Santorini 1

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare (2)-Architecture Without Architects: Santorini, a Greek Island


This post is my second response to Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare.  Please also see my first response: Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare –Architecture Without Architects: Telč, a City in Czech Republic, and my very old posts in another earlier Blog Exploring Turkey and Greece – Santorini.

The four colorful pictures posted here were taken by my friend Link Lee .  The two black and white pictures were old pictures published in the book “Architecture without Architects” by Bernard Rudofsky, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1965.

When I published the blog Exploring Turkey and Greece 4 years ago, my mind was only thinking of the beautiful Greek island which was the photographer’s paradise.  This is what I wrote on that Blog:

Santorini is also known as ‘Thira”.  It is one of the small Greek islands, with rich variety of landscapes and villages.  At the highest point of the island is the classic Sanitorininian town or la, also spelled as Oia, with its white washed walls houses and blue domed churches.  The stunning view from this village has attracted lots of tourists, including celebrities.  Most of us want to come back again and stay for at least a week.  The sunset view from this village is said to be among the world’s most beautiful.  Unfortunately, we had to go back to our ship, and missed the sunset view.

After reading Bernard Rudofsky’s book, pages 31 to 32, I realized that there are much more to “see” behind the beautiful scenery.  This beautiful island was mentioned under the title “The choice of site”.  Rudofsky said that Man has the freedom to choose where he wants to live.  This island’s capital Thera (or Thira) which towers 660 feet high, is on the brink of an ancient volcanic crater.  This area had been devastated by earthquakes a few times.  Houses were destroyed and rebuilt, but the island has never been abandoned. “Today, Santorini is the only inhabited Caldera (volcano cauldron) in the world.” ( No doubt this is rare!

I want to end this post with a quote from the first page of this book:  “Vernacular Architecture does not go through fashion cycles.  It is nearly immutable, indeed unimprovable, since it serves its purpose to perfection. As a rule, the origin of indigenous building forms and construction methods is lost in the distant past.”

Indeed, why did the residents of this island choose blue and white color to paint their houses?  The forms of these houses remained the same throughout these years, though modern facilities like toilets and cooking facilities must have been added.  Is this a good example of conservation of vernacular buildings?  The curious mind will appreciate your responses!

Telc 1

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare –Architecture Without Architects: Telč, a City in Czech Republic

This post is in response to Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

I just bought a book named   ” Architecture Without Architects.” By Bernard Rudofsky, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1965.   It is a very good book, providing a backdrop in understanding about Vernacular Architecture.   It is easy-to-read with lots of B&W pictures.  This book is recommended by the Professor of this class that I am taking:Vernacular Architecture of Asia:  Tradition, Modernity and Cultural Sustainability.  The class is offered by

To my surprise and delight, I recognized from the old picture in this book, a place that we passed by in our Eastern Europe trip in 2013.  One picture  on page 77 has nearly the same angle as the first one I am attaching here.  Compare this with the Black and White one from the book (the last picture attached here).  All the buildings are exactly the same.  The town is called Telč.

This place is described under “Arcades” in this book.  The word “Arcades” here means “altruism turned architecture –private property given to an entire community. “ The author said:  “This old Moravian town of Telč in what is now called Czechoslovakia consists mainly of two monumental blocks of patrician houses bordering the town square on one side and the lake on the other. Thus each one has an urban and a pastoral part, the latter ending in a garden.  The town square (which is anything but square), forms the only thoroughfare. The entire length of its perimeter is covered by arcades.”

In the Lonely Planet, a popular tour book, it described Telč this way:

“The Unesco-protected town of Telč, perched on the border between Bohemia and Moravia, possesses one of the country’s prettiest and best-preserved historic town squares. Actually, we can’t think of another that comes close! The main attraction is the beauty of the square itself, lined by Renaissance and baroque burgers’ houses, with their brightly coloured yellow, pink and green facades. Spend part of your visit simply ambling about, taking in the classic Renaissance chateau on the square’s northwestern end and the parklands and ponds that surround the square on all sides. Telč empties out pretty quickly after the last tour bus leaves, so plan an overnight stay only if you’re looking for some real peace and quiet.”

Read more:

We only stayed there for an hour or so for lunch and toilet!

Go and visit this place when you happen to be in that area.  It was not very exciting when we were there but after attending this class, I found more interests in knowing about this place and the architecture here.  I am quite excited and have just shared with all my sisters who were my travel mates at that time.

Keep on traveling and learning, my friends!

To those who are interested to learn something new, check this out:

It is free.  The teachers are professors from top universities around the world. The students are from every part of the world.  You can communicate with the teaching team and the students through discussion online.  There are many courses you can choose from.  But you need to work hard, study, take the exams, do all the assignments!

Why am I doing this?   Just for fun!  Well,  I passed!!







Sequence, by Richard Serra, 2006, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure


This post is in response to the  Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure

Sequence, by Richard Serra, 2006, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Sequence, by Richard Serra, 2006, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The SFMOMA has just reopened after three years of renovation.  As a member of SFMOMA for many years,  I am very excited of its new look and expansion. Due to work, I was only able to visit the museum twice on Thursday nights.  Both visits were very satisfying.  I had time to walk inside the Sequence last Thursday. It was a very special experience.  It seemed walking into a maze without corners.  There was some similar feeling of walking in meditation along the Labyrinth of the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco (, a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220.

Actually when this massive artwork was in New York MOMA, I had seen it and walked along it as well.  It was nearly 10 years ago.  Interesting that when it was moved to Stanford where it stayed from 2011 to 2015, I never had the chance to revisit it.  This time in SFMOMA, the revisit had brought me a refreshed impression with some sense of purified experience.  As Serra said in one of those interviews on YouTube, there is no right or wrong idea about the sculpture.  It really depends on the viewer’s own experience.  Try it yourself.


Weekly Photo Challenge : “Spare”

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge : “Spare”.

These panoramic photos were taken during my trip to South America. The first two were taken at Torres del Paine, Chile.IMG_3760[2]IMG_3759[1]

The two pictures below feature the Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate, Argentina

 When I was appreciating the beautiful nature, I felt that it was very  different from the crowded city life which was usually saturated with polluted environment and substances.  Contrary to such saturation are the “spare” images here.  However, I was also saturated with feelings of serenity and calmness of mother nature. Also, I did “spare” myself from my busy work schedule to take this trip which I regarded as most enjoyable!

I hope you will all enjoy these beautiful pictures taken by my iPhone few years ago.

A special note to my blogger friends:  Hello, I have been very behind in blogging.  I just checked your blogs.  You are all so diligent in posting!  Yes,  I am coming back.

Hope to see you again soon!




Young girls singing "Never on Sunday" in Athens, Greece.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Now

This post is in responses to the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Now

Now is the time to approach the end of the year.

Now is the time to reflect what I did this year.

Now is the time to think of new year resolution.

Now is the time to look out for opportunities.

Now is the time to do some planning about next year.

It is not easy to find photos that can represent my NOW.

As NOW is the accumulated state of what was in the past, let me offer a gallery of pictures of young people whom I met or happened to see during my travels to different countries in the past few years.  Please click any picture in the gallery, and you will see the pictures in carousel with captions.

These children represent their NOW, who they are, their hope for the future, and a touch of human kindness.








Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering.

This is the theme of this week. I found two travel photos to share.

One of them shows a gathering of the actors after a show in Yunnan, China.

The other one shows  group of ladies all dressed up to celebrate a festival in Valencia, Spain.

Both are pictures of fun and enjoyment.  Hope you all will have fun and enjoy this weekend!

Angkor Wat--Apsarases

Apsaras in the Art and Architecture of Cambodia

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Apsarases in Angkor Thom


This post is inspired by a blogger friend Michael Lai.  I had been hibernating and tonight I suddenly wanted to post something.  Having seen Michael’s recent post on apsaras in Cambodia, I went back to my earlier post on this topic and found these.  Angkor Wat is still one of my most favorite travel destinations.  I can’t help re-posting a short post to refresh my passion for Cambodian art.  I hope you would enjoy this post as much as I do.

Apsaras or Devatas

“Apsaras represent an important motif in the stone bas-reliefs of the Angkorian temples in Cambodia (8th–13th century AD), however all female images are not considered to be apsaras. In harmony with the Indian association of dance with apsaras, Khmer female figures that are dancing or are poised to dance are considered apsaras; female figures, depicted individually or in groups, who are standing still and facing forward in the manner of temple guardians or custodians are called devatas.

