1 of the best vegetarian cafe in Singapore


Everybody has he/her own preference and favourite makan (malay word = eating) places. And mine… are stalls/cafes that provides the public with a “natural” plant based diet with sincerity and love.

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Aspect I would consider in my selection includes,

1. Nutrition – Does it covers the basic 5 different colour 6 different parts, there are many types of nutrients and minerals our body needs daily to maintain basic health. Remember once upon a time even our HPB run ads encouraging ppl to eat veg n fruits that are bright in colours, as the colours are made up by different phytonutrients.

And dont ever think that all those nutrients and minerals are evenly spread throughout across the vegetable. Hence the need to consume different parts as well.

2. Taste & presentation – Does the dish look appetizing. Is it over or under cook, too salty too sweet in respect to health. Looking at the 2 pic below, which 1 would u choose?

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3. Price – Does the price correlates to the quality and portion? Nobody would feel good if they paid $10 for something that can be bought for only $4! As for the portion, does it justify for the price paid, and considering the culinary skills, freshness of ingredients used, rental etc. Some points for considerations include,

⇒) Organic set meal may cost considerably  higher than other dishes, as the ingredient itself are more costly.

⇒) For dishes made fresh, without MSG, cans or bottles. This is another aspect that adds up to the cost significantly, as in Singapore. with the labour shortage, cost of hiring n training  are pretty high.

⇒) Business Model, some stalls are able to sell their dishes at a low price but still make a reasonable profit. Tks to their large customer base. But if a cafe had to close simply because their dear beloved landlord wants to increase the rental by $2,000. What does that mean?

If business here can generate a profit of $6,000. would You think the owner not stay. Since he is still left with a monthly income of $4,000. But if an increase of $2,000 could make them decide to give up all their hardwork, what do you think?

4. Sincerity & service – Different people starts a business for different reason. Some may just sincerely want to provide something that are nutritious, that promotes health and democracy. While others? Perhaps just sincerely wanted to be a successful businessman/women.

5. Creativity – How novel, inspirational and different from the tradition is it?

 

So here are some of the dishes  I would give 10/10. By Desmond @ Happy Tree

Hearty Brownrice set.

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With e organic seaweed tofu hidden below the black sesame & pumpkin.

Looking at this dish, how many colours, vegetables and plant parts do you see?

How many other dishes, equally attractive, nutritious and costing only S$6.80 can you think of?

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Above, pic 1 is avocado and “Beetroot” sushi, while the 2nd is Ramen soup. The sushi is another interesting n creative dish from Desmond. Understand that, if the quality of beetroot used is low, it will have an after taste that is a bit bitter. Which may be 1 of the reasons  not many places use it in this way.

To be continued….

 

6 Lessons College Will Never Be Able To Teach You (part 2)


3) You are but a tiny blip on a giant radar. (this article is a continuation of part 1)

Travel humbles you; It makes you truly realize just how small you are in this great big world. You are a mere speck in an infinite universe. 

When I am out kayaking, or on a boat in the sea. Looking at the vast and deep ocean.

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And even many more times. When I am on a vehicle, travelling across a mountain range, deep into a forest, desert or any other huge and seemingly endless places.  I am reminded of e power of nature. That in nature, in this universe. We humans are just so tiny.

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Pic taken on 1 on a snow mountain while I am on my way to Yerevan from Tbilisi. 

Pic taken on 2 of the sand dunes in @ Sahara. And those black spots below,  ah… Is our camp site. where many other people are at.

Although nowadays with all our inventions, planes, bullet trains etc. Things has gotten a lot more easier. But in some way, that may be an illusion to some people, that we humans can be greater than nature! As in my case, U just need to short vehicle breakdown, and its clear who is the boss.

Remembering that fateful day, when I was trekking with some friends in Huang Shan, China. Without any torchlight, street lamps, maps or GPS. We got lost in the mountains in the evening and… had to crawl our way out. Only reaching the  hotel @ about 9pm.

