Beijing to Take Action on Bike-Sharing Chaos With New Regulations

The rapid explosion of bike-sharing schemes on the streets of the city has been both a blessing and a curse for Beijingers. On the one hand, being able to pick up a bike at the subway station to whizz onwards to your next destination is highly convenient. On the other, it can be difficult to even reach the subway station entrance due to the impenetrable walls of Ofos, Mobikes, and Blue Gogos constructed around it.

READ: How Beijing Startup Ofo is Bringing China's Latest Export to the Rest of the World

Now the city authorities have moved to take action. Draft regulations were published for consultation on April 21, and we are pleased to report that on the whole they seem sensible and reasonable.

All bikes will be required to have GPS, and the apps will have to mark out areas where parking is forbidden. The intention seems to be to put the onus on users to park responsibly, or to risk having the service suspended.

Another common area of concern has been the difficulty in getting deposits back. Under new regulations deposits will be held in a special account administered by the People’s Bank of China, which will ensure that customers get their money returned to them when appropriate.

READ: Beijing to Stop Red Light Runners by Making Children Dance in the Middle of Traffic

Other rules set standards for the maintenance of bikes and tighten the requirements for the companies to have third party insurance. Children under 12 will be forbidden from riding shared bikes. One area which might cause disappointment is that the regulations rule out shared e-bike schemes, for the time being at least.

The two biggest players in the market, Ofo and Mobike, have responded positively to the proposed regulations, and it seems likely that the public’s attitude will also be favorable. We look forward to seeing the new rules passed and enforced, so that we can enjoy the benefits of bike sharing without the chaos that sometimes ensues.

This article originally appeared on our sister site beijingkids.

Photo: allchinatech.com

This Sunday Marks the Last Day for Hutong Favorite Más

Today we're exceptionally sad to hear that Más, one of our longtime favorite hutong cocktail bars, will be closing its doors by the end of this week. The bar will be open from Wednesday through to Sunday (Apr 26-30, closed Tuesday), with Sunday being its last official day.

The bar, which has been well regarded for its cocktails, good-value happy hours, great food, openness to the LGBT crowd, and amazing hutong atmosphere, was always the place to go for a strong daquiri, a fun chat, a Cuban sandwich, or some of the best tacos in town.

READ: We Once Pondered, is Más the Best Bar in Beijing?

The owners' involvement in Beijing's community stretched beyond making cocktails, also hosting markets, events, and rotating art exhibits.

The Más crew sent us this message via WeChat to explain their decision:

For five beautiful years, Más was our life. It was much more than a business, as our regulars & close friends all know. But sadly, with all these recent, glorious "renovations," we've got to move on, even if we are licensed. Beijing is no longer the city Ariel and I fell in love with 10 years ago. We will happily continue on elsewhere.

Más will reopen Wednesday, April 26, and close down for good this Sunday, April 30. Sunday we will sell off everything to fundraise for our next projects. Come by and have a drink with us amongst the rubble.

Adios Más!

We love you all!

Ariel & Ross & Jungle & Chao

So head to Más this week, buy some Más memorabilia for your living room, and help send Ariel and Ross off in style as they head off to start their new venture in Cambodia (Phnom Penh to be precise). We wish them all the best in their future endeavors and hope they will stop by to visit us again soon. Más, you shall be missed!

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Instagram: s.xuagram

Photo courtesy of Ross Harris, Ken

TV Tuesday: Gender Stereotypes the Biggest Obstacle in ‘Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth’

Welcome to TV Tuesday, a column devoted to following the newest and most notable Chinese mainland television shows. Each week, this features examines notable television shows that are worth watching.

Even if you're new to the Chinese language and have trouble following even the simplest conversation, there's always one alternative you can always depend on to deliver pure Chinese television entertainment: obstacle course racing shows.

Watching a competitor get disqualified by tumbling headfirst into the water below is something that transcends all languages, making shows like Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth (男生女生闯天涯 nánshēng nǚshēng chuǎng tiānyá) a simple joy to experience when compared to alternatives that include weepy dramas and the severity of anti-Japanese Imperialism war serials.

