Archive for the ‘Travel & Stuff’ Category

Nanshan 南山

I prepared this second Hainan post to be posted immediately after the last one, but was kinda delayed (by 2 and a half weeks) because I had to go to the airport to pick Alex & Xenia up (who were visiting), and subsequently holidaying around Malaysia. ;) Which meant no time to go online!

Anyway, after whirlwind super-fast trips of Penang, Ipoh, Melaka, Pulau Perhentian & Taman Negara, I’ve just sent them off to the station; they’ll finish the rest of their holiday by themselves, and I will be sent to the airport myself (after all this sending of other people) to return to Glasgow late on tuesday night.

Back to the original content…

hainan 116

The huge tourist complex on Nanshan (南山) includes several resorts, dozens of temples and shrines, a huge mountain (hence the name) and some other stuff. It’s the southernmost part of China (hence the name again) and beyond that is the South China Sea and Vietnam.

Anyway, “huge tourist complex” means you have to pay for every single thing –  to enter the temple, to light up some incense, to do this, to do that…. According to the guide, the Chinese government invested millions to promote both local and international tourism for the island of Hainan, and especially on this “religious tourism” thingy in Nanshan. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised then.

hainan 160

hainan 168

Just so you aren’t confused by the previous picture – this gigantic statue of a three-faced Goddess of Mercy GuanYin (a side representing wisdom, a side for compassion and a side for mercy) is built on a mini man-made island, and not on the main island.

hainan 184

And of course, it is almost a pre-resquisite to go over and hug her “feet” and pray for good luck and prosperity and peace and safety and whatever you may wish to pray for.


Read Full Post »


First off, I’m not so pleased with the photos from the trip. But anyhow, I’ll post some up anyway, just because there is a dearth in photos recently ;). It was my first ever time using my dad’s D80 though, so perhaps I get some slack cut…

hainan 002

I love looking out of the windows of anything – cars, planes, boats (ok maybe no windows on those), trains, buses, etc. Of course, I always have a book with me as well, but only reading or only looking out is boring on its own. Looking out of plans is the most challenging because most of the time it’s just blinding white light, but if you glance out every so often you might get something different.

hainan 065

The city of Sanya (三亚), Hainan’s second most populous city. Throughout the trip I was amazed at many things – from the good to the bad – and almost all of it could be found in this city. The thing I am left speechless the most is the “total tourist package”, a meticulously contrived spending sham glossed over by the merest, most threadbare hint of  marketing and packaging. Speaking to the guide about the mechanics of the tourist industry in China, I could only shake my head. I can’t stand the plants on the bottom right by the way.

hainan 096Me

hainan 103

The pace of development is surreal in its speed, the frenetic pace taking on a comic effect that resembles one of those roadrunner cartoons, where buildings are forever chasing other buildings for height, square footage and garish, stupid features. Dilapidated shacks lie next to concrete monuments, much like shrines to an alien religion. (ok been reading too much JG Ballard)

Read Full Post »

When you go away on holiday, especially if it is to a different country, you suspend your life temporarily whether you want to or not. Even more so if you switch off your wifi-enabled email-receiving GPRS/3G/EDGE/GSM/WTV capable smartphone and refrain from surfing the net. That’s good when you need a break but obviously not when you are on a roll. It’s a bad trip when it disrupts your rhythm.

Anyway, I spent the last six days in Hainan island in China without a phone and internet access. I completely and thoroughly forgot about everything I have yet to do in KL/Glasgow. Whether the trip itself was fun was another matter, but the point is it was a different experience and a different trip in more ways than one, so this infusion of fresh input is fascinating to say the least.

So, it’s a good trip. Especially when our return flight fell on the one, single calm day in between two typhoons storming past in that vicinity. Harmless superstition says that’s because we visited the gigantic Guanyin statue in Nanshan (and hugged her “legs”) the day before our return, resulting in endless “临时抱佛脚” jokes.

Read Full Post »


The last post was meant to have some accompanying pictures; I wrote it last week and scheduled it to post at a later date, intending to put pictures in at one point. Well, I procrastinated and didn’t, and forgot about it until Tristyn wrote a fast comment and then I realised it was already published. So in the midst of a packing fervour…


There really is no reason to pack 3 magazines and 2 books for a 10 hour return trip other than having a variety to choose from. ;) All of these were in various stages of completion. What can I say, I am fickle. What’s ironic is that I left them all in Glasgow and instead borrowed one of Charlie’s books to read on the way back.sunsetsmall


Taking the train is by far my favourite mode of transport. Among all of the countries me and Flora have taken the train together in, she thinks UK’s scenery is the most beautiful. While I personally think that what little I saw of Norway was stunning as well, I have no reason to argue with her.

