Ultimate Guide to Bricklane Market, London: Insider Tips from East Londoner

10446477_10202158111900621_8023066287751226761_nChilling with a pint of cool cider along with live jazz music on a Sunday afternoon? That’s proper for a East Londoner like me.

If I have to pick my favourite place in London, the answer would be Bricklane Market on Sunday without any second thoughts. Bricklane Market is one of the well-known street markets in London, it’s different from the others like Camden or Nothing hill, with the real East London vintage vibe (oversized sweater and ripped denim jeans). It became my habit to go there at least once weekend in a month, I can nearly tell where’s where with my eyes shut and my friend joke about I spend more time there than my uni. If you’re looking for some insider tips of the market, here are few things you should know:

Come on Sunday or you Missed EVERYTHING!!

Ok, every times I talked to people that found nothing special about Bricklane came to one and only conclusion: They never visit it on Sunday. Yes, there’s plenty permanent vintage boutique in the area but there will be pop-up cloths racks, food cart or street performers that filled up the street only on Sunday! A big empty car park will turn into a pop-up market that half filled with food stalls from all around the world and half with budget vintage or designer shops.

So plan a visit on Sunday, nearest tube station: Shoreditch High Street/Liverpool Street

Budget Vintage Fashion

Fancy some hippies round glasses, oversized leather jacket, turtle neck sweater, high waist denim? Bricklane will be the shopping paradise for you. The style here are more like a rock n roll, worn out 70s-90s style than the classy Parisian vintage, so the price are relatively cheaper than any other vintage market I’ve ever been! Simply look through the pop-up one along the street or in the car park, most of the time they will have sales like all racks for 5 quid or 10! You can even try asking for a cheeky price cut when around 5 at  the closing time!

Here are some of my favourite budget vintage shop:

Beyond Retro

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One of my favourite coat brought in Beyond Retro

Definitely my first pick! Sailor anchor with a yellow background is symbolic! It’s a vintage chained stall all over the UK or even Stockholm. Located 5 minutes away on a side street along Bricklane, only true vintage lover know the place. With an outlet that clothes are always on sale and every sales are one fashionista!

Rokit

Another vintage chained store, located in the middle of Bricklane, the two stores are separated by a brand outlet. Each one have a slightly different theme, and both men and women fashion. The racks are classified into styles or materials, and those Rokit Recycle are redesigned pieces perfect for the petite vintage.

Vintage Basement

Two floor filled with vintage clothing, all pieces in the basement are 10 quid under!

Foodie Paradise

Sunday Bricklane is not just for fashion lover but all foodie, literally you will find one in every ten steps! There are few places filled with food carts and pop-up food stalls:

Old Spitalfield Market, with all kinds of freshly made food

Sunday pop-up corner/Truman Brewery Food Court

Along Bricklane

Last but not least you can’t leave before you get a proper British salted beef bagel! 10/10 with tender salted beef server with mustard and London gherkin in the signature bagel! Fancy something stylish, try out the Cereal Killer Cafe or amazing Mexican restaurants along the road!

Art and Lifestyle

Once you step outside Shoreditch High Street Station, on your left hand side of the  main road there’s a series of designer brand inside Boxpark, a pop-up venue made with shipping containers. You will find some really fun and stylish stuffs to get home. Along Bricklane, you will find some show look like a garage or filled up with messy antique. If you’re not afraid to get your hand in the messy, you may find some really unique and budged decorations.

If you’re a music lovers, you should love the Rough Trade, with all kind of Indie, Alternative music. On the weekends, the shop will turn into a gig venue, as well Cafe1001 right opposite to Rough Trade. You can find lots of vintage, classic vinyl records in the market as well.

Not far from the station, there’s a flower market named Columbia Road Flower Market, you can get all kinds of plants in there.

If you ever see me there on Sunday, don’t hesitate to say hi!

