Report Monday 7th December: last stop: Qiangdao
Luna and Thomas left Lanzhou on monday morning to take a flight to Qingdao (pronounced as Tsing Dao). This city is famous for its wonderful beaches, which makes it a tourist hotspot in the summer for people from all across China. In addition, the famous Chinese beer Tsing Tao is also named after this city.
We did not make the trip to Qingdao for the beaches or the beer, but rather to visit a number of important PIPA clients. One of them is Dempsey Dong, who has been very fond of the pigeons of Gerard & Bas Verkerk for years. His loft is home to no less than 40 pigeons closely related to the famous Olympic Solange: youngsters, brothers/sisters and half brothers/half sisters. Dempsey Dong started to invest in Verkerk pigeons in 2008, because he believes, as he puts is, that this breed is a "money machine"; the Verkerk pigeons are guaranteed to win top prizes in one loft races across China, which makes them financially attractive as well. He recently won a lot of prize money with Verkerk pigeons that were crossed with pigeons of Nico Van Noordenne and Hugo Batenburg.
Dempsey Dong and his wife awaited us on the airport on Monday evening, and the visit to the lofts and pigeons of Dempsey took place on Tuesday. Miss Dong had prepared a lovely European style lunch on Tuesday, and we were accompanied by Mr. Zhang & Mr. Wang, two faithful PIPA clients that have invested heavily in Bart Geerinckx pigeons, offered for sale in our online auctions. They had travelled 600km just to meet us and to express their satisfaction about the pigeons they had purchased on PIPA. Mr. Xing, another PIPA client, Mr. joined us for dinner on Tuesday evening. He has been buying pigeons on PIPA on a regular basis as well. He too is particularly interested in pigeons of Verkerk, after his good friend Dempsey Dong introduced them to his collection of Verkerk pigeons. Wednesday was our final day in Qingdao, and it was also the last day of our China trip.
We have had three fantastic weeks, in which we visited several important clients, who were all very hospitable. We got a lot of positive feedback on the level of quality in our PIPA auctions, and on the results that our clients achieved with pigeons purchased on PIPA. This confirms our belief that we are on the right track with the way our auctions are being organised.
Special thanks go to our PIPA agents for China Luna Lai and Green Xiang. We are also very grateful to Jianming Liu and the rest of the PIPA team in China for doing everything they can to make this an unforgettable journey. We would also like to thank our clients for being so hospitable. It has been a great trip!
Report Monday 30th November: The golden city of Lanzhou organises a pigeon exhibition for the first time
We spent our final day in Beijing last Friday, together with Gaston Van de Wouwer, Bart Geerinckx and Jacques Vandenheede. We started the day with a good walk along the Tiananmen Square, and we felt like the Emperor of China, strolling along the streets of the forbidden city. We headed to the old neighbourhoods around Bell Tower and Drum Tower around noon. We tried not to think about pigeons for a day but we did notice the small pigeon lofts on the roofs of many houses.
When we visisted one of the many small pubs around the Houhai Lake to avoid the cold, we accidentally ran into a PIPA client. This fancier was keeping only a small collection of pigeons and had yet managed to win the title of second ace pigeon over three races in the Pioneer Club a few years ago. He also won a first prize against 2,524 pigeons last month, in a local race within the district. We had seen a number of very large lofts during our trip, but we dit particularly enjoyed this visit to a smaller loft as well, since we learned a lot about how an average fancier keeps pigeons here in China.
Our day ended with dinner in Morels, a Belgian restaurant in Beijing. It gave Gaston Van de Wouwer, Bart Geerinckx and Jacques Vandenheede a sense of home, even though they still had a very long trip ahead. We had a chance to look back on a very enjoyable trip, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their hospitality over the past few days!
We said goodbye to Gaston Van de Wouwer, Bart Geerinckx and Jacques Vandenheede, and a much smaller PIPA team went to Lanzhou, the capital of the western province of Gansu. Lanzhou, often called the Golden City, with a history that spans more than 2,000 years. It was an important city along the Silk Road, which connected the old capital Xian to Central Asia and the Roman Empire. As part of the Go West initiative of the Communist Party the city has seen some significant economic growth in recent years. Pigeon racing in Lanzhou has become increasingly popular as well: it currently has 2000 members, One Loft Races are being organised across the city and a pigeon exhibition is organised for the first time in Lanzhou this year. We noticed an increasing number of visitors from this region in recent montsh so we did not want to miss this event. We were not alone: the Hanssen brothers from Denmark attended the exhibition as well. We saw many familiar faces in Lanzhou but we also had the chance to meet a few fanciers thad had become PIPA clients only recently. They were very enthousiastic about our website.
