Posts Tagged With: travel Asia

 
 

Bewitching Yangshuo, part I: The voice of the Ancients

January, 12th, 2012

It´s cold, and a damp chill is slowly winding its way up my worn-out denim jeans. A myriad of different impressions is bombarding my nervous system, still worn out from the long flight across the Indian Ocean. Next to me: Chickens and bus seats, and people conversing in loud, passionate sounding voices I cannot understand. The people are carrying the chickens, not the other way around. Or is it?


The massive culture change must be getting to me somehow. It all seems a bit of a blur, but suddenly the scenery changes and jolts me wide awake with its awe-inspiring beauty. Finally, the 90-minute journey over bumpy country roads is coming to an end! Not that I don´t enjoy feisty chickens as travel companions, but I do enjoy gazing upon mesmerizing, majestic mountain ranges thinly veiled by blue shaded fog that much more.



Common, let´s drop our luggage off at the hotel and get ourselves a nice warm pear tea. It´s freezing, and I can barely feel my feet anymore!” my travel companion states.
Sounds like a plan!” I answer distractedly while taking in the cozy beauty of picture-perfect Yangshuo all around me. Its contrasting appearance to Guilin, the city we had arrived in and where we had oddly enough been the only people who had left the plane, is staggering.


Where Guilin suppressed the soul with its tightly stacked grey upon grey high-rise buildings, leaving barely enough room for one’s being to breathe, Yangshuo is an entirely different matter. It opens your heart and feeds you images straight out of nature´s endless palette of spellbinding imagery. The picturesque resort town in Southern China´s Guanxi region is set amid pinnacles like Bilian Feng (Green Lotus Peak) and is a pure paradise of all shades of green and blue and grey and wonder.


A popular destination for hiking and rock-climbing enthusiasts alike, Yangshuo is undoubtedly a charming little minx. She first winks at you and then enchants you with one single gaze, transporting you to an exhilarating world of wonder and possibilities. Visitors can choose between countless intriguing options: From quaint Li-river tours to warming Pot-Luck meals, and from healing Qi Gong classes to exciting Bamboo-rafting experiences – a world of Chinese-wonderland- options awaits.



After a lovely little tea-time time-out, we head to our hotel. Once in my cozy room, I flick through a very artsy Yangshuo travel guide that someone seems to have forgotten on the bedside table…


The booklet whispers to me through the subtle magic of the written word: 

欢迎亲爱的访客, Huānyíng qīn’ài de fǎngkè, welcome dear visitor! The ancients bid you welcome. You are blessed indeed, as Guilin’s scenery is the finest under Heaven. Show respect and gratitude to the land and its people always. For thousands of years, this spring of poetic radiance and harmonious splendor has inspired countless artists, poets, and musicians alike. Know that their creative electricity still dwells all around you in the rivers, trees, and majestic mountains. And give thanks to both the seen and unseen sources of your vitality, the gift of your life.


Know, esteemed visitor, that here in Yangshuo, you will feel protected by the strong Qi (life force) of the mighty karst mountains. You will be washed clean off your worries and doubts by taking in the gentle beauty of the two rivers. Remember that too much fear imbalances your kidney energy, so take time to quieten your mind with the help of some ancient Chinese wisdom in the form of Tai Chi or Qi Gong. It might please your Spirit to soak in a natural hot spring in the Moon Water Cave or to strengthen your Wood energy, your inner adventurer and warrior, by practicing the art of rock climbing. Wherever your choices and your path may lead you, always remember: Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”


A knock on my door – my travel companion awaits, and our very own Yangshuo adventure is about to be born. Through which of the many doors laid out before us will we walk? Join me in practicing the virtue of patience, and find out more in the next post. As the ancients would say –

Patience is a bitter plant, but its fruit is sweet

Chinese Proverb

Back to you, dear reader: What is the most inspiring location you have visited so far? And why did it inspire you? As always, I would love to hear from you:) Stay well and curious!

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel | Tags: , , , , | 48 Comments

Fiery food and fancy clubs in spectacular Singapore

My first trip to Singapore was a game changer – I was in Asia for the first time, after all! And I was ready for absolutely anything. Before even setting foot on the Lion’s city’s soil, I made sure to cover every last inch of my skin in pungent, poisonous DEET-Spray to keep any possible malaria-threat at bay.  In my mind, it was quite obvious that bloodthirsty anopheles-mosquitoes were patiently waiting around every corner just to get hold of my irresistibly delicious blood.

My first Singaporean encounter was, however, not an out-of-control mosquito, but a lovely Indian guy working at the airport. Much to my amazement, he was quite delighted when he found out that I had just arrived from Germany. He gifted me a broad, beautiful smile and performed a little jump, mimicking a soccer-move in the air and enthusiastically exclaiming: ”Ah, Germany! Soccer!”

