Mosaic of China Season 01 Episode 07 – The Symmetry Breakfaster (Michael ZEE, Instagram Influencer)

Oscar Fuchs
Michael Zee is a social media influencer with a global fan base on Instagram. With a background as an educator, he has become a successful Food Instagrammer in China today.
Oscar Fuchs

Michael Zee is a social media influencer with a global fan base on Instagram. With a background as an educator, it's no accident that he has become the biggest and best Food Instagrammer in China today.

Original Date of Release: 24 Sep 2019.

Mosaic of China Season 01 Episode 07 – The Symmetry Breakfaster (Michael ZEE, Instagram Influencer)


MZ: It's such a complex thing, this character. It can mean tasty things. And it can mean rotten women who are obsessed with gay men. Or it could just mean tofu.


OF: Welcome to Mosaic of China, a podcast about people who are making their mark in China. I'm your host Oscar Fuchs.

Today's episode is a special one. The tightrope I'm usually walking in this series is to introduce to the outside world aspects of the lives people lead in China, without going over too much familiar territory to those people who already are experts, especially the Chinese themselves. But with today's episode, my role is reversed. My guest today is Michael Zee, who is a social media influencer. That much is universally understood. But despite the fact that Michael is based in China, his fan base is global. So a lot of his time is spent engaging with people outside of China. And our conversation reflects this - much of it describes the life of a social media personality anywhere in the world, not just specifically in China. Secondly, the platform he uses is Instagram, which is actually very difficult to access from within China. So there might be listeners to this in China who haven't even seen Instagram, let alone Michael's account. And if that wasn't enough, karma is being realigned after I used the American term 'cotton candy' in last week's episode with Gina - Michael is the first other British person that I've interviewed. So there might be moments where both of us lapse into British slang, and that might further confuse the English-speaking Chinese audience. I'm hoping this won't be the case, I think the couple of times we do it, the context is pretty clear. Despite all that - and listeners in China, I'm addressing this to you - you will definitely enjoy this episode, I promise. And about Michael himself, so Michael's background is as an educator, and there are other parts of his story that will lead you to conclude - as I did - that it's no accident that he has become the biggest and best food Instagrammer in China today. You may not be a foodie yourself, but you will want to hear the comments he makes about Sichuan chilies, Italian tomatoes and Irish potatoes; you will enjoy the way in which Michael's family story illustrates the connection between Shanghai and Liverpool; and you will also be intrigued to hear about the glamorous - and very unglamorous - life of a full time social media influencer in China.

[Part 1]

OF: Well, thank you very much for coming today.

MZ: My pleasure.

OF: I am here with Michael Zee. And Michael is an Instagrammer and an author.

MZ: Thanks, yeah.

OF: And I do obviously want to ask about your object. But before I do, what is your Instagram account?

MZ: My Instagram handle is @symmetrybreakfast.

OF: @symmetrybreakfast.

MZ: @symmetrybreakfast, yep. All one word. And I started this account 2012-ish, 2013. And if you go onto it now, you'll see thousands of pictures of symmetrically arranged breakfasts.

OF: Well, that's a very succinct introduction, I appreciate that. Let's of course go into that later. But firstly, what object have you brought in that in some way describes what you do here in China?

MZ: So my object is a ring. And this is a new ring that I've been given as a gift, maybe three or four months ago by my dad. And it's a replica of my grandfather's signet ring. And most people are surprised when they see my face that I'm actually a quarter Shanghainese. Last year, my brother had our grandfather's ring remade, recast, in Liverpool. And I then, a year later, got given one as a gift from my dad. Yeah, the ring to me is kind of interesting, because my grandfather left Shanghai in the 1930s. It's kind of like an interesting link to his life here, and how much the city's changed. And yeah, I wear it with quite a lot of pride now. And I've kind of got very used to wearing a ring. I don't even wear a watch. So this is the first little piece of jewellery I've ever had.

OF: And talk me through what it actually says then.