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Looking at pic 1, what do you think? If I were sitting at home, looking at it on a monitor. Maybe like some of you, I would think its beautiful, it’s so romantic… But to get to this spot, you got to hike like 3-4 hr  from the hotel. And photo was taken @ abt 5pm.

In pic 2, you can see some parts of the route is still !!under construction!! And in pic 3, you can see how steep some places are. Now just be a bit more creative , and imagine… after hiking since morning. When you feel battery has only 20% left. U are told you had over shoot. and had to turn back, and walk up down and up again for maybe another  3-4 hrs.

Or maybe we can choose to stay put, rest for the night and move again tml? Considering that we will not have any light in the dark, and some parts of the route are too steep, and may not have any handles or barriers to stop me if In case I were to fall…  into the cliffs.

After discussing with my friends, we agree staying put is not an option. As it would be too cold, we do have any food, and god knows what animals will visit us! Lastly, our group have 2 elderly..

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Long stories short, to be safe and to balance ourselves. We crawl back. And fortunately, we are some of the lucky 1s to made it.

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The time when I had my first night kayaking, I got lost from the other 2 friends. And for a few minute, all sort of ghost stories (maybe a huge tanker will come? maybe some unknown vegetarian chewing creature is lurking underneath my kayak? or suddenly a strong wind will knock me over?) Without any human beings in sight, what shall I do?

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I am really humbled by these experiences, and thankful that I can make it back to tell my stories 🙂

Times and again, either by luck. or by the spirit of adventure. I have come face to face with this unpredictable and vast universe.  And been humbled by it.

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Pic taken next day morning, before leaving. The tree behind me, is 1 of e most. Often used to publicize this place.

A trip to Georgia – Tbilisi (part 3)


2014-02-23 03.17.19.m   This pic – Is about feeling. Like a lot of other cities I have been to. Tbilisi has lots of hills. And the hostel I stayed in, sits on 1 of those.

After a long and tired day out, but not wanting to end the day so easily. I went up all the way to where the road ends. Looking down at the city below me. That feeling is, awesome, exhilarating, unforgettable, lonely, and so course…  damp cold!

DSC_0949.m Peace bridge (aka moustache bridge. No disrespect intended, just though the whole structure does looks like 1)This is 1 of the more modern landmarks, constructed in 2010 linking the old & new settlements of Tbilisi across the river Kura.

As can be seen from the pic, LEDs embedded inside the glass walls of the bridge illuminating the bridge from sunset to sunrise.

DSC_0975.m Abanotubani – Is the name of this area. Tbilisi is famous for their sulphur springs and taking a bath @ any of their 6 bath houses is definitely 1 of the top choices for any tourist!

In the above pic, sulphur streams flow pass the river. And that beautiful coloured tiled  wall you see in the distance, is the entrance to Orbeliani bathhouse, the only bathhouse with a Central Asian decoration. But unfortunately, @ on both visits, the place is closed.

And did you notice there was a building which lights up in the backdrop? That is the red brick mosque, aka Botanikuri. The only surviving mosque in Tbilisi.

DSC_0971.m Can you see the steam rising up from the river? Now, just imagine that you had discover this strange and mystical place on a freezing night. Where the whole place is almost silent, with only 2 or 3 people including yourself around. How would you feel? Excited? Scared? 🙂

Well, this is what adventure is really all about!

DSC_0989 DSC_0991.m DSC_0985 Going to sulphur baths is a very popular past time for the locals as well, and on my 1st visit. I was turn away by a few bath house as it’s all full house.

I only got to experience it on my 2nd attempt. in the most expensive places of all – Royal bath house. With a 1hr bath and message costing 60GEL. Good for the experience, and more importantly. Enjoying the atmosphere, although the private bathrooms is pretty ordinary(3rd pic). But the main hall and resting area (pic 1 & 2), is beautiful, especially the blue titles on the roof is simply mesmerizing.

6 Lessons College Will Never Be Able To Teach You. (part 1)


Read an article on Huffington post a few days ago, written by . And couldn’t agree more with it. In the article, he listed 6 lessons that only travelling, not school can teach us .

