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Restless and Resistless
By Jack Cameron

Our correspondent Jack Cameron is currently developmental editor for a forthcoming book about e-commerce in China and its influence on Southeast Asia, by lawyer and business-consultant Marco Gervasi. The book suggests that e-commerce in China is developing so fast and effectively that other nations in Asia are looking at it as a benchmark. Gervasi suggests that this could mean that the China e-commerce model and culture might soon grow beyond its borders, and in so doing exert considerable influence in neighboring countries.

The most striking thing, from a geographical point of view, which is to be seen along the China coast is the recurrent phenomenon which we are about to describe. The rugged coast line, the many bays, the chain of islands fringing the coast, the whole gamut of geological and geographical forms which one encounters in an intimate coastwise journey, are all very striking and grand, and yet they are static—passive, after all. Notable as they are, they are but silent witnesses of those restless and resistless forces which have brought them into being.


If you have heard of Hangzhou, it is likely for one of four reasons. The first of these is Marco Polo, who is alleged to have visited this city in Southeast China and to have written about it in his Travels. The second is West Lake, “Xihu” (西湖). The pride and joy and centerpiece of the city, it is ringed with gently landscaped parklands and leafy thoroughfares, for which reason it is during national holidays ringed thick with travelers and tourists – the May holiday of 2014 saw over 600,000 people flood into Hangzhou, and they all came for the lake. The city is also an hour away from Shanghai by express railway, and for foreign nationals it is practically impossible to live in or even visit Shanghai and not know about Hangzhou. (Even when Hangzhou was a three-hour bus or train ride from Shanghai, Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, was referred to by Shanghainese as “Shanghai’s back-garden”. Thanks to the high-speed railway, residents of these cities and their economies are mingling more than ever.)  And fourth, there’s Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba.  

Hangzhou was for a time the national capital, and subsequently was home to a remarkable flourishing of the arts. It is the southern terminus of the Grand Canal, and is the capital of one of the most economically vibrant and flourishing provincial economies in China. GDP per capita is roughly USD$13,000 (ranking just behind Beijing and Shanghai), and the Lancome Counter in a local upscale department store here has higher turnover than any other Lancome outlet on the planet. 

These and other interesting cultural, historical, and economic facts about Hangzhou are, generally, less widely known. But that is likely to change.  E-commerce is part of the reason. But the Hangzhou of Wikipedia and the local Ministry of Feelgood isn’t the Hangzhou you need to know.

The evidence that Marco Polo came to Hangzhou (much less China) is slim. This of course is not the place to discuss the matter, and it is heresy in these parts even to suggest that perhaps Hangzhou’s most famous foreigner made-up the whole story about visiting the remarkable city of “Kinsai” – blasphemy to suggest politely that Kinsai might not even refer to Hangzhou. Neither facts nor their absence has dampened the enthusiasm of the municipal government of Hangzhou for banging loudly the Marco Polo drum, and indeed the city has just appointed its first “Modern Marco Polo” goodwill ambassador (a Swiss national). Marco Polo is a good myth, and people sometimes prefer good myths to historical facts.  

Another myth is that Hangzhou is an international city. It is not, though it bills itself as one, and civic spin doctors like to trace Hangzhou’s cosmopolitan roots to Marco Polo and its place in the history of global engagement along the Silk Road.  That history is often tethered to the presence in Hangzhou of the many foreign firms the municipal aldermen like to cite when boasting of the city’s internationality. True enough, the shelves of shops in the arcade of Hubin Fashion Street groan under the weight of Hermes scarves and the seasonal selections of Armani, Zegna, and Cartier. Sofitel, Hyatt, and Four Seasons are here. Four-wheeled product sparkling in the windows of Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Lamborghini taunt those who will never steer anything that doesn’t have handlebars. There are two GAPs, two Uniqlos, scores of Pizza Huts, and more than two dozen Starbucks. But for all the international brands and the global corporate presence, Hangzhou is still a town, and the people here live and move with town mentality. Shanghai it is not. Kinsai, it probably never was.