MZ: So it says his name in reverse. It's a signet ring, so you could dip into into ink or wax. And it's his name in Chinese, 徐宝山 [Xú Bǎoshān]. The styling is very unusual, there's almost something Celtic almost about it.

OF: You mentioned just there the Liverpool connection. So what's the connection then, between Shanghai and Liverpool?

MZ: If you go to Liverpool, there's a lot of Shanghainese people. And I think in the period that my grandfather left during the war with Japan, he got on a boat, went to Liverpool for work - it was his job - arrived in this other city on the other side of the world, and thought "Oh, I actually have probably quite a few friends here." Or contacts, you know, extended friends of friends. And he just stayed. He was on a ship going back and forth Shanghai-Liverpool - or within Asia, should I say - and then the ship was reassigned to the Americas, and he lost his job. And then after that, a couple of years go by, and he then set up some Chinese restaurants in Liverpool. And that was the kind of legacy that I was born into, many decades later. So I grew up in Chinese chippies in Huyton, which is a suburb of Liverpool. And if anyone knows Huyton at all from the mid 90s, and remembers Peter's Fish & Chips on Finch lane, Peter's my dad.

OF: Well, there is an interesting through-line, of course, because you have adjusted your career almost in a similar way. Like, you weren't by background anything to do with food, and now your career is also connected with food.

MZ: Yeah, there was a very casual link. You know, my dad was a cook, a chef, but I have no professional training in food. My background is actually photography and education. I studied photography and then became a school teacher. And then I went to museums.

OF: So what is @symmetrybreakfast?

MZ: So if you go to your phone, if you launch Instagram now, and have a look at @symmetrybreakfast, it's just lots and lots of pictures of food, arranged symmetrically. And then if you start looking carefully and reading the posts, there's a lot about exploring different cultures, different countries, travelling, trying to go deep within the stereotypes of what cultures are. But then also trying to understand that culture and cuisines are not fixed. They change rapidly. The cultures that we consider authentic, and almost timeless, like Chinese culture, ancient culture, is actually pretty new. And you look at cuisines like Sichuan food, and it's only in the last 3-400 years that they've had chilies. They came from Mexico. And so when you really kind of think about this… Cultures like Italian food, you know, pomodoro, and everything's with tomato. They're from the New World, in the last 3-400 years. Or potatoes, you think about how Irish culture, British culture, has formed around this potato. And actually, it's an exotic new ingredient from the New World. But we completely forget that recent history. And actually, we forget what our cultures must have been like without these things, that we consider cornerstones of identity.

OF: So how did you get from that museum piece to now doing an Instagram account full time?

MZ: Well, the museum I was actually working at was the Victorian & Albert Museum in London. And I was there for almost four years. I was working on the school's programme. Mark - who's now my husband - at the time, we'd recently moved in together. And he had a very busy job, he was working at Burberry, and designing their men's runway show. And so he had really exhausting deadlines, and would work very long hours. And some evenings, I wouldn't see him. And so I was making a little bit of an effort to make breakfast nice. He was the breakfast guy. When we first met, I used to just drink coffee and smoke rollies. He was more like, at the weekend, "Oh I like sit down, have a nice spread, you know, make a nice coffee, put some music on". And he really taught me that 'slow down' attitude. We bought a dining table together and started taking photos because my whole life I've been taking pictures. And then it was Mark's boss that said "I really liked these images, I think I think they're really interesting. How about you, rather than having them on your personal Instagram, put them on to a separate channel". And this was long before we had social media influencers. And so I had no concept of "I'm going to do this, for this amount of time." There was no long-term goal. It was just me making breakfasts for Mark. And six months go by, and suddenly I went to a house party and one of the girls there was an editor for BuzzFeed. And she wrote a little piece about me: '15 Perfectly Pleasing Symmetrical Breakfasts'. And I gained maybe 1,000 followers. And then a couple more months go by, and I'm in a pub for a friend's birthday and she is a shoe designer for lots of very famous celebrities, mainly people like Lady Gaga and Kylie and Kat Von D. And she follows me, she said "I love your photos, I'll follow you". And it turns out that Kat Von D saw my friend like these pictures. And so Kat Von D re-posted a picture of mine saying "I wish I was inside this girl's brain". And in one evening, I gained 20,000 followers. And then it kept creeping up. And then a week later 30,000. A month later I had 50,000. And then Jamie Oliver featured me, he posted nine images and then it jumped up another 70,000 in a day. And then The Guardian approached me to do a piece, and they had a four-page spread in the weekend magazine, and it went up another 50,000+. And it just kept going like that, huge leaps, because I got featured in different magazines, or other real celebrities.

