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36 blogs
  • 15 Apr 2018
    Sitting at the long table in the busy restaurant on the outskirts of the capital city of Shandong Province, Qingdao, irritated by constantly hitting the gas bottle every time I tried to stretch my legs, and desperate to see Stella on the list of beers, but disappointed at finding only Qingdao, annoyingly listed as can, two sizes of draft and two different sizes of bottled beer, I opted for a bottled water much to the horror of my hosts. The lunch party which consisted of a very polite guide and five members of the different bodies at the local council, were disappointed. After all it was a business lunch paid by someone else which meant free rein on the food and drinks. The finest bottle of snake wine was placed in the middle of the table with the usual question - have you tried it before. Of course, I have. And of course, I hated it. It leaves you with an oily, sweet taste in the mouth which doesn’t make you drunk, just sick. But then Qingdao beer is the same, sweet and no matter the quantity you take the only thing it's good for is your kidney stones which you may pass with the amount of pointless liquid drunk. It's pointless because it doesn’t make you drunk!  I politely smiled at my 6 boys, my 6 hosts for lunch, and stuck to the water. The Chinese cannot handle their drink except for hard core military serviceman coyly dressed in suit and tie, and they are easily recognisable as the soul of the party, going around calling on everybody to drink the large glasses of snake wine in one go. To refuse is a grave offence, even if you are Chinese. The first person to pass out is usually some naive underage girl employed as a secretary but brought in as a body for one of the big bosses who, after free food and immense hectolitres of alcohol, would like some personal company too. I wondered what they were thinking of me, the foreigner, a woman, without make up but with worn out trousers, who they have to entertain for next few hours, even though they don’t speak any English or me any Chinese. There is only a certain amount of staring and nodding you can do at these business lunches without coming across as a weirdo. The food was Mongolian hot pot. I had been hoping for a nice plate of rice and some soy sauce mixed with garlic on top, but that would have caused grave offence. Imagine going to a Michelin starred restaurant and asking for a fried egg on toast.  The number of people around us, mainly families, put me at ease and I started to concentrate on the conversation which I didn’t understand but with my over 40 visits to the country, I had learned how to look engaged. We swapped business cards. We bowed to each other, holding the cards with both hands, showing respect, reading them, scanning the letters on the cards, pretending that we understood what was printed on each side of the card, then put them on the table. Not in the pocket. You have to show respect. The families around us stopped for a moment, thinking they were witnessing some kind of star presence in their local restaurant, but my peroxide hair, done meticulously at home before the trip, would make them think that. You are in the world of people with dark hair. Of course, anyone with a little bit of bleach would be a star to them. While we were doing all the businessy things hordes of waiters brought bundles of delicious, live food and laid it all on our long table covered in a plastic sheet. The excitement began. Or the game. Without any rules. You just throw food in the boiling water whose bubbles are bursting on the table and wait until vegetables, fruits and meats change colour, structure or until it disintegrates. In the meantime, you drink. And you nod a lot. You don’t talk about business. The main eating etiquette around hot pot is patience. Sometimes there is not enough butane gas hissing from the bottle under the table to the bucket filled with the water on the table. Or the water in the bucket is too cold and takes a long time to come to the boil. Sometimes there is too much water and when its boiled its starts overflowing on the table. Or the bucket is too small to accommodate the food needs of 4 people, and then order has to established like a queue for a bus. You would take first place in the queue as a foreigner and as a guest. Felling hungry I loaded hot water with everything laid on the table, ignoring the needs of the guide, local council guy in charge of the tourism in his area and his assistant whose only job was to make sure the bosses glass was never empty. He didn’t speak or drink. He would occasionally get up, with more grace than the Queen, and with his right hand pick up the bottle, fill the bosses glass and then triumphantly sit down. He just won the battle of a very long and prolonged war for the best service, determination and loyalty. He wanted a tap on the shoulder, some recognition but what he got was only a request for matches from his boss.  The Chinese love their cigarettes and a ban on smoking similar to the one brought out across Europe would bring the government down. Not freedom of speech, the one party system or any lack of democracy. My bacon, mushroom and bok choy were stubbornly circling in the water refusing to be boiled. I turned them upside down hoping for some quicker results only to be sneered at by a waiter who mentioned something about patience and salvation.  Nothing about hunger. As guest of honour, I was sitting at the middle of the table enjoying a wide view and witnessing the progress of the cooking. The left side of the table was happily tucking into beef while the right was in the process of dropping a live crab into the boiling water. The creature, tied up like a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, dressed in a similar colour, was still moving his whiskers hoping for escape. Not able to watch the execution I turned to my guide to ask about our next stop, at Mt Taishan. While he was explaining the time difference between taking a cable car to the top and walking, a huge commotion broke out on the right side of our table. The guide jumped quickly up, pulling me with him while the rest of the group was already standing on the chairs. The whole restaurant was staring at us in bewilderment. Then I saw him, a little creature, not orange anymore but red, running across the restaurant, trying to save his life. He had escaped from the cauldron, jumped from the table, frightening all my hosts, and now was heading to freedom. I smiled and quietly cheered him on, under my breath, “Go, go, go”. Where to I didn’t know. The quest for freedom didn’t last long. The finishing line was somewhere between the end of the restaurant and entrance to the kitchen when one of the slimmest chefs I have ever seen who looked like he had never eaten anything in his life, come out with a big metal tray. Coolly,as if he had been in the same situation before, he lifted the tray high and dropped it heavily onto the crab. The small creature made another two side steps and then stopped. The restaurant started to applaud and the skinny chief bowed with pride hiding the murder weapon behind his back.  The waiter became a professional cleaner, picked up the crab carefully, making sure he was dead and took him back to the kitchen.  Order resumed. I requested a big bottle of Qingdao Beer.  