Angkor Wat, the largest Angkorian temple built (1116–1150 AD), features both apsaras and devata, however the devata type are the most numerous with more than 1,796 in the present research inventory. Angkor Wat architects employed small apsara images (30–40 cm as seen at left) as decorative motifs on pillars and walls. They incorporated larger devata images (all full-body portraits measuring approximately 95–110 cm) more prominently at every level of the temple from the entry pavilion to the tops of the high towers. In 1927, Sappho Marchal published a study cataloging the remarkable diversity of their hair, headdresses, garments, stance, jewelry and decorative flowers, which Marchal concluded were based on actual practices of the Angkor period. Some devata appear with arms around each other and seem to be greeting the viewer. “The devatas seem to epitomize all the elements of a refined elegance,” wrote Marchal.”

Valencia, Spain

Weekly Photo Challenge ” Vivid”: My trip to England, Wales and Scotland #1 The Rows!

We are now traveling in Europe.  Today I learned something new.  In the Chester City of England,  we saw a number of buildings with a unique architectural design:  ” the Rows”. These are half-timbered buildings with rows of shops in the ground and upper floor built around the 13th century.  The patterns are vivid and sharp in black and white colors.  The origin of these designs is still unclear, but its unique features are special and considered one of the important tourist attractions.

I am glad to see this weekly photo challenge  Vivid  which gives me an opportunity to share with my readers something new and interesting.

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Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas , a Masterpiece of Beauty and Puzzle–My Spain Trip #6

This is posted on my art blog, but it is also part of my travel logs. I am posting it here to share with my travel blog readers too. Hope you will like it!

falling in love....with arts

My dream to see this painting had finally come true!   This is one of my few “most desired to see” paintings.  My trip to Spain last year was one of my most satisfying one.  I did have the opportunity to visit three of the most famous museums in the world, and see three very important works of art while traveling.   Lucky me!

A visit to Prado Museum in Madrid was one of the most exciting programs in the itinerary.  We joined a guided tour.  Though the docent was excellent, I drifted away from the group when we came to this gallery where Las Meninas was placed. I was able to see this beautiful painting only a few feet away whereas my fellow travel mates were listening to the docent at the back.  My attention was completely absorbed into this amazing piece of art, imagining that I was among…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge — My Spain Trip #5 Montserrat

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge.

“Photos are visual spaces where shapes and lines, objects, and people come together.” ~ Ben Huberman~

I really like this topic.  To me, it is not only a photo challenge but a philosophical one.  Let us look at these pictures I took at Montserrat,  a multi-peaked mountain located near the city of Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain.

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Don’t you agree that from these pictures, you can see the sky, the cloud, the mountain, the little tree, and the building all converge together?

This is the definition of “Converge” from the Webster Dictionary:


verb \kən-ˈvərj\

: to move toward one point and join together : to come together and meet

: to meet or come together to form a crowd or group

: to come together and have one interest, purpose, or goal

Let me present to you the second set of pictures which will tell you more why visitors come here.

Montserrat is also the name of a mountain top monastery in Catalonia,Spain. Situated atop this unusual rock mountain, it is very popular among Catalans. Catholic pilgrims come from far and wide to see the Black Madonna.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside the monastery.  Here’s a statue that tourists can buy (R).  I also found this picture on the wiki site (L).



Another highlight of  visit to Montserrat monastery is to listen to the famous Basilica choir boy performances of Gregorian chants and other genres of religious choral music. The boy choir has also recorded numerous albums.

Visiting the Montserrat can be a spiritual experience.  To many visitors, the Montserrat Monastery is of significant religious importance. To most of us,  the natural beauty surrounding the monastery is simply breathtaking. When we walked along the paths leading into the mountains, we enjoyed the magnificent vies of the unusual rock formations, as well as feeling the experience of “coming together”.  Did you picture the “convergence” images even if you were not there?  If my pictures are not good enough, close your eyes and imagine you were there!  I hope you will like that experience. Now you know why I said it is a philosophical challenge as well.  If you believe in this “coming together” philosophy, you will see and feel the convergence. Unfortunately, many people see the divergence instead, in every part of the world.

If you are interested in Rick Steves’ travel video, I found this on YouTube. You can see the visitors kissing the hand of the Black Madonna and the beautiful art inside the Basilica. Enjoy!




Weekly Photo Challenge – Angular _My Spain Trip #4 -Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge- Angular.  The picture I posted here is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which I visited last month.  The museum was designed by the American-Canadian architect Frank Gehry.

From the Museum’s website:

“Hailed as the most important structure of its time when it opened in 1997, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has changed the way people think about museums and continues to challenge assumptions about the connections between art, architecture, and collecting.”





Here’s a closer view of part of the Museum structure.  The museum primarily collects modern and contemporary art. The flower “Puppy” by Jeff Koons (an American artist) is right there in front of the museum!  I will write another post on Puppy and the collections in the museum.





My impression about this architectural masterpiece? I think it started a new wave in architectural design. Most of his works seem t o be along a similar theme. I have only seen the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.  The Opus ( a luxury residence) he designed in Hong Kong was said to have few residents, but I might be outdated.  I just heard that the new Face Book campus will also be designed by Frank Gehry!  We will wait and see!

Cover art

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art (1): Santorini, to dream, to relax and explore.

This is in response to this Week’s Photo Challenge:  There are so many choices in my mind!  This is one of the pictures that came to my mind immediately:  The cute island Santorini, in Greece. Cover art

 I did visit this beautiful island with family and friends, and published a book named Turkey and Greece Delights, which I co-authored with a friend.  I used a different cover art.  Which one would you buy?


To preview this book, click the link:

Turkey and Greece Delightsby Denise Lau, Link Lee

Turkey and Greece Delights
Turkey and Greece Delights

My Spain Trip #3: Travel Theme Part IV – Market – Segovia. My picture framed for sale??

I was inspired by my blogger friend Michael Lai’s recent post on Dor Dor’s picture in the art gallery.  How can I do something similar with just my iPad since I am still traveling?  Well, here ‘s the result! My picture of the big flower sculpture “Puppy” by Jeff Koons, taken at the Guggenheim Museum is now framed for sale in the market of Bilbao!  It is a game…I made up these pictures using a few apps on my iPad.  Can you now see where is my framed picture?  If you can’t see it , take a look at the real one on the lower end of this post.  Isn’t it fun?  More information will be posted about the lovely flower “Puppy” and the visits to three top notch art museums during my travel in Spain this time.imageimage


Travel Theme: Market ( PART III) : Seafood Market in Bilbao, Spain. My Spain Trip # 2

We are now in Bilbao, a very interesting city to me primarily due to the Guggenheim Museum.  But I found something very special this morning: the seafood market which was a bonus , making this morning’s city tour even more interesting.  Take a look at all the fresh fish, shrimps, olives, herbs….and chicken feet!  What? I thought only Chinese eat chicken feet!  Spain is catching up?




Travel Theme: Market (part II) : Jamon (Spanish ham)

Traveling in Spain right now.  Hello from Barcelona !  Can’t help adding these to my MARKET collections!  Yum!

Enduranace 1)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

This post is in response to the  Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

It is not hard to find examples of “endurance” from my travel experience.  But I think this is the one that I really endured to the greatest extent up to my maximum limit.

It was during my last trip to South America in December 2012:

It was  El Calafate in Argentina. After seeing the Perito Morena Glacier, we had another full day fascinating lake excursion to Upsala Glacier, Onelli Bay and Spegazzini, We were lucky to have nice weather, and so we enjoyed the views of beautiful enormous icebergs floating on the lake. The sunlight had added a wonderful effect. It was another unforgettable spectacle. We all braved the wind, and went out to the deck to see the beautiful views and take pictures. It was very very cold. I was holding the iPhone tight to take pictures and the video.  Without endurance, the iPhone would have gone to join the iceberg, and this video would not be created.  It was definitely a very special experience for me.  I am not an adventurous person and never really an outdoor person.  Yet it was a worthwhile experience and I enjoyed very much such adventure!

I can’t help sharing with you another video. We were on the way to Victoria Island.  Sailing on the ship Cau Cau in Bariloche, Argentina, was fun! Sea gulls came by to snatch crackers from the tourists who held their hands up to attract them.  My video showed how people had endured by stretching out their hands with crackers but the seagulls did not like them.  I held out my hand with the cracker.  A seagull flew by and snatched it away, almost instantly.  It was due to learned behavior!  The seagulls only flew towards the paid photographer. Nobody caught my picture except the commercial photographer!  Of course I did pay and buy the cracker and the photo from him.

