Saturday, December 29, 2018

Merry Christmas!

A few days late, but Happy Christmas!  Funnily enough, I don't typically get travel themed gifts from people.  I have relatives who always get me things that are stuck in a certain theme, but they haven't latched on to the fact that I am travel obsessed.  A few years back, my brother/sister-in-law got me and my husband an awesome travel map that's worth its own post sometime, but this year, my stepfather takes the prize for most enjoyed gift.

He got me a book of transit maps of the world.  And to be honest, it sounds boring when you type it, but I LOVE IT.  It has the rail/metro/subway/etc. maps from about 250 cities worldwide, including some places I've never heard of before (note to self: learn more about Brazil, what is there outside of Salvador, Brasilia and Rio?).

I think the reason that I love it so much is that when I travel, figuring out how to get around is part of the fun. Then, when your plan works seamlessly and you are transiting around with ease in a foreign city, it's even more satisfying.  There's also something artistic about the design of some of the cities with all the different colored lines laid out. Actually, there are a few maps that were taken a redesigned by an artist in the front of the book
Take a look here at the publisher's site: Transit Maps of the World
I also enjoy the description of the author's background: "Mark Ovenden is a transport historian, broadcaster, design consultant, and the author of the bestselling Transit Maps of the World. He currently resides in London."

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Back! Hong Kong Kung Fu and the art of revisiting

It's been a long time since I last posted ! My life schedule has been allowing only a sliver of time daily in a jam packed schedule.  One of the fun things that contributed to that hectic time was our trip to Hong Kong and Bali!  It was the first time to visit either destination and Hong Kong officially marked off 60 different countries that I've been to around the globe.
Cheers to me! A drink called a Mulan at the Chin Chin bar

Before I get into the main part of the post, I'm reminded of something a friend said to me at a holiday party last week. I was talking about visiting new countries versus revisiting places around the world and she asked "Why would you ever go back to any place you had already been?". As much as there is the thrill of conquering a new country I do LOVE going back places that I've already been.
There are of course places that I would not really want to revisit, but most places I've gone to I can find a reason to go back. Travel for me is not just the monuments and ticking them off the list (not that there is anything wrong with that - I appreciate anyone who is getting out there and traveling).  Travel for me is made by the human element of it.  While the major sites might remain exactly the same for hundreds of years, the human element of a destination changes how you see it.  I've been to London about 8 times, wouldn't hesitate to go back and still love standing on the opposite side of the Thames to take a picture of the Houses of Parliament in any weather.  Blend that feeling with exploring new restaurants, shops, museums, people watching and BANG!  You've just made an old destination new again.

Anyway, back to KUNG FU.  When I am home, I practice martial arts in the form of boxing and kickboxing.  My kickboxing training has some nods to karate and Muay Thai styles. This is to say that I thought my husband & I would have limited success with the basics of Kung Fu and we would get by. WRONG. We were awful. Don't get me wrong, we tried and weren't completely unfortunate during our hour session, but it was a struggle.
I just realized this says "Not Quite" Kung Fu...what?!


I'm glad that we tried.  We signed up with a Wing Chun Master Sam Lau who trained under the same instructor as Bruce Lee: Grandmaster Yip Man.  Master Sam Lau was amazing! 72 years old and lightning fast.  For that alone, it served as inspiration to me.  I started martial arts later in life and fell in love with it.  I worry that I won't have much time to do practice the sport because of age, but I see that there is opportunity if you keep yourself sharp for all those years.  I'm also happy to understand more what Kung Fu is all about compared to other martial arts.

The particular discipline of Kung Fu we did was Wing Chun, which is a Southern style of Kung Fu.  There are hundreds of subcategories of Kung Fu and Southern styles put more emphasis on the hands in general. The legend starts with a woman during a time of war in China.  She was propositioned by a warlord to marry him. She refused and it was agreed that if she beat him in a martial arts contest, he would leave her alone.  She then began to train in a style of boxing with a Buddhist nun (Sisters are doing it for themselves!).  We wouldn't be telling this story if the outcome was anything other than her defeating the warlord and Lim Wing Chun was free to live her life. She married a different man later on and when she taught him the style of fighting that she had learned, he named it after her.

Perhaps practicing Kung Fu with a master is my "ticking monuments off the list" moment because I don't think it is a discipline that I will be taking up anytime soon and definitely not flying back to Hong Kong to practice again.  Time to find some Tai Chi I guess ;-)