Simple Recipe: Inspirations of Alternative Chinese Mains in 30 Minutes

IMAG1934Rice is an essential element in Chinese dinning however, I’m not much of a rice person. Since my family is not a very traditional one, they won’t force me to have rice in every meal, so I prefer having mains with very small portion or even without rice. After I’ve been studying aboard, it became even harder to cook the right proportion of rice that I always ended up eating the same pot for few days. So here are some inspirations mains that sorted a meal for one:

Tiger Prawn in Two Ways (Steamed with shredded garlic and in tomato stew)

I’m a seafood lover, prawns, crab, fish, oyster…are all my  favourite. I found that the way of cooking seafood had much more variety in Asia than in the west, and here are two of my favourite ways to handle a whole tiger prawn (from head to tail!):

Ingredients:

1/2 kg whole prawn

Tomato stew:

2 tomatoes

ketchup

sugar and salt

chopped garlic

Steam with garlic:

shredded garlic

2 t/s rice wine/white wine

salt and black pepper

Preparation: Clean the prawn and leave the shell on, put them into a cold salted water for 10 minutes that will make the  prawn more chewy textured

How to(tomato stew):

  1. Pan fried the half of the chopped garlic with butter. Then add half of the prawn in. Take them out when you see the prawn started to change into orange colour for later.
  2. Added the tomato in, flavouring with ketchup, salt and sugar, taste it for your own preference. Pour bit of boiled water till the sauce became thicker.
  3. Add the prawn in and stir until they are wrapped in sauce and fully cooked.

How to(steam prawn):

  1. Prepare a pot of boiling water and a metal tray that higher than the water level.
  2. Place the rest of the prawn on a plate and topped with shredded garlic, salt and pepper. Evenly pour the wine on the prawn.
  3. Place the plate on the metal tray and cover the pot with it lid (this method is call water steaming, that apply to many other Chinese dishes as well).
  4. Steam around 7-10 minutes until cooked (varies with prawn size) and dip with soya sauce.

Homemade Dumpling

IMAG1932Alternative choice of nutritious meal, with starch, meat and vegetable. Homemade one is much cheaper and tastier than those you buy from any Chinese supermarket, simply frozen and save for the next meal when you fancy some dumplings!

 Ingredients:

300g minced pork

1 pack of Chinese dumpling pastry (30 slices in white colour)

1 Pak choi (large) or 4 (small)

plain flour

How to:

  1. Marinated the minced pork for 10-15 minutes How to marinate*
  2. Spraying some plain flour on a plate that make the pastry dry and separated from each other.
  3. Chopped the pak choi into fine pieces and mix well with the minced pork.
  4. Take out a 10p coin sized portion of meat filling and placed it in the middle of the round pastry.
  5. Folded it halved, stick the edge of the pastry with water and flour. Making small fold along sides bit by bit to seal the dumpling.
  6. Put the dumplings into a boiling pot of water until they all float. Serve them will you favourite sauce!

Dip suggestions:

– soya sauce with fresh chopped chilli

– soya sauce with sesame oil and vinegar

– soya sauce, sesame paste, vinegar and chilli oil

Special Congee in Winter Melon Broth

Serving rice in soup is perfect for those day that you don’t fill like eating a lot and suitable for dieting. Winter melon is summer seasonal vegetable that can cool down your inner body heat.

Ingredients:

1 slice of winter melon (3-4cm thick, can be found in any Chinese supermarket)

1 portion of boiled rice

1 cube of chicken cube

Any other ingredients you want, ham, chicken slices, mushroom, mixed seafood…

How to:

  1. Pealed the skin of the winter melon and chopped it into 2cm cube size. Chopped any other ingredients you want
  2. Add the chicken cube to a boiled pot of water and the melon in and cover with lid then boiling it for 10-15 minutes. Added other ingredients.
  3. Pour the soup into the rice bowl and it’s done!

Simple Recipe Part 1: Quick and Tasty Hong Kong Dishes you can Sorted in 30 Minutes

IMAG1274My cooking skills had improved a lot since I studied aboard, since I’m totally dependent on my own now. Eating out in London is a quite pricey for me, I prefer cooking myself in order to save up and be healthier. While I got used to the busy, efficient lifestyle in Hong Kong, long preparation for a meal like marinating, baking really bother me, so usually my meals can be sorted with the simplest ingredients, nearly no preparation time and cooked in less than 30 minutes. If you are looking for a quick meal for 1-2 portions like me, here are few easy and still, tasty recipe inspired by homemade Hong Kong dishes:

*Remark: Marinate beef, pork or chicken with soya sauce, salt, sugar and black pepper is our basic preparation for meat. This is a simple but incredibly useful tip to bring up the taste of any dishes.