Turkey market 3

Travel Theme: Market

I was talking with another fellow blogger friend retireediary the other day about his self-created travel theme.  I then remember in my pre-blogging days, I did start a travel website which has different travel themes instead of categorizing my travel pictures by countries or destinations.  i wonder if anyone will respond to a travel theme I set.  Let me try this one.  If you are interested, please use the title Travel theme : market and link back your post to mine.

My first travel theme is Market. Wherever I travel, I like to go to market place to see what are available there, apart from doing some shopping.  These are more than these three market places presented here.  In the interest of time, I would like to start with three for now.

Pike Place Market in Seattle

Besides Star Bucks Coffee originated here, the Fish Market is one of the most interesting market places I found.

The Pike Place Fish Market, founded in 1930, is an open air fish marketlocated in Seattle, Washington’s Pike Place Market, at the corner of Pike Street and Pike Place. It is known for their tradition of fishmongersthrowing fish that customers have purchased, before they are wrapped.[1] After nearing bankruptcy in 1986, the fish market owner and employees decided to become “world famous”, changing their way of doing business by introducing their flying fish, games, and customer performances. Four years later, they were featured repeatedly in the national media and television shows.[2]The store is now a popular tourist destination in Seattle, attracting up to 10,000 daily visitors, and is often billed as world-famous.[2][3]

There are a number of books featuring this flying fish philosophy.  I read this one which was based on a bestselling ChartHouse training video which has been adopted by corporations including Southwest Airlines, Sprint, and Nordstrom.

“Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results”

If you like “Who moved my cheese”, you would love this one!

Pike Place Market in Seattle

      Sunday Market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

If you have read my book Angkor Wat, Cambodia and previous blog post, you may remember that I have introduced the Sunday Market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  You can see from the photos here that the vendors sell very special food including bugs and grilled turtles.  Did I try any of them?  Guess!

Grand Bazaar and Spice Market in Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar is the biggest covered market in Turkey. We had some good bargains here. The Spice Market offers lots of Turkish candies called Turkish Delights, and spices including the expensive saffron.


A Tibetan woman with her child

Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

This is in response to Thirdeyemom’s Photo Challenge: Humanity.  I have followed Thirdeyemom’s blog for a while, primarily of her “humanity” approach. I did not travel as much, but like Thirdeyemom, I love to study different cultures and connections with people.


For the purpose of this Challenge, I reviewed my travel websites and my blogs.  I found it hard to pick and choose. I went back to my earliest website, and found my own “humanity”  page, which I called “life” at that time.  Some of these pictures are from my friends.  Thank you, Link, JL and TS.



Weekly Photo Challenge- Dialogue


 In response to Frederic Biver’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue, this is my entry.

imageDelightful desserts round in shape. Continue reading

shih lin, de younf

Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Extra, Extra,  here are the two pictures I chose for the entries,

The first picture was taken in front of the de young Museum in San Francisco.   A  young lady was walking towards the entrance of the museum. The poster is big, but she is small. The girl with a pearl earring is beautiful. Not sure if this young lady is. At any rate, she appears to be an “extra” waiting  for the next call.

The second one was taken in the Stone Forest in Yunnan, China.  A cleaning lady was working very hard to clean up the garbage left by tourists in this place of natural wonder! Her work is essential,, but her presence here seems to be the “extra” not necessarily fit into the theme of the environment.




My fourth book has just been published: Turkey and Greece Delights


Turkey and Greece Delights
Turkey and Gre…
Istanbul, Cappadoc…
By Denise Lau, Link Lee
Photo book

I co-authored this one with my friend Link who may be the next Ansel Adams!

This book also has an ebook version. Download it for free now. We will charge when we post it on iBookstore in future.

Most of the contents of this book are extracted from my other blog: Turkey and Greece. I hope you will like it.

To preview this book, click the link:

Turkey and Greece Delightsby Denise Lau, Link Lee

By the way, my other published books are now on Look them up!

The biggest prayer wheel is in Shangrila, Yunnan.

The biggest prayer wheel is in Shangrila, Yunnan.

Prayer Wheel in Shangrila, Yunnan, it is the biggest in the world, “turned” by groups of dedicated Buddhists. This is a short post in response to fellow blogger: Retireediary’s recent post.


Buddha Faces at Angor Wat, Cambodia

Please read this post and my previous posts on Angkor Wat, if you are interested in this subject.


This is a close up taken of the Buddha faces in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

I like the texture in the image. More than that, I was stunned as to how the statues were constructed.DSC_0377

Unlike many of the Buddhas I saw in China which were carved out in situ from a big piece of rock, the statues here were assembled from blocks of rock stacked together.

This begs two questions. For one, how to control the carving so that the profiles and details match with the adjoining blocks and that when assembled together give the 3D they want.

Secondly, how did transport, lift and stack the heavy blocks together?

While we were there, we were just bewildered!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: “Inside” – Inside the Marcipan Museum in Szentendre, Hungary

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside.

These photos were taken inside the Marcipan Museum in Szentendre, Hungary.  We were on our way to Budapest, the capital city  of Hungary, and stopped by this little town which was quite attractive to tourists.

Szentendre  is a riverside town in Pest county,Hungary, near the capital city Budapest. It is known for its museums (most notably the Open-Air Ethnographic Museum), galleries, and artists. We came across this Marcipan shop which had some interesting displays inside. Marcipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal, sometimes augmented with almond oil or extract. It is often made into sweets; common uses are marzipan-filled chocolate and small marcipan imitations of fruits and vegetables. It is also rolled into thin sheets and glazed for icing cakes, primarily birthday and wedding cakes and Christmas cakes. This use is particularly common in England, on large fruitcake. Marzipan (or almond paste) may also be used as a cake ingredient.  In some countries, it is shaped into small figures of animals as a traditional treat for New Year’s Day.

Inside this Museum are little cute displays made of Marzipan. They are displayed beautifully. Do  you want to eat them?


My Three Books are now on iBookstore

I would like to introduce to my fellow bloggers and friends my three published books which are all on iBookstore. Two are free to download to your iPad , iPhone, iPod touch or Mac  Please click this link to check out my newest addition on my Eastern Europe trip. There is a link to see the other two books as well

As they are all Blurb books, of course they are available on the blurb bookstore as well.


Inner Mongolia – How does it look like living in a yurt?

This post is in response to the readers of  Retireediary’s recent post Inner Mongolia and Shanxi .  His pictures of the Yurts have attracted many readers who are curious how the inside looks like.  I had visited Inner Mongolia few years ago.  My friend Link’s pictures are nice and include the inside look of the yurts where we stayed for one night.  It was an unforgettable experience!  With the permission of Link, I am posting his pictures of the Xilamuren Grassland, Inner Mongolia.

Some of you may ask, what is a yurt?  A yurt is a portable, bent dwelling structure traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia as their home.

Why did we city dwellers want to stay in a yurt?  Well, if you are traveling to a place where people live in yurts, don’t you want to try out to see how it is?  In fact this was a suggestion I gave to my group of friends and family.  A very good friend who traveled around the world gave me this piece of advice when she knew I was traveling to Inner Mongolia.  She said, “You must live in a yurt. It was once-in-a-lifetime experience”.  Indeed it was.

The yurts were actually quite pretty looking.  They had modern facilities:  a TV, beds, and a bathroom inside the yurt.  However, there was no heat, and so it was very cold.  The bathroom had a shower area and a toilet bowl, but you could not really sit on the toilet because there was no space for your legs.  Nobody tried the shower as it was cold and there was something missing that nobody dared taking a shower.  It was not a pleasant experience.  It was already a luxury yurt!  My brothers’ friends who are much older “scolded” me….it was you who suggested to try this!  Well, once in a lifetime…!  I actually like this!

What do people do in the desert?  Horse-riding, playing bows and arrows, and to your surprise, driving around on a fancy four-wheel drive!  We rented one and drove around the desert.  Nothing much was seen but it was still an experience.

Inner Mongolia has a lot of history.  In this post, I only posted about the yurts.  I may do more posting in future when I have time.

I also want to say that the pictures of my friend are actually very beautiful.  When I copied them from Shutterfly, somehow they became smaller.   I could do something but in the interest of time, I would leave them alone. I hope the photographer would not mind.


My Eastern Europe trip #3 – Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Poland

The above picture is from the Wikimedia Commons

When we left Warsaw on the way to Krakow, we went to Czestochowa, a place of worship visited by millions of tourists and worshipers every year.  The reason why it attracted so many visitors is because of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa (PolishCzarna Madonna or Matka Boska Częstochowska,  also known as Our Lady of Częstochowa, is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery in CzęstochowaPoland.

