Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 ... Looking Back

It has been an eventful 2014! It started out rather calm with me feeling strongly that I needed some change. It felt like my life had become dull and I felt unfulfilled. I wished for more ... whatever. For something, anything new!

I had no idea where my journey would led me (I rarely know SMILE!!) but I knew one thing. It was time for action. I took yoga classes, attended various seminars, worked as a volunteer. I needed new input. I needed to meet new people. Whatever input/people was fine with me as long as it was new.

Well, let's just say that I have been busy this year. I wanted action? I got action. Plenty of it SMILE. I have worked a lot (two jobs - you know that!), I went out and traveled a lot as well and I met some really nice new people. There were some sad and heartbreaking moments as well, obviously, but that's life.

It was a good year. An excellent one. Filled with new experiences and new people. It helped me realize what I wanted for my near future.

1) to do yoga
2) take classes in Marketing (I discovered that I like that very much thanks to my second job and I can't wait to brighten my professional horizon)
3) to travel - starting at the end of February with my trip to Mexico.

So, to cut a long story short, I wanted to say THANK YOU 2014. FOR EVERYTHING. And also, HELLO 2015! I am curious about what this new year will bring, aren't you?

HAPPY NEW YEAR


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 ... Looking Back: My Trips

I do love these last days of a year. I especially love them when I am not working and have enough time to let my mind wander back to everything that happened. I not only worked a lot but I've had the time (and the money!!) to visit all kind of different places. First city I went to, in February, was Berlin. Wonderful and crazy Berlin. So German and at the same time so NOT German.



Then, in March, it was Genova's turn. Where humans made the best with what they had (or had not - in their case: land!). So much beauty "jammed" between the sea and the mountains.


At the end of June, I visited Stresa and the Isole Borromee. Where beauty has been created ... with money!


In August I went to Insel Mainau, Meersburg and Konstanz (on Lake Constance) on two different and exceptionally (!!) sunny Saturdays:
Meersburg

Insel Mainau and its flowers
On the weekend of my birthday, I visited Strasbourg...

... and later on, at the beginning of October, Colmar...


On a rainy August day (one of many!), I decided that ... I needed sun and hot weather at least once during this 2014. In November I traveled to Hong Kong and Angkor Wat.



What a year! I am so grateful for everything and can't wait to organize my next trips.

Well, it's gonna be Mexico in February / March that one is for sure. Madrid and Malta keep coming to my mind ... but nothing's decided yet. These days I will just reminisce about what has been in 2014. There will be other times to think about the future!

Enjoy these last two days in 2014 and happy remembering :-)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Snow, snow and more snow


There are feelings, impressions that I forget when they are not actually here. The first day of real heat in summer, for instance, comes to me, each time, each year, as a surprise (a wonderful one - you got that!!). Same goes for the first snow.

We got a lot of snow these last days and even though I don't like winter, I like the first snow. Especially when I don't have to get up to go to the office SMILE.
Snow makes the world a better place. A quieter place. A "clean" place.
Cars drive slowly, people walk slowly. Snow makes everybody ... slow down. I like that a lot.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Starting to think clearly again

I hadn't realized how tired I was. Not physically tired, well a bit yes, but mainly mentally tired. My brain was ... simply exhausted. I couldn't think clearly any longer. I just acted. I kept working.

But now I am doing better. I spent Christmas with my family (it was peaceful!) and the following days just reading and sleeping.
I feel better now. Much better. My brain started thinking straight again. Which is good. It's good to have it back :-) And to finally be able to put my feelings into words and into this post!!
You know what I did first? I cleaned my appartment! Yes, you're reading right. Cleaning my appartment after a period of heavy work does me good. I clean. I vacuum. I dust. Not only my appartment ... but the cobwebs in my brain!

I am ready for these last days of 2014 now. And will be even more ready for 2015 by the end of my 2 weeks vacation :-)

Our World ... is about Speaking Up


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Final Rush

I am tired these days ... and have time for nothing, last for some writing on my blog (which is a shame, I know!!). Since I have been back from Asia it has been one big rush. Busy days at work (both jobs), actually very busy days, and busy evenings and weekends. Time has flown by - it's incredible.
It's good though, nevertheless, but I can't honestly wait until it's next Tuesday because Tuesday it's gonna be my last working day for 2014 and I will have two weeks off from work. Can't wait. I have so much to catch up with - people and things. I look forward to some free time as well. To rest. To let my mind rest ... and wander. To read. To write.
In the meantime ... just a couple of days to go :-)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014

