Archive for the ‘small trouble none hong kong adventures’ Category
we went to a very strange place while we were at xiamen. located three hours by car from xiamen city, we booked a day trip to this hakka village that lies in the fujian province. known as tulou, this hakka village is like a version of a village laid out in the form of the colosseum in rome. the only difference is that people actually live in them. we went to the biggest tulou in the village.
the 700 year old structure is a three storey circular complex that houses more than 400 rooms where families live together. as the hakka people are considered a minority ethnic group, i suppose like all minorities everywhere, they like to huddle together in unity.
as the village is situated on the highlands, i think that the main economy comes from growing tea leaves because at the ground level of the complex, you are invited to sample various types of tea. i initially thought that going to a place like that, the locals will definitely try to hard sell their wares to us because they are pretty chilled. so the atmosphere is quite nice.
seeing families live together in such close proximity makes me think of how alienated we are nowadays. it wasn’t too long ago when we had more of a communal sense, i suppose. if only we have more of that now, maybe people would be happier. it seems to me, people now are often eager to have a family but they don’t think about ways of raising the family. some leave it to domestic helpers, others have nannies – paid help, everything can now be exchanged with money. this has become a value that we instill in our children.
sad isn’t it..
back then, it takes a village to raise a child..
i love going to new places and seeing the world. there is nothing quite like seeing the concept of the everyday from another person’s perspective of how everyday is like
whenever there is a holiday in hong kong, people just love to travel. maybe because hong kong is quite centralized most other asian cities just a couple of hours away, that kinda leads to the convenient of traveling.
after working hardcore hours – 12 hours a day for the last 6 months, i threw in the towel for a few days of relaxation. if there was one thing that i would like to do this year – it’s really to see more of china. there is so much to see in china. so much history so many different places and faces.
we headed out to xiamen for a few days of ” doing nothing…
upon arrival, we stayed a day on a little island next to xiamen city. gulangyu reminds me a lot of lamma island. i was really surprised with the large number of colonial -style mansions scattered all over the island. probing the local residents had later revealed that the mansions were built by rich overseas chinese from nanyang ( singapore and malaysia) after they made their fortunes abroad. apparently as well, the xiamen university was funded by a rich overseas chinese who went to singapore. interesting.
anyways, gulangyu must have been one of the most artistic little island enclave i have seen. called the paradise garden of china, one is able to see how art is part of everyday living. the gardens are beautifully landscaped and every bit of space they have, they use it to plant things. at the b&b where we stayed, there was a garden at the back where it is used as an open air art studio and students go there with easels and paint brushes, drawing whatever inspires them.
i really like the old colonial mansions and the coffee places. don’t bother trying the cakes because they are still not up to par but every single coffee place try their hardest to carve out a unique identity of their own.
sending postcards and writing to one another seems also be a unique fabric in the culture of gulangyu. we saw many people regardless of age buying loads of postcards and sending them out. i didn’t hesitate sending my family one too.
i think you will like xulangyu. compared to a lot of places in china, xiamen is spotlessly clean. i hardly see blue skies in china but for four days, i saw nothing but blue skies with an occasional passing of the summer’s shower.
there are only about 3500 people living in kaikoura new zealand and that explains its captivating unspoiled beauty. it is so beautiful, i have no words to describe it. being close to the sea is one of my sources of happiness and kaikoura has that kind of effect on me.
i have not seen a seaside town like quite like kaikoura. known for its whale watching/ swimming with the dolphins tours, many people come to this town to witness for themselves, the miracles of man’s last unconquered frontier – the ocean.
we stayed at brook house a bed and breakfast i picked out from the b&b guide book. i must say throughout the whole trip, brook house was the best place we had stayed at. the guide book reads – judy and louis( the poodle) welcome you to their home. and also their two cats, bruce willis and i forgot the other cat’s name because he was hardly around.
as it turned out, judy the host works for the whaling company and when she found out that we hadn’t made any bookings. she immediately called the company and put us on the waiting list ( note: people who come here for whale watching sometimes book years in advance especially europeans)
there are seven rooms at the brook house. judy had bought the property shortly after her divorce because she wanted to share her home with people from all over the world. her sons are working in japan and london and because her father had loved kaikoura so much, they came here a lot during the summer when she was a child. coming back to kaikoura had been a sentimental choice. well, i am glad judy had done so. one would be blind to not see the amount of careful thought and consideration, she had put into making brook house a pleasant stay.
thanks to judy we managed to do the whale watch. right before we had boarded the boat out the authorities had put on a sea-sickness notice but i thought hell, i have come all the way and i am not going back without seeing a whale.
