Tag Archives: China

9 Asian Sailing Hotspots 2016

Sailing is not something new on the Asian sporting events calendar, and nor is recreational boating. The Republic of Singapore Yacht Club traces its history back to 1826, and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club was founded in 1849. Today, sailing and yacht racing are well-developed sports in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Indonesia, the Philippines, China, South Korea and Taiwan can fairly be called ‘emerging’ when it comes to sailing.

In the 19th century, sailing was the exclusive preserve of the colonial expatriate communities of the big trading cities – principally Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. Today’s sporting landscape is a great deal more cosmopolitan, with nationals as well as ‘foreigners’ filling the membership lists of the clubs, and government initiatives helping to drive the grass-roots development of sailing as a sport, starting with youth programs and going on right up to Olympic participation.

NEP13_0732At the bigger end of the scale – the ocean-capable racing boats – Asia boasts a plethora of regattas that together constitute an informal ‘circuit’ stretching from the west coast of Thailand all the way across to the Philippines, and attracting international competitors from all over the world – hardly surprising when ‘dressed for sailing’ in this part of the world usually means shorts and t-shirts rather than heavy duty foul weather clothing!

Most recently, Asia has played host to a number of the world’s most highly visible professional sailing events. The Volvo Ocean Race has visited Singapore and China, and will stop over in Hong Kong during its next iteration. Malaysia and South Korea have hosted World Match Racing Tour events, and the Clipper Around the World Race has been to Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Indonesia. And don’t forget the Olympic Regatta at Qingdao in 2008.

Among the Asian nations, China has made the biggest impact on the Olympic scene, with two gold medals in consecutive Games. Hong Kong boasts just one, and the rest of the roll call have none although Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are regular qualifiers. Predictably enough, different countries and places display different strengths when it comes to sailing.

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Historically speaking, Hong Kong has long been the epicenter of sailing and yacht racing in Asia. The China Sea Race, Asia’s ‘blue water classic’ from Hong Kong to the Philippines, has been a fixture on the calendar for over 50 years, and the number of races organized by Hong Kong’s principal yacht clubs in the course of a year is counted in the thousands. ‘Class’ boats such as Flying Fifteens, Etchells and Dragons make up big numbers for racing in Victoria Harbour, along with many top-end racing yachts and a huge number of cruisers and cruiser-racers. Boats from all the yacht clubs are welcome at each other’s regattas, and the sailing season is practically year-round. Many racing boats head south and west each year to participate in major regattas and races in Thailand and Malaysia.

Hong Kong’s biggest operational problem is lack of moorings – all the existing marinas are fully occupied and have been for many years, and there are no viable plans for new marinas under consideration.

The principal sailing clubs are the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Hebe Haven Yacht Club, Aberdeen Boat Club, Tai Po Boat Club, Lantau Boat Club, Discovery Bay Boat Club and the HK Hobie Fleet. Sail training and learn-to-sail courses are offered by almost all the clubs, and also at Government-run sailing centers. The governing body for sailing is the Hong Kong Sailing Federation, the Member National Authority where the big ticket items such as the Olympics are concerned, and the national body for training sailing athletes is the Hong Kong Sports Institute which currently designates sailing as an ‘elite’ sport, meaning that national funding is available for the development of Olympic and World Championship campaigns.CCR14_1343

Club-organized regattas and racing series include the China Coast Regatta, Spring and Autumn Regattas and the Top Dog Trophy series of pursuit races, and the Hong Kong to Hainan Race, all run by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHYC). Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s principal event is the Typhoon Series run on alternate weekends throughout each summer, the Port Shelter Regatta and a number of Saturday-afternoon series’ all through the year. It also includes in its annual program a 24hr Charity Dinghy Race, and offers sail training courses throughout the year. The Aberdeen Boat Club (ABC) organizes racing on the south side of Hong Kong, including the Waglan Series, and both the ABC and RHKYC have substantial dinghy and sail training operations from their alternate clubhouses at Middle Island (Tong Po Chau). All the Clubs’ courses range from Beginner to Racing Clinics levels.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department of the Hong Kong Government operates five public watersports centres, offering a multitude of certification courses in dinghy sailing, windsurfing, dinghy racing and more.

Hong Kong is a fabulous place for sailing: it has an extensive and beautiful coastline, with sheltered waters as well as areas of feistier breeze. It’s hot in the summer, but never cold enough in the winter to stop the enthusiasts from getting out on the water. In fact, the only time that sailing gets shut down is when a T3 (or higher) typhoon signal keeps everyone ashore for reasons of safety and insurance.

In 2018 Hong Kong will welcome the Volvo Ocean Race to Victoria Harbour. With government backing, a visit from one of most important events in the sailing world will undoubtedly provide encouragement across the board for all sailors in Hong Kong, big and large alike.

Clubs, Marinas and Sailing Associations

• Hong Kong Sailing Federation www.sailing.org.hk

• Government Watersports Centres www.lcsd.gov.hk/watersport

• Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club www.rhkyc.org.hk

• Hebe Haven Yacht Club www.hhyc.org.hk

• Aberdeen Boat Club www.abclubhk.com

• Aberdeen Marina Club www.aberdeenmarinaclub.com

• Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club Marina www.cwbgolf.org

• Gold Coast Yacht & Country Club www.gcycc.com.hk

• Club Marina Cove www.clubmarinacove.com

• Discovery Bay Marina www.dbmarinaclub.com

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The area around Phuket and Phang Nga Bay on the west coast of Thailand is one of the premier cruising areas of Asia, and is making concerted efforts to attract international superyacht traffic from Europe and beyond, with the intention of becoming both the hub of the charter industry in, and the gateway to, Asia.

Thais have long been enthusiastic sailors, mostly because the King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej, was once a sailor. As a young man he built his own dinghies, sailed across the Gulf of Thailand, and won a sailing gold medal in the South East Asia Peninsula Games in 1967. His daughter came second.

On the west coast of Thailand, from Phuket to Langkawi (Malaysia), and a sprinkling of islands provides delightful cruising grounds, and Phang Nga Bay is world-famous for its spectacular karst islands and ‘hong’ formations. Think James Bond Island, in The Man with the Golden Gun. Further afield, Phuket constitutes a convenient jumping-off point for cruisers wishing to visit the Mergiu Archipelago (Burma), the Andaman Island and Nicobar Islands (India), the Similan Islands (Thailand) or the west coast of Sumatra (Indonesia) for some of the best and most secluded surfing on the planet.

On the other side of the Kra Peninsular, high spots in the Gulf of Thailand are Koh Samui and Koh Phangan and their surrounding marine sanctuary, the Royal Varuna Yacht Club and Ocean Marina Yacht Club at Pattaya and Jomtien Beach, respectively, and the tropical idylls of Koh Chang and Koh Kut down towards the border with Cambodia.PKC14_1094

Thailand presents five major international regattas each year:

• Phuket King’s Cup, held in December in celebration of His Majesty’s birthday

• Phuket Raceweek, a ‘green season’ regatta in July each year and intended to take advantage of the summer southwest monsoon winds

• Bay Regatta – “a party on the move” – in Phang Nga Bay

• Top of the Gulf Regatta at Na Jomtien, which includes the Thailand Optimist National Championships and the Coronation Cup (another Royal occasion)

• Koh Samui Regatta – complete with coconut trophies, Brazilian dancing girls, plenty of breeze, and the splashiest closing dinner of them all.

The majority of the big boats in Thailand are owned and raced by expatriates, but at the smaller end of the scale there is a hotbed of talent in the Optimist and dinghy classes just waiting to shine. Noppakorn Poonpat (THA) won the Optimist World Championships at 20, and there are plenty of successors waiting to step into her shoes. The Thai Optimist Nationals is one of the hardest-fought of the regional championships, with (this year) 140 entries.TOG14_0068

The national authority, the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT), is largely the preserve of retired Admirals from the Royal Thai Navy (and the RTN turns out every year to take the salute at the Phuket King’s Cup Sail-Past). Phuket, Koh Samui, Ocean Marina and the naval base at Sattahip are the principal centers for teaching young sailors.

Little-known fact: the Platu 25, designed by Bruce Farr in the early 1990s, was created for the waters and weather conditions of the Gulf of Thailand. A syndicate of local sailors commissioned the ‘pla-tu’ which means ‘mackerel’ in Thai.

