A serene introduction to the cacophony of China


P1080889
We flew into Guilin, China in the evening and were taken by car, along a four lane highway with minimal traffic, to Yangshou. The Yangshou Village Retreat was along a dark, quiet country road and we retired for the night, lulled to sleep by the sound of frogs croaking, in a surprisingly palatial room decorated in classic French style.

P1080876The morning greeted us with a stupendous view of the mysterious karst peaks and we grabbed bikes to explore the countryside. We rode past old men ploughing the fields with bullock’s, small children playing and women carrying buckets of water to the garden.

P1080877The road was quiet and we were seldom interrupted by the friendly toot of a passing motorbike. We sat on the banks of the Li River watching empty tour boats glide up the river. A serene first morning in China. Continue reading

Go Biker, Hi Taiwan

The inclusion of Taiwan on our itinerary held two attractors. One was visiting our local friends (Jack & Kitty) and the other was cycling around Sun Moon Lake. Cycling in a foreign place allows you to see things that would otherwise be considered “off the beaten track”, and the bit of exercise that comes with it is an added bonus too.

P1080838

The brochures describe Sun Moon Lake as “an alpine lake with serene beauty and tranquility”. In some places around the lake I Continue reading

Taking time for tea in Taipei

I’m a tea drinker. Here’s how my mother taught me to prepare tea. First warm the tea pot by rinsing it out with hot water, then add one teaspoon of tea leaves for each person and one for the pot. Fill the pot with boiling water, cover it with a hand knitted, brightly coloured tea cosy and allow the tea to brew for a few minutes. Pour the tea into a tea cup and make sure you put the milk in first. My mother’s tea was always accompanied by sweet biscuits or cake, always drunk sitting down and at pre-ordained times during the day. Tea time occurred Continue reading

A little bit of history & culture from Taiwan

I hate to admit it, but I am not generally one to get excited about history, museums or culture. At a stretch, I suppose you could call me a philistine.

But, my time in Taiwan has improved my interest in, and my attitude toward, both history and culture. That’s a good thing, considering our next destinations and ongoing adventures. The Island of Taiwan was colonised by the Dutch in 1624, and since that time it has been ruled by the Spanish, Tungning, Qing, Formosan, Japanese and Chinese. If you’d like a little more Taiwan history, just click here.

P1080748Rather than retell their story, I’ve decided to share a couple of my Taiwanese cultural highlights, starting with the Taiwan National Palace Museum. The museum attracts historians and tourists from all over the world, especially those from mainland China, and houses a permanent collection of some 700,000 pieces of Continue reading

Discovering the neighbourhood in Tainmu, Taipei

P1080716

After a leisurely breakfast with Jack and Kitty, our hosts in Taipei, we were introduced to the delights of their neighbourhood, all within a few blocks of their home.

The population of Taiwan is around 24 million on an island which is only 36,000 square km.  A lot of those people live in Taipei and you can feel the density and intensity of the population.

First stop was Continue reading

Swapping my workmates for Orangutans

P1080461 (2)When I left work to start this adventure my workmates gave me a travel money card and told me that I should spend it on some sort of experience while we were travelling.  They may well have had ideas of me slipping a parachute on my back, or tying a bungy cord around my legs but that’s not my style. Instead I chose to use the money to fill the gap that my workmates absence has created in my life by having breakfast with the Orangutans at Singapore Zoo.

P1080509 (2)We joined a family of Orangutans for Continue reading

Singapore – it’s Disneyland for Adults

We’ve just spend four wonderful nights in Singapore, staying with friends in the “expensive part” of  town on Nassim Road. They told me that the rental on apartments in this street can be as much as $30,000 per month!

Singapore at Night
Singapore at Night

Whilst chatting over drinks, our host Deanne, described Singapore as “Disneyland for Adults”, and after our day out yesterday, I can understand why. The city has something for everyone. There are hawker stalls, expensive restaurants and bars, high street shopping, local markets, theme parks, museums and public gardens, efficient transport infrastructure defined by lush tropical tree lined streets, all complemented by the ethnic diversity of Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street.

We didn’t see all the sites, but here is a  Continue reading