We travel using Chinese brands only

Let’s be honest: the perception of Chinese brands isn’t top-notch. But that’s exactly what we want to challenge. Because China is no longer only the copy-cat or factory of the world. We’re moving from ‘made in China’ to ‘designed in China’. And with their aim to become global icons, Chinese brands will be household names around the world sooner than you’d might expect.

We’ve set out to find those Chinese brands that share our vision of a brand new China. Our criteria are simple: our sponsors 1) have Chinese roots and 2) are proud of it. Meet them:

We’re driving a BYD – Build Your Dreams – car.
BYD: From batteries to electric cars
BYD was founded in 1995 as a battery manufacturer, and produces more than half of all mobile phone batteries in the world. So there’s a pretty big chance that the battery in your phone comes from BYD.

With the rise of electric cars, BYD saw a huge potential for not only producing car batteries, but also launching its own car brand. Sparking the interest of top investor Warren Buffet, who invested in BYD to realise its aim to be the largest automaker in the world by 2025. By 2010 Businessweek ranked BYD as the eighth most innovative company in the world.

We would have loved to drive a BYD electric car from China to Holland, but not being able to charge our car on the remote steppes of Kazakhstan made that a no-go. So we will be driving a BYD F5. A gasoline powered sedan that comes with a remote control to drive the car while not behind the wheel!

BYD Europe website

We’re calling/texting/groufing with a Huawei Ascend P7

Huawei: the challenger
Since its founding in 1987, Huawei has become a well-known telecommunications company building 4G networks around the world.

The past few years Huawei has shifted its business focus to the consumer market with smartphones and tablets. A challenging place to be in between Apple and Samsung. But with almost half of its 140,000 employees working in R&D, Huawei sees itself as a visionary challenger that can compete with the giants.

We’ll be traveling with its latest flagship model, the Ascend P7, also known as the ‘selfie smartphone’. It has an 8 megapixel front camera and can take panorama group selfies (dubbed ‘groufies’) and selfie videos in 1080p quality. We’ll be sure to be ‘groufing’ around the ‘stans with our Huawei smartphone.

Huawei website

We’re surviving with Ozark gear

Ozark: Outdoor enthusiasts
Despite not being founded by a Chinese, but by Swiss outdoor enthusiast Hans Shallenberger, Ozark’s roots are definitely Chinese. The brand was founded in 1996 in Beijing and has been promoting outdoor culture in China ever since.

Chinese outdoor enthusiasts run the brand. We contacted them just two weeks before our departure, and their claim that anybody who uses Ozark products is a friend to them was proven by their enthusiasm. The Chinese marketing manager arranged the sponsorship while hiking and emphasized, “We’re not a boring company, let’s make this fun”.

When they arranged an unlimited shopping spree for us in the Ozark store in Shanghai we felt like kids in a candy store.

Ozark website

We’re blogging with our Lenovo touchscreen laptops

Lenovo: First globally trusted Chinese brand
Lenovo was founded in 1984 as Legend Holdings. In 2004 it changed its name to Lenovo and, in 2005, acquired the former PC division of IBM, the company that invented the PC industry in 1981. As a result, Lenovo embodies both East and West.

Today, Lenovo is market leader in China, Japan, Germany and Russia, the fastest growing PC maker in the world and celebrates its 30th birthday this year.

We’re proud to have Lenovo sponsor us, as it’s arguably the first Chinese brand to become a trusted household name around the world.

Lenovo website

We’re shooting with AEE

AEE: The friendlier alternative
Founded 15 years ago, AEE has grown to an outdoor camera brand used by outdoor enthusiasts as well as Chinese police, fireman and military forces.

The brand was re-launched in 2005 with a capital of 200 million RMB, allowing the brand to expand overseas. Its products are now for sale in the US and Europe at retailers such as Radioshack, MediaMarkt, Decathlon and Best Buy.

While the brand is often compared to American camera brand GoPro, AEE aims to become a world leader in outdoor cameras with over 500 patents and 1,000 employees, and a focus on a friendlier user experience.

What’s important to us when we’re driving in remote areas is that AEE cameras have a 50% longer recording battery life than GoPro cameras.

AEE website

We’re sunbathing with Braos sunglasses

Braos: friends, beer, skateboarding and sunglasses
Three skateboarders with a dream: to build their own sunglasses brand. Meet Braos, the startup brand run by known faces in the skateboarding scene of China.

Founded over a beer, the trio created their first pair of sunglasses two years ago. Today, they collaborate with brands like Vans to reach out to their growing community and work on sunglasses made of recycled skateboards.

The name Braos is derived from ‘brothers’, to emphasize the spirit of three friends doing what they love: skate while wearing their own sunglasses.

We’re wearing XIYOUJI clothing

XIYOUJI: Journey to the West
The story of XIYOUJI can be found in the Chinese literary novel, legend and folktale, Journey to the West, which originated in the 16th century.

The tale is about a monk’s pilgrimage to the West (to India, to be exact). The story is overflowing with magic, demons, gods, immortals, action and adventure. The disciples of the monk, including the Monkey King, a pig and a water buffalo have to battle hordes of demons, which all want to kill the monk because his flesh will give immortality to anyone who eats it.
A year ago Mr. Cheng, a fashion designer by trade, decided to launch it’s own clothing line based on the folktale. While we won’t be driving to India, our ‘journey to the west’ inspired him to become our clothing sponsor.

If you wondered what the monks and monkeys are doing on our t-shirts in our videos: now you know.

Rogier BikkerOur sponsors