Clubs, Marinas and Sailing Associations

• Yacht Racing Association of Thailand www.yrat.or.th

• Royal Varuna Yacht Club, Chonburi, Pattaya www.varuna.org

• Ocean Marina Yacht Club, Chonburi, Pattaya www.oceanmarina.asia

• Yacht Haven Phuket www.yacht-haven-phuket.com

• Boat Lagoon Phuket www.phuketboatlagoon.com

• Phuket Cruising Yacht Club www.phuketcruisingyachtclub.org

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Singapore is home to the oldest yacht club in Asia – the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club (RSYC), formerly the Royal Singapore Yacht Club, and founded in 1826. Situated at the southern end of Malaysia, Singapore is said to preside over the busiest commercial waterway in the world, and this has become a matter of import in recent years.

RSYC has its own facilities and marina, and so does Raffles Marina and the Singapore Armed Forces Yacht Club (SAFYC). The last sailing center in Singapore is the Changi Sailing Club, seemingly always under some sort of threat of redevelopment, but still alive and kicking today.

In 1923 RSYC became the guardian of the Lipton Challenge Cup, awarded to the Club by Sir Thomas Lipton. In recent years this was awarded to the aggregate winner of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta and the Singapore Straits Regatta. The latter event has fallen by the wayside as the Marine & Ports Authority of Singapore has imposed ever-more draconian restrictions on the operations of pleasure vessels, and particularly sailing yachts. Sadly, the Lipton Cup is now housed in the Singapore Sports Museum.Photo-By-Donovan-Ho-22

The top event in Singapore is now a mixed fleet regatta, the Western Circuit, organized by the Singapore Management University – a very active collection of students and alumni – and hosted by Raffles Marina. The Neptune Regatta is a small fleet that sails and races from Nongsa Point Marina in Batam to Pulau Sikeling in the Riau Archipelago. Technically this all takes place within Indonesia, but in reality it is a ‘Singapore’ event.

If big boats and club racing has waned in recent years, the activities of the government-supported Singapore Sailing Association goes from strength to strength. Sailing is a sport now on the school curriculum, and every year thousands of young people are introduced to the sport, sailing Optimist and Topper dinghies and maybe moving on to the 420 and Olympic 470 and Laser classes. Singapore has been a multiple medal winner at many sailing youth championships, and hosted the inaugural Youth Olympics in 2010. Eight Singaporeans have qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Unfortunately, the young sailors don’t seem to graduate to bigger boats. Governmental initiatives are geared towards producing junior champions and hopefully Olympic medals, and the grown-up version of racing sailing is not on the agenda.

Singapore, which hosted an event in the Extreme Sailing Series for five years, also entertained the Clipper Around the World Race and the Volvo Ocean Race. There are world-class facilities in the shape of ONE˚15 Marina at Sentosa Cove (home to Asia’s number one boat show, the Singapore Yacht Show) and Marina at Keppel Bay. Singapore has the facilities, but not the space in which to sail. A country that once fielded teams for the Admiral’s Cup, can do so no longer.

Clubs, Marinas and Sailing Associations

• Singapore Sailing Federation www.sailing.org.sg

• Changi Sailing Club www.csc.org.sg

• Raffles Marina www.rafflesmarina.com.sg

• Republic of Singapore Yacht Club www.rsyc.org.sg

• ONE˚15 Marina Club www.one15marina.com

• Marina at Keppel Bay www.marinakeppelbay.com

MALAYSIARMR15_0941

Malaysia boasts long coastlines on the west and the east of the country, peppered with historic towns and beautiful beaches, and sprinkled with jewel-like islands that make it a playground for the cruising sailor.

The west coast of Malaysia is 400nm from north to south, and includes the fabulous archipelago of Langkawi, historic Penang (“The Pearl of the Orient”), picturesque Pangkor and the beautiful old city of Malacca – which, along with Penang, is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Throw in a plethora of beautiful beaches, the blessing of equable tropical weather, and just ‘go sailing’. Pulau Tioman is the star of Malaysia’s east coast, and then the Anambas Islands if you are prepared to sail 130nm or so offshore.

Across the South China Sea there is the north coast of Borneo – the provinces of Sabah and Sarawak are Malaysia, too. This is known as ‘The Land Below the Wind’ on account of the lack of typhoons this far south, and here the attraction for sailors is not so much sandy beaches but history (Kuching), mountaineering (Mt Kinabalu) and the culture of the littoral Dayak tribes.

The national authority for sailing is the Malaysian Sailing Association (MSA), based in Kuala Lumpur, and operating a major dinghy training centre in Langkawi, which is popular with international visitors for training camps. The MSA also organizes the Liga Layar, a national match racing series.

Langkawi is very much the de facto center of sailing in Malaysia. It has three major marinas (Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, Rebak Marina Resort and Telaga Harbour) and is close to the border with Thailand, making the island’s Duty Free status very attractive to passers-by heading north, and also to boats voyaging south from Phuket in order to stock up on everything from gin to fuel. The Youth World Sailing Championships were held in Langkawi in early 2016, based out of the MSA facility.RMR15_3338

The principal private clubs in Malaysia are the Royal Selangor Yacht Club at Port Klang, which organizes the annual Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta, and the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, home of the Royal Langkawi International Regatta (RLIR). Both events attract entries of around 30 big boats. The ‘Raja Muda’ is a peripatetic affair featuring both coastal passage and in-port racing, travelling from Port Klang to Langkawi. It is a difficult and exhausting event over the space of a week – the sailing can be tough, but you need additional stamina for the social side of the event! The RLIR is an in-port event conducted amongst the fairy tale islands of Langkawi, but it is a one-off yearly event – the only other time in a year that racing takes place is when the Raja Muda fleet arrives. There are yacht clubs at Kinabalu (Sabah) and Piasau (Sarawak), as well as Tawau and Sandakan on the east coast of Borneo, but these are places to visit rather than establishments that organise regattas and racing.

In common with other SE Asian countries, the governmental initiative in Malaysia is geared towards youth development, dinghy sailing, and the eternal search for an Olympic medal. The Optimist class is strong all round the country, and sends young competitors to international events, but in common with other Asian countries, that’s as far as it goes – most governments, with the possible exception of Thailand – have not yet woken up to the huge economic potential offered by the promotion of sailing, boating, marine tourism and the full development of a leisure marine industry. Sailing in Malaysia does however benefit from the active participation of the Royal Malaysian Navy which owns and runs two 47’ racing boats, and the cooperation of the Royal Malaysian Police who provides exceptional backup services and materiel for major international big boat events.

The big boats and the clubs and events that they visit are pretty much self-sufficient. Training programmes to IYT certification are offered by Sail Training Malaysia (Pulau Indah Marina, Port Klang), and Asian Yachting Ventures at Port Dickson signs off on Asian Coastal and Yachtmaster courses.

Clubs, Marinas and Sailing Associations

• Malaysian Sailing Association sailmalaysia.org

• Royal Selangor Yacht Club www.rsyc.com.my

• Sebana Cove Resort & Marina, Johor Bahru www.sebanacoveresort.com

• Royal Langkawi Yacht Club www.langkawiyachtclub.com

• Telaga Harbour Park & Marina, Langkawi www.telagaharbour.com

• Rebak Marina Resort, Langkawi www.rebakmarina.com

• Sutera Harbour Marina, Sabah www.suteraharbour.com

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When China decides to get involved in something, they don’t do it by halves. In the case of sailing, that has meant an America’s Cup entry, a Volvo Ocean Race team, and any number of lavish-looking marinas constructed on the principle of “build it and they will come,” but more likely to be a marketing ‘hook’ for a surrounding property development. The encouragement of sailing often appears to be a ‘top down’ rather than a ‘bottom-up’ endeavour.

The most visible regatta in China is the China Cup International Regatta. This four-day event has a number of one-design divisions that includes a fleet of 30 Beneteau 40.7 yachts that can be chartered, as well as IRC racing divisions, but the top level Grand Prix boats are still missing. There are a number of other regattas, some on lakes and some on rivers, as well as a growing interest in match racing that is engaging sailors at the grass roots level. The China Club Challenge Cup is probably the most ‘genuine’ of the China regattas.

