China – Under The Hood: Robert Kochmann, Rest In Peace

The sudden passing away of Robert “The Master Butcher” Kochmann is a very sad happening indeed. Even if you didn’t know Robert Kochmann a death so far away from home and his loved ones should give us all pause to reflect on our own circumstances.

Robert Kochmann was the proud Production Manager at Steinbock Original German Sausages (Hangzhou) Ltd (, a Sino-German joint-venture recently established to produce high-quality German meats, including sausages, for the China and Asia markets. There was nothing Robert didn’t know about his produce, particularly his sausages and meatloaf, which I, at last, tasted at CBR’s birthday party back on March 22nd, the last time I talked to Robert.

His sausages were so friggin delicious that I greedily ate five of them, thus denying latecomers a chance to indulge. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of referring to Robert’s meatloaf as Spam, whereupon he spent the next twenty minutes lecturing me on the not so subtle differences. Of course, he was right while I was put to shame.

I only met Robert a handful of times. He was always jovial, always had a good word to say about everyone, and was increasingly happy living in Hangzhou, all the more so since he had found himself a girlfriend.

He always spoke English in a heavy Germanic tone to the point where I think I only understood about 10% of what he was actually saying – luckily the most important 10%. Every time we met he would reminisce about his trip to Killarney in Ireland, orange haired, red cheeked Irish Fraulines, “zat yellow beer zat you drink”, and, curiously, donkeys…  I put that down to my 10% understanding, but he certainly had fun in Ireland…

Like all sudden departures from this world, it is always very hard to equate the fact that someone you chatted to not so long ago is no longer alive. Yep, Robert Kochmann was a good man.

Sitting here now I am thinking how I wish I had chatted to him more, to know more of the man he was. I do know he was a French Foreign Legionnaire, and that he had close family and friends back in Germany who will miss the life that passed away so suddenly today Thursday, April 17th, 2008. How aggrieved they must feel to learn that their father, brother, friend has passed away in a foreign land so far away from them.

My thoughts are with Robert’s family and friends.

From one member of the Hangzhou ex-pat community to another

Robert Kochmann

Rest In Peace


2nd May, 2008 As of today his body lies unclaimed in a refrigerator, inside a Hangzhou city mortuary.  Married twice Robert apparently had at least two children, two girls, the youngest of whom is in her teens.  His company, Steinbock Original German Sausages, will have him cremated and the ashes will be sent back to Germany.  Local Chinese staff and friends in Hangzhou cannot understand the thinking that even his children would not at least want to see him for the last time or claim his body, especially when, apparently, on a monthly basis he would send monies earned to them.  Doubtless there is another untold side to this story back in Germany.

18th May, 2008– Since nobody came to claim his body – no one from either his family or a senior management representative from his company back in Germany – Robert, who put so much energy into setting up Steinbock Original German Sausages in Hangzhou, was cremated by the authorities who were planning to post his ashes to a friend in Germany…Sad

21st February, 2009– Robert’s ashes still lie unclaimed by his family. No matter what kind of father / husband he may have been, not even having the common decency to arrange for the repatriation of his ashes to Germany is insensitive at best. More unbelievable is the fact his German employer hasn’t seen fit to make a similar arrangement.  What kind of people run (

Gerry Thornley – Credit where credit is due

If someone makes a huge difference in your life it certainly doesn’t hurt anyone to show your appreciation for their hard work, especially if you have never met that person face-to-face: Credit where credit is due.

It’s the middle of the rugby union Six Nations 2008 Championships back home, my favourite time of the sporting year, with Ireland once again battling it out for glory against France, Italy, Wales, England and Scotland, and I know  back home in Ireland everyone is glued to their televisions in anticipation of triumph.  Great craic to be had by all especially when, with two rouds to go, any one of four teams can still claim the Six Nations title.

Wisdom in the shape of a rugby ball
Wisdom in the shape of a rugby ball

And here I am in China… no rugby, let alone Six Nations rugby is broadcast on State-run CCTV television, and the games on the Star Sports/ESPN satellite channels –if you can find a bar that uses the Philippines as opposed to Hong Kong signal to broadcast the rugby matches – are on so friggin late!

Well all is not lost… cue Gerry Thornley, the Rugby correspondent for the Irish Times, who in my humble opinion is the divine being of sports journalism. The way his words illustrate the protagonists, the villains, and set the scenes before, during and after each match is mind-boggling… he really is a master craftsman when it comes to writing and I’d be truly fecked if I couldn’t read his prose in the build up to each game.

So credit where credit is due….


From: Gerry Thornley []
Sent: Wednesday, 27 February, 2008 10:16 PM
Subject: Re: ireland .com:All Black blue blood steeped in red


Cheers Niall,


Much appreciated.


Sat, Feb 16, 2008 at 11:45 PM

From: Niall
Re: “All Black blue blood steeped in red” [ }
Hi Gerry
As a diehard Irish rugby fan living in China, where the State television monopoly makes it almost impossible to view any of the games Live, the manner of your writing talent only adds to my sense of frustration. Keep it up… I consider you the very best sports writer around.
All the best