November 28, 2013

Hong Kong Calling

Hong Kong calling

For years I have been travelling at least once a month, sometimes within Germany, where I used to live, but almost all the time outside the country.
Skyscrapers and mountains
When I moved to Asia, travelling and exploring more of Asia was one of the things I really wanted to do; There is so much to see here, so much to explore. It hasn't been easy to find the time to travel though, I have had a lot to do with my studies as well as other things; Not the least getting organised and setting up my home, getting to know my new city. For the first time in years I therefore had over two months (September, October, and almost the whole month of November) without any travelling which included crossing borders – hard on someone who is travel addicted like myself. Middle of November I couldn't cope anymore; I had to get flight tickets and go and see something else. The natural choice this time, even though there is a lot to see in the region was Hong Kong, as I have very good friends in Hong Kong, friends I hadn't seen in a long time, friends I was dying to meet.

Last time I was in Hong Kong I stayed in Mongkok, close to Prince Edward, an area in central Hong Kong, very densely populated, very Asian. Mongkok and Kowloon are areas that I really like; Sure, it is loud, busy, full of people, but there is something about it – but then again, it is easy to say that when you are just a visitor and don't live in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is after all one of the most densely populated cities in the world and living space is limited. Many people, especially westerners, will call me crazy, but I really to feel that Mong Kok is interesting. 

November 24, 2013

I am taking a little break

I am on a short break, visiting friends in Hong Kong. Having a marvelous time but it means less time for blogging.

I look at it as being out collecting new information that I will soon be able to write about.  I am out enjoying the sea, the green, the nature that Hong Kong actually has a lot of if you just move out of the city. And that is what I do - enjoy.

Talking about writing; I am currently looking for jobs in that area, that field, especially freelance jobs.

If you near anyting, please let me know.

November 20, 2013

You'll find me down by the water

Gone surfing

I love the sea; There is something special with smell of salt water, the sound of the wind, and the incredible power that the sea possesses, something scary about it, not knowing what's in there, under the surface, and yet there is something amazingly comforting about it. 

I love the way the sea cannot be tamed, and yet we are able to make use of it. I love how the sea allows us to travel places, reaches around the globe and and yet forms natural borders. 

November 11, 2013

Taiwanese Drummers - a majestetic performance in the park

Drummers in Taipei - a magical evening

A few weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned that she was going to volunteer at an event in Taipei, and asked me if I wanted to come along – not to volunteer but to see what was going on, and when i was told that there would be performances, I knew I had to go.

I am glad I did.

Stage, full of drummers
"Meeting with Boddisatwa" on stage
The performance was a drumming act, and it was one of the most amazing drumming acts, maybe the best, that I have ever seen. To imagine that I almost missed it... I will be forever grateful to my friend who brought me along to see this well coordinated event, so strong and so powerful, being played out right in front of my eyes, right in front of my ears there in Taipei. It is an unbelievable experience, seeing a big number of drummers on stage, perfectly coordinated, drumming and performing, as well coordinated as if it was a ballet, where every move is perfectly coordinated with the moves of the others.

I wouldn't have wanted to miss the performance, "Meeting with the Boddhisatwa" by U-theatre (see link for further information) for anything, it was a magical experience, very serene, yet incredibly powerful and full of energy.

November 10, 2013

Sometimes I wonder if Taiwan isn't most beautiful in the early morning

Early mornings in Taiwan

Trying the massage stones in the park
Sometimes I wonder if Taiwan isn't the most beautiful in the morning, at it is not because the light is golden and gives a special shimmer to everything, and shows so well how beautiful the island is with all the lush green that comes with the tropical climate,  or that the birds are waking up and greeting the day with their singing, although it contributes to the magic. It's also not the sound of the watering system starting outside my window, or the wind in the trees. 

It is rather the whole atmosphere, the serenity of it all, how peaceful and calm it is, and how the parks are full of old people out for their morning exercise, practising Tai Chi or Chi Gong, or even just being out dancing slowly, or making use of the playground tools to stretch and strengthening the body. Every little park and green spot is full of elderly people being out early in the morning.

There is something about it, and I love the atmosphere, I love getting up early in the morning and going out for my morning run. I don't run in the park, it feels like it would ruin the atmosphere, and I love to run on the streets where I can see the city waking up, but ending or beginning the run in the park is wonderful, and on the days I don't run I love to get up and go for a walk; Listening to the sounds of the city waking up, being part of the first peaceful moments of the day before the rest of the day begins. 

