Scenic Spots in Quanzhou, Fujian, China Part 2

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Our relatives gave us a half-day tour around Quanzhou. It was a very quick tour but indeed worthwhile. I wished we could’ve stayed longer but they had to consider the time so in then end we had glimpses of scenic spots in grandfather’s hometown.

We explored Kai Yuan Temple (开元寺) which is a famous Buddhist temple complex. This stone pagoda called Six Wins Tower (六胜塔) is one of the highest in China. Standing for more than a thousand years, this stone pagoda with carved murals on each layer, has become a symbol of Quanzhou City.

IMG_7061Lovely gardens and walkways can be seen as one explores the ground of the complex. There are numerous temples that one can visit. Groups of kids were there for an educational tour. IMG_7063   IMG_7122 The details of the structures, from the walls to the posts to the roofs say much about how intricate the architectures were.  IMG_7083 IMG_7087 IMG_7119Another major attraction at Quanzhou is the Qingyuan Mountain where the biggest statue of Lao Tze (a Chinese philosopher) is located. Legend has it that if one is able to touch his nose, that person will become the happiest person. According to our relatives, people used to climb the body of this huge statue.20150403_101521Luoyang bridge is one of the most famous ancient bridges in China that was built in 1053. We walked through the bridge and it feels amazing to be standing in the middle of this great architecture which withstood the test of time.

20150403_105026After the tour, we were led to our host’s house for lunch. There seems to have new additions like big brother is there, his son-in-law, their wives, sons, daughters and grandchildren. They seem to appear one by one as they lived in the neighborhood while others came home because of the Qing Ming Jie holiday that requires them to visit the graves of ancestors.

We had a sumptuous lunch at their house, they had the food catered. After lunch, they all headed out to the ancestral home to perform some rites. We waved farewell and thanks to them for welcoming us. We saw them waving back to us. I guess it would be a long time before we’ll be coming back to this place but I’m happy for the chance to visit.

My Grandfather’s hometown – Quanzhou, Fujian, China Part 1

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This is my first time to visit China, which is the land where our ancestors had came from.

I just had about an hour of sleep because I couldn’t seem to fall asleep. We left a little past 330am then headed out to pick up our companions. I wasn’t able to take a quick nap on the airplane too. We arrived at Xiamen International Airport and rode the coaster prepared by our Uncle and the travel agency. We went to Quanzhou that time which was about 45-1 hr travel time from Xiamen Airport. Quanzhou is the largest province in Fujian, China. At the expressway exit, we met four people waving at us at the waiting shed. Two of them hopped into our coaster while the other two walked to the car where they are parked. It was sizzling hot then but it didn’t seem to bother them. They treated us a welcoming lunch. My grandmother was surprised when they suddenly raised her wheelchair while she was seated on it to carry her to the second floor. Apparently, there was no elevator in the place. We had seafood for lunch which according to them was a specialty for the province of Quanzhou. They served fresh and tasty seafood. Our driver dined with us and we found out that he couldn’t eat any seafood so he ended up eating just about two dishes without seafood. After lunch, we checked-in to Wanda Hotel. The hotel is very nice and spacious. It is said to be owned and managed by one of the largest group in China, the Wanda group.

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After a short time that we settled in, everyone was relieved to find the chance to connect to the internet. My uncle was encouraging me then to use Wechat which is a messenger app akin to facebook. Good thing I followed suit because they said that Wechat is very convenient in China and that we’ll have trouble with other apps. Our cousins were puzzled that they couldn’t get in to Viber or Instagram. Using Wechat was way faster in sending pictures and messages so I took the opportunity to message our cousin back home and our cousins abroad. IMG_6985Our relatives there brought us to see their houses. They are considered to be nephews of our grandfather. The houses are located in the compound of the ancestral home; I was told that they divided up the place later on among each other. Our host prepared some tea for us while his wife prepared boiled native eggs for everyone. It is accustomed to treat your guests with these eggs which is cooked in sweet clear soup. They said that it symbolizes welcoming. You slice the egg in half with your chopsticks and eat it. Each of us were given two pieces of native egg and were told that if you haven’t reached the age of a Senior Citizen, we should finish the eggs. IMG_7015We were full after that and then we bade them goodbye. I took a photo of the group outside grandfather’s nephew’s house which has rooftop designs that of a temple. For dinner, my uncle’s friend treated us with local Fujian cuisine. The dishes are familiar because our grandmother cooks them for us. I saw now the root of our dishes at home back in the Philippines. We ate a lot but the dishes were too much for us to finish as we were stuffed with the eggs.

