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
Crowded, noisy and chaotic by day. Quiet and brooding by night, Sham Shui Po (深水埗) is a quintessential Hong Kong working-class neighbourhood in the heart of Kowloon that reflects the metropolis’s dual personalities. Read more
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.
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
As a child I spent many happy summer holidays at my grandparents house in Southend-On-Sea, a seaside resort town on the north side of the Thames estuary. I remember being told stories of how my great grandfather had been a baker and that, although under different ownership, the family bakery still existed in the area. Read more
During my time in Asia I’ve seen more than my fair share of Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto temples but never have I encountered one quite as unique as Sazaedo (さざえ堂) that I found on my final day in Aizuwakamatsu. Read more
On our second day in Aizuwakamatsu we decided to head south to the former postal town of Ouchijuku (大内宿) that lies along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route, which connected Aizu with Nikko during the Edo Period. Read more
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
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
After spending the morning at Koh Ker we jumped back in the car and hit the road bound for Siem Reap. About 40 km east of Angkor Wat we stopped at Beng Mealea (ប្រាសាទបឹងមាលា), another ruined temple that’s about as Indiana Jones-esque as you can imagine. Read more