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Posts tagged ‘Memories’

Hong Kong for the holidays

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When I moved to Indonesia last May, I promised my parents I would be back for Christmas. But it was a strange feeling to return to a place where I’d lived for nearly 20 years. Apart from a high-rise hotel taking shape on the Kowloon waterfront, and a handful of other construction sites, it appeared that my hometown had barely changed at all. Read more

A return to Singapore

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Over dinner one night, many months ago, mother told us something I would never forget. “Actually,” she said in Cantonese, “you [two] are sons of the Southern Ocean.” I do not recall the context of those words, nor the sentence that preceded it, but I was struck by the poetic truth embedded within. For although we consider Hong Kong our hometown, my brother and I were born in a rival city far closer to the Equator. Read more

The things I take for granted

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It’s a common sight on my way to and from work: wide-eyed visitors toting cameras around their necks, and backpackers who stop to capture the busy street scenes with their smartphones. I often turn around, surprised to see their attraction to a grimy world of exhaust fumes, dripping air conditioners and ageing metal pushcarts, combining to form a less than photogenic whole. Read more

One day in Mannheim

Rosengarten, an Art Nouveau concert hall

Through the curtains, the spire of Konkordien Church struck an imposing silhouette in the golden morning light. After a fitful night’s sleep my brother and I had been awakened by an unexpected phone call from Room 145. “Your sister wants to spend quality time with you two at the salon,” my mother said, “It’s her wedding day.” Read more

Travel sketch: Vancouver, Canada

Unlikely siblings, Vancouver

Seeing as Canada Day is coming up, I felt it was time to publish something just recently rediscovered in a half-forgotten sketchbook.

Drawn on the right is the third incarnation of the Hotel Vancouver, built from 1929-39. 17 storeys high, the monumental hotel was inspired by French Renaissance châteaux with touches of the Scottish baronial. This quintessentially Canadian style was popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, exemplified in the grand railway hotels built by rival companies Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National (CN). Read more

The house of memories

My grandparents' old house in Toronto

Darkness had fallen and driving snow whipped against the windshield as my uncle drove down a familiar stretch of Highway 401 from the airport. Less than 10 hours earlier I had stood waiting at a boarding gate in Heathrow, bound not for the warm temperatures of subtropical Hong Kong, but the winter chill of Toronto. It was December 2008 and death had struck the family two weeks before Christmas. Read more

Beneath the cherry blossom

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It’s been more than ten years since I last set foot in the Japanese islands, but they continue to occupy a special place in my mind as the setting for some of my fondest travel memories. I’ll never forget learning to ski in the soft powder of Hokkaido, making snow angels when we fell, laughing, into a deep white cushion. Christmas Eve in Sapporo meant a bowl of steaming, spicy ramen in a tiny restaurant down a back street as the snowflakes drifted silently outside. Read more

Borrowed place, borrowed time

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Walking down the length of Wing Lee Street, I couldn’t help but marvel at the degree of change around me. The ageing tenements running along one side had been renovated in bright pastel yellow, with balconies and windows refitted to accommodate new tenants. A cheery sign midway indicated the presence of an artists’ studio. Formerly earmarked for demolition, the entire row was saved after a public outcry following its appearance in Echoes of the Rainbow, winner of a Crystal Bear at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival. Read more

An ode to British summers

View down the River Avon, Bath

Summers in Britain can be hit-and-miss, governed by the famously unpredictable weather patterns that are such a talking point among the local populace. Last Friday we witnessed a spectacular opening ceremony for the Olympics, celebrating British culture and featuring several key episodes of the nation’s history. Watching these clips brought pangs of nostalgia for the rainy islands that I called home for four influential years of my life. Read more

Milestones, Awards and the Atlas Game

Lamma Island, Hong Kong

This month marks a season of celebration. Just recently Plus Ultra passed the 1,000 mark for followers, and now the blog is just shy of its 100th post! As much as I would like to throw a party in the blogosphere, there are a couple of practical issues to deal with (timezones, for instance!) so I am writing this post instead. Read more