Dunhuang: Untold Tales, Untold Riches @Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Exhibition period:  26/11/2014 to 16/3/2015

Dunhuang is an oasis town on the edge of the Gobi Desert in western China along the Great Silk Road.  It was a famous center of Buddhist worship in the middle-ages, with pilgrims travelling from faraway to visit its cave shrines, comprising of hundreds of lavishly decorated caverns carved into a cliff on the city’s outskirts.

It was rediscovered by accident by a monk in the late last century.

The Dunhuang Library is hailed as one of the great archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century, on par with Tutankhamun’s tomb and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Here are some pictures of a fantastic exhibition put together by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and no doubt Dunhuang is in my bucket list!

However, I better hurry because it ecosystem is very fragile.  Buildup of humidity and carbon dioxide—from visitors’ breath—are  flaking and discoloring the delicate pigment-on-plaster wall paintings, making it very vulnerable to mass tourism.  With Dunhuang entering the digital age, who knows, it might be closed to mass tourism in the future and the only way I get to see it will be via digital media!

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The 15.6 meter recumbent Buddha, serene in death with anguished disciples and mourners, is an iconic image of Mogaoku. 


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Artefacts from Silk Road times as well as replicas from the Mogao Caves.

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Scrolls and Manuscripts:  The Diamond Sutra, a copy of a Chinese translation of one of the Buddha’s sermons, generally recognized as the oldest known example of a dated printed book.

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Education Booklet

Some additional resources:

A really good article from The New Yorker here

The International Dunhuang Project: The Silk Road Online is a massive international collaboration to make information and images of all manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road freely available on the Internet and to encourage their use through educational and research programmes.

Friends of Dunhuang

Best Wishes for the Year Of Sheep 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR DUDES AND DUDETTES!!  

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New Year Fireworks @Sydney Harbour Bridge (swiped off the internet ‘cos I liked it so much!)

It’s 2015.  And this is my first blog post for 2015… I have more drafts in my folder than actual blog posts, needless to say,  I need to speed up!! 😵 

I have been busy with my art investment courses since the last half of 2014 (and my vigour in bodybuilding towards a competition means that I am exhausted most evenings!😜).  AnywaZ, if you have already broken your new year’s resolution, there’s another new year coming up – the Lunar New Year, coming up on February 19 – celebrated by 1.35B Chinese in the world (omitting people of Chinese origins living outside of China) and no doubt mine will be to write and post more often!  

As to whether my Chinese New Year Predictions 2014 (here), came true… I shall reveal in due course after Chinese New Year, since talking about it before the conclusion of 2014 might change my smooth-sailing now. 😇

SO!!

Without further ado, lets’s take a walk around the malls I frequent often in Hong Kong.

A  flock of sheeps spun from yarn under a woollen-balls tree and clouds…at Landmark.  Bright colors really liven up the atrium of the mall! 😎

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Sheeps under the a fuchsia tree @ Landmark, HK

 

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Sheeps under the a fuchsia tree @ Landmark, HK

 

Meanwhile at IFC…a mini garden of 12 Chinese zodiacs constructed from artificial flowers and tiny lights.

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Chinese Zodiacs @ IFC, HK

Welcoming the Sheep…

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Star for this year – The Sheep or Goat!

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Sheep

The Dragon…

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The Heavenly Dragon

This is my favourite, the Rat on top of an Ox!

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Rat on top of an Ox

 

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Happy Monkey…

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Monkey

 

And Piggie smelling the daisies.

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Pink Piggie

 

Lastly, as the Lunar New Year looms, may your celebrations with family and friends be filled with joy, laughter and good fortune.

🎊 HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!! 🎊

Fleeced… @Sumo Sushi Sake Event 2014

Date of Visit: December 13 2014

The weekend past has been fuelled with booze… First up, was the Sumo Sushi Sake event on Saturday at West Kowloon.  It was a disappointment, as I was looking forward to some awesome sushi and sashimi.  But instead, they had half-assed California rolls, noodles in a cup (😱 !!), yakitori, chips and other Japanese street food…I felt I had been fleeced of HK$320 (inclusive of 9 tokens) for the entrance fee.

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The crime scene

We were early, so basically sat under the sun for 3+hours to wait for the sumo wrestling to start…

The sumo wrestlers were not in great shape either.  I can’t see much due to the crowd in front of me.  But lucky me was standing next to a really tall guy who was taping the event, so I watched the match on his phone!😜

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Sumo Wrestlers

View of Victoria Harbour on my way to Port-a-loo.  Do remember to bring own hand sanitiser and toilet papers!😝

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Victoria Harbour

This is the most expensive sake in the event.  I exchanged 7 tokens (HK$87.50) for a cup.  It was good – smooth and dry.