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The icon

“The origins of the icon and the date of its composition are still hotly contested among scholars. The difficulty in dating the icon stems from the fact that the original image was painted over, after being badly damaged by Hussite raiders in 1430″

The tourist guide is a priest: Father Simon.  He is the most entertaining guide I ever met.  He led us into a chapel where many fervent Catholics were worshipping.  But he signalled to us to walk very fast behind him, and to be quiet of course.  We passed by the Black Madonna at the altar, but it was too fast to take any decent pictures.

The painting displays a traditional composition well-known in the icons of Eastern Orthodoxy. The Virgin Mary is shown as the “Hodegetria” (“One Who Shows the Way”).

In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand. The icon shows the Madonna in fleur de lys robes.

Coronation as Queen and Protectress of Poland

The Black Madonna is credited with miraculously saving the monastery of Jasna Góra (English: Bright Mount) from a 17th-century Swedish invasion,[2] The the winter of 1655

This event led King John II Casimir Vasa to “crown” Our Lady of Czestochowa (“the Black Madonna“) as Queen and Protector of Poland


How David Hockney sees the world, with the use of technology

San Franciscans are indeed blessed with many opportunities of appreciating interesting art shows.  Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco  (de Young Museum) ‘s “David Hockney, a Bigger Exhibition” is closing today, January 21, 2014. I finally had the chance to see it yesterday.  David Hockney is one of the best known living artists, renowned for his mastery of drawing, oil painting, printmaking, art design, photo collage, and the use of camera and video-making, with the help of technology.

I had seen a PBS interview of David Hockney back in October, 2013 when the show just began. I would like to share with you this video from PBS to get an overview of this exhibition and then two articles of art review by  art critics of San Francisco Chronicle, and New York Times.

Kenneth Baker, Sf Chronicle, published on Oct 25, 2013

“The answer to a single question can confirm the significance of an art exhibition: Do you see the world differently – even for a moment – after visiting it?

“David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition,” opening Saturday at the de Young Museum, passes that test. Golden Gate Park, half steeped in fog, never looked as symphonically green to me as it did after I exited the Hockney show.

Not only does he make vivid a startling range of green hues in landscape paintings, but his drawings – even those made on an iPad – continually probe for marks, textures and patterns to register nature’s details.

That, at one level, may be the essence of observational drawing. The show’s last rooms contain charcoal landscape drawings Hockney made outdoors, and inkjet enlargements of them, describing from five woodland vantage points “The Arrival of Spring in 2013 (twenty thirteen)” in Britain’s East Yorkshire, where he has lived intermittently in recent years.

In making these images, Hockney worked without color – “of course, the Chinese thought you could get every color from black and white,” he said in conversation at his Los Angeles studio – finding graphic equivalents not only for physical detail but for the changing play of light and shade across shifts in weather and time of day.

Careful viewers will find their eyes taking up that challenge unconsciously as they study the drawings. And responsive visitors’ minds will carry the search for adequate graphic notation into the de Young’s park surround. For a while, every branch and leaf will seem to trigger it.

The quandaries of pictorial representation have driven Hockney’s whole career, of which “A Bigger Exhibition” samples only the past decade.

The confident execution of the first works we encounter makes it seem that Hockney never struggles. But he has included here something that deliberately contradicts that impression. The second large room at the de Young opens with a wryly labored watercolor on seven connected pages titled “The Massacre and the Problems of Depiction” (2003). The top six sheets, framed together, include a remake of Picasso’s frankly terrible 1951 Korean War protest picture and backfired homage to Goya, “Massacre in Korea.”

Abutting the watercolor at the bottom, almost like a label, is a separately framed watercolor image of a man shrouded by the tent of an antique camera pointed at “The Massacre.” Hockney has somehow made the faceless photographer figure suggest a self-portrait.

The first-referenced “problem of depiction,” of how to picture something, was Picasso’s: He could not make style and sentiment connect in his politically motivated “Massacre” – he didn’t even come close.

The second was Hockney’s. He has not made his satirical picture justify the effort, no matter how facile, spent on it.

The third and fourth problems: how to reprise another master’s work – as Picasso failed to do in this case. Hockney has made no secret of his competitive feelings toward Picasso. Having tried to undo pictorial art’s obsession with illusions of deep space based on perspective geometry, Hockney naturally hopes to supersede Picasso, who did it first through collage and cubism.

Camera as symbol
Finally, the camera symbolizes yet more “problems of depiction,” having resolved automatically certain difficulties of transcribing appearances and thus, in Hockney’s view, locking us into a limited understanding of how seeing is experienced, as if we saw everything with a single eye, like a camera lens, rather than two.

He has tried by various means to unsettle that understanding – most dramatically through four nine-screen videos, “Woldgate Wood” (2011), which enfold visitors at the center of “A Bigger Exhibition.”

But Hockney’s main tactic in trying to break the complacency of vision and our thinking about it has been shifts in emphasis. These appear throughout the de Young survey.”

Another Art Review:
“Returning Home, but Always Going Forward”.
Recent David Hockney Work at the de Young in San Francisco

Drew Kelly for The New York Times

David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition “A Closer Winter Tunnel, February-March” (2006) is one of the large landscapes in this show.

Published: December 23, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — At 76, David Hockney is in one of his primes, and apparently he knows it. Not for nothing is his exuberant, immersive survey at the de Young Museum here cheekily titled “David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition.”

Drew Kelly for The New York Times
The show includes videos presenting four versions of a nine-screen view of Woldgate Woods in Yorkshire, one version for each season.
This sprawling romp through more than 300 works in several mediums and technologies fills 10 often large galleries and yet primarily covers work from the last decade of Mr. Hockney’s 60-year career. It is dominated by radiant landscapes — some the size of murals — of the fields and woods in different seasons of East Yorkshire in Britain, near where Mr. Hockney was born and grew up.

Canvases like “The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)” argue convincingly that early modernist styles from Post Impressionism to Fauvism and beyond are grounds for further development. Synthesizing aspects of Munch, Klimt, Derain, Cézanne, van Gogh and late Bonnard, these works are alluringly modern for their startling colors — roads of light magenta, tree trunks of purple or orange, along with quantities of different greens and yellows — their notably nonprecious, dashed-off tactility of surface, their welcoming spaciousness and bold internal scale, and their often Abstract Expressionist size.

With an emphasis on bucolic farmland that seems very British, they nonetheless convey the grandeur of nature, still the mother of us all, and of all art. And they also confirm Mr. Hockney’s theory that representational painting can tell you more about reality and perception than either photography or the human eye, which is one reason it can still thrill.

The exhibition was selected and designed by Gregory Evans, Mr. Hockney’s curator and manager of business and exhibitions, working with Richard Benefield, deputy director of the de Young, and is divided into sections with titles like “En Plein Air,” “From Pixels to Print,” “Looking Up” and “Back to Basics.” The landscape paintings are joined by watercolors, a suite of exceptional charcoal landscapes and portraits, and self-portraits in several mediums.

There are deft iPhone and iPad drawings: Scores of them flutter past on thin screens, pausing occasionally to show the process of one being made. (This gives you the odd sensation of being inside the drawing looking out and clarifies how labor-intensive the best are.) Others, printed on immense sheets of paper, resemble large pastels whose textures have been dusted off, which is more interesting than it sounds.

There are also about 20 examples of the sketchbooks that Mr. Hockney continues to carry nearly everywhere he goes — their every page visible on adjacent thin screens — as well as various forays into video. All told, this array forms an in-depth portrait of the artist as a tradition-fluent progressive working nonstop at the height of his powers, deftly juggling digital and analog modes of representation and energetically pursuing newness on several fronts.

Mr. Hockney has always been a prolific artist ever more curious about how two-dimensional works convey the complexities of actual experience. He has been an art star since he emerged in the early 1960s with a personalized Pop painting style in which figures of an Egyptian stiffness were seen against flat backgrounds (a style evoked in his recent videos of jugglers and acrobats). Since then his career might be described in terms of his growing awareness of illusionistic space in his own work and throughout the history of painting, encouraged by his experience with cameras both still and moving and his opera-set designs.

After Mr. Hockney settled in Los Angeles in 1964, his art became increasingly involved with real light and space. His interests in these matters expanded further in the early 1980s, when he began taking numerous Polaroids and arranging them in large collages to create elaborately fractured views of a given subject. These ignited an interest in Cubism that led him to conclude that style’s multiple views were perhaps closer to actual perception than the single vanishing point of Western painting.

