February Square Shots

This afternoon, I happened upon a lovely blog, The Daily Bubble Tea.  I loved his photos and reading about his expat adventures in Taiwan.  And I decided to steal his idea of sharing monthly Instagram pictures.  Enjoy a few of The Simple Adventure’s square shots from February.  Instagram @thesimpleadventure.  Just click on the photo if you want more info.

Harbin Snow Sculpture
Harbin Snow
Harbin Ice
Harbin Ice
Harbin Hats
Harbin Hats
Tasting Tea
Tasting Tea
Thailand Temple
Thailand Temple
Ayuthaya
Ayutthaya
Daisy
Daisy
Orchids
Orchids
Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise
Favorite
My Favorite

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.

Bright like a sun – More from Tibet

As I Grew Older  by Langston Hughes
It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun—
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky—
The wall.
Shadow.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun!

Om Mani Padme Hum

Sometimes when we travel, I wonder if it will be a once in a lifetime trip.  There are so many places to see with what time we have.  Should it always be somewhere new, or shall we make a choice to see the familiar once again?  As we prepared for Tibet, and one does prepare for a trip like this, I wondered if it would be our only chance.  So we made the most of it, as always, enjoying every simple, adventurous moment.  And when it was done, my wonder changed.  I wondered when we’d be back.

After our return, several friends and family members have asked how it was.  I used the familiar “amazing” to describe the experience.  But, truly, I am not quite ready to put my answer into words.  It is a feeling.  Amazement, fascination, calm, wonder.   Tibet is a beautiful feeling.

I am happy to share just a few images of wonder.  I’m sure there will be more.

Treasure Hunting

It was one of those perfect travel days.  I spent a morning at the Panjiayuan Market in Beijing.  I thought I might find some pottery, beads, one of those puzzle locks.  I had no idea of the beautiful treasures I would see.  If you like wandering and flea markets, you’ll love this visit.  Take the bus or the metro to Panjiayuan at the south end of the Chaoyang District.  It opens at 8:30am, so you can wander all morning or all day.

I wandered to the amazing beats of Mat  Kearney and John  Mayer, and enjoyed every minute.  I’ve added a few of their songs in the links if you’d like to share my experience.

In the end, I only bought some tiny glass blown eggs and an embroidered strap, all because the older women sellers were too sweet and too cute to resist.

Turns out the treasure was found in the moments, the sights, the wander, not in things.

At the Window

Sometimes, I like to be on the outside looking in.  Or rather, looking in at them while they are looking out.  The window people.  Those in doorways or sitting on porches.  They’re looking out at the world, the start of a new day, or the end of one.  They are contemplating, people watching, working things out, watching in the hope of seeing something worth seeing.  They are beginning.

I am them.  I stand at a window looking out at the busy streets.  I am reminded of where I live, which is strange because how could I forget.  I watch, contemplate, smile, wonder, and always see something worth seeing.

When I photograph a stranger at the window, I wonder what they are thinking.  I invade their privacy for a brief snap, not to offend, but because they are worth seeing.  If they catch me, I smile and hope they smile back.  The photo may be blurry, or something else in focus.  But I remember that I’m not a photographer, I’m a traveler in the moment, seeing what I see.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,

we must carry it with us or we find it not.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flora and Fauna

Flowers and animals make me happy. The pop of color on green leaves. Cows. Fruit on a tree. A perfect palm on the shore. A cat in the sun. Even a bare tree lightly dusted in snow.  These things make me love life and remember how lucky I am to live mine.  And as we enter our third month of winter here in Shenyang, I’m missing those little pops of color.

On a recent trip to Vietnam, where all things were in bloom around us, I smiled at the random flowers on the side of the road, each of the palms in view, chomping cows and sunning crocodiles.  On every trip we make, and every day I step outside in familiar surroundings too, I search for beauty in trees, flowers, animals, nature.  It makes me smile.  So let me share a few smiles with you.

5 Million Motorbikes

We had the great fortune to travel to Vietnam a few weeks ago.  We spent 10 days in Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and Mui Ne.  We kicked off our trip in the crazy, beautiful HCMC; home to 9 million people, and 5 million motorbikes.  It is one of the craziest cities we’ve ever been in, and one of the most beautiful.  It was only surpassed by the beauty of the river towns and the delta, and a few calm, peaceful days at Mui Ne.

For me, Vietnam was a trip of feeling.  It was the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and more in such an amazing country that has been through so much.  So I give you some of the sights and stories in these photos.  And a wonderful phrase that I hope to remember every day of my lucky life.

I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.  Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes.  All is a miracle.   Thich Nhat Hanh

Enjoy.

Foothills of Greatness

Today, we finally chose a picture to send into the Purdue Alumnus magazine (https://www.purduealumni.org/alumnus/), hoping to show off our world travels.  This is what I submitted to them and the President’s Council this morning, which inspired me to share it here, and a few more pictures of our Sarangkot experience.

***

My friend, Susan, and I are so happy to send you this picture we took last month at Sarangkot, Pokhara, Nepal.  Susan and I met in 1989, both playing saxophone in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band.  We have remained great friends over time and distance ever since.  After graduating from Purdue in 1993, Susan spent more than 2 years in Nepal with the Peace Corps.  This year, she planned an amazing trip to see the country again, visit friends and host families, and experience a homecoming of sorts.  Since 2010, I have been living in Shenyang, China, so when I heard about Susan’s trip, I invited myself along.  We met in Kathmandu and later visited Pokhara, where this picture was taken.  We awoke at 4am that morning to make the trip to Sarangkot and watch the sun rise over the Annapurna range.  It was our distinct pleasure to show Purdue Pride in the foothills of greatness.  ***

Namaste

Namaste.  The word has a number of meanings and uses.  Hello.  Welcome.  I bow to you.  After a week in Nepal, to me, namaste meant a smile.  That week was a reminder of true meanings.  Friendship means a bond over time and space.  Peacefulness is that feeling in your soul you can’t quite describe.  We used words like amazing so often.  We searched for other adjectives to describe what we saw, how we felt, what the moment meant to us.  Magnificent.  Glorious. Extraordinary.  Spectacular.  Formidable.  Breathtaking.  Wow, and the Chinese version, woaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!  And for a few special moments, there were no words.
Before moving to China, my friend, Susan, and I joked that we would meet in Kathmandu.  She had lived there 18 years ago during her Peace Corps time and had been wanting a trip back.  Little did we realize that it would happen.  She planned an amazing trip based on her knowledge and experience, and the rest of the group benefited so very well.   Susan, Larry, Kristy and I share about 3000 pictures between us, and a week of incredible memories.
Nepal is a country of colors.  Prayer flags and knitting shops, scarves and crafted handbags, buildings and signs.  Everything was colorful and it brightened my eyes.  The sky was no exception as we experienced the post-monsoon dryness of October and a glorious blue sky with clouds of every shape and size.  We marveled at the shades of green on the hillsides and terraced farms.  We loved the traditional clothing, from married Nepali women wearing their best red sari, to Tibetan refugees in their finest chuba, to house clothes that would put my prettiest skirt to shame.  It was art on every street, in every window, in my every glance.
It would be difficult for me to write about it all in one blog post, so perhaps you’ll see a few about this trip.  For now, enjoy some of my memories in the colors, smiles and amazing days in Nepal.