WIN! Passes for Bespoke's New Online China Speaker Series

By Ned Kelly 

Unable to run actual on-the-ground tours right now, Bespoke have lined up a series of fabulous speakers that will, via the magic of modern technology (aka Zoom), be broadcast live and direct to your living rooms every Tuesday and Thursday to speak on a series of tantalizing China-related topics. 

Were a bit late to the party on this one (sorry, Sam!) and missed the first couple, but heres whats coming up...

Shanghai, Sassoon and the Cathay: How a Visionary Iraqi-Jewish Entrepreneur Built the Worlds Most Glamorous Hotel

Date: Tuesday April 21, 7pm CST 

The Talk: 1930s Shanghai was the Far Easts most cosmopolitan city. A city that exuded luxury, style and excitement, attracting businessmen, thrill-seekers and refugees from across the globe. Nowhere represented this more than Sir Victor Sassoons Cathay Hotel (now the Peace Hotel), an Art Deco masterpiece that towers above Shanghais Bund and was the heart of the citys wild social scene (you can read about Sir Victor Sassoon's life in Shanghai right here). The fortunes of the hotel have since mirrored those of the city, weathering war, revolution and social upheaval. Join Peter as he shares the fascinating stories and personalities behind the citys most iconic landmark.

Speaker: Peter Hibbard MBE

Not only is Peter one of the leading authorities on old Shanghai, its fair to say he knows a thing or two about historic hotels: he currently serves as Heritage and Archive Ambassador to The Peninsula Hong Kong and wrote Peace at the Cathay, the definitive work on the Peace Hotel, which was published in 2011. He lived in Shanghai for many years, reviving the Royal Asiatic Society, acting as an expert guide and publishing a number of key works on the citys foreign concession era before he returned to the UK in 2013.

Eight Golden Treasures: The Ancient Chinese Workout That Will Keep You Fighting Fit During Lockdown

Date: Thursday April 23, 5pm CST

The Talk: Think youre coordinated? Lets see what you got. This 10-minute set of Daoist exercises changed our lives so we hope theyll do the same for you! While it may be easy to dismiss some aspects of Chinese traditional medicine (ahem), you cant argue with a set of movements that have been keeping Chinese warriors healthy for a couple of thousand years, and this qigong routine is a winner. 

Not only is the sequence amazing for flexibility and strength, but each movement is designed to benefit (even massage) your internal organs to keep them functioning well. Our resident martial arts master will teach you how to regulate your breathing, stretch those muscles and, most importantly, align yourself with the universe. You know, before you kill that family member for not doing the washing up properly.

Speaker: Eric Liu

Eric Liu began his Kung Fu training at the tender age of 14. A specialist in internal martial arts and the more in-depth aspects of traditional Chinese culture such as Daoism and the I-Ching, hes the perfect person to explain the ancient Chinese wisdom behind the 8 Golden Treasures. His passion for finding ways to maintain good health and a positive mental state to prevent illness is what drives him, and hes been teaching Tai Chi in Beijings beautiful parks to Bespokes clients for many years now.

The Life of Empress Dowager Cixi: Chinas Most Remarkable and Misunderstood Defacto Ruler

Date: Tuesday April 28, 7pm CST

The Talk: Like a phoenix, she rose from the ashes of a palace demolished by foreign troops to become one of the most powerful women in the world. Chinas Empress Dowager Cixi (pronounced suh-shee) ruled from 1861 to 1908 and is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly half a century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne, but shes also been accused of being heartless, presiding over the countrys downfall, and for amassing a huge fortune which she proceeded to spend on fripperies such as marble boats.

As always, though, the real story is much more complicated. Are the scathing depictions of her fair? Or is she just another victim of History not Herstory? Join expert Jeremiah Jenne as he unpacks the life of Chinas most influential female. In the absence of a chance to tour Cixis beloved Summer Palace with him, we promise this is the next best thing.

Speaker: Jeremiah Jenne

Jeremiah Jenne is a writer and academic based in Beijing since 2002. He taught Late Imperial and Modern Chinese History for over 13 years and has written extensively on China for The EconomistSouth China Morning PostLos Angeles Review of Books and more. Jeremiah is frequently asked to speak or lead workshops on Chinese history, culture, and cultural adaptation for students, embassies, organizations, and company groups from around the world.

Hand-Pulled Noodle Making Class: How to Make an Easy, Affordable and Fun Chinese Meal for the Whole Family

Date: Thursday April 30, 7pm CST

The Talk: In the most appropriate way possible, were going to send you some noods over Zoom. Thats right, were going to show you how to make those amazing hand pulled noodles you see in Asian food shows. You know the ones a chef takes each end of a chunk of dough and slowly pulls it apart with a bouncing motion until it becomes a perfect, springy long noodle. Looks complicated, but happily, it really isnt especially when you have an expert showing you how. With just some flour, water, oil, eggs and tomatoes, Bespokes favorite chef will teach you how to whip up a tasty and authentic Chinese dish in less than 45 minutes, and have fun doing it! A perfect class for the whole family to join.

Speaker: Sue Zhou

Bespokes Chinese Cuisine Expert is a China-born, Holland-raised chef, restaurateur and all round good jidan* (*thats egg in Chinese) who is passionate about bringing Chinese food to the world. She is an experienced food educator, food consultant and chef, and has spent years documenting cuisines from different regions of China by cooking as much as possible with elderly locals wherever she goes!

Murders of Old China: The Foreigners Caught Up in Chinas Most Controversial Killings, and the Mysteries Solved a Century On

Date: Tuesday May 5, 7pm CST 

The Talk: Weve saved the best till last! Revenge, passion, greed, corruptionthis talk has it all. Following his triumph in retrospectively solving the 1937 Pamela Werner murder in bestseller Midnight in Peking, Paul French has returned to true crime in his latest work for Audible Originals to reinvestigate a dozen controversial murder cases in old China. 

Why did a remote police station, built to combat pirates, find itself at the center of a murder-suicide after a constable went on the rampage? Who was trafficking vulnerable women from Europe to Shanghai in the early 1900s? How did Chinese gangsters avoid conviction after serving a deadly dinner to Shanghais elite? And why is Britains Foreign Office still withholding a key document crucial to solving a murder that took place in the Gobi desert in 1935?

Speaker: Paul French

Paul French is the award-winning British author and China expert who lived in China for more than a decade before returning to the UK. He is a widely published analyst and commentator whose books include a biography of Shanghai adventurer Carl Crow and a history of foreign correspondents in China, among others. He is the author of New York Times Bestseller Midnight in Peking, and most recently, the Audible Originals exclusive Murders of Old China.

How Do I Sign Up?

Each talk costs RMB80, and you can sign up by scanning the QR code below. And dont forget that you can share these with your quarantined friends and family around the world, too. More details for overseas folks can be found on the Bespoke blog.


Bespoke is offering a pass to a talk of their choice to a pair of lucky Thats reader. For your chance to win, simply share this article on your Moments with the caption Thats what I want!, take a screenshot and send it to your citys WeChat account along with your email address, delivery address and phone number.

Not already a follower of our official Thats WeChat accounts? Scan the QR code below:  


366 Julu Lu, by Shaanxi Nan Lu 366,  

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