    114 Posted by bossgate
  • Sitting at the long table in the busy restaurant on the outskirts of the capital city of Shandong Province, Qingdao, irritated by constantly hitting the gas bottle every time I tried to stretch my legs, and desperate to see Stella on the list of beers, but disappointed at finding only Qingdao, annoyingly listed as can, two sizes of draft and two different sizes of bottled beer, I opted for a bottled water much to the horror of my hosts. The lunch party which consisted of a very polite guide and five members of the different bodies at the local council, were disappointed. After all it was a business lunch paid by someone else which meant free rein on the food and drinks. The finest bottle of snake wine was placed in the middle of the table with the usual question - have you tried it before. Of course, I have. And of course, I hated it. It leaves you with an oily, sweet taste in the mouth which doesn’t make you drunk, just sick. But then Qingdao beer is the same, sweet and no matter the quantity you take the only thing it's good for is your kidney stones which you may pass with the amount of pointless liquid drunk. It's pointless because it doesn’t make you drunk!  I politely smiled at my 6 boys, my 6 hosts for lunch, and stuck to the water. The Chinese cannot handle their drink except for hard core military serviceman coyly dressed in suit and tie, and they are easily recognisable as the soul of the party, going around calling on everybody to drink the large glasses of snake wine in one go. To refuse is a grave offence, even if you are Chinese. The first person to pass out is usually some naive underage girl employed as a secretary but brought in as a body for one of the big bosses who, after free food and immense hectolitres of alcohol, would like some personal company too. I wondered what they were thinking of me, the foreigner, a woman, without make up but with worn out trousers, who they have to entertain for next few hours, even though they don’t speak any English or me any Chinese. There is only a certain amount of staring and nodding you can do at these business lunches without coming across as a weirdo. The food was Mongolian hot pot. I had been hoping for a nice plate of rice and some soy sauce mixed with garlic on top, but that would have caused grave offence. Imagine going to a Michelin starred restaurant and asking for a fried egg on toast.  The number of people around us, mainly families, put me at ease and I started to concentrate on the conversation which I didn’t understand but with my over 40 visits to the country, I had learned how to look engaged. We swapped business cards. We bowed to each other, holding the cards with both hands, showing respect, reading them, scanning the letters on the cards, pretending that we understood what was printed on each side of the card, then put them on the table. Not in the pocket. You have to show respect. The families around us stopped for a moment, thinking they were witnessing some kind of star presence in their local restaurant, but my peroxide hair, done meticulously at home before the trip, would make them think that. You are in the world of people with dark hair. Of course, anyone with a little bit of bleach would be a star to them. While we were doing all the businessy things hordes of waiters brought bundles of delicious, live food and laid it all on our long table covered in a plastic sheet. The excitement began. Or the game. Without any rules. You just throw food in the boiling water whose bubbles are bursting on the table and wait until vegetables, fruits and meats change colour, structure or until it disintegrates. In the meantime, you drink. And you nod a lot. You don’t talk about business. The main eating etiquette around hot pot is patience. Sometimes there is not enough butane gas hissing from the bottle under the table to the bucket filled with the water on the table. Or the water in the bucket is too cold and takes a long time to come to the boil. Sometimes there is too much water and when its boiled its starts overflowing on the table. Or the bucket is too small to accommodate the food needs of 4 people, and then order has to established like a queue for a bus. You would take first place in the queue as a foreigner and as a guest. Felling hungry I loaded hot water with everything laid on the table, ignoring the needs of the guide, local council guy in charge of the tourism in his area and his assistant whose only job was to make sure the bosses glass was never empty. He didn’t speak or drink. He would occasionally get up, with more grace than the Queen, and with his right hand pick up the bottle, fill the bosses glass and then triumphantly sit down. He just won the battle of a very long and prolonged war for the best service, determination and loyalty. He wanted a tap on the shoulder, some recognition but what he got was only a request for matches from his boss.  The Chinese love their cigarettes and a ban on smoking similar to the one brought out across Europe would bring the government down. Not freedom of speech, the one party system or any lack of democracy. My bacon, mushroom and bok choy were stubbornly circling in the water refusing to be boiled. I turned them upside down hoping for some quicker results only to be sneered at by a waiter who mentioned something about patience and salvation.  Nothing about hunger. As guest of honour, I was sitting at the middle of the table enjoying a wide view and witnessing the progress of the cooking. The left side of the table was happily tucking into beef while the right was in the process of dropping a live crab into the boiling water. The creature, tied up like a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, dressed in a similar colour, was still moving his whiskers hoping for escape. Not able to watch the execution I turned to my guide to ask about our next stop, at Mt Taishan. While he was explaining the time difference between taking a cable car to the top and walking, a huge commotion broke out on the right side of our table. The guide jumped quickly up, pulling me with him while the rest of the group was already standing on the chairs. The whole restaurant was staring at us in bewilderment. Then I saw him, a little creature, not orange anymore but red, running across the restaurant, trying to save his life. He had escaped from the cauldron, jumped from the table, frightening all my hosts, and now was heading to freedom. I smiled and quietly cheered him on, under my breath, “Go, go, go”. Where to I didn’t know. The quest for freedom didn’t last long. The finishing line was somewhere between the end of the restaurant and entrance to the kitchen when one of the slimmest chefs I have ever seen who looked like he had never eaten anything in his life, come out with a big metal tray. Coolly,as if he had been in the same situation before, he lifted the tray high and dropped it heavily onto the crab. The small creature made another two side steps and then stopped. The restaurant started to applaud and the skinny chief bowed with pride hiding the murder weapon behind his back.  The waiter became a professional cleaner, picked up the crab carefully, making sure he was dead and took him back to the kitchen.  Order resumed. I requested a big bottle of Qingdao Beer.  