The premise of setting up people to take spectacular falls is one that Boys and Girls Rush to the Horizon has been doing for nine seasons. This show and many of its peers have stuck to this basic formula to entertain audiences, with each new season setting up more elaborate contraptions with which to challenge its contestants.

This may imply that obstacle race TV shows are simply dumb entertainment to enjoy by shutting off your brain. And yet, the show Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth becomes a fascinating study into gender stereotypes when you begin to examine it.

The show splits its competitors into male and female competitors, who both run different courses. However, the show goes to great pains to treat each gender differently. Female competitors are praised for their beauty and elegance, and urged to be careful and to take their time (in what is a timed competition). On the other hand, male competitors are encouraged to be aggressive and aren't unrestrained by requirements to wear white miniskirts like their counterparts.

The difference between male and female competitors couldn't be any more obvious. Male competitors emerge from a towering space shuttle model while female contestants are seen emerging on the back of a horse, riding side-saddle. Male competitors run over obstacles that are substantially quicker while women usually crawl to pass obstacles and are even given help in order to pass the obstacle course.

Along with its tendency to favor contestants from a lower income bracket with poor jobs, Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth is an interesting example of the lack of agency afforded to poor people in China – that is, whenever they're not faceplanting into a watery disqualification.

What is the show about?

Contestants run an obstacle course in which the only rule is "don't fall in the water." And since most contestants don't appear to be athletes, much of getting through the course for the contestants entails falling to their knees. There's not much else to the show except for its commentators who have a habit of granting so much praise to the competitors that it can't help but sound condescending after a while.

Why should I watch it?

"The enjoyment of watching people fall" is the immediate answer, but a more fulfilling answer is that this show provides a glimpse into the heart of Chinese culture. To explain this, we must point out that Chinese obstacle race shows are not in any way like similar shows from Japan and the USA.

In shows like American Ninja Warrior and Ultimate Beastmaster, the contestant is simply not expected to finish a course which is designed to be exceptionally difficult; or, in the case of Wipeout, exceptionally unfair. However, the Chinese obstacle show is very different: Contestants aren't just expected to finish an obstacle course that is substantially easier than their international counterparts – they're shamed for not doing so. 

As enjoyable as it is to watch someone fail in spectacular fashion, it's not something that Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth emphasizes. Instead of capturing the agony of failure, the Chinese obstacle race show quickly moves on to its next hopeful contestant, leaving the failed contestant to wallow in his or her own shame.

Representative dialog of the show

Beside the usual 加油 ("Let's go!" jiāyóu) and 漂亮 ("Beautiful!" piàoliang) that is heard at every Chinese sporting event by patriotic commentators, the most common phrase heard on this show is "Do you have any regrets?" asked of every contestant who get eliminated from contention.

Failed contestants each have an opportunity to deny their shame by saying things like:

I don't have any regrets because I have stood upon the highest platform, and have challenged myself to be successful. I don't think this failure means anything.

Or:

I think I have made the greatest effort; that's why I don't have any regrets 

Mandarin language difficulty

Easy peasy. Rated 2 out of 5 for difficulty.

Where to watch it

Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth is currently broadcast on Anhui Satelite TV at 11.45am every day, and can also be streamed online via PPTV, Youku, LeTV, and QQ.

More stories from this author here.

Twitter: @Sinopath

Images: iQiyi

TV Tuesday: Gender Stereotypes the Biggest Obstacle in ‘Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth’

Welcome to TV Tuesday, a column devoted to following the newest and most notable Chinese mainland television shows. Each week, this features examines notable television shows that are worth watching.

Even if you're new to the Chinese language and have trouble following even the simplest conversation, there's always one alternative you can always depend on to deliver pure Chinese television entertainment: obstacle course racing shows.