i think i left my heart in kaikoura and i know you will too.
there were a few places in new zealand, i wished we had the luxury of time to stay a little longer and rotorua was one of it. many years ago, i watched this documentary about places that are considered energy vortexes such as glastonbury and sedona. i am not sure if rotorua make this list but i feel that it should.
there are things that are distinctly rotorua which you cannot help but notice the moment you drive into the city. first of all the smell hits you like bad revenge. rotorua is like a friend with a bad farting problem. there is literally the smell of sulphur everywhere. famous for geothermal activities, a lot of the infrastructure is built around the hot pools. i find it very much a novelty when i see gas emitting out of the ground.
many people who come to rotorua will try out the spas. the most popular one is probably the polynesian spa that is located right in the heart of the city next to the botanical garden. we didn’t try that because a friend had recommended us to go to hell’s gate instead.
first of all the name hell’s gate did not appeal to me and when i looked at the website – i didn’t think it was very well designed. but i must say, it surpassed all of my expectation and we had a great time there.
the maori people consider hell’s gate a “taonga”( treasure) and all throughout the reserve – there are many different types of pools. our tour guide pearl taught us so much about the reserve, the healing properties of the different types of mud.
i tried the mud spa for the first time as well.maybe it’s pyschological but my skin felt really soft after the dip. i secretly wanted my own mud pool at home too but i think it may be too much maintenance.
after the mud spa, we got ready for our massage was surprised to see pearl our tour guide earlier at the reserve walk as my assigned masseur.
i said – ” are you a therapist as well?”
she laughed and said they do almost everything. sometimes she is a cashier, sometimes she is a guide and that is what i find cool about the new zealanders. unlike corporate america – where job functions are streamlined, people in new zealand seem to understand business from a holistic point of view.you can quiz them about the most intimate details of a business and they can tell you. i like that. it gives everyone a form of ownership.
she asked me, what do you think of the reserve walk?
i kept quiet for a minute. i was struggling to find the right word. i then said, you know pearl, it struck me as very odd to find in the middle of all these hot boiling pools a bush walk.
earlier on while she was taking us to the various pools, there was this “green reserve” with a waterfall nestled right in the middle. the waterfall known as the kakahi falls is the largest hot waterfall in the southern hemisphere. the maori warriors used to bathe themselves in the fall, cleaning battle wounds and because sulphur is so acidic it was then used as a form of antiseptic.
pearl looked at me as i continued speaking. i said – i think the green reserve is enchanted. there is an energy there, i felt something.
she said, you are right and from her eyes – i knew immediately i said enough. something unspoken was exchanged between us.
maybe there is magic in this world. somehow right, after coming back from my trip. i became somewhat intrigued with the healing powers of plants. maybe it is in line with my resolution this year of wanting to eat better. maybe our ancestors knew better than us about the healing power of certain things. we just forgot about it along the way.maybe….
sometimes i think we focus too much on what lies on the surface level, we don’t care about what is within. we spend so much money on using expensive skincare but not what we eat. a lot of us are broken inside. i have been struggling with nasal complications for years and none of that – allergy medication is helping me. i think it’s time for me to look elsewhere.
i like the maori people. every single maori i spoke to – they tell you stories about their ancestors. i have enjoyed their stories. when you speak to enough maoris, you’d gather that the eruption of mount tarawera on 10th june 1886 changed maori history forever. i cannot help but to think that rotorua is a good representation about life in general. in life, there is always duality. the land of rotorua is beautiful yet so deadly. so fertile yet so destructive.
i hope to go back someday. until then, like what the maori people say. we are the ” kaitaiki” ( guardians). we need to good care of the environment.
auckland zoo is such a special place- it truly is. located only 20 minutes from the city centre of auckland, auckland zoo is a happy place for both kids and adults.
there are so many things i love about it. i don’t know where to start.
when we were waiting for our turn to feed the giraffe, i heard a man’s voice saying – do you know that a giraffe has seven bones in its neck, just like a human being?
i turned and found ray, a volunteer at the auckland zoo talking to the visitors. i started chatting with him asking him questions about the animals and the zoo. i love the volunteer program at the zoo. for people who are retired especially, this is a good way of giving back to society and not to be bored because you will have a million people to talk to.
i love the sense of involvement that the auckland zoo gives its visitors. i love the open-ness of the zoo and energy of the zoo. i noticed as well they try to put a few different types of animals ( the sociable ones) in a certain enclosure. when i asked ray about it, he laughed and said – like people you don’t want the animals to think they are the only ones in the world.