    Apr 15, 2018 114
  • 23 Jan 2018
    Check if Taj Mahal changes the colour under the full moon nights. Below is a list of the full moon dates for 2018. For more inforation about how to get tickets please check our previews entries.  1st January 2018 31st January 2018 1ST March 2018 30th March 2018 29th April 2018 28th May 2018 27th Jun 2018 27th Jul 2018 25th August 2018 24th September 2018 24th October 2018 22nd November 2018 22nd December 2018 REMINDER: Each evening, 400 people in 8 groups of 50 are allowed to the first platform which is about 350 metres away from the main building, for 30 minutes between 8.30pm and 12.30am, but you must get there half an hour before the time on your ticket for security checks and x-rays. You can bring binoculars and cameras but not video cameras, handbags, tripods, tobacco, matches, food or mobile phones.
    252 Posted by bossgate
  • Check if Taj Mahal changes the colour under the full moon nights. Below is a list of the full moon dates for 2018. For more inforation about how to get tickets please check our previews entries.  1st January 2018 31st January 2018 1ST March 2018 30th March 2018 29th April 2018 28th May 2018 27th Jun 2018 27th Jul 2018 25th August 2018 24th September 2018 24th October 2018 22nd November 2018 22nd December 2018 REMINDER: Each evening, 400 people in 8 groups of 50 are allowed to the first platform which is about 350 metres away from the main building, for 30 minutes between 8.30pm and 12.30am, but you must get there half an hour before the time on your ticket for security checks and x-rays. You can bring binoculars and cameras but not video cameras, handbags, tripods, tobacco, matches, food or mobile phones.
    Jan 23, 2018 252
  • 17 Dec 2017
    A few years ago, we went for a long weekend to Morocco and as a responsible traveller we arranged insurance which clearly stated that Morocco was in Europe. Then we went to Slovenia which was referred as the most progressive country of Eastern Europe. Of course, the Slovenians were not impressed being positioned in Eastern Europe when they are clearly ‘an Alpine country bordering Italy and Austria '. Here in the UK they refer to Europe as a continent. “We are going to the continent for a holiday” means two weeks in Provence. So where are the borders of Europe? And does a single Europe exist? Or are there   Eastern, Western, Scandinavian, Balkan, Alpine, Central, South Eastern Europes …And this divide is valid only if you are coming from the Western Hemisphere. If you are flying from China then Eastern Europe is Germany, Holland, UK, France! The most significant eastern border of Europe was established by the Swedish geographer and cartographer von Strahlenberg as lying in the Ural Mountains. But that border is not in accordance with the EC divide which has members of the EC, non-members of the EC and prospective candidates. As someone who comes from Eastern Europe, from a country which is not a member of the EC and a long way from even becoming a candidate, I find it very difficult to explain to people when they ask me where I come from. Sometimes I make a terrible mistake saying “the former Yugoslavia” and we end up talking about the Iron Curtain in Europe when there was a clear divide based on political systems. We were communist and the rest of Europe capitalist. Then in accordance with political preferences the United States and Western Europe established the NATO alliance and later the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe established the Warsaw Pact. I felt for the Germans being divided into East and West but also divided into NATO and the Warsaw pact. Then after forty-four years Germany was reunited, after the symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the maps of Eastern Europe were redrawn once more. I think only the Europeans define themselves so much by division -  mainly by geography but usually by wars - while the rest of the world see us just as ‘Europe’. There are various descriptions of Europe's boundaries, some sources include territories that other sources do not include in Europe. For example, Cyprus is close to Turkey but is often considered part of Europe and is a member state of the EU. For Western Europeans, Eastern Europe is Bulgaria but for the Bulgarians themselves Turkey is Eastern Europe as far as the Bosporus Straits, but for Western Europe Turkey is not Europe at all. Lots of people think that Malta belongs to Africa.  Would you say Finland was in Europe or Scandinavia? Or is Bosnia in the Balkan’s or Europe? When you search for your next holiday please have a look at which countries are really 'Europe‘.  The   travel industry is the biggest culprit for dividing Europe. Usually by price.