He was also drawn to the spatial tactics of Chinese painting, as evidenced by “Day on the Grand Canal With the Emperor of China (or Surface Is Illusion But So is Depth),” an enthralling 1988 film in which he discusses the seamless yet shifting viewpoints of a 17th-century Chinese scroll as the camera scans its 70-foot length.”

I have stopped buying art books for a while as my bookcases and cabinets are all full and many books are scattered everywhere in my house.  But I could not leave the museum without buying the beautiful hardcover (with dust jacket) DAVID HOCKNEY, A BIGGER EXHIBITION, 228 pages, published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. It includes many paintings and drawings (from iPad), and also four essays from curators, art manager, and art writer, and an essay by David Hockney himself:  “To see the bigger picture is to see more”.  His essay is quite interesting.  He said he is not a historian, or an art historian but would like to offer a different way of viewing history.  He is particularly interested in depicting images, the use of photography and technology, the use of iPhone, iPad, and Photoshop.  He cited a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art named “Faking”.  This reminds me of Pablo Picasso’s famous quote:

” Art is a lie that makes us realize truth”!

To answer Kenneth Baker’s question: “Do you see the world differently – even for a moment – after visiting it?”  I did.

I think David Hockney is not only successful as an artist.  He is also  a living proof that older adults can learn about technology and also utilize technology to continue to be creative.  As my work includes a piece which provides training to older adults in broadband technology, I am thrilled to see Mr. Hockney’s achievement in the use of technology in creating art. I look forward to seeing more creative productions by Mr. Hockney in future, particularly the use of media technology.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Window – “Along the Fifth Avenue, NYC”

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This post is in responses to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Window

This is my favorite subject!  I do have many choices in my collection of “windows”.  Remember I had some discussions with some of you about the windows of Belvedere Palace in Vienna?  Then everywhere I go, I always take pictures of windows which may be interesting to me.
This time, I want to do something different.  I took a set of pictures in New York City while I was walking along the 5th Avenue.  “They” were so beautiful that I told myself, I have to post them some day.   Here they are,,,,who are “they”…some beautiful designs, fashion designs, very beautiful fashions which I cannot afford to buy.  Window shopping, girls…take a look!  Enjoy!

Highlights of my recent trip to Eastern Europe

Dear  family and friends:

Happy New Year! To wish you all a happy new year, I created this video with highlights of some of my photos taken in Eastern Europe. I did not have much time to write about this trip on my blogs, but hope that you would like the video and the music of Chopin, the Polish composer, one of my favorite artists. I actually took a lot of videos but I just changed my PC (a new Surface), and was too lazy to transfer all my files here.

I hope you like this New Year gift!




I just published my second book: Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Dear friends:

Please join me to appreciate the architectural wonder of Angkor Wat, and the beautiful art and culture of the Cambodian people.




I just published my first cookbook! a real book!

Dear fellow bloggers and friends,
As many of you know, I am a very curious person,  and cannot stop learning.  I just found out a book making site :, when I was reading another blogger friend ‘s post and her publications.  I cannot wait but to embark on a new project immediately.    As a result of “hard work” these two days during the holiday, I made it!  Here’s my book at the Blurb bookstore.  Although I am placing it for sale on, I do not even know how it works!  Most of all,  money is not what I am pursuing.   I am working on an ebook version but due to some errors it has not been generated yet.  I will be sharing the ebook with all of you free!
All these recipes are actually posted in my foodblog:
This is one of the reasons why I am lagging behind in posting these days.  It is very time-consuming although the posts are converted by, because I need to work on the formatting, the style etc. I know there are errors, as I am not too patient.  I just want to find out the process.
I have to buy the book myself to see how it is.  When it comes, I will share with you.
I actually started to work on publishing my Cambodia trip which is already in a pdf format.  But some errors occurred , and I will not wait.  Need to go now.
Happy Sunday!

Click to preview Easy Chinese Home Cooking Recipes photo book

Easy Chinese Home Cooking Recipes

Food for Thought

By Denise Friendlytm


Eastern Europe 2013 #2 – St. Mary’s Altar, Krakow, Poland

If you ask me what impressed me most during this trip, without hesitation, I would say ” St. Mary’s Altar.”   It is called Altarpiece of Veit Stoss, at St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, Poland.  The altarpiece was carved between 1477 and 1489 by the Bavarian sculptor Veit Stoss.   If you google this title, all you can see are pictures of this beautiful wooden altar, which is the largest gothic altarpiece in the world.  What I saw was more!

It was the opening of the panel of the altar piece, which is scheduled to open once a day at noon by a nun.  Our Tour Director was able to bring us right in front of the altar.  We had seats as well as an excellent view.  We were allowed to film if we paid a small amount.  Every institution needs revenue, and we were very happy to pay. Let me share with you a video that I created and posted on You-tube.   The quality of the video is not that good as the church was very crowded and I tried not to include too many people in the video.

Now  you have seen how lucky we were!  The moment when the panel was opened, there was a feeling of heaven!  I am not a religious person but I did have that feeling.

I read a little about this beautiful national treasure of Poland.  If you are interested, here are the links to some interesting and educational information:

As I wasn’t too prepared, and my iPhone did not zoom very well, I did not take picture of each panel.  According to the above wiki website, there are six side panels, three  on each side of the main altarpiece in the center, which depicts  the death of Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother.  The six panels depict:  Annunciation, Nativity, Three Wise men, Resurrection of Christ, Ascension of Christ, and Descent of the Holy Spirit. When closed, the panels show 12 scenes of the life of Jesus and Mary.

If you are interested in the St. Mary’s Basilica, here’s the link to some helpful facts.’s_Basilica,_Krak%C3%B3w

“St. Mary’s Basilica also served as an architectural model for many of the churches that were built by the Polish diaspora abroad, particularly those like St. Michael’s and St. John Cantius in Chicago, designed in the so-called Polish Cathedral style.”

I am not familiar with this, but will look for Polish Cathedral style in Chicago if I go there next time.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite – Budapest by Night, My Eastern Europe Trip 2013 #1

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite.

This is also #1 post of my Eastern Europe Trip of 2013.  This trip was my second Eastern Europe Trip.  My first one in 2009 was a more adventurous one with my best friend.  We traveled by train and walked a lot.  This time I traveled with my family and joined a tour group.  Both trips were wonderful and I had different memorable experience.

The first photo I would like to share with you is the beautiful Budapest by night photo.  The photo was taken with my iPhone, and the result was unexpectedly good in terms of the capturing of the lighting against a backdrop of darkness.  It was taken during a one-hour cruise along the romantic Danube River.  I hope you would love this photo as much as I do.  Don’t you have an “infinite” feeling when you see this picture?  I do.



Picasso’s Three Paintings of Women in MOMA

falling in love....with arts

imageThis was my fourth visit to MOMA, on October 7, 2013.  I went with my family to Eastern Europe for two weeks and then ended in New York City where we stayed for a few days.  We shopped, ate (a lot) and visited the museums.  We only managed to visit two museums this time:  MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Both are my favorite museums.

There were two new “discoveries” (to me) when we visited MOMA this time. When we arrived, the line to buy tickets was so long that we nearly wanted to quit. luckily, my sister from Canada is a volunteer in a museum.  I went forward to ask the lady at the entrance.  She said, ” Go ahead to the Information Desk”. There we went.  She showed her identity card, and in a second she got two free tickets!  Not only were we admitted free…

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Shilin or “Stone Fores”: My Yunnan Trip #20

The final destination of our Yunnan Trip is Shilin, or Stone Forest.  It is one of the “must see” sites,  if you go to Yunnan.  See the video and the pictures I took, and you will agree with me.

Here’s a short description of Shilin, from the Wikipedia:

The Stone Forest or Shilin (Chinese: 石林; pinyin: Shílín) is a notable set of limestone formations located in Shilin Yi Autonomous County, Yunnan Province, People’s Republic of China, near Shilin approximately 120 km (75 mi) from the provincial capital Kunming. The tall rocks seem to emanate from the ground in the manner of stalagmites, with many looking like petrified trees thereby creating the illusion of a forest made of stone. Since 2007, two parts of the site, the Naigu Stone Forest (乃古石林) and Suogeyi Village (所各邑村), have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


A different interpretation of sound, noise and music in the making of videos

The first video includes two short clips of the Mendelsohn Falls.   Do you like the way that I piled these two video clips together using an app called “video frame”?  I found that app on my iPad and tried to see how it performed.  These two videos that I took during my Alaska trip were my first videos.  Each was very short.  In one of the videos, my brother and I were talking.  I love the mix of the waterfall sound and the noises around us.  Isn’t this a change from our regular way of presenting a video?

