Guoliang Village – China’s Hideaway

PC/Sunday, 22 September 2013

guoliang-village-zhengzhou

Guoliang Village, with 350 strong independent people, is situated in Wanxianshan scenic area, Henan Province. A favourite tourists‘ spot, visitors say there are very beautiful mind boggling views of stunning canