Sunday, August 30, 2009

Parachute band


Lijiang is famous for it's Naxi minority and the architecture. The Unesco World Heritage designation means that every new construction must conform to the original style. Renovations are to be done to maintain the same style. Of particular interest are the roofs of these buildings. They are more a mixture of Chinese and Naxi style, the tiles and the flying eaves. I wonder what was the origins of the flying eaves, I couldn't find any literature on it. Morning is the best time to explore the ancient city. So after woofing down breakfast, I ran over to the ancient city, I was staying at a hotel just outside it. No one was about, no tourists I mean, just the locals going to school and to work. The sun hasn't fully appeared and it is sort of misty. I climbed up to the top of the hill where the TV mast is. I was panting, I was out of shape.
I wend through narrow alley ways, past homes where I can hear the rustling of people going about their business inside. The kids are saying goodbye to the elders and are leaving to go to the school which was half way up the hill. This part of the ancient city is set against the hill and there was a steep climb. It is another beautiful part of the city, so very unusual.

Lijiang is pretty and well worth a visit. In spite of the touristy and carnival atmosphere, there are lots of authentic experiences to be had. The people are really friendly and helpful. It is very clean, even the market.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Debt slave

This is an excellent YouTube video on the state of economic situation in the USA.

The spirit of adventure

'The spirit of adventure is propagated only by contagion', wrote Paul Tournier in his book, 'The Adventure of Living'. He wrote this as he started reading books by other people inclujding Teilhard de Chardin to see if he could catch the adventure bug. That is what we need to do in order to rev up our game plan. But for many of us 'routine' is just fine. For the rest of us, we need to feel more alive. Sometimes we watch TV just to satisfy that craving of being more alive but that only mean watching other people's adventures and not experiencing our own.
The whole idea of adventure is to embark on our own. According to Paul Tournier, every adventure has a starting point, a climax and an ending, they don't last and new adventures need to arranged again. Fine by me! While life is long, it needs to be punctuated by big and little adventures and sprinkle in the daily grind of commuting and work, bosses to please, sales numbers to meet and a whole host of other problems.
Usually life is more about problems than adventure. I'm always putting out a fire somewhere. I tell my intern, 'every problem (of the customer) is an opportunity (for service and the making of some money)'.'s more work, really! As I write this, I'm in a car dealership having my car worked on. It's not even 10 am and the plumber has already been to my house to work on the sewer system. Where's the adventure in living?

My companions at home are a stack of books about the Silk Road in China. I'm hoping to catch the contagion of one day visiting these places on the ancient Silk Road. I'm reading Ella Maillart's books, 'Forbidden Journey' and 'Turkestan Solo' slowly because if I finished them I wouldn't anything else interesting to read. These are amazing accounts of travel along the Silk Road before the second world war. She did these journeys on horses, asses and camels. Not that I want to follow in her physical footsteps..hmmmm..why not? But definitely I want to follow her spirit, the spirit of her trips, the spirit of her adventures. I want to embark on these trips by taking advantage of modern travel - the use of motorized means of transportation, rooms and restaurants. I, definitely, don't want or need to, buy a horse or camel, pack a bunch of supplies and cross the Gobi desert! But then, why not...hmmmm... am I catching the spirit of adventure by contagion?
The trick to embarking on any adventure is to make the commitment. Buy the plane ticket. I'm even at this moment putting the finishing touches to my next adventure (in 2 weeks) to Eastern Europe. I had wanted to go back to China, to Xinjiang province but instead I'm going to London, then hop on Eurostar and to Eastern Europe.

We celebrated our niece's embarking on a huge adventure, going to college. Wow, she said, she wants to be like me, 'have a high paying job and travel.'

We broke out the bubbly.... a few bottles of Elderflower Presse....

Roasted some Manila clams....

....and some more bubbly....

Life is good!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Next trip

The tickets on British Airways has been purchased and here am I consulting a myriad of guidebooks as I plan the itinerary. We'll be crossing many borders and the planning for this trip takes more doing than the previous ones. I don't know how many times I've gone over everything, trying to remember what I read and where, which guidebook did I consult? It's mind boggling but that's what I do for every trip. This will be my third this year and final one for this year. I'm into planning next year's trips. I have to work and save doubly hard and I'm up to the task. I mustn't neglect my other financial commitments like saving in order to invest and paying off the mortgage. As the saying goes, pay yourself first and I do, as I save for travel, I pay extra into my mortgage and I send regular checks to my Schwab one brokerage account and pick my own stocks. I am constantly scanning the business news to get stock tips and right now I'm fully invested in foreign stocks. There are interesting YouTube videos on the current economic crisis in the USA and sometimes I post them on this blog.
For days now I've been struggling with the Rail Europe website trying to purchase our rail passes and make reservations on certain sector of the trip. I was hung up on the Hungarian sector until I called the Rail Europe people yesterday and a very nice lady helped me complete the arrangements and got me an even cheaper price. We'll be flying into and out of London. From London we'll take Eurostar to the continent. On one sector we'll be sleeping on the train, a first for us. It will be so interesting. We'll take the night train from Budapest to Zurich, be in Zurich for a few hours before proceeding onto Strasbourg, France.
I'm excited. It'll mean a lot of different places and eating a lot of different food. Wherever possible we'll be staying in hostels, just can't afford hotels anymore.
The Eurostar station in London has moved from Waterloo to St Pancras. I've been into Waterloo station many times. This is another first, going to St Pancras.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The locals looked at me strangely as I took pictures of their tricycles. They couldn't understand my fascination with their rust buckets. But they are interesting and form an interesting photographic collage. Just like the donkey carts in and around Cairo, Egypt.

TV dishes?

Can you tell, I couldn't get enough? Pedal power, that's a very green way of transportation. I would hate to see the air in Lijiang get polluted. Right now the air is clear and the water is pristine. I am a voyeur into people's lives, how they live their lives, that's why I travel. I'm not happy, just reading about it or watching it on the telly. Paul Theroux said, 'travel is a lazy way of passing time'. True, one just chase after the locals to see how they live their lives. That's what I've been doing on all my trips.