Monday, January 16, 2017

Ride Camels At The Gobi Desert

Mingsha Sand Mountains - Dunhuang

We had the best experience in our lives!
We both rode big furry camels across a real desert in China!




We saved money by taking a bus from the downtown of Dunhuang
to the Mingsha Sand Mountains. My brilliant wife always led me
all the way as she is my navigator with a compass in her head.




Here she practiced riding a toy camel first.
Vistors can explore the sand dunes by camel, electric car, 
quad bike or by foot.





There are hundreds of camels with cute heads and pretty eye lashes.
In Winter, they were much relaxed with the very little tourist arrivals,
hence the camels had no duty to carry the tourists for many days.
During the peak summer period, thousands of tourists would visit and
the poor camels had to make over 20 trips each to ferry the tourists
daily across the very hot desert.




Riding a camel on this desert is a great experience.
The sun was shining very brightly yet it was very cold!






We could enjoy the beautiful wavy shapes of the smooth 
yellow dunes against the beautiful blue skies.




It was just like traveling the ancient Silk Road.
When the wind blows, you can hear the desert sand
singing! Scientists today are still baffled.





I was more adventurous and took out my selfie stick.
I took many shots in all angles until
the camel's jockey cautioned me not to frighten
the camels with my crazy feat with one hand holding
onto my camel.




Do I look gaya & stylo?



One for the family album. Myself, my wife and 2 camels.




Yeeehaaaw! Hope you enjoyed my camel rides.




Crescent Moon Spring





We walked to this Crescent Moon Spring which is an oasis with a lake
at the foot of Mingsha Mountains desert. It was built by the
Emperor Wu of the Western Han Dynasty(206 BC-9 AD).





My name in "An-Jing".
There so many small dogs all over Dunhuang. They are
very cute and obedient to follow us around.




This is the crescent shaped lake in the oasis.
The inscriptions on the stone slab read 
"Wowa Pond of the Han Dynasty(206 BC-220)". 
 Today this legendary lake is called Crescent Moon Springs.





There are many halls to the shrines.






My wifey posing with the little dog.



An ancient statue of the Bodhisattva Guan Yin
with rays of heavenly sunlight.




The ancient Pagoda tower in the complex.



A picturesque sight of the desert sands right behind
the ancient buildings.


***



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Christmas Farewell Lunch

Happy New Year again to everyone! Let me share how my 30 hungry colleagues & clients ate & slaughtered my bosses during our annual Christmas lunch treat! My boss Dato Simon Lee threw a big lunch instead to coincide with the farewell of our client Mr. Kiyoshi Hayashi who was returning back to Japan. 



We all headed to this trendy seafood joint somewhere in
Bangsar. Look at how my colleagues ate and guess the
bill later.



They have a nice and cosy ambiance that reminds me of the
Fisherman's Wharf at the Bay Area in San Francisco.



We took up half section of the whole big restaurant. The Japanese
clients filled the first table with 3 Datuks entertaining them.


I always felt comfortable to sit with my Malay colleagues instead.




They serve fresh oysters which were air flown
from Holland, England & France!





My colleagues called so many servings of different oysters.




The first time I saw a Christmas Tree
made from many oyster shells.




I ordered the seafood soup and it was so
delicious & rich flavoured.




This is a huge serving of baked salmon fish, enough to feed
half dozen people.



  
A salmon dish with wasabi. So unusual.





 Huge lobsters for all.




A pan full of big prawns.




A pan of mixed seafood.




A hamburger with beef and crispy cut fries.




A beef steak with blood oozing out. Bluek!




A plate of poached salmon.




So many types of desserts ordered but this brownies is the best!





The damage was RM4,700.00


Ho Ho Ho Ho!