I am an introvert since young, that is. I don’t speak much. to approach or talk to people, stranger and even to people I am familiar with. I just prefer to use my brain more than my mouth. But all along, I am curious about the world around me. Especially to those unknown land where rumours has it that beautiful, cute and nice aliens hangout in. 

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Introvert

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Lessons he listed include:

1)    You are capable of more than you’ve ever imagined.  

No one can deny it: Travel is transformative. And I’m not talking about tired clichés like “how backpacking through Europe changed my life”, but the ability of travel to affect a tangible and lasting impact on your life.

Travel can turn introverts into extroverts, bring confidence to the meek, and create adrenaline junkies out of thin air; it pushes your physical and mental limits, forcing you to quickly adapt to uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations. Want to see what you’re truly made of? Travel.

I am an introvert, and for an introvert who is idiotic (or brave) enough to venture out of his tiny & shallow comfort zone. As tested and proven, that is a bit like commit suicide! Consider a fish swimming onshore , wanting to visit a street bazaar to increase his knowledge and widen his social circle! And the result?  in some way that Kills me, the introvert me.

Been a Chinese vegetarian. Most ppl would choose to go Taiwan, since that place is the closest to Singapore in terms of culture, religion, social structure and have plenty of veg options.

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Can still remember, when I walk into the 1st hostel I ever stayed. A bunch of foreigners sitting n chatting in the living room look up at me, I am not sure what to do, and just walk directly into the dorm without even look straight at them. Eventually, I did speak to some people during the trip, and tried to speak to a few more. Maybe 8 or 9 people in total out of my 18 days trip.

Now after more than 25 trips across 19 countries,  I can pretty much connect with anybody, from whatever country whichever culture. Just put down whatever baggage you have, relax, open up a bit and 🙂 As I have repeatedly stress, all I need to travel around this world are 2 things, Positiveness and mental Flexibility.  I just spend almost 2 months, travelled across 8 countries using only $6,500. What did I proof, $ is certainly not the most important thing you need to have an enjoyable trip!

2) People are fundamentally good.

Without experiencing the world for ourselves we often lose sight of that, relying instead on cheap stereotypes to guide our thinking. Travel reminds us that we are more bound by similarities than separated through differences. Good is stronger — and more prevalent — than evil. Get out there and see for yourself.

1 of the reasons  I don’t dare to approach people during my first trip to Taiwan, is that I have no idea on what is their intention. And what type of people they are. If I end up talking to some crooks and got into trouble. Who will help me? That I have no friends or relative in Taiwan??? All those thought really scares me out!

But after all these trips, I am repeatedly proven that We HUMANS are good. See my post on trip to Georgia and many other places, for some examples on the many beautiful  people who  I had met along my journey.

1 thing I know, they are everywhere. in every continent, every country, city and town. No matter if they are road sweepers or those in suit & tie. Somewhere faraway or within.  I have received help from all of them.

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In this pic, I am about to travel from Tbilisi, capital of Georgia to Mestia. As there is about 1hr + before the bus moves of. I took the opportunity to explore the streets nearby. While standing outside a bakery shop watching how tradition Georgian bread made. The boss suddenly came out and invited me in for a short tour. The result! This is 1 of the pic he took for me 🙂

 

to be continued

(Here is the original article)

A trip to Georgia – Tbilisi (part 2)


2014-02-21 08.35.10 Here I am, in a New world, unknown to most of the Asia. Early under the morning sun @ about 7+ am. Full of excitement and hope 🙂 While enjoying the good weather and peacefulness.

Most of the photograph shown on this page are taken on the 1st day. Tbilisi is easy for tourist to navigate as most tourist sites are close to each other, and you can move around just by walking.

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While walking on the streets along Tbilisi, I came upon these small figurines. It’s really nice to have these things around, adding an atmosphere of artistic onto e streets.

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Remember many years ago, while on my 1st solo holiday to Taiwan.  I notice there are just so many temples around Taipei city. You can literally find 1 temple every km. And here in Tbilisi, things are pretty similar. You see churches everywhere. 🙂

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A view of the city’s main tourist attraction area.

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Old Tbilisi city, eluding that classical European charm. But without the huge load of tourist, and its accompany problems such as crowd, thieves, increase prices etc.

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Night scene of the city. With some waterfront restaurants, newly build peace brigdge and a lovely weather of about 5-10 degree.

 

A trip to Georgia – Tbilisi (1 of the best places I have been to)


Having been to 19 countries, Georgia is definitely 1 of the most Friendly, Surprising and Beautiful country.

Friendly – Got a present surprise when I reach Hostel Ori beli,  where I stayed in for 3 nights. After settling down in the hostel, the owner invited me to sit down, have a cup of coffee. And chat a bit about what I plan to do/ go around town. Well, this is definitely the first time somebody i in a hostel had offered  me such courtesy. Maybe some would think that is how everybody in this region treats others. after been to more than a dozen hostels/guesthouse around Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. I can confirm Not everybody does that.  🙂

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(above pic: Lots of ppl left something words on e wall, in memory positive experience in hte hostel) Every time after paying at the cashier, I would wait for the cashier to confirm on the amout before going. Different countries has different currencies, and I do not want to end up short paying them. And over here, after confirm the amount is correct The cashier would actually “smile n tk me”! 

On my last day in Tbilisi, while I am taking a bus and not having the exact change to pay the bus fare.  I ask to change money with the gentleman sitting next to the door. 1. he check his wallet and confirm he also has no change. 2. He took out a card, he tap it against the ticketing machine. Effectively paying the fare for me. And refuse to accept my money when I offer to pay him back :). While  I am walking up a hill in the neighbourhood. a kid walk in my direction and stare at me. (its a neighbour hood area, where normal tourist would not venture into, and at his young age. I suppose he had not seen a foreigner with black eyes and hair before, got really curious and so kept on staring @ this ALIEN) I smile at him, and that kid… Smile back with a Hi. As what I wrote on my FB that day. “Thank you Tbilisi;Georgia, its great to be back! In this cold winter day, I am greatly touch. As your warmth had embrace me again” 

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Surprising as in the variety of Veg food available.  (refer to my previous post of this).

Every trip, I will bring along some key chains. And give it to those that have offered me some unconditional assistance along the way. And it is really at Georgia. That there are a couple of times, I have run out of key chains to give away, as there are just so many lovely people I end up bumping into (usually I would keep 2-3 in  my bag).

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The China Study n screening of it’s documentary (part 2)


Continuing from part 1

I first joined Vegetarian Society of Singapore in 2008, and a few months later. Somewhere in 2009, VSS held a Big event, By inviting Dr Colin Campbell from Cornell University to give a talk, introducing to us his work and book “The China Study” Seeing that this small bunch of volunteers, pretty similar to myself as in, while having to take care of themselves, their family and work.  They have put in so much effort to organize this event. I am sure this must be something really good and important. I am really looking forward to attend the talk.

Well, after having sat there listening to him for 3hr +. I have to admit, he is really 1 of the best speaker I have ever met. Having attended numerous talks or lesson till now, he is definitely 1 of the few who almost put me to sleep.

How? Rather than the 1hr talk as I was initially told of. The talk actually lasted for more than 3hrs. And Dr Colin Campbell’s attempt to encourage us in adopting a plant-based diet, is mainly from a chemistry and biology’s perspective. While my training is in accounting. Something completely worlds apart!

So? Fast forward to 2014 May. I will be doing a repeat screening of the documentary, “Folks over Knives“. Where the documentary is based on his book,  “The China Study” and a few other doctor’s work. Btw, Cornell university is even  offering an on line e learning course based on Dr Colin’s work. (What I can read from the Cornell e-learning course is that, although most of the thing mention in the book is controversial and probably, something against conventional understanding. But Cornell, being a reputable Ivy league University. Agrees and stand by it. I mean, they are willing to stake their more than 100+yrs of reputation to back up this research! )

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Something about the documentary and its director

I really loves 1 of those comment,“Convincing, radical, and politically volatile.” – John Anderson, Variety” it’s just so true.