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Premium Sake 40 tokens (HK$500)

So that I don’t stuff up my nutrition plan, I had 3 skewers of the beef tongue and a skewer of mushrooms…

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Yakitori: Beef tongue @ 4 tokens each (HK$50) and mushroom @2 tokens each (HK$25)

Unfortunately, I needed something ‘stronger’ to soak up sake… so here comes the spoiler… chips!  Which, I must say is very good and deserves a thumbs up! 👍

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Chips: 4 tokes (HK$50)

My friends and I shared 2 bottles of sake…cheap…but they did the trick…left me laying awake half the night!

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Cheap Sake #1

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Cheap Sake #2

Well, since I have 2 tokens (HK$25) left, I might as well redeem this can of “Berry Sparkling Sake”… It’s still sitting in my fridge as I’m not going to OD on sugar!

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Sake in a can

No doubt – I WILL NOT be back!

Hiking: Chilling Out @ Tai O Infinity Pool

Date Of Visit:  June 26 2014

The Tai O Infinity Pool used to be one of the best kept secret in Hong Kong until recently.  I was extremely appalled to read from online news feed that the pool is now officially a ‘garbage pool’ littered by selfish hikers and campers!  This is totally outrageous – hikers should leave no traces of their visits to the natural environment – so take away your rubbish, please!

Tai O is an old fishing village in Hong Kong,  and often referred to as ‘Venice of the East’.

We caught Bus #11 from Tung Chung Bus Terminus.  There’s a bus departing every 30minutes – and it fills up fast.  The scenic journey takes around 40minutes.

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Fishing boats and gorgeous waters

To get to the Infinity Pool, one simply has to walk along the boardwalk then turn to the right at the very end of the boardwalk, then continue walking on the path for 45 minutes.  The path is easy to walk and rather well shaded (but I still got sun-burnt! 😬 )

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Pink Boardwalk

But beware of the huge spiders, though!

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Massive Spider busy spinning its web

The Infinity Pool is an abandoned water dam.   To the delights of the hikers, the cold waters are a welcoming delight to refresh after a longish hike! But shhh…it’s not actually legal to swim in it!  😬

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Old Water Dam

The Tai O infinity Pool is also called the Man Cheung Po Infinity Pool.  The waterfall is liken to a 10,oo0 foot piece of cloth falling from the sky – literal Cantonese translation.  It’s a pretty oasis of half natural and half man-made, surrounded by waterfalls .

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Waters from the waterfall can run very fast especially after rains.

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There are 2 pools. A natural pool on the top, and a man-made pool at the bottom.

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View from the main pool, higher up

Catchment pool at the bottom aka Infinity Pool.

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During the weekends, the pool can be overly crowded with people.  But today?  It was empty.  The 3 lucky ladies had the whole pool all to ourselves!  And it was a perfectly lovely day too!

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Me

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Me again…

Let’s hope the litter situation improves… Be considerate folks!  Take away your litter!  Litterbugs are not welcomed!  Jitterbugs are! 😉

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A Bite + ‘Gromit Unleashed Hong Kong’ @ Elements Mall, Kowloon Station

Date of Visit:  August 13 2014

Weather in Hong Kong is very, very wet.

Still, I went ahead to meet a friend for drinks at Kowloon Station when the Amber Thunderstorm Alert was issued.  I was on the MTR when I suddenly realised that I had forgotten my umbrella, but its OK, I told myself since the walkways are covered all the way from my place to Kowloon Station.  Oops, what I also forgot was that the restaurant that we are meeting in, is at Civic Square on top of Kowloon Station, and the area is quite exposed… uh-oh!!

Madam S’Ate offers Happy Hour until 7pm on Weekdays (HK$50/ glass of wine).  Perhaps I was not hungry, so I was very undecided. A juicy steak looked enticing but I wasn’t in the mood for a heavy meal.  Pizzas, pastas… ‘meh’... so I settled for the bar menu. The salted cod croquettes were alright, in fact, pretty good.

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Salt cod croquettes, harissa and yoghurt

However, service was tardy.  The waitresses were flirting with a bunch of guys on the other table.  My wine order was mixed up (waitress’s mistake), yet she asked if I would mind taking the wrong order.  Normally I’d won’t mind, but seeing her tardiness, I minded!  😜

We had to stay for an extra couple of hours in the restaurant to wait for the thunder and rain to subside… then I’m off to Elements Mall to see Gromit… and there were a lot of Gromits  decorated in sorts.  I wonder whether Gromit minded?!  Then again, why would he?  He’s dressed up by designers, no?

TAH-DAH!!

And here is the “The Greatest Dog Show on Earth in Asia” unveiled in ELEMENTS.

“The only exhibition of decorated Gromit sculptures in Asia, inspired by a public art trail project named “Gromit Unleashed” that generated massive public attention throughout the UK last year.  At the end of the exhibition, the giant Gromit sculptures will be auctioned in support of Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal and children’s art programmes in hospitals across Hong Kong”.  

Phew, with so many public art auctions nowadays… I’m presuming Hong Kong is trying really hard to push to become an art lover’s destination?

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Dreamy Balloon by Veronica Li (vnikali)

I love orchids!

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Orchid Gromit by Philip Treacy

Gromit balancing a ball on his head.