OF: Wow. And all the while you were still working in the museum at this point.

MZ: Yeah, every day I would get up at 5 in the morning, 6 in the morning, make breakfast, go to work, and teach kids about Ming vases. I remember the first time we were ever invited by a restaurant, "Would you like to come and have breakfast in our restaurant?" It was like "Oh my god. We've actually been invited by a restaurant". And Mark was like "Wow, cool". Things like that just still amaze me. And so it just kept growing. And the next thing was, I was then approached by my now agent to write a book. And then four or five months go by, and I think "Mmm, OK, maybe I should think about it". And then I had another meeting. And she said "You need to write a proposal." I was like "OK, what does that look like?" So she just gave me five or six other people's proposals, and said "Have a look at these, see the formula, the layout, and come back to me". So a month later, I send her this 80-page proposal. And then there's a bidding war for the book. And six publishers are fighting over it. And then suddenly I'm able to quit my job.

OF: Hmm. What is the everyday of being an Instagrammer?

MZ: Well, a lot of my everyday is admin. A surprising amount of admin, and Excel, and emailing. There's a lot of that. And planning for events in the future that maybe only last a couple of hours, but there's actually weeks of planning. And I think anyone who works in events can appreciate this. I found that in the early days of social media, there was a big surge of everyone just being social media mad. And now it's petered out. And it's become a little bit more difficult in terms of translating social media engagement into real clicks, or people turning up to your event, or sales. Everyone's waiting for the next app that will allow growth. Instagram is billions and billions of people now. And actually, how do you get your voice out as an expert, someone that can be trusted to give good advice? I think we went through this phase of social media influencers being mouthpieces for brands, and being very shady about how they declared those relationships. Now I follow a lot of people and I think "Well, you've just gone there because you've been paid. I've been to that restaurant, it's not very good. I wouldn't promote that". And so I think people are now looking for these… And I hate the word 'authenticity', because it's it's a bit loaded, and that's a-whole-nother discussion. But people are looking for these reputable voices. You want to be more honest, but you also want to be nice. Because we've all developed our personalities over the last four or five years being nice. And actually then to be mean about something is incredibly hard and off-character. But it's easy just to say nothing, in some instances, when you don't like something. And there's been times that I've just not posted anything.

OF: Right.

MZ: Yeah, rather than being mean. Because then you have to understand your powers, in a sense. You know, I've got 770,000 followers, if I say something bad, it could actually have damaging repercussions to someone's business. It could actually shut them down. So there's a whole spectrum of how you behave. And then, you know, I've often said to Mark "In public, we have to behave." He's like "OK." Because the number of times… people don't approach us, but they will take a picture of us eating across a restaurant, and then send it to me afterwards. There's so many eyes watching you, everything you do, and every time you eat anything. Now the pressure's to go vegan. This is a big trend in social media, especially food. But also there's you know, 'don't wear leather' and so on, and 'don't fly too much' and 'don't have children' and 'recycle everything and use less'. Then you end up diverting off onto different paths away from actually what you want to do. You're trying to cover all bases, trying to please everyone all the time, and it becomes very stressful. And I think a lot of time, people don't realise that Instagrammers with big accounts are actually also just normal people. I don't have staff, I don't have assistants, I don't have editors, I don't have a manager. I have an agent in London who manages jobs, but she doesn't manage me.