The West Lake – well-managed and fringed with gardens - is Hangzhou’s pride and glory. For decades now it has been one of the top destinations in China for domestic tourists, while the number of international visitors appears to be growing steadily.  Perhaps outranking in importance both Marco Polo and the beloved bushes whence come Hangzhou’s justly famous Dragon Well green tea (龙井茶), the lake is Hangzhou’s calling-card and brand-identity. One could likely demonstrate, too, that Hangzhou owes as much of its development over the past two decades to the West Lake as it does to its proximity to Shanghai and the knock-on effect of private wealth in the hands of high-rollers from Wenzhou and Ningbo.  As the focus of domestic tourism, the West Lake Scenic Area brings in a ton of cash for the city, keeps city center hotels and centrally-located food and beverage venues in the black, and provides opportunities for unskilled and semi-skilled employment. The shallow lake, and its deep and ancient cultural associations with leisure (both refined and spirited), have together done much to define the character of the city, and to set the pace of life here. Between Hangzhou’s growing (and occasionally in-your-face) affluence, and her (comparatively speaking) laid-back vibe, this is a city many Chinese would love to live in if they could. Seen through the lens of Chinese priorities, it is easy to understand why. Throughout the 1990s and the last decade, this verdant city - with a pulse palpably less tachycardic than Shanghai – has attracted a number of large international companies, as well as domestic talent. For five consecutive years Forbes Magazine has ranked Hangzhou among the top five cities in China for business, and for the past two years it has been ranked #3 and #2 – again, just behind Shanghai. According to the Hangzhou municipal government’s official English-language website, the World Bank (also for five consecutive years) has declared Hangzhou the best city in China for investment. 

It is perhaps irrelevant to all of this, but the West Lake is not really a lake. It is a pond – a man-made pond, created out of a lagoon that formed when waters from the Qiantang River ebbed and flowed in and out of a depression --- a volcanic crater, I think I read somewhere. Management of the basin, which was long a cluster of marshes before it was a bounded body of water, goes back at least as far as the 8th century, when then-governor of Hangzhou Mi Li began to channel water out of the wetlands via aqueducts into city wells. Successive poet-governors of Hangzhou – first Bai Juyi in the mid-Tang, and then Su Dongpo in the Song – undertook comprehensive management projects which included dredging, weeding, and the building or rebuilding of causeways. By the Wuyue Period (ca.900, between Bai Juyi and Su Dongpo), regular maintenance of the pond had become an established part of public works management, subsequent to the massive weeding and dredging project ordered by Emperor Qian Liu. Flooding from the nearby Qiantang River (West Lake had now and then been referred to in antiquity as Qiantang Lake, after the emperor), and tendencies both to dry-up and clog the aqueducts with weeds meant that the health of the population and the flourishing of the city depended to a large degree on taking care of the pond. As the pond, the scores of tea houses around  and the flotilla of rowdy pleasure boats upon it increasingly attracted painters, poets, and literati, West Lake and the hubbub on and near it also made a deep impression upon the thousands of pilgrims who journeyed to Hangzhou’s many temples. Culture and commerce traveled both the Grand Canal and along the regions many waterways; and whether through art and literature or through personal narrative - the merchants and the monks, the pilgrims and the bargemen, the scholars and court officials - the fame of the lake spread far and wide, and with it the fame of the city. 

It was still in antiquity that the dependency of the city upon the culture of West Lake – the idea of Hangzhou as one-half of “heaven on earth” - was established. Today, as it was one thousand or more years ago, it is impossible to think of Hangzhou and not think of West Lake. But for all that, West Lake is a pond – a pond created out of a swamp. ‘Lake’ does of course have a grandeur that ‘pond’ does not -- Marco Polo would hardly have written about a pond. But whether we call it a lake or a pond, and whether Signor Polo ever stood on its banks, these former wetlands and the waterways that fed and still feed it have ultimately made Hangzhou what it is today: a nouveau-riche town that likes to think it is an international city, built around a pound which is referred to as a lake.
The Grand Canal and West Lake are both the result of huge, labor-intensive projects whereby the human will was imposed upon Nature in order to achieve ends to which Nature herself was indifferent or hostile. But there remains another body of water in Hangzhou for which engineering could never do more than provide a compromise between the forces of Nature, on the one hand, and the wishes and desiderata humankind on the other. We refer to the Qiantang tidal bore.

If Polo’s visit to China is a subject of historical debate, and if there’s little scientific agreement about how to best to distinguish between lakes and ponds, there is at the moment no question that the world’s largest tidal bore occurs in Hangzhou. Racing along at some 40 kilometers per hour, with a crest averaging around nine meters in height, the spectacular “Silver Dragon” is one of the natural wonders of the world, and taming it has forever preoccupied the peoples who have lived along the banks of the Qiantang River. The oldest known tide table in the world is said to be for this tidal bore, and there is suggestion that it was calculated (ca. 1056) and promulgated in the interests of sightseers, who have been literally swept away by the waves for as long as they has roared along the river. Perhaps seeking to maximize the tourism potential of Hangzhou’s natural assets, China’s officialdom finally relented in 2013 and - with Red Bull sponsorship - a number of pro surfers were finally allowed to hang ten in the Qiantang, a name which means “Qian’s Seawall”.