    298 Posted by bossgate
  • A few years ago, we went for a long weekend to Morocco and as a responsible traveller we arranged insurance which clearly stated that Morocco was in Europe. Then we went to Slovenia which was referred as the most progressive country of Eastern Europe. Of course, the Slovenians were not impressed being positioned in Eastern Europe when they are clearly ‘an Alpine country bordering Italy and Austria '. Here in the UK they refer to Europe as a continent. “We are going to the continent for a holiday” means two weeks in Provence. So where are the borders of Europe? And does a single Europe exist? Or are there   Eastern, Western, Scandinavian, Balkan, Alpine, Central, South Eastern Europes …And this divide is valid only if you are coming from the Western Hemisphere. If you are flying from China then Eastern Europe is Germany, Holland, UK, France! The most significant eastern border of Europe was established by the Swedish geographer and cartographer von Strahlenberg as lying in the Ural Mountains. But that border is not in accordance with the EC divide which has members of the EC, non-members of the EC and prospective candidates. As someone who comes from Eastern Europe, from a country which is not a member of the EC and a long way from even becoming a candidate, I find it very difficult to explain to people when they ask me where I come from. Sometimes I make a terrible mistake saying “the former Yugoslavia” and we end up talking about the Iron Curtain in Europe when there was a clear divide based on political systems. We were communist and the rest of Europe capitalist. Then in accordance with political preferences the United States and Western Europe established the NATO alliance and later the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe established the Warsaw Pact. I felt for the Germans being divided into East and West but also divided into NATO and the Warsaw pact. Then after forty-four years Germany was reunited, after the symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the maps of Eastern Europe were redrawn once more. I think only the Europeans define themselves so much by division -  mainly by geography but usually by wars - while the rest of the world see us just as ‘Europe’. There are various descriptions of Europe's boundaries, some sources include territories that other sources do not include in Europe. For example, Cyprus is close to Turkey but is often considered part of Europe and is a member state of the EU. For Western Europeans, Eastern Europe is Bulgaria but for the Bulgarians themselves Turkey is Eastern Europe as far as the Bosporus Straits, but for Western Europe Turkey is not Europe at all. Lots of people think that Malta belongs to Africa.  Would you say Finland was in Europe or Scandinavia? Or is Bosnia in the Balkan’s or Europe? When you search for your next holiday please have a look at which countries are really 'Europe‘.  The   travel industry is the biggest culprit for dividing Europe. Usually by price.
    Dec 17, 2017 298
  • 04 Dec 2017
    His short legs were dangling from the chair like ripe cherries ready to drop, making him look like a naughty child punished by sitting on a high chair but still wriggling about. His left arm was comfortably spread on the square table made of the same wood as the horse-shoe backed armchair – reddish-brown, worn out, but very pleasing on the eye. Sitting comfortably high above all of us he displayed all the mannerisms of the Emperor proudly sitting on his throne. Except the high chairs and table barely fitted into the small space that housed lounge, kitchen and bedroom all together. Tim, my loyal guide, and I were sitting on very low and uncomfortable stools, staring at the Emperor like a pair of eager-to-please courtiers, hanging on every single syllable. The Emperor was making sounds but I didn’t speak any Chinese. For Tim the Emperor was making sense, talking about his life before he retired to the hutongs in Beijing instead of one of the high-rise flats scattered around the city. The squat houses lining the busy street somewhere in the hutongs area of Beijing all feature one outside window and one door. Once inside the establishment and under the impression that you are entering one household, the natural light and greenery of the courtyard challenge your expectations. You are entering a fortified dwelling in the centre of Beijing where few families are squeezed into a small space within the rectangular configuration. Those dwellings are mainly built  of brick and plastered with cement for protection in the long and cold Beijing winter, but in some parts of the houses, the oldest parts, you can see mud used as a building material. From the main street the houses all look the same to me and I would probably get lost here while venturing out to get a newspaper or on the occasional night out. The main colour of the street is grey, broken by a gust of gold coming from the random basswood trees.  The street is so dynamic even though there are not many shops around and if it were not for so many people around, one might mistake it for an affluent area of Beijing. The Emperor, sensing my doubts about his abode in this part of Beijing, reinforced his decision to move here, in the hutongs, where chickens would cross the paths of fast paced rickshaws, commented on the fresh air of the courtyard which was, I must admit, in short supply all around China. Mrs Chu, a humble and gracious lady, was carefully listening to the conversation while making tea, but without any desire to join in.  I was worrying how I would cope with her best porcelain without making a fool of myself, when she, as a great host, pulled a smaller table of lesser quality and placed it in front of Tim and me. She sat alongside her husband and my wondering mind could see them wrapped in deep yellow, almost golden, robes covered in dragons, nine preferably to fit the Emperor's status, mimicking Yongle and his wife, Anne. I couldn’t remember the Emperor Yongle wife's full Chinese name as there are too many consonants and my little brain can’t put them in the right order. And her name Anne was given to her after she converted to Catholicism. Could Mrs Chu's secret name be Anne? I looked at her again with the biggest smile I could produce without showing the shiny plate inserted in my gum holding a few teeth together, courtesy of extreme pub-hopping around London. “No. She is too obedient and dedicated to her Emperor to convert.” Before tasting the tea, I obeyed all the unwritten rules – I sniffed it tenderly with my left hand holding the bottom of the cup, lifted it to Mr Chu first and then to Mrs Chu, thanking them for their kind hospitality. The Longjing tea, the best in the country, produced in the tea capital of China, Hangzhou, and bought at the local shop, tasted sumptuous. “How old is this?” Devilishly smiling, Mr Chu tapped the table with his short finger. I had seen those tables in the Forbidden City where the guide would make a point of saying they were not antiques but fake. With the Cultural Revolution everything was gone. Where? He didn’t know. “No nails or glue.” the Emperor added proudly. “And it’s from tree grown on the Hainan Island.” translated Tim. The only thing I could remember from the tropical island of China, Hainan Island, was the overcrowded beaches with people offering live crocodiles for souvenir photos.  Not trees! And my knowledge of Chinese antiques was based on a few trips to Panjiayuan market in Beijing where the artefacts spread on newspaper in the street looked the same as the multi-million exhibits shown in glossy Sotheby's brochures. I was hoping to see original antiques in palaces across the country but instead I was finding empty rooms with bare walls and the occasional modern piece of furniture. The inventory at the tea room in Chengdu looked the same as the table and chairs Mr and Mrs Chu were using. Considering there was no protection on the surface of the table, like a cloth or tray to put the hot teapot on, I guessed that the wood, even though it looked so nice, wasn’t that old. “The table must be younger then you.” And the corner of his lips, tightly closed until now, opened up showing teeth in a variety of yellow hues. I felt stupid. Tim took his jacket off and started translating very fast. “Ming Dynasty, 300 to 350 years old.  Mr Chu was working as architect in 1925 and was given a table and two chairs as a token for the good work he did preparing the city for its opening to the public for the first time.” “Is the teapot from the Ming Dynasty too?” “Oh no, no, no…we got it from our daughter for our wedding anniversary.”      