Baked Rice with Pork Chop in Hong Kong Style

Baked rice is a very signature dish for Hong Konese ‘Local Tea House’, kind of a east meet west fusion dish and taste extremely satisfying!

 Ingredients:

2 pork chop steak

2 tomatoes

2 portion of rice (may varies)

1-2 eggs

1 bottle of tomato pasta sauce

Cheese

How to:

  1. Marinate the pork steak for 15-20 minutes, pan fry it for use later.
  2. Fry the steamed rice with eggs. (even better with leftover/refrigerated rice, the less water in it, the easier to fry!)
  3. Place the egg fried rice at the bottom of a oven plate, topped with pork chops then tomato pasta sauce. Add as much vegetable and cheese as you want!
  4. Pre heat the oven, but the plate in and bake for 15 minutes/ the sauce dried up.

Braised Pork Belly

IMG-20140123-WA0007When I cooked this dish for my westerner flatmate they all don’t believe how easy and tasty the dish is simply made with 3 ingredients.

 Ingredients:

200g pork belly

Soya sauce

5-8 Crystal sugar cube (this sugar is best for braise dish)

Additional flavouring:

-White/black pepper

-seven spicy powder

-deep fried onion

-dark soya sauce

How to:

  1. Put the pork belly in a pot of boiling water for few minutes till the surface is slightly cooked. Diced it into small pieces around 1cm cube.
  2. Hot a pot with oil, fry the diced pork belly. Add 1:1 ratio of soya sauce to water into the pot. Turn it to low heat after boiling.
  3. Add the crystal sugar cube, constantly taste the sauce and varies the sweet or salty level with sugar or salt. Gently stir it or with additional flavour and colouring with dark soya sauce .
  4. Braise for another 20-30 minutes till the sauce is thicken and wrapped around each pork belly cube.

      5. Serve it with plain noodle/steaming rice/ hot steam rice!

Tomato Soup with Homemade Meatball

Ingredients:

4 tomatoes

2 potatoes

1 carrot

1 onion

150g minced pork

Meatballs preparation:

  1. Marinate the minced pork* for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Mix well the minced pork with strength like crushing a flour dough, till it became a meat platter with thick texture.
  3. Take a portion out and rounded it like a ping-pong size.

How to:

  1. Quartered the tomatoes, chop the other vegetable.
  2. Pour a t/s oil into a pot, slightly stir fry the tomatoes. This will get the taste of it into the soup easier
  3. Put all the vegetable to a pot of water till boiling, then add the meatball in.
  4. Crush the tomatoes. Wait till the soup changed into slightly orange colour and the vegetable are fully cooked. Sever we a pin of salt and it’s done!

 

Travel Strategy: How to Get the Cheapest Musical Ticket on Broadway and London Westend

IMAG1876I always wish to see live musicals from the day I’m in love with musical movies like Grease, Chicago, West Side Story and much more… I went to see my first ever musical Mama Mia when I study aboard in London and couldn’t get enough of it. Last year, my favourite musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch was rerunning by the original director/writer/composer/actor John Cameron Mitchell after a decade of its first off Broadway release so I made my first visit to the US/ the first time solo  improvise trip to New York.  Besides most of the method you can found to get the budget ticket on the internet like the TSTK Booth or buying on Timeout, here are some tips for getting them in both Broadway and Westend based on experiences:

1. Last Minute Walk-in

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Got a student discount ticket for Mama Mia in London. First musical checked!

The time I went to NYC I first tried to get a cheap ticket over the TSTK booth where ticket are usually selling up to 50% off, however those tickets are half price of some nice seats so it was still a bit pricey for me. From my previous experience in London, I always came across a decent price for a musical ticket when I just walk-in the and ask for the cheapest ticket so I decided to try my luck in NYC as well. The staff told me to come to check 30 minutes right before the show goes on and I ended up watching 5 musicals in a week of their amazingly affordable price.

