Market Stall in South African village.

First Impressions – Contrasts of South Africa

The quaint cafes, galleries and craft shops litter seemingly semi-deserted small villages and towns on the journey between Johannesburg and Kruger National Park giving a peaceful yet eerie sophisticated edge that could easily lead the visitor into thinking that this is typical nationwide.   Venture a little further afield to find the polar opposite of towns…

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Laos Ethnic Minority Clothing detail

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre in Luang Prabang, Laos

The once remote areas of Asia continue on a path of rapid modernisation, swept along to some extent by tourism and technology moving through the region.   Along with this change, traditions and customs once abundantly practiced and visible are becoming less prominent in the lives of the younger generation, as globalisation instills a level of…

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Lao Food, Luang Prabang

Lao food has an incredibly fresh taste largely influenced by the wonderful use of herbs that transform simple ingredients into delicious meals. The beef Laap dish served in most restaurants these days is made a little more palatable for westerners with the meat now being cooked rather than its traditional raw version.   Herbs gave the…

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Colourful Cao Dai

Hailing from Southern Vietnam with saints that include Victor Hugo, the ‘father of modern China’, Sun Yat-sen and Vietnamese Poet, Nguyen Binh Khiem, the colourful Cao Dai have a set of beliefs and teachings that seem to be a bit of a mish-mash of all the major religions. Founded less than 100 years ago on…

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Holding on to the Past in Yangmei, China

Surrounded by river on 3 sides this seemingly lost ancient hamlet ensconced amongst lush fields of sugar cane and banana plantations just 30 kilometres from Nanning is packed with mementos of a colourful past. Founded in the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD) Yangmei slowly developed over hundreds of years finally transitioning into a prosperous…

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Lion Dance at the Wong Fei Hung Memorial, Guangzhou

A lion appeared at the opposite end of the courtyard.  Standing for a few moments then dramatically jumping up onto the first set of poles which looked to be around a metre high.  Within moments he had bounded a further two or three times in perfect unison to the beating drum.    This initial burst of…

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Chen Family Ancestral Temple

A Qing dynasty relic of Lingnan culture which seems to have survived the cultural revolution relatively unscathed now houses the Guangdong Museum of Folk Art in a few of its many halls. Elaborately carved Chaozhou styled wooden doors depict classic Chinese scenes while mythological characters feature in the colourful, intricate lime sculptures that grace the…

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Sarawak Cultural Village

How times change!   A few years ago you would not have been able to drag me near this place.   For me traveling was about chasing the so-called truly authentic experience where these types of tourism sights just don’t feature. Nowadays though it is a different story.   I haven’t totally lost my traveling roots and I…

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The elongated ears of the Kelabit, one of Malaysia's smallest ethnic groups.

Kicking Back with the Kelabit

Being absolutely fascinated with the elongated earlobes of the Kelabit people meant I had a very difficult time drawing my gaze away from the real thing!   Sitting around the fireplace, enjoying a cup of tea while sucking on one of the famous super juicy and sweet Bario pineapples was an amazing opportunity to ask all…

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Qianmen Street, Beijing

Another new project that caught my attention in Beijing was the redevelopment and refurbishment of the ancient Qianmen street.  Located at the southern end of Tiananmen Square the street even boasts a tram car which occasionally whizzes past.   Now this refurbishment actually caused me to sit back and ponder a question which disturbs me…

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Jingshan Park, Beijing

Jingshan Park located across from the North Gate of the Forbidden City is somewhere which should be included on your “things to do in Beijing” list.   The Wan Chunting pagoda offers 360 degree panoramic views of Beijing including amazing vistas back across the Forbidden City which help to put in perspective the size, scope and former…

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Nanning – China’s Green City

Most of the guidebooks don’t have so much to say for Nanning however I found it to be one of China’s more likeable cities.   Green spaces and a population that is incredibly relaxed and happy.     Dancing is a past time that you can see happening most early mornings and evenings all around China however…

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2010 Calendar – China in Black & White

2010 “China in B&W” Calendar – Images by Jillian Mitchell China offers an extremely diverse range of beautiful scenery and traditional culture that make for a truly exotic destination. These are the images I have selected for my 2010 Calendar – China in Black & White. A3 in size and printed on 200gsm high quality…

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Gongcheng: Wen & Wu Temples

  Yangshuo is known for its wonderful scenery and abundant outdoor activities however there are a few lesser known cultural sights within easy distance of town.   The Wu and Wen temples in nearby Gongcheng are excellent examples.   Wen Temple   Wen Temple is also known as the Confucius Temple.   Built in 1410 AD…

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Lovely Little Longli Village

Arriving in Longli at the end of a long day I hadn’t expected to come across such a treasure.   This ancient garrison sits in the middle of a plain in Eastern Guizhou.  A feeling of remoteness seems to hang over the village which is odd given it is less than 30klms from Liping airport.  …

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No Nails!

The Diping Wind and Rain bridge is the largest of its kind in Guizhou.   Some 56 metres in length, the bridge was first built in 1894 during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).   This classic example of Dong Minority architecture was destroyed by fire in 1956, a copy was rebuilt in 1964.  In 2004 the bridge…

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Dali Dong Village

  The first thing that captured my attention on the internet for Dali Dong village in South Eastern Guizhou was the phrase “untouched by tourism”.    Of course I was a bit of a skeptic as I found this phrase at least 3 times on various travel and tour websites.  But it was on our way,…

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Along the Duliu River, Congjiang to Rongjiang, China

As you wind your way along the banks of the Duliu River, between Congjiang and Rongjiang in South Eastern Guizhou, you get great views and a tiny glimpse into local river life.    Villages located on the opposite bank often don’t have road access so it is not unusual to see passengers being ferried across in…

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Basha Village, Guizhou, China

Despite Basha’s close proximity to Congjiang (south eastern Guizhou) it remains an excellent place to experience a taste of the Miao ethnic minority culture. Said to be descendants of the 4,000 year old Chiyou army this village certainly seems to have retained many of its traditions including a gun salute that was performed at weddings….

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Xiushui Village, China

By the time I had finished tour leading I found I was a pretty hard audience to impress.   Having seen so many amazing sights on a regular basis the extraordinary became the ordinary.   I wondered if the excitement and amazement of seeing something new would ever return.   But I now know its back.     Visiting…

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Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Yangshuo’s Picture Postcard Scenery (5)

Number 5:  Impressions – Liu Sanjie   Experience the wonderful visual storytelling of Zhang Yi Mou, creator and director of Beijing’s opening and closing ceremonies.   Zhang’s “Impressions” performance is mostly carried out on the Li River with scores of bamboo rafts and in excess of 500 local performers.  The surrounding limestone karsts form the backdrop…

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Golden Week

In the natural world thousands of animal and bird species migrate each year, heading for greener pastures, warmer weather, etc .  Here in China there are mass migrations of people 3 times a year, more commonly these are referred to as “Golden Weeks”.    By far the biggest migration is during Spring Festival (Chinese New…

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