November 30, 2010

[MyWorld] An Evening of Macau

Macau, a small peninsula on the west side of the Pearl River bordering Guangdong Province, became a colony of Portugal sometime in the 16th century. In 1999 it was handed back to China and, like Hong Kong, it is now a Special Administrative Region, meaning it has substantially kept the pre-handover laws and systems. Its main source of income is gambling and this year it raked in four times as much as Las Vegas. 

It was a bit of a jolt to realize that I have not been back to Macau since the handover. My hubby no longer has family in his home village not far over the border, and not being gamblers, we've not given any thought to going back -- until two weeks ago when I went to a special Macau marketing event and rediscovered that, beyond gambling, it could be an enjoyable place to spend a few days.  I'll let you know when I do.

But this post is about a fun evening of being wined and dined while shown the attractions of Macau. The event - which was a plug for corporate convention spaces - was well-organized, from the warm welcome to the interesting presentation (seen in my photo through a mirror), the live classical music played during dinner and the singers after. And in the Philippines, no affair would be complete without a raffle, and this night, the luckiest winners won a fully paid trip for two in their choice of one of two of the best hotels in Macau.

 Manila, 2010

And that is how I am entertained in my world. So this post I link with MyWorld Tuesday, where others also share their stories.

November 29, 2010

It's a Big Bunch

A very big bunch of pale pink tiger lilies that I saw at the market today. So pretty, I think.

Manila, 2010

Linking with Today's Flower where you'll find so many blossoms to fill your  eyes and heart.

November 28, 2010

Bridges in Budapest

Two old photos from my archives of bridges over the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary, for Louis' Sunday Bridges

  Budapest, 2003

November 26, 2010

Red, White, Blue and Checkers

And a reflection for James at Weekend Reflections.

Manila, 2010

My natural inclination is to post photos with a story; either the photo itself contains the story or the photo illustrates a story. Today's photo really has no story except that I may have lost my tennis match this morning because I kept looking at this colorful van... and thinking there is a reflection photo here... and sure enough, there was. 

I woke the driver snoozing inside and he looked at me like a was a bit odd. So, does that make me certifiably meme crazy? :-D

November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Manila, 2010

To my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!
May you have much to be thankful for, today and every day.

To friends of all stripes and colors everywhere, Thank You! for being in my life.

I link this with Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday, where Thanksgiving is the theme of the day.

November 24, 2010

S is for Seamstress

Guangdong, 2010

Not haute couture, but an honest living. These seamstresses sit outside on the side of a little market from 9 am to 11 pm just about every day of the year, fixing whatever needs fixing, at night under the glare of the fluorescent lights. We've been their regular customers for some years now. When we need something taken in or hemmed the bill may come to a whopping Yuan 3 to 5 (45 - 75 US cents).

This links to ABC Wednesday where the letter of the week is of course S and to Sepia Scenes.

November 23, 2010

[MyWorld] Portrait of My Hero

Do you have a living hero in your world?

I do and her name is Ruth.

I met Ruth sometime in the '80s after I had started working in China as a trade consultant. At that time she was the author of the first comprehensive travel guide to China. A Chinese-Canadian, she had been traveling in China long before the doors were even really opened to foreigners.

Let me first share with you her public profile and you'll see why I admire her:  
Ruth Lor Malloy is an obsessive freelance travel writer and photographer who also collects artifacts and stories for museums.  She specializes in Asia but is eager to travel the whole world as she is interested in peace through tourism, volunteerism, and ways to reduce carbon footprints. She has published articles in North American and Asian periodicals like The Globe and Mail, the South China Morning Post, and Hotelier and until 2002, she wrote a regularly updated guide book on the whole of China.
We have a lot of interests in common, not least our globe trotting and global view, and yet what makes Ruth my hero is her amazing stamina, ceaseless curiosity and indefatigable sense of adventure at an age when many much younger have slowed down and stopped learning. Not my friend Ruth. 

On her 70th birthday she was riding a yak around the base of the sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet. That was a trip of 27 days and over 3600 km (2400 mi) on which she and her sister slept sometimes in tents, sometimes in primitive hostels. They traveled with their own cook and two jeeps. Their highest point was Mt Everest Base Camp at over 5000 meters with an overnight at Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in the world.

On her 75th birthday I was with her in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, after we had roamed the far far west, ger hopping in search of museum-worthy ethnic footwear and clothing.

 Ulaanbaatar, 2007

I've already posted a number of images taken in places we've more recently traveled together - Guizhou, Gansu and Mongolia - as I tag along on her missions to find these cultural treasures. Here are just a handful of portraits I've taken of Ruth as she's doing what she does best.

Inspecting textiles
Checking lama boots
Sharing her photo with pilgrim
Interviewing our guide

Ruth has no notions of slowing down. She has just embarked on a brand new project that I think is wonderful. She has built a website with a multicultural calendar that informs the residents and visitors of Toronto of all the free or near free festivals and events to be enjoyed in the city. Then in her blog she describes her experiences and offers tips on how to best enjoy the scene. If you are in Ontario or plan to visit, these are must visit sites.  Or just go take a look and say hello to Ruth on her blog. And do share with your friends.

I want to end this portrait with my all-time favorite photo of Ruth as she merrily walks in the middle of Hovd province of Mongolia with the bounce of a 25-year-old.

And that is exactly what I want to be doing when I grow up. 

I'm just so glad she's in my world.

And that is my link for MyWorld Tuesday.

November 21, 2010

A Yellow Weed

Like a shy plain Jane at a ball of beauty queens, this is a little yellow weed in a land of exotic eye-popping flowers. Nonetheless, on a rainy day, I found her in our garden shining with her own special loveliness. She certainly brightened up my day.

