2016年2月29日 星期一

Quest-ce que tu deviens ( What Becomes of You?) (舞轉人生)

Flamenco songs or cante flamenca the most typical of which is called  the "jondo", a kind of "deep song" most often come directly from the heart and soul of the singers. It's a kind of song in which the singers sing of the joys, the sadness, the hardships of daily life, the blows of fate they have to endure: their desperation, their impotent anger, their disappointment, their dreams, their hopes and their longings for a better life but above all their deep sense of  the powerlessness they feel against the transitoriness of their ephemeral loves, their fugitive joys and the unpredictability and impermanence of life itself, in short of the seeming ineluctability of their destiny. Yet despite everything, their songs also express a kind of undying faith in and an almost primeval and instinctual love of life, a choice which is, in a way forced upon them, in which they appear to have no choice but to choose to affirm their life no matter how miserable, a life  punctuated by only a few brief episodes of happiness because the alternative would be even more unpalatable: desolation, agony, grief, sorrow and death, the last of which is never really that far away. That's why whenever they got the chance, they sing with all their might, all their heart, all their soul. That gives their songs a kind of intensity which you seldom find in any other kind of songs. It almost feels as if their need to celebrate is so urgent, perhaps because they feel in their bones that happiness can be so precarious and fragile and it could so easily have slipped through their fingers that they simply haven't got time to polish every words, every nuance and the texture of the sound into the kind of grace and elegance that they could have before they pour out from the deepest part of their soul, not from just their abdomen or even from their lungs.To me, flamenco is the highest expression of the tension of life between love and passion and inevitable separation, between life and death, an art, like bull fighting, in which the Spanish soul manages to snatch between the teeth of death and mortality, an impossible art combining ice and fire, rigidity and grace, sound and motion in the ever  changing twists, turns and unexpected reversals of the always rhythmic flow of the music and the movements of the dance, just as in life. It's the dance of life itself that we see, we hear, we feel, we experience, we celebrate.

2016年2月25日 星期四

Icarus at the Edge of Time (伊卡洛斯在時間的邊緣)

I remember that as a child many many years ago, I read a little story in a children's monthly magazine with beautifully drawn illustrations called "Children's Paradise (兒童樂園). The moment that magazine was out in the middle of the month, I would bite my lips and use up a sizeable portion of my weekly allowance to buy a copy of it from the old lady at her tiny  news vendor stall in front of a Chinese style European restaurant at the end of the street where I used to live. I  would walk home as quickly as I could but before reaching the door of our flat, I could never resist the expectant joy of flipping over its pages rapidly to find out what kind of juicy stories there would be in that month's edition of the magazine. Once home, I would pore over its contents and devour its contents within an hour or so and then spent hours and hours admiring its fascinating drawings and had enormous fun copying some of the most beautiful pictures I found in that issue on to a paper pad (拍紙簿) with crayons or color pencils.

2016年2月23日 星期二

Sense of Spring (春天的感覺)

The weather may still be cold. But at certain hours of the day, one seems to feel some intimations of spring.

 New buds have emerged.

2016年2月22日 星期一

Thirst for Life (生命的渴求)

Part of the fun of being an amateur photographer is that you'd be experiencing a perpetual state of being surprised.

You'll never know what your camera will bring when you leave your house with it.

2016年2月21日 星期日

Time to Budge Again (是時候走一趟了)

Haven't been out for nearly a whole week because of a runny nose from a bad cold. So happy to be able to get moving again. 

The weather was overcast. But that doesn't seem to affect the color of some leaves

2016年2月20日 星期六

Weekend Gags (週末搞笑)

I've been posting jokes every weekend here for quite some time now. Sometimes, fun can be had without words. They can be entirely visual. If so, we don't have to know a single word and still be able to derive enjoyment from pure images. And things don't always need to make sense. In fact, part of the fun may arise precisely because they don't make any sense at all. So here's some purely visual fun. Enjoy.

2016年2月19日 星期五

Cherry Blossom Park Tung Shan Village, Zhenjiang (韶關湞江區東山村櫻花公園)

Blue sky, white wispy clouds and red flowers rounded up my trip

at the 800 hecture Cherry Blossom Park Tung Shan Village of the Zhenjiang District  under Shaoguan City.( 韶關湞江區東山村), planted with more than 100,000 cherry blossom trees of a dozen varieties, one of the largest such parks in the Pearl River Delta Area. 

2016年2月18日 星期四

The Source of East River: Yunjishan ( 東江之源: 雲髻山)

Years of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist emphasis on the advanced consciousness of "avant gardes" of scientific socialists cannot help but leave their marks in the minds of local Chinese Communist officials: a huge propaganda poster stressing the ideology of the present leadership outside the entrance of our destination of the day: "Strive to realize the Chinese Dream of the great Renaissance of the Chinese races"

The Great Wall of China and some Kapok flowers: is the only connection the color of red, the color of the great "Revolution"?

2016年2月17日 星期三

A day in the countryside (鄉間一日:內莞)

To city folks, the countryside always holds a certain fascination.

