A few days ago, on my way to evening meditation at Dong Shan ( link to Shadows of Cave Mountain), I was captivated by the moon. It was a “blue moon”, a rare event in the Gregorian calendar, happening only once in a blue moon, golden in colour.
It was also the 15th day of the second moon according to the Chinese lunar calendar — Buddha’s Nirvana Day, and the 31st of April 2018, Easter Saturday, the only Christian holiday which follows the lunar cycle. Jesus had just bee
D o n g ~ ~ ~ The temple bell strikes at four-thirty as usual. Deep resonance impregnates predawn quietness, giving it life rather than shattering it. From my room, I can’t hear the duty-monk chanting. But I had learnt the words from an evening attendance at the bell tower: With the first strike of the resonant bell, I chant the precious koan, shaking heaven above, piercing hell below….. Let all wars cease, armoured horses retire. May all souls expired in battles reborn in P
Like most tourists, I prefer historical sites or “exotic” destinations when travelling, wishing to see something “different”. Since I regarded Guangzhou familiar from frequent visits during the early 1990s, I had not thought of exploring it as a tourist. Thanks to a friend who organised a weekend trip recently, I was surprised by how much the old city has changed. It not only looked different as expected, but also felt very different. Much of the old was thankfully still ther
Photogenic Iceland has been exhaustedly covered. Every visitor to Iceland has taken a picture similar to this. Perhaps I'll focus more on the faces of its fascinating people instead? 冰岛的美，举世闻名，已经被太多摄影大师全面覆盖了。但去年六月花了钱和了时间游冰岛，不展示几张相片又心有不甘。让我多放一点注意力在蛮有个性的冰岛人民吧。 I visited Iceland during the European cup, when their amateurish team beat some of the best footballers in Europe to enter semi-final. I too would have found that surprising had I not met its people forged by the ferocity
Vientiane has become a familiar name in the past few days because of the 49th ASEAN foreign ministers meeting. Lao’s capital Vientiane, aka Viangchan, aka Wiangchan, means City of Sandalwood in Lao to some, City of the Moon to others. The community is believed to have been established in the 11th or 12th century. Since then, it had been ruled by one lord after another, with a brief spell of unsustainable independence in the 18th century which the Siamese promptly squashed. Du
I'm still wondering if the two figures I saw at the magnificent Phapeng Falls are real or not
我到今天還懷疑 Phapeng 瀑布石頭上的人，是真是假 We entered Laos by bus at Boten（磨丁）. The immigration officer asked politely for RMB20 “service fees” to fill my entry form. It wasn’t necessary but I paid anyways. Most of my travel mates were at another line, and not asked to pay anything. Jobbery — if it isn’t too serious an accusation for a minor transgression — like everything else in life, should b
Digging for the truth 發掘真相 Nothing much happened in the ensuing centuries; just the usual merging and splitting, rebellions and suppressions. From 1893 to 1945, Laos was a French colony. After WW2, it declared independence but the French promptly returned. Independence? Not so easy mon ami. Finally, in 1954, France receded from Indochina. But guess what, the Americans were starting to pivot everywhere, including Laos. Irritated by the prospect of peace and unity in the Laos
Link to previous post: Xishuangbanna 链接到上一篇：西雙版納 I know it’s downright silly to attempt summarising a country’s history in a hundred words; but let’s do anyways. It’s the internet age you see. Laos shares a rich diversity of ethnicity with neighbouring China, comprising dozens of ethnic groups. From the 6th to 13th century, the region was settled by mostly Chinese and Kmur. Hinayana Buddhism was introduced in the 14th Century, and quickly gained prominence through compassiona
Whoever has heard of a border city in Xishuangbanna called Jing Hong? Just short of half a million inhabitants, it’s neither here nor there by Chinese standard. We arrived in the early evening. After dinner, we took a brief walking tour downtown to absorb its ambiance. As in nearly every Chinese town and city, a big group was doing dance exercise in the public square. Nearby, the riverside disco was warming up their oversized loudspeakers to a different tune. Next to it was a
Dusk at Jing Mai Shan 景邁山暮色 Inside Jing-Mai Shan (Shan means Mountain) is one of the oldest natural tea plantations in Yunan Province with over 1800 years of history according to Bu Lang Tribe records. The Bu Lang plant tea trees at the fringe of the forest with minimal disturbance to the flora and fauna, just as their forebears had done for nearly two millennia. To ancient farmers, protecting the natural environment upon which they depend for food and survival is just common
