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My Weekender is a weekly column written by changing authors selected from the Beijing community. According to the various tastes, interests and backgrounds of its authors, My Weekender serves as a window into what residents in the city are doing with their time off.

Most recent

[My Weekender] with Robert Foyle Hunwick

May 3, 2013

Robert Foyle Hunwick (seriously) is the E-in-C of widely read and respected lifestyle magazine, That's Beijing. He's come to prostrate himself on the sacrificial altar that is the "My Weekender" column because they're throwing some sort of "event" on Friday night and they'd like it if you'd come. If you get that far, he'll bore you with the details.

Robert Foyle Hunwick (yes) did not go down without a fight. Breaking with the "My Weekender" format somewhat, he's chosen to tackle my motivational questions head-on and form his article around them instead of treating them as mere inspirational devices intended to jump-start the writing of a nice and sensible block of text on his life in Beijing and insights gleaned in the experience thereof.

So, I've left the questions included in the thing to lend it coherence, presenting it to you as-is so that we all might enjoy the sparkling Robert Foyle Hunwick (no… really), and revel in his zesty wit, maybe deeming it worthy of a congratulatory pat on his head; the thing he so desires in life above all other things.


RFH. I combine my duties as Editor-in-Chief at That's Beijing with being Editor-at-Large for and various other things I can't get into here.

What brought you to Beijing?

I'm going to ignore that question as it's one that everybody asks. In the UK, people used to say, "And what do you do?" Here, they want to know, "And why are you here?" Pretty soon, people will just say: "And what exactly is the point of you?" and be done with it.

Actually, what lured me here was It's a niche website for people who like Beijing, but prefer not to leave the Gulou or Sanlitun areas. The writing is top notch, but the best part is, they only update 2-3 times a week which is perfect for my busy schedule. I can just hang on the site all day and watch the tweets go past.

Also, @valentinaluo (as I call her) who agreed to live with me a couple of years back, is still here today and available for interview.

The local 'scene' --  guys, don't ever stop being you. Beijing's ever-wonderful and nascent jazz circle . The air: it's cheaper than smoking. My good friend Ai: I follow him on Twitter every day. And of course, you. You, Morgan. 

What makes you want to leave Beijing?

Lack of beach, hostile winters, the depressing Soviet architecture which appears to be self-replicating now... let's face it, there's actually not a lot to recommend Beijing, aesthetically.  It's a garrison town on the outer edges of the northern desert, built to eye-fuck the Mongols over the border, and it's really starting to show.

How did you get into your line of work?

Same way as you did, I imagine. Started off in the mailroom at the South London Morning Post and worked my way down.

There are many perks -- if I want to get tickets for the BackStreet Boys, I probably can and I'd be happy to hustle for a discounted one as per your request. But mostly, the job involves stuff I really enjoy: coming up with great ideas for stories with our staff, interviewing, reading, editing, writing and managing a fantastic team.

I know: pretty dull huh?

What are your hours like?

I rise with the catamaran and sleep with the bat (note: there's no improper relationship with said bat).

What do you do with your time off?

This is my time off...

What are  you doing this weekend?

We're hosting a big party for all our readers at the Hilton Beijing. It's been called the biggest party in China since 1949 -- by us. There's going to be burlesque from Moonglow Burlesque, pole dancing by Luolan (the largest pole-dancing school in China!), hosting and sketches by our friends at the Comedy Club China, live music by ukulele band The Confectionaires, a DJ who looks like Iron Man called DJ Iron Man, lots of drink from our sponsors at Heineken, Lindemans, Warsteiner and CH'TI, a shit-ton of prizes and, oh, that drink I mentioned. This revolution will certainly be a party, not sure about the dinner part but there will be catering... 

What are you favorite restaurants in Beijing?

Anywhere Yunnanese, so the usual suspects (Middle 8, Dali Courtyard; I've yet to properly try Southern Barbarian in Baochao Hutong). 

I keep going to New York Sandwich in Sanlitun SOHO -- I really want that place to work, but they're fighting back, hard.

I wish to Marx that Beijing had a decent kebab shop like Bosphorus on the Old Brompton Road.

That's in London, son.

What are your favorite cultural spots and things?

Not a big fan of the museums, unless it's the Concrete Museum or the Watermelon Museum. Peace and quiet is the biggest premium. I like to read in Ritan Park, or wander through the wild parkland at Yuanmingyuan and imagine I'm in Old Peking (it's quite possible). The Olympic Forest Park is another beautiful, mostly unpopulated park that was landscaped in 2008 from a formerly tangled forest full of hobos and drug addicts.

I feel at home there. 

What are your favorite things to do in Beijing that don't involved eating or drinking?

Re-reading the magazine for typos, reading, cycling and playing whatever the latest decent PS3 game is.

At the moment, it's Bioshock: Infinite which is, as I'm sure you know, quite the sexy little beast.  

What's you favorite area of the city?

Tough one. Probably not Changping, though. Sorry Changping, but I think you lost a bet with Xi Jinping or something.


There you have it. RFH. If you want to go to the That's Beijing party tonight, all the details are right here. And now that you know what he looks like, you can seek him out for more of this sort of fwaf over drinks. Scintillating!