This is the city in which Ma Yun (Jack Ma) was born and raised, and in which he founded and based both Alibaba and spin-off product Taobao. Taobao is an e-commerce platform which – without exaggeration – has changed the way Chinese shop, use their computers and handsets, provender their domestic larders, eat, contemplate their own consumer behaviors, and even understand the world beyond China’s borders. Jack Ma’s story has been told many times, and it is not our purpose to rehearse a narrative lately told so well by Porter Erisman, for a long time the most senior foreign executive at Alibaba and Jack Ma’s principal Western aide de camp. But virtually everyone Marco Gervasi interviewed in the course of his research is doing what she or he is doing – directly or indirectly - because of or in response to Alibaba or an Alibaba product. That means (among other things) that for Chinese e-commerce entrepreneurs, Hangzhou is not just Shanghai’s back-door garden, or a charming southern city with a pretty pond and a genteel history steeped in green tea and poetry. For Chinese, it is a place where dreams are made, and where dreams actually come true. Whatever the nousphere or Weltanschauung of Hangzhou in Jack Ma’s youth, Hangzhou had the right ingredients for the creation of e-commerce.  An apt metaphor, perhaps, since the kind of Traditional Chinese Medicine preferred in these local latitudes is decoction – the mingling and brewing of herbs from the TCM pharmacopeia.

For three consecutive years at least Hangzhou was ranked the Happiest City in China. Not incidentally, this period is the same timeframe during which a number of Alibaba employees became millionaires overnight (after Alibaba’s IPO) and Taobao reached its first acme. Contemporary poets and literati do not, so far as we know, compose odes to Alibaba, or paint watercolors of their offices. But Hangzhou’s most famous ‘Ma’ is Ma Yun, and not Ma’ke Boluo. 

And rightly so. We’ve no evidence that any specific aspect of the rich cultural milieu of Hangzhou – the aesthetic and literary implications of West Lake, the Grand Canal, and the Qiantang tidal bore – had any specific influence upon Jack Ma, and we are reluctant to overplay metaphors or force symbolisms. But if the Grand Canal did make possible the movement from north or south and vice versa of peoples, goods, and ideas – all transportation technology is a form of communication technology – the Taobao platform moved an idea of what business is from Hangzhou to the edges of Southeast Asia. Its wave is still in motion, and it roars like the Silver Dragon. Hangzhou’s young e-commerce entrepreneurs, riding the Silver Dragon to fields of gold, remain restless; and the forces Taobao set in motion, in this city and beyond, are resistless. 

The world has other manmade lakes, canals, and seawalls, but the early corvee labor of Hangzhou created West Lake and its two causeways, dug the southern channels of the Grand Canal, and built and rebuilt breakwaters to hem-in the Silver Dragon with their own tools and principles of engineering. The muscle that did all this was powered by local produce, prepared and seasoned to local tastes. The public works to which Hangzhou owes all of its lore and most of its life owe nothing to the ways, means, and methods of Western peoples.  Their aqueducts were not based on those of Rome. Their art is not part of the legacy of Greece. Their temples were not inspired by the holy places of Jerusalem or Byzantium. The ingredients of Hangzhou’s greatness, and the distinctive features of its intellectual and artistic heritage, came from the early peoples of China, and have been refreshed over the centuries by Chinese energy and inspiration. The indigenous peoples of Shanghai – linguistically they are the cousins of Hangzhounese – took a full frontal blow from Western modernity in the beginning of the last century, and since then have been absorbing and rejecting foreign elements like no other city in China. Shanghainese born after 1980 can contemplate their city and its distinctive culture in terms of the ongoing dialogue between the Chinese culture of Shanghai and the cultures of those metics who have made Shanghai a beguiling bouillabaisse of styles and mores. But Hangzhou was made mainly by the Hangzhounese, and by those Chinese brought into the orbit of Hangzhou by its small but dense center.  And what’s more, despite the Cadillacs on the roads, the Bottega Veneta handbags on the passenger seats, and the iPhones in the handbags, the Hangzhounese have actually done a good job pushing back any deeper Western influence. The intentional rejection Western culture – or: the unintentional blunting of any Occidental impact that goes beyond luxury products, or doesn’t have a price tag – is easy to overlook when one is eating McMuffins and counting H&M outlets.

To understand Chinese e-commerce, and to appreciate Marco Gervasi’s thesis about East-Commerce, this is where one needs to begin. Not necessarily with Hangzhou, but with the following insight: The percolation into the Hangzhou (or Chinese) aquifer of Western branded merchandise - Western stuff – has little to do with the Westernization of a people, community, or culture. In the early days of Alibaba, Jack Ma remarked (and on more than one occasion) that foreign employees were for the time being a means to an end only, and that one day Alibaba would be managed and staffed wholly by Chinese. Ebay and Paypal might have inspired Taobao and Alipay, but they are Chinese creations. And while the waters of the Hangzhou Bay drink from the same oceans that lap the shores of all continents and all littoral nations, by the time that water found its way inland – mingling with the Qiantang, and filling the lagoon that would one day become West Lake – it was the water of Hangzhou, of the people of Hangzhou. What the Chinese are doing with their Internet – and note: not the Internet, but their Internet – is changing the rules of retailing, branding, and marketing in China, and in Asia. 

