inside thoughts on China and beyond

Travel Journal

Hong Kong -Whatever You Want (HK.2)

Hong KongTsim Sha Tsui is home to an amazing large collection of exclusive brand shops and endless shopping malls. While delivery trucks, tour buses, Masserratties and Bugattis congest the long streets and narrow allays, mainland Chinese visitors crowd the sidewalks and shuffle through the malls. All along the famous Canton Road, entrepreneurial Indians scout for tourists and every 10 steps one would come up to me with a you’ve-always-been-my-most-precious-friend-client-and-it’s-so-nice-to-see-you-back-again-and-do-I-have-just-the-right-suit-for-you talk. They will try to tailor your suit; line your trousers, renew your cuffs, repair your collar and sometimes even sell you your Rolex watch back. Friendly though they are, they prey like vultures. One by one, they pick out Caucasian tourists and as such, for all my faults, I am quite outstanding. (more…)


Hong Kong Hassle (HK.1)

Hong KongHong Kong has always been an intriguing city. With its rich colonial history, its endless skyscrapers and neon signs, its ever present hilltops and, of course, the dizzying busyness between Kowloon Bay and Victoria Harbour, it was the Crown Jewel of the British Empire for most of the last a century. It was the optimum of opportunities for daring entrepreneurs and the dream of many. It was the ultimate sensation of the Orient. Hong Kong has, as Prince Charles once said, “created one of the most successful societies on Earth.” Hong Kong, in short, is a place you had to have seen before you died. But for all its magic, I tell you, never go there after Chiang Mai. (more…)


Photo Story – Our Thailand

Photo Story – My Thailand

March 2014

My Thailand -yes, one more ‘beyond’ story!- as I wrote in my previous blogs, wasn’t the Thailand you read about in the papers. It was much more; much better! After we travelled north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train and tricycle and were greeted by friendly chauffeurs and scary temple dragons, we were engulfed by a Thailand drenched with liveliness, religion and the color orange… (read more)


My Thailand (TT.5)

My ThailandI found his home on one of my biking trips along the river. A small white plank high in a tree had his name scribbled on it in red paint. Theo Meier. I had no idea who he was, but the lush garden that surrounded some old teak buildings aroused my curiosity. (more…)


Guest (TT.4)

GuestI was staying at a guesthouse that was nicely tucked away along the eastern shore of the Ping river and under the shady canopy of an ancient tree that fully umbrellaed the grounds here, and that of at least 3 neighbors. Everyday during breakfast a Dutch radio channel announced the day’s traffic jams (more…)


Cabbage and Condoms (TT.3)

Cabbage & CondomsStirred by what we learned in Cabbage and Condoms, we planned a 2-day trekking trip. “A traditional scorpion-tail boat will slowly bring you up the Kok river to an old Karen village where elephants would await you on which you will ride to the next village. From there, a long walk through the jungle will bring you to the first Lahu village, where you will set up camp with the local tribe, etc., etc., etc.” Adventure pur sang! -if you believe the promotion folder. As we did, for just a short while. (more…)


Golden Triangle (TT.2)

Golden TriangleWe checked in our guesthouse, left our luggage and hit the streets, finding ourselves in a street of massage shops and bars. Both rampant businesses. Both with an obvious unlimited pool of short skirt women of all ages picking their noses and long-nosed men, eager to pick up a short skirt but instead lurking around not able to make up their minds. (more…)


Thailand Express (TT.1)

Thailand ExpressLet’s start by saying that we are in the year 2557. That’s about how old Buddha would have been had he still been around, which, in many ways here in Thailand, he still is. We -my family members and I- haven’t really changed a lot since we left China in the year 2014, but gosh, it does feel ages ago. (more…)


Tropical Tales from Thailand

Tropical Tales I’ve written it before: there are those moments you just need to escape Chengdu, or, as in this case, China. It just becomes too much. And that’s how we ended up in northern Thailand. But we weren’t alone. (more…)


Wonderful Wuhou

For most, the attraction of Wuhou, an area just west of downtown Chengdu and sandwiched in between the ancient Wuhou temple complex in the north and the campus grounds of the Minority College to the south, is that it has traditionally always been the Tibetan quarters. A little bit of Tibet in center Chengdu, complete with a good supply of beggars on every street corner, never tired of reminding you of the ancient tradition to give to the poor -and to those pretending to be. But for me, there is more. (more…)


Portfolio – On The Road

Portfolio – On The Road

October 2013

Chinese roads are amazing. Some are new and hectic, others are ages old but quiet. Some wind across high passes, others cut through endless deserts and grasslands. But all have their own story to tell. All we need to do is travel them, listen, and learn.   As Aldous Huxley said long ago: “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”  (read more)


Portfolio – Land of the 4 Seasons

Portfolio – Land of the 4 Seasons

April 2013

I’ve always appreciated seasonsAll seasons. Each season has its own particular beauty and drama. And just when you start getting bored with one, the other is knocking on your door or banging on the windows. Chengdu doesn’t really have this; it’s either hot or cold, with only a few transition days in between. But as soon as you reach the Tibetan mountains, the song ‘Four season in one day‘ comes true. Here are some impressions of these majestic and at times mysterious seasons….  (read more)


Fleeting Freedom

20130402_106-2You know how big-city life and a busy job and, now I’m at it, a family, can make you feel confined; imprisoned in inevitable routines and unchangeable habits. Tired. Then it is time for an escape; time for wilderness and raw freedom. Then it’s time for the Tibetan mountains. And so I planned a 10-day trip to Sertar monastery high up in the far western mountains of Sichuan and made the necessary preparations: talking with insiders; watching the latest news; taking my altitude tables. All was fine -that is to say; as fine as can be expected in these parts- and I was ready. How little did I know… (more…)


Re-post: Chunjie Rush

This is a republishing of a post from 2 tears ago… My first republishing ever, and the first of 2 about Chunjie; Chinese New Year. Enjoy it!

Just like Christmas and New Year’ eve in Europe and Thanksgiving in the US, with its compulsory trips to the family and overload of presents; for the Chinese, Chunjie (Chinese New Year) is the big thing: money is spent, presents are bought, trips back to family and hometown are arranged. The great migration. (read more)


Portfolio – Women at Work

Portfolio – Women at Work

October 2012

After 10 years in China, I have come to the conclusion that a major part of China’s economy is carried by her women.  And [….] truly, if it wasn’t for the women, where would China be? (read more)