Saturday, December 31, 2011

Byzantine architecture

I am fickle. I used to be so deep into Baroque architecture. But now I'm into Byzantine architecture. I'm into the Byzantine empire and all things Byzantine.

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's almost time to be on the road again

It's almost time to leave on another trip. Another long flight, some more flea pit motels.... it's just the ticket to get me up. Really! I have to make reservations for anothe flea pit motel in Amman, Jordan. Sigh! How else would I be able to travel? It's a small price to pay. And so I continue.... to do what I've done the past over 10 years. This is a hostel room in Catania, Sicily. I've used this picture many times. Maybe I'll use it in a book that I'll one day write.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Keiko Oikawa

I've always wondered how to use other people's pictures. This is a test, its only a test. I can't resist being a kleptomaniac in this test. I've always admired Keiko Oikawa's photography. She does such an incredible job for Petershamm Nurseries. Her work is so phenomenally beautiful, I could cry seeing it. Sorry, Keiko, for not asking permission but at least I didn't pretend these were my work.

Byzantine architecture

Cicekler, the wild flowers of Turkey

The wild flowers of Turkey is legendary. Visitng the Eastern part in June I didn't think I'll see anything. I thought every flower would have dried up but not so, the wild flower season was at its height and oh so glorious. I didn't miss anything. I dared not exhale for fear it was a dream but it wasn't.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Me and him

In Lijiang, a little village in Yunnan province, China, the streets are always teeming with tourists but in the early hours of the morning, you virtually have the place to yourself. Well, I thought I was alone until I spotted him. We both have the same idea, visit the village before the tourists fininsh breakfast and we'll have the place to ourselves.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lijiang, China 2

Maybe it means something in Chinese but the English translation sure don't make sense. I guess it could be advertising rooms for the lonely traveler or the traveler traveling by himself.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The cinque terre

 We stayed in Manorola at a private apartment and this was the view.

 Sophie walking one of the trails.
This is Montorosso, one of the villages devastated by the floods. To see the ravages of the water and mud was hard. The cinque terre is so beautiful, every village perched against cliffside, it is amazing they survived all these years.The cinque terre is a true marvel, a Unesco World Heritage site.

The floods in the cinque terre

I just saw the floods in the cinque terre that happened last October. It was so bad. I hear of so many natural disasters but it doesn't affect me as bad as when I have been to these places. I have been to the cinque terre and love the cinque terre. I read in Rick Steves' newsletter they are back in business and are welcoming visitors again.

Lijiang, China

Riding alone for thousands of miles? I don't know what that mean. Maybe its about our lives, we are alone. We need to live our own lives ourselves.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas dinner was a resounding success

 I cooked a lot, I thought I'll have a lot more leftovers which would mean I don't have to cook for the next few days. It doesn't looked like it because my guests ate almost everything.

Santa was here and left a lot of happy people. No one was disappointed.
There were birthday celebrations too, mine and my niece, Karin's. We had a great time, there were 20 of us.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A hive of activity

The smell of mince meat pies permeating from the kitchen is a clear reminder that the season is upon us. I'm cooking for 20 people and my trusty old commercial stove can handle any task. It is big enough for 2 turkeys to be cooked side by side. I love this old thing but I still want to replace it one day. It is the best time of the year with family gathering, especially those who made the great trip out West from the East coast. I pray that your Christmas is as joyous as mine.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

I wish you an incredibly happy Christmas and New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A day in the park

On Sundays, the locals in Kunming all came to the park. Some groups would play musical intruments together, some would sing, some would take out their expensive cameras and tripods and photograph the water lilies, some would just mill around and enjoy the park. There are a few big groups that would do group dancing, everyone dressed in their ethnic finery. There is this lovely older lady all decked out that I was following with my camera. She looked so delightful. They would dance in a circle when the music played. Then I saw this tall Chinese man teaching a group to do the cha cha cha. It was so fun. The unfortunate thing was there was a cloud burst and we all scattered and that was the end of my day in the park, in Green park, Kunming.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Restoration of a temple

I guess the ancient beams have rotted and they are now making new ones to replace the old. The ancient tiled roofs were all saved to be reused later including the dragons that would grace the flying tips pf the roofs. These were a happy bunch of workers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baby carriers

While many of the baby carriages may have been made in China, one is hardpressed to see any Chinese pushing their kids in them. Chinese still carry their infants in pouches like these. These are beautifully embroidered. All one does is stick the baby in one of these and carry them around like in a backpack. Neat!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gorgeous embroidery