Marco Gervasi’s book, East-Commerce, will be published in September 2014.

Latest 5 Stories

Join Wellington | Online Open Day on 8th April

Over the past eight weeks, the Wellington College International Hangzhou community has rallied together to face and overcome the challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. During this time, Wellington College International Hangzhou is experiencing an increasing number of enquiries for admissions, and from March 30th the entire Admissions team have been back on campus assisting families through the admissions process.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we are unable to host families on campus for our personalised tours, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn more about the unique Wellington approach to holistic education. From phone conversations, email and video conferencing, through to our 360-degree virtual campus tours and online information sessions, we can still connect in this digital age despite our distance.

Online Open Day

On Wednesday 8th April, Wellington College International Hangzhou will be hosting an online information session, open to anyone keen to learn more about Wellington.

In this webinar style event, Mr. Paul Rogers, founding Executive Master of Wellington College Hangzhou, will provide a broad overview and introduction to the Wellington College family of schools, our heritage, educational philosophy and values.

Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou, will take a deeper dive into what makes a Wellington education unique, as well as exploring many of the common topics that parents are curious about.

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to take a 360-degree virtual campus tour to view the state-of-the-art facilities we have on offer and how we utilize these facilities to provide the very best possible education for the children in our care. 

Finally, we will host a live Q&A session where participants will be able to interact with the speakers and Admissions team, allowing us to address the questions that are important to you.

Scholarships at Wellington

In order to recognise and reward the pursuit and achievement of excellence in pupils at Wellington College International Hangzhou, and to make a Wellington education accessible to a broader range of pupils throughout Hangzhou and surrounding regions, scholarships, awards and bursaries are available to different year levels at Wellington. Awards of up to 100% of the tuition fees will be available to successful applications in Year 7 or above in August 2020.  For more information, please visit this link or contact our Admissions team directly.

eLearning at Wellington

Results from our recent parent survey are conclusive. Our eLearning provision is meeting the needs of our families and ensuring that children are meeting their educational needs during this difficult time. 94% of Wellington College International Hangzhou families agree that our teachers have ensured that our pupils, irrespective of time zones, have been able to access all learning materials during this period of eLearning.

Since eLearning started, Wellington College International Hangzhou pupils have been able to maintain their close-knit relationships with their teachers and classmates. These ongoing relationships, personalised learning plans, 1:1 tutoring where required and innovative use of technology to smoothly facilitate learning objectives has ensured that our children are all progressing as they should during this time.

This high-quality eLearning provision is a testament to Wellington’s ongoing commitment to always providing the best possible learning outcomes to the children in our care, regardless of circumstance or challenge. We remain committed to this objective and welcome enquiries from all parents who are interesting in providing a world-class education to their children.

To learn more about eLearning at Wellington College International Hangzhou, please click the links below to learn more;

Top 12 FAQs | All you need to know about joining Wellington!

The Admissions team regularly fields questions from parents who are keen to learn more about Wellington, and as a result have compiled the following useful FAQ. Please click the link below to see what other parents are curious about.

Do you have different questions? Are you interested in learning more about Wellington? If so, we welcome you to join our online open day being hosted at 7pm on Wednesday 8th April. We look forward to seeing you there!

Don’t forget that our Admissions team are available at any time to answer your questions. Due to the international nature of the school, we field questions at all times of the day. Feel free to contact us using any of the methods listed below and we will respond to your enquiry within 48 hours.

Hot-Pot King Haidilao Pilots “Do Not Disturb” Service

The Chinese hot-pot restaurant chain Haidilao is known for a lot of things, except being moderate. They will give you a free manicure and clean your shoes while you’re waiting for your table, provide a big stuffed animal to keep you company if you’re lunching alone, and perform an acrobatic dance if you order noodles.

Haidilao is the epitome of the “client comes first” mentality that will go to great length to provide you with first-rate service. However, as experience shows, some clients find that the best service is when they are left alone and not bothered by pesky over-the-top courtesy.

At one time Chinese Internet was replete with articles titled along the lines of “Don’t let Haidilao know your birthday, it’s too scary” where users would detail their experiences dealing with the restaurant’s overblown birthday service that included singing and dancing waiters holding LED lights and more. Some have even joked saying “If you hate your friend, go to Haidilao for their birthday.”

To tackle the problem and better cater to the needs of different groups of customers, Haidilao recently introduced a witty solution. Tables in some of the chain’s restaurants are now equipped with “Do not disturb” flip-boards. Customers who do not want to be approached too often by waiters can use the sign to fend off their insistent advances.

