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Posts tagged ‘China’

Shamian Island: outpost of the West


Separated from central Guangzhou by the still waters of a canal, and cut off on two sides by an elevated six-lane highway, Shamian Island is an anomaly in the chaos of China’s third-largest city. Read more

2012: a year in review

Lane Xang Avenue

Vientiane, May 2012

2012 has been a bumper year for the blog. While Plus Ultra was previously focused on Spain, I have since turned my attention to exploring places a little closer to home. There are clear downsides to living in a frenetic, stressful city like Hong Kong but its location is not one of them – destinations such as India, Indonesia and Japan are all within five hours’ flying time. In a big way, 2012 has been about grabbing hold of opportunities – stepping out and making decisions without any regrets. I’ll remember this year as one of breakthrough, when writing turned from a hobby to a serious vocation. So far editorial work for a regional adventure travel mag has proven to be a dream job, especially when fellow colleagues share the same passion for exploring our planet. Read more

Hiking to the clouds, Longji

Hair wrapped artfully in a turban of black cloth, her tough frame is softened by a lilac top and short frilly skirt. As she saunters in and out of the room, I watch the light momentarily catch on her earrings – they are two silver crescents, raw and slightly tarnished, sweeping around a hollow in the shape of the full moon. Read more

Five Colours from Plus Ultra

Erica from Kizzling Around has kindly nominated me to join the Capture the Colour photo competition run by The idea is to publish a post with five original shots from your travels, each one representing the colours blue, green, yellow, white and red. Read more

A change of heart, Guilin

“I dreamed about Kweilin before I ever saw it,” my mother began, speaking Chinese. “I dreamed of jagged peaks lining a curving river, with magic moss greening the banks. At the tops of these peaks were white mists. And if you could float down this river and eat the moss for food, you would be strong enough to climb the peak. Read more

No karst too great, Xingping

At 4:00am I am jolted from my slumber. Stumbling across the room, I pull open the curtains, half-expectant in the hope that yesterday’s rainclouds have already moved on. We are here in Xingping to walk the 1159 steps up Lao Zhai Hill, a proud shaft of rock jutting high above the riverside town. Read more

7 Super Shots from Plus Ultra

Quite a while ago Bama from What an Amazing World! kindly nominated me to join in on HostelBookers’ 7 super shots. I realise I am super late jumping on the bandwagon, but choosing your best photos is like choosing your favourite children – you’re hesitant because you love them all for different reasons! Read more

A Lesson on the Great Wall, Jinshanling

Headlights on and engine roaring, the bus devours the morning silence. “Is this going to Jinshanling?” Nodding, the driver waves me aboard and I take my place, sleepy-eyed, in the second row. Our tour guide looks like he could use a strong cup of coffee.

Not many things merit a 5:00 a.m. start and an uncomfortable four-hour bus ride with terrible leg room. But it is my last day in Beijing and I have booked myself a trip to see the final item on my checklist: the Great Wall of China. Read more

Jingshan, the Emperor’s Hill

Late afternoon shadows

After a day of exploring the hutong I was on the way back to my hotel when I came across a mesmerizing sight at Jingshan Park. The smog of the previous day had disappeared, and the rays of the late afternoon sun were sparkling off the gold leaf adorning its west gate. Intrigued, I paid the 2 yuan entrance fee and went in to take a look. Read more

Journey to the Summer Palace

Winter scene at the Summer Palace

Even in the smog, the lake is undeniably beautiful. Nearby the vendors offer bags of freshly grilled corn on the cob and skewers of candied Chinese hawthorns. I am observing the frozen waters from the Pavilion of Heralding Spring, where the weeping willows are the first to bud and the ice already broken. Read more