Friday, 29 August 2008

Middle path

Giving is believing
In the early morning if you walk along the old city of Bangkok, you will bound to meet a group of monks - young and old - walking barefoot across the neighbourhood getting their alms.

This is probably one of the beautiful sights Bangkok can offer to a visitor, provided of course you can rise up early to witness it. If I stay at the Arun Residence by the Chao Phraya river, usually I will get out of bed at 6am, half an hour later I will be seen with foods in my hands, ready to make my offering.

The monks are not supposed to look around while walking. And they should be mindful not to step on any living creature on the ground, be it a little worm or an ant, to avoid killing.

Some of the monks have to travel from the other side of the river by boat to get their morning alms. From my hotel balcony I can see Wat Arun in the background, with twinkling orange-robed novices on the wavy water of the mother river.

Novices with their morning alms, Thailand

On the road

Leaving your home behind
Taking a journey to me is leaving familiar things at home behind. When I'm in a new country, I try my best not to judge or expect or compare. I take in what the world gives me.

We should always remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. Travelling is about exploring and experiencing what you have not in your own country. With an open mind and a willingness to get lost or cheated by touts, you can proudly call yourself a traveller.

The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist. I guess Russell Baker is always in fear of being recognized. But to blend in with the natives, you need careful observations from what they wear to how they greet.

For me, it always pays to make friends with a local.

neighborhood on a Luxor street

Old tales

In the shadow of Gods

Man is a strange creature. At one point he claims he knows all and wants to conquer the world, on the other he builds unbeatable feats in respect to the almighty above.

The Emperor Qin who desired to be immortal and built the Great Wall instead. The Genghis Khan who invaded half of the world and left his generations all over. The Napoleon who went to the wars in Europe and left with nothing but a few paintings in the Lourve.

And the Pharoah, who at one time, saw himself as the godsent creator of the universe and built the Pyramids and Sphinx.

Standing in front of a gigantic pillar at Karnak temple in Luxor, I felt so small and insignificant.

Karnak Temple, Luxor.

Pyramids, Giza near Cairo.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Asian spirits

Today is an important day for China and its people. The day the Summer Olympic starts on 08 day 08 month and the year of 08, with the live worldwide telecast at 8pm.

So much has occured for the past few months prior to the Olympic opening.

The torch relay has created much troubles from London, Paris to the US admist the Free Tibet campaigners around the world. The riots in Lhasa put the issue on focus and ended with a bloody military crash that cost many lives. China and Tibet's indifferences were stuck in the pages of history. The future looks bleak for both.

On the northwestern Xinjiang where muslim Uighurs abound, terrorist attacks have forced China to again use crude force to curb the violence. Bombs in Shanghai and nearby Kashi has claimed many lives including 16 police officers.

And just a few days before Olympic kicked off, the smog caused major pollution in the old city of Beijing, threatening the committees to consider pulling off a few matches including marathon and cycling.

But, the day still has to arrive.

Let's join our hands together and hope China will make the XXIX Olympic the best in the sports history. Let's also hope China will go through all the life's humanitarian lessons along its way before it can proudly acclaim a mighty nation of the world.

"Real strength is not just a condition of one's muscle, but a tenderness in one's spirit."

Hence the description for my entry to the Visa Beijing Olympic "Faster, Higher, Stronger" photo contest. I hope it reflects a future China which the whole world wants to see.

Shortlisted and now on travelling exhibition in Asia.