The flip-board also provides other options such as “I’ll serve dishes myself” meaning that the waiter does not need to help with the dishes frequently or “detailed services are not required” telling waiters that they are only wanted to bring dishes and clean the table.

According to Haidilao, the service is still in the pilot stage, and it will be tried in some stores. It will continue to be optimized according to the needs of customers and different situations. Stores and employees will be continuously encouraged to innovate and provide customers with more personalized services.

Though Haidilao's service has always been known as "perverted", but sometimes it is too intimate and it can cause embarrassment. A while ago, a post named "Don't let Haidilao know your birthday" went viral on the internet.

“I went to Haidilao with my girlfriend, we just asked if we could get a discount on birthdays, then a group of people appeared with LED lights and sang the birthday song, they even gave us a ‘Most Beautiful Girlfriend Reward” and asked us to read the girlfriend vows to each other.’

“Two of us went to celebrate my friend’s birthday at Haidilao, we hid the cake in our bag and sneaked some scoops every now and then, just because we were so scared that the waiters would find out that’s her birthday, then we would be the super star of the night.”

“Look at me, I looked so surprised and happy!”

Therefore, for many customers who like Haidilao, the appearance of "Do Not Disturb" flip-board is simply a relief and has been unanimously appreciated by everyone.

Top 10 Easy-to-make Winter Drinks

From a steaming glass of traditional mulled wine, brimming with spices, to an indulgent mudslide cocktail, our winter drinks recipes are perfect for seeing in the festive season. Curl up in your fluffiest jumper with a creamy peppermint hot chocolate, or get the party started with a batch of our marvellous mulled gin.

Keep everyone's glasses topped up with our favourite festive drinks, and mouth-watering non-alcoholic drinks for every taste. Find top mixology tips, reviews of our favourite products and even more triple-tested recipes in our cocktails & drinks hub.

Spiced Apple Syrup with Clementine & Cloves

Our spiced apple syrup with clementine and cloves will add a burst of fabulous Christmas flavour to any drink. Try adding to hot apple juice or mulled wine for festive fruit and spice. It's even delicious drizzled over ice cream for an upgraded frozen treat. It will keep for about a month, so store it in the fridge ready for impromptu gatherings.

200ml apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole allspice
1 mace blade
2 whole cloves
Small strip fresh ginger
1 clementine, zest finely peeled with a vegetable peeler
100g golden caster sugar

1.    Heat the apple juice with the whole spices, ginger, zest and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.
2.    Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the syrup into small bottles.

Mulled Wine

It wouldn't be winter without a steaming mug of mulled wine, complete with a glug of sloe gin for a sweet twist. Simply leave your wine, (we recommend an unoaked tempranillo) to infuse with seasonal spices like star anise and cinnamon and a little citrus zest. Keep a batch warming on the stove and let guests top up their glasses. Want to try something different this year?

750ml bottle red wine
1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones
2 star anise
4 cloves
2 strips lemon zest, pared using a vegetable peeler
4 tbsp caster sugar
100ml sloe gin (we used Gordon's) (optional)

1.    Put the red wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
2.    Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to infuse for about 30 mins.
3.    To serve, heat without boiling, stir in the sloe gin (if using) and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.

Winter Whisky Sour

Warm up from the inside out with our simple winter whiskey sour. Give the classic sour a couple of delicious tweaks and it's ready for the festive season. Add a splash of orange juice to your favourite bourbon, a little sugar syrup, some fresh fruit and some sparkle. Need some more help getting into the spirit?

Crushed ice
50ml bourbon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tbsp sugar syrup
2 slices of oranges

To decorate:
Gold edible glitter

1.    Using a small paintbrush (or your finger), brush some honey around the rim of two tumblers and use another small paintbrush to stick edible gold glitter around each.
2.    Fill each glass with crushed ice. Put the bourbon into a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice, orange juice and sugar syrup. Shake and strain into each glass, and serve with an orange slice and short straws.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Nothing says 'indulgence' like a velvety-smooth hot chocolate, made with rich dark chocolate and double cream. Stir our peppermint hot chocolate with a striped candy cane and let it melt into the drink for a refreshing minty flavour. These delectable drinks are hard to resist. Got something.

200g bar plain chocolate, broken into chunks
600ml milk
150ml pot single or double cream
Sugar, to taste
6 peppermint candy canes, to serve

1.    Put the chocolate in a pan with the milk. Gently heat, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Continue heating until the milk is steaming, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
2.    Divide the hot chocolate between 6 mugs, add sugar to taste and hang a candy cane on the edge of each. Pass the mugs round and let everyone stir their hot chocolate with their candy cane – letting as much of the sweet peppermint dissolve as they fancy.