OF: So it really is just you.

MZ: It's just me. Social media, it's made me very tough. And also quite cynical as well. I often get emails like "Hi, we'd really love to have a meeting". And I'm like "Can you just tell me what it is in an email. And if you can't do it in an email, I'm not just interested in meeting you." I'm not gonna come meet you for a jolly. And so you become very blunt, which is also something you always have to be aware of. So it is an interesting world. And it's a job that I've created myself, there is no job description. And it's not like something that someone could else could do after me. I can't step down off this role.

OF: But what I like hearing is that, even when you have a successful Instagram account - which a lot of people are aiming for, and they spend their days trying to do it - it's not all roses. And I think people need to hear that, because I think they can stress themselves out and they can do inauthentic things.

MZ: And I know so many people who… I've got friends that message me saying "Oh, I posted two hours ago, it only has 16 likes, can you go and like it." And I'm like "OK, fine. If it makes you happy, I'll totally do it". It's like your friend saying "I'm really upset, can you comfort me?" Yeah, of course, but it's like comforting them with a drug, which is dopamine through social media. And so it's kind of been "OK, I'll do it. It's fine". But you know, I've had times when I'm like "OK, it didn't get as many likes as I would have hoped for." Whatever. You know, and it's taken me a long time to learn that.

OF: Well, that's the cynical side taken care of…. What about the things that you still derive pleasure from? Because obviously, you are still doing it. Like, which are the things that make you still wake up and go "Oh, wow. Yeah, this is good"?

MZ: When I do events and I meet people, and they come say hello to me, and they say "I've followed you from the beginning". And they know things that I've forgotten about that. Like "Oh, that time you went to this restaurant" or this country or whatever. And I'm like "God, you remember that? How crazy!" Like they really really love the concept, they love to see me and Mark, they love to learn about the things that I'm interested in. Those are the moments that I really, really like. It's really astonishing how social media has given people that. Traditionally you would never cross paths - because of various reasons, you know - but now you meet up at these places, you go for drinks or dinner, and you meet through the most bizarre things. And then you're best friends. But this illustrates the point perfectly, that social media as a way to have real-world engagement, in terms of meeting real people, is the formula of success. If you use social media to make new friends, that's great. But if you use social media to isolate yourself, it can be extremely damaging. So it's how do you use social media? It's like gamers who play games online all day. And they have these friends that they play games with across the world, and they have these avatars. And then you hear these stories of them travelling across the world to meet their friend who lives in a different country. And they're best friends, because they've been playing computer games for 5-6 years, never met. And then they're like "We should actually meet in real life". And that's an amazing thing about social media, and technology. It should bring you together. Imagine never being able to meet this person in real life, that would be horrible. But yeah, these people who meet through computer gaming, I think is an amazing story. I think this is what social media should always try and facilitate.

OF: And we've talked very much in the abstract in terms of geography throughout this conversation. You know, we could have been talking about your life in London, we could have been talking about someone else's life in the US. So what about your life here in China? How have you managed to meld your online social media life with your real life here in China?

MZ: The way my Instagram has shifted is to explore as much of China and its food and its places as possible. To be this food correspondent that goes and sees a caviar farm in 浙江 [Zhèjiāng] Province; or goes to a tea plantation in 云南 [Yúnnán]; or goes to see this old town somewhere, or this Water Town, or a restaurant on the Bund. And people really appreciate that window into China that's not political. And sometimes it's just the street food, and sometimes just everyday life. But sometimes it's to see something being manufactured or farmed or grown. And then it gives people a real understanding of how diverse China is. I think that's how I've pivoted my Instagram into becoming more exploratory of China.

OF: Michael, thank you. We're now going to move on to Part 2.

MZ: Oh, yes. Great, Part 2.

[Part 2]

OF: So Question 1. What is your favourite China-related fact?