China still lacks a coherent, federal-scale, policy concerning leisure and pleasure boats. Until the day comes that you can confidently write “Private Yacht” on the registration application, and until you can sail out of Xiamen and back into Fujian knowing that the regulations are the same in both places, any development of a marine leisure culture will remain stalled, despite the excellent sporting example of two gold medals in successive Olympics.

The most visible yacht clubs in China do not necessarily have much to do with sailing.

Clubs and Sailing Associations

• China Yachting Association sailboarding.sport.org.cn

• Shanghai Boat and Yacht Club www.shanghaibyc.org

• Iron Rock Sailing Club, Xiamen www.ironrocksailing.com

INDONESIANEP13_0729

Indonesia is practically the definition of ‘archipelago’, and is making itself felt in the luxury charter market as an exotic destination. Komodo dragons and the Spice Islands beckon. For divers there is the Coral Triangle and the Raja Ampat, the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet, and the Wallace Line, separating the ecology of the old world from Australasia,cuts through the middle of the country.

Indonesia hosts the Sail Indonesia Rally each year, with boats coming up from Australia, passing through the archipelago east to west by a different route every time, and then moving on towards Malaysia.

The Neptune Regatta departs Nongsa Point (directly opposite Singapore) and does a sort of ‘racing adventure cruise’ to the Equator and back every year – on the chart it’s an Indonesian event, but it is all Singapore-organized. There’s very little local recreational sailing going on, with the exception of the famous Sandeq Race for the local fishing boats along the west coast of Sulawesi. The Indonesia Sailing Federation regularly manages to get a qualifier into the Olympics.

Clubs and Sailing Associations

• Indonesian Sailing Federation

• Jakarta Offshore Sailing Club

• Nongsa Point Marina, Batam www.nongsapointmarina.com

• Sail Indonesia www.sailindonesia.net

THE PHILIPPINESPCC12_0936

In the 1990s there was a flourishing sailing scene based around the Manila Yacht Club (MYC), Flying 15s, Dragons, and a fair collection of big boats. In 1994 the Philippine Easter Regatta attracted a 60-strong fleet that raced from Manila to Corregidor, and then on to Subic Bay. The MYC used to be the finish line for the China Sea Race, and many a salty tale was expanded over the bar on Roxas Boulevard. Glory days indeed.

Then the MYC stopped organizing races, the few remaining sailing members decamped to Subic Bay, and everything fizzled out by degrees. The biggest active club in the Philippines is now the Puerto Galera Yacht Club, which very deliberately does not take itself too seriously.

The Commodores’ Cup at Subic attracts 6-8 boats only, even when the China Sea fleet has just arrived – and departed. The Boracay Cup (preceded by the Subic-Boracay Race) should be the jewel in the glittering tropical crown, but rarely attracts more than a handful of entries

Clubs and Sailing Associations

• Philippines Sailing Association www.philsailing.com

• Puerto Galera Yacht Club www.pgyc.org

• Subic Sailing subicsailing.org

TAIWAN

It is only recently that people in Taiwan have been allowed to set foot on a beach. Fishermen went fishing, but the coastline was off-limits to all non-military personnel. There has been an entirely successful sailing and motor yacht building industry in the Kaohsiung area for three decades, producing boats that were strictly for export. Only.

With the easing of coastal regulations, a couple of small regattas have sprung up, organized by the Taiwan Sailing Association. The Penghu Regatta takes place in the delightful Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Strait, a place with plenty of wind that has long been popular with windsurfers from all over the world. The inaugural Taiwan Boat Show was a sell-out, and the second one (in March) followed suit. Brokers report good business. Watch this space.

Clubs and Sailing Associations

• Taiwan Sailing Association www.taiwansail.org

• Chinese Taipei Sailing Association www.sail-clubs.com

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The west coast provides challenging conditions for sailing – coastal mudflats for hundreds of miles when the 10m tide goes out. The east coast consists mostly of small squid-fishing villages. The south coast, from Mokpo to Busan via Jeju Island, is beautiful but with the exception of the Olympic Marina (1988) at Busan, ‘undeveloped’ in sailing terms.

Provincial authorities kick started the Korea International Boat Show in 2008, and inaugurated the WMRT Korea Match Cup in the same year. The Wangsan Marina near Incheon, was built for the 2014 Asian Games regatta, and was intended to become a public marina with amenities and services catering to domestic as well as international boaters.

A small number of races venture offshore: there’s one to Ulleung-do and Dok-do to the east of Korea, and one from Mokpo to Jeju if the weather permits. There’s an Admiral’s Cup regatta in Busan, and the Women’s International Match Racing Association has also been there.

‘Boating culture’ has been slow to develop in Korea, in spite of government initiatives to stimulate interest. Leisure time is a relatively new commodity in this hard-working country and, rather like China, Korea might do well to start at the bottom and work upwards, rather than the other way round.

Sailing Association

• Korea Sailing Federation www.ksaf.org

Majestic Princess Woos Chinese Guests with luxury living

Cruise Liner Woos China Guests with Luxury Living

This is Princess Cruises first ship built specifically for Chinese guests. It is the latest development, just this month, as cruise services make a China pivot; MSC Cruises and Aida Cruises are both looking to capitalize from as early as next year in what is poised to become the largest cruise market in the world.

After a short European tour, the brand new Majestic Princess will drop anchor in its home port of Shanghai beginning next summer. The Princess Cruises ship will sail to destinations in Japan and Korea.

This is parent company Carnival Corporation’s latest foray into the Chinese cruise market, which has experienced skyrocketing growth over the last few years.

A recent report from the Cruise Lines International Association showed that between 2012 and 2015, passenger volume in Asia grew from 775,000 to nearly 2.1 million passengers.

This year has seen more than 1,560 ships and voyages scheduled, up from 1,095 in 2015. Recent reports suggest that prices have taken a hit, thanks a bit of oversupply but operators remain bullish. Perhaps that is because the Chinese Ministry of Tourism forecasts 4.5 million passengers by 2020.

With a guest capacity of 3,560, the Majestic Princess is hoping to steer Chinese holidaymakers away from the competition by capitalizing on its gastronomic reputation: Food and Wine magazine named the brand the best cruise line for food lovers.

At the Harmony space, for example, chef Richard Chen who helped the Wynn Las Vegas restaurant Wing Lei land a Michelin star – a first for a Chinese restaurant in North America – has reinvented classic Cantonese dishes.

At Le Bistrot, guests will be transported to Paris with a menu that serves traditional French fare like escargots, baguettes, tartines, tourtes and French pastries. Other dining options include a steakhouse, Italian eatery and all-day buffet.

The Majestic Princess is designed with the affluent Chinese cruiser in mind, with an expanded shopping and retail space anchored by luxury brands such as Cartier, Bulgari, Chopard, Burberry and Gucci, and a private karaoke space.

Princess sister brand Costa Cruises also expanded its presence in China this year, giving Carnival Corporation a leading edge over its competition with six ships based in the country as of this year. Royal Caribbean is in second place with five ships based in China this year.

Meanwhile, when the Majestic Princess, which also goes by her Chinese name “Grand World” or “Grand Spirit,” sails into Shanghai next summer, it will face off with Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Cruise Line’s first cruise ship which is also tailor-made for Chinese customers and set to debut in July 2017. You can see for yourself what the Majestic Princess brings to the table from the video below.

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Guo Pei: Empress of Chinese Couture

Childhood dreams have led the diminutive Guo Pei down the unlikely path of becoming a couturier whose stunningly realised works have found home on the backs of Rihanna and the social elite in China, and in museums worldwide. We speak to the Chinese designer on her inspiration, her unique perspective on oriental design and the difficulties she’s faced as an Asian designer.

How did you get started in fashion?

I always dreamt of making beautiful dresses as a little girl. At an early age, I felt I had a particular way of creating – that’s why I learnt to sew. I’ve also always been influenced by China’s traditional culture and by elements from the imperial and royal past, especially elements that represent royalty of the highest level.

What excites you about designing clothes?

The ability to offer someone something new and fresh, and to give them a sense of satisfaction.

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Why did you decide on making clothing that’s so intricate?