Cinnamon Buttered Rum

Once you're tried our super smooth, gently spiced cinnamon buttered rum, it'll be your drink of choice when the nights draw in. Serve up mugfuls of this buttery brilliance for your next party. Neither sickly sweet nor too citrussy, this perfectly balanced tipple will warm you up in no time. Whether you prefer white or dark, spiced or smooth, we have a rum cocktail recipe to get your party started.

25g butter
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 small cinnamon sticks
200ml spiced rum

1.    Gently heat the butter, golden caster sugar and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2.    Stir in the spiced rum, then pour into four small heatproof glasses to serve.

Mulled Pear & Cranberry Punch

Our versatile mulled pear & cranberry punch can be served as a cocktail or a non-boozy version, simply miss out the sloe gin. The beauty of this all-in-one recipe means you can simply chuck your ingredients in a pan, leave to heat, then ladle out as needed. It takes just ten minutes to make, so no need to sweat it out in the kitchen.

1l pear cider
1l pear (or cloudy apple) juice
1l cranberry juice
Good handful fresh or dried cranberries
150ml sloe gin
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla pods, scored lengthways

Put all the ingredients into your biggest saucepan or casserole dish. When you're ready to serve, heat to just below simmering point, then ladle into glasses.


This creamy, coffee-flavoured cocktail is for adults only. Our mudslide is pure decadence, something to be savoured and sipped at your leisure.

50g dark chocolate
60ml coffee-flavoured liqueur
60ml vodka
60ml Irish cream liqueur
100ml double cream

1.    Put two small tumblers in the fridge to chill overnight. Put 30g of the chocolate in a shallow bowl and melt in the microwave in short bursts. Dip the rim of the chilled glasses in the melted chocolate, then stand them upright so it gradually drips down the sides. Return to the fridge until you're ready to serve.
2.    Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the coffee-flavoured liqueur, vodka, Irish cream liqueur and double cream. Shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold.
3.    Put a few ice cubes in the prepared glasses, then strain in the cocktail. Finely grate over the remaining chocolate and serve with a paper straw.

Winter Pimm's Punch

This archetypal English cocktail isn't just for summer. Our Winter Pimm's punch is paired with sweet brandy and light apple juice for an instant cocktail cabinet winner. You'll probably have most of the ingredients already lurking in kitchen cupboards. It can be served warm or cool, depending on what you prefer.

500ml Pimm's
500ml brandy
1½ l apple juice

2 cinnamon sticks
Apple, sliced
Orange, sliced
Combine the Pimm's and brandy with the apple juice in a jug filled with ice, cinnamon sticks and a sliced apple and orange.

Mulled Gin

Looking for something a little different than the standard festive fare? Move over wine, this mulled gin is our new favourite Christmas cocktail. Infuse apple juice with aromatic spices like bay, cloves and cardamom, a few crushed juniper berries and a little honey for sweetness. Cut through rich canapés and sweet treats with this more delicate drink.

100ml gin
400ml apple juice
½ lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 small cinnamon stick
3 juniper berries, lightly crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp runny honey

For the garnish
4 bay leaves
2 lemon slices, halved

1.    Divide the gin between four small heatproof glasses or teacups.
2.    Tip the apple juice into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Heat gently until simmering, then strain into a jug. Pour the mulled apple juice into the glasses with the gin and stir gently to combine. Garnish each glass with a bay leaf and half a lemon slice and serve warm.

Irish Coffee

Perk up the after-dinner lull with a luxurious Irish coffee. A grating of fresh nutmeg on top of the thick layer of cream adds some seasonal fragrance. Need some help choosing the perfect dram? Read our review of the 10 best Irish whiskies, from light and smooth to rich and spicy.

2 tbsp double cream
150ml freshly brewed black coffee
50ml Irish whiskey
½ - 1 tsp brown sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1.    Lightly whip the cream just so it’s very slightly thickened, then set aside.
2.    Pour the hot coffee into a mug or heatproof glass, then add the whiskey and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently float the cream on the top and sprinkle the nutmeg over the cream. Serve hot.


It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It

My first encounter with Marco was through my friend’s WeChat moments. I can’t really recall for what reason we added each other, all I could remember were his big muscles and that bright smile hailing from L.A. Later on, we had more contact due to a few common friends who are involved with martial arts and I started to know him more.

Who is Marco

Marco has gained quite a reputation in the martial arts world since arriving in Hangzhou in 2018. He used to train at Checkmat Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in USA, an international academy, competition team, and family of Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Founded in 2008 by Master Vieira, Checkmat now has affiliate academies in thirty-four American cities and sixteen countries worldwide. You can find world-class, hands-on instruction that has been tested on the practice mats and proven on the competition field.