Discovering

In Siem Reap, my friend and I spent many wonderful hours in a little café that was called "New leaf book café". A wonderful and quiet place in the midst of the very busy streets of Siem Reap. Anyway, while sitting there and trinking wonderful Mango juices (I mmmmiiiisssssss Mango juices and Mango shakes and Mango whatever you can think of!!) we saw an advertising poster of an upcoming event: the 10th edition of the Angkor Photo Festival (too bad we missed it!).
I liked it on Facebook (what else?) and once I was back home, I saw a post about one of the artists/photographer that were exposing in Angkor during the festival.
Gabriele Croppi.
Seeing his pictures ... my heart simply missed a beat.
A revelation.
Wonderful wonderful wonderful work.

Before I show you some of his art, you have to know that I absolutely adore the art of Giorgio de Chirico, a Greece born artist that spent most of his life in Italy. He was the leading figure of the "pittura metafisica" (Metaphysical Art) painters. His art speaks directly to my heart and I am not to keen on wanting to explain why. It just does.



And now, in seeing the photos of Gabriele Croppi, my heart began to sing as well. Wonderful wonderful wonderful.


If you want to know more, here his website: http://www.gabrielecroppi.com/gc/
On the first page, click on the "here" written in red. A wonderful (did I already mention wonderful SMILE?) short movie... Ah, I have to find out if the guy has his photos printed or not... Maybe a book? That would be a wonderful Christmas present to myself :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Remembering Angkor ... the Details

While wandering along the wonderful temples of Angkor I often got lost while admiring the details! I took many many pictures of them. I've picked some for you. I am sure you'll be in awe as well by the handicraft of these people (keep in mind that this has been created between 800 to 1400 of the last century!!).















Sunday, November 30, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Remembering Asia - Fashion


Funnily enough, many times during my recent Asia trip I thought about fashion. About what fashion is. About what fashion means to people. About fashion as a expression of who and what you are.

Let's take the people of Hong Kong for instance. The city left me with the impression of "money", a lot of money actually. The word "decadent" came often to my mind. I have rarely seen as many luxury cars and luxury shops and luxury restaurants, etc. as in Hong Kong. OK, well, the city is soooooo bit, I don't pretend to have seen it all. But the bit that I have seen was ... about money.
Luckily, there were the side alleys as well (were I got a least a bit of a China feeling) with their food stands etc. - a whole different story. Those places were not about money. No luxury, just "made in China" clothes.
Regardless though whether the people were dressed expensively or cheaply ... I missed the "style", the "je ne sais quoi" that you find in people with style. Sure, the ladies and gents in Armani or Gucci or Prada or Chanel were dressed expensively and looked like something out of a glossy magazine. And the ladies and gents selling their stuff in the side alleys had probably other problems than how they dressed.
But style is not about money. Style is not about being poor or rich. Style is expressing who you are with what you have (even if it's just a bag or a pair of shoes) and NOT about copying what this designer tells you to wear.
(My mum cleaned other people's houses almost all her life and I have never seen her without her red nail painting. That is style for me.)

People in Siem Reap though suprised me. Not many of them were dressed expensively (none of them actually). But I have seen touches of style all over. The lady in the picture above with her (fake) Chanel jacket, the white had and the shoes with the flower on it? I absolutely love it! I've crossed so many school girls in their black and white uniforms wearing colored bags - not one had the same bag as her friends obviously! Question of principle, I suppose :-) (and of style). Some other girls wore hand-made scarfs (to beef up the said black and white uniform) or then I saw a farmer women wearing wonderful skirts that were obviously hand-made. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of all these women (besides the one above). There were so many examples. I loved them all! Wonderfully stylish!
But then maybe I am reading more into it than there was. Most certainly I am reading more into it than there was. But it's not important finally. I loved to think that these people, having hard lifes, working in the fields or herding animals or cleaning hotels, felt a bit better in the morning while putting on a (fake) Channel jacket. And some shoes with a flower on them.
The way I do in the morning.
But maybe I am just naive.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Remembering Asia - the Food

Traveling is also discovering a place, a nation, a region through its food. Traveling with a friend this time allowed me to go out for dinner which was great. It gave me the opportunity to taste the local food.