Watching a competitor get disqualified by tumbling headfirst into the water below is something that transcends all languages, making shows like Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth (男生女生闯天涯 nánshēng nǚshēng chuǎng tiānyá) a simple joy to experience when compared to alternatives that include weepy dramas and the severity of anti-Japanese Imperialism war serials.

The premise of setting up people to take spectacular falls is one that Boys and Girls Rush to the Horizon has been doing for nine seasons. This show and many of its peers have stuck to this basic formula to entertain audiences, with each new season setting up more elaborate contraptions with which to challenge its contestants.

This may imply that obstacle race TV shows are simply dumb entertainment to enjoy by shutting off your brain. And yet, the show Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth becomes a fascinating study into gender stereotypes when you begin to examine it.

The show splits its competitors into male and female competitors, who both run different courses. However, the show goes to great pains to treat each gender differently. Female competitors are praised for their beauty and elegance, and urged to be careful and to take their time (in what is a timed competition). On the other hand, male competitors are encouraged to be aggressive and aren't unrestrained by requirements to wear white miniskirts like their counterparts.

The difference between male and female competitors couldn't be any more obvious. Male competitors emerge from a towering space shuttle model while female contestants are seen emerging on the back of a horse, riding side-saddle. Male competitors run over obstacles that are substantially quicker while women usually crawl to pass obstacles and are even given help in order to pass the obstacle course.

Along with its tendency to favor contestants from a lower income bracket with poor jobs, Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth is an interesting example of the lack of agency afforded to poor people in China – that is, whenever they're not faceplanting into a watery disqualification.

What is the show about?

Contestants run an obstacle course in which the only rule is "don't fall in the water." And since most contestants don't appear to be athletes, much of getting through the course for the contestants entails falling to their knees. There's not much else to the show except for its commentators who have a habit of granting so much praise to the competitors that it can't help but sound condescending after a while.

Why should I watch it?

"The enjoyment of watching people fall" is the immediate answer, but a more fulfilling answer is that this show provides a glimpse into the heart of Chinese culture. To explain this, we must point out that Chinese obstacle race shows are not in any way like similar shows from Japan and the USA.

In shows like American Ninja Warrior and Ultimate Beastmaster, the contestant is simply not expected to finish a course which is designed to be exceptionally difficult; or, in the case of Wipeout, exceptionally unfair. However, the Chinese obstacle show is very different: Contestants aren't just expected to finish an obstacle course that is substantially easier than their international counterparts – they're shamed for not doing so. 

As enjoyable as it is to watch someone fail in spectacular fashion, it's not something that Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth emphasizes. Instead of capturing the agony of failure, the Chinese obstacle race show quickly moves on to its next hopeful contestant, leaving the failed contestant to wallow in his or her own shame.

Representative dialog of the show

Beside the usual 加油 ("Let's go!" jiāyóu) and 漂亮 ("Beautiful!" piàoliang) that is heard at every Chinese sporting event by patriotic commentators, the most common phrase heard on this show is "Do you have any regrets?" asked of every contestant who get eliminated from contention.

Failed contestants each have an opportunity to deny their shame by saying things like:

I don't have any regrets because I have stood upon the highest platform, and have challenged myself to be successful. I don't think this failure means anything.

Or:

I think I have made the greatest effort; that's why I don't have any regrets 

Mandarin language difficulty

Easy peasy. Rated 2 out of 5 for difficulty.

Where to watch it

Boys and Girls Rush to the Ends of the Earth is currently broadcast on Anhui Satelite TV at 11.45am every day, and can also be streamed online via PPTV, Youku, LeTV, and QQ.

More stories from this author here.

Twitter: @Sinopath

Images: iQiyi

Thibault Mequignon, Head Bartender at Parisian Hotspot Danico, to Guest at Lighthaus Apr 25-26

Though Lighthaus has revved up German vibes for its patrons since opening last spring – thanks to its car themed cocktails, just like the menu items in all the venues of the Mercedes Me complex – the classy bar will shift gears this weekend. Famed French bartender Thibault Mequignon will bring some Parisian flair to the Sanlitun bar to help celebrate its one year anniversary, bringing with him a range of specialty, limited time cocktail recipes called the "Five Senses Experience" menu, that he'll be shaking up both this weekend and next.

