“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Shanghai Inter-Hotel Cable Codes Guide, 1930

Posted: September 18th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

Before telex machines, pagers and mobile texts – all that LOL, BTW etc etc – there were cable codes that allowed for regularly sent short messages to save time and costs. Hotels in Shanghai, and throughout the Far East, worked out their own set of codes (you may need to click on the image below to see better)….for instance short codes for reserving rooms, transfers, forwarding mail – should you wish a bath simply send one of the codes followed by “B”. The bottom example shows you how efficient the system could be….

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The Official Midnight in Peking Walking Tour – Saturday, September 29th

Posted: September 17th, 2018 | No Comments »

It’s on again!!

Bespoke Beijing and Penguin Books are proud to announce the official walking tour of Midnight in Peking, Paul French’s bestselling murder mystery.

This is your chance to retrace the footsteps of those embroiled in the grisly death of Pamela Werner (a British diplomat’s daughter) in 1930s Peking – a death that shocked the foreign community to its core.

From the ominous ‘Fox Tower’ to the gritty ‘Badlands’ and the former foreign legation quarter, two historians who have carried out painstaking additional research into the Chinese side of the case will beat a path through the little known areas of old Peking, painting a vivid picture of a period in Beijing’s history it would rather forget.

Most exciting of all, the newly uncovered Chinese police reports on the case detail several characters not mentioned in the book, offering critical new perspectives on the murder. For fans of the book, this is a tour not to be missed.

NOTE Bespoke’s public Midnight in Peking Walking Tours take place on the last Saturday of every month. The next one will be on Saturday, September 29th. To book tickets, click here!

More details and group bookings here

 

 

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Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2-11 November 2018

Posted: September 16th, 2018 | No Comments »

Hong Kong International Literary Festival Tickets re Now On Sale
2-11 November 2018

All details here

(I’m there the first weekend by the way talking City of Devils and writing about China)

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Sunset Survivors – the stories of Hong Kong’s traditional tradesmen and women

Posted: September 15th, 2018 | No Comments »

If you are in Hong Kong this will be a good event; if not the book looks like a “must have”…

Sunset Survivors

By Lindsay Varty with photography by Gary Jones

When: Thursday, September 20, 6-8pm
Where: G.O.D., 48 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Who: All welcome. Drinks will be served!

 

Sunset Survivors tells the stories of Hong Kong’s traditional tradesmen and women through stunning imagery and candid interviews. Covering a myriad of curious professions that are quickly falling into obscurity, from fortune telling to face threading and letter writing to bird cage making, readers soon find themselves immersed in the streets of old Hong Kong.

Filled with interviews, photographs and little-known facts about the city’s twilight industries, Sunset Survivors is a tribute to those who keep the flame burning in a city besieged by foreign imports and stiff competition. This book is a celebration of Hong Kong’s cultural identity. It preserves the memory of these hardy men and women, and educates visitors and locals on the foundations on which the city was built.

An up-close and personal look at the industries and workers that gave rise to the Hong Kong of today, Sunset Survivors is more than just a travel or coffee-table book; it is a tribute to the city’s character, a celebration of its roots and a guide to its evolution.

In a city undergoing a dramatic cultural shift, balancing social and political upheaval, the need to document Hong Kong’s traditional livelihoods has seldom been greater. Capturing the true personality of this metropolis, Sunset Survivors is a vital piece of history.

 

 

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Tientsin Railway Station in The Inn of Sixth Happiness

Posted: September 13th, 2018 | No Comments »

It is well known that North Wales and Snowdonia has never looked so amazing as it did standing in for China in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, the 1958 movie with Ingrid Bergman as a missionary. Towards the start of the film Bergman arrives in Tientsin (Tianjin) by train – I’d never really paid attention to this part of the movie before always sitting up when the mountains behind the Welsh village of Beddgelert appears full of Chinese people! However, the Tientsin Railway Station scenes were filmed at the MGM Studios in Borehamwood, Hertforshire. But it looks good….

 

 

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Visualising Asia: Deciphering ‘Otherness’ in Visual and Material Cultures – SOAS – 20-21/9/18

Posted: September 10th, 2018 | No Comments »

Visualising Asia: Deciphering ‘Otherness’ in Visual and Material Cultures
SOAS, University of London
20/21stSeptember 2018

Confirmed Keynote: Dr Anne Witchard – “The Boom in Yellow”: Colour Coding at the Fin de Siecle

Full speaker programme here

to book (free entry, by the way) click here

Historically, Asia has been a contended space of exploration and domination, where both Asian and non-Asian agents sought to define themselves against others. Within this broad historical and geographical context,this international and interdisciplinary conference brings together various forms of visuals, such as films, cartoons, and objects, in their interaction with discourses of ‘other’.  The platforms of visualising Asia were assimilated into daily life and practices, feeding into narratives that transcend any single medium. Due to their visual impact, they became lasting repositories of imagined identities and thus have critical implications for those representing and those being represented. This conference invites discussions on the differing ways ‘otherness’ has been used in both Asian and non-Asian societies through visuals. We encourage the participation from postgraduates, career researchers, scholars, curators, practitioners, and archivists.  The aim is to bring together an array of visualities from across various disciplines in order to reflect on the importance of visuals in knowledge production and circulation within and across cultures and societies.

 

The conference convenors are Amy Matthewson (SOAS, University of London), and Dr Irene González-López (Kingston University).

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Talking Anything Really – But Hopefully City of Devils and Old China…on SupChina Access’s Slack IM Service – 9/11/18 – 11am EST

Posted: September 6th, 2018 | No Comments »
Members of SupChina Access (& you can join here at very reasonable rates) might be interested to know I’ll be on their instant messaging service “Slack” for an hour on Friday September 11 at 11am EST – City of Devils, Midnight in Peking, old China, writing, history, heritage…all and any topics welcome…
 
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Peter Gordon: The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation, 1565–1815 – London 13/9/18

Posted: September 5th, 2018 | No Comments »

Peter Gordon: The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation, 1565–1815

King’s Building, Strand Campus, London

Long before London and New York rose to international prominence, a trading route was discovered between Spanish America and China that ushered in a new era of globalisation. The “Ruta de la Plata” or “Silver Way” catalysed economic and cultural exchange, built the foundations for the first global currency in the Spanish and Mexican pesos, and led to the rise of the first “world city”. And yet, for all its importance, the “Silver Way” and Manila galleons that traversed it have too often been neglected in conventional narratives on the birth of globalisation.

This talk will recap the history of the “Ruta de la Plata”, its connection to past and future “Silk Roads”, how it can inform an understanding of China’s global role today, its relevance to the extension of the Belt & Road Initiative to Latin America, and what financial lessons there might from the time when “the dollar spoke Spanish”.

Speaker: Peter Gordon

Peter Gordon is co-author of “The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation, 1565–1815” (Penguin 2017) and editor of the Asian Review of Books. He has been resident in Hong Kong since 1985 and was instrumental in the establishment and organization of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival and Man Asian Literary Prize. His writings have appeared in the Diplomat, South China Morning Post, the Nikkei Asian Review, Caixin and other publications.

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