    346 Posted by bossgate
  • His short legs were dangling from the chair like ripe cherries ready to drop, making him look like a naughty child punished by sitting on a high chair but still wriggling about. His left arm was comfortably spread on the square table made of the same wood as the horse-shoe backed armchair – reddish-brown, worn out, but very pleasing on the eye. Sitting comfortably high above all of us he displayed all the mannerisms of the Emperor proudly sitting on his throne. Except the high chairs and table barely fitted into the small space that housed lounge, kitchen and bedroom all together. Tim, my loyal guide, and I were sitting on very low and uncomfortable stools, staring at the Emperor like a pair of eager-to-please courtiers, hanging on every single syllable. The Emperor was making sounds but I didn’t speak any Chinese. For Tim the Emperor was making sense, talking about his life before he retired to the hutongs in Beijing instead of one of the high-rise flats scattered around the city. The squat houses lining the busy street somewhere in the hutongs area of Beijing all feature one outside window and one door. Once inside the establishment and under the impression that you are entering one household, the natural light and greenery of the courtyard challenge your expectations. You are entering a fortified dwelling in the centre of Beijing where few families are squeezed into a small space within the rectangular configuration. Those dwellings are mainly built  of brick and plastered with cement for protection in the long and cold Beijing winter, but in some parts of the houses, the oldest parts, you can see mud used as a building material. From the main street the houses all look the same to me and I would probably get lost here while venturing out to get a newspaper or on the occasional night out. The main colour of the street is grey, broken by a gust of gold coming from the random basswood trees.  The street is so dynamic even though there are not many shops around and if it were not for so many people around, one might mistake it for an affluent area of Beijing. The Emperor, sensing my doubts about his abode in this part of Beijing, reinforced his decision to move here, in the hutongs, where chickens would cross the paths of fast paced rickshaws, commented on the fresh air of the courtyard which was, I must admit, in short supply all around China. Mrs Chu, a humble and gracious lady, was carefully listening to the conversation while making tea, but without any desire to join in.  I was worrying how I would cope with her best porcelain without making a fool of myself, when she, as a great host, pulled a smaller table of lesser quality and placed it in front of Tim and me. She sat alongside her husband and my wondering mind could see them wrapped in deep yellow, almost golden, robes covered in dragons, nine preferably to fit the Emperor's status, mimicking Yongle and his wife, Anne. I couldn’t remember the Emperor Yongle wife's full Chinese name as there are too many consonants and my little brain can’t put them in the right order. And her name Anne was given to her after she converted to Catholicism. Could Mrs Chu's secret name be Anne? I looked at her again with the biggest smile I could produce without showing the shiny plate inserted in my gum holding a few teeth together, courtesy of extreme pub-hopping around London. “No. She is too obedient and dedicated to her Emperor to convert.” Before tasting the tea, I obeyed all the unwritten rules – I sniffed it tenderly with my left hand holding the bottom of the cup, lifted it to Mr Chu first and then to Mrs Chu, thanking them for their kind hospitality. The Longjing tea, the best in the country, produced in the tea capital of China, Hangzhou, and bought at the local shop, tasted sumptuous. “How old is this?” Devilishly smiling, Mr Chu tapped the table with his short finger. I had seen those tables in the Forbidden City where the guide would make a point of saying they were not antiques but fake. With the Cultural Revolution everything was gone. Where? He didn’t know. “No nails or glue.” the Emperor added proudly. “And it’s from tree grown on the Hainan Island.” translated Tim. The only thing I could remember from the tropical island of China, Hainan Island, was the overcrowded beaches with people offering live crocodiles for souvenir photos.  Not trees! And my knowledge of Chinese antiques was based on a few trips to Panjiayuan market in Beijing where the artefacts spread on newspaper in the street looked the same as the multi-million exhibits shown in glossy Sotheby's brochures. I was hoping to see original antiques in palaces across the country but instead I was finding empty rooms with bare walls and the occasional modern piece of furniture. The inventory at the tea room in Chengdu looked the same as the table and chairs Mr and Mrs Chu were using. Considering there was no protection on the surface of the table, like a cloth or tray to put the hot teapot on, I guessed that the wood, even though it looked so nice, wasn’t that old. “The table must be younger then you.” And the corner of his lips, tightly closed until now, opened up showing teeth in a variety of yellow hues. I felt stupid. Tim took his jacket off and started translating very fast. “Ming Dynasty, 300 to 350 years old.  Mr Chu was working as architect in 1925 and was given a table and two chairs as a token for the good work he did preparing the city for its opening to the public for the first time.” “Is the teapot from the Ming Dynasty too?” “Oh no, no, no…we got it from our daughter for our wedding anniversary.”      
