January 29, 2008

The Travel Book

As one of my favorite quotes go: "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page." And whenever I feel the need to travel but find it impossible to do so, I suffice myself by reading a very good book because sometimes, a book can carry the world in its pages.

The Travel Book by Lonely Planet is one of my favorites. It provides a condensed profile of every country in alphabetical order. It is easy to read, fun and very light (not literally, as this book is REALLY big and heavy). It gives you a good glimpse of every place with the witty remarks and advices on what to do and when to go. And of course, the photographs are breathtaking. Definitely not the usual tourist photos, the selection is amazing.

Coincidentally, I first encountered the quote I mentioned above by St. Agustine from this very book, but that was long ago, before I bought my own copy (And the fact that I bought it form my own hard earned money *from doing commissions* makes it even more special to me). I got the paperback edition because I thought that the hardbound would just be too heavy, and I was right. The paperback is already 4.6 lbs. Very heavy. I had to pay extra at the post office because of some stupid reason but it was very worth the trouble.

I haven't read through all of it yet, and I don't plan on doing that in just one sitting anyway. I read as little as one country from time to time, and in a sense, I feel like I am visiting places, one step at a time as well. I like flipping through the pages and just glancing at the different pictures. My greatest dream in life is to travel the world so I guess it's not surprising that whenever I'm not traveling, it's what I'm thinking about most.

One of the things I love most about this book is something that many may not have even noticed, and that's the message from Simon Westcott which can be found in the front flap. The introduction is perfect and you have to read it in its entirety. It is brief but nevertheless inspiring and he ends it with this line: "We offer you this book in hope that you will travel more, travel well and travel safely, thereby coming to read as many pages as possible of the greater, richer book that is the world."

January 10, 2008

Along the River During the Qingming Festival

I now officially have a new favorite painting, and this is it : "Along the River During the Qingming Festival". Goodbye, Starry Night. Zhang Zeduan is my new Van Gogh.

Along the River (as I shall now refer it as, since the title is extremely supercalifragilistic) is a panoramic painting sizing at 24.8 x 528.7 cm. It is super long! The picture I placed there is just a TINY part of the entire painting. Look at this picture of the full sized version and see for yourself what I mean when I say LONG.

The original was created during the Song, but there have been remakes of this painting, most notably, the one from the Ming and Qing Dynasty. The one on the left side is a scene taken from the Song original and the one on the right is from the Qing remake. I really like the Qing remake because it has a bit more life into it, like more color and more action. Of course, nothing beats the original, but this Qing version is also a masterpiece on its own. This remake is at Taiwan and the original one is at Beijing.

This painting depicts life at Kaifeng (the capital then) during the Song Dynasty and supposedly during the the Qingming Festival. But scholars have debated on whether the city depicted was in fact non-existent but merely an idealized one and that the season then was Fall. Nevertheless, its intricacy and excellent execution is still very awe-inspiring.

And speaking of inspiration, the reason why I love this painting so much is because the first time I saw it, it suddenly gave me a lot of wonderful ideas. It's never easy to find inspiration (though they say that inspiration can be found anywhere) and this is one of those rare things that really inspired me.

I first saw this painting in my Asian History Class with Ms. Lailani Gotao (I love her class very much, it's so fun! If given a choice, you HAVE to pick her class). Her class is what I look forward to every Tuesday and Thursday (despite the shitty time 12-1:30?! I haven't eaten lunch yet!). As good friends know, I used to love Europe very much and thought that they were just the greatest. I love reading about kings and queens, the French, watching those movies with huge poofy dresses, etc. I got really sad when I couldn't get Western History for this semester. But truthfully, I'm so glad I got into Asian History. I have a deeper appreciation now of my Asian heritage and now I want to go back to China! I can't believe I missed so much when I visited China around.... 3 years ago, I think.

I have changed No. 26 on my list of 70 Things to Do Before I Die, from Visiting Starry Night by Van Gogh to visting the original "Along the River" painting at Beijing! Seeing the Qing in Taiwan will be just as good too!

January 04, 2008

Amelie Prints

As I was reading all these really neat design blogs, I came across an entry at Casapinka which featured Amelie prints hanging on their staircase wall. The prints are from this Etsy store called Almost Famous. I haven't written about this movie yet, but as many people who know me well know, Le Fabuleaux Destin de Amelie Poulain is my all-time favorite favorite movie! Yes, I love it more than Lord of the Rings and Science of Sleep and Love Actually. Haha.

Anyway back to the prints. They were so retro and I loved it at once! It truly has its own charm to it... much like the charm of old movie posters. Beautiful. The scenes they chose were also very cute, I love the one with the polka dot umbrella. She looks so mischievous yet innocent. And the The green one is also wonderful because of course, it reminds me of creme brulee! (If you haven't seen the movie you won't get it, and you are missing half of your life)

I can just imagine it at my future home (or actually at my room right now). It will not be hanging so explicitly at my staircase wall, like theirs did, but mine would probably be hanging at some smaller room, on top of a red, intricately designed wallpaper. Yes, I have planned it all. Haha. I haven't blabbed about my thing about wallpapers. I already know the wallpaper designs my future home will have. You know the wallpaper on Amelie's room? Designs similar to that, yes. Much like the wallpapers of the rooms inside the Palace of Versailles (I almost died of joy being inside those rooms). More about this in future entries. So why do I plan my future home? I don't know. Stop me if you can.

Milka is probably going "My god, Sheena, your weird things again. Crappyness..." HAHA.

January 03, 2008

Happy New Year!

A little bit late by a few days, but still... happy new year! :D One of my favorite days for the year is new year's eve. It has been a tradition since I was little to go to hotels after dinner just for some pastries and to chill at a coffee shop. We used to do it with my extended family, including cousins and all, but it sorta stopped. Nevertheless, we still do it, as a family, and I always love it. It's always very fun, relaxing and nice.

I wore a dress this year, just cuz I was so in the mood to. Haha. We first dropped by at Edsa Shang, but for many reasons, one being that they were pretty full, we decided to transfer hotels. So we went to one fo the nearest ones, Crowne Plaza for a peaceful coffee and pastry time with family. We had nummy cakes and drank tea and coffee. I had this exotic (haha) south african orange blend and it was soooo good.

We got funny hats and took pictures the entire time. Dad loved the funny hats most I think. He went to the CR wearing the hat. And he was so game when I was taking pictures of him. Haha!

Then we went home at around 11:30, just in time to catch the countdowns on TV. I wore my new pajamas, because according to Chinese tradition, you have to wear new pajamas every new year (though I really believe we ought to be doing that during Chinese New Year instead...). I got this tank top and shorts ensemble which honestly didn't look like pajamas to sleep in at all. Haha. It had a cute design actually, which is why I got it, and I plan to wear the top on casual days. Hehe. It says "Forget love, I'd rather fall in CHOCOLATE".

Didn't come up with a specific new year's resolution this year, because like most people, I never get to keep them anyway (because I forget them after a few months). I was just very thankful for the past year and looking forward to a new one full of surprises! Here's to us!