Singers Skyline

Admiring the Lion´s city skyline on a hazy afternoon

Stepping out of Changi Airport, voted the best airport in the world for the last five consecutive years, something quite distinct caught my attention. A bunch of mostly tiny white-haired ladies and gentlemen,  all in their seventies or eighties, were walking around full of determination and busy like bumblebees. Their sole task consisted in making sure that the taxis would swiftly drive up to their designated spot and that customers would be on their way right away, without any hassle or any tedious waiting in line. All in all, it took about two minutes until we were safely seated in the taxi. Quite efficient, right?

On the way into town, I longingly pressed my nose against the tainted window, fully in awe of the amazingly lush, abundant tropical vegetation that lined the impeccably maintained streets. Gorgeous Banyan trees, palm trees, and orchids gave us a quick first impression of Singapore’s staggering 2200 native plant species.

Eat, eat, eat some more: Welcome to food heaven

Our cute hotel, Hangout@Mount Emily, was located only three kilometers away from Chinatown, and we decided to make the most of the balmy, tropical night and take a look around. Luckily for us, the shopping malls, one of Singapore’s definite go-to-places and (almost) national treasures, were still open at 10 pm, allowing us to explore their amazing food stalls. With their array of colorful, mouth-watering specialties, Singapore’s hawker centers and markets are undoubtedly a piece of pure paradise for food-lovers.

singapore shopping mall

Enjoying one of Singapore´s countless shopping malls

One of Singapores´s many foodstalls

A busy food stall at Lau Pa Sat food market

Want some inspiration? If you love it hot and spicy, you should definitely give Singapore’s specialty dish Laksa a try. Laksa is a spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan/ Nyonya cuisine,  created by descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore, and Indonesia inter-marrying with local Malays. It consists of rice noodles with chicken, prawn or fish, offered in spicy soup and often times based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk. When I tried Laksa for the first time at fancy Lau Pa Sat Food market, I desperately attempted to eat a quarter of the normal sized portion for an eternally long seeming half an hour, skeptically ogled by the Singaporean soup Sales-lady. I did not do so well, to say the least, despite basically turning into a fire-spitting ball of determination. So yeah, you better love your meals real hot!

Other delicious food-ideas to sample in Singapore pose less risk to spice-adverse stomachs and include delicious pink dragon fruit, Kaya toast and Milo for breakfast. Or tender satay, grilled meat served with rice cake, peanut sauce and cucumber-chili relish, for a light lunch. Singapore’s food is generally speaking as diverse and eclectic as its population, a fascinating blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and Western influences.

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Pretty in pink: Dragon fruit, or Pitya, is grown and exported from several South East Asian countries. Its mommy is a pretty cactus!

Spice it up, non-food-wise: A wedding celebration and tropical nightlife wonders

My first stay in Singapore, a country that consistently scores top spots in the ”Best countries to live in” – rankings, obviously did not just (exclusively) consist of food indulgences. One of the undeniable highlights was attending a friend’s incredibly memorable wedding-celebration at luxurious Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. After a touching church ceremony downtown, the celebration took place in one of the many Skyscrapers overlooking the Singaporean Marina. And what a celebration it was! A delicious five-course-meal and two dress changes and appearances of the newlyweds, dramatically set in scene by a red carpet, Titanic-movie-style-music, as well as smoke from an authentic smoke machine (for real!), turned the party into an almost out-of-body experience.

Singapore

Stunning Singapore at night

After a mix of tear-jerking speeches and light entertainment, it was finally time to hit da dance floor. Singapore has quite a reputation for its great club-scene, including but not limited to the areas of Clarke Quay, Chinatown’s Club street and Holland village. For fans of nostalgic momentum: Check out legendary Raffles hotel and drink up that notorious Singapore Sling, though your purse might not thank you for it. However, your travel memory collection certainly will. Choices! In our case, we opted for something different that young and alluring night and decided to party on in one of Singapore’s stunning clubs with a view, CE LA VI, and to, later on, hit the clubs on gorgeous Sentosa Island. Hugely popular Sentosa Island is a true treasure chest, even though it’s not entirely what it seems to be…

Back to you, dear reader: Do you have any handy, absurd, or exciting travel tips for Singapore to share? Feel free to comment below, and thanks for your time, fellow travel lovers!


Handy information part: 

Hungry at 4 AM? Go to: Lau Pa Sat Foodmarket, 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582. You can eat around the clock here, so better bring those generously sized pants, mates. And they better be decent looking, financial district location and all. Just sayin’…

All jittery? Dance it off at: CÉ LA VI1 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018971 

Tired much? Sleep at: Hangout@Mount Emily, 10A Upper Wilkie Rd, Singapore 228119. Phone: +65 6438 5588

Having an airport-crush? Spend the day prior to your arrival or departure in Chiangi-Airport, Airport Blvd, Singapore. Why? There’s enchanted gardens, butterfly sanctuaries, art installations, a multimedia entertainment center and even a movie theatre to keep you in non-stop-marvelling-mood.

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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