The second video includes four video clips taken during my Yunnan trip.   The app “video frame” has different collage types of “frames” which we can utilize to frame our videos. I hope you all like the framed videos.  I am just using these videos  and the video frames to hear from you how you would interpret this kind of “framed video”, particularly in the way how different movements, sound, noises and music are all in a mix.

Let me know what you think!

Taj Mahal and mixed pix (1375)

The Ganges River – a Place of Life and Death

Thanks to my friend Rebecca’s recent post on  The River Goddess, I remember I did some exploration on the Ganges River a year ago.  I was helping my sister in organizing her pictures in Shutterfly, and could not resist from going into an exploratory mood…to find out the importance of the Ganges River to the Indians. I found a few articles which are very helpful to me.

Why is the River Ganga so important to the Indians?

The Ganga is considered o be a goddess and one of the consorts of Lord Siva.  In the epic Mahabharata, Ganga was the mother of great hero Bhishma Pitama.  After the Saraswati river dried up, the cradle of the Indian civilization shifted to the Gangetic plain. A river with the length of 1557 miles affects the lives of millions of people.Since people who lived o nits banks, especially agriculturists were so dependent on it, they worshipped it and sought its blessings.  According to mythology, she was brought down from heaven by the King Bhagiratha in order to purify the ashes of his ancestors.

Source: Q and A Indian Civilization, by Sanjeev Nayyar

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 As soon as the day begins, devout Hindus begin to give their offerings of flowers or food, throwing handfuls of grain or garlands of marigolds of pink lotuses into the Ganges.  Others will float small oil lamps on its surface.

 Every morning thousands of Hindus, whether pilgrims or residents, make their way into the holy water of the Ganges.  All of them face the rising sun with folded hands murmuring prayers.

 The Ganges is a place of death and life.  Hindus from all over India, will bring their dead, whether body or just ashes. Cremation along the Ganges is desirable.  If that is not possible, the relatives may later bring the ashes of the dead to the Ganges.

 For the living, bathing in the Ganges is just as important.  Hindus will travel miles and miles to have their sins washed away in these holy waters. 

I also found the following post very helpful.

 “The Ganges” by Julie Dunn

 From the pictures and description here, you will catch a glimpse of the importance of the Ganges to the Hindus. 


Sharing with you my recent Learning Experience in Publishing an e-book


A blogger friend Michael Lai in response to my last post My third e-book: An Unforgettable Trip: Angkor Wat, Cambodia on this Blog, asked if I could share my learning experience in writing an e-book.  I am thrilled with this request, as Michael’s traveled everywhere around the world and his blog is always filled with high quality professional photos shared with 3,600 plus readers.  And he is going to publish an e-book!  I couldn’t wait to share my learning experience, looking forward to reading his e- book in the near future.

First of all, I must thank another blogger friend Janet Williams whose post  When Janet met Tilly: an ebook , has stimulated my interesting in publishing my own e-book.  If you are interested, please read Janet’s post How many ways can you view Tilly? This post informed us that Janet found out that through Speaker Deck Slide show from WordPress, she could share with the world her e-book.

I was hooked by this creative idea.  So I started to follow her footsteps:

1. First step,  I need to decide what I wanted to publish first.  I decided to publish my earlier post named Istanbul Attractions  on my Blog Exploring Turkey and Greece, as it is short but the photos (of my friend Link) are very beautiful.

2. I copied all the photos and text of that post to a Word document and filed it on my computer. Create a book cover from Office.

3. Use a free pdf converter app to convert my Word document into a pdf file.

4. Create an account on Speaker Deck.

5. Upload my pdf file to Speaker Deck and here it is: Istanbul Attractions has become my first e-book, readable from Speaker Deck.

Problems:  i do have problems however in posting the e-book on WordPress except the link.  Anyway, it is not resolved so far, although it was successful on my fist e-book but not the other two.  Speaker Deck told me that WordPress does not support it.  I don’t think it is a big problem though, as readers can always use the link to access my e-book.

So, I continued to publish My second e-book: My South America Trip: Torres del Paine – Pantagonian Chile.  The process is the same as the first one.  As I have a you-tube video that I created on this post, I can only provide the link , and it worked.

It seemed so easy!  Wait…the real difficulties came as I embarked on my third e-book which is a complete account of my Cambodia trip:  My third e-book: An Unforgettable Trip: Angkor Wat, Cambodia.  Please read on..

As this latest “hot from the press” e-book includes 5 chapters, I put the text and photos in 5 Word documents.  When I tried to merge the five of them into one pdf document, it is not free.  I don’t want to pay since I am only experimenting.  So, I went ahead and see if I can merge the 5 word documents into one.  I never did that.  So, I found the Office instructions on-line, followed step by step, and I made it.  If you are already familiar with this type of task, you won’t have to learn like me.

I congratulated myself, and then found that I missed the Table of Contents, which I had never done before.  I wanted to create it automatically from Office.  I did, but the tool is not too smart.  It did not come out right.  So I gave up and just created my own.

Then I created a book cover from one of the designs in Office.  This is not too creative but it is easy.

Problems:  When the 5 documents merged into one, there are some ups and downs, omissions, etc.  Suddenly there were a number of blank pages.  I thought it is easy to delete…not at all.  I eventually had to go into Office to find the answer.  You may google anything and find very good answers.  So I did, and put everything together.

The last task is to convert into pdf.  Then I followed the other steps and converted the pdf into a slide show in Speaker Deck.

My problem is only with Office as I never dealt with  big documents like my third e-book.  If you are already familiar, it is only a piece of cake.

Next, I tried to open the e-books via different apps on my iPad.  My greatest discovery is to use Kindle to read my e-books.  They all came out even more beautiful than the original!  The best thing is that there is an icon on the top left corner like a list in bullet points.  When you click it, the Table of Contents (TOC) came out exactly how I wanted it to be!  In other words, Kindle is smart, but Office is not.  It would only be viewable and not be used to become a real written TOC on my e-book. And it has hyperlinks to jump to the page that I point to.

I also found that with most apps, you can only read the e-book by scrolling down. But with Kindle, you can scroll side by side like a real book.  .

One advantage of using our blog posts to be the base in writing our e-books is the use of hyperlinks.  They are automatically included.  However, not all the hyperlinks work.  Speaker Deck does not (in my case), pdf reader and Adobe reader, and Kindle , yes.   With Kindle, the TOC are all linked to the pages via hyperlinks.

That’s my recent learning experience so far. If I have learned of anything else, I would let you all know.

I look forward to reading yours soon!



My third e-book: An Unforgettable Trip: Angkor Wat, Cambodia


I am happy to present to you a complete e-book this time, instead of one chapter only as in my two previous post.  The pictures and contents of this e-book have been published on this blog . You may say, that is easy then.  Unfortunately this is not the case.   As this includes 5 chapters, I have to merge 5 files, adjust lots of things in the text.  I am glad that it is finally completed.  Hope you will enjoy with me the trip to Cambodia.

Please click this link to see it on speaker deck. It did not open up like the Istanbul  post.  Nobody fixed it because I found out from speaker deck that WordPress does not support this.  I learned a lot through this exercise. e.g. why some of the hyperlinks work on other apps but not here.  The links work when I view them from Kindle which is the best way to open up like a book.

Finally, I cannot forget mentioning that this e-book idea came from a blogger friend Janet Williams.  Check out her blog please.

The e-book includes about 70 pages.  If nobody reads, I will still be happy, because I m keeping them as my travel book.  Why not?



My second e-book: My South America Trip: Torres del Paine – Pantagonian Chile


Thanks to my blogger friend Janet Williams‘ creation and posting of an e-book format, and her suggestions, and thanks to another blogger friend Clanmother‘s encouragement,  I have my second e-book ready for your view.  It is actually only a chapter.  I am not sure if I have time to work on the rest.  I hope you will all read this one.  Torres del Paine – the most beautiful place I ever visited. It is one of my most memorable trips!

MIf you have the Kindle app, try to open this in Kindle.  It will give you a better impression that it is a book.  Check it out and let me know.

Happy Birthday (July 4), United States of America!



Istanbul Attractions – Chapter 1 of my new e-book (coming soon) Exploring Turkey and Greece

CIMG4440After reading a fellow blogger Janet Williams’ post and her subsequent explanation to me how she published her e-book When Janet Met Tilly, I would like to give it a try.

I have been successful up to this stage:  converted a word document to a PDF format, and uploaded to Speaker Deck.  Here it is:

Istanbul Attractions

Please click the above link and you will see the “e-book” by clicking page by page.  It is actually quite nice.