Simply because I love making beautiful, elegant clothes. My clothing involves complicated processes that reflect a culture of quality, and I hope wearers can feel my emotion and spirit, and see that the clothes embody the spirit of quality and heritage, and depict the essence of human wisdom, civilisation, and culture.

What are the challenges you’ve faced in your work?

To me, each day and each step I take and make in Chinese fashion is unprecedented. When I was on the verge of failure, I walked my own path. Survival, sticking to what I believe in – that’s the real challenge. But I don’t see this as a difficulty. There’s no pressure, really. I love what I do.

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Do you face any difficulties being a female and Chinese designer?

I don’t see any specific difficulties. Even though the industry is mostly led by men, there are many talented and renowned female designers, Chinese or not. But women can bring a unique charm and beauty in their perspective and interpretation of things. The old master [Karl Lagerfeld] is the one maintaining the fashion empire of Chanel, but we can’t ignore the fact that the brand was created by a woman who is an excellent example of female representation. As an Asian woman, I hope I can use my perspectives to bring a unique aspect of beauty into the spotlight.

Do you think there is a difference between French haute couture and the work you’re doing?

I’ve been doing custom work at Rose Studio from day one and I’ve developed a very rigorous production process. But it took more than a decade after starting my studio before I had the chance to get close to and understand haute couture. At the time, some friends of mine in the Paris fashion circles said to me, “Guo Pei, all you’re doing… is couture”. I think it has always been somewhere in my soul. So what I am showing on the catwalks these days in Paris is essentially no different from what I show and present to my clients. The only difference is the tension, performance and strength of the catwalk.

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It’s interesting to me because you seem very focused on making Chinese fashion, rather than designing something global or European-based. Why is that so?

I grew up in Beijing where there was the integration of a multi-ethnic Chinese culture and a historic city. The essence of traditional Chinese culture is, to me, the greatest treasure. I want these influences from deep in my heart to transform something in the design. Every old building, royal costume and piece of fine jewelry… these superb technological feats are worth learning about. In my January 2016 haute couture show in Paris, we showed exquisite traditional Chinese embroidery, but integrated it with Western silhouette and cut – a good combination of the beauty of East and West.

Do you think oriental design has the potential of global appeal?

I feel, in terms of beauty, that the East and West are the same. The only difference is that the West is more outgoing whereas the East is more introverted. But if there is mutual exchange and understanding, both sides can attract each other. I think Western designers want to understand Eastern fashion and beauty through the works of Chinese designers.

Which designers most inspire you?

The one who influenced me the most would be Mr Christian Dior. And, of course, early designers like Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent for their exquisite tailoring, cutting and design. However, the process of finding ideas and inspiration often begins in museums, where there is an inexhaustible collection of creative design and a fine collection of human wisdom.

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You’re known for dressing the social and political elite in China, who order couture from you. Do you have any plans to design ready-to-wear?

Right now, I’m putting all my focus on doing couture. I think in order for me to do ready-to-wear or other fashion products well, I would need a really big team – I’d have to build a fashion empire! Unless I have more people joining the team, I would prefer to do my best at what I’m good at.

Rihanna gave you a lot of international exposure. What’s changed since that night at the Met?

The partnership with Rihanna was really a chance for her to be the focus of attention on the red carpet. But it was also a chance to give my work a new interpretation. It allowed me to get attention and coverage from the world’s major media. The foreign press was shocked that the dress, which was a very technically challenging piece, took nearly two years to realise. It showed people a different image of China: It’s no longer a backward economy, no longer just a source of cheap labour, no longer a rough workshop. Those images were replaced by 5,000 years of Chinese cultural heritage.

You’ve been in the fashion business for about 30 years now, what do you think has changed from when you first started?

I’ve stuck to my goal which has always been to be very confident, to want to make the most beautiful and the most valuable clothes, to represent this era of technology and humanity, and to showcase the height of the manual techniques of fashion. I’m going to continue moving forward as a Chinese brand on the haute couture stage.

This article on Guo Pei first appeared on L’Officiel Singapore’s August Issue.

Red Beach of Panjin

Red Beach of Panjin: Crimson Tides

Just in time for those longed-for summer breaks, we take a glimpse at several unique beaches around the world. Today we visit the Red Beach in Liaoning that contradicts China’s reputation as champion polluter and burnishes its eco-friendly credentials. We join AFPRelaxnews for a short tour of the area and learn more about the country’s conservation efforts one beach at a time.

Where to find it

Located in the Liaohe River Delta, the Red Beach of Panjin can be found in Liaoning, a northeastern province of China. While some may not think of China as a champion of environmental matters, this site reveals another side to the country and its approach to preservation. In fact, Red Beach has been a state-protected nature reserve since the end of the 1980s, with regulations restricting tourism in this area of natural beauty, home to several hundred animal species. Only part of the beach is open for visitors to explore.

Unusual feature

The Red Beach of Panjin is surprising in more than one way. Not only does this beach have no sand, but it’s also entirely covered in a special kind of seaweed, which gives rise to its unusual appearance. The seaweed, called sueda, grows from April, starting off green before turning crimson red in the autumn. Visit between mid-September and mid-October to take in this natural wonder in all its glory. Another draw for visitors is the beach’s wildlife. Several hundred bird species and almost 400 species of wild animals have taken up home on Red Beach, including endangered species like the red-crowned crane.

How to get there

Red Beach, which has been a nature reserve since 1988, can be accessed from Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, about a two-hour drive away. The closest town is Yingkou.

Best beach activity

A raised wooden walkway has been installed to take visitors on a trail through the reserve, walking above this area of marshland with relative ease and comfort. As you’ve guessed, this isn’t the kind of beach where you can stretch out a towel and go for a dip. It is, however, a spectacular sight to behold and a great destination for photographers.

4 Luxury Asian Hotels: Banyan Tree X SilkAir

Asia has a lot to offer, and if you’re planning a trip to this very diverse continent (which you shouldn’t even think of as a single place), count yourself lucky. In a partnership with SilkAir, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts has rolled out a range of promotions to seven idyllic properties in four iconic Asian destinations. Think of it as less planning on your part: the package includes full-service SilkAir flights, exclusive discounts of up to 30%, complimentary upgrades, dining offers and experiences at spas and Laguna Golf Clubs.

Banyan Tree Lijiang at Lijiang, China

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Luxe meets tradition in Banyan Tree Lijiang, where once can bask in China’s history while taking a retreat located 2,400 meters above sea level and framed by the majestic Snow Jade Dragon Mountain. One can pick from a Garden Suite, Mountain View Suite, or Jet Pool Villas, and indulge in activities like yoga or play tennis on outdoor courts. In fact, one is reconnected with nature in this hotel – Lijiang isn’t a UNESCO heritage site for nothing.

Rates begin at $283 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 30% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and complimentary upgrades when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid until 30 March 2017.

http://www.banyantree.com/en/cn-china-lijiang

Banyan Tree Phuket at Phuket, Thailand

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Phuket has increasingly a spot on many’s travel itineraries in recent years – and rightly so. Breath-taking coastal views, pristine waters and stretches of glisteneing sand can all be found at the charming Bang Tao Bay, a stone’s throw from Banyan Tree Phuket. Opt between a variety of Pool Villas, ranging from the Banyan Lagoon Pool Villa to the Grand Two Bedroom Villa. In between dipping into pools and long, leisurely walks down the shores, one can indulge in cooking classes, golf classes, and even a turtle club for children.

Rates begin from $627 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 25% are offered on F&B, best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and golf green fees at Laguna Golf Phuket when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid until 20 December 2016.

http://www.banyantree.com/en/ap-thailand-phuket-resort

Banyan Tree Lang Co at Lang Co, Vietnam

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Picture dramatic vistas spread across a rugged landscape of unspoiled nature. Nestled in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage sites, eco-diverse mountains and spectacular national parks, Banyan Tree Lang Co is an all-pool villa resort. Visitors can stay in a Lagoon Pool Villa, Sanctuary Pool Villa, Beach Pool Villa and Seaview Hill Pool Villas of up to three-bedrooms in size. It is not all just pools, however; this hotel also boasts meeting rooms, a Laguna Sea Sports Centre and Marine Lab, as well as a gym and yoga pavilion. Having stayed at this location ourselves, we recommend it heartily and whole-heartedly. Although, as with all Banyan Trees, the fact that the best restaurant is the signature Saffron (Thai cuisine) is a little jarring.