Among those drinks will be the "Sight" made with gin, flowery French St. Germain liqueur, lime juice, Thai chili tincture, and egg whites; the "Smell" – featuring an aromatic mix of sugary Cachaca spirit, Campari Aperitif, infused cherry blossom, and lemon zest; the "Taste" – made with rum, lime juice, and pandan syrup; and other sensory themed cocktails. Accompanying eats will also be provided by Alan Hei – a founding member of Food & Wine China and the host of 50 Best Restaurants China – including a tartare called "Sense of Touch," soft shell crab tempura dubbed "Sense of Taste," and boiled beef rib with pineapple and essence of mint called "Sense of Smell."

As the head bartender at Danico, one of Paris' most chic cocktail bars, Mequignon has shaken up a strong reputation for himself in one of Europe's most competitive booze scenes. None other than the New York Times praised Mequignon and Danico owner Nico de Soto's use of padan syrups in their cocktails. The newspaper detailed how that exotic tropical herb, which is ubiquitous in Indonesian desserts, became a trendy drink ingredient across Paris' F&B scene after patrons acquired a taste for it at Danico.

Popular Parisian bar blog 52 Martinis, meanwhile, lauded Danico's menu for being "comprehensive in terms of offering something for every style/level of drinker while still encouraging exploration and some category crossover," before paying particular note to the bar's use of soy sauce, Japanese seaweed bitters, and other outside-the-box ingredients.

Mequignon's stint at Lighthaus looks to encompass those adventurous flavors that he's become acclaimed for and we're sure he'll have plenty of other surprises up his sleeve.

More stories by this author here.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MulKyle

Photos: The organizers, New York Times

Thibault Mequignon, Head Bartender at Parisian Hotspot Danico, to Guest at Lighthaus Apr 25-26

Though Lighthaus has revved up German vibes for its patrons since opening last spring – thanks to its car themed cocktails, just like the menu items in all the venues of the Mercedes Me complex – the classy bar will shift gears this weekend. Famed French bartender Thibault Mequignon will bring some Parisian flair to the Sanlitun bar to help celebrate its one year anniversary, bringing with him a range of specialty, limited time cocktail recipes called the "Five Senses Experience" menu, that he'll be shaking up both this weekend and next.

Among those drinks will be the "Sight" made with gin, flowery French St. Germain liqueur, lime juice, Thai chili tincture, and egg whites; the "Smell" – featuring an aromatic mix of sugary Cachaca spirit, Campari Aperitif, infused cherry blossom, and lemon zest; the "Taste" – made with rum, lime juice, and pandan syrup; and other sensory themed cocktails. Accompanying eats will also be provided by Alan Hei – a founding member of Food & Wine China and the host of 50 Best Restaurants China – including a tartare called "Sense of Touch," soft shell crab tempura dubbed "Sense of Taste," and boiled beef rib with pineapple and essence of mint called "Sense of Smell."

As the head bartender at Danico, one of Paris' most chic cocktail bars, Mequignon has shaken up a strong reputation for himself in one of Europe's most competitive booze scenes. None other than the New York Times praised Mequignon and Danico owner Nico de Soto's use of padan syrups in their cocktails. The newspaper detailed how that exotic tropical herb, which is ubiquitous in Indonesian desserts, became a trendy drink ingredient across Paris' F&B scene after patrons acquired a taste for it at Danico.

Popular Parisian bar blog 52 Martinis, meanwhile, lauded Danico's menu for being "comprehensive in terms of offering something for every style/level of drinker while still encouraging exploration and some category crossover," before paying particular note to the bar's use of soy sauce, Japanese seaweed bitters, and other outside-the-box ingredients.

Mequignon's stint at Lighthaus looks to encompass those adventurous flavors that he's become acclaimed for and we're sure he'll have plenty of other surprises up his sleeve.

