China & Tibet

Floris: The lobby of our hotel in Chongqing, a hypermodern city with 8 million inhabitants I had never heard of before, is on the 51st floor. After an intense journey through booming China, this is the final confirmation that the West is starting to fall behind. The view over the city is magnificent and calls for the use of yet another superlative. A single spectacular skyscraper is not enough. Here and there are clusters of skyscrapers that combine to form giant LED screens that – among other things – display a mega mega mega waving Chinese flag. China is crazy!

spring/summer ad

Floris: “This photo was taken in Lanzhou, a village that according to the Chinese is situated in China but according to the villagers themselves, is located in Tibet. It felt like I was walking around on a film set of a Chinese (Tibetan!?) western. Not a spaghetti western, but a Bami western. Does that even exist? The fun thing about the way we work is that we never know where we’ll end up shooting. We plan a road trip as well as possible, but the final locations are 100% improvised. We let the magic moments come to us. This empty street with the mountain in the back basking in the morning sun was one of those moments.”

It’s always difficult to explain to our guides that we aren’t interested in taking pictures of tourist highlights, but that this random traffic square in Lanzhou is just perfect!
The view over the Tibetan Labrang monastery is really beautiful and yet, the dog gets more attention. It was a street dog that didn’t even have a name which is pretty sad. I named it Floris. Sharing is caring!
Build, build, build. Even in the middle of nowhere. The hinterland must be unlocked. There is no place where the colonisation of the planet is more evident than here in China.
Dogs! I’ve had a Tibetan terrier for a year now. This is one of those moments when I realise how much Flapper would love to be here with me in Tibet right now.
When do you ever get to witness the birth of a city? In Europe, this takes ages, but in China, they simply turn on the concrete mixer in the middle of the countryside and before you know it, one million people live there.
Getting some fresh air in the mountains.
Our working day is mostly centred around sunrise and sunset. A low-hanging sun makes everything look much nicer. In this snapshot, you can see how the shadow affects the street as well as the mountain in the back.
Slowly but surely, China is being completely covered by a crust of concrete structures. My brain is working overtime to put it all in perspective.
This isn’t tea, it’s warm water with something Christmassy floating in it. It also tastes exactly like that.
I’ve ridden a motorcycle three times in my life, each time for our campaign videos: in Costa Rica, in Turkmenistan and now in Tibet. Our guide explains how the bike works because I still don’t get it.
I always thought that China was the tea country par excellence. But it’s actually quite disappointing. This tasted exactly the way it looks. Sad!
In Tibet, every street corner is like a perfect film location for an arthouse movie.
Local beers... Very important.
Gansu, the village where we shot the photo for the ad.
Sweet bread, a lunch snack we had en route somewhere. What I really liked about it was that it tasted exactly like what it said on the packaging: “How delicious it can not be forgetten special taste, return the true flavour. Give you the infinite feeling”.
Brother from another mother! In Gansu, a shoemaker was sitting on the sidewalk in front of our hotel. Not as part of a market or something. This sidewalk was his place of business.
Hotpot! A meter-long buffet full of vegetables and … ehm things (?!). Just throw it all in and enjoy!
The Mandarin sales women in Songpan are trying to attract customers by playing the same phrase REALLY loudly through a cracking megaphone. Really loudly and really often.
Thanks to the Chinese sitting at the table next to us at a restaurant in Chongqing, I discovered that it’s quite normal to blow your nose on the carpet while eating. When in China... Don’t judge!
I’m not the only model during these trips. We also always carry a suitcase full of new shoes with us...
At Chengdu, the giant panda city, we went deep inside in search of ancient China. We thought it looked really authentic, but it was mainly for (Chinese) tourists.
Karaoke! I’m not exactly a good singer. That’s why I usually sing very loudly, so that it’s more funny than out of tune. Smart, huh?
Take your pick! HUUUUUNGRYYY!!!
A super cool location in Chongqing at the Yangtze river, but we’re not going to use the pictures. They simply look too much like 007 being lost.
Have dinner and go to bed early because it’s ‘early chicken’ tomorrow. Erm, what did our guide say? Ah! Early check-in! No problem! One more beer and we’re off to bed.
I had been warned: Chinese wine is nothing you should drink. I had to try it anyway…
Chongqing, 8 million inhabitants and, what it feels like for me, just as many skyscrapers. China is fierce.

Video

Floris: "In addition to the pictures, we always shoot a crazy film. I do all the stunts myself! Crossing a hanging bridge in Nepal on horseback, travelling through Tanzania on a truck bed, shooting soup cans in Alaska, posing in front of reindeers in Lapland, walking along the crumbly edge of an active lava lake in Ethiopia or, as for this film, motor biking through a Tibetan monastery – I do it all without breaking a sweat. This guy is the Tom Cruise of the Dutch shoe business!"

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