Apart from walk-in limited discount ticket for like students or senior, the last minute walk-in is only available 30 minutes before the show is on and only for off peek show time like the weekdays. These are lowest priced ticket for the seats left from selling during the day  and varies with availability which usually gone real quick. So I suggest you wait at the ticket booth a little bit earlier to ask for the last minute ticket in time.

By using this advantage, I got to see Body Guard Musical in London for 25 pounds, 27-37 USD seeing Chicago, Jersey Boys and Les Miserable on Broadway. Sometimes these are seats on the front roll but don’t hesitate to get it, it’s indeed a great seat with view of the whole stage and I garreteer music  won’t be over loud.

2. Special Seating

Not much people know about this type of ‘seat’, well, there are no seat technically and they are limited offer mostly on weekend afternoon show time. You will be still allocated a position for standing behind the back roll of the grand circle. If you don’t mind standing for 2 hours, it is a very good choice to see some popular show in a low price in case they don’t have the last minutes tickets.

Standing 2 hours were easier than I thought and time files while I was seeing the 2014’s Tony Award winner “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”, fun and credit to the amazing actor Jefferson Mays. Keep an eye on any empty seats since you can sit in if the seat is not occupied after the interval break.

The alternative choice for cheap seats are what they call ‘view may varies’ seat, which mean the view may be distracted by equipment like spot lights or amplifier. From my experience, the front roll of the second floor/mezzanine/upper circle is some nice seat indeed, that you can see the whole stage and big scaled choreography.

3. Free Lottery Ticket

If you are not desperate seeing a particular musical or want to give test your luck to win a free ticket, participating in the lottery is worth a go!  Most of the show offer one free lottery ticket per each show, so you can join in by leaving your name and contact for the lottery draw mostly an hour and a half before the show starts. you have to be present while the lucky draw, so don’t plan to participate in multi draw which you will not be able to show up immediately to claim the free ticket.

Tips to have a higher chance of winning is aimed at some less big scaled musical like the Lion King or Phantom of the Opera to minimize the competition.

4. Special Screening

Special screening is held on some random weekday afternoon and for special occasion like booked for student visit or charity or pre show of a new cast. Keep an eye on the official website of each musicals and they will announce special offers on these date. This kind of show is usually offer by shows that have a bigger theatre and   more popularity. I went to see the Lion King in London just for 35 pounds!

Shopping in Style: 5 Picks of Vintage/ Flea Market Around the World

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Everyone have their own favourite golden era, mine is the 80s with all the dramatic hair and fashion. Walking through vintage market it’s like an alternative way to see their history through fashion and antique that represent certain eras of different countries. I love collecting second hand fashion and gadgets that so unique and real bargain! Here are my few picks of budgeted vintage market:

#1 Bricklane Market, London

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Mural with constantly changing graffiti.

Basically heaven for vintage lover like me! The area is filled with East London vintage vibes, with cheap vintage clothing, eyes catching graffiti and full of street food! Bricklane is my favourite area in the entire London and may find me wondering around with handful of bags and food on Sunday. The market is full of second hand cameras, antique, furniture and much more to offer.

IMAG5442Oversized jackets, cardigan sweaters, high waist denim jeans,? You can find everything to complete your look from 20s to 00s. With vintage chain shop like Rokit and Beyond Retro, you can find high quality second hands in bargain! Or search  through a rank all for 5 quid on the street stores, here is no pressure to your wallet!

The area is open daily however, the best visit to Bricklane is on Sunday. On Sunday, it’s filled with streets of food carts, a whole floor of pop up shops, and street performers just around each corner! Don’t forget to try out the best salted beef bagel!

#2 Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, Paris

The largest flea market in Paris, open on the weekend. The market started with ordinary flea market stuff like retails clothing or tourists goods. Vintage gems are located at the end of the market, filled with vinyl records shops, second hand fashion, antique, and lots of amazing interior stores.

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Amazing modernism interior decorations on the road.

The shops here are full characters, like each boutique is specified in its own era or style. Each and every little interior store is a complete decorated room with its own theme. A laidback atmosphere is in the area, you can certainly enjoy a chilling Parisian afternoon there.

#3 Brooklyn Flea, New York

My host in New York offered to take me to breakfast and the flea market on a Sunday morning. I had the best avocado toast ever in my life!

