2014年1月29日 星期三

Tour to Fujian 3.2- Gulangyi (福建之旅3.2 --鼓浪嶼)


Directly opposite to Hoi Tin Tong is another famous building on the island The Wong Wing Yuen Mansion (黃榮遠堂) built in the 1920's)

The house has a front porch with some round Greek Doric columns  and a terrace with carved stone fence surrounded by a huge two tiered garden.

                                    Another view of its magnificent front porch.

2014年1月28日 星期二

Francis Bacon-Painter of Pain

I don't know why, I suddenly got the urge to look at some of the paintings of Francis Bacon, an eccentric artist who loved (?) to paint human figures twisted into the shape of monsters, with elongated necks, mouth open as if gasping for breath or crying out in excruciating pain, whose faces always appear to be split into two parts, one side more contorted than the other and which seems to have completely melted as if the heat of the the pain inside his emaciated limbs or torso had become so intense that it literally liquefied them like wax and whose bodies are often so twisted by pain that it had become little more than a pair of enormous hunched shoulder muscles. Was it because after the talk last night, we talked about how those in power in the world of commerce, industry and finance had been so completely dominated by their uncontrolled passion for good looking figures on their corporate balance sheets that they would stop at nothing in extracting the last ounce of energy from their employees whom they subject as a matter of routine to at least 10 hours of work and then fleecing them as consumers when they are off duty? The idea that the ordinary folks are human beings who need some time to be with their family and friends seem to have become as strange and incomprehensible to those captains of industry or financial market that such an idea might just as well have been a thought planted in their brain by some malignant demons bent on their instant destruction. Whatever the true reason might have been, I opened again my book on Francis Bacon and looked up photographs of his painting on the internet and those I took previously at the Art HK. No matter how many times I have looked at them, somehow they speak to me as powerfully as if I were looking at them for the first time.

We see the same melting of the clock in the painting of Dali. But the feeling is totally different with the human body.

2014年1月26日 星期日

Weekend Fun

Been reading quite a lot of so-called "philosophy" lately because I got lots of questions on my mind, hoping to find some answers. And sure I found lots of answers. But many of them appear to be the kind of answers which seem merely to raise even more fundamental questions! Perhaps that's the true nature of philosophy: to dig out problems in matters  which everybody else will happily take for granted in their lives.To the ordinary folks, "philosophers" are just a bunch of "impractical" fools who wrack their brains over little of importance and almost nothing that really matters. But is that so? If it were not for philosophers, would there ever have been any "science" as we know it? And without "science", would we have technological innovations? Whatever the truth may be, can we blame the "philosophers" for raising questions to which there probably won't be any conclusive answers? They merely learn from their illustrious great, great, great......grandfather: Socrates who openly said that he didn't know a thing about anything and had nothing but questions. But what fatal questions! They led eventually to his being given the death sentence by the Athenian city council for "corrupting" the minds of their young men. Who wants to care a jot about who the Athenian council members who condemned Socrates were or even know that they existed except through the account of Socrates' death through the writings of his pupil Plato?  But sometimes, philosophy can be a source not of terminal demise but of fun too.


The First Law of Philosophy: For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher.
The Second Law of Philosophy: They're both wrong.


Close to the end of the lunar Chinese year, everyone is busy preparing for the new year. I was busy too, not for my house, but for my soul. I had a close encounter with a great musician who chose against his wealthy father's wishes a career, not in law but in music. Music must have been something which deeply touched his soul. And because it touched his, it touched mine too, through the Schumann Fest of the HKPO.

The initial encounter started with his first two symphonies and his cello concerto on January 18 under the baton of Hans Craf. Schumann's first symphony, his No.1 in B flat, op. 38 was originally called "Spring" because he was so affected by its spirit, shortly after his marriage to Clara Wieck. It was a symphony full of vigor and spirit right from the start in Andante un poco maestoso--Allegro molto vivace. with its second movement in larghetto, its third in Scherzo in molto vivace--molto piu vivace and its 4th in Allegro animato e grazioso. It was full of fanfare According  the programme notes, he wrote it with a quill pen found near the Beethoven's tomb. The influence of Beethoven was evident: its passion, its force, its romance and its sense of triumph and as Schumann is its composer, its poesy.

2014年1月19日 星期日

Weekend Fun

Very very busy this week: reading and preparing for a talk. So I don't think I have time except for a short joke. It's a joke which I'm sure those who don't like books will find more than a trifle boring. But not to the true book lover. 

Joke on a Book Lover

"For Heaven's sake, Chris, why can't you talk to me once in a while?" Julie whined.
"What?" Chris replied.
 "Look around!" Julie yelled, as she pointed around the room.
 "Look at all these books! You always have your head buried in a book! You don't even seem to know I'm alive!" 
"I'm sorry, honey," Chris said.
 "Sometimes I wish I were a book. Maybe then you'd at least look at me!" Julie exclaimed.
"Hmmmm," Chris mumbled, "that's not such a bad idea. Then I could take you to the library every few days and change you for something more interesting."

 Bookworms are probably incurable!