More stories by this author here.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MulKyle

Photos: The organizers, New York Times

New Healthy Lunch Spot Sproutworks in China World Mall a Wholesome Disappointment

During our latest visit to China World Mall, in what has become a near daily outing to Guomao for us as we try to keep a grasp on all the new restaurants opening, we visited Sproutworks, a Shanghai-import (with five locations) with a focus on healthy salads, soups, gourmet paninis, and fresh juices.

This canteen-style restaurant has laid out a little like a fast food restaurant with an half-open dining area and several wooden tables for seating. Think back to your school cafeteria and then put a gourmet spin on it for a not too dissimilar effect. Line up in front of the counter, tell the lunch lady what you'd like, pay at the cashier, and then find a seat in the dining area.

Choices are somewhat similar to Wagas but with more of a Chinese twist. The weekday lunch sets (11am-2pm) don't come cheap, and will set you back RMB 70 for half a salad, two sides or a meat, and a drink; RMB 75 for two sides, meat, and a juice; RMB 80 for a brown rice bowl or panini, sides, and a drink.

For the price, the kale salad was suitably invigorating with a base of crunchy kale leaves topped with pine seeds, sweetened cranberries, and orange zest. However, what should have been a palate cleanser actually turned out to be the best dish since the stewed vegetables – chick peas, pumpkin, tomato, and a pinch of cilantro – was tepid at best and not only looked disappointing but had an equally as bland flavor. The grilled salmon, which looked moist but was actually overcooked and quite dry, also deceived us.

The only relief from the meal was that we visited during China World Mall's half-price opening promotion, which has sadly already passed – paying full price for this food would be hard to swallow. We appreciate the healthy concept, and let's hope that these are just teething problems because from our experience the Shanghai branches are far superior. Saying that, this is quite the dismal start for Sproutworks Beijing and we can't imagine that there'll be many people who opt for an RMB 80 salad over some of the much more enticing options nearby.

Sproutworks
Daily 10am-10pm. NL4022, 4/F, North Zone, China World Mall, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (8595 0278)
豆苗工坊:朝阳区建国门外大街1号国贸商城北区4楼NL4022

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @flyingfigure
Instagram: @flyingfigure

Photos: Tracy Wang, Dianping

New Healthy Lunch Spot Sproutworks in China World Mall a Wholesome Disappointment

During our latest visit to China World Mall, in what has become a near daily outing to Guomao for us as we try to keep a grasp on all the new restaurants opening, we visited Sproutworks, a Shanghai-import (with five locations) with a focus on healthy salads, soups, gourmet paninis, and fresh juices.

This canteen-style restaurant has laid out a little like a fast food restaurant with an half-open dining area and several wooden tables for seating. Think back to your school cafeteria and then put a gourmet spin on it for a not too dissimilar effect. Line up in front of the counter, tell the lunch lady what you'd like, pay at the cashier, and then find a seat in the dining area.

Choices are somewhat similar to Wagas but with more of a Chinese twist. The weekday lunch sets (11am-2pm) don't come cheap, and will set you back RMB 70 for half a salad, two sides or a meat, and a drink; RMB 75 for two sides, meat, and a juice; RMB 80 for a brown rice bowl or panini, sides, and a drink.

For the price, the kale salad was suitably invigorating with a base of crunchy kale leaves topped with pine seeds, sweetened cranberries, and orange zest. However, what should have been a palate cleanser actually turned out to be the best dish since the stewed vegetables – chick peas, pumpkin, tomato, and a pinch of cilantro – was tepid at best and not only looked disappointing but had an equally as bland flavor. The grilled salmon, which looked moist but was actually overcooked and quite dry, also deceived us.

The only relief from the meal was that we visited during China World Mall's half-price opening promotion, which has sadly already passed – paying full price for this food would be hard to swallow. We appreciate the healthy concept, and let's hope that these are just teething problems because from our experience the Shanghai branches are far superior. Saying that, this is quite the dismal start for Sproutworks Beijing and we can't imagine that there'll be many people who opt for an RMB 80 salad over some of the much more enticing options nearby.

