How right it is

I love flowers.  I take so many pictures of the blooms and colors, petals and leaves, bugs crawling their way to lunch.  What do I do in winter?  Flowers turn into snow.  Leafless trees hold that lonely beauty all their own.

In Hawaii, there were so many things to see.  On one hike, the guide said, “This is one place where you keep your camera ready the entire time.”  I was in the right place.

Enjoy some of my favorite sights from Hawaii.  Identification thanks to this website, http://wildlifeofhawaii.com/flowers/common-name/l/, and random Googling.

How right it is

to love flowers and the greenery

of pines and ivy and hawthorn hedges;

they have been with us

from the very beginning.

-Vincent Van Gogh

The last days

These are pictures of our last few days in Hawaii.  In the depths of winter, I will look at these and wish.

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon;
to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
-Henry James

The Big Island

For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surf is in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud-rack; I can feel the spirit of its woody solitudes, I hear the plashing of the brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.
Mark Twain

Lava, lava, beaches and more lava.  The Big Island is a gorgeous place.  I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  Click for details or check out the references below.

 

References

TSA Video including Honokohau, MacKenzie, etc.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DQRyMA4PN8

The amazingly beautiful and free Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park  http://www.nps.gov/kaho/index.htm

Some words about the haunted MacKenzie State Park  http://beforeitsnews.com/science-and-technology/2013/04/haunted-hawaii-krg-investigates-mackenzie-state-park-2572430.html

Ahalanui Park and its volcanically heated pool  http://www.hawaiiislandlife.com/2011/03/ahalanui-park-big-island-hawaii/

Kalapana – Kilauea Lava Field  http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/history/1990Kalapana/

I Could Live There

You know those questions some people ask at dinners and parties – “If money was no object, what if?”.  I recently went to dinner where the conversation questions included “what superpower would you have”, “what would your everyday car be”, and “where would your primary home be”.  And though there was an attempt to ridicule each of my answers, I would still want to have C3PO’s communication ability, any car that didn’t use a lot of gas, and my primary home would be somewhere in the beautiful, blue-skied, BBQ-infused Carolinas.

Maybe my everyday home could be in Hawaii.  Yes, it would be a serious investment in sunscreen, but maybe I could become a test subject for Neutrogena.  I’d take a place on the ocean, in the mountains, or a place near Twin Falls on Maui where we took this hike.  My flower shots will come later, but until then, enjoy.

References:  Hike Maui  http://www.hikemaui.com/  When our awesome guide said, “This is the kind of hike where you keep your camera out the entire time,” I knew I was in the right place.  Hike Maui did a great job!

Wonder Forever

Happy 50th Anniversary to my in-laws!  Thanks to this admirable celebration of their love and family, we were (luckily) a part of a grand celebration in Hawaii.  It was the honeymoon they’d never had.  It was a vacation and an adventure like we’d never had.

Hawaii is one of those places on many lists – Most Beautiful, Dream Travel Locations, Romantic Honeymoons, Best Beaches, Volcanic Sights, and so many more.  It was certainly on our list.  As with so many places we have the chance to see, it remains on our list until we have the opportunity to experience its wonder again.

Enjoy the blue.  Enjoy the green. Appreciate just some of the wonder that is Hawaii.

The Sea, once it casts its spell,

holds one in its net of wonder forever.

– Jacques-Yves Cousteau

For more wonder, enjoy http://youtu.be/5DQRyMA4PN8 and our short clip of a blowhole on Oahu http://instagram.com/p/qD99qaBmtv/?modal=true.

References for your trip:

http://www.discoverhawaiitours.com/ – Ask for Moni.  She is a fantastic guide and an immediate friend.

USS Arizona Memorial – http://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm    http://www.bowfin.org/visit

Bike/Moped/Scooter Rental Honolulu – http://www.hawaiianstylerentals.com/  This site includes rental info as well as great maps for your tour.

Paradise Cove Luau – http://paradisecove.com/

Diamond Head  http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/index.cfm?park_id=15

Yes. Please.

There were quite a few authentic and traditional Chinese dishes we had to try when we went to Xi’an.  We did our very best to eat our way up and through the Muslim Quarter.  Some things, we had to try more than once or twice, just to give it a fair shake.

Rou jia mo is like a Chinese hamburger on a flatbread-type bun.  Every one of the 4 I tried (ha!) was fantastic, and the spicy vegetarian version (cai jia mo) was fantastic too.  Biang biang mian is a carbohydrate dream – wide, thick, long hand-pulled noodles in a sauce of varying spiciness.  Yang rou chuanr is a lamb skewer and at each stall, there are different spices available for you to add your own.  Cumin is a regular favorite.  There were sweet rice cakes, nutty candy, fried little potatoes, noodles, fruits and vegetables, drinks, nuts, breads and so much more.  Enjoy!

Build Yourself an Army

Is it only emperors who can build themselves an army?  My friend, the talented potter / highly educated chemist, can she build herself an army of ceramic cats to protect her from unseen forces?  If I buy enough souvenir Eiffel Towers and display them in organized columns, will they come to life and become my garde militaire?  Seems like reason enough to buy another Eiffel magnet.