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Spareribs with raddish soup, kikiam, oyster cake, duck misua… these are some of the dishes that our grandmother cooks at home. One of her specialty is the oyster cake which many love to eat.

Grandmother was quite sad that our grandfather wasn’t able to see the improvements of the place. He had supported them financially over the years. According to our mom, the roads have developed over the years since their last visit. It was harder to go to the ancestral home then. It was because of our grandmother that we-the grandchildren-had the opportunity to visit our roots.

Puzzle Camp

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These past weeks has been a training camp of puzzling for us. My sister and I started with 2000-piece Van Gogh’s Starry Night and it took quite some time to finish but we finally did.

20150512_170809 20150515_17220420150527_173709My niece and I started her 3D puzzle portraying the Taipei 101 and the city which she had tried before but failed to finish. It is really challenging but we were able to complete it. We switched some pieces several times since the picture appeared weird in some parts and later on we had someone else check it. My niece’s dad said that it’s alright because no one will notice it if there’s a mistake, they’d be quite dizzy after staring at it for too long.

Taipei 101

After that, we started with another puzzle, an easy one, a cartoon to relax our eyes. It’s a 1000-piece puzzle of Stitch.

Stitch

The next day we started with another 1000-piece puzzle of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffer TowerI think it’s not an addiction but that we somehow grasped the momentum so we decided to do the next project of 1500-piece which was previously done before but put back inside the box. We continued it and had redone some parts of it. It depicts a country memory which has a house in the middle of the woods.

20150601_181653 20150602_075601After that, we opened a 2000-piece puzzle which we yet have to finish but already did a huge part of it. We only have the mountain left which could be the hardest part.

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At home, my sister and I opened a 3000-piece puzzle of the ancient world map. This could be a lot of fun.

In between, we had done some small pieces of puzzle, the gifts we had received from different people.

Guide to Jigsaw Puzzle:

  1. The first step is organizing or sorting the pieces according to similar shades or drawings. Classify which ones you want to group together according to the picture of the puzzle such as grouping together the sky and then houses on another group. Separate also the borders. This step is very important because you are able to segregate the vast amount of possibilities you have in hand and forms a kind of guide in piecing a part of the picture. 20150605_204524
  2. If you start puzzling, notice the patterns and see if the pieces can connect together. Try another piece if the one you got cannot fit. You’d hear a click which means you got the right piece. We usually start with the borders so that you can have a guide.
  3. Once you got the pacing, you will be able to easily put the pieces together and slowly form the different parts of the picture. You can choose to begin with the ones with most patterns and follow the clues based on what you see on the piece. If your talent happens to be abstract, you can start with the sky, the grass, the land or the water. Don’t stress yourself out if you cannot do this part yet. Start where you can build the picture.
  4. You can set a schedule when you want or can have time to puzzle. It can be during nighttime or over the weekend. It doesn’t matter if each time is very productive, quite productive or not at all. The important thing is you puzzle bit by bit. If it is a 1000-piece puzzle, all you might need is just a few hours. If it is a more abstract picture, you need to allot more time to finish it, which means more hours and more days.
  5. Recognizing the sides and shape of the pieces are important too. Once you get used to the pattern, it would be easy to spot the right place for the piece you are holding even if the color is the same. Keep yourself attentive for clues on each piece.
  6. If you get to the hard part and all else fails, try the trial and error method, this can reduce the number of pieces you have yet to put.
  7. Know that there are different brands of puzzles like Ravensburger, Educa, Clementoni, and others. We have also tried brands from China, Japan and Taiwan. They differ in quality, shapes, sizes, texture, and thickness. Such as the Educa brand, it’s pieces are much harder to piece in because it only has two kinds of shapes, either horizontal or vertical. Ravensburger has beautiful pieces and fun shapes. It is great to piece in because you’d be able to hear a click. But regardless of the brand, we still enjoy piecing jigsaw puzzles.
  8. To enjoy puzzling, find companions to puzzle with you. While some people prefer to puzzle alone, it helps to find a company to join you in this activity. Though I know the dilemma for some people who can’t find a companion because not everyone can stand puzzling. It might become stressful for them if they weren’t able to piece anything. If you do find a puzzle buddy, then good for you.
  9. Sometimes all it takes is one completed puzzle and the puzzle journey begins…

Lessons from the Master (which is my sister)…

You can see the difference in patterns and puzzle pieces. The color of the sky differs, it can be different shades of blue, white, light violet to dark violet, dark blue to pitch black. Notice the puzzle pieces and see even the smallest clues in the pieces.