MZ: That 你好 [nǐ hǎo] doesn't mean 'hello'. I think this is the interesting thing about translation, that we always want to have equals, equivalents, of words. "This word in my language means this word in your language". And actually 你好 [nǐ hǎo] is 'you good.' Literally, 'you good.' And it's implied there's a question. Whereas 'hello' is a kind of acknowledgment of 'I'm here'. But I'm not asking for your recognition. Hello. In the sense of, you can just say "Hello" to an empty room. But you would never say 你好 [nǐ hǎo] to an empty room. And I think this is the interesting thing about a lot of Chinese words, and a lot of translation and linguistics in general, is that it's not always so neat and tidy. 你好 [nǐ hǎo] is the closest thing to 'hello', but it's not 'hello'. Yeah.

OF: Nice. Do you have a favourite word or phrase in Chinese?

MZ: Yeah. I really like the word 腐 [fǔ], as in 豆腐 [dòufu]. And in Chinese, it means 'rotten'. But in another sense, that word can also be something that's delicious. You've got 腐乳 [fǔrǔ], which is like 'rotten breast milk', or 'a mother's milk rotten'. And actually in Chinese culture, this word is used a lot of times for things that are just preserved or pickled or fermented. And actually in a Western sense 'rotten' is always pretty bad. Rotten eggs or a rotten person. The word 'rotten', there's always a negative connotation. Whereas in Chinese culture, it's not necessarily bad. It's such a complex thing, this character. It can mean tasty things. And it can mean rotten women who are obsessed with gay men. Or it could just mean tofu.

OF: Wow, OK, that one is hard to unpack.

MZ: Yeah.

OF: What is your favourite destination within China?

MZ: 千岛湖 [Qiāndǎo hú], 'Thousand Island Lake.' It's in 浙江 [Zhèjiāng] Province, about two and a half-ish hours on the train from Shanghai. And it's a man-made lake. It was created in 1959 when they constructed a dam. And now it's one of the cleanest lakes in the world. And I went for my birthday. And it was so beautiful.

OF: OK, next question. If you left China, what would you miss the most, and what would you miss the least?

MZ: For both, it's old people in pyjamas. Now I'm slightly not fazed by it. But it's still surprising. And I find it surprising that it's pretty much only Shanghai that does this. When you go to other cities, Chinese people do not do this. And I think when you see the 90-year-old man carrying his trash out, and he's in his giant underwear with his slippers on, and no other clothes, it's just… I don't know. I'm shocked that I'm not shocked anymore.

OF: Is there anything that still surprises you about life in China?

MZ: I think that the biggest surprise now is just how much ahead of the Western world China is. Everyone that comes to visit me, they're so shocked. They're, you know, "Oh, old Communist China has better apps, better taxi services…" Better all these things. And it's so easy to just click your fingers and you get something.

OF: Where's your favourite place to go out, to eat or drink or just generally hang out?

MZ: One of my new favourites is Heritage by Madison, which is a lovely new restaurant down at the Bund Finance Center, next to the lovely Thomas Heatherwick building that moves. And it's Austin Hu, and probably most people would know him as the guy behind The Diner'. He's now left that group and he's opened another restaurant down by the river. And it's excellent. You know, it's Western casual fine dining with lots of Chinese influences. Really nice wine list. Really inexpensive. Stunning setting. World-class service. Nailed it.

OF: What is the best or worst purchase you have made in China?

MZ: Best purchase is a beautiful chair from Taobao. And Taobao is an amazing online platform. For those of you who don't know Chinese e-commerce, you have a direct link with a factory, or the vendor or the individual selling. It doesn't come from like as such. And so you can have this conversation with someone, like I did with a sofa. You don't just click the colour you want, they send you the swatch and you can have this long conversation, "Oh actually can I have it 10 centimetres longer.? Can I have it a little bit deeper? Can I have it in blue? And also can I have it in this fabric?" And so you can really have this conversation. We had this chair made, which is admittedly a knock-off of Finn Juhl, who is a very famous Scandinavian designer. And the original chair is something like €10-14,000, and we had a knock-off commissioned in beautiful soft baby pink leather, for £500 pounds.