In Hangzhou, Marco started his own brand - Marcola Jiu Jitsu. It offers Jiu Jitsu training classes to people of different ages, whether professional or not. As one of the few black belt holders in China, his classes are really popular. Marco’s lifelong love of competitive athletics has molded him into both a lover and a fighter. His passion for athletics and a genuine desire to help people reach their fitness goals motivates him to continue learning each day, and develop new techniques to challenge himself and his clients. You see doctors, lawyers, students, law enforcers, businessmen and women walk into his class for the same reason - to get better at Jiu Jitsu.

Marco’s full name is Marco Alvarado and his Chinese name is rather cute: 马可乐. His Chinese friends would just call him 可乐, same as Cola. Before we tell you more, take a look at his incredible championship records below, the man is a real fighter.

Bronze Medal at International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Pan American Championship Blue Belt
Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation All Americas Tournament Purple Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF Pan American Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF World No Gi Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF American Nationals No Gi Brown Belt
Silver Medal at Jiu Jitsu World League San Diego Championships Black Belt
Gold Medal at NABJJF All Americas Tournament Black Belt

Marco has been involved in many kinds of sports - boxing, taekwondo, karate, running, American football – and also physical rehabilitation. Like many other athletes, Marco’s first coach was his dad who was a boxer. Marco was just 5 years old when his dad introduced him to boxing. It was the classic story, his parents decided to put him in taekwondo and karate training when they found out that little Marco was being bullied in kindergarten. Six years later, he received his first black belt in taekwondo.

After that, he decided to move on to a new sport: running. From sixth grade till he graduated college, he never stopped running and he became one of the US national athletes in track and field.

Eventually, he knew he needed to find another new sport to challenge himself. One day, he went to a free Jiu Jitsu class at his college. Someone caught him in a choke, he had no idea what to do and that got him really interested. He wanted to know how it happened, how he did it, and how to do it back. He was 22 at the time. 10 years later, he won the Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Championships.

It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It

As an amateur boxer who has only been training for 4 months, there was a question I really wanted to ask so I brought it up when we were having a lunch break at Blue Frog. “Before you had your first fight, how did you overcome your inner fear?” Marco took a bite of his big, juicy burger and said “My first Jiu Jitsu tournament was six months after I started training, I was very nervous. We sparred every week in college, so I learned how to deal with the fear, but this time was different. I knew who my opponents were, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. I got destroyed badly in two fights, one guy caught me in the armbar in 20 seconds, the other guy beat me so bad like 20-0. I left deflated and frustrated, but I wanted to do it again, I wanted redemption. This gives you more motivation to go back to train harder and learn from mistakes. In the fights later on, I started to get into my rhythm and started doing well. Sometimes maybe you don’t want to tap and lose in practice, because it hurts your pride for a day or two, but you come back for more training. It’s ok to lose, just learn from it. That’s an important life lesson.” During Marco’s career, his arms were almost broken a couple of times, he tore some ligaments on his knees and he got two broken teeth. With all these injuries, he had to learn about physical therapy in order to fix himself.

“Martial arts is more about avoiding problems than anything else. These days, there are always those untrained people or the ones who watched too much UFC and are looking for trouble. If you trained a little, you’ll have respect for your body. This stuff is no joke, it can really be dangerous.” Marco continues, “My teacher used to say if there is a fight, he’ll just run away, because he would feel bad for the guys once he’s had enough. He would turn around and fight.”

Why Hangzhou?

Back in L.A, Marco was teaching in a big chain gym where he soon became friends with a Taiwanese trainer. He followed his friend’s journey that brought him to Hangzhou to continue teaching for Checkmat and he became aware that there are a lot of blue and purple belt holders who opened Jiu Jitsu schools in Hangzhou, but there were only 2-3 with a black belt teaching here. Marco thought that he can bring people more advanced technique and professional training. So in June, 2018, Marco came to start his first job in a gym in Xiaoshan, teaching conditioning and creating a Jiu Jitsu program.

MMA vs. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts

I couldn’t help asking what Marco thinks about this outspoken Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong a.k.a. “Mad Dog”. Mad Dog has made it his mission to expose fake kung fu over the past two years by pulverising fraudulent traditional martial arts “masters”, but his actions have drawn the ire of Chinese authorities. “In my point of view, Bruce [Lee] was the first MMA fighter in the history of martial arts, because he was always so open minded about everything. He took things that he thought were useful and added on something unique of his own. I think Xu Xiaodong’s mission is to show that not one martial arts is dominating. If you know a bit of everything, that is more effective. I think Jiu Jitsu is very useful and complete, cause you go from standing to the ground, you can also go back up to defend yourself, knowledge is powerful. Martial arts is changing, and you need to keep yourself updated. Back home, some guys can use their chi to make someone fall. This is not video games, we call it McDojo.”