i hope that for years to come, children and adults get to enjoy the auckland zoo. i used to think zoos are such horrible ideas but i now see the good as well. we are the destructive animal of all no doubt but we are also one of the most compassionate ( potentially) and intelligent as well. there is so much good we could do, it is unbelievable.
the auckland zoo and as well the rest of the new zealand and australia zoos run a pretty successful breeding exchange program and as result to that – they have many animals born in captivity. unfortunately, many including myself will only have the zoos to learn about the animals and fortunately, we still have this channel. there is so much we need to learn about respecting other life forms and that when we hurt nature and its beautiful creature, we all get hurt too – that i guarantee you.
whenever i read about researches done on animals, it never fails to occur to me how dumb we truly are. we grade how intelligent animals are based on a system that we created. if you just spend a little time with them, i can tell you that each animal deserves to be treated like an individual.
while i think the auckland zoo has done a fantastic job i think they should do more to promote the breeding program. i think they should create opportunities for the public to witness the entire birth program of the animals. make you tube videos, create a campaign around their birth/ when they first come out to meet zoo visitors. that would be great public involvement. nevertheless, it was one of the best zoos i have been to.
we stayed at a farm in this relatively small town in canterbury 40 minutes away from the city of christchurch. first of all i have to explain to you why i think that this so personal to me. as what you would call a city slicker, i absolutely detest the fact that i know so little about the entire food chain ( amongst other things)
what is lamb chop to me? it is what i find in the freezer. it is what i tell the butcher to give me when i make a purchase over the counter. i feel that the sanitized condition of how i live sickens me. it absolutely frustrates me that i do not know.
one of the shows that i recently enjoy a lot is a show called the colony. it is on discovery channel. it is about how a group of people working together ( with different skill sets) to build a society from scratch. i think as much what we know today, we don’t know enough and we have overlooked the fundamentals.
i learnt a lot while staying with chris and elaine. i cannot tell you how humbled i am when i realized how a farm is run. i just want to ask you one question – do you think we respect farmers enough? i don’t think we do. which is a shame because without them, we’d have nothing to eat and the fact that they work so hard and yet get back so little – that’s another question i ask myself constantly.
i don’t think i can throw away anything anymore without thinking about how to re-use it or finding a different way to use it..with chris and elaine – everything is maximized. if a chicken coop falls apart, they reuse everything including old nails, when they go for drives, they find apples to feed the donkey, when they eat out and if they can’t finish their food, they take it home to feed the chickens..
good honest hardworking people who knows how to build the world. i feel that we need more of these people. if you are interested in staying at a farm and see for yourself some of the nicest animals around, please pay chris and elaine a visit at warwick farm
they have enderby island rabbits -they are very rare. in fact one of the rabbits that they have at the farm – they are only 12 of them in the world. how lucky i am to have touched one of the rarest animals in the world.
before the fall of the berlin wall, east germans were asked about what they envied most about the west. it was the fact that west germans could travel whenever they want to.
i must say i resonate the same sentiment. people that i have often found interesting were people who had travelled extensively. i find stories of their travels so intimately thought -provoking. we did 15 days in new zealand. whilst we now have thousands of photos to remember the trip by, there was so much about the country i won’t be able to take home with me.. the clean air, the curious looking animals and plants, the spirit of respect the maori people have for the land and animals, the people that we met along the way, the stories that were shared along the way.
i think we went to new zealand at a good time. this year the country is hosting the world rugby cup. whenever a country play host to an event of that scale – the country gains a lot of attention forever changing the lives of its people. many europeans i have asked see new zealand as one of the furthest places they could go and now that traveling has become so common, new zealand will be high on the any avid traveller’s must-visit countries.
things that i will miss about new zealand
1.) every kiwi we have met and talked to, they look as though they really like talking to you. i like that sense of sincerity ( or maybe it’s because when you are so isolated, living with 4.5 million people in a rather large space don’t create enough people for you to talk to. in asia, we have too many people but we have too many people whom we don’t want to talk to!)
2.) the meat because from what i see, cows really graze and run around in large space. if you have seen food inc, you would understand my paranoia about our food source.
3.) sitting outdoor and having a nice cuppa coffee. the air is so clean. i have come to the conclusion that the world doesn’t need 9 billion people, the world needs 9 billion consumers. think about it.
4.) seeing children play.
5.) keeping a sense of child-likeness. we stayed at a farm ( i will devote a write up to this) and the owner of the farm told me this – what is the likelihood of you taking a walk by the beach and finding a piece of driftwood that resembled the head of an alpaca? i seriously thought he was pulling my leg. it’s funny that this person has so much less than me yet have so much more than me – at least he is not jaded and being jaded is nullifying.
5.) i will miss all the animals i made friends with while staying at the farm.