****



Friday, December 30, 2016

My New Year Resolutions For 2017

The whole year 2016 had come and gone in a fast blink. It was the most tiring and eventful year in my whole life. Honestly, I was mentally drained and struggled sanely to stay positive after losing my mum in 2015 and my dad in 2016. Both were long ailing, aging and fading each day. It was both a very sad and relief period to pray so hard for them to depart for better places, after all they both had lived a meaningful life and enjoyed fullest as what anyone would have wished. My mind, body and soul have some void feelings now as if the chords have been cut to release me like a bird to fly on my own.



Besides going through the 2nd year of mourning period now, I still had time to fly off for some vacations. They were all planned trips like many months ahead to take advantage of cheaper flights, hotels and everything. In December 2015 & February 2016, we both flew to Japan again as we never had enough of this beautiful country. We paid for the tickets to Tokyo while we were given complimentary tickets to Osaka in February. During the Chinese New Year, we could not celebrate yet as my mum's mourning period was still ongoing, so we headed to Yogjakarta as it was nearby and cheap for a blissful and enjoyable vacation.

We were in Penang and Singapore for brief visits in September and October. By end November, we left for the long planned trip to China, followed by my trip to Jakarta to accompany my friend Peter Tan. Along the way in 2016, I have met many new friends and lost several friends too. They had sudden deaths resulting from heart failures while 2 friends had heart surgeries and survived. All these incidents frightened all my ex school mates.


My 2017 New Year Resolution is to BE HEALTHY! 
I will spend more time to exercise and watch my health!



Wishing you all a Happy & Healthy New Year 2017!



Thank you very much for reading 
all my blog postings.




****





Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Silk Road Attractions - Xi'an to Dunhuang

We just got back from Xi'an a couple of weeks ago. It was our second trip to Xi'an in China and I truly enjoyed every minute of this ancient city which was the first capital of China. Its old name was better known as Chang'an where all the tourists today, could see the famous Terracotta Warriors besides the tomb of Emperor Shi Huang Ti and many other famous sites like the ancient City Walls. During our first trip in 2014, we stayed a week to visit many places and climbed up the most dangerous Huashan Mountains too. You can look up my previous Xi'an trips at the side bar of this blog if you are interested.

Many authors of Genghis Khan and Marco Polo's history, had written that Silk Road is an ancient trade route between China and Europe in 200 B.C. It all started from Xi'an in China and the route spanned across many countries including Mongolia, India, Russia, Persia until Africa before ending at the Turkish empire in Europe. Along the route, Chinese traders barter traded their many products in every little towns and the most prized items were the original China's Silk that attracted the foreigners.


 Xi'an Railway Station 
(Shaanxi Province - China)




This trip, we took the 24 hour train ride from Xi'an to Dunhuang because their internal flights are often over priced to cost a bomb! We wanted to see Mogao Caves since a decade ago and it was like a dream come true, with a price too. You will never get bored with Xi'an which is a huge ancient city since the Han Dynasty when the Silk Road started.




We stayed 2 nights at the Grand Soluxe Hotel in Xi'an which was just 2 minutes
walk to the railway station. We got there an hour before the gates were opened.


 

We booked the soft bed sleeping berths which had 4 beds. 
It was a hell ride as they allowed smoking at both ends
of all the coaches. They Chinese men smoked from sunrise till sunset
and until next sunrise. The filth of their nicotine smoke penetrated all
our lungs and it was a terrible journey. May they all rot in hell. 




It was quite comfortable with closed door privacy
to enjoy the scenic view for the next 24 hours!
It was a long shaky ride.

 

I am a 6 footer and the beds are 7 feet in length.
 So I had no complains. It was minus temperature at
Winter and they turned on the central heating at dusk.


 

We tried eating their meals at the restaurant coach.
There were over 20 coaches running but less than 1%
of the passengers ate there. Guess why?


 

Their mainland Chinese cooking always looked messy
with very bland taste. I just swallowed them with the help of
water and told myself to just do as the Romans
do when you are in Rome. Bluek!




Now look at the prices in their menu! No wonder all the other passengers
ate the cheap huge cup noodles with the free flow of hot water!
On our return trip, we bought ahead, plenty of bread, snacks, fruits
and our own cup noodles instead. All eaten happily ever after.



