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Diving in Ticao Island, Masbate

Finally, after years of diving, I've seen all creatures that I wanted to see in the underwater world.
The elusive whaleshark is the last one on the list.
Three whalesharks were sighted in the two-day dive. - one in Donsol and another in Manta Bowl, Ticao Island.
Never mind the poor visibility; or that the average sighting in Donsol is ten per dive - it was still a spectacle to behold.

Skiing in Kiroro, Hokkaido, Japan

Akaigawa Mountain winter:
a tale of snow and silence and beauty;
take the time to take a moment outside time~

Akaigawa Mountain skiing:
a ballad of wind and speed and powder,
or a ballet, against a backdrop painted by the gods~

Akaigawa Mountain mountains:
picture perfect, sculptures of ice and snow
crystal sawtooth summits under midnight blue skies~

Adapted from
~ Lito Tejada-Flores

The snow was powdery and was perfect for skiing.

The weather varies from bright sunny and cheerful blue sky to very blind and straight, heavy flakes laminating into heavier drifts.

Sometimes it dances, dances downward out of clouds that have swallowed the whole of the winter sky, dances a hundred detours, white-on-white quilting in mid-air, arabesques in the arms of the wind: snowflakes out for a stroll, giddy with gravity, unwilling to settle down, blowing loose and low and forever out of control across the winter landscape, a swirling anarchy of windborn flakes.

There were choices for the type of slopes and terrains at Kiroro to ski on although fairly limited.

I managed up to the more difficult "red" slopes in the four days. The blacks were still out of reach for me. But that too bad for a beginner who have just learnt to ski four days ago.

Enroute to Fairy Pool, Sichuan

Q&A on the Mountain

You ask me why I stay on this Jade Mountain,
I smile, but do not answer, my heart is at peace.
Peach blossom travels afar by flowing stream,
I have both heaven and earth apart from civilization.

Song of the Emei Mountain Moon

Ermai mountain moon, half wheel of autumn.
Shadows come floating on the Pingjan River.
At night I leave Clear Brook for Three Gorges.
I miss you, unseen, as I pass by Yuzhou.

LI BAI (701-762)
a Tang dynasty peot
who reside in Sichuan

---Translated by Tony Barnstone, Willis Barnstone and Chou Ping

Sapa trekking, Homestay and Bac Ha Sunday market

The H'mong are a patrilineal and patriarchal society. There are twelve lineages, the major of which are named: Giang, Lu, Ly, Sung, Tan, Thao, Then, Trang and Vang. Family ties are particularly strong within each lineage. In former times cross-cousins were often married by arrangement and forbid marriage outside one's own generation.

Polygamy was once common, but monogamy is now the norm. The custom (called levirate) of a widow marrying her dead husband's younger brother (even if he already has one or more wives) is disappearing. Also less commonly practiced now is marriage-by-kidnap. Hard as it may be for us to imagine, this involves a man, and his male cohorts, literally kidnapping the woman he wishes to marry if she has refused marriage voluntarily. A few days later her family is informed of her kidnap and then, according to tradition, they must give their consent to marriage.

Traditionally they are farmers of rice and corn, vegetables and opium poppy, but as the areas that have opened to tourism, H'mong girls are selling "made in China" handicraft to tourists selling as their own.

They do not have written scribes, and the "Vietnamization," policy means that the H'mong and others minorities are encouraged to integrate into mainstream Vietnamese society and risking losing their culture over time. One striking observation is their abiity to pick up foreign languages. English is widely spoken by both young and old.

Angkor Wat at Sunrise

According to the poem inscribed on its walls, the temple at Angkor Wat was not built by humans, but by celestial architects commanded by Indra, chief of the gods. Indra had brought his beloved, half-human son up to heaven to live with him. The son was adored by all the celestial beings, but had one problem: being part human, he smelled terrible. The celestial beings became ill from the stench and begged Indra to send him away. Indra acquiesced, but instructed his architects to go down to earth and build a replica of the heavenly world for the son. The result was the temple complex Angkor Wat.

By Rachel Galvin
The Poem of Angkor Wat

Conquering Mt. Kinabalu

It was something that I wanted to do for years, but for some reasons there were obstacles that got in the way - time, career, fitness, terrorist threats, and having a like-minded people to go along with you. Come to think of it, the group that I was with, my family members and my brother's church group, were a rather mixed bag - from kids aged 8 to my mum, age 76, from unfit desk-bounded, keyboard-punching and pen-pushing guy, like myself, to an over-confident cyclist who went up to the summit in his biking shorts. He must have thought that he was on a Eco-challenge race.

But I believe all of us came back humbled and with greater respect for nature and its Creator.

Half of the group members didn't make it to the summit, mainly due to altitude sickness. I suffered headache and felt like throwing-up on the morning of the climb to the summit. I was very tempted to call it off, and continue my sleep ( the climb starts at 2.30 am and the bed was inviting) but decided against it, popped in a couple of panadols and got on with the task at hand. I have come so far, and I was not going to be defeated.

The climb was increasingly difficult as we got nearer the summit. Beside the steeper slope that we have to negotiate, we have to content with thinning air. It left us gasping for air after every 100-meter climb - it was pure determination that drove us onward. But for some strange reason, I had renewed energy to climb the last 10-minute stretch of the summit quite effortlessly - its must be adrenaline.

We were well rewarded with this fantastic view at the summit.

The Mental Game

My favorite leisure combination - travel, golf, sea, wine, good food, esp super fresh seafood, and fun-loving kakis.

Here I'm at Jack Nicklaus’ flagship hole at Seaview Course, Bintan Lagoon Resort.

It is a short 130 meters Par 3, which rises to a peninsula of rock jutting up out of the crashing waters of the South China Sea. Cross wind, rocks and sand will punish any stray shot here. But on this hole, like many other seaview courses I've played, it is the whole ambiance that matters. Of course, a hole-in-one is what most golf hope for on any par 3.

I always make it a point to linger a little longer than I should to soak in the view and the sea breeze.

On this occcasion, I found a young couple on the other side of the rockies trying to score a hole-in-one.

LIFE is like a game in golf, you never know what you going to get.

You just have learn to stay your course, and when you get into trouble or when confronted with an obstacle, decide on your best bet, focus on the task at hand, taking one step at a time, and commit to taking that shot with a positive frame of mind.

Of course, there is no short cut to hardwork, training, and preparation.

"Above all, enjoy the game. It is meant to be fun. Don't take it too seriously" - wise quotation from His Holeness, Soo Hwee (peace be upon him) - Chapter 69, Paragraph 5354 of The Book of gOoFer.

  • Intro Updated Dec 14, 2008
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