The Chinese wear this drab indigo dyed clothing that is very traditional. It's the same pattern I remember my paternal grandmother wearing these clothes. Today they can dress up their drab clothing with gorgeous and intricately embroidered patches. Here they are being sold in the Sunday market. Looking back I should have bought some to embellish some of my clothes. It would have been fun. Someone once wrote, 'we regret not the trips we've taken but the ones we didn't' or put in another way 'we regret not the things we bought but the ones we didn't'.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another China

We did live like this growing up but will I be able to live like this again? I don't think so. It's just too primitive. It's fun to visit and see how other people live. All week long these folks are probably working alone in the fields. The Sunday market is a time to socialise and catch up with friends and neighbors. It's probably something to look forward to all week.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The other China

The difference between the haves and the have nots in China is a growing gap. On our trips we meet Chinese from the big cities like Beijing or Shanghai, they have money to travel. They have the 2,000 yuan to fly around the country. Elsewhere there is another group who has never seen 2,000 yuan in their lives. They live in rural China and eke out very meager living from what they produce. Here one is hardpressed to see more motorized transportation. They use charcoal to cook with and horses to pull their carts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A market in South China

The markets especially in rural countries are such a fascinating place. I remember markets in rural Morocco. I read about the incredible Sunday market in Kashgar which is a must see soon on my list. This was a Sunday market an hour's drive outside Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in South China. It was so primitive and so wonderful. It was crowded and I must have been the only foreigner there.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lunch time in China

While there are restaurants and even Western hamburger chains all over China, this scene is repeated every where all over the country. People sitting on low stools, slurping noodles with 2 little sticks. I recently found out that those little disposable chopsticks are mostly made in the USA. We have a lot of soft woods because of reforestation and we make most if not all the world's disposable chopsticks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Preserved eggs

I think they are duck eggs that has been preserved by wrapping them in ash or lime, I am not sure. I eat them sometimes. I served this to a friend once, she didn't have any opinion, either good or bad. She's very adventurous when it comes to food. It's an acquired taste. It's kind of strong smelling and creamy, it takes some getting used to. We eat them with rice to cut down the smell and the taste. So as a condiment, they are edible.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

People mover

While a lot of big Chinese cities are thoroughly modern, with Western shops, cars and other modern amenities, there is a Chinese, just yards away, which is rural and backward. Backward in a good way, not a bad way. For me, it is this backward China that I come to see and to enjoy. The capital of Yunnan province is Kunming and is very modern, they have Pizza huts, McDonalds, and Dolce & Gabbana and more cars than there's room on the roads for. Just an hour away are little villages where people lived like they did 100 years ago. The best time to visit is on a Sunday, every villager would have come to town, bringing their surplus and buying whatever else they needed. It is a fascinating spectacle and most likely you would be the only foreigner in town.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Door gods

As a child , our grandmother would always be chiding us, 'don't make the gods angry.' For some reason the gods are easily offended and you do not want to offend them. There is a god for everything and you always have to ask permission or else they will be angry and the outcome is not good. I remember being afraid all the time until I went to Sunday school in church where I was taught to pray and this God of the Christians would hear, be sympathetic and correct the injustice. I remember as a child adopting the good God of the Christians as my God and forsaking my grandmother's many gods. In my travels in China I see reminders of my grandmother's gods. I wish for them (the Chinese) that they too will adopt the God of the Christians.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is very early this year. I just discovered the first day is going to be January 23, 2012. I also discovered it's going to be the year of the dragon. Wow! That's my year, I was born in the year of the dragon. I must make 2012 a banner year and that is my Chinese New Year resolution!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

And so we come to the end of this trip

Here we are trying to get in to see Prince Gong's house. I was tired and didn't feel like fighting the crowds so I sat outside. There was this cute old man next to me and I took his picture. I'll be going to Petra next month and in the mean time will post old pictures and stories.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Great wall of China @ Badaling

The culmination of our trip to China was a visit to the Great Wall of China. This was at the Badaling section, the section that every tourists goes to. We couldn't find transportation to the other parts, so we had to make do with this. It was impressive. For a time it did keep out the Mongol hordes from the North but even these walls were breached. The Mongols were a mighty fighting machine but their expertise were limited to battle on the steppes of Mongolia and Central Asia. It wasnt' when they conquered another rival tribe who were great engineers and knew about seige warfare that they had the knowledge on how to breach the walls of China. These stretch for miles and miles in the North of China.