This documentary examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.

Brian Wendel, creator and executive producer

Interested in nutrition and health. In summer 2008, having read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, he realized that the scientific case for preventing and even reversing degenerative disease by means of a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based diet was greater than he had ever imagined. And the most effective way to bring this message to a broad audience was by feature film. He recruited a production team and spent nearly 2 years producing FOK, his 1st feature film.

Or in another ward, without any experience, the benefits is strong enough to motivate him to press ahead! and shoot this documentary Without any experience or confidence that this documentary will be able to break even.  

Lee Fulkerson, writer and director – With 19 international awards for his work. including the prestigious CINE Special Jury Award for best broadcast historical program of 2003.

John Corry, producer – Produced over 200 documentary programs, John recently produced several celebrity-narrated short films for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, including campaigns on whale hunting, the Canadian seal hunt etc.

Allison Boon, co-producer – Allison began working on documentaries in 2003 as an associate producer on the long-running True Hollywood Story series for The E! Network. Allison went on to Actuality Productions’ award-winning History Channel series, Modern Marvels. Within a year, she became director of research.

When I first saw the book and flips through the cover page. 1 thing stand out on the last page. back page of The china study

 

Qn? How many times would you see a Nobel prize winner putting his name down in support of  book? There are dozens of books recommending on various diets, but NONE had such recognition! This is simply something money can’t buy. As it’s not a for profit business venture, they do not have any celebrity endorsement or much publicity.

After noting this points, I got really interested in the book and managed to devour it in less than 1 month. all 368 pages  of it.

The China Study n screening of it’s documentary (part 1)


When I am serving my national service, I had a serious illness which lasted for almost 4months. During that time, I was fortunate to get the privilege to understand what it feels like to be “half dead”. Or maybe, dead is better than half alive! While I still have some conscious, knowing what is happening around me, knowing I have a problem, but I can’t do anything to solve it.

It so happens the day I fell sick is also the 1st day of lunar Chinese New Year. The doctor who had treating me all along, is away celebrating CNY.  Without the appropriate treatment, my illness was made worse.  And all these happen when I am serving my national service.

As all Singaporeans would know, National service is tough. I had been looking forward to this long CNY holiday for many months. Planning and discussing with friends on how to utilize this time. But when the illness strike. It’s all over! All my 4 days of CNY holiday are spend lying on bed.  I know its CNY; people all around me are celebrating and enjoying themselves with the party and good food. And I? I could only lay on my bed, listen to the sound of TV, people chatting and think of the 1000 thing that I had wanted to do while time just passes away!!! And that feeling is just so miserable, so Rotten!

After resting @ home for a few days, I decide to go back to my Army camp. As staying at home doing nothing, while the pain is still torturing me is a really horrible feeling. Maybe by going back, letting myself busy with work will help to lessen the pain! While back in camp, the 1st thing I did is to see medical officer for help. But unfortunately, all he was willing to do was to issue me some painkillers! And to make things worse, there is a rule limiting the quantity of pills he could give at 1 time. So, every week, for almost 1 month. On that same day, I will have to go and see the medical officer for another set of pills. 1 day while I am still outside his office waiting for my turn, I begin to wonder to myself, When and how did I end up as a drug addict? I’m now behaving just like those people taking opium’s!  And every week I have to go and beg for more!

1 night while sleeping, I wake up to go to toilet. Suddenly I felt a sense of giddiness and fell down. Knocking onto a table and producing a loud bang along the way. Of course, the sound woken up my family, who hurriedly come into the living room. In that few second while I’m about to fell down. A few things came to my mind. 1 I know I’m about to fall  2. I don’t want to fall down 3. And lastly, I’m down, with my face on the floor and my mother standing next to me. Asking in a very worried voice if I am alright? After I got back on my bed, I just can’t stop thinking and asking myself what the hell has happen to me??? If I have hands, legs and a function brain! Why can’t I solve this problem? This is my health, my body. But now that there is a problem.  Why can’t I do anything to solve it? I am totally NOT in control, and have not the slightest idea what to do, other than finding doctor! It is this time, that I realize my health is NOT mine. If a driver is in control of the car he is driving. He will be able to change the direction or speed as he wanted and have a good idea of the status of the car. Now that the control is lost, and I totally have no idea about what is happening inside. Can I still consider my health, my body as mine? Thus, I realize there is a need, a serious and genuine need for me to regain and reconnect to my health.