    Dec 04, 2017 346
  • 06 Nov 2017
      If you are looking for the perfect city break do not look further from Zagreb, thе саріtаl of the Rерublіс оf Crоаtіа thаt оffеrѕ a mеdіеvаl сhаrасtеr through іtѕ wооdеn alcoves, fairytale-like hоuѕеѕ and соbblеd streets. This is аlѕо thе home оf many ancient buіldіngѕ, fascinating museums, and оthеr interesting аttrасtіоnѕ that entice уоu tо vіѕіt this bеаutіful Eurореаn сіtу. Here is a list of “must- see” sights when уоu vіѕіt the сіtу of Zаgrеb. Art Pavilion Thіѕ was еѕtаblіѕhеd in the уеаr 1896. Thіѕ lаndmаrk is nоt only for contemporary аrt display but аlѕо for іtѕ enchanting glass-domed interior and remarkable hіѕtоrу. Vіѕіtіng this рlасе іѕ only allowed during Mоndауѕ. "Stаrо Sеlо" Ethnological Muѕеum This is a vіllаgе whеrе уоu саn fіnd ethnological muѕеumѕ. Thеу аrе preserved thаtсhеd houses thаt wеrе built durіng thе 19th сеnturу. Yоu саn find hеrе artifacts аnd tools thаt wеrе uѕеd for making саndlеѕ аnd blacksmithing. Cаthеdrаl of thе Aѕѕumрtіоn оf thе Blessed Vіrgіn Mаrу Stор bу fоr some mеdіtаtіоn аѕ уоu еnjоу fаѕсіnаtіng the view оf thе саthеdrаl. Herman Bоllе dеѕіgnеd іt іn thе уеаr 1892. This саthеdrаl underwent multірlе fires аnd mаѕѕіvе еаrthԛuаkе but wаѕ reconstructed untіl іt ѕtіll ѕtаndѕ аѕ the best lаndmаrk tо vіѕіt in Zаgrеb. The jаw-drорріng beauty ѕurvіvеd one еаrthԛuаkе аnd mаnу rесоnѕtruсtіоnѕ thаt trаnѕfоrmеd іt іntо a nео-gоthіс mоnumеnt. Thе іnѕіdе of it іѕ juѕt аѕ astonishing аѕ thе оutѕіdе. Prоbаblу thе most ісоnіс раrt of this Cаthеdrаl іѕ thе twin towers- that саn bе ѕееn frоm far аwау. You should Go tо Tkаlčіćеvа Strееt Tkаlčіćеvа ѕhоuld bе your first роrt оf саll. It’s where Zagrebians gо tо enjoy thеmѕеlvеѕ. By dау Tkalčićeva is a сhаrmіng ѕtrееt оf low-rise раіntеd hоuѕеѕ wіth balconies and awnings thаt you can appreciate оn a romantic аmblе. And when thе sun gоеѕ dоwn уоu’ll hаvе your рісk of Zаgrеb’ѕ best саfеѕ, rеѕtаurаntѕ, аnd nightspots. If уоu wаnt to pick uр ѕоmеthіng tо gо or hаvе аn еlеgаnt meal with a lоvеd оnе, уоu’ll fіnd whаt уоu’rе lооkіng fоr Tkаlса. Zаgrеb City - Mіmаrа Museum Yоu can see here some mоdеlѕ аnd іntеrасtіvе exhibits оf the progress оf the city frоm the early tіmеѕ untіl the рrеѕеnt аgе. Thіѕ Lower Town muѕеum іѕ nаmеd аftеr thе 20th-сеnturу аrt collector Antе Tоріć Mіmаrа, who can bеѕt be dеѕсrіbеd as a соlоrful character. The permanent еxhіbіtѕ at thе museum wеrе dоnаtеd bу Miramar whо was lіnkеd with аrt theft during thе Second Wоrld Wаr аnd also fоrgеrу аftеr that. Sоmе сrіtісѕ сlаіm that there аrе some fakes іn thе muѕеum’ѕ соllесtіоn, but іt іѕ ѕtіll a good wау tо ѕреnd a соuрlе of hоurѕ. Wоrkѕ by Cаnаlеttо, Rubens, Holbein, Vеlаzԛuеz, Gоуа, Mоnеt, Rеnоіr, and Dеgаѕ аrе аll оn display hеrе. Arсhаеоlоgісаl Muѕеum Zаgrеb’ѕ lосаtіоn at the hіѕtоrісаl mееtіng роіnt bеtwееn wеѕt аnd east hаѕ brоught a hоѕt of сіvіlіzаtіоnѕ to its dооr. So you can guеѕѕ that a vіѕіt tо the city’s аrсhаеоlоgісаl muѕеum іѕ аn іntrіguіng trір through all kinds оf eras аnd cultures. Onе оf thе bеѕt ріесеѕ hеrе is thе Vučеdоl Dove, a rіtuаl vеѕѕеl that dates back to at lеаѕt 2500 BC. Thеrе’ѕ also Lіbеr Lіntеuѕ, аn Etruѕсаn mummy frоm thе 3rd сеnturу BC, which wаѕ wrарреd wіth bandages thаt contain thе lоngеѕt Etruscan tеxt in thе wоrld. Mоѕt of thе text hasn’t еvеn bееn trаnѕlаtеd аѕ so lіttlе іѕ knоwn аbоut thе language. Museum of Broken Relationship Fascinating to peek into people's intimate chapters with their lovers, partners, husbands/wives, mistresses etc. The exibits are collected accros the globe, explained and used to record their feeling once the relationship ended. Be prepered for some sad stories. Its very intimate. And affordable! A must see. .  
