Saga Ringmar

City Weekend Beijing: “Catherine de France’s Keratin Protein Treatment”

After the strain of a polluted and freezing cold winter, it’s about time someone gave your tangled locks a good seeing to. We headed over to Catherine de France to check out their keratin protein treatment to see if it could tame our stressed-out hair. We were led into a dimly lit room where an assistant was tasked with applying shampoo and administering a scalp massage while the mellowing voice of Billie Holiday emanated from the speakers. Back in the salon seat, another technician paints the keratin solution over each strand of hair. The process takes about 10 minutes, which is a good opportunity to catch up on celebrity gossip courtesy of the many English-language fashion magazines (just like the salons at home). After the wait, our hair was blow-dried and straightened to within an inch of its life, but instead of them looking over-processed, the result was dazzling—our strands glowed and were silky smooth to touch. The treatment is supposed to last three months and, if you care for it correctly, the result is shinier, smoother, and thicker hair for much longer than a typical treatment would last. Catherine recommends doing the treatment before the summer starts, so you won’t have to scout out a salon on your vacation (you know, after the heat tries to kill it dead). The treatment costs from RMB2,000-3,000 depending on hair length. Read the whole review here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “6 of the Internet’s Best Chinese Learning Tools”

Sometimes Chinese can be a nightmare. But you have a whole summer ahead of you, why not try to catch up a little on your mandarin language skills? Here are six useful online tools to get your Chinese from mamahuhu to chaojiwudi:

 

ChinesePod (depicted in the article’s title image)

Chinesepod has Chinese lessons that work. Chinesepod’s podcasts consists of a short sketch which the two hosts disect – explaining the new vocabulary and cultural concepts in depth. The sketches are fun, quirky and you’re bound to relate if you live in China. A personal favorite is an episode called the “DVD Ploy”, a lesson all about netflix-and-chilling China-style. Levels range from beginninger to advanced and members get a free trial for a month after they subscribe. After that, classes cost RMB90 per month and RMB195 per month for Premium. It sucks that it’s not free, but if you’re dedicated to learning Chinese, Chinesepod is worth the price tag. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Wonder Woman: Amy Li”

The first thing I notice about Amy Li is her elegant style and beaming smile. She tells me to have a seat while she finishes a conversation with some friends. I sit down in a corner and flip through a menu.

It’s lunch time at Pak Pak and the restaurant is packed, the zesty smell of Thai curry rolls over to me in waves. The seats are leather and the décor is composed of a lively palette of greens, blues and browns. When Li comes over to me, I realize she is dressed in a similar color scheme. She also seems incredibly happy here.

Li soon explains why the restaurant resembles her so closely, “Pak Pak is just a representation of my inner world,” she says. “The restaurant is a little society … I want people to see the inner world that is inside of me.”

Li already owned Susu, a gorgeous Vietnamese restaurant located deep within the hutongs; her restaurant mini empire now includes two branches of Pak Pak, one in the CBD, the other in Wangjing. I ask Li how this all started—and it was clear that the road here has been a long one. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Filming Starts for a Chinese House of Cards Series”

Have you ever watched House of Cards and thought, “what the world really needs is a Chinese version of this show”? And after thinking that, sighed and remembered that a CCP-style Frank Underwood is something we may never see in our lifetime?

Well that is about to change … sort of.

Reportedly masterminded by higher-ups in the party itself, the plan is to invest RMB120 million in a House of Cards-esque television drama aimed to depict the thrills of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. This marks the first time the CCP has ever depicted their own members as bad guys–bad guys who Xi and his cronies are trying to set right (Big Daddy Xi to the rescue once again). Read the whole article here.

City Weekend: “Your Complete Kids’ Summer Camps Guide” review

Be a Survivalist
Beijing can be a tough place to live, but if you thought the countryside was any easier, then think again. Imagine’s Survival Summer Camp sends kids ages 7-14 out into the wilderness by Huairou (that little town close to the Mutianyu Great Wall). Children will have a stab at surviving in the great outdoors, learning to build fires, make shelters and cross rivers with bamboo rafts. Children will also learn about cooking in the wild, navigating without maps and making tools using only a knife—closely supervised, of course, by professionals with first-aid skills. It promises to be a pretty wild summer in the Beijing hinterlands.