But I am not successful in seeing the contents as a slide show on this WordPress post.  According to the support forum in WordPress, the url is supposed to turn into a slide show when it is published.  I tried many times in different ways, but failed.  If anyone can help, please do. I also posted a question to Janet and hope she would see it today.

Also, most e-books are not scrolling down but reading side by side.  Is there another easy way to do that?  You know I always try to find a short-cut!

Thanks to my fellow readers who read this post.  I may post it on the forum of WordPress later.  I’d like to try this post first.

Hey, it suddenly came out right…I did not even know why.  Please click at each page, the next slide will appear. if you click the arrow on the top right corner, the e-book will appear in full screen.  Isn’t it neat?


Weekly Photo Challenge – the world through your eyes – My Yunnan Trip #19 – Lijiang Old Town

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: the World through your eyes.

I wanted to visit Yunnan for a very long time. In April this year, my wish came true.  I was hoping to visit a place with lots of  ethnic arts and traditions, with women wearing ethnic clothes everywhere.  Did I see them?  Yes, but they were either dressed up in their own ethnic costumes for the tourists, or simply dressed like any women living in Shanghai or Hangzhou.  The tourist guides were all wearing minority costumes, to please the tourists. Tourism is very important as revenue to Yunnan.

In Lijiang old town, do you know what is the most significant feature?  Nice western cafe with modern decor! Did I like them?  Of course, because I am a cafe person!   I want to stay longer in the old town, but unfortunately our schedule was too tight.

In my previous posts on my Yunnan trip #16, I did describe the Naxi Minority in Yunnan.  But I did not highlight the changes.  There are evidences of modernization everywhere, including Yunnan, which is not advanced as Shanghai or Hangzhou in terms of infrastructure etc.  On this post, I would like to show you how we can see the changing world through the ways that women dressed in Yunnan.  Like many parts of China, Yunnan is undergoing changes and is very much modernized than most of us think.

It is interesting that I saw a documentary about Naxi women being interviewed by the Western media.  The women said they would retain all their traditional traditions in order to continue feeding the curiosity of tourists, as tourism supports Yunnan’s economy.  I was one of those tourists.  Was I disappointed?  Not exactly.  This is how we learn about cultural and social changes.  We should accept what we see and experience with an open mind.

I did not take a lot of pictures with women wearing modern western outfits, because I respected their privacy.  In fact one of the tourist guides was wearing beautiful ethnic outfits, but she was wearing the most fashionable boots in Western style.  We overseas Chinese tourists were in fact very behind!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting – My Yunnan Trip # 18 –Tiger Leaping Gorge

This is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting.

The above two pictures were taken inside the bus on our way from Lijiang to the Tiger Leaping Gorge,  The views were gorgeous.  Seeing and hearing the thunderous rushing waters slam into sharp, large rocks, I could feel the power of nature.  While some travelers felt very excited, I did have a “fleeting moment”.

I have put together a video with a piece of Chinese music from the You Tube selection:  Drifting along the Pearl River.   Enjoy!

Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River, a primary tributary of the upper Yangtze River. It is located 60 kilometres north of Lijiang City, Yunnan in southwestern China. Wikipedia
Address: Shangri-La, Deqen, Yunnan, China

It is believed that the Tiger Leaping Gorge is the deepest in the world.  It is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Lijiang Old Town lying between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Xueshan) and Haba Snow Mountain (Haba Xueshan) is Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Gorge).  From the top of the gorge you look down the steeply angled (70-90 degrees) mountain sides to the rushing Golden Sands (Jingsha) River with its 18 frothing rapids more than 200 meters (about 700 feet) below.

An ancient legend says that a tiger used this rock as its stepping stone so it could leap across from one side of the gorge to the other, which is how the place got its name.


If you like to see the pictures , here’s a slide show and a gallery.  Enjoy!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says – My Yunnan Trip # 17 – The Ancient Writing or Drawing on the Walls of the Lijiang Old Town

This is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: the Sign Says

In my Yunnan Trip series, I mentioned about the city Lijiang, which is the most impressive one.   I do have fsome interesting things to share with you in my future posts.  What I am posting today are a few ancient writing symbols written on the walls in the  Old Town.  Please see the photos below.  What do these signs say?  The characters displayed are the Dongba characters of the Naxi language.  What do they mean?

The people living in Lijiang are mostly the Naxi minority.  In my last post My Yunnan Trip #16 – the Naxi Minority in Yunnan, I have described a little about the Naxi population and the Naxi women. Here are some more details about this city and the people’s way of living.

While I can only tell some of these writings or drawings, which I would describe later, I am interested to know how these ancient writings/drawings and characters related to the way of living of the people here.  I found this website most helpful.  It is brief but very informative.

 Population and Distribution:

They mostly live in the Naxi Autonomous County in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, while the rest live in Sichuan and Tibet. Their population is 308,893 according to the 2000 census. In the name Naxi (also spelled Nakhi), Na means senior and honored and Xi means people.

 Language and Character:

Their language belongs to the Tibetan-Burman group of the Sino-Tibetan phylum. In the past, they used a pictographic language called ‘Dongba’ and another called ‘Geba’. In 1957, they designed characters based on the Latin alphabet and now most can write in Chinese. The Dongba Scripture (or Dongba Jing) that their ancestors left has recorded all facets of the Naxi life and is highly valued for posterity as a means of studying their character and history.

Before the foundation of modern China in 1949, most of the people held the faiths of Dongba Jiao, believing that all have spirits and those spirits could never die. When they encountered significant events such as marriage, death, festivals, or disasters, they would invite a wizard to chant. Although there was Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity being taught there, few Naxi people turned to those religions.

 Life Styles:
They live on farming, stockbreeding and handicrafts. Reaches of the Jinshajiang River is abundant in botanical resources such as trees and medicinal herbs. The Lijiang horse has also enjoyed the reputation for years of one of the ‘Three treasures of Lijiang’ which were presented to the official courts because of its ability to transport goods in mountainous area.

Their breakfast is simple and usually consists of steamed bread, but lunch and supper are often more sumptuous. They like to pickle pork. The pickled Pipa pork is famous for lasting several years.

I haven’t tried the pickle pork.  But if you read my Yunnan Trip #7  post on my foodblog, you would have seen the photos of the  breakfast cooked by the attendant of the little bungalow where we lived.

Based on the lunar calendar, the main Naxi festivals are Spring Festival, Pure Brightness, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and Torch Festival. Generally, these festivals are celebrated with worship and sacrificial activities.

 Other Customs:
They are warm and kind. After a hunt, they will share a piece of the kill with a casual passerby. When visited, they will prepare six or eight delicious dishes to treat their guests. Most of the young Naxi people insist that they have one spouse and usually they have a very complicated process to protect their monogamous marriage. But for those living beside Luguhu Lake in Lijiang, they still keep the ‘walking’ marriage which is the only remaining vestige of a matrilineal clan among all the ethnic groups of China.

Now you have some idea how this minority group live, and you may be able to imagine what these writings on the wall say. Well, let me try to translate a few of them which I do understand.  In this picture below, from left to right , top to bottom, it said:   customer, flag, bridge, drink, cut, frightened, superman, love, stretch your legs, quarrel, dance, dating, playing a flute,  kill,  walk/run, girl, tongue, nose, ears, eyes.


I read the other side of this wall writing/drawing as well, and realized that it might be about a story.  It probably talked about a drama of killing people in relation to love, jealousy, happened in a place where people drank, ate and dance.   Since there was a symbol of a superman, perhaps the superman saved the girl from being killed in the battle or fight!  Well, use your imagination please!

Although it might only be fiction, the story of  girls being seen dating in a public place of drinking, eating and dancing, might tell us about the Naxi women living in a more liberal society even in those ancient days.

That’s all for this post.  Please stay tuned for other interesting posts on the Lijiang Old Town, one of the World Heritage Sites in China.


The Naxi Minority in Yunnan – My Yunnan Trip # 16


As I mentioned in my post “My Yunnan Trip #1”, there are many minorities in Yunnan. I am particularly interested in the Naxi or Nakhi minority, because of their matriarch family structure, which is very different from the Han’s family structure in China.

The Naxi people mostly live in the Naxi Autonomous County in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, while the rest live in Sichuan and Tibet. Their population is 308,893 according to the 2000 census. In the name Naxi (also spelled Nakhi), Na means senior and honored and Xi means people.

The Nakhi form one of the 56 recognized ethnic groups officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China. The official Chinese government classification includes the Mosuo as part of the Nakhi people, although neither ethnicity support this categorization. Although both groups are descendents of the Qiang people, together with Tibetans, Pumi and Yi, and notwithstanding very striking resemblances between their respective languages, the two groups are now understood to be culturally distinct, the Nakhi more influenced by the very patriarchal Han Chinese culture, the Mosuo more influenced by Tibetan culture and their own matriarchal family practice.