If you are in Taiwan, don't miss out on this, set the alarm if needed but do go out and enjoy the morning, even if you just go to the park to see it, to wander around for a bit. Breakfast you can eat later...   

November 07, 2013

The different sounds in Mandarin

About Chinese Characters and the sounds

All the different sounds

Sometimes the road feels a bit long...
The first thing to know about Chinese is that it is not a difficult language. It is rather easy. In theory... That said I am definitely struggling myself at the moment; I am so busy – and that is the irony of it all – to study Chinese that I don't have time to learn it. Because the real challenges in Chinese is the pronunciation and the ability to listen and hear – Chinese grammar is easy with very simple rules when you compare it to any of the European languages – more about that in a future post.

Even if Chinese isn't a very difficult language, theoretically, it is still not an easy language to learn, but there are a few things one need to be aware of, things that really makes a difference.

Every sound has a meaning
Yes, that is true, every sound has a meaning – but the problem is they don't just have one meaning, they have many. It is not until the sounds are put together with another sounds that they start to make sense and form words, or at least it is not until they are connected to the correct character that you can know what the sound you made actually means. To understand Chinese you need to either put many sounds together so they form sentences or you have to get the caracter that somes with the sound - or, if you are like me, you may need both, at least in the beginning.

You need to recognise characters
I can only underline the importance of learning to recognise the characters; Even if you aren't like me and very much connect language learning to something visual, even if you don't think you will ever write Chinese: You need to recognise characters. Most or at least many sounds have more than one character connected to them and unless you are able to recognise the character you can't be sure that you have the right meaning. There are at least 15 different "Xi" with the same pronunciation for example, one being "west" – 西, one being "news" 息, another being "dusk"夕 – and so on. Don't panic, you will hear them together with other sounds and it will start to become clear which xi that is meant, or at least that's what I am told, but still – if you are aware of it and if you can ask about the correct character half the battle is won, and if you find characters difficult, just think of them as identifiers in the beginning, just like you may meet many people in the world with the same name but different looks you will see many Chinese words that sound the same but look different.

November 06, 2013

A walk in the park - Three parks in one, in Taichung

A Day in the People's Park in Taichung

Pictures from a wonderful afternoon out in and around People's Park in Taichung. Unfortunately I missed the people I was hoping to meet in the park because I came late after a session to the hairdresser – I looked like a troll and HAD to get something done – but I never the less had a great time, just me and my camera. And a lot of people around me...

Practicing one last time before going on stage
When you come down Taichung Port road (台中港路 - Taizhong Gang Lu, where "Lu" means road), one of the central roads of Taichung you will see a big shopping mall; SOGO. It's written with big red letters and you can't really miss it; And also, it is one of the few things that are pronounced the same way in most languages, with a hard "G" in the middle, so it's easy to take the bus there; Just tell the driver SOGO and he will know it.

Anyhow, behind SOGO there is a wonderful little park that eventually leads towards the Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. This is the first park in a row of at least three parks somewhat connected, the last in the row of three being the Public Outdoor Sculpture Park, or 勤美綠園道 - Qín měi lǜ yuán dào (the word yuan by the way indicates that it is a park or a planted area, a very good character to recognise).

November 02, 2013

The Earthquake - and a big one...

As if the land was floating....

And so it happened.

Deep in thoughts over my books, working on a reports, I didn't notice the rattling sound to start with. It was special note, like a kind of humming, the way the bumble bees sound in the early spring when they have just woken up, a tone that is hard to describe but you can feel in your stomach.

I didn't notice until I feel the buzzing feeling in my legs, the feeling I identify with my blood sugar getting low – and it would have been about the right time for it, I had been focusing hard on the studies and it was well past the time for the next meal. I did also suspect that that was what it was. But when I raised my head up I noticed a new sound, a different rattling, almost.. Well, almost like the sound of a bed hitting against the wall as if someone was having incredible sex in the room next door, there is simply no other way to describe it, it was so rhythmic that it was the only thing I could think, it just got into my head and I almost blushed; And half a second later I realised that the sound came from my room, and the shaking was not me and my blood sugar getting low; It was the whole room vibrating.

And that's when I realised it.