The market is kind of hard to find in the middle of the community but it worth visiting if you’re a antique or furniture fan. The market has lots of old furniture and I was addicted to an old greenish wooden chair. There are many fascinating little gadgets like metal toys or military pledges. Apart from vintage stuff, you can find some local artists or designers stores as well. Tired after a long shipping day? Simply grab a beer next door and meet some cool people.

#4 Ap Liu Street, Hong Kong

Flea market in Hong Kong is popular for its cheap price and variety. These markets are differ from the western one, most of them are selling daily goods instead of second hand stuff which people consider those may bring bad luck.

Ap Liu Street is located at Sham Shui Po district, was one of the old public estate area in Hong Kong, the lower living standard explained the low pricing of goods in the area. Ap Liu Street aimed selling electronic gadgets, from phone case, machine pieces to devices repairing services. There are many shops for fabric and clothing export and retail as well. Not to mention you will end up in a food coma after having cheap and tasty street food along the market.

#5 Sofo, Stockholm

Walk pass the Old Town in Stockholm will enter the artistic area Gamla Stan. Alternatives of northern Europe interior, you can find best of both from aged and classy to modern and posh. Looking for high fashion? Then you may find some recycled vintage garment with designer retouches.

If you are a photographer or simply looking for some cool museum to visit then walk along the sea side of Gamla Stan. Beside a beautiful view over Stockholm skyline you will find Fotografiska, a contemporary photography museum showing some of the most significant photographer’s work of the century.

Golden Era in Art History: Picks of Modern Art Museums

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Just got back from Stockholm and ready to start this month with theme Art and Lifestyle.

I’m a huge fan of modernism. Modern art is always fun to look at and there are many genius are involving. I try to visit as many modern art museum as possible when travelling to different cities. I’m currently expending my collection of authentic pieces from my painter Francis Picabia (since he’s not that famous, he doesn’t have any personal exhibition so I can only found his works one by one in each modern art museum.). Here are countdown of my 5 favorite modern art museums:

 

#1 MoMA, New York

No matter are you an art fan or a regular tourist to the NYC, you won’t be disappointed at MoMA.

MoMA not just collected works from names that everyone know in modern art like Dali, Frida, Warhol, Matisse…but their finest collections! Like Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Monet’s Water Lillies, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon(and way more to name.)! It was like heaven to me once I entered the painting gallery, finally seeing those paintings that I used to be learning from and familiar with in real live!

There are exhibitions about contemporary installations, films and photography as well in MoMA, no problem spending days there. And visit to the museum shop is a MUST!

 

#2 Centre Pompidou, Paris

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Center Pompidou is the biggest modern art museum in Europe, the center itself is already a piece of modern architecture and capable of multi functions like theater and conference room.

Apart from a huge collections of famous modernism art work, I highly recommend the contemporary art session. There are lots of interesting and large scaled  installations that visitors are able to interact with. These installations are one of the best ways to raise discussion over social issue.

 

#3 Tate Modern, London

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Painting from Francis Picabia

It’s obvious from the name the museum is all about modern art. Good things always comes for free! There are no admission fee for the permanent exhibitions including collections of paintings to installations. Time by time there are paid special exhibition and pop up exhibits on the ground floor in the museum as well.

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Don’t forge to check out the stunning view over the Thame on the second floor balcony!

Tate modern is well known of its generous support to British contemporary artist, which offering an open space and programs for young artists to start up their projects. Art of the leading contemporary British artists like Damien Hirst and Sara Lucas had been featured in Tate before.

 

#4 Kiasma, Helsinki

If you consider yourself a socialist or activist, you will like Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki. Kiasma is different from the other modern art museum.  Without a permanent collections of art works, Kiasma temporary exhibitions collaborate with contemporary artist and their up-to-date works.

These exhibits are more like intervention toward hot topics in the society like globalizations, 3rd world war, feminism etc, and with various medium like film, sculpture, installation and so on. You may ended up involved in social debate there, who knows!

 

#5 Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo

IMAG1193If you are a fan of architecture, you will be amazed by those unique and smoothness post-modern architecture in northern Europe. You will be surrounded by art just entering the area of Oslo pot and sure to recognize the this stunning museum designed by Renzo Piano.

