Thursday, June 28, 2007

For Safe Travel

Everyone who travels opes that nothing out of the ordinary will happen on their journey -- at least as far as health is concerned. I've been pretty fortunate in my travels, for the most part, though I have had some friends who had really unfortunate events happen while on the road. A friend who was traveling with me in the Carribean fell from a balcony, several have had bad health on the way home, having to stop over in strange lands to try to recover, and several women I know were very sick on their honeymoons (one broke her nose!).

Those are the sorts of things that you hope never happen, all the more when you are on the road. Not only does it spoil a good trip, but it is all the more difficult to manage when you are in an unfamiliar environment and uncertain what to do and where to go to make things right.

One thing many smart travelers do to plan for such things is purchase vacation insurance. Not only is it there in case of injury, but it gives you protection in the event of inclement weather, cancellation, terrorism, and other unexpected events. And, it is always nice to be well-prepared for the unexpected.

** visit Travelsafe.com or call (800) 523-8020 **

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Own Property in the UK

If you've always dreamt of financial security, then investing in a landlords mortgage in the UK might be just the thing to get you all set up.

A landlords mortgage is an investment in a property which you can purchase, then lease or rent it to a tenant in order to gain a steady income. There are lots of excellent properties in the UK available, and Endsleigh is the place to go if you'd like to receive some sound advice on how to invest wisely into the property market in the UK. They are open from 9 am to 9 pm, and are always ready to help you go through the whole process of investing in a landlords mortgage.

Click here to visit Endleigh's website for a quotation.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hong Kong

It's been a while since I was last in Hong Kong, but I do love the vibrancy of that city. It is like no other, I think.

When I was there, I heard that anyone could get a PR in Hong Kong if they stayed and worked there for 7 years continuously. I don't actually know if that is still true, or if it ever was, but I've always sort of wished things had worked out that I could've done just that.





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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In a Strange City



I've been asked a question by my sponsor: what would you do if you were stranded in an unknown city with no money or resources? How would you eat? Where would you sleep? What about the weather?

I've been in lots of strange cities before, and have even been stranded once or twice when travel arrangements failed to work out as they had been planned. But I've never been in this situation... and hope never to be either.

That said, what would I do? Well, I suppose the first thing is I would keep myself from going into a panic. Nothing is too big to manage, if you can just keep your head. So, from there I would have to figure out who seemed to be trustworthy, which is harder in a strange city than it would be in surroundings that are similar to one's home. But, I figure I'd look for a place where there were lots of people, find those that seemed approachable, and seek help from someone. If I could manage to borrow a few buck, or at the very least manage to make a phone call to my family, that would make the whole situation look a lot less bleak. And, I would be very careful to get the contact details of the kind soul who helped, in hopes that I could pay them back when I reached home.

But if I couldn't manage to borrow or beg for a few dollars, then I suppose my next step would be to look for a spot where I could do a few hours of work and earn a few dollars. Perhaps it would be hard work, but that would be fine, as it would get things moving in the right direction. And, if we're talking about a city, there are usually odd jobs to be done.

For a place to sleep, I would probably seek a spot that was well-lit, and not overly secluded. While secluded spots have a feeling of safety, it isn't a good spot to be if one does run into trouble. In general, it seems to be safer in a spot where other people will notice if something starts to go wrong. I've done my share of sleeping in airports and train stations, so I've experienced this sort of thing before. While secluded feels safe at first, it isn't necessarily the sort of spot you want to be in if you do meet with unpleasant experiences.

As for weather, there are always public buildings that are open during the day -- libraries, train and bus stations or bus stops. And, in most cities, there are sheltered areas in public parks. So, that would help with the weather.

When it comes to food, I can manage a day or two without food, if I can find water to drink. Public water fountains are readily available in some cities, but not all. Usually, finding water isn't a problem, but finding clean water might be. With food, in a city there is always going to be something to eat, even if it is someone else's waste. I don't like thinking about it, but fact is, I suppose one can find something to fill the stomach, if the situation becomes dire.

On june 28, USA Network's Burn Notice is going to get underway. CIA Operative will find himself in just the sort of situation described. I have a feeling he'll have a much cleverer and more exciting way of dealing with it than my ideas here. I'll be on the lookout, to see what plan he has to trump mine!




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Monday, June 18, 2007

Hostel 166

A unique place to stay in Singapore, and at a reasonable price, is Hostel 166 in Woodlands. It is a unit in a shop house complex, which means it is on the second floor, above a row of neighbourhood shops. It is the first of its type in Singapore, and was projected as a pilot to test how it would be to place hostels for budget travellers in the heartlands. Hostel 166 is working out great.