    613 Posted by bossgate
  •   If you are looking for the perfect city break do not look further from Zagreb, thе саріtаl of the Rерublіс оf Crоаtіа thаt оffеrѕ a mеdіеvаl сhаrасtеr through іtѕ wооdеn alcoves, fairytale-like hоuѕеѕ and соbblеd streets. This is аlѕо thе home оf many ancient buіldіngѕ, fascinating museums, and оthеr interesting аttrасtіоnѕ that entice уоu tо vіѕіt this bеаutіful Eurореаn сіtу. Here is a list of “must- see” sights when уоu vіѕіt the сіtу of Zаgrеb. Art Pavilion Thіѕ was еѕtаblіѕhеd in the уеаr 1896. Thіѕ lаndmаrk is nоt only for contemporary аrt display but аlѕо for іtѕ enchanting glass-domed interior and remarkable hіѕtоrу. Vіѕіtіng this рlасе іѕ only allowed during Mоndауѕ. "Stаrо Sеlо" Ethnological Muѕеum This is a vіllаgе whеrе уоu саn fіnd ethnological muѕеumѕ. Thеу аrе preserved thаtсhеd houses thаt wеrе built durіng thе 19th сеnturу. Yоu саn find hеrе artifacts аnd tools thаt wеrе uѕеd for making саndlеѕ аnd blacksmithing. Cаthеdrаl of thе Aѕѕumрtіоn оf thе Blessed Vіrgіn Mаrу Stор bу fоr some mеdіtаtіоn аѕ уоu еnjоу fаѕсіnаtіng the view оf thе саthеdrаl. Herman Bоllе dеѕіgnеd іt іn thе уеаr 1892. This саthеdrаl underwent multірlе fires аnd mаѕѕіvе еаrthԛuаkе but wаѕ reconstructed untіl іt ѕtіll ѕtаndѕ аѕ the best lаndmаrk tо vіѕіt in Zаgrеb. The jаw-drорріng beauty ѕurvіvеd one еаrthԛuаkе аnd mаnу rесоnѕtruсtіоnѕ thаt trаnѕfоrmеd іt іntо a nео-gоthіс mоnumеnt. Thе іnѕіdе of it іѕ juѕt аѕ astonishing аѕ thе оutѕіdе. Prоbаblу thе most ісоnіс раrt of this Cаthеdrаl іѕ thе twin towers- that саn bе ѕееn frоm far аwау. You should Go tо Tkаlčіćеvа Strееt Tkаlčіćеvа ѕhоuld bе your first роrt оf саll. It’s where Zagrebians gо tо enjoy thеmѕеlvеѕ. By dау Tkalčićeva is a сhаrmіng ѕtrееt оf low-rise раіntеd hоuѕеѕ wіth balconies and awnings thаt you can appreciate оn a romantic аmblе. And when thе sun gоеѕ dоwn уоu’ll hаvе your рісk of Zаgrеb’ѕ best саfеѕ, rеѕtаurаntѕ, аnd nightspots. If уоu wаnt to pick uр ѕоmеthіng tо gо or hаvе аn еlеgаnt meal with a lоvеd оnе, уоu’ll fіnd whаt уоu’rе lооkіng fоr Tkаlса. Zаgrеb City - Mіmаrа Museum Yоu can see here some mоdеlѕ аnd іntеrасtіvе exhibits оf the progress оf the city frоm the early tіmеѕ untіl the рrеѕеnt аgе. Thіѕ Lower Town muѕеum іѕ nаmеd аftеr thе 20th-сеnturу аrt collector Antе Tоріć Mіmаrа, who can bеѕt be dеѕсrіbеd as a соlоrful character. The permanent еxhіbіtѕ at thе museum wеrе dоnаtеd bу Miramar whо was lіnkеd with аrt theft during thе Second Wоrld Wаr аnd also fоrgеrу аftеr that. Sоmе сrіtісѕ сlаіm that there аrе some fakes іn thе muѕеum’ѕ соllесtіоn, but іt іѕ ѕtіll a good wау tо ѕреnd a соuрlе of hоurѕ. Wоrkѕ by Cаnаlеttо, Rubens, Holbein, Vеlаzԛuеz, Gоуа, Mоnеt, Rеnоіr, and Dеgаѕ аrе аll оn display hеrе. Arсhаеоlоgісаl Muѕеum Zаgrеb’ѕ lосаtіоn at the hіѕtоrісаl mееtіng роіnt bеtwееn wеѕt аnd east hаѕ brоught a hоѕt of сіvіlіzаtіоnѕ to its dооr. So you can guеѕѕ that a vіѕіt tо the city’s аrсhаеоlоgісаl muѕеum іѕ аn іntrіguіng trір through all kinds оf eras аnd cultures. Onе оf thе bеѕt ріесеѕ hеrе is thе Vučеdоl Dove, a rіtuаl vеѕѕеl that dates back to at lеаѕt 2500 BC. Thеrе’ѕ also Lіbеr Lіntеuѕ, аn Etruѕсаn mummy frоm thе 3rd сеnturу BC, which wаѕ wrарреd wіth bandages thаt contain thе lоngеѕt Etruscan tеxt in thе wоrld. Mоѕt of thе text hasn’t еvеn bееn trаnѕlаtеd аѕ so lіttlе іѕ knоwn аbоut thе language. Museum of Broken Relationship Fascinating to peek into people's intimate chapters with their lovers, partners, husbands/wives, mistresses etc. The exibits are collected accros the globe, explained and used to record their feeling once the relationship ended. Be prepered for some sad stories. Its very intimate. And affordable! A must see. .  