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Gromit’s adventure with his moon by Jimmy Liao

This is fun – Gromit with a fuchsia moustache!

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Beauty Will Save the World by Kim Robinson

And a prickly Godzilla Gromit!  Hey, this reminds me of someone! 😄

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Gromzilla by Kiyoshi Daniel Kohatsu

Or maybe this one?  😜

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😘

There are still time to catch up with the 60-or-so Gromits in town, before they are auctioned off in September!  Hurry! Hurry!

Elephant Parade, Pacific Mall, Admiralty

After the 1,600 Pandas departed, the Elephants stampeded into Hong Kong.   Elephant Parade is the world’s largest art exhibition of decorated elephant statues created by artists and celebrities.  After the exhibition, the statues will be auctioned.  The idea is to use the power of art to bring forth a meanful message of animal conservation and protection.  Individuals can also buy miniature replicas of the elephants whereby 20% of the net profit are donated to The Asian Elephant Foundation.

Since it was Amber Rainstorm today, I was at Pacific Place Mall today to watch a movie.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the elephants dotted around the mall and had a fun time taking pictures.

Hah!  A map of HK, no doubt dedicated to Hiker Dude 😜

Pearl of the Orient by Diana Francis

Pearl of the Orient by Diana Francis

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‘Maclehose Trail’, the gruesome 100km Oxfam Trail Walk where some teams managed to finish in 13 hours!

Money makes the world go round, and so the auspicious lucky coin Elephants to reign in good fortune for the Mall

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Lucky Coins by Santi Takaew

And with the mooncake season or mid-autumn festival coming up, an Elephant Mooncake sounds like a good festive creation

Mooncake by Kitipong Tamnonsri

Mooncake by Kitipong Tamnonsri

A statue designed by my favourite designer.

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DVF, Love is Life by Diane von Furstenberg

Hong Kong is a tourist destinations and of course a couple of Elephants decorated with local flavours are a must!  Themes included food and tourist landmarks.

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Yum-Ephant by Diana Francis

We Love Hong Kong by Carsac Limited

We Love Hong Kong by Carsac Limited

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Commandments of God by Prajjwal Choudhury

One of the crowd’s favourite as judged by the number of people taking pictures.  The cutest of ’em all, I reckon!  This is by celebrated local designer Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

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The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The exhibition started on August 1 and will continue to September 9 2014.  Do pay the Elephant Parade a visit – other locations includes CityPlaza in Taikoo Shing and CityGate in Tung Chung.

Tree of Life exclusively designed for Pacific Place by Diana Francis

Tree of Life exclusively designed for Pacific Place by Diana Francis

Barking Up The Wrong Tree?? @Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls, Hong Kong

So, I am back in Hong Kong from my hols.  The first thing I did was going on a hike with Hiker Dude – against the advise of my girl friends.  “Why would you want to go hiking with someone who’s giving you confusing signals?”.   Anyway, I followed my heart, took the advise of my guy friends who (3 out of 3) all encouraged me to give the relationship a chance – so I went.  My BFF, a guy, even gave me the comparison of ‘instant noodles and a steak’.  Huh?  I guess the premise is that:  Steak tastes better but takes longer time to cook – a weird analogy, but hey, Chinese people loves to eat and given the opportunity will eulogise about food anytime, hands-down!

On my personal front, if a guy initiate chats with you first thing in the morning, that means he is interested, right? Plus, me being me, I’ve grilled him… I have a kick-ass, Devil-may-care-attitude and whatever conflicting signals he’s giving me, it only means he’s confused… or whatever… Father Time will tell...or whatever… LOL  😉

Here are the summary pictures of our hike today which I took with my iPhone 5s.  Heard that iPhone 6 is on the way – so, yippee – better photos to come! *High Fives Guys and Gals*

For the unfit, the hike is rather tiring since it’s mostly ascent.  I LOVE ascent, walking Up and Up which  really work your booties.  Best to walk upright, lift knees high and stomp up, this puts less pressure on knees but really works the glutes.

All in all, there are 3 falls in Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls…

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Bottom Fall

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Middle Fall

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Scatter Fall

Because we are fit people, we took a longer detour to Kadoorie Farm – to see the fat pigs…

Some wild flowers on route.

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White Zephra Lilies

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No idea what these flowers are

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Views… there were other more spectacular views but I couldn’t be bothered with taking my iPhone out from my backpack… so next time, Peeps! 🙂

The fat pigs…there are 6 altogether. A breed called ‘Da Hua Bai’, formally appointed the Kadoorie Education Ambassadors on August 1 2013 to encourage  visitors to ‘eat less meat’.   (Er… really? ‘Fraid, I can’t do that, I need protein for bodybuilding! :-()

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A Fat Pig Called ‘Andrew’

Lunch at Kadoorie Farm Cafe.

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Picturesque, outdoor and relaxing garden setting

My healthy organic lunch

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Garden Salad + Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk HK$52

A hiking buddy’s lunch, I ‘stole’ the snaps while she went to the Ladies to change…

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Vegetarian Omelette HK$32