Rates begin from $258 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 20% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and golf green fees at Laguna Golf Lang Co, when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid for bookings until 15 August 2016 and for stays until 22 December 2016.

http://www.banyantree.com/en/ap-vietnam-lang-co

Angsana Maison Souvannaphoum at Luang Prabang, Laos

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Steeped in old-world charm, one is surrounded by breath-taking natural landscapes as they seemingly take a trip back in time. More than just vintage charm, however, the hotel also has royal origins: it once belonged to Laos’ four-time Prime Minister Prince Souvanna Phouma. Live in classic French colonial interiors in the Garden Wing, Residence Twin to the Maison Room. Enjoy spas, al fresco dining at the Elephant Blanc restaurant and in-room dining while on stay.

Rates begin from $120 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 30% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments and gallery products, plus a complimentary traditional Laos set menu dinner with a minimum stay of two nights). This offer is valid for bookings until 31 August 2016 and for stays until 23 December 2016.

http://www.angsana.com/en/ap-laos-maison-souvannaphoum

Terms and conditions apply.

San Shan Bridge Unveiled for Beijing Winter Olympics

Beijing’s ever-evolving landscape will soon see a futuristic, double-helix bridge named San Shan Bridge come 2022, when the city hosts the Winter Olympic Games.

Stretching out from across the city to the mountainous region of Zhangjiakou over the river Gui, the infrastructure – translated to “Three Mountains” – is part of the government’s efforts to provide more efficient transportation to the event location for athletes.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

Referencing the union of the five continents, just like the interlaced rings of the Olympic logo, the 452-meter-long bridge sees three sets of cross-connected structures that reflects its name. Each of these structures have a maximum span of 95 meters and are supported by high-strength steel cables that crisscross the bridge in an elegantly woven design. To facilitate movement, the bridge will also be separated into transportation and pedestrian sections via two strips of trees and bushes.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

Beijing and Vienna-based architecture firm Penda – whose portfolio includes the bamboo pavilion “One with the Birds” for Beijing Design Week 2015 – will work alongside global engineering consultants ARUP on the ambitious task. If ARUP sounds familiar, it is because the prolific firm has taken projects such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters in Seattle to completion and are currently working on Apple Campus 2.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

However, the San Shan Bridge is but part of a larger city expansion scheme for the Chinese capital. Beijing Horticultural Expo 2019 (a future exhibition hub) and a more extensive transport system (11,700km of metro planned for 2050) will cater to the city’s aspiration of evolving into a supercity – the third largest in the world at that, with more than 21 million people.

BMW 1 Series Sedan Exclusively Sold in China

Unless you’re currently residing in China, you can forget about laying your hands on BMW’s latest 1 Series sedan. Well, by the German automaker’s estimation, only the Chinese market is ready for, and interested in, this extended wheelbase version of the 1 Series.

First revealed in Beijing, the baby four-door – built in conjuction with China’s BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd – is, quite simply put, the love child of Europe’s five-door 1 Series hatchback and the 2 Series coupe. According to BMW, the new car will fuse the best stylistic elements of both, plus incorporate a longer wheelbase for more spacious seating.

BMW 1 Series-china-

Otherwise, the entry-level Beemer is essentially a toned-down iteration of the Concept Compact Sedan and will be based on the front-wheel drive UKL platform, just like the current X1, 2 Series Gran Tourer and its MINI cousin. This means that the car will likely use BMW’s new modular four-cylinder engines. This 1 Series Sedan will also provide a stylistic platform of what you can expect from the 2 Series Gran Coupe, which BMW has been developing for a while now.

Luxuo David Beckham for Jaguar 2016

How British Car Brands Sell to China

Many British automotive marques are already forging reciprocal links with Chinese firms. Aston Martin is working with LeEco to develop an electric version of its Rapide super sedan and everyone from Jaguar to Bentley is also developing models with longer wheelbases and greater space for rear passengers, uniquely for the Chinese market.

But how do these storied British brands get the biggest and youngest car-buying market to fall in love with them within the next few years, when they’ve had over 60 years to become pin-up fixtures on children’s walls in Europe and the US?

Jaguar has already hired David Beckham as its sportscar ambassador to China, but, as football fans will tell you “There’s only one David Beckham” so it appears the long-term answer is to celebrate all that’s good about British motoring heritage by crafting a festival on a par with the Goodwood Festival of Speed and bringing it to the Chinese mainland.

The British Motorsport Festival (BMF), will open its doors to the public at the Goldenport track, Beijing, on October 1 and promises past, present and future cars from Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus, McLaren, Morgan and Noble.

But more than simply trying to get car fans excited, the two-day event will be a proper family-inclusive lifestyle experience.

“The British Motorsport Festival is a unique blend of cars, fans and fun for the entire family. Our hope is that the British Motorsport Festival can help brands connect with fans to build lasting relationships,” said Jim James, BMF’s founder.

So the event promises racing, a ladies competition, go-karting and electric car racing for kids plus a vintage car show.

Alongside the festival the UK government is also assisting in setting up an annual motorsports conference, in partnership with Motorsport China, the first of which will be held in Shanghai on November 2. Because as with every country that starts to fall in love with cars, the urge to race tends to follow very quickly. But there are pitfalls that need to be avoided if it’s going to be done in a sustainable, profitable way.

“Motorsport in China is developing rapidly, and the goal of the Conference is to bring experts from the UK and China together to discuss best practices, build deeper relationships and ultimately to develop the industry to a world class level,” said Managing Director of Motorsport China, Steven Lu.

So the conference will bring together experts from every facet of racing from track development to team owners and specialist services companies under one roof.

Top Chinese Art Collector to Sell Works

One of the world’s leading collectors of Chinese art, Belgian billionaire Guy Ullens, is to give up his eponymous Beijing museum – among the capital’s top art centers – and sell his private collection, the organization said.

Ullens, a baron, is a foodstuffs magnate and longstanding Chinese art collector whose companies have included Weight Watchers.

His father and uncle were both diplomats at Belgium’s embassy in the country, and he is a friend of dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

His non-profit Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), a mainstay of Beijing’s trendy 798 art district, exhibits both Chinese and international artists and has had more than four million visitors since it was founded in 2007, according to its website.

In a joint statement by the museum and the Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, Ullens said he will hand over UCCA to a new benefactor and sell off his own vast collection through private sales and auctions later this year.

“I have been a patron of the arts in China for over 30 years and have found this a hugely interesting and fascinating experience,” he said in the statement.

“I’m now in my 80s and need to look at how to hand over the stewardship of the UCCA and my art collection to younger patrons of the arts.”

Rumors of Ullens’ departure have swirled for years, but his PR company confirmed to AFP that the latest announcement, released Thursday, was the first time he had made a definitive public statement on the matter.

The baron’s private collection, estimated to include more than 1,000 pieces, has broken numerous auction records, the latest in 2013, when Zeng Fanzhi’s painting “The Last Supper” sold for $23.3 million at Sotheby’s — a record price for an Asian contemporary artist.

Chinese art prices have rocketed in recent years, fuelled by the country’s economic boom and its growing numbers of super-rich.

At the same time Communist authorities have stepped up cultural controls under President Xi Jinping, and some captions at UCCA’s 2013 exhibition of American artist Taryn Simon’s “A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters” were blacked out.

Revamped Peninsula Beijing Boasts Larger Rooms

For those who love sprawling hotel rooms with ample space for everyone’s steamers and trunks, The Peninsula Beijing may be your new home away from home. The hotel now boasts the largest luxury hotel rooms in the Chinese capital since they revamped their 525 rooms to actually create fewer rooms and suites – there are now 230. A small sacrifice really, for luxury. However, ‘small’ is definitely not the name of the game here.Peninsula-Beijing-renovations-master-bedroom

The smallest rooms start at 60 square meters (645 square feet), going against trend in the industry. That is to say, most hotels maximize space to earn as much revenue as possible by creating as many rooms as possible.