Well, in Hong Kong the food was not terrific. At least the food we ate. I am sure that there are hundreds of wonderful restaurants (Chinese and other) that are certainly good and fantastic. But we, not knowing the good places to go, and wanting to taste "real" Chinese food only, were a bit disappointed. It was (almost) tasteless. But then, it was difficult to choose the right menu from an image only (as neither my friend nor I read Chinese!). On two evenings we picked restaurants where there were no other white people besides the two of us (!!), therefore we couldn't even ask anyone for an opinion (the third evening we picked a sushi bar!). We were lucky enough to get waitresses who spoke at least a bit English! (Understanding them is another thing though hahahaha). So, I choose a menu and didn't wanna know what exactly I had ordered. I ordered it and I ate it. I stuck to vegetarian meals though, obsiously, as I am not into dog or cat or any other kind of strange - at least to us Westerner - meat! I found the food tasteless (but, as I said, maybe it was the wrong food to order! It would have been great to have a local person with us).
It wasn't disgusting. Not slimy. Simply no taste (or at least not enough for my palate). But now I know why they have XXXS sizes at the GAP stores for the Chinese women. No salt. No carbs. No fat. hahaha
Apparently, the food in Hong Kong has less fat than in other Chinese regions - I have learned from a guide.
To cut a long story short: after three days of Hong Kong food I was ready for some real tasty Asian food.

And I got it in Cambodia! So yummy! So delicious! Every single dish / plate we ordered was wonderful.
I am not good at describing food with words. Food has to be tasted, smelt and looked at (in my opinion). And that I did the whole time I was in Siem Reap. I tasted, smelt, looked at it ... and ate it (obviously). No probs on the part of my digestion either because of all the Mango (shakes, juices, etc.) I had. My digestion was doing wonderfully well. It felt even detoxing :-)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Remembering Angkor Wat: the traffic

The traffic in Angkor Wat / Siem Reap left me somehow ... speechless. My first impression, while sitting on our Tuk Tuk from the Airport to the hotel was that of ... chaos. But that was my Western way of seeing the world, I found out. Five days later, while leaving Siem Reap, I didn't think "chaos" any longer. I thought that their motto rather was: go with the flow.
That's what they are doing.
They go with the flow.
Traffic rarely stops completely. There are traffic jams, yes, but somehow they keep moving (moderate tempo, obviously, but tempo nevertheless).
And the cars and trucks rarely honk. They do honk though to kind of say "hey, be careful, I am coming". Usually, you hear a honk and then a truck passes the Tuk Tuk.
I was amazed as well with the quantity of stuff they are loading on their motorcycles, bicycles or trucks. I have no idea how they do it ... but they do!!

PS: Having said all this I have to admit though that I never ever would have driven a bicycle or a motorcycle myself in this traffic. Never! Too exhausting. And too dangerous (for a Westerner i.e. non used to this kind of traffic rules hahahaha).






Sunday, November 23, 2014

Angkor Wat ... back home


I am back home. Can't believe it yet. My mind has not yet arrived in my appartment and my body kind of wishes to be back in Cambodia (the change of temperature was kind of a shock - from 30°C to 5°C in what felt like a heartbeat - oh my!!).
Well, complaining is useless. I am back. I will have to get used to it. Like each time. Today (after a good night sleep - the journey yesterday was long and tedious!) I am doing some laundry, going through my stuff and enjoying the wonderful souvenirs I have bought in Siem Reap (you'll see the pictures). I will have to go through my hundreds of pictures I have taken ... but not today. Today is about taking it easy. Give my mind and my body time to come back :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Angkor Wat ... tomorrow is the last day

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is gonna be our last day. We have scheduled a last trip with our driver. We are gonna visit a group of small temples outside the city of Siem Reap which will take us only about half a day. We'll spend the afternoon packing our stuff, enjoying the swimming pool one last time and then doing some last walking around and eating some very nice Cambodian dinner (I will have to tell you about the very nice food we had here!).
Time went by so fast. It's incredible.
We'll spend Saturday practically on a plane. First we fly to Bangkok and then we continue to Europe. All in all it's gonna be around 14 hours sitting in an airplane. I don't wanna think about it.
I can't believe the trip is almost over. 
Have I mentioned that it's 30° C outside with a humidity of about 80%?????

Angkor Wat ... The Grand Tour

7 temples in 7 hours! What a day. Today we did the Grand Tour which includes all the non-major temples  And what a surprise it was! Every one of them was different and special and mystical ... especially because ... we often had the sites for ourselves. We had a hard time believing it. There seem to be so many people around and suddendly there were just the rocks and ourselves. I will need to tell you more about the hordes of tourists that we meet all day long. But that's a story for another day.
Today, was just WOW. WOW. And WOW.
PS: I seem to have lost my words in Angkor :-)