2014年1月14日 星期二

Tour to Fujian 3.1 -Gulangyu & Southern Sound (福建之旅3.1 鼓浪嶼 與南音)


Our next stop is to one of the most visited domestic tourist spots in China, Gulangyu (鼓浪嶼), a car-free, bicycle free small island of less than a square mile just about 10 minutes by ferry off the the coast of Amoy  which is home to some 20,000 locals. As a result of the signing of the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 after Qing Government admitted defeat in the Opium War, Amoy was designated one of the Treaty ports and Britain established its consulate there and by 1903, it was designated an International Settlement and 13 countries established their consulates there including USA, France, Austria, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Belgium and Japan as part of the then Chinese foreign policy of using "barbarians to control barbarians" (以夷制夷). .Some foreign churches and hospitals were also built there. In 1898, an English pastor established the first Western style Kindergarten on the island "The Kindergarten of Virtue"( 「懷德幼稚園」). Perhaps for such reason, the island has been called a living museum of foreign architecture (萬國建築博覽會). The island was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 during the Sino-Japanese war which started in 1937 and wasn't returned to China until 1949. It was thus exposed to Western influence quite early.. Because there's a piano museum and an organ museum on the island and the Xiamen Academy of Performing Arts and a Piano School of the Central Conservatory (中央音樂學院鼓浪嶼鋼琴學校), the island is sometimes called Home of Pianos(鋼琴之鄉) and "The Island of Music" (音樂之島). The island is the home of Chinese conductor 陳佐湟 and also that of the famous Chinese poetess 舒婷. The name "Gulangyu in fact means "island of wave drums" from the drum like echoes created by the seawaves within some of its sea-caves.
The island was first settled by people at the end of the Sung Dynasty and the start of the Ming Dynasty. Originally, it was called
Round Sandbank (「圓沙洲) or Little Round Sandbank」(「圓洲仔」) but got its present name only during the Ming Dynasty. At the end of the Ming Dynasty, Koxinga established it as a training ground for its navy for resisting the Manchus. Even today, we can still see the remains of the former navy training ground at Stone Bastion Gate (石寨門) and there's a statue of him guarding the harbor and looking over to Taiwan where he eventually went and settled.   


The ferry pier of Gulangu

2014年1月11日 星期六

Saturday Fun

With a busy work schedule and fast food, weight has become a weighty problem for many nowadays. It's really amazing to hear and see what people would do to lose those unwanted inches around their bellies, their butts, their thighs and the back of their upper arm. But losing weight can be fun too.


David before and after




Have fun laying your hands on those scrumptious looking icecreams and irresistible fries! I never can figure out why people should fuzz so much over losing a very natural part of themselves? What's wrong with making us a little happier from time to time? It's an eternal mystery to me!

2014年1月9日 星期四

Tour to Fujian 2 Tulou at Yongding (福建之旅2 --永定土樓)


 The second day of the trip to my native province brought me to one of the most peculiar forms of architecture which has now been admitted as part of the UNESCO's cultural heritage. The tulou (土樓) of Yongding in Fujian Province (福建永定), a county administered by Longyan (龍岩市) in the south-west of Fujian Province bordering Tai Po County (大浦) and Mui County (梅縣) of Guangdong Province (廣東) at its south west. But in the Jin (晉) Dynasty (265-420 CE) , Yongding was part of Sin Lo county of Jin An Region( 晉安郡 新羅縣 ) and in the Sung  (宋) Dynasty (960 -1279), part of 上源杭縣 but in 1478 during the Ming (明) Dynasty (1368-1644), it was renamed Yongding (永定 ) and formed part of Ting Chau Division (汀州府 ) and Ting Chau Military Region (汀州道) but on 1st September 1049, it was placed under Longyan City (龍岩市)  after its "liberation" by the Communists, just one month before the  establishment of the PRC was proclaimed on Tian An Mun Square (天安門廣場) by Mao Tsetung.  Yongding is all hill country, fed by the Ting River (汀江) and its tributary the Yonding River (永定河), a 280 KM river which is the fourth longest river in Fujian, feeding, inter alia, Changding( 長汀) as well as Yongding( 永定 ) and Tai Po of Mui Chau, Guangdong (廣東梅州大浦). Its highest peak Mang Dong Yang (茫盪洋) rises to some 1450 M above sea level. The locals there speak the Yongding dialect  (永定話), a sub-dialect of the Hakka dialect (客家話).

2014年1月4日 星期六

Saturday Jokes

Some may think teaching is never easy. Usually, you got to face to some kids who never bother to listen and some who listen but have a most peculiar way of interpreting the words that you use. But for the luckier ones, teaching can be fun too.

Describing his teacher to his mother, Jimmy called her “mean but fair.”
“Just what do you mean by that?” – his mother asked.
“She is mean to everybody.” – Jimmy replied.

Tour to Fujian 1 Amoy. Jimei Academic Village (福建之旅.1 廈門, 集美學村)

The end of 2013 and the start of 2014 is a bit unusual this year. For the first time, I begin to have an inkling of how it felt to be in a province from which my ancestors came. I see how they must have lived in the past and the way they live now. I have heard my father talked about the place he spent a number of years when he was a young man before he came to Hong Kong and married my mother: Amoy in southern Fujian province: the kind of dialect he spoke, the kind of food he ate, the kind of weather he experienced, the kind of values he had and the look of the countryside and old buildings which gave birth to them.

It all started as so many other journeys, at the HK International Airport. Christmas is not yet gone.