With a little inspiration from luxury yachts and a few cultural elements, guests can trust that the rooms are both comfortable and sophisticated. The rooms feature hues of cream while artworks from Chinese artists adorn the walls. Like most luxury yachts, the rooms are fitted with furnishings from luxury Italian designers and a few hand-finished pieces from local designers. Peninsula-Beijing-renovations-dining-room

The experience doesn’t stop there. Guests have full control of the lighting, temperature and can even order room service via the tablets that are found on the bedside and on room desks. The most luxurious suite in the hotel is The Loft that commands the top floors of the hotel. Spanning two stories, the suite has floor-to-ceiling windows that provide breath-taking views of the city below.

The hotel has created another tier of suites by combining 17 room to create living spaces that measure up to 165 square meters (1,883 square feet). The suites also come with large living and dining spaces, dressing quarters and a master bedroom.

Shanghai Seven-Star Waterfront Hotel Opens

Shanghai remains a favorite for new luxury outposts, be they stores or hotels, the latest of which is The Wanda Reign on the Bund. The over-the-top luxury hotel has opened on Shanghai’s waterfront, billing itself as the city’s first “7-star” hotel.

The Wanda Reign on the Bund opened to much fanfare recently, not only for being one of the most luxurious and opulent landmarks in Shanghai, but for the reputation of its owner Wang Sicong, the 28-year-old scion of a Chinese real estate baron who makes headlines for his spendthrift ways on nights out.

In keeping with his lavish tastes, the property was built to raise the bar in luxury hotel experiences. Set along the Huangpu River, the hotel is a museum of art and antique pieces by contemporary Chinese artists.

hotel_exterior_wanda_reign

The hotel tapped designer Laurence Xu – the first Chinese designer to join Paris Haute Couture Week – to create staff uniforms. Artistic motifs include magnolias and traditional Suzhou embroidery.

All of the 193 guestrooms are controlled via iPads, and are styled in Art Deco-themed esthetics that are available in two different styles: modern glamour in a beige color scheme, and darker, mahogany burl wood with magnolia details. Guest rooms and suites are outfitted with amenities by L’Occitane and Hermès.

The luxury is also in the details, with bedtime amenities that include a sleep fragrance, music and bedtime reading material.

For guests for whom money is no object, there’s also the Chairman Suite which spans 288 sq m (3,100 sq ft) and features a living room, dining area, adjoining pantry, bar, study, master bedroom sauna and massage bathtub. Guests also have access to butler service.

Dining options include the rooftop restaurant Marc, by Michelin-starred French chef Marc Meneau, and restaurants The River Drunk for classic Southern Chinese cuisine and The Japanese Restaurant.

A promotion has guest room rates at CNY3,000 ($453) a night.

executive_suite_wanda_reign

Monaco Grand Prix on Chinese Time with TAG Heuer

As if it wasn’t a star-studded enough event, TAG Heuer invited two Chinese superstars, rock-pop singer G.E.M. and actor Li Yifeng, to attend the prestigious Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix this year.

Both personalities boast millions of followers in their home country, and accompanied by the Chinese media, had the privilege of not only watching the race, but also to be greeted by the Ambassador of Monaco to China, Catherine Fautrier at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco for a private tour.

Monaco Formula One Grand Prix

As the world’s second largest economy, China passed the symbolic threshold of 300 billionaires this year, the average wealth of the 1,000 richest Chinese starting at $1.04 billion. Monaco has been keen on strengthening diplomatic relations, as seen from the appointment of ambassadors from both sides in 2006 and the construction of a Monaco pavilion within the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Earlier this year, Monaco reciprocated with the first-ever Chinese Festival in Monaco.

TAG Heuer and the F1 Grand Prix have had a long history, and great success. Stellar drivers such as Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton are but a few TAG Heuer ambassadors who have taken the chequered flag. This year, the Swiss watch firm continues its legacy with Formula 1 by unveiling three new TAG Heuer watches at a world-exclusive launch in Monaco:

Red Bull Watch

CAZ1018.FC8213 THF1 SPECIAL EDITION RED BULL TEXTILE STRAP - PACKSHOT 2016

Bearing the team’s colors – midnight blue and red – the steel quartz chronograph reflects the DNA of TAG Heuer’s association with Formula 1 with a bezel sporting a tachymeter scale in matte blue aluminum. The special edition is available in two versions: a stainless steel bracelet or textile strap with red stitching, inspired by the racing car’s seat belts. Like every motor racing watch worth its salt, the quartz chronograph movement is accurate to a tenth of a second, and is displayed on the counter at 6 o’clock. Meanwhile, the symbolic black and white chequered flag of Formula 1 is engraved at the back of the case, together with the prestigious Red Bull Racing Team logo.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43 mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, date, 1/10 second counter, chronograph hour counter, chronograph minute counter, running seconds counter
  • Movement: Ronda 5040D – Quartz chronograph
  • Water resistance: 200 meters
  • Strap: Triple-row brushed steel bracelet with brushed steel clasp, dual safety mechanism and extension for the motor races, or blue strap made from technical textile with red stitching.
Tag Heuer Connected in 18K Rose Gold

Barenia brun - or rose - chrono noir

Bearing the name of a luxury watchmaker with more than a century of history while innovating with smartwatches is no easy feat, but you’d be hard pressed to find fault with the latest upgrade for this smartwatch offering. For this special edition, Tag Heuer swapped the usual titanium for a more luxurious rose gold one. The latest lithium battery powers the water-resistant device and a sapphire crystal touchscreen ensures it stays scratch-free. While the watch comes with the same two-year standard warranty TAG Heuer offers its usual Connected Watches, customers have the option of exchanging the smartwatch for a mechanical watch should they decide to go old school.

Aquaracer 300M

WAY201A.BA0927 AQRC CALIBRE 5 BLACK CERAMIC - PR VIEW 2016

A sports chronograph first designed to meet the extreme requirements of professional water sportsmen, the Aquaracer is now an icon of TAG Heuer’s and has been reiterated countless times, each looking to better its predecessor. Aesthetic changes include engraved silver lacquer numerals on the ceramic bezel, as well as a bigger case, enlarged from 41mm to 43mm. Inside, the Calibre 5 automatic mechanical movement powers the timepiece with the promise of accuracy and reliability, and coupled with its 300m water-resistance, makes this robust timepiece the perfect companion for all kinds of extreme conditions.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43 mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Movement: TAG Heuer Automatic Calibre 5
  • Power Reserve: 38 hours
  • Water resistance: 300 meters
  • Strap: 3-row polished and satin-finished steel, with polished steel deployant buckle, safety push-buttons and diving extension

 

 

New Photos, Video of Tallest Glass-Bottom Bridge

If you are afraid of heights, look away now because this story is all about the world’s tallest and longest glass-bottom bridge. New photos have emerged of what’s poised to become, arguably, the world’s most dizzying glass-bottomed bridge in China. Scroll to the bottom of the article for the video.

Located in the national park that inspired the floating mountains of James Cameron’s film Avatar, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is not for the faint of heart, connecting two precipices 300 meters above the canyon floor. The transparent bridge spans 430 meters in length, 6 meters in width and can accommodate up to 800 people.

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Designed by Tel Aviv-based architectural firm Haim Dotan Ltd., the feat of structural and architectural engineering holds 10 world records including the world’s highest bungee jump. The bridge is meant to be “as invisible as possible,” work seamlessly with nature and give visitors the sense of floating in mid-air.

Zhangjiajie National Park is located in the northern part of Hunan province. The bridge is expected to open this summer.

Though the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge will claim several bragging rights when it opens, the one title it won’t hold is being China’s first glass bridge. Last fall, a glass walkway opened in central Hunan province at a more modest height of 180 meters.

More pictures follow,below the video:

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tallest longest glass bottom bridge China

 

Michelin Guide Announces Shanghai Edition

Having conquered the culinary world of Europe, Singapore and Seoul, the Michelin Guide has now set its sights on Mainland China. With a focus on Shanghai, the book is slated to be unveiled later this year.