However, from the Naxi women that we met, I noticed that many of them are strong women with leadership skills.  They did tell us that the men in Lijiang, have nothing to do, and most of the work inside or outside the household are all done by women.  The literature I reviewed like the wiki I quoted above, said that the Naxi women are more like the Han tradition now.  Yet, at a PBS documentary which I came across after I came back, the Naxi women interviewed said that they still hold the tradition of “walking marriage”, i.e. they do not get married, but have boyfriends who come to their home and stay overnight.  The women can have as many different boyfriends as they like.  They do give birth to children who stay in the mother’s home.  I do believe  this tradition is changing though, as compared to the Mosuo minority which is mainly a matriarch family structure.  However, the tradition of “walking marriage” is indeed very interesting.  I think it does signify the important status of women in the Naxi people.  The lady who tried to sell a special dietary supplement to us, told a male trip member that if he styed in Yunnan, he would be very comfortable!

The Naxi women also have very special dress. See these pictures.

The Nakhi women wear wide-sleeved loose gowns accompanied by jackets and long trousers, tied with richly decorated belts at the waist.Sheepskin is worn over the shoulder. Especially in Ninglang County, the women wear short jackets and long skirts reaching the ground with several folds. Large black cotton turbans are worn around their heads, which are accompanied with big silver earrings. The men’s costume is much like that of Han Chinese. In modern times, traditional dress is rarely worn among the younger generation. It is now usually only worn at cultural events and on special occasions.

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Happy Anniversary to my “Initiation” into the Blogging World – my 100th post on “My Notebook”, and my 259th post on my 6 Blogs

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Happy Anniversary!

Today, there are reasons to celebrate.  It is the first anniversary of my first blog which is

from “curiosita to…”

As I was new to blogging, I went around to experiment on different themes.  Writing is not really my best attribute, but I love to learn new things, and love challenges.  As traveling and arts are my cup of tea, I want to devote different blogs to a different theme.  So far, I have actually developed many blogs on different platforms.  WordPress is my regular platform.  To date, I have these 6 “active” blogs, while the others are either private or not searchable for either work or private purpose.  As I am a private person, but not totally conservative like many people, I do not use blogging to socialize or widen my social network.  I think I just like to express and share what I like, share my travel photos and what I have learned from those countries that I traveled to.   I have learned a lot  from all of you, my fellow bloggers.  Many of you are really my resources with so much to learn and share.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Just before I started to write this post, I received a nomination for an award from a blogger friend.  I found out recently that we belong to the same alumni.  It is Black and White Bear, a couple that posted very beautiful pictures.  They have nominated me a “Very Inspiring Blogger Award”, which happened to be my third one.  I am very grateful to all of you for your support.  I will handle this award on my next post.  But this is really timely to give me another reason to celebrate.


If people asked me why do you have time to do all these things, it is a very difficult answer.  I don’t have time.  I just made time for it.  Actually I spent more time recently on making videos, my new hobby!  I just created my new channel on YouTube.   I have to say that YouTube has a wider audience but is more public.  There are more people interested in looking up videos on YouTube than looking up blogs.  However, it is not the reason why I like to make videos.  It is primarily for arts reason.  If you are interested in my YouTube channel, here’s the link.

My New YouTube Channel


  • About

This is a Travel and Arts Channel. If you are interested in travels, and appreciation of arts and different cultures, this is your channel. As I also write and read blogs, my videos are usually shared via my blogs as well. I hope to see you there!

Why do I like to blog?  What is the purpose?  I am not blogging to get any financial gain or publish anything in future.  My goal is just to learn and continue to challenge myself.  Very few of my friends and family like to read what I posted.  Only one family subscribed and one really loves my videos.  My friends are mostly not interested in this type of hobby.  They love to eat and travel and do give me good feedback.  I did use some of the skills I’ve learned via blogging and video-making, to help my colleagues at work.  Recently I applied for two national awards, and got both.  One is related to technology.  I am a non-technical person supervising a technology program, not too unusual!

Annual Blog Stats

When I started to write this post, I thought it would be good to check out where I am in terms of my blogs.  Here’s the data.   What I am most interested is the number of countries where my readers reside.  Isn’t that amazing?

May 26, 2013   Blog  Statistics
Name of the Blog Posts Readers Views Countries
My Notebook 99 139                       7,013 89
Can’t help falling in love…with Arts 30 38                       1,636 53
food for thought 61 47                       5,235 82
“from curiosita…” 52 53                       2,044 46
Exploring Turkey and Greece 14 10                          652 32
Healthy and Happy 2 3                          391 27
Total 258 290                    16,971 329
Total 258 posts across 6 blogs
Total 329 countries
Total 16,971 viewers
Total 290 readers
Average 65 viewers per post

I know that comparing to many of your blogs, these numbers are really very small.  To me, they mean a lot to me.  I found it very interesting about one thing:  My Healthy and Happy blog only has two posts, as I did not have time when I have to prioritize.  but it has altogether 391 viewers across 27 countries!  I think a lot of people search for topics on health, and therefore they found my blog.  I have to apologize to my three readers of that blog.  I am very lagging behind.  I will see what I can do more in future.

Thank you!  I love you all!

Finally, I have to thank all of you for your continuous support!  You are my inspiration.  You are the reason that keeps me moving forward.  You are my friends, my co-learner, my teacher, my resources…

I will reblog this post to my other blogs as it is a celebration of all my blogs.

Coming Soon

Tomorrow, I will go to see the painting that I have longed to see for a long time….

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Please stay tuned for my next post on Can’t help falling in love…with Arts.

Message from

Hay, just when I am about to publish this post, here’s the Happy Anniversary message from

Happy Anniversary!

You registered on 1 years ago!

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!


Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background – Daguan Park, Kunming – My Yunnan Trip # 14


         Daguan Park, Kunming, Yunnan, China

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: in the background

The  picture was taken in Daguan Park in Kunming, Yunnan in April, 2013.    This is a wishing tank. If you throw coins into the tank and hit the hole  of one of the containers,  you will be lucky.  If you hit two, you will be luckier.  If you hit all three, you will be the king/queen!  I threw in a bunch of coins.  You know what?  No luck!  Did you see me from the reflection in the water?  Try harder…I am in the background!

If you want to know more about Daguan Park, please see the next post:  My Yunnan Trip # 15,


The Longest Couplets in the World – Daguan Park, Kunming, My Yunnan Trip #15 Park

“Daguan Park, located in the southwestern suburb of Kunming City, is a lakeside park. Today many locals come to sit, drink tea, fly kites, and go boating. Among shady walks and pools, Daguan’s focal point is Daguan Ge, a square, three-storeyed pavilion built to better Kangxi‘s enjoyment of the distant Western Hills and now a storehouse of calligraphy extolling the area’s charms. The most famous poem here is a 118-character verse, carved into the gateposts by the Qing scholar Sun Ran, reputed to be the longest set of rhyming couplets in China. The park is set on Daguan Stream, which flows south into Lake Dian, and there are frequent hour-long cruises down the waterway, lined with willows, to points along Lake Dian’s northern shore. Lake Dian, also known as the Kunming Lake, is the largest lake on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.  At Longmen of the Western Hills, there is a panoramic view of the lake.”

As it is hard to take a picture of the long couplets, I bought a souvenir fan instead which is nicely designed with the couplets on both side and the drawing of the Daguan Ge in the middle. You can see the souvenir fan from the slide show and gallery below.  Please click any picture to open up the gallery and see the pictures in large size.

As it is hard to take a picture of the long couplets, I bought a souvenir fan instead which is nicely designed with the couplets on both side and the drawing of the Daguan Ge in the middle. You can see the souvenir fan from the slide show and gallery below.  Please click any picture to open up the gallery and see the pictures in large size.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern (2) – Colorful Transportation in Yunnan – My Yunnan Trip # 13

This is my second post  in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Pattern

What are these colorful patterns?  They are patterns on the colorful fabrics which mount the “chairs” for travelers who cannot do the hiking themselves in places like Shangrila’s Tiger Leaping Gorge.  These chairs would be carried by two strong men who would carry the traveler sitting on the chair like this one.


The other type with multiple seats and wheels are not for going up the hill.  I took these pictures in Lijiang where these “cars” were parked.  I did not particularly see any of these moving in the street.


After seeing theses colorful patterns, would you be interested in taking a ride?