OF: What's your favourite WeChat sticker?

MZ: My favourite WeChat sticker is this little girl that saying 'bye.' It is the perfect way to end the conversation.

OF: I'm looking at it now. Yes, you know who this is, right?

MZ: I know she's famous for something, but I don't know what.

OF: This is Honey Boo Boo.

MZ: Oh that's it, Honey Boo Boo, yeah.

OF: What is your goto song to sing at KTV?

MZ: Oh, so I've actually never done KTV in China. I've only ever done karaoke in Japan. My last memory of karaoke in Japan was this enormous skyscraper that was like 10 floors of rooms. And they had costumes, you could pick a costume to wear whilst you sing. And so I was a beer bottle, a giant beer bottle. And Mark was wearing the Björk swan dress. And we were with a big group of people from France. And I remember this French team, they were like, "Oh, we're gonna be so good at this". And then when we actually got in the room, they were really bad. And really kind of like "Oh, you guys sing". And I remember putting on Nirvana. And they just went wild. And I've got a video of them had head-banging to Nirvana. It was Nirvana, 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'.

OF: OK. And finally, what other general information sources or China-related media do you rely on?

MZ: So my favourite is Sixth Tone. And they are a Shanghai-based English-language Chinese long-read platform. They do these long reads, and they tell you how long you need to read them, 6-20 minutes. And they're on all sorts of subjects. And I think one of their most read - but also one of my favourites - is the history of hot water in China. And why do Chinese people drink hot water.

OF: That sounds great. I think you've mentioned that before to me in the past. And I always promised that I'd go and check it out, but I haven't done so yet. So you've you've nudged me again now. Actually, the first person who was in this series, Philippe Gas, that was one of the things that still mystified him about life in China, that he's always offered hot water. So I'm gonna have to send him that link.

MZ: It's a recent invention.

OF: Really?

MZ: Since the revolution.

OF: Amazing.

MZ: Yeah.

OF: Well, thank you once again, Michael.

MZ: Thank you very much.

OF: Before you leave, I ask the same question to everyone who is sitting in that seat, and that is, for the next season of Mosaic of China, who do you recommend that I interview next?

MZ: I would like to hear more from my friend, Crystyl Mo. And she is someone I actually only met recently. And she is the chair of Asia's 50 best restaurants. And she's also an amazing connector of people. She's extremely eloquent. And she's just been someone that I've immediately clicked with. I remember that we met recently at an event - I won't say which brand - and we both left with a kind of very cynical view of the situation. And we were kind of like "Have they just tried to spoon-feed us this propaganda?" And we both kind of clicked and we thought "Wow, you've come to exactly the same conclusion as I have". And I think that's where we kind of struck up our friendship.

OF: Excellent. I look forward to meeting Crystyl. Thank you so much, Michael.

MZ: Thank you again.


OF: 你好 [Nǐ hǎo]. I liked what Michael said about the phrase 你好 [nǐ hǎo], you definitely wouldn't say it to an empty room. In fact, I must say I don't really hear it very often at all in natural speech in China. It's used to foreigners because the Chinese know that we understand it. But when I'm greeting people in my neighbourhood, I'm much more likely to hear "吃了吗? [chīle ma?]' - "have you eaten?" Or "去哪里? [Qù nǎlǐ?]" which is "Where are you going?" Those are the substitutes for 'hello' that I'm more familiar with these days. So in case someone Chinese ever asks you "Have you eaten?" or "Where are you going?", you might think that they're being bizarrely intrusive, but actually they're just saying 'hello'. I wish I could have heard this advice myself ten years ago, I lived for six years in Singapore, and I heard this said in English all the time, and I don't think I ever figured it out until living in China many years later.