There is free internet access, DIY laundry facilities, clean accommodations, and even guided tours of some of Singapore's nature areas. And yes, there really are nature areas left in Singapore!

Check the list of rates, and I think you'll find it is one of the most reasonable places to stay in Singapore. It is certainly less cramped than the old facilities down at Beencoolen, where backpackers have traditionally gathered. And it gives travellers the chance to live in an HDB environment, just like where most Singaporeans live.



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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Travel Writers needed



Hotels by City is looking for bright, well-informed travel writers to blog about their city.

Yep, that's right. Not travel writers who are educated about other places only, but abou thte city in which they live. The aim of the site is to offer good, up to date information on the hotels and travel information about various travel destinations, city by city. Good travel bloggers can get paid to do what they love doing -- writing travel information.

For me, I would love the opportunity to write about Singapore. I have been living here for 15 years, and I know the place very well. I know not only the typical tourist hotspots, but also "real life" in the city. I often have guests traveling here, from the US, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Africa, and pretty much anywhere else. I've done my share of showing different types of people around this city, and was even partial owner of a company a few years back that specialized in helping foreigners find their way about this city.

If you think the job would suit you, stop in and take a look at Hotels by City, and see if you have what it takes to write about your city.


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All the Gold in California

When I went to California for the first time in 1984 for the Olympics (to watch, not participate), my sisters and I had fun singing the old song "All the Gold in California" at the top of our lungs. The most real contact I had with the gold mining history of that state on that trip was at Disney World on one of the roller coasters.

When I was in New Zealand on the South Island a couple of years ago, I did some driving through the hills where the abandoned gold mines are situated. I did some reading up on the life that the miners lived back in those days, and man! did they have it bad. (I'll write more on that another time.)

My sponsor for this post, Monex Deposit Company makes it much easier to get some gold to tuck away as an investment than it was in the Gold Rush days back in California and New Zealand. They will help you make your investment online, and will also arrange for the delivery and/or storage of your gold, silver, or other precious metals.

It sure is good to be living in this day and age.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Luxury Homes on the Big Island, Hawaii

If you are looking around for some great deals on Big Island Hawaii luxury homes, then hop over to Hawaiian Beach Rentals today. They've got some fantastic deals on really outstanding properties for you to stay in when you take your dream vacation to Hawaii.

The Big Island is every bit as beautiful as everyone says it is, as is the whole state of Hawaii. But I had a few complaints when I was there. Pretty much all of my troubles would have been resolved if I had booked a luxury vacation rental on the Big Island through Hawaiian Beach Rentals. I wish I had known about them before I made my trip. Now that I do, I am seriously giving thought to making a repeat trip to Hawaii, a thing I wasn't sure I'd do after having such lousy accommodations in the past. However, at Hawaiian Beach Rentals, you can get a good view of the place before you book it, and there is a nice breakdown of what you get, and how much you will have to pay for it.

The luxury villas are looking very, very appealing right now!

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Friday, June 15, 2007

The Rape of Nanjing

A year or so ago, I posted this at my original blog site. That site seems to be defunct now, so I am reposting here.



Nanjing has a very, very long history -- indeed, there are signs it was inhabited before there was a written history in the region. The written records we have date back to the Warring States Period of Chinese history (453-221 BC). And it's history is a colourful and exciting one. It served as capitol of the nation twice (it's name means "Southern Capitol," Beijing meaning "Northern Capitol), once during the Ming Dynasty, and once under Sun Yat Sen's presidency when the country was briefly the Republic of China in the early 20th Century. The city has served as execution grounds at least twice as well, once for the Kuomintang (KMT) when they tried to clear the communists out of the country, and once when the combined British and Qing armies, along with various European and US forces, slaughtered the defenders in the Taiping Rebellion.