And btw, if you were me, who would you prefer to be e 1 rushing out and be by your side than? Who would you prefer, to be the person getting worried, upset, losing sleep and appetite over your health? And this is the positive side of the story. Many patients, especially those with degenerative disease, 1 of treatment can easily be $10-20k. And when it comes to paying money, things can get pretty ugly.

In summary, what I learn from these illness is

  1. Health = responsibility. Taking care of myself will save my family and love 1s from having to endure the feeling of worry, anxiety and sadness. Not to mention their time and money.
  2. Nowadays, our health does not belong to us! As we had outsource it to the medical industry. Where, skill and knowledge of the doctors or medical professional helping you is a big determining factor.
  3. I need to understand more on health and nutrition issues, so as to regain control of MY health.

to be continue…

Heritage tour: Chao Zhou, China, my ancestral home town


Heritage tour: Chao Zhou, China, my ancestral home town.

Heritage tour: Guang zhou, China


This is actually my 2nd trip to Guang zhou, with the 1st in 2007. But on that trip, I only stayed for 2 days as, according to Lonely planet. This city does not have much to see. (In fact,as I remember, there is only about 20 attractions in their entire list) As for the other 15 days, all in spent in heavenly Cheng Du.

Almost 6 yrs after, I’m here again. And like most. I am amaze by the positive changes. That there are now so many more tourist site to visit. transport have improved, and of course the vegetarian options just got much better!

Gz city (25)As usual, I stayed in a hostel. Whats nice about this 4.5* (the satisfaction rating I gave themSunshine hostel. is that it is actually a unit in a Condominium. With the unit on 15 lvl. costing S$10/ night. 15min walk to metro station and a nice view of the city. There is really nothing much else I could ask for. Whats even better is that the owner has laid down universal adaptor, w/ extension wire for us. 1 of those small things that make them 1 of my favourite choice.

 

Gz. Huang Pu military school (7)

Gz. Huang Pu military school (2)

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Gz. Huang Pu military school (9)

Huang pu military school: Most people would have heard of this famous place, probably from some of those movies focus on WW2 or japanese occupation of China. And it does feel great to be here, able to learn more on my history.

A few interesting facts about this place,

1. It is located on an island, and you would need to take a ferry get there.

2. Entry is free

3. It is actually setup with the assistance of Japanese, Russians and Chinese (both KMT and CCP)

Gz. Tomb of Wang Mo  (8)

Gz. Tomb of Wang Mo  (6)

 

The Mummy, China Edition: Story has it that, Mr Wang Mo. ruler of the Guang zhou area some 2000 yrs ago. Believes that in order to live on eternally, orders his body to be placed in a suit made of jade. Thus producing this invaluable work of ancient china. Notice those rings at the bottom, it’s also jade.

Gz. Tomb of Wang Mo  (36)

Mummy is of course the “leading character” of the museum, but they do have some other interesting displays; such as the 1 above. Which is called Ru yi. usually made of jade. And used by the imperial family of Ming and Qing dynasty.

Sun yet seng Memorial hall (2)

 

Memorial hall of Mr Sun Yat Sen, 1 of those beautiful buildings that will make you wanting to get down from a bus, the moment you see it 🙂

 

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Yes, you are seeing durian in China. That super fruit so beloved in my region. That we Singaporeans has shape of our national arts theatre (Esplanade) to look like it. With this pic, I conclude the success the fruit, in liberating the taste buds of the Chinese people. 1 province @ a time.  :p

and my trip continues to my 2nd stop Chao Zhou