Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hainan Island

The tropical island of Hainan marks the southern end of China.  Once thought of as the gateway to Hell and used mainly as a site for the internment of exiles in ancient times.  In 1988, the island was set aside as a resort, and has undergone a lot of development since then.

The tropical rainforests of Hainan are quite pretty, as are the beaches — though neither quite compares with Southeast Asia's.  The place is pretty enough, and the seafood is excellent, but the island has more or less become a big tourist trap.  It's fun enough to visit once, but I doubt I'll be too tempted to make a second trip there myself.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am in Hainan island right now, with my godchildren and their family.  They met me here and we're traveling about a little before returning to Singapore together.  I've been away from Singapore for about 4 months this time, and so am especially happy to see my friends and family there.

This is my first trip to Hainan, and I hope to have some great pictures to share when I get back to Singapore.  But for now, I'm off to the beach....!

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Friday, November 19, 2010

It Gets Hard to Keep Up with it all

The peregrine lifestyle can make it difficult to keep up with all the little things one has to take care of day in and day out.  To have a look at what all I'm trying to stay on top of this week as I get ready to make my way back to Singapore, have a look at my main blog.

I hope you don't get worn out just reading it....

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City, Beijing  is one of the most amazing sites to visit.  The first time there, I was overwhelmed by the weight of history represented on the grounds there.  It was an odd feeling to walk in from the crowded city streets to a place that resounded with a sense of solemnity.

On more crowded days at the Forbidden City (i.e., most of the time), that feeling of cold silence is lacking, but the buildings there still hold such a long,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Two Days: Houston

I am often approached with this question: "I'll be in [fill in the city] for two days. What should I see while I am there?"

In response, I feature 2-day itineraries to a variety of cities here at Peregrine Online. At the end of each month, a new post introduces the main sites to visit in a city if you only have two days there.

Houston may not be the place most people think of as a top tourist destination. Still, there is plenty to do in the city, and two days there can be well-spent. So, today we'll see how to hit the highlights in Houston in a 2-day timeframe.

Day 1

Night:  if there's a professional sporting event to attend, do that; if not, dinner at Kemah Boardwalk

Day 2

Museum of Natural Science, shopping at the Galleria

Alternate sites:  for real shoppers, hit the outlet mall in Cypress

If you have a 3rd day:  a day at the beach and/or on the Strand in Galveston

For kids:  Galveston beach and ferry trip, the Houston Zoo

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Young Singaporean Poets Speak

Date: 13 November 2010
Level 5 - Imagination Room, National Library Building
100 Victoria Street
Singapore, Singapore

What does it mean to create "Singapore literature" in the 21st century? How do local poets taking up the art today locate themselves in relation to their predecessors and to the larger world? Join four young poets--Grace Chua, Koh Xin Tian, Teng Qian Xi and Zhuang Yusa--as they tackle these and other vital questions while relating their thoughts to their own poetic practice.

The event, facilitated by Nicholas Liu, will include readings of poems by each of the writers, a panel discussion and a Q&A session. This session is organised as a collaboration between the National Library Board (under its Experience Singapore Literature program) and the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS).

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cycling Adventure

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first trip to Guilin in Guangxi Province, China.  We actually stayed just outside of Yangshuo instead of in the city of Guilin, as that's the area where the really beautiful Karst rock formations are.  The spot we stayed in was secluded and quiet, and great for cycling.  I went one afternoon  on my own, and the next with my friends.  Both days were fun, with the day I went alone being the best cycling trip I've had in a while — probably a year or so.

Here's a shot of the narrowest section of path.  Just past here, it got steep and muddy, on top of being narrow, so I had to push the bike for a few minutes there or risk slipping into the muddy, wet rice paddies.

After finding my way across some paths like this through the farmland, and some wider, pot-holed filled dirt roads, I finally got close to the bridge I was aiming for. The problem was that every time I stopped to ask how much further, the answer was always, "About 4 kilometers," no matter how far I'd traveled since I last asked.  At one point, the answer was, "That's it in the distance.  The road there still winds around a lot and will take you a while to get there.  I don't think you'll be able to get back home before dark if you go all the way to the bridge."  The advice on an alternative route was to cross the mountain and take the bamboo raft across the river instead of heading up to the bridge.  I followed the advice, which led me on a bit of a rough but beautiful ride, and I'm glad I did.

All in all, even though I didn't make it all the way to the bridge I'd thought I would get to, I am glad I traveled the path I did.  It was fun, and I got to see parts of China life that most people miss out on.  That's one of the joys of cycling when you travel — you're going at just about the right pace to really see the countryside, and yet see a fair bit more than if you were walking.

It sure made me wish to make a real long-distance trip across China's rural regions. Maybe one day.

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