From the cultivated farmland of the south to the (relative) wilderness of the Lake District to the Scottish Lowlands, looking out of the window on a Glasgow-London trip is never boring. Unfortunately traveling at 125 mph doesn’t make for great picture-taking, so clouds are the easiest.



These pictures were actually taken on the London Paddington- Bristol route, but I saw similar cooling towers on the London-Glasgow route. I had no idea what these were the first time I saw them.

I guessed they were cooling towers of some kind, and 5 minutes on wikipedia showed that they were “natural draft wet cooling hyperbolic cooling towers” belonging to Didcot Power Plant, a coal and gas fired plant near Didcot Parkway, one of the stations en route.

Read Full Post »

You know what else helps procrastination and improves self-management? Stop thinking about what to do! For many years, especially the days in Taylor’s College where time was so tight, I always used every spare minute to plan what to do next. I suppose if you plan one or two things, it MIGHT just work, but if you were stupid like me and just piled agendas on agendas, it will never work. never ever. In fact, the more you plan, the less you’ll do.

I think that applies to many things in life, and it’s something I’m learning now. It is a fine point to know the right degree of vagueness a plan should retain. I used to get carried away and plan the tasks I have to do, down to the tiniest detail for the next 10 hours. By the time I sit down at my desk, I was so bogged in details, so tense at the enormous amount of work in front of me, that I’d just sit and stare at the screen for a further 10 minutes, and then do something else completely.

Not good!

Anyway, I was reminded of it as I was planning my spring and summer traveling itinerary. It works the same: traveling shouldn’t be rigid and structured, but free, unshackled by stupid schedules, and unfettered by time limits. (hidden rant: this is why I dislike tours) I think it has become a problem that sometimes, we are so concerned with getting the most out of our trip (chinaman tendency here….) that we forget the simple pleasures traveling brings to relaxing the brain, opening up the mind and rejuvenating the soul. Not planning a trip properly spells disaster, as something is bound to go wrong that will surely cost you dearly, but the key word is “properly”, and over-planning is definitely not doing it right.

Read Full Post »

Maybe it was the comfy beds of Jurys Inn, a notch up from my usual traveling-accomodation (cheaper places all fully booked).

Maybe it was the likable city of Belfast and the friendly people, or the pleasant and lilting Irish brogue, so reminiscent of, but different to, the Scottish equivalent.

Maybe it was the bottle of Bushmills 1608 that I pondered and fidgeted over and eventually bought at the Bushmills distillery.

Maybe it was the monkeying around in the Botanic Gardens, or the weirdness of Giant’s Causeway, or the windswept awe-inspiring sea cliffs that I managed to see along the coast, or the lovely glens of Antrim.

Maybe it was the unfounded fears about the current political situation in Belfast, or the informative half-day spent learning about the Troubles in Belfast, and looking at the raw and emotive murals along the Shankill and Falls roads.

Maybe it had nothing to do with Belfast at all and was just that I was feeling kinda boxed in (mentally) and the short break cheered me up.

Whatever it was, the short trip to Northern Ireland over the Easter weekend was immensely enjoyable. I must say I am sufficiently rejuvenated to face the mundane chores and tasks of the upcoming few weeks before I can slip away again to somewhere else…..


Me and another Tee

Read Full Post »

Strangely enough

After some warm days, Monday morning was much colder than I hoped it would be, and way too cold for my tropical bones. As I walked the kilometer or so to work my hands were cold, but I couldn’t be bothered to dig the gloves out from the depths of my bag, where I am determined to banish them until the next winter.

To placate the signals my brain was sending me about my freezing hands, I tried to create some kind of morphine-like effect by envisaging the tropical sun, a nice little boat, a clear blue sea, a fishing rod, and me, something like this:


(that’s the much-missed Pulau Redang, in 2006)

Strangely enough, instead of staying put and waiting for the weather to be warmer – I am bucking the trend and heading to, of all freaking places, snowy Oslo in Norway for 5 days, starting on the 5th. This makes the second wintry trip of 2009, and I am sick of filling my holdall with thick and puffy clothes….


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »