The #COP21 Asian Youths Meet Up was held at Wen Zhou Restaurant. Interestingly (and weird), there are so many different Wen Zhou Restaurants around Paris. So here’s what happened:
While trying to organise this dinner I had decided with a few others that we should hold it at an affordable restaurant as we did not want to burden everyone with the cost of eating at an expensive restaurant which might not fit everyone’s budget. After doing some research we found a quaint little restaurant called Wen Zhou located at the edge of Chinatown in Rue du Maire. We then proceeded to book the place and coordinated everyone to this location. However, when we checked online, we got confused with its location. It showed us a different location in Rue de Bellville – about 15 minutes train ride away from Ru de Maire. So we changed the venue address to the new one.
We then proceed to coordinate all the Asian Youth that we had met over the past week. I sought help from Juliana, a Singaporean staying in Paris, to make the booking at Wen Zhou because they couldn’t speak English, making booking over the phone was difficult. So with Juliana’s help, we booked the Wen Zhou Restaurant. Based on the blog I discovered about Wen Zhou, the affordable Chinese Restaurant was in fact at Rue du Maire. but after some confusion we thought we had the wrong address as Google indicated that Wen Zhou was at Rue de Beleville. We went with the latter. We posted on the Asian emailing list that I had compiled from Conference of Youth 11 (#COY11) the previous week. I felt quite happy with that. We had received good response – dates and times were decided and the final booking at Wen Zhou was made.
The day of the Asian Youth Meet Up arrived, and this Wen Zhou at Rue de Belleville turned out to be a 15-minutes walk from where we, the MYDs, were staying in Paris. The meet up was at 7 P.M. so I decided to head out earlier at 6.15 P.M. to confirm booking and coordinate the space. As I got out to the street, I forgot to mention this was in the heart of Chinatown, I found a Wen Zhou Restaurant – with a blue sign (take note of this). I went in and asked them but they could hardly speak English, only Mandarin and French. They said no booking were made and that I probably meant another Wen Zhou down the road. So I went along, kept walking and couldn‘t find it.
Irritated and slightly angry, I thought they had sent me on a wild goose chase. I proceeded back to the blue-signed Wen Zhou to give the person a piece of my mind. As I was about 5 shops away, I stumbled onto the address 24,Rue de Belleville which was the location based on good ol’ Google I had shared with everyone on the email thread, and lo and behold it was THE WEN ZHOU Restaurant! (Or so I thought) And it was CLOSED! I was shocked – it looked like there were more than one Wen Zhou. Literally within 5 shops apart there were two restaurants with the same name. I panicked, not knowing what to do as the restaurant I booked was closed! So I ran back to blue-signed Wen Zhou, noticed that there was a lot of space and proceeded back to Wen Zhou 24 to redirect people to the blue-signed one. A girl named Nicole from Singapore came by and I told her about the situation and she agreed to help me welcoming our guests at the blue-signed Wen Zhou. I had my note pad with me so I wrote a sign to redirect people to blue-signed Wen Zhou but with no tape or any means to stick it on the door, I waited. More and more people arrived and I redirected them to the new venue. At about 7.30 P.M. Thomas from MYD arrived and helped me to look for tape at nearby stores. He found it and we put up the sign and we went to have dinner with the rest.
During the gathering of 24 Asians, there was a lot of networking going on. Our topics of discussions ranged from what we should do to move forward to how we should focus on generating collaborative efforts instead of focusing on problems. It was at this exact moment I found out that Lastrina from Singapore was at another Wen Zhou with about 13 people. They were at Rue du Maire! The ACTUAL Wen Zhou we had made our booking at! I was in panic mode once again. I announced this to the group and they, who were by now energetic from the all those optimistic chats, said “Let’s go to them!” and so we did. We lost some members on the way because they were too tired and decided to head back. The ORIGINAL When Zhou was only 15 minutes by train and the station was nearby the blue-signed When Zhou we were at.
At the actual Wen Zhou Restaurant we planned, we met up with the other 13 delegates but by then it was way too crowded so we decided to head to a nearby bistro.
At the bistro I found out that Juliana had realised that the Wen Zhou she had booked is not the one with the Googled address I found but instead it was at Rue de Maire and had emailed us at 7.10 P.M of the actual location. So those that ended up at Rue de Maire were actually those who left COP21 after 7.10 P.M. They had seen the email and went to the right venue.
It was an interesting experience organising this Asian Meet Up. It was nice hearing the sounds of Asian languages after a while. The meet up really did boost my spirit to make myself be more useful and more involved in COP21, even though there were some confusions. We still managed to get together, talked about a lot of different topics and most importantly, we had fun being connected in a foreign land.
The Asian Youth Meet Up turned out to be successful despite everything that could go wrong, as we managed to bring together a lot of people from different countries.
Thus, the Discovery of Wen Zhou in Paris came to an end.
Written by: Amalen
Edited by: Aisyah