Astrup Fearnley Museet is supported by private company and aimed at cultural exhibition, like bringing American and European pop art together. It has a large collection of Damien Hirst’s(British significant contemporary artist who graduated from my university, Goldsmiths, UoL)well known installations of animal specimen.

Volunteer Trip in Taiwan: Tribal & Cultures Experience that You Can’t Miss

1526808_10202957483081300_210882518_nI volunteered in YMCA since 2009, I enjoy doing services and this opportunity had brought me lot of precious memories along with some of the best people I’ve ever met.

Under a global citizen scheme of YMCA, I had a volunteer exchange aimed at elderly issues in臺中TaiChung (middle part of Taiwan) for 10 days in winter 2014. We had a inspirational and unforgettable trip to volunteer in a whole new environment. Since we were taken by staffs in Taiwan YMCA, they offered us some ultimate activities we never expecting with the tribes that you can’t come across in a travel guide.

Private Hot Spring in the Woods

After spending two days visiting the services center and exploring the city in南投Nantou, we arrived 野百合民宿 YeBaiHe Hostel, located in a valley with natural hot spring in 仁愛 RenAi province. If you’re looking for a hostel that relaxing in the nature with high privacy, this will be the ideal place to spends a few nights.

The hostel is very hidden, needed to be picked up by the owner to a narrow, one-way path (barely called a road). First thing we came across is the open garden with the public hot spring, we were arranged to a dorm for 4 and each room has its private hot spring pool as well. The owner of the hostel was from布農族Bunun, one of the Taiwanese aborigine ethnic groups, the taught us how to make some tribal accessories and offered us hot pot and grill of local farm’s ingredients.

We spent the night bathing in the private hot spring and slept like babies!

Beauty Alert: Hot spring is very good for blood circulation due to its temperature, and the minerals in it refreshed your skin. However, don’t jump in a hot spring if you’re too hungry or full. Don’t stay in for too long and remember to keep yourself hydrated and cool down after a while in the hot spring.

Adventures in the Rainforest

TaiChung still kept some of the rural environment of Taiwan. We visited one of the rainforest and guided by another tribe. We had a brief session of simple safety precaution and basic knots making skills before going in. We walked through the mist along thousands years old woods. The guide stopped us in front of a fairly empty space with massive trees surrounding us and told us it’s the time to swing on the tree like. The moment we were still in confusions, he pulled a string on one of the trees like 15 meters high and started tiding a safe lock on the lock on our body . WE HAD TO SWING ON THE TREE! I was bit terrified when it came to my turn, I step on the holder with one foot standing straight and both hands grabbing the string, while other pushing me up hill then released, I was strung in the air like 10 meters above the ground! I literally felt like Tarzan and swing across the forest, it was an amazing experience to feel the excitement and freedom!

If you want to have some adventures like this, there’s local travel agency that customize different tours around the area according to your needs.

Volunteering in Rural Taiwan

I know it’s a bit hard to accomplish but definitely worth a go, especially a very special and precious chance for me to volunteer in a different country and culture.

Due to the mountain and valley type geometric condition of南投Nantou, leaded to transportation problems for health care and low job opportunity, the area are left with lots of elderly that their family are working big cities in Taiwan. The aging and elderly problem is the focus service in this trip.

We arrived a charity run day-care center for elderly in埔里鎮Puli, that elderly in the area can gather for food and activities. We had a warm welcome by the elderly in the center with a lovely dance and eventually we shared our performances and little gift that we’ve been preparing for the entire trip. Although we speak different languages (most of them still speak Japanese due to their history that some of the tribes are taken by Japan) we had an amazing time together.

The experience was differ from I thought, the elderly in the center are very healthy despite their ages, they go to day care is looking for companies and better way to spend their days. They were so happy even we just sat and talked, the moment when they held my hand and giving me blessing touched me deep down. All they want is not money sent from the city but their family and accompany.

Watching Sunrise on top of the Tea Field

Don’t miss the sunrise in Puli! Driving to the top of the hill at 5 am, first the sky was covered in mist, then there’s a yellow string curled up the clouds and finally golden light beams burst through. It was just like a water color painting and blessed to see what the nature had gave us.

Photo credits to my best friend Michelle.C 🙂