Last month, I had the fortune to travel to Xi’an with friends.  It was a whirlwind weekend of seeing and tasting, laughing and thinking, being with people full of love.  It was a weekend of armies, history, emperors, relics, food and a little more food, and plenty of photos.

Xi’an, located in the heart of China in Shaanxi Province, was home to 11 dynasties over a period of 4,000 years.  Nearby is the Banpo site, home to a village in the Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago.  Xi’an was the farthest eastern destination of the Silk Road and the first capital of a unified China more than 2,200 years ago.   Today, it is home to 14km of intact city walls, pagodas, the Terracotta Army, and, in my opinion, one of the best history museums in the world.

In 1974, 3 peasant farmers were digging a well and came upon the tomb-guarding warriors of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.  Little did those farmers know that there were three pits and more than 7,000 life-size soldiers, archers, officers, horses and chariots.  Each one was once colored with pigment and had a weapon, and they all have an individual expression on their face.  Huangdi knew how to build himself an army for his life after death.

The Shaanxi History Museum is an eye-opening experience.  Not only can you see the terracotta soldiers up close, but you can see thousands of relics from the varied history in this province.  On special exhibit while we were there were relics discovered inside two large pots.  Again, a Shaanxi farmer was digging for something and found Tang Dynasty treasures instead.  This museum is amazing and the displays are very well done.

I’m not sure I can choose just a few photos for this blog post.  Keep an eye out for more on the food in Xi’an.  Enjoy.

 

Close your eyes and clone yourself.

Build your heart an army.

To defend your innocence

while you do everything wrong.

Don’t be scared to walk alone.

Don’t be scared to like it.  

Worry, why should I care?

John Mayer – “Age of Worry“.

 

There, Then Here…

A month ago, we were just back from Thailand.  We started the trip with elephants, then worked in quite a few temples, meals, friends, sunshine, golf, taxis, boats and more.  We were very lucky to have this opportunity to see Thailand again, this time through different eyes.  We smiled while combing through photos again this weekend, and I hope you enjoy how the light tended to us on this adventure.

The title is from “Houses and People” by Angkarn Chanthathip 
Each spot   each spot kindles an image…
the seashore   the plain   the top of a mountain
the rice field   the roadside   the bleak grey twilight
there, then here, the light is tended…
 
Glistening splendour of life
each place   each direction   arrives in the city
the countryside   riversides   near far
never without houses and people
 
The forms of the houses are created by people
everywhere is old from the beginning
the dark ancient times are finished
go beyond the past until you reach the present
 
People build houses homes
their dreams are built from the light of their lives
the truth of all things is sustained
by that – foreverEach place is the dream of an image
reveals a truth stronger than
the heart of the darkest darkness
everywhere under the sky there is light

Glistening brilliance of life
the deep dark night   the traveller   the wide world
each place everywhere it breaks through
never without houses and people

Can you say กอล์ฟ ?

A very special post written by TSA’s other half…

Thailand – a great escape from the long winter in Shenyang.  For one of us, it was a chance to experience what we had heard about the golf, กอล์ฟ, in Thailand.

Thailand has a reputation as a top golf destination in Asia, and this is well deserved.  The golf courses are numerous, well maintained, and inexpensive compared to similar quality courses elsewhere.  The service is top notch, with locker rooms, showers, and great caddies.  You can even have your golf shoes cleaned after the round.

There were four of us golfing, all Michelin expats in Asia, from Shenyang, Shanghai, and Bangkok.  We played 4 times during the week, at the following courses:

Chiangmai Highlands Golf Resort (http://www.chiangmaihighlands.com/golf/)  –  A Schmidt-Curley designed course with great views of the surrounding mountains, and all manners of trouble for even a mildly errant shot.  The greens were rocket fast.  Beautiful, but deadly!

Lam Luk Ka Country Club (http://lamlukkacc.com/) – A Roger Packard design with 36 holes bringing a lot of water into play.  It has hosted professional golf events in the past and is still an Asian Tour Q-School site.  You are assigned by the Starter to play 2 of the nines.  With repeated visits, you would play the course 12 different ways.

Summit Windmill (http://www.summitwindmillgolfclub.com/) – This course was designed by Nick Faldo, and another one with plenty of water.  Amazing (read “expensive”) houses were visible along some of the fairways.  This course was definitely an exercise in risk-reward.

The Pine Golf & Lodge (http://www.thepinegolf.com/) – Since our departing flight was Saturday evening, we decided to add this 4th round on Saturday morning.  This course is one step below the other 3, but it’s still a great course, a good choice as an “every weekend” place to play.

Check out a few of my favorite photos from the week.

A Hati Hati Birthday

The Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a SPEAR!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he:
“Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a TREE!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a FAN!

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong.

Moral

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

We visited the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand earlier this month.  It was a beautiful way to spend my birthday – with friends and family and so many elephants.  Maybe a wall, a spear, a snake, a tree, a fan, or a rope, but in my mind, they are simply amazing.

Click on any of these photos for a caption and description.  These are just a few of the many, many pics from a beautiful day.  And your moment of zen – http://youtu.be/Tmh4RT6Vjkk