Perhaps the city is most famously known, though, for the "Rape of Nanjing" -- the savage massacre it suffered at the hands of the Japanese during WWII. The official numbers tell that about 300,000 were killed during this horrifying event. But as staggering as the numbers might appear, it is the savagery of the crimes committed there that is even more troubling. According to this site, the people of Nanjing were "beheaded, burned, bayoneted, buried alive, or disemboweled." Until today, this is a sore spot with many Chinese, causing a lot of hatred still toward the Japanese. What makes it toughest to swallow, for many is this:
"To this day the Japanese government has refused to apologize for these and other World War II atrocities, and a significant sector of Japanese society denies that they took place at all." (quoted from the website linked above)

When I was in Shanghai about this time a year ago, there was a huge demonstration on the streets of the city -- and on the streets of major cities all over the nation -- about this very issue. The Chinese people, mostly students, were voicing through these demonstrations their displeasure at Japan's refusal to apologize for atrocities committed against the Chinese during the war, and even a refusal to acknowledge those atrocities as a true history. Below are photos of the demonstration. The first two were taken by me. The last was sent by a friend who was in the more crowded areas downtown that day. (I actually tried to avoid the crowd, but still got caught in its traffic in the western outskirts of the city.)

There is so much information about this event in China's history available. I have debated about whether to link to some of the more graphic websites out there, particularly those with photos which show exactly why the name "The Rape of Nanjing" is used more often than the event's other denominator, "The Nanjing Massacre." (The women of Nanjing had it really rough when the Japanese arrived during WWII.) I've decided that those sites are easy enough to find for anyone who really wants to. I do, however, want to recommend this website's writeup and these books . For anyone remotely interested in the modern history of Asia and the mindsets it engenders in the region even today, The Rape of Nanjing is an event that needs serious attention.



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Thursday, June 14, 2007

North Cyprus

In the middle of the Mediterranean, there is still a gem that remains untouched: North Cyprus. Its a idyllic spot, surrounded by blue skies and bluer seas. The sea breezes and warm sun create the perfect environment to relax an enjoy a picture perfect life.

And, to make matters even better, North Cyprus Property is very affordable. Apartments can be bought for less than £30,000. Villas equipped with a swimming pool come with price tags below £100,000. That is almost unbelievable, when you think about the perfection of the environment.



This has been a sponsored post. If you'd like to post sponsored entries on your blog, click the tab below to get started.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sun Yat Sen

A year or so ago, I posted this at my original blog site. That site seems to be defunct now, so I am reposting here.




Sun Yat Sen is perhaps one of the most important figures in Chinese thought in the past 100 or so years. Whether in Mainland China or in parts outside of the Mainland that claim Chinese culture as their heritage, Dr. Sun's thought is highly revered, and the man is taken as an example of good philosophy and good living.

Sun was a leader of the revolution which overthrew the Qing dynasty in 1911, and was president of the newly founded republic and of the Kuomintang party (that's Guo Min Dang in pinyin, but usually still KMT in most English writing about the party). Of course, it wasn't as easy as I've made it sound there for him to go from revolutionary to president. He spent some time in exile from his home country and was constantly on the run during the years before the overthrow of the Qing dynasty was finally achieved. But he was ultimately successful in his efforts, leaving him a legacy that is much respected throughout the Chinese world.

What I find interesting about Dr. Sun is just how many different people seek to claim him as their own. In China, he is known as the father of the New China, and his remains rest in a huge mausoleum in Nanjing. It is an impressive walk up to see this structure, and he is beautifully represented within. I found it fitting that the statues of him in the outer hall have him dressed in traditional Chinese clothing, but the statue lying atop the tomb depicts him in a Western suit. Dr. Sun, while he was very anti-imperialist and all for an independent China, was not a man who rejected the West as evil, as so many subsequent Chinese thinkers/politicians (especially from the mainland) sought to do. He learned from his time spent in exile (in the US, the UK, and Japan) and didn't throw out the baby with the bath water when he rejected those nation's claims on China.

In Taiwan, Dr. Sun is likewise revered. There is a National Sun Yat Sen University as well as a national memorial hall dedicated to him in Taipei. Like Communist China, the Republic of China in Taiwan has some legitimate claim to Sun. He did found the KMT (the band which eventually ran off to Taiwan when the communists took over the mainland), and he did name Chiang Kai Shek head of the Whampoa Military Academy. Ultimately, it was this that set Chiang up in the position of power from which he fought against the communists, seeking to wipe them out.

Wikipedia points out this same irony I have noted about Sun. In China, he is called the "forerunner of the revolution." In Taiwan, he is "national father." Everyone wants a claim on Sun, and so everyone has a special name they place on him. (Again, the power of naming.) The thing is, of course, that Sun's thought and life work is open to this naming-and-claiming. He sought to unify China, and openly worked with the communists to achieve this, even stating in a letter to Stalin that he hoped the movement he started would be inseparably linked to Stalinist thought in the pages of history. On the other hand, Chiang in his leadership of the KMT was a firm believer that the best way to achieve Sun's objective of a unified China was to rid China of the communists. This led to some bloody battles and massacres at that period in Chinese history, and the eventual rift between Taiwan and the Mainland, all in the name of Sun's ideals of a unified China.