On Saturday evening we had dinner with some of the best fanciers in Lanzhou, and many of them are now focusing their attention on the more important races in the north of China. It is our task to provide them with the best pigeons available! They were very hospitable and different clients wanted us to taste the local specialty "beef noodles", in what they considered to be the best beef noodles restaurant in Lanzhou. We can only recommend this restaurant, even though five large bowls of beef noodles in five different restaurants in just two days' time was a bit too much for us.
We returned our hotel after the exhibition to watch the Kitchenbrand auction with a few clients. We are convinced that the descendants of the pigeons sold in auction will make a lasting impression in the region around Lanzhou next season!
Report Wednesday 25th november: PIPA & Pioneer auction a major success: 7,000 EURO average sale price!
A public auction of PIPA and the Pioneer Club took place for the second time on Monday. Pioneer is the club with the highest amount of prize money in the whole of China. You could perhaps compare it to FC Barcelona or Real Madrid in football. All ace pigeon of the Pioneer Race were auctioned that day, which explains why many big champions attended the auction, including millionaire Dr. Guo Weicheng, a.k.a. Great Wall. Pioneer Club has been working together exclusively with PIPA, for instance with a joint auction, which takes place on the same day as Pioneer's ace pigeon auction (next year Pioneer will give fanciers a chance to join the race from a 'European loft" through PIPA, albeit for only a limited number of pigeons). In this auction 26 young birds were sold for an average of 7,000 euro. The most expensive young bird was a youngster of Rudy of Gaby Vandenabeele, sold for 30,000 euro. Below is a short movie about the youngster of Rudy being sold in auction:
Three pigeons were sold for 15,000 euro: a youngster New Freddy of PEC/Bart Geerinckx, a brother Kittel of Flanders Collection, and a youngster Mustang of Vercammen. The most expensive ace pigeon of the Pioneer Club was sold for about 210,000 euro.
We spent the following day with Mr. Su, owner of the Pioneer Club. During lunch Mr. Su expressed his wish to start working together more intensely with PIPA in the long term, and to step up our current collaboration. He believes PIPA is the strongest brand in pigeon racing, and Pioneer Club would really like to become a partner of PIPA. This would be a great opportunity for PIPA as well, because it would enable us to get in touch with the biggest buyers in China. Mr. Su also showed us the lofts where the racing birds are kept. Any fancier is free to rent a loft or a section of a loft to take part in these races. This eliminates the possibility of a disadvantageous location due to wind direction. It allows fanciers to keep their own pigeons both in and out of the club.
We travelled to Tianjin on Tuesday evening, where a public auction with pigeons of Gaston Van de Wouwer, Bart Geerinckx, and Freddy & Jacques Vandenheede on Wednesday and Thursday.
Report Monday 23rd November: Langfang exhibition attracks many visitors despite heavy snow
The 15th edition of the Langfang pigeon exhibition took place last weekend. The exhibiton attracted a lot of visitors, despite the heavy snow. It shows that pigeon racing in China continues to rapidly develop.
A number of European fanciers attended the exhibition under the name of PIPA. A promotional book was handed out at the PIPA stand, and this book was published in collaboration with Racing Pigeon File, one of China's biggest pigeon magazines. In addition, an auction catalogue was handed out to promote our young birds' auction in the Pioneer Club, the most influential pigeon club in China. These pigeons will be auctioned publicly on Monday, along with the club's ace pigeons. The PIPA hats and pigeon whistles were popular items as well.
The exhibition also gave us the chance to meet several PIPA clients, including the buyers of Palme D'Or, Magic 092, the parents of Laura and many other top birds. Not only Bart Geerinckx, Gaston Van de Wouwer, Jacques Vandenheede, De Vroe-Van Gaver were there, Kurt Platteeuw and Jos Thoné attended the exhibition as well to promote their total auctions on PIPA.
Report Friday 20th November: a visit to Qian Zhilong, Great Wall, Kai Er and Nanbei Loft
We had scheduled two visits on Wednesday. We were picked up by Mr. Qian Zhilong in the morning; he is particularly fond of the Pieter Veenstra breed, and it was a great opportunity for Pieter to meet this client after several years. We were then invited to Quanjude, which is considered the best Peking duck restaurant in China. We had a lovely lunch there.