    Nov 06, 2017 613
  • 04 Nov 2017
    The threshold was high and in line with tradition, I crossed it by lifting my left foot while Tim, my guide, lifted his right. We felt the uneven bare floor under our feet as we entered the dark room. The sun was gleaming strongly outside, striking through the roof holes, like a ray of death showing us blurred lines of scattered furniture. There was not much to see. The house looked empty except for a cooker, some kind of wardrobe with a mixture of well-used pans and occasional garments. From the corner, just behind the cooker we heard a trembling “NJIHAO” and our first instinct was to run back out of the house we had entered uninvited. We were in quest of old Chinese life which was disappearing fast and were hoping to get “that” photo here in the destitute fishing village near the popular tourist town of China. We didn’t expect to see any people. “Njihao” replied Tim apologetically. And then we saw her, the old lady with a stick, in a blue Mao Tze Tung uniform, sitting on a handmade tripod chair, the same as my grandfather used to make back in Bosnia. She was 86, almost blind and disabled. She has a daughter in Beijing and granddaughter in Shanghai who is married and expecting a child which she is hopping to be a boy. “Enough of girls in our family!” she declared and bounced the stick on the earth floor. From her left pocket she pulled worn photos of happy women with huge smiles. “They come here once every two years. It’s expensive and they have to work hard. My daughter is working in the factory in Beijing but my granddaughter is in charge of a big hotel”. And she cracked a very proud toothless smile followed by strong cough. I turned my head towards the door hiding my tears. Do I offer to clean the house? That's what I automatically do on visits to my grandparents. But then we were in the middle of China and this place could be hardly called a house. Do we call her daughter and granddaughter and tell them off for leaving this 86-year-old on her own? But then I am sure they are aware of that and the amount of money they are making cannot mask their guilt. “What does she eat?” “Villagers bring food for her.” “Can we do anything for her?” Tim shrugged hopelessly, so accustomed to China and her 21st Century where rapid progress deserts its past. Suddenly I pulled all the money I had in my wallet and thrust it at the abandoned old lady without thinking where she was going to spend it or on what. I just wanted to feel that I had done something. She kissed my hand which made me cry even more, and ran out without even saying goodbye to her.  
    519 Posted by bossgate
  • The threshold was high and in line with tradition, I crossed it by lifting my left foot while Tim, my guide, lifted his right. We felt the uneven bare floor under our feet as we entered the dark room. The sun was gleaming strongly outside, striking through the roof holes, like a ray of death showing us blurred lines of scattered furniture. There was not much to see. The house looked empty except for a cooker, some kind of wardrobe with a mixture of well-used pans and occasional garments. From the corner, just behind the cooker we heard a trembling “NJIHAO” and our first instinct was to run back out of the house we had entered uninvited. We were in quest of old Chinese life which was disappearing fast and were hoping to get “that” photo here in the destitute fishing village near the popular tourist town of China. We didn’t expect to see any people. “Njihao” replied Tim apologetically. And then we saw her, the old lady with a stick, in a blue Mao Tze Tung uniform, sitting on a handmade tripod chair, the same as my grandfather used to make back in Bosnia. She was 86, almost blind and disabled. She has a daughter in Beijing and granddaughter in Shanghai who is married and expecting a child which she is hopping to be a boy. “Enough of girls in our family!” she declared and bounced the stick on the earth floor. From her left pocket she pulled worn photos of happy women with huge smiles. “They come here once every two years. It’s expensive and they have to work hard. My daughter is working in the factory in Beijing but my granddaughter is in charge of a big hotel”. And she cracked a very proud toothless smile followed by strong cough. I turned my head towards the door hiding my tears. Do I offer to clean the house? That's what I automatically do on visits to my grandparents. But then we were in the middle of China and this place could be hardly called a house. Do we call her daughter and granddaughter and tell them off for leaving this 86-year-old on her own? But then I am sure they are aware of that and the amount of money they are making cannot mask their guilt. “What does she eat?” “Villagers bring food for her.” “Can we do anything for her?” Tim shrugged hopelessly, so accustomed to China and her 21st Century where rapid progress deserts its past. Suddenly I pulled all the money I had in my wallet and thrust it at the abandoned old lady without thinking where she was going to spend it or on what. I just wanted to feel that I had done something. She kissed my hand which made me cry even more, and ran out without even saying goodbye to her.  
    Nov 04, 2017 519