Breath-taking Jiu Zhai Gou

I was in complete awe of this natural beauty that unfolded before me. Sure I have heard alot about Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan province, but it was captivating beyond what I have ever seen.
The crystal-clear water came in fascinating hues of blue, green, yellow, grey, with a tinge of red/brown somewhere, a sparkle of the sun, and the full reflection of the trees and hills -- breath-taking!

We took the walking trail most of the time; it led us to hidden jewels away from the crowd, and immersed us in clean fresh air! We calculated we actually walked for more than 10km over the 3 days! My only exercise for this year, nice, just before the year ends, at least I could say that I have exercised!

- Jiuzhaigou and Huang Long in Sichuan province of China , Sep07


Lasting Impression of Xian - China

The capital of Shaanxi province, Xian is one of the birth places of the ancient civilization - 13 dynasties including Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang situated their capitals in Xian.

I have always wanted to visit Xian to view the magnificent Terracotta Warriors at the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Little did I know, this trip became an invaluable lesson for me on the Chinese history. Xian offers alot more than the Terracottas!

We also climbed Mt Huashan, one of the five best-known sacred mountains in China, famous for its breath-taking cliffs and dangerous climbs, it is also known as 'The Number One Precipitous Mountain under Heaven". With a phobia of heights, I was apprehensive about climbing Mt Huashan. But we managed to get pass the most precarious part - Chang Long Feng! The pathway sits on top of a narrow ridge, with steep cliffs on both sides! See the pix!
Within the city, the Shaanxi History Museum is a must see! We also checked out the City Wall (not as good as Pingyao, I must say). Interesting night scenes include the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (with a display of music fountain), Bell Tower, Muslim Street.
We were travelling with a cab driver for all 3 days, who introduced us to many interesting local Shaanxi cuisines - Hulu Tou, Qi Shan Mien, Xiang La Tang! Enjoyed all of them!


Hike up old Great Wall

With the BJ Hikers, Cat, GS & I headed up to the Great Wall's Round Towers over the weekend. The round tower sits on the top of the mountain, where the mountain cantilevers over the valley. These towers were used as beacons at the end of the Wall, where the cliff face was so shear it could not continue. It took us 1hr 45 min to navigate the very steep paths to get to the top of the 700m tall mountainm, which look out over Miyun's reservoir (Beijing's largest) and across the mountains.

The hike downhill was through dirt paths, a Bamboo house and stone village to cold beers!
It was a good hike, afterwhich we headed out for a foot massage and had to put up with a few days of aching muscles!
We also befriended another hiker and caught up for dinner day after!


SH beauty - Xitang, Tongli Old Water Towns

The world is filled with astonishing occurrences of coincidence. It happened to me just recently, which led me to SH and met up with 2 pals whom I have not kept in touch very much over the last few years. A tiring weekend, nevertheless, a very enjoyable one.

KH, not one whom I know to cook, whipped out a very delicious meal for us! Perhaps getting a balance back into his life after quitting his tiring job, has given him a chance to explore other joys in life! :) And Nance, had to put up with him for messing her kitchen and apartment! ;)

We visited 2 very beautiful old water towns, about 1.5 hrs ride from Shanghai - Xitang and Tongli. Though these 2 towns are beginning to lose their authenticity, with commercialism creeping up in many corners, but still exquisite compared to their more commercialised counterparts - Zhou(1) Zhuang(1) and Zhu(1) Jia(1) Jiao(3). A must for everyone who has a chance to explore a couple more days during your visit to Shanghai.

Xitang - Xi(1) Tang (2) - this is where Mission Impossible 3 was filmed. It is more beautiful in the late afternoon to early evening, when the red lanterns that lined the street/river lights up, adding an authentic feel to the place. We spent about 2-3 hours here, before leaving at 8.30pm to Tongli.

Tongli - Tong(2) Li(3) - unlike other water towns which have a key canal or many canals and bridges criss-crossing the town, Tongli has more differing historical sites to visit - beautiful gardens, collection of wooden carvings and many more... We stayed in an exquisite 3-star hotel - Shi(4) De(2) Tang(2), inside the Tongli town itself, which offers basic ammenities but very clean rooms, friendly service and good food. We arrived late at night, around 10pm, but the kitchen prepared food for us... and a late breakfast too! I love this service! This is a far more ideal place to stay, compared to the other 5 star hotels which are located a distance from the town. The next morning, we stepped out of the hotel onto one of the key attractions of the town - Ming Qing Street where you find architecture dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties!


To Russia, with love

St Petersburg - Parade Square & The Hermitage

Moscow - St Basil Cathedral & the Kremlin @ The Red Square

Another trip with mom!

Russia, the largest country in the world, and by far, one of the most beautiful European country that I have visited! A short trip, we only managed to cover Moscow and St Petersburg. I had wanted to do the Trans-Siberia trip but perhaps I will save that for another time. My deepest impressions of Russia are: the carnival of onion domes, the church architecture, Kremlin, the russian cabbage soup which we have at every meal, the Hermitage museum, and most of all, the awesome Moscow's metro stations!

I really enjoyed these trips with mom! Since staying away from home, I really missed my family and look for every opportunity to spend time with dad and mom especially.

Other thoughts:
When was the last time you closely observed your parents' faces - and I don't mean look, but noticing every detail on their faces?

I have never done it, until the day I sat next to my dad in the Peking Union Hospital - Xie(2) He(2) in Jan 2006. I still recalled how sick and how frail dad was, and when the doctors told me how bad his condition was, I could not stop crying and at that moment, was the first time ever I took a long look at my dad and noticed how he has aged. I really thank God for pulling dad and the family close together and through this very difficult period. Praise God that my dad is now healed though significantly weaker, and he also came to believe in God!

Now, I make it every effort to closely look at my dad's and mom's faces everytime I am home. Though I can tell how much they aged, I wish I can forever behold the beauty of my parents that compasses not only their features, but their lives, their hardships and most of all, their love for us. We can never out-give our parents what they have taken their lifetime to give to us! How I love them!

"Yet God so loved the world, that He sent His only son to die for our sins, that those who believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16)


Spongebob Square Pants!

This is my favourite Finance Director in a Spongebob Square Pants suit @ HK Rugby 7s! Not your usual expectation of a FD, but this dude is real cool! I am going to miss him now that he has been transferred out of China.


CNY Fireworks Away!

We had a blast!

This is the 2nd time we are playing with fireworks this CNY!

The first time was before we left for CNY holiday. Back then, Piak and GS bought a carload of fireworks, and we drove out to 5th ring area for our free play. That was very fun, far better than what bro and I played last year. There were all sorts of fireworks - my favourite was the "flying bee", after lighting these, fling them into the air and it will fly a distance before lighting up into a mini firework.

But this time, an ambitious Cat progressed to the "Li(2) Hua(1) Tan(4)!! Just heard in the news that a guy had blasted off his arm while playing one of these last week! I was very apprehensive! These Li Hua Tan are shaped like gigantic mushrooms, the size of a pomelo, and requires a launcher to blast them into the air, exploding into a lovely firework display! Yes just like a rocket launcher!

We had to find a very secluded spot outside 5th ring road. Wang shifu found us a perfect spot and we managed to stabilise the launcher over a tree stump. The impact was so great that it created a small crater around the tree stump! There was also a faulty one, which exploded mid-way in the air, sending shock waves which we could even feel though we ran a long distance away!

Prefer to stick to the safer options!