Lauded as the ultimate restaurant guide – a handbook for foodies on the road if you will – its international director Michael Ellis said “The richness and quality of Shanghai’s culinary scene completely won us over.” He added that “The city is an economic and cultural crossroad, and its gastronomy is the result of a strong culinary heritage which makes the dining scene very exciting. Shanghai’s culinary scene range from popular to fine dining restaurants, and we are eager to discover the high quality of Shanghai’s gastronomy and starting the selection.”

Some say Michelin has been expanding into Asia to match rival Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards, a spinoff of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Being based in Asia as we always have been, we wonder what took Michelin so long to get out here. Better late than never we suppose. Here is our earlier story on Seoul and Singapore.

The Michelin Guide Shanghai 2017, will be released later this year and will represent he 28th edition of the international collection.

 

 

Armani Supports Miaoran For Milan Fashion Week

Having a good eye for new fashion designers with potential, Italian fashion icon Giorgio Armani has decided to host the label of Chinese designer Miaoran in the Armani/Teatro space as a part of Milan Fashion Week. This all comes into place as a part of his ongoing support program for fresh talent.

“Discovering new talents on the international scene is something interesting and stimulating, since it enables me to confront myself with very different stylistic ideas and creative visions” said Armani, in a report by WWD. Miaoran definitely fits that criteria to a key. His primary aim seems to be eschewing form and gender – creating ambiguous styles with oversized proportions. The designer picked up his skill by studying in Italy.

In thanks to Armani, Miaoran called the opportunity a “huge honor for a young designer who comes from far away”. When June comes around, we’ll be able to see what interesting styles he has to offer, amongst the other offerings over at Milan.

Interview: Artist Wang Guangyi

Best known for his ‘Great Criticism’ series of paintings, which uses imagery of propaganda from the Cultural Revolution juxtaposed against household Western contemporary brand names such as Coca Cola, Google and Louis Vuitton, Wang Guangyi is undeniably one of the leaders of the new art movement that started in China after 1989.

Despite facing constant criticism for his works, Wang sees these criticisms as a motivation to step out of his psychological comfort zone, to make changes, and seek objects, which can come into effect in our contemporary society. Wang begins to think about the final form of artistic practice by creating works associated with great men, symbols and myths. These works involve no direct representation, but instead focuses on the exploration of the concept.

冷战美学, 2007

冷战美学, 2007

Born in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in 1957, Wang Guangyi studied art within the context of the Cultural Revolution initiated by Mao Zedong in the 1970’s. Wang enrolled at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts and graduated from the oil painting department of the academy in 1984. Wang currently lives and works in Beijing, China.

From 12 January to 12 February 2016, [email protected] presents ‘Image Correction’, an exhibition showcasing Wang’s aesthetic expression of the political paradox. Wang illustrates major historical events, which we are unable to ignore. Through his works, Wang considers this series as him “playing a serious game”. The works in his new series have strong connections with each other – specific, relevant and correlating.

Our friends at Art Republik spoke with Wang to find out more about his iconic works and living through the Cultural Revolution.

What is it like being an artist in China during, and then after, the Cultural Revolution?

For an artist, all the experience is meaningful that will enrich his art creation after that. About the Cultural Revelation, for me, there is sense of the aesthetic feeling in that chaos.

导师, 2011

导师, 2011

Tell us more about your series ‘Great Criticism’ and why you decided to stop that series?

There is no doubt that what my ‘Great Criticism’ series represents are the two different ways of brainwashing: fetishism and socialist utopian. I put these two kinds of images with totally different meanings together, which leads to a paradox of them. Probably there are peculiarities of transcendence and theology behind this paradox. After I’ve created the images, the cultural context has changed, there is now risk that the original meaning of these images have been wrenched. The sense of this risk is one of the reasons that I stopped making the works of ‘Great Criticism’.

You’ve noted in your works political and commercial brainwashing through propaganda in this world. Having achieved great success as an artist, do you think you have been affected by any kind of propaganda at all?

Of course, all things that people experience will leave marks.

导师, 2011

导师, 2011

How are you dealing with criticism and government scrutiny towards the political and religious depictions in your works?

As an artist, I am concerned more about the mysterious and unknowable things. I’m not interested in practical and specific issues.

Tell us more about your new series ‘Image Correction’.

In my view, there are complex historical elements in images, and these elements have formed very complex historical memories for an artist’s creation today. When the artist arouses this memory, there is no doubt that the memory will be unconsciously corrected as individual interpretation. When I myself correct massive idol-like images, they come to mind as negative film. Hence, image correction.

*For more information, please visit www.mocaloewen.sg

Story Credits

This article was originally published in Art Republik

ITA Channels Batman at Beijing Auto Show

With styling that boasts sharp geometric angles on a black exterior, the ITA Karlmann King seems to come straight from the domain of a certain fictional caped crusader. It was unveiled by ITA at the Beijing Auto Show and we present the facts here as the AFP reported them, despite conflicting reports on the name (ITA vs IAT) so take note search engine robots, we aren’t trying to game anyone! The domestic carmaker had indicated that they were planning to put the car into a limited production of 10 units globally, but it turned out to be just a working prototype for now. Even in that state though, its eventual price is slated as a jaw-dropping $1.85 million – an amount of money that you could use to buy four Bentley Bentayga SUVs, a Lamborghini Huracán and a Ferrari 488 Spider.

ITA-Karlmann-King-02

The SUV is hand-built on a Ford F-450 pickup truck chassis and stands at six-meters long. The cabin is still a work in progress, but it retains the Ford pickup dashboard setup. The only difference is that it’s dressed up with Alcantara wrapping and gold accents. With seats for only four, the interior space feels like a limo, and to ramp up the luxury factor there are tables for rear seat passengers, a bespoke porcelain set for drinking tea, and a champagne cooler. In a nod to the Rolls-Royce starlight headliner, the roof liner is full of optic lights, and there’s so much wood you’d think you were in a log cabin.

ITA-Karlmann-King-03

Though it seems only an eccentric billionaire like Bruce Wayne would want to get in on this, especially at that cost, China has no shortage of excessive spenders. Well, the current situation does not inspire confidence even in that… Still, this appears to be the strategy ITA is basing this model on – uniqueness and exclusivity, something which is extremely desirable among the rich over there. Whoever can find the spending power to splurge on this metal monster can well expect himself to be the envy of the roads.

Still, we have to wonder what that excessive price tag is about since there is nothing particularly special about this model. It is easily more than 20 times the price of a Ford F-450, which it basically is. Also, we aren’t sure if the maker is called ITA or IAT as the AFP source this story is built on calls it ITA but other sources, including Bloomberg call it IAT…

This story was built on an AFP base, is not Batman-shaped in any way, and is absolutely free for your entertainment.

Porsche Cayman Boosted to 718 in Beijing

When the Cayman came out in 2005, it was seen as a ‘lower-tier’ model, if such a thing can be said for a marque like Porsche. This was probably a reaction to the Cayman’s accessibility than anything else. Over time, Porsche has tailored it into a model more than able to hold its own. Now, at the Beijing Auto Show, the 718 (a similar uplift was done on the Boxster) is the version of the Cayman that keeps itself affordable, while still providing the best specs. The car will go on sale September, and will cost €51,623 (a price sitting below the Boxster), while the special S variant will cost €64,118.

First thing to note is the exterior, which features sharpened lines and a redesigned nose for larger air intakes. The sills are etched deeper and the side vents are bigger and boomier. There’s a new diffuser and exhaust design on the back. All this keeps in with a keener and more developed muscularity to the whole frame.

On the other hand, like the Boxster, the Cayman’s had its insides turned-out as well. The flat-six has been swapped out with a more environmentally adequate (no internal combustion engine could be called eco-friendly) flat four-cylinder turbocharged unit. Rest easy though, speed freaks, because the car is even faster than before. The base 2-liter model offers 300hp, a 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 275km/h when specified with Porsche’s PDK paddle-shift transmission. If you want a slightly sportier thrust, the S version will have a 2.5-liter engine and a variable geometry turbo, delivers 350hp, a 0-100km/h time of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 285km/h via a PDK transmission. This speed combines with sharper steering, wider rear wheels for grip, an upgraded suspension, and a powerful braking system as standard.

