The great northern journey

Finally. We’ve made it. Yep we are finally on terra firma of the most northerly state of the US. It had been a week at sea and we were so excited to finally get to the frontier state. And we started off with a flight further northwards to the city of Fairbanks.

Was it fair?

Well yes! Because we had wonderful weather, though for folks such as we the temperatures were still a wee on the low side. So you will see us still in coats and sweater though the weather appears to be sunny or downright blazing hot. Yeah, photos can be deceiving aren’t they? Plus the frivolous change of weather within the space of minutes an hour can literally leave you frozen stiff.

Anyway.

This journey was fantastic as it was short – just 5 days. But it was definitely well spent. Particularly on the food. Because we had more than our quota of the delightful Alaskan King Crabs throughout the journey. Sick or not (yeah Suan was down a little on day 1 & 2), we weren’t going to deprive our gut of the delish delicacy. To the point that our tour mates were literally amazed, or perhaps aghast…

Heheh. It was not all food of course. And from more native American cultural appreciation, experiencing an earthquake, to wild life sightings, we did it all again. In our essay here, we asked if Alaska is the last frontier. We hope you had an opportunity to read it.

What do you think? Is it the last vestiges of a wild north?

Dive deeper into Beijing

The city is such a juxtapose. As it hurtles towards modernity, it had lost quite some of its original charms. Or so it may seem. Scratch a little deeper and perhaps you might find a gem or two that remains.

In this post, we share the links to two short essays.

  • Food. Yes in any major city or culture one needs to see, smell and taste the way food is prepared. Remember we wrote that there is history coming from food too? Well, this short essay shares what can be found in Beijing. Read more about it here!
  • Now aside from the Great wall or the wonderful sites in the city itself, you should know that there is much more just surrounding the city. And nowhere is it more intriguing as the Sacred way (here) which leads to the tombs of the Ming Emperors.

There you have it. Honestly even a full week in Beijing is not sufficient. Just like spending a few days in NY City wouldn’t really ‘count’…

And so ends our series on Cathay – ahem, China. The middle Kingdom was home for 4 years and there are much more memories than possible to pen on this little blog. Believe us when we say what we put in this blog is but a mere fraction of what we’ve seen and done. We spent a chapter of our lives exploring this giant continental sized country. It is full of juxtapose, even till today and we hope this inspires your curiosity to go put your handprints there.

Next up, time to rotate to North America and we shall share some reminisces about Canada and the Caribbean. Heheh, beautiful memories those journeys were too. There is just so much to share and such a limited time to write and publish. That’s coming soon!

Imperial Capital 北京

Empires.

You’ve read about them. Might have watched documentaries about how they rose and fell. One common thread of these huge political entities is the grandeur of their capital. And Beijing is one such example.

Not capital till the early 1400s, the city was a ‘mere’ provincial town on the northern reaches of the Chinese empire. While it was ‘capital’ of regional kingdoms and fiefdoms, it was only because of Chu-Ti’s ascension to the throne that got the city into the limelight. Not wanting to remain in Nanjing where the founder of the Ming dynasty (his father) domiciled, he preferred his own base in the north where he had previously been the feudal prince.

Thus an imperial capital was born.

And it has continued growing ever since, gaining weight (we mean size) and transforming into a city with so much to see and do. Because it is filled with such a diverse array of relics and imperial wonders. You have to know we are all privileged. During the imperial era, no commoner would easily ever set their eyes on what you now take for granted to visit and see. Unless you became either an eunuch, a soldier or a palace maid.

The city is a must to visit and we cannot profess to provide a guide. But we’ve compiled a few stories on Beijing. Starting from the cover here, we dive further sharing with you what we saw with our eyes (umm…camera). Enjoy!

Have you been to Beijing? Does it put you in awe?

Food tour of 张家界

Since we are on a roll here with food posts, here’s one that also happens to be a handprint story.

Perhaps you’ve not read our journalogs (two parts) on the journeys we made to the “avatar” inspiring landscape of Zhang Jia Jie (张家界) here. And so we tell you, you’ve missed out! LOL. But today’s post is not about the beautiful landscapes that you missed because misty days made us miss some too.

Rather, we want to share with you the incredible food journey we experienced while journeying through the misty lands that seem to be forever (at least when we went) shrouded in mystery…

Really you ask? What can there be in them mountains?

From strange looking edible fungi to tuber that is medicinally sought after, such are the wonders that nature produces. Could this be the reason that the sages of yore went to the mountains to seek out the meaning elixir of life? Perhaps. But more important is that the loss of such habitats is irreversible. Which is why we are advocates of conservation and a limit to development. Through land use intensification coupled with adequate infrastructure for living and playing, we can save these bastions of natural pharmacies alive!

Such were some of the meals that infused these local ingredients into both a feast to the eyes and the stomach. Because eventhough there were only two of us, we still got the usual many course meals. It was hearty indeed for every day we are surprised.

Take a read here and whet your appetite to make the same food journey. Wouldn’t you like to visit the land of the avatars?

Cuisine that gives you a high

We say that gastronomy is one of the important aspects of any journey. To us anyway. As you might have read in our posts and journalogs, we make it a point to test out the local food scene wherever it is possible. While we are no connoisseurs, we do give our reviews of dining establishments. So we wonder if we would be too “high” to remember anything should we dine in some of the restaurants in LA if this article is really true.

So Amsterdam wake up! Los Angeles is catching up with you in legalizing “soft” drugs. And they are putting it into food too!

There has always been approved medicinal use for marijuana in the US. But what we refer to is how it has been sneakily upping the game with “weed” resturants! If you did not read the article, be assured that it is all rather fancy and pricey too. No back of the alley kind of thing. At least for now. More affordable “finger” food events are available for those who seek an introduction to such dining experiences. Intrigued?

While we are not proponents of loosening the stance against the misuse of drugs, we are also cognizant that abuse can happen in a host of other substances too. Just as consuming too much sugar can also be detrimental to one’s health, one cannot blame the substance alone. It cannot defend itself against your arguments! We should focus instead on ensuring people are educated about its use.

Like DUI, don’t drive after you’ve had a meal in such a restaurant. The author described how the “high” he felt. Being behind the wheels feeling this way would be risky for both driver and everyone else in the car and on the road too.

Come January 2018, will you flock to LA like how neighbouring Europeans go to the Netherlands for an opiod fix?

Glimpses of Tianjin (天津)

One of the things about making frequent business trips to China is the opportunity afforded by it to take some time out. And so it was in the city that was the gateway to imperial capital Beijing. The seaport that is.

Tianjin, like many coastal Chinese cities in the 19th century was witness to the arrival and eventual domination of foreign powers. No different from the likes of Shanghai, the port were part of the “concessions” granted (well forceably) to foreign governments to maintain their own quarters and laws (yes extraterritorial). To the point that jurisdiction was off limits to the reigning Qing dynasty of China. So much for benevolent rise of stronger nations…

Today it has re-emerged as one of the industrial giants of China. And with development has come not only the glitzier skyscrapers and wonderful looking modern architecture, but also the pollution.

Our little red dot has an on-going collaboration to build an eco-city in Tianjin. This is envisioned to be a model of sustainable city living and development. Eventually to be copied (heheh what’s new) all over China. It’s a grand experiment.

While it may not have as much to offer as nearby Beijing, it certainly has its character. Read our short handprint story here. Have you been to Tianjin?