Manila, 2010

Can anyone identify her?

Joining the fun at Today's Flower and Mellow Yellow Monday.  

Building a Bamboo Bridge

Dapitan, 2008

This bamboo bridge was being built to take diners across the river to a new seafood restaurant on the outskirts of Dapitan, in the southern Philippine province of Mindanao. Linked to Louis' Sunday Bridges.

November 20, 2010

Reflected Coastline

Sunshine Coast, BC, 2008

The Sunshine Coast, where even grey skies are beautiful.

At Weekend Reflections hosted by James you'll find many more links to reflections of all kinds.

November 19, 2010

[SkyWatch] Fly Me to the Moon

Manila, 2010

Have a few minutes to chill on this last day of the week?

Go listen to this jazzy take by fellow Canadian Diane Krall on the timeless song Fly Me to the Moon... or maybe you'd prefer to hear it as a ballad sung by sultry Denise Brigham. Or in the clear voice of Sarah Vaughn - she'll make you smile. No, you like the smoothness of Nat King Cole? Expressive Tony Bennet? Ah, yes, you can also watch Frank Sinatra, who's swing rendition is probably best known of all. 

Many more big names in music have entertained us with this classic.  The song was first recorded in 1954 by Kaye Ballard, also a wonderful voice. Whichever version you choose to listen to today, this song is sure to put you in a marvelous mood for the weekend.

So who was your entertainer of choice to fly to the moon?

You'll find hundreds of fantastic skies at SkyWatch Friday.

November 18, 2010

I is for Important Institution

Today over at Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday, the letter of the week is I, and I was inspired to take this instant to tell you a little about an important institution.

The Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg, France, houses the official seat of the European Parliament. This important institution of democracy is the only directly-elected body of the European Union, with 736 members representing all 27 EU countries. It plays an active role in drafting legislation that impacts on the daily lives of its more than 490 million citizens in areas such as environmental protection, consumer rights, equal opportunities, transport, and the free movement of workers, capital, services and goods.

I took these two photos of this contemporary institution inaugurated in 1999 when we drove by on a winter afternoon some years ago.

  Strasbourg, 2006

The EP also works in Brussels (Belgium) and Luxembourg.

November 17, 2010

R is for Roof Tile

At ABC Wednesday, the letter for the day is R, and my contribution is roof tile - more specifically, ornate old Japanese kawara roof tiles. 

These black clay ceramic tiles were (and still are) used on traditional homes and temples and age beautifully. More elaborate structures would include ornamental figures.

A typical roof tile will have some kind of design feature that may or may not also serve as an amulet. The terminal decoration is called onigawara or ridge end tiles, One popular design is the swirling eddy, as it was believed to ward against fire. I've shown you the swirling eddy before and there are a few more here (2, 3, 4 and 6), as well as other designs (1, 5 and 7). 

 Kansai, 2009

These decorative roof details were all photographed in the Kansai region of Japan.

November 15, 2010

Holding Up the Sky

Kyoto, 2009

We were temple-hopping on foot in Kyoto and along the way I saw and snapped this golden sculpture. I now wish I'd stopped a bit longer to consider a better angle to take the photo, but still I think it is quite an imposing piece of public art. I also didn't get any information about it, so if anyone can fill us in, that would be super.

PS. Thanks to fellow blogger VP from Livorno Daily Photo for this link to some information about this sculpture.

Perhaps the folks at Mellow Yellow Monday would enjoy this. You'll find many links to blogs offering creative takes on mellow yellow.

November 14, 2010

Little Mountain Bridge

Here is little stone bridge crossing a creek in the verdant mountain rice terraces of Guizhou province in China. In the distance, you can see a Miao ethnic minority village.

 Guizhou, 2006

November 13, 2010

Color in a Cave

A spectacular world of stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations created by thousands of years of erosion and carbonate deposits. 

 Guangxi, 2006

The clear colorful reflection in this pool joins the community at James' Weekend Reflections.

But I'm not so very fond of caves, really. Are you?

November 12, 2010

[SkyWatch] Liquid Gold

This is Lake Sakinaw on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. 

 Sunshine Coast, 2009

Joining the fun at SkyWatch Friday where spectacular skies from all over this big beautiful globe of ours are linked for your viewing pleasure.

November 11, 2010

H is for Humayun

Preface June 11, 2012: This post is now linked to the community at Taphophile Tragics. If you have a fascination for tombs, graves, burial gounds and the histories of the humans who were "put to rest" in them, check out this meme.


I introduced Humayun's tomb two days ago, but there is more to show and tell, and since the letter for Alphabe-Thursday this week is H, it felt fitting to continue.

Humayun was the second emperor of the Mughal era in India that began in the early sixteenth century. He was the favorite son of Babur, the first monarch, who could trace his ancestry directly to Tamerlane and Genghis Khan, two great Asian conquerors. Humayun ruled for 26 years and left an empire of nearly one million square kilometers.

Quoting from wiki - notes in brackets mine:
He is best remembered today for his great tomb, built by his widow after his death between 1562 and 1571. The ultimate model for Humayun's tomb is the Gur-e Amir in Samarkand (Tamerlane's tomb in Uzbekistan), and it is best-known as a precursor to the Taj Mahal in style. However, in its striking composition of dome and iwan (vaulted hall), and its imaginative use of local materials (including the red sandstone), it is one of the finest Mughal monuments in India in its own right.

Here are a few more of my images of this splendid piece of architecture and cultural heritage site. Photos enlarge when clicked. 

 Delhi, 2010

Humayun's tomb was listed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.