’ nightmare of being stuck in traffic. Walking around Wangfujing, this famous shopping area no longer gave me the feeling of old China that it once used to be, but rather disappointingly modern Western brand outlets now occupy the traditional Chinese buildings. Perhaps one of the most interesting scenes for tourists is the street food where exotic creatures such as life scorpions, sea horses, centipedes and worms are offered as snacks to those with strong stomachs. There is also another pedestrian shopping area in close proximity to Tiananmen Square: Beijing Qianmen Street located directly behind Zhenyangmen offers visitors a glimpse of buildings from the late Qing dynasty. Although the main street is filled with typical big brands one could find in any city, restaurants located at the side lanes provide an interesting selection of, said to be, old, traditional and authentic Chinese food.

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酒店虽然远离城区,但不具噪音和空气污染,犹如酒店经理Sebastian Thomas描述-已接近完美,有令人留下印象深刻的建筑设计与完善的设施,尤其是健身中心和泳池。早饭菜单中西餐点兼具,而温热中式汤面和健康酸奶是我开始新一天的选择,还有兰香阁中餐厅著名的烤鱼和特色菜“小米煮辽参”,接着来一碗甜点“木瓜炖雪蛤”更是令人心满意足。至于送到房间的迎宾甜点,对我来说是至今最好的美食体验。

身为首都大城市,北京交通方便且有完善的地铁系统,使大部分游客免除困在道路交通的恶梦。走入王府井,这个著名购物区浓浓的怀旧感已消失,取而代之的是现代西方名牌占据了传统的中国建筑物,让人有点失望。或许对于游客来说,比较有趣的场景是街头小食包括: 活蝎子,海马,蜈蚣和虫子等猎奇小吃。至于天安门广场附近的另外一个购物区:正阳门后的北京前门大街景区,也有许多清朝末期的建筑物。主街道充斥着一般餐饮大品牌,但侧边小巷的小餐馆倒是有着传统与老式的中餐。