Sometimes you are able to feel that this particular piece fits the other. A friend of us who is an avid puzzler agrees with this but her husband is puzzled with this magical feeling because no matter how hard he tried they seem to look the same.

Sometimes you have already seen the piece earlier on that’s why you pick it up and put it right away in the picture. And it happens to be the right piece.

It’s an activity that you don’t have to talk, a fun activity to share with a group, it’s a good for brain exercise, to relax, get mind off unimportant things, and a good quiet time.  Puzzling teaches patience and pacing, you get to meditate while doing this activity.

Lessons learned from puzzling…

Life is a puzzle. Some pieces fit; some don’t. We cannot force a piece to fit the missing part or to connect to the other piece if that’s not the particular piece that matches the other. No matter how similar the color, if it’s not the right piece, other parts could go wrong too and the picture won’t be complete.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Walls

cafe wall art

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Wall.”

Walls could be hindrances, limitations

it could depict history and traces

Walls could be an expression or an inspiration,

sometimes it is up to us to interpret what it all means.

Walls could be filled with voices that yearn to be heard

Walls could be empty blocks waiting to be filled with books or displays,

it could be a blank space waiting to be painted with a drawing or a story.

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Tweedle Book Cafe
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Sarnies, a local cafe located at a busy business district in Singapore.
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A wall for expression at De La Salle University-Manila campus
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A mini tunnel at Jiufen, Taiwan

Finding the Strings

  • Cooking and brewing coffee for our relatives.

IMG_20140225_172150 This past holiday season, I had fun cooking, preparing lunch and brewing coffee for our family and relatives. I brought our coffee brewer with us whichever houses we went to and shared some warm cups to our relatives who were happy to be able to enjoy that after the meal. I enjoy brewing coffee; it doesn’t matter how many cups I have to make. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Orange you glad it’s photo challenge time?.”

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This is one of my grandmother’s specialty, deep-fried taro balls.

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This is called Pansit Malabon, a very famous dish in feasts and parties.

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A friend gave us some prawn dish as a gift and it was delicious!

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baked macaroni for dinner

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I like ordering this pasta rice very much. It is filled with vegetables.

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The view at Roxas Blvd. during sunset is stunning.

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At Bag of Beans, these lights design the path. 20150212_162718

Tokyo Tower

Trip back to Tagaytay

Every time I visit Tagaytay, I bring back some new experience. This is one of the accessible place to go to where the weather is cooler. My cousin returned home recently and this reminded me of our trip two years back to this place. It has been a long time since we’ve seen each other but it felt just like yesterday when we were talking.

5 things about this trip:

  • We visited Sky Ranch which was quite new then, the food establishments in the area were not fully opened yet. We paid the entrance but ended up not riding anything because some rides are for kids and most rides have additional payment.
  • To quench our thirst, we bought some buko shake then. I saw how the drink was made because I was standing in front of the stall. I saw the man put about 2-3 scoops of condensed milk in the drink but I wasn’t able to voice out to stop him. We ended up drinking a very sweet drink and was not able to finish it due to its extreme sweetness. (My bad…)
  • We went for a walk and sightseeing at the back of Taal Vista. We had to pay Php150 for the entrance/parking but it was all good. We sat on the hill, the field of greens and ended up with a few sunburns when we went back. The sun was that hot to pierce through our skin when it’s already October then. The place had an amazing view and a spacious area to walk about.
  • We stopped for coffee at Bag of Beans, the branch which overlooks to the Taal lake. My professor has been recommending this place and we finally try this out. We were lucky to be seated at the veranda to enjoy the cool breeze.
  • There’s a dinner party that we have to attend so we were on our home when the sun was going down.

tagaytay sky ranch ride buon giornocoffee at bag of beansbag of beanssunset on the way home