I suppose the whole telling of Sun's story, and the different versions we see coming out of Mainland China and Taiwan, is related to the subjective nature of representation in human communication. But I do find it interesting how inviting it is, at least for Chinese politicians, to try to lay claim to Sun and name him as one of "ours." Which, I think, opens up huge questions about politics, intepretation, and the often power-driven motives behind writing and representation.




The Soong Sisters is a very nice film about three sisters who were closely involved in the politics of this period. The middle sister married Sun Yat Sen, and the youngest married Chiang Kai Shek. The personal and political turmoil and drama experienced seems like it was put together especially for a movie like this one.

It is available at B&N here: Soong Sisters





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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nanjing, some troubling points

A year or so ago, I posted this at my original blog site. That site seems to be defunct now, so I am reposting here.






A few years ago, a friend told me she went to the Yu Hua Tai Martyr's Museum in Nanjing, and that it was a real tear-jerker of an experience. I am not sure whether it was the fact that she commented on the cruelty of the Japanese in Nanjing during WWII, or if I just linked it to The Nanjing Massacre because of my knowledge of that event. Somehow, I expected that event to be the focus of the museum.

But what I found in the museum on a recent visit there was troubling to me on so many levels. Most of what was troubling to me was tied to the fact that very little of the museum is dedicated to the Nanjing Massacre. Instead, a walk through the two floors of plaques, letters from the dead, clothes, photos, and all sorts of momentos will show that the attrocities committed by the Japanese during the war are not the real important event to be recorded by communist China today. What is more important is to get across that the Kuomingtang used Yu Hua Tai Gardens as an execution ground for the communists during the early years of the 20th century, before the Rape of Nanjing even happened. I don't know any better way to express what is so troubling about this than to simply enumerate the many bothersome points.


Troubling Point #1
If the story as told by the Martyr's Museum at Yu Hua Tai Gardens is to be believed, there were far more Chinese killed by Chinese than were ever killed by the Japanese, and with no less cruelty. As a long time reader of such books as Wild Swans and Life and Death in Shanghai, I find this point not too much of a stretch. Those books and other similar memoirs of survivors of the Cultural Revolution who still remember the prewar period paint a horrifying picture of the experiences of the Chinese over the past century. What was suffered at the hands of the Japanese was horrible, no question. How much worse is it when the same attrocities were likewise committed by one's own countrymen against one's own people?

Troubling Point #2
This is not the first time I have heard the story that is represented at the Martyr's Museum. I've linked those books above which tell this story, and have also read many others like them. In addition, I've seen the story in another museum, this one in Taipei. In Taipei, the story is -- of course -- told very differently. There, it is the communists who were committing all sorts of attrocities, with the KMT trying desparately to defend the people. From books such as Wild Swans, the story represented is that both the KMT and the communists were ruthless and had little regard for the people, seeking only to see their own party in power at the end of the day. Based on subsequent events and political developments in both Taiwan and the Mainland, I suspect this view is the one closest to the truth. It is, at the very least, the one with which I am most sympathetic.

Troubling Point #3
The political rhetoric at the museum is appalling. It is not, to me, touching or moving, though it seems to be so to many visitors there. To me, it is more than just a little sickening. At the Martyr's Museum (ahem!), the story is told of the "KMT Insurrectionists" (aka "The KMT Rebels") vs. "The Communist Patriots." When the patriots finally came into town, they "liberated" Nanjing. It may be hard to believe, but I don't think they did that without bloodshed. Indeed, they did so without the slightest bit of mercy shown toward the "Rebels." (Another strange point -- it seems in Taipei's museum that they got the team names mixed up. There it is the communists who are the Rebels, and the KMT who are Patriots. Odd, that.)

Troubling Point #4
The deaths commemorated at the Martyr's Museum are mostly the death of kids. The oldest martyr I found was 23 years old. The majority were between the ages of 18 and 20. There were some as young as 15. These children fought bravely, but stupidly. They were brainwashed, as is clearly evident by the many letters and poems plastering the wall in the museum (which many visitors describe as moving -- I just call them extraordinarily sad). It reminds me of a scene in The Soong Sisters where a group of students demonstrate on the streets where Chiang Kai Shek is driving, making a horrifying sacrifice of one of their own in an attempt to catch his attention. They fought and died as true believers, with the message of the Party on their lips. For this they are remembered today as martyrs. Martyrs to the cause. Their short lives sacrificed by men and women who had lived longer -- long enough to know better, you'd think.