These days, when travelling, I often feel a precocious sense of nostalgia. The photos that I take could become mini time-capsules much sooner than expected. Come back in a year, and the scene may have changed beyond recognition due to hyper development, mindless conflicts, a colour revolution, and/or an invasion followed by wanton looting plus cultural devastation by a disproportional military power. The jolly marketeer in my viewfinder could become a refugee within months, f
Ah! Soho! Sounds so Chinese. But the name originated in London, probably as hunting grounds for Henry Number Eight and friends. Nobody’s sure. Gradually, the area was taken over by brothels and bars and restaurants, pleasure establishments favoured by privileged gentlemen after shooting foxes. Since the 1980s, prostitutes have been replaced by high margin shops and posh restaurants. Foxes had been long gone. 蘇豪這個名字很有中國味道，出處卻在倫敦。據說蘇豪區原來是亨利八號和哥們的狩獵場。貴族獵狐完畢，都要輕鬆一下。於是妓院，酒吧和食肆慢慢蓬勃
要瞭解格魯吉亞的處境，失業率是個好參數。蘇聯瓦解後，格魯吉亞獨立，失業率狂飆至85%，社會動蕩了二十多年。現在比較安定，失業率降了下來，仍然停留在65%的懸崖邊上。導遊指出，格魯吉亞人的傳統本領是務農和打仗。現在人口只有三百多萬，要把本事擴大，經濟多元化，談何容易？美國，北約和以色列於是把握機會，大發好心，在一個名為 「軍備培訓」 的資助計劃下，大力培養格魯吉亞人的戰爭天分。
格魯吉亞人給我的印象很淳樸倔強，老實勤勞。但很多人的眼神都帶著幾分無奈與憂戚。 Unemployment in Georgia is a good indicator of the disheartening situation. When first separated from the USSR in 1991, the newborn nation plunged promptly into chaos. Unemployment rocketed to 85%. Relative calmness has been restored, but unemploym
A capella singer in a stone chamber at Garni, Armenia 在亚美尼亚古迹 Garni 石室清唱圣诗的歌手 我將阿塞拜疆與亞美尼亞兩個世仇放在一起，是對他們的一種友好祝願。早在一戰前，這兩族人一有機會便你插我眼珠，我咬你耳朵。20世紀期間，奧斯曼帝國，大英帝國，和蘇聯都先後當過監護人，亦分別播下了新衝突的種子。 By mixing Armenian and Azerbaijani faces in this post, I’ve probably committed a capital offence in both countries. Animosity between the two neighbours goes way back to before WW1, for untraceable reasons which have long been distilled down to elemental hatred. For more than a century now, they’d
We are supposed to be tolerant of religion no matter how absurd it is; but religions have not been very tolerant of others. Throughout the Caucasus, there’s nearly nothing left of its pre-Christian glories; they have been brutally destroyed or craftily painted over by organised religions long ago. All that’s left from five millennia of Caucasian civilisation are churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and memories of savage conflicts incited by gods. In less than three weeks, I sa
A few months ago, I was still misspelling Caucasus as “Caucuses”. Now that I’ve visited Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia for 18 days, less travel time, I have learnt a few trivia about the Southern Caucasus, and formed some superficial impressions of my own. 老實說，幾個月前，我連高加索是哪個「索」字也搞不清。但花了18天時間參觀南高三國 －－ 阿塞拜疆，亞美尼亞，格魯吉亞 －－之後，除了知道了一點點他們的歷史文化和風土人情外，也對這歐亞要塞多了幾分模糊印象和片面看法。 Tsminda Sameba Church against Kazbegi 格魯吉亞著名的卡茲別吉風貌 The Caucasus is one of the earliest cradles of civilisation.
While I was in Levi, a South China Morning Post article reported that Chinese tourists in Lapland have increased dramatically in the past few years. The writer somehow linked the surge to growth of Christianity in China, which was “expected to become the largest Christian country within 15 years,” according to some Professor Yang (a Chinese name! He must know!) of Purdue University, Indiana. “As more and more people become Christians, Christmas celebrations will become even m
This X’mas, we were part of a locust cloud in Santa’s homeland, warmly welcomed by the cool Finns. Before getting into all that, first a few words and photos on Lapland.
Santa’s home at Rovaniemi was an elfish shopping mall, kinda cute but not enough to raise goosebumps. Lining up for half an hour with my ten-year-old to take a picture with Father Christmas used up a lot of paternal love, but Santa surprised me. He was a gracious old man, appearing more regal than drunk, a
Long time no see Finland. I saw light everywhere, gleaming, glinting, blazing, more dramatic than before, enchanting as usual. And thank you for the rainbow. . . 久违了的芬兰，无论树林，湖泊，天边，都透露着银影金辉，魔幻色彩。一道彩虹横贯长空，美丽得不真实，令人无法不相信神话。。。 Did I say "Let there be light"？ 是我说“要有光”的吗？ Anyways, and there was light! 是谁说的也好，反正光是有了! setting the clouds ablaze. . . 红透了半边天。 。 。 The sun and moon, overlapping in long summer shifts 在长长的夏日，太阳与月亮经常同时出现，各据一方 Forging, golden pine and silver birch 孕育金树银