Porsche-Cayman-Interior

On the interior tech front, the Cayman sports an infotainment system with all the latest gen features, such as extensions for smartphones, and access to Apple CarPlay as well as Porsche Car Connect. For those that want to tick all the option boxes, they can add the Sport Chrono Package and the active suspension management system – their controls are now mounted on the steering wheel as a rotary dial, just like on the 918 Spyder hypercar.

All this bodes well for the Cayman, at least on paper. When it ships, we’ll see whether the verdict is justified.

 

This story was written in-house, with an AFP story as the source and AFP images.

Future Alternatives: What’s Next For Chinese Cars?

With the Beijing Auto Show ongoing this week, some of the important questions being talked about involve solving some huge problems attached to the idea of transport – such as the issue of pollution, or how to fix China’s road congestion. Electric cars and driverless cars may be the next big thing in the Chinese automobile scene but quite a lot of work is needed to get these measures off on the right track.

Electric Measures

Everyone has a general picture of Chinese smog and air pollution as a big problem but fixing it has always been quite rough. China’s government, though, is turning to electric cars as the key to solving the health crisis. Only one percent of the cars owned by the huge populace are actually electric cars, but that accounts for much. The country already took the number one spot for electric models last year with some 247,000 “zero emission” cars sold — quadruple the number in 2014 — according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. To incentivize drivers, the government is giving up to 55,000 yuan subsidies ($8,500) for each car, and electric cars are even exempt from traffic restrictions in China’s congested major cities.

Yet, while electric cars are more popular worldwide, particularly high-end brands like Tesla, the hefty price tags and restricted driving range means it’s still a niche market. Their evolution has been mainly state-subsidised, as in Norway, which has the world’s highest penetration at 17 percent of new sales in 2015. Still, the sizable market in China tantalizes many manufacturers.

Jean-Francois Belorgey, an expert with consultancy EY, predicted that by 2020, up to 750,000 electric cars will be sold in China every year. “China is perhaps the one place in the world where the automobile industry can achieve the economy of scale needed to bring down costs,” he said. In the meantime, the government is aiming for the loftier goal of at least five million rechargeable cars on the roads by 2020.

Both domestic manufacturers and foreign manufacturers are already planning their models and releases. One of these, on the domestic front, is market leader BYD, which also makes the Denza brand in a joint venture with Daimler. France’s Renault plans to release its Fluence ZE in China in 2017, and PSA group will be showing a unique C-Elysee electric sedan at the Beijing show that is due next year. Chinese companies have also provided funding for Western firms’ development projects, including Britain’s Aston Martin and the US’s Faraday Future, which sees itself as a possible competitor to Tesla.

Still, this isn’t the end of the problem. Ben Scott, an expert of electric cars with IHS, noted that it was merely “moving the CO2 from the exhaust pipe to a power plant somewhere” and, although it addresses the issue of “the concentration of particles”, it helps way less for the greenhouse effect. As long as power is still generated in carbon-intensive ways, the problem will still stick.

Drive Less

While many people would argue that the joy of the car comes from the control of the ride, the larger and more pragmatic Chinese populace are less particular about that. According to a survey by Roland Berger consultants in 2015, which found 96 percent of Chinese would consider an autonomous vehicle for almost all everyday driving, compared with 58 percent of Americans and Germans. We’ve heard, seen and perhaps experienced the horror stories of the accidents, often captured on Youtube and propagated on social media, and that probably accounts for the appeal – better safety through autonomous technology.

Still, the road has many flaws, especially because of large questions looming about the technology itself. “If you have someone jumping out in front of an autonomous car, does the car have to choose between killing that person, or swerving and crashing and killing the passenger?” asked Robin Zhu, senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. Quite a paradox worthy of Isaac Asimov himself, if you ask me. Yet, Chinese businesses are ready to jump into the fray, taking the same path as companies like Google, BMW, Volvo, and Toyota.

Last week, ahead of the Beijing Auto Show opening on Monday, two self-driving Changan cars made a mountainous 2,000 kilometre (1,200 mile) journey from Chongqing in the southwest to the capital in the country’s first long-distance autonomous vehicle test. Another Chinese Internet giant, LeECO, is also venturing into autonomous technologies, unveiling Wednesday in Beijing an electric car that can park itself and be summoned to its owner’s location via smartphone. And late last year Baidu tested China’s first locally designed driverless vehicle, a modified BMW, with a 30 kilometre ride through the streets of Beijing.

The ready market is also bringing in interested parties from the outside, with top companies aiming to refine their driverless technologies. Swedish manufacturer Volvo, owned by China’s Geely since 2010, this month announced plans to test drive up to 100 of its vehicles on Chinese roads this year. Changan, a partner of Ford, is set to roll out commercial autonomous vehicles for motorways from 2018, while mass production of driverless city cars is projected to begin in 2025. The ultimate prize, notes the analysts, will be when mass transport firms such as taxi-hailing giant Uber, or its Chinese rival Didi, can deploy huge fleets of robot taxis.

On the logistical side of things, analysts are less optimistic. Production costs were still too high to make a robot taxi fleet viable, BCG’s Mosquet said. “There are still many questions to be resolved” before fully autonomous vehicles can be put into public use, said Jeremy Carlson, a senior analyst for HIS, pointing to an inadequate infrastructure and “chaotic traffic situations” on roads shared with cyclists and pedestrians.

In the push towards the future, though, it may be hard to stop moving. The only way to face the various hard-hitting issues within the country is an open mind, and a will for innovation.

Beijing Auto Show Blows Hot and Cold

The global car industry is going through a roller coaster ride right now, with sales peaking in many markets yet many of the biggest players find themselves embroiled in scandals. As the Beijing Auto Show opens April 24, the industry faces both more sobering news and exuberant breakthroughs. According to consulting firm McKinsey, auto sales growth is projected to grow in China by just five percent annually over the next five years. China is the world’s number one auto market so if things pan out as McKinsey say they will, there will be much pain to go around.

The bright spot though is hinted at in the image we used above. That is the new concept car from LeSee, the automotive division of Chinese tech firm LeEco, and it is packed with impressive high tech offerings, including a one-piece glass roof, from windscreen to rear window. The BBC says it makes a Tesla Model S look “downright ordinary.” Before we go back to the doom and gloom, the other bit of interesting news here is that LeEco is the major investor backing Faraday Future, the US-based start-up we reported on here.

“After years of double-digit growth, China’s auto market is slowing down. A cooling economy is one of the primary factors in the deceleration of what remains the world’s largest market for automobiles,” McKinsey said.

Domestic and international carmakers face increasingly cutthroat competition for consumers whose preferences have become “more practical”, it said.

The anti-corruption campaign under President Xi Jinping has reduced the appeal of luxury cars, it added, and “significant numbers” of consumers believe they can meet their transport needs by leasing, co-owning, or renting vehicles.

“There’s no sign of momentum,” said Michael Dunne, CEO and strategist at Dunne Automotive in Hong Kong. Competition is growing and “the China profit machine is slowing”, he said.

Competition for market share has become more intense as Chinese carmakers have improved their offerings, particularly in the surging SUV segment, where sales leaped by over 50 percent in the first quarter of 2016 as consumers opted for bigger cars on the country’s hair-raising roads.

Namrita Chow, principal China analyst at IHS automotive, said that international manufacturers can no longer “overlook the Chinese brands, saying, oh they don’t have what it takes to be a competitor. Those days are gone.”

Indeed, LeEco is a prime example of what Chinese firms are bringing to the table, or promising to at any rate. LeEco and Aston Martin announced a partnership February that will allow the British automaker to build its own fully electric ride, likely based on the Rapide saloon.

If nothing else, this illustrates that fears of a slowdown are offset to some extent by opportunities created by the rapidly changing industry, analysts said.

GM China president Matt Tsien said earlier this year that the global giant “expects the automotive industry to change more over the next five to 10 years than in the past 50 years”.

General Motors’ president Dan Ammann pointed to “the inevitable march toward autonomous vehicles” as an opportunity, saying: “We think self-driving cars have the ability to significantly make roads safer”.

More than half of over 3,500 consumers surveyed by McKinsey wanted to upgrade their cars and report co-author Paul Gao told AFP: “The growth is still solid. Five percent out of a big base still makes China a very attractive market.”

 

This story was written in-house, based on an AFP report and various news reports, including the BBC report cited. The image featured is from the AFP.