Troubling Point #5
This is really just a culmination of the above points, I suppose. The goal stated over and over by both the KMT and the Communists (a goal that rises out of the thought of Sun Yat Sen) was to build a New China. In 1949, history (as told in China) tells us that this was finally achieved -- Communist China was born. My question, though, is for whom was it born? What was the point? If it was for the young people of China, then it was a wasted effort. So many of the young people of China were sacrificed to the ideal of the New China. Who, then, is left to enjoy the fruits of that effort?







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Monday, June 11, 2007

Hilo

Before you get on a plane to head halfway across the Pacific to beautiful Hawaii, make sure and check out Hilo Vacation Rentals. You'll find great prices on outstanding accommodations at the website there, and you will surely not regret the time spent searching for top-notch accommodations.

Take, for instance, the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, where you can get a 1 bedroom ocean kitchenette at affordable rates. That's an oceanfront room that can house up to four people. And it has great views all round. The place looks like a dream-spot. Prices start at $280 per night.

Or perhaps you'd prefer something at Kulawai Falls, like a studio unit. It is a fantastic place to sty, with spectular views surrounding the place. Prices start at $700 per night. There are loads of activities available here.

Stop in and check out all the other great accommodations available on Hilo Vacation Rentals. You'll be glad you did.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Pattaya, Thailand

My friend just got back from a trip to Pattaya, Thailand, and he really enjoyed it. It has been some years since I was in Pattaya, but I found it a very memorable trip -- and not the best kind of memories. I have to give a warning to anyone going to Pattaya: when you are on the beaches, believe every horror story you've ever heard. I've heard over and over that the folks there are ready and waiting to take advantage of tourists in any way they can. And I have found it to be very true. Not only did I find people out to get more money for items than was reasonable, but I found the guys there quick to take advantage of crowded conditions and virtually molest women in public places. Ugh.

Do be aware, and do be careful.

And, if you really want my opinion, I would suggest a trip to Krabi instead. I enjoyed my stay there much more.




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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Changi Chapel and War Memorial

Earlier this week, I took some visiting friends to the chapel and war memorial in Changi. It was my first visit there, and I found it well worth the time we spent.

The exhibits are somewhat limited, as the place is not huge. But there is plenty to see, all the same. Some of the photos and descriptions were very troubling, as I suppose is to be expected at a war memorial. I did enjoy seeing the model of the cell where prisoners of war were housed during the Japanese occupation, and couldn't help but think of stiories I have heard from friends about that time in the history of this place.

I think the thing I most enjoyed seeing was the display of art work produced by many of the POWs while they were in Changi prison. It was poignant, but also a real testimony to both the human spirit, and the inhumanity that we can often see in humans.

Entry to the chapel and war memorial is free. It closes at 5 pm.



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Monday, June 04, 2007

Kona condos

If you are on the lookout for Kona vacation rentals to stay in while you travel to Hawaii, then check first at www.hawaiianbeachrentals.com. There, you will find all sorts of great deals on accommodations in Hawaii.

Spots like the Hale O Lihi Kai come with great prices at www.hawaiianbeachrentals.com. You can get a big unit there, sleeping up to 8 people, for just under US$1600. The rates are very competitive. When you divide that out by a per person basis, it is a very affordable rate for the high standard of accommodations that you will get. At the Keiki Beach Hale, rates can be as cheap as US$600 for a unit that sleeps up to 8. That is really hard to beat.

If these are the sort of bargains that you are looking for, stop in at www.hawaiianbeachrentals.com. You will really like what you see there.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Migrating

I have lots of friends who have migrated from Asia to the US and Canada. I've got to say, it is no easy task. Some Asian countries get a bad wrap because of the minority of people who abuse the system, and that is really a pity.

If you are interested in migrating to the US or Canada and find yourself needing some legal advice or help, then it is wise to contact Immigration Lawyers Vancouver. They know their stuff. And, what is more imporant, they can help you figure out what you need to take care of your legal issues as you try to make that smooth transition from one country to another. It really should be as hassle free as possible, but truthfully, it seldom is.

Get in touch with Immigration Lawyers Vancouver today, and let them help you settle your immigration issues.

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