Dates: From June 13
Age range: For kids ages 7-14
Contact: info@imagine-china.com, www.imagine-china.com; 5739-4933
Prices: RMB3,500/week Read the whole review here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Second Bite: Alba Cafe” review

Though Alba café’s menu has had its ups and downs, the café itself has remained the same: the same cozy décor, same great prices and the same Bob Marley tracks playing on the speakers above. This winter the Alba team slipped in a few extra pages to their menu and with the opening of their rooftop terrace for the summer,  it’s a perfect time to check it out.

So what’s the new menu all about? The quick answer: pizzas and sandwiches. The pizza selection includes a chicken pesto pizza for RMB48, a medium sized pizza with creamy pesto sauce, chicken breast, feta cheese and sprigs of fresh basil.  Other pizzas include Parma ham, shrimp and if you’re feeling especially daring – a sweet potato and blue cheese pizza (all for RMB48).

There are lots of new sandwiches as well. They are all served on wooden panels and come with a side of fries – which means that for only RMB30 you can stuff yourself pretty successfully. The open face breakfast sandwich (RMB30) is especially filling, with eggs benedict on one slice of the bagel and an avocado arugula salad on the other. Read the whole review here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Is the People’s Liberation Army’s Video Cooler Than Beyonce’s Lemonade?”

Unless the you’ve been lying under your covers for a month and lost all sense of time and space…you’ve probably heard about the release of Beyonce’s Lemonade music video. But did you know that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also just released a hip hop music video?

That’s right, you didn’t. Nobody did.

That’s because, although the PLA does have big guns, shiny missiles, and camouflage uniforms galore – their rap game is not super on point. Actually, there are few songs out in the world as bad as this one. Also, three whole minutes of men being shot in the head and tanks crushing things is a bit overwhelming. An angry “rapper” yelling “Brothers to the light! Roar roar roar roar!” doesn’t make things any better. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Family: Third Culture Kids”

When a stranger asks you where you come from, do you break into a cold sweat? If so, you might be a Third Culture Kid (TCK). The term refers to children who have grown up in a country that is different from the passport they or their parents hold. Symptoms of being a TCK include: not knowing where you come from, accidentally swearing in a language those around you don’t understand and having no clue how to write the date (is it day/month/year or year/day/month or month/day/year … who knows?) Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Miss Eliza Vintage” Review

For Gulou-dwelling fashionistas who have run out of shops to sustain their eccentric style, Miss Eliza Vintage is your answer. The owner of the store is Miss Eliza herself, a Beijing-born vintage fanatic with a great sense of style and a love for afternoon tea. The shop is crammed full of finds that have plenty of character, with everything from a hippie rainbow-hued jean jacket to a wide selection of ankle-length plaid woolen skirts. The clothes and accessories are all sourced from Japan and most of the clothing dates back to the ’70s or ’80s.

Dresses, skirts, and blouses from unknown brands all fall in a price range of about RMB300-500 and jackets are priced at about RMB800—bigger brands cost twice that, with one beautiful vintage Yves Saint Laurent jacket priced at RMB2,350. Read the rest of the review here. 

Time Out Beijing: “The best places to get tattooed in Beijing”

Tattoo artist Chacha

Where are you from? ‘My hometown is in Hunan. You know, it’s Chairman Mao’s hometown so it’s pretty famous.’

Why did you decide to become a tattoo artist? ‘It was when I was in Yunnan. I realised I should probably start making money so that I could actually buy food. But I didn’t want to buy a tie and work in some office building, so I thought it might be a good idea to start tattooing.’

Were you always good at art? ‘I wasn’t that good in the beginning. When I [started out] in Yunnan I made a lot of horrible tattoo works. People said, “No, don’t go to Chacha. He’s just awful!” But you’ve got to keep practising, and you’ll constantly improve.’

When did you get your first tattoo? ‘My first tattoo was a big mummy skull on my chest. It was really horrible, the line looked wrong, but the tattoo artist said it would be fine after it healed. After it healed, I realised he was just lying. So I was really sad about that. And it’s affected how I tattoo people today as well. I don’t want to make any mistakes because I don’t want my customers to have the same feeling I did back then.’ Read the rest of the article here.