My Restored 1949 Peugeot 203

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis


April 12th, 2016


p1Sri Lanka has a treasure trove of antique cars, a legacy of both the British colonial era and a wise decision to categorize them as “National Treasures” meaning they cannot be exported. With import duties on all cars running at 100%, the country is also one of the few places worldwide where the value of second hand cars goes up. While seriously old vehicles such as this Peugeot may not be suitable for everyone, they can still be had relatively cheaply.  I paid USD7000 for this, and have spent about that again on a two year restoration. That’s not bad when one considers a second hand standard modern car is rather more.

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A Guide To China’s Blog Trolls

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis


April 1st, 2016


As many of my readers and those who know me from my business credentials, I have been high profile in China for the best part of two decades. That’s fine, I came to live and work in China when it wasn’t a popular thing to do, and have subsequently built a business from next to nothing. Along with that has gone an extraordinary amount of content – I began China Briefing as a complimentary business magazine, then online blog back in 1999, and have written many many books about business in China.

The problem with that is the jealousy this can create. Not everyone is happy to see success, and come the mid 2000’s, competition amongst expatriate consultants in China started to become rather vicious. That attitude, coupled with lax internet laws and an ability to hide behind proxy servers and fake names, resulted in a number of unsavory characters emerging. Some were paid to write unpleasant articles and content by various competitors, others just wanted to make a fast name for themselves by attacking well known personalities in China. Most used false names. None of them personally knew me, and none of them contacted me to verify details of their unpleasant content (presumably because when you tell lies and promote half-truths and innuendo, you can’t).

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Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Birthplace Of The Gin & Tonic

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis


March 16th, 2016


hakgala_botanical_gardenIn the mid 1850’s, British plans to continue to both build and develop the Empire were facing a serious problem – malaria. Although many of Britain’s best and brightest were being sent overseas, far too many were succumbing to and even dying from this deadly disease. Those lucky to survive an attack would also find themselves prone to recurrences, debilitating attacks of chills and fever that drained the body of energy for weeks at a time.

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Travelling Sri Lanka’s Tea Country By Train

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis


March 15th, 2016


taMy Winter months are spent on the south coast of Sri Lanka, which is very beautiful and has amazing sea food, however as the year progresses can be prone to occasional hot, intensely humid spells. I have a swimming pool I can dip into, and the beach is just five minutes away, but its also good to have a complete change of scenery as well.  What I like to do at such times, much as generations of expatriate Dutch and British did before me (the colonial and seafaring Portuguese tended to stay coastal and didn’t venture much into Ceylon’s interior) is to get to higher ground, where the temperatures drop, the air is fresher, and the climate more appealing. In fact, Sri Lankas’ Tea Country can be almost European in atmosphere – not for nothing is the highest Hill Station, Nuwara Eliya, also known as “Little Scotland”, while roses are grown at these altitudes.

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February Safari At Wilpattu, Sri Lanka

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis


February 19th, 2016


wilpattuIt’s back to Sri Lanka after my Russian winter, and what better way to reintroduce myself to my second adopted home than immediately going on safari? Wilpattu National Park is in the North-West of the island, an area I haven’t been before. The Park is renowned for its diverse landscape, which includes over 60 lakes, also making it ideal for birdwatching, and especially during the migratory season. Its also famous for Leopard, having the highest concentration of Leopard in the world.

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How To Make A Vodka Martini

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis


January 30th, 2016


gibsonActually the title of this piece is somewhat misleading. In my opinion, only Gin should be used in a martini, with options for olives or lemon additions depending upon the characteristics of the Gin being used. For Purists, it should ideally be Plymouth, mixed 3-1 and with a dash of orange bitters, which is how the very first original Martini was made. But I digress. This is about Vodka, not Gin.

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Shchedrin’s “Christmas Tale” Opera at the Mariinsky

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis


January 3rd, 2016


xmas1Rodion Shchedrin is Russia’s greatest living composer, born in 1932 and working both throughout the Soviet era and contemporary times. He has a special affinity with the Mariinsky, from whom several new works have been commissioned, even as he reaches his eighties. He married Maya Plisetskaya arguably the most talented and beautiful Soviet era ballerina, writing several works for her to dance, such as Chekov’s “Seagull”. The Maestro has long taken Russian literature as inspiration for his work, and this trend follows with this adaption for opera of Nikolai Leskov’s translation of Nemcova’s fairy tale, which is better known as “The Twelve Months”. In operatic form it becomes A Christmas Tale and is another in the operatic canon of winter plays within Russia during this Festive season – both Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov wrote similarly titled works.

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2016 New Years Concert at the Mikhailovsky Palace

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis


January 1st, 2016


neoclassical-portico-of-mikhailovsky-palace-in-st-petersburgI have been fortunate enough to be invited to a private New Years Party in St. Petersburg, which is one of Europe’s loveliest cities and probably has the most Palaces. This year, the venue was the Mikhailovsky Palace which handily, is just across the street from my apartment. It was built by Carlo Rossi, the Italian architect whose statue also graces the Square I can look down upon from my balcony, in 1819, with the intention of it being a 21st birthday present for Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich. Today, it is the main building of the State Russian Museum, and as such contains a huge amount of important Russian artworks (the Hermitage focuses on foreign art).

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