The Distance Between China and the World

Many are also immersed in the joy of Zhang Weili who won China’s first Gold Belt in MMA. She is now gearing up to defend her UFC strawweight title against the former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk on March 8, 2020. Marco thinks that China has started to close the gap with the other western countries and now there are more and more young Chinese fighters in UFC. Marco told me, “With Jiu Jitsu, specifically, China is a little bit behind. Brazil and US now are the two countries with the best fighters. There are a lot of 15-18 years old kids that have been training since they were 5. That means they have over 10 years of experience on the mat which is more than me. They have all those tricks that I have never seen, the level is just incredible. Even though China has a lot of catching up to do, they are doing a good job.”

How Did My First Jiu Jitsu Class Go?

I joined Marco’s class at R8 a few weeks ago. I was not only impressed by his superb Jiu-Jitsu skills, but also his passion in coaching. When a fight moves down to the ground, it can be quite brutal, especially in Jiu Jitsu where there are so many different kinds of chokes. It seems that getting bruises, breaking teeth or arms are normal in this sport. Plus, did I mention that if you are practicing with a guy, you’d better get used to some rather odd positions? Even Marco himself admitted that Jiu Jitsu positions can sometimes be awkward. 

So I didn’t go in with a lot of confidence, but Marco’s explanation and demonstration of each move made everything seem possible. It is a grappling-based martial art where the central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Jiu Jitsu is centered around the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. All those awkward positions can be very effective; the basis behind it is all about leverage. It’s about using the whole body on another body part, even if your opponent is a bodybuilder, he can’t win. If you are skilled in Jiu Jitsu, you can definitely hold yourself against 95% of the population; most people don’t even know how to fall down properly.

The Beauty of Jiu Jitsu

Marco has about 30 tough students at the moment and he’s determined to stay for a much longer time. Recently he took 7 people to attend the Shanghai Tournament and got 10 gold medals, this shows that this tiny team is going in the right direction. For the next step, Marco wants to create a kids’ program. He wants to share what he has with the next generation.

"It's important to stay focused and keep an open mind when it comes to learning Jiu Jitsu." The Jiu Jitsu lifestyle goes beyond just training. It's about taking care of yourself, making friends, and striving to put your 'best foot forward'. Setting your mind to learning and improving every week will help you to improve mind, body and soul. His over-all team goal is to improve at least 1% every week and this requires a positive attitude.

Online Open Day: What Makes Wellington Special?

In light of the success of the first online open day, Wellington College International Hangzhou is very much aware of requests for an additional session held on a weekend, to enable more families to tune in and join the interactive Q&A session. The coming online open day will be held at 10am on Saturday 18th April.This event is open to anyone keen to learn more about Wellington College International Hangzhou.


The open day includes;

·       A broad overview and introduction to the Wellington College family of schools, royal heritage, educational philosophy and values by Mr. Paul Rogers, founding Executive Master of Wellington College Hangzhou.

·      惠灵顿杭州校区总校长Paul Rogers将对惠灵顿大家庭的姊妹学校、悠久历史、以及我们的教育理念和价值观做整体介绍。

·       A deeper dive into what makes a Wellington education unique, and a presentation exploring many of the common topics that parents are curious about by Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou

·      杭州惠灵顿外籍人员子女学校校长Kathryn Richardson将深入阐述惠灵顿教育的与众不同之处以及就家长们关心的一些常见问题与大家进行探讨。

·       A live Q&A session where participants will be able to interact with the speakers and Admissions Team, allowing the team to address the questions that are important to you.

·      最后,在问答环节,我们的主讲人和招生团队将与家长们互动,对家长们的问题作出解答。

All interested families are suggested to scan the QR code on the poster to register. Registered attendees will receive a reminder notification prior to the event starting.


Welcome Back to Wellington

As pupils quickly approach the highly anticipated return to schools in Hangzhou, Wellington College Hangzhou has been strictly following the local regulations on epidemic prevention in order to prepare the Wellington community for a smooth transition back to normality.


At Wellington College Hangzhou, ensuring the safety of the school community and protecting the health of Wellington pupils and staff always takes top priority. Over the past three months, the Senior Leadership Team and a specially appointed school emergency team have implemented a detailed COVID-19 plan that covers all aspects of school life, and ensures that strict guidelines will be followed to minimize risk and increase safety.


The Wellington College Hangzhou campus has undertaken a comprehensive site inspection by both the Education Bureau and the Hangzhou medical authority. Both inspection teams were incredibly impressed with Wellington’s preparations.


Wellington understand that this will be a difficult transition for their children, yet remain confident that with careful guidance, and through demonstrating the Wellington Values of Courage, Kindness, Responsibility, Respect and Integrity, the children will adapt quickly and fully embrace the mission of ensuring a safe return to school.


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