Monday, July 28, 2008


It has been said that Guilin is a lovely city, yet I had no such feelings when I stepped out of the train station. I guessed 18 hours on the train has more or less affected my level of appreciation for the place. Yet, after taking a walk through the city, I can't help but notice there is something captivating about the city.先到桂林的市中心晃一晃。虽然没有昆明那么大,但桂林也算是个繁华的都市。与其他都市一样,桂林的市中心有一条人行步道,给我的第一感觉是,和台北的西门町很相似,尤其是在看到它与西门町一样,在购物区的正中央搭起了大舞台。不过西门町比桂林的步行街热闹,商店也更多样化,更新潮。
First up, is a trip to the heart of Guilin. Although Guilin is not as big as Kunming, it is nonetheless a bustling city. Similar to the other big cities, Guilin has a main shopping street which is in fact a pedestrain walkway. The moment I stepped into the shopping district, it strikes me as very similar to the Orchard Road of Taipei, aka Hsimending, especially with a stage right smack in the middle of it. However Guilin's main shopping street has less shops and surprises compared to Hsimending.
At night, one of the main streets will be transformed into a huge night market. As with most night markets, you will find lots of wares targetted at tourists, eg. accessories, clothes and local products. 夜晚的桂林也有它美丽的地方。像是湖都被照亮,玻璃桥上有人在唱京剧,日月双塔也非常漂亮。
Guilin is equally beautiful at night. The lake is all lit up, you can see opera performances in glass bridge and the moon and sun towers are great for pictures.也发现了一些有趣的东西,如这家专门卖西藏产品的店,还有中国到处都可见的《卖男孩的小火柴》店,以及可爱的告示牌。
There are other interesting things to be seen, like this Tibetan shop, the shop named "The little matchsticks selling boys" and also cute signboards like the one below, which uses poetic terms to tell people not to step on the grass.
Guilin is famous for having many beautiful gardens and parks. After much deliberation, I decided to check out one of the more famous one, the Seven Stars Park. It was definitely not a good day for a walkabout at the drizzle that started in the morning did not seem to be abating anytime, resulting in everything seeming to be covered in mist. But I can see why this place is one of the top rated tourist destination in Guilin.
From the hilltop within Seven Stars Park, you can see the whole of Guilin.七星园内一个非去不可的地方就是这个号称“第一洞天”的“七星岩”岩石洞。这个洞很大,里面的岩石都很漂亮,让你忍不住惊叹大自然的奥妙。
The number one must-see place in this park is the limestone cave. This is a really big cave with many beautifully formed stalactites, which leaves one amazed at the work of nature. 在离开桂林前,有幸看到一个非常漂亮的日落,让我对这个原本第一印象不怎么好的城市留下美好的回忆。  ~伟
Just before leaving Guilin for the next destination, I managed to catch a very beautiful sunset, leaving me more impressed by the city than when I arrived on the first day.  ~wei

Saturday, July 26, 2008

助人为快乐之本/Lend a helping hand

When I first mentioned that I will be heading to Lv Chun to visit my secondary school teacher, everybody was curious as to why a Singaporean will want to be living in a place that most people have not even heard of. Actually, my teacher and her husband and friends have been doing very meaningful work here in the past few years. Most recently, they have set up a company to help the poor.
Although the people here farm, earning a honest living, but due to the climate, they are only able to harvest rice once a year. The wee bit of harvest is not even enough to feed them for the year, even more so, impossible for export. As such, most people can barely make a living and kids often have to give up schooling in order to cut down expenses for the family.
By setting up this company, my teacher and friends were able to create job opportunities for the locals. The money generated by the company not only goes into the salaries of the workers, but will also be used in sponsoring local kids in their studies.
The interesting part about this company is, all the products are handmade. Right now, they are producing the 2009 calender. The main difference between this calender and those that you see outside is that, the pictures of animals in the calender are all hand pasted on, part by part. It is a very time and energy consuming work, but it does let the locals have a chance to use their own hands to eke out a living.
These calenders only cost SGD 5 a piece. If you had the intention of giving out calenders as corporate gifts, why not consider these ones? Not only can you owned a uniquely designed calender, you get to do a good deed by helping the people from Lv Chun at the same time. If you place an order for 100 pieces and above, they will help print your company's name or logo on the calender and place a personal message on the calender for you.
If calenders are not your thing, you can consider getting other products. This company also produces handmade cards, be it thank you cards, birthday cards or blank cards. Most of the designs are handsewn.
另外,他们还设计了一系列精致的物品,如耳环和胸针等。看一看,是不是很漂亮,很特别呢? On top of that, they have designed a series of accessories eg, earrings and brooches, made with oragami. Aren't these accessories beautiful?如果你对以上的任何产品有兴趣,就请直接联络Nan Siew(。越多的订单意味着他们可以聘请越多的当地人,也会有越多的小孩有机会上学。谢谢大家的支持了!  ~伟
If you are interested in any of the above products, please contact Nan Siew( More orders mean they can employ more locals and also more kids can get to go to school. Thank you everybody for your support!  ~wei