What I've particularly enjoyed about getting to know Michael over the last few months is that he confounds the expectations of what you might imagine a social media influencer to be. I would have always assumed that they would be vapid and superficial and narcissistic. But Michael's combination of skills from the world of teaching and museums on the one hand, mixed in with his skills in photography and food on the other, make him to be a much more thoughtful and deliberate person than you might otherwise have given him credit for. Speaking of which, there was a lot of information in this week's episode, so let me smash through this as quickly as possible. Firstly, there are many, many connections between Shanghai and Liverpool that we didn't get into. Just have a quick look online, and you can see the several landmarks that look almost identical in both cities. Shamefully, I've never once been to Liverpool - even though my cousin studied there for three years - so it's gone to the top of my list for places that I must try and visit next time I'm in the UK for long enough. Speaking of the UK, I'm pretty sure we didn't use too much slang in this interview. I only noticed two examples. One was the word 'chippie', which means 'a fish & chip shop'. And the other was a reference to smoking 'rollies', which are roll-your-own-cigarettes. The reference to rotten women, or '腐女 [fǔnǚ]', that Michael made in passing, is about a subculture of women in China who are obsessed with gay men. I found an interesting BBC article about this phenomenon, with a reference to Sherlock Holmes actually. I won't say any more about that, I posted the photo on social media, so please take a look there. We're on @mosaicofchina_* on Instagram and @mosaicofchina on Facebook, or you can add me on WeChat with my ID: mosaicofchina* and I'll add you to the group there. The other images I posted include, of course, Michael's object, the very handsome signet ring. That's got his father's name on it, which is 徐宝山 [Xú Bǎoshān]. And 徐 [Xú] is Michael's family name, it was anglicised to Zee because this was the closest to how it sounds in the Shanghainese dialect. So there you go, the difference between 'Xú' and 'Zee', just in case you thought learning Mandarin wasn't difficult enough. Then there is the Honey Boo Boo WeChat sticker; there's the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where Michael used to work; Michael also mentioned Kat Von D and Jamie Oliver as two people who amplified his social media status early on in his Instagram career, so there's a photo of both of them. Kat Von D is an American tattoo artist, and Jamie Oliver is an English chef. There is a photo of Michael dressed up as a beer bottle for Japanese karaoke; there's Heritage by Madison, the Shanghai restaurant that he recommended; there's 千岛湖 [Qiāndǎo hú], which is 千岛 [Qiāndǎo] Lake or 'Thousand Island Lake', the place that Michael said was his favourite destination within China. It looks amazing, I don't know why I haven't been there before. There is a photo of the pink knock-off chair that he had made on Taobao; there is a photo of an old man walking in Pyjamas on the streets of Shanghai. This is actually a photo that I posted on my own personal Instagram, and it was back in October 2016, when it was still a novelty for me. Again, this seems to be something that happens mainly in Shanghai, but please let me know if you know it happens elsewhere in China.

Thank you for listening this far. Mosaic of China is me, Oscar Fuchs Editing by Milo de Prieto, artwork by Danny Newell, and China technical support from Alston Gong. Please like, comment, share, do all those things. If you don't, I'm going to find you I'm going to hunt you, and I'm going to beg and cry hysterically.

*Different WeChat and Instagram handles were mentioned in the original recording. These IDs are now obsolete, and the updated details have been substituted.

Mosaic of China Season 01 Episode 07 – The Symmetry Breakfaster (Michael ZEE, Instagram Influencer)

Oscar Fuchs: Creator, Producer and Host of the Mosaic of China podcast

Oscar Fuchs was the Co-Founder and Managing Director of a global executive search firm dedicated to the Human Resources profession. He was born in the UK and has lived in Asia for 18 years, including 3 years in Hong Kong SAR, and 7 years in mainland China. In 2019 he sold his company, and launched Mosaic of China.

In China, the podcast can also be found at 苹果播客, 小宇宙 and 喜马拉雅.

Internationally, it can also be found at Apple, Spotify, and all other podcasting platforms.

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