Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

A refreshing retreat - cool and colourful up in Fraser's Hill

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

People I met in China - part 2

Business must be good with millions of tired feet, not to mention achy bodies seeking relief after enjoying the sights of Beijing. I too succumbed to all the endless miles covered and treated myself to half an hour of foot massage at the famous Silk Street market. This shop offers pedicure, removal of dead skin on soles, massage of body, shoulder and feet.

A tourist posing with a Muslim at the Nan Dou Ya Mosque in Beijing. The exterior of this mosque looks like another Chinese temple except there's a yellow crescent above the roof top and Arabic writings to indicate you're in another place of worship.

The woman in the white cap was conducting singing practice with a group of women in the park. How nice to hear sweet voices floating in the air, under shady trees.

Poetry in motion - two agile seniors exercising with a yin-yang looking fan and ball. I fell in love with his graceful movements as he caught the ball in his fan with a crouching tai chi stance. Then he swung the fan with the ball under his leg and threw it back to his friend who did the same manoeuvres . Someone offered me the fan. We engaged and oh, how clumsy I was tho I too managed to swing the ball on the fan under my feet ( once) and then it was over!

Chinese kids just wanted to be in the photos encouraged by an adult. Not a bit shy tho the dark haired girl wasn't too sure what was going on!

Let the music play on - expressing their inner souls in the music they enjoy.

How nice to see men and women immersed in craft - making beaded balls. Seems like keeping minds and hands busy is an everyday activity among adults.

This surely beats all - happiness is a pair of knitting needles in the old man's hands. I mustn't say I can't knit anymore!!

With a smile in your heart, your music will be heard. A blind man playing on a traditional musical instrument outside the Summer Palace.

An air of importance -before entering the Forbidden City. Several souvenir stalls line the walkway.

Friday, September 17, 2010

People I met in China - part 1

The trip to Beijing focused on the grand sights. Like I said before, it was a whirlwind holiday giving a taste of what the capital city has to offer. Our hotel was ideally located near Tian'anMen Square which made commuting easier as the huge roads are crammed with cars.

Let's get real - be prepared to bear up with some retail therapy when visiting China on an organised tour. Of course it can get out of hand if that's what you want! It's hard to zoom in and make a purchase right away as the choices are mind boggling. Our guide cued us on striking it hard and wished us luck at the huge bazaars like the Silk Street Market. So as much as you think it is ridiculously low, stick to your price. Chances are you're a welcome customer!

Here are pics to show you some of the people I met . That's where the local flavour surfaces.

Wanna be clad in an armour and feel the strength of a warrior of bygone eras? Dress up at The Great Wall for some good memories to take home. Many people seemed game to try a costume or two. Nothing like getting under the skin of your hero!

A shop assistant packaging the jade ear rings and pendant . The shops are never short of customer service which is always with great smiles too. English is not an obstacle - especially when you talk in yuan!!

Truly marvelled at the skill of the craftsman - expertly drawing with an angled brush inside the glass globe. I couldn't resist getting 3 small globes with the Chinese zodiac animals for my children - monkey, dog and tiger and their names written in English.

Much interest in buying freshwater pearls as authencity is guaranteed in this government outlet - hard to resist taking home genuine gifts .

The shop assistant spoke almost impeccable English. She briefed us on the differences between saltwater and freshwater pearls, asked us to guess how many freshwater pearls there were in the oyster. No correct answers when she prised it open. Not one or two but many like 20!!

She did her job well - explaining about the silk cocoons and how they differ from Thai or Indian silk types. I was impressed by her English and how well she articulated . We're enjoying the silk quilt we bought. Choose one to suit your clime.

A street artist displaying his art outside the Temple of Heaven

Such a nice chunk of sweet juicy melon sold by the street vendor.

I was warned about the hot weather at this time of the year. Luckily the temperatures hovered around 29 - 30 celscius and was breezy. Anyhow, shades of any kind are always welcomed. Try a concertina-like hat and be noticed. They are abundantly available in the stalls and sold by so many itinerant vendors.

It's a colourful world - outside imperial times too. Have fun and wear an empress' headgear.

In his wheelchair, he had a captive audience and sold little replicas of the Bird's Nest in the grounds of the Olympic site. Yes, it changes colour too if you press a little something! !

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Great Wall of China - JuyongGuan

A quick snapshot before the climb.

Our guide made this introduction to The Great Wall . She quoted Mao Zedong : He who has not climbed The Great Wall is not a true man'. Well, would I or many others take him seriously?? That is not to say my heart didn't skip more than a few beats to be THERE. Definitely a must -see to complete one's tour of the highlights of Beijing. I 'm just glad and thankful for this adventure.

Far view of The Great Wall as the world knows it.

We were reminded to be suitably attired - good pair of walking shoes, sunshades, arm yourselves with mineral bottled water and with good spirit, climb!

Juyong Guan is a pass ('quan' means a mountain pass through mountains). Having the mountains on either side goes to show it was ideal for defences. It is situated 50 km north west of Beijing.

At the gate - tickets already purchased by the guide.

Several factors worked in my favour during the climb : 1) no jostling and at that time there weren't hordes of people clambering over my head!! 2) weather was pretty pleasant - I didn't sweat profusely as I did at Batu Caves during Thaipusam 3) me legs still can carry me up and down .

If you're happy and you know it .... show a LEG!

The hand rails helped tremendously to give the pull and to guide me on the way down. I stayed close to the sides up and down as I didn't want to be in anyone's way. Take your time to view the grand scenery before you - that's your reward. Such a dizzying realization too that The Great Wall was erected by ordinary folks who built feverishly to accomplish their Emperors' commands to protect their country from marauders. As a precaution, visible warnings remind visitors of the risks especially of those with cardiac history and not to tempt fate by sitting astride the walls.

Easy does it - steps are of varying heights - some more than a foot deep. Hand rails to hold on. Luckily it wasn't overcrowded and people were disciplined as they wove their way up or down.

To my knowledge, nobody complained of wobbly knees after the climb! For those who climbed, one could sense the feeling of satisfaction for having climbed the steps of one of the wonders of the world. After that, and a short rest, we were whisked off to another historic sight of Beijing - The Temple of Heaven.

He wants to be a warrior - someday in Hollywood! ! I saw him getting dressed and he was most eager.

Absorbing more than local culture

Who's looking at US?? - suddenly so many cameras clicked as we stood on the steps to climb The Great Wall to have the mandatory group picture.

Climb every mountain...

Thumbs up before the next ascent - enjoying the breeze too

Locks left behind by couples who believe their love will last forever as they are' locked ' for eternity.

Steady steps will get you higher and higher. Young and old climbed - didn't see anyone running up.

The fun of finding instant, new friends - all the way from Louisiana, USA. -Kathy and Stephanie who suddenly had so many admirers and sportingly took pictures with others to make a happy outing for everyone. Thanks, girls !

Many sunny shades in rows to rest and keep the sun away. Ice - cream and drinks to quench the thirst on a hot, sunny day.

Walking away from ground level to begin the climb.

The shop where we got our bamboo souvenir engraved with our names and the date of our visit. Really the momento is for when the memory fades and the date and place is forgotten!!!