Sproutworks
Daily 10am-10pm. NL4022, 4/F, North Zone, China World Mall, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (8595 0278)
豆苗工坊:朝阳区建国门外大街1号国贸商城北区4楼NL4022

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @flyingfigure
Instagram: @flyingfigure

Photos: Tracy Wang, Dianping

Gale Winds Cause Fatal Accident Involving Shaokao Tent in Chaoyang

[This post contains violent images that may be distressing to some readers.]

The strong seasonal winds that threatened Beijing with a sandstorm last week have caused a fatal accident in the city's north end when a collapsible tent was blown onto a female pedestrian, reports Xinhua.

The 37-year-old unidentified woman was crossing the street at Hongjunying South Road at around 10am on Monday when the foldable tent was violently moved by a gust of wind. 

The collapsible tent is located in front of a restaurant near Beiyuan Station on the Beijing Metro Line 13. Perched upon wheels but not anchored to the ground, the steel pipe-constructed tent has been used to house shaokao customers at night for over a year.

Photos taken at the scene of incident show the tent both in its unfolded and collapsed forms, but it appears the tent was in its open form when the accident occurred.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The fatality happened at around the same time the local meteorological office issued a blue gale wind warning, signifying a chance wind gusts in the city could reach speeds of 13.9 to 17 meters per second.

Elsewhere in Beijing, the strong winds were also responsible for blowing a tree down onto a parked car.

More stories from this author here.

Twitter: @Sinopath

Images: Weibo (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Bostonian Post-Rockers Caspian to Play Modernsky Lab, May 1

It's easy to be dismissive of post-rock. After all, the genre's filled with bands that write complex, dense, lyric-free, and lengthy jams that are as impressive as they are heady and aloof. Right?

Wrong. Though it has a niche, albeit highly dedicated audience in the West, post-rock has become one of China's most dominant genres. Chalk that up to the very things that can make it less than accessible to casual North American listeners, but the lack of lyrics as well as the juxtaposition of dreamy instrumentation against swelling climaxes are the same features that enamor the genre to Chinese fans.

These factors point to Bostonian band Caspian receiving a warm reception in the capital when they perform at Modernsky Lab on May 1, only several short months after their last stop in Beijing in early 2016 (when they played at Yugong Yishan). After all, they are one of the few post-rock bands – along with elder groups who influenced them like Mogwai and Sigur Ros – that have broken through to a wider audience in the West, while still maintaining their hardcore base.

Yes, Caspian has spent years opening people's minds to a genre that is too often unfairly dismissed as a subset. One reviewer, for instance, called Caspian's 2012 album Waking Season, "a record that pushes the boundaries of post-rock to stratospheric new levels," while another hailed the LP as a "triump." The praise is justified, thanks to the peaceful piano notes and breezy feedback on the opening and title track, to the hypnotic guitar riff on "Porcellous," to the chillingly distorted synths on "Fire Made Flesh."

While Waking Season served as the band's breakthrough, they've since gone on to record other successful LP's, the most recent being 2015's Dust and Disquiet. Clash praised the record, and Caspian in general, calling them "a band who crescendo unlike anyone else. They combine intricate and lovingly constructed melody with the ability to be punishingly loud." Pop Matters concurred, saying the LP's "cinematic swells and retreats in a mélange of delicate arpeggios, thrashing metal, and haunting vocality" all defy much of the formulaic fare that have hampered the post-rock genre in recent years.

The band are now set to shake the rafters of Beijing, a joy for those who like it loud, while hooking the uninitiated with intricate and subtle melodies guaranteed to lull gig goers no matter where they're from.

Caspian will perform at Modernsky Lab on May 1 at 9pm. Tickets are RMB 150 at the door, and RMB 120 if you get them in advance. For more information, click here.

Photos: theculturemag.com, vsmusicnet