To eyes accustomed to seeing things in often regular geometric lines not more than a few tens of feet away, and more often within just three or four feet, the countryside has a vastness which is completely beyond all imagination. The change in the scale in their visual framing is most relaxing

2016年2月15日 星期一

The Teapot Handle House of New Tea Village, Oily Creek (油溪镇茶新村的茶壺耳屋)

When one visits China nowadays, one just can't help being struck by the pace of change. Brand new tall buildings with aluminium window frames sitting on a huge commercial podium with shiny plexiglass window panes and revolving door stand just a few meters away from old dilapidated one story brick houses with tiled roofs and grass or some other small plants growing in the crevices of the tiles where a little earth has collected with a little patch of loam right in front of the house where a few rows of vegetables are growing and a few chickens are running around their heads jerkily bobbing up and down pecking away at what they think of as edible worms or insects.

 A new town our coach passes through after lunch

2016年2月14日 星期日

The morning when Chinese New Year really returned (農曆新年真正回來的早上)

It's been a really long time since I have not felt anything when the Chinese New Year quietly arrived.

But it returned early in the morning in the haze of the Chinese sun, the day after I arrived in East Huizhou.

2016年2月13日 星期六

Chinese plum and prune Blossoms (中華梅李)

Many "cultured" Chinese are  experts in what French author Nathalie Sarraute describes as the art of "sous-conversation" so that others may "read between the lines", if one may be permitted to mix metaphors. It's one of the ploys of such types to "subtly" and for the less skilful, not so subtly, suggest to others the kind of person they would have others believe them to be by comparing themselves to mainly four kinds of analogic surrogates in the plant kingdom viz. Mei (Chinese plum), orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum (梅, 蘭, 竹, 菊). The first amongst this foursome is what westerners understand by "Chinese plum" blossom, which flowers in late winter and early spring. A very famous Southern Song Dynasty Chinese poet  Lu You ( 陸游) (1125–1209) is particularly fond of this flower and had written some 200 poems about it. One of the most  famous is the following


                       I hear the Mei blossoms are splitting the morning breeze

                       Filling the four hills with piles of snow
                       Is there a way to split myself into a trillion bodies
                       Each Mei a me.

                        tr. El Zorro

The second day of my Chinese New Year trip was supposed to be spent in a hill full of the Chinese plum blossom (梅花) but in fact was filled with a completely different flower, the  prune flower (李花), also known as jade-color Mei (玉梅) or Little Ka Hing (嘉慶子). We went to a garden in eastern Huizhou (惠州市) called Liangfa Mei Gardens (梁化梅園). Before we arrived, we were told by our local guide that this garden is the most famous garden of its kind in the entire province of Quangdong and that each spring, more than 150,000 people would flock there to see the flower in full bloom. 

But after we arrived, we were told by the garden staff there that we were just in time to be late by more than week, when the Chinese plum blossoms were then in full bloom at another part of the park. 

2016年2月12日 星期五

Guanyin & Arahants Just Across the Border (境外觀音羅漢)

Not so long ago, I paid a visit to one of biggest Koon Yin temple in the Tai Po area. I really didn't expect to be seeing another much biigger Koon Yin temple in such a short time. But I did. This one is located amidst a dozen huge mountains sitting high above a small town not 50 km from Shenzhen called Changmutou (樟木頭鎮), prefecture level town of with a population of under 200,000, most of whom are migrant workers from elsewhere and once called "little Hong Kong" because more than 60% of its newly built houses in the early 1990s were bought by people from Hong Kong.  It's the only mainly Hakka town under Dongguan (東莞市) just across the border.

At the entrance of the Guanyinshan National Park (觀音山森林公園) a 4A class National Park,  covering an area of some 18 square kilometers, 99% of which are covered by all kinds of trees, some of which have been there late Liang Dynasty ( 後梁)(CE 555--587) hundreds of years but the final and fairly steep slopes leading to the summit plaza where the huge Guanyin Boddhisattva (觀世菩薩) is sitting can be accessed only on foot.  According to historical records, the summit was where the  first Guanyin bodhisattva statue arrived in China in late Liang Dynasty ( 後梁)(CE 555--587) and more than 1100 years a Zen temple was built there to celebrate this event. But it has since fallen into disrepair over the years until it was recently rebuilt and turned into a national park. 

2016年2月11日 星期四

Day of Gold (金黃一天)

Many photographers in Hong Kong think that if you wish to capture the magic of fields of wavering gold, there's only one place to go in China, viz. Wuyuan County in north-eastern Jiangxi (江西 婺源). Not many however know that there's a place much much nearer to Hong Kong where they can have their first taste of what huge expanses of canola flowers may look like. In fact, it's right across the border, not more than an hours' drive from Shenzhen.

This is one of the fan-shaped concrete screens surrounding the Lotus Lake Park( 蓮湖公園 ), with some 300 acres of parkland with both lotus flowers and canola flowers, the latter  specially introduced there last year from Yunnan (雲南). The park is located at the centre of the suburbs of the residential and hotel district of Bridgehead Town or Qiaotou country town (橋頭鎮), a part of the Dongguan Prefecture (東莞) of Guangdong Province.

Rows and rows of canola flowers, the first to bloom in China because its at the southern part of China.