After makan, my wife was restless and took out her Korean
charcoal masks as the air was very dry. She looked like the
Black Face General and should have walked around to scare
all the smokers to death.



I spent hours looking at the country sides of China which
were all in grey and brown shades as it was Winter.
We passed through a hundred tunnels, many mountains, canyons
including the Gobi Desert. It was a spectacular sight to
see the melted snow everywhere.



My restless wife could not sit still. She climbed all over the
place like a cute monkey. This area is the cheaper sleeping triple
decker with hard beds and no privacy doors.

 

I saw many poor farmers along the way. They lived in wooden cottages
with mud walls and reared skinny looking goats. 

 

My restless wife who goes hiking daily at the Kiara Park hills
had to do some exercise. Here she did push ups in the mid air.


 Dunhuang Railway Station 
(Gansu Province - China)

 

We arrived Dunhuang after 24 hours train ride.
Look at our 2 cabin bags!
We had little clothes for 10 days trip.
 
 
 
 

 It was -4C and freezing outside the Dunhuang Railway Station.
It was Winter and the whole town was almost dead
with little or no foreigners. I guessed we were the
only 2 foreigners! Well, everything is at the cheapest
in Winter with cheap air tickets, hotels and
entrance fees with no crowds to push you.




 The arch along the highway to the city area of Dunhuang.




 Dunhuang is a very neat & spotlessly clean city with much Buddhism influence.
Here you will see many sculptures and statues of
graceful Boddhisatvas every where.




We stayed at Tian Run International Hotel
after reading so many reviews as a guidance
for my bookings. It is perfectly located right in the
heart of the city.





We paid less than RM150 a night for a big and comfortable
room with modern glass walled bathroom. Comes with
central heating and a fabulous TV box that airs hundreds
of good movies in Chinese and English. Their internet wifi
was too weak and slow like a dying snail. Pfftttt!!!


 

We hurriedly got to the site of Magao Caves to purchase our entrance tickets
and attend to their preview showing the dark interiors of the
caves. All the caves are dark with no lights or windows.
The coach transported us to the actual site of Mogao Caves
some 3-5 kilometers away.


Mogao Caves - Dunhuang
(Gansu Province - China)
 
 

 The front view of the whole Magao Caves with frozen river 
which consists of over 1000 caves. According to legend, 
in 366 C.E. a monk named Yuezun had a vision of a thousand 
radiant Buddhas on the cliff face, which inspired him to begin 
 excavating the caves. Today there are many more than a thousand 
painted and sculpted Buddhas within the caves.





From the 4th to the 14th century, hundreds of caves were 
painstakingly hand carved out of the alluvial conglomerate rock 
cliff face, under the sponsorship of Buddhist monks, local officials, 
and wealthy families who wished to build karmic merit and perform 
an act of veneration. Nearly 500 of the elaborately decorated 
caves remain today.



  
The caves were carved by hand, complete with altars and statues
at around 1,700 years ago.



  
The tour guides would just carry a small torch light to show
the interior and wall of the caves which are opened
to visitors in random numbers of 8-10 daily.
The caves contain the world’s largest collection of Buddhist art.   




The decorated caves’ walls and ceilings, totaling close 
to 500,000 square feet, are covered by elaborate paintings 
depicting stories of the Buddha, Buddhist sutras, portraits 
of cave donors, ornamental designs, and scenes of social 
and commercial life.







The Library Cave (Cave 17), which was unsealed by Wang Yuanlu, 
contained nearly 50,000 ancient manuscripts, silk banners and 
paintings, fine silk embroideries and other rare textiles dating 
from before the early 1000s, when this cave and all its contents 
were concealed for reasons still unknown.





 The caves also contain more than 2,000 brightly painted clay 
sculptures of the Buddha and other figures, the largest sculpture 
being over 100 feet tall.





Hope you enjoyed the photos. The next post will share the
camel rides across the desert at Mingshan Mountains.


****