From History

People, places and memories from times gone by

Neuschwanstein Castle

I spent Christmas 2017 with family in the UK but after the festivities and before the New Year managed to squeeze in a short trip to Munich, Salzburg and Zurich.

It was the first time for me to visit all three places and, after spending the last decade predominantly in Asia, I’d almost forgotten just how exceptional the old European cities are. Read more

Traversing Jiankou Great Wall

Almost exactly 10 years after I first arrived in Beijing in 2007 I found myself back there in March 2017. As has sadly become the norm, the city was shrouded in a thick blanket of smog so we decided to head out of the city for the weekend for a hike in the mountains.
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Demystifying Wabi-sabi

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of thing unconventional.

While sitting beneath the cherry blossoms at a typical Hanami (“flower viewing”) party in Japan it’s easy to forget that behind the alcohol-fueled revelry you’re actually taking place in a very particular form of appreciation centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Aesthetic ideals are central to Japan’s cultural identity and the Japanese language has all sorts of fancy words for describing our feelings towards how we perceive the world but underlying them all is the notion of wabi-sabi (侘寂). Read more

Waibaidu Bridge

Back in February I spent Chinese New Year in Shanghai and, having eaten more than my fair share, decided that brisk walk was in order. Heading to The Bund we took a leisurely stroll along North Suzhou Road. Read more

Sankeien Garden

Sankei-en (三溪園) is a traditional Japanese garden in Yokohama (1 hour from Tokyo) which was built by a silk trader called Sankei Hara in 1906. It contains many historically significant buildings bought by Hara himself from locations all over Japan, among them Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kamakura. Read more