A few more fanciers joined us in the afternoon: Bart Geerinckx, Gaston van de Wouwer and his wife Maria, Jacques Vandenheede and his wife Liliane and Tom Van Gaver had arrived, and they joined us on our joint visit to the lofts of Dr. Guo Weicheng (“Great Wall”), the biggest pigeon collector worldwide. Many top class pigeons were shown, including such world famous birds as “Barbara” (Gaston van de Wouwer), “Pro Freddy” (Jos Thoné), “Jonge Supercrack” (Ludo Claessens), “Armani” & “Golden Wing” (Pieter Veenstra), “Blauwe Prins” (Pros Roosen) and “Vader Nieuwe Olympiade” (Leo Heremans). After visiting the lofts we were invited for dinner by Dr. Guo. Jacques and Pieter were actually driven there in a Rolls Royce. We had a great evening in the restaurant, enjoying some local specialties.
Two more visits were taking place on Thursday. We first went to Tangshan to visit the loft of Kai Er. Everyone who had attended the visit on Wednesday afternoon was there, and we were now joined by Johan De Vroe, Kurt Platteeuw and Jos Thoné and his wife. Kai Er is the biggest Chinese pigeon seller ever, along with Great Wall. We had a chance to take a closer look all of his national ace pigeons, which were all obtained through PIPA. These included “Ike” (Chris Hebberecht), “New Ace” (Wilson Dekens), “Asduif Fond 2014” (Liesl Laremans), “Home Alone” (Braad-de Jode), “Norma” & “James Bond” (Verreckt-Ariën), “Bleken” (Rudi De Saer) and “Miss Million” (Pieter Veenstra). Getting to hold each of these top class birds was a unique moment for each of us. Kai Er then accompanied us during our visit to Mr. Zhou Junyuan, the owner of “Lucky 85” (Erik Limbourg), which has become a real stock breeder here. “Lucky 085” was born in 2004 and yet is still fertile.
We are headed to the Lang Fang exhibition on Friday morning, since the group of Marcel Sangers and Chantal Vredeveld arrived here yesterday. These fanciers will have a stand in the Lang Fang exhibition.
A new update will be published on Sunday evening, with a report from the exhibition.
Report Wednesday 18th November: a reunion with Dolce Vita!
We were headed to Beijing on Saturday the 14th of November. Ian Somers and Thomas Gyselbrecht took off in Brussels as PIPA representatives. Pieter, Gea and Aant-Arjen Veenstra took off from Schiphol. They arrived on Sunday, and they travelled to Wenhzou the following day. This is the home base of Hu Zhen Yu, who purchased Dolce Vita, still the most expensive pigeon ever to be sold. It would be the first time that the Veenstra family could see their Dolce Vita since 2012. We were greeted warmly, and seeing Dolce Vita back was quite an emotional moment for Pieter. Dolce Vita had a hard time getting used to her new environment in China, and she only laid her first egg after more than six months. She was treated very carefully in recent years, and Hu Zhen Yu only let her breed four youngsters per season. Her youngsters were not raced; they were used in the breeding loft right away. The goal was to basket her grandchildren in One Loft Races across China. The first few grandchildren did great in 2014 and 2015. A few weeks ago, Hu Zhen Yu finished in 4th place in the Pioneer Club, China's most important club, with a grandchild of Dolce Vita.
Aant Arjen Veenstra holding Dolce Vita
After visiting the breeding loft we headed to the lofts of the One Loft Race that Hu Zhen Yu organises in Wenzhou. About 6,000 pigeons are kept in a loft in on a wonderful hillside of Wenzhou, and they are now being prepared for the first training flights. This race will take place for the fourth time, and many famous Chinese fanciers are taking part.
In the evening we visited Yang Xuan Fei, who has been a faithful PIPA client for many years, and who buys nothing but the best. The most important breeders in his loft are a son of Golden Lady (obtained in the Pieter Veenstra auction for 40,000 euro), New Bak 17, Miss Joice and Supra II (Heinz Meier).
Yang Xuan Fei (r), owner of New Bak 17 and others
We stayed there overnight and we visited the Long One Club on Tuesday. This is the club that awards the most prize money in China after the Pioneer Club in Beijing. About 80 fanciers have a pigeon loft within five square kilometres, which makes for a tough but fair race. The club's chairman is Mr. Sun Changfen. Two of a total of four races have been completed so far, and two other PIPA clients, Tan Yong (1st and 3rd) and Lin Zhanzhi (2nd) are currently holding the top three ace pigeons.
We had a flight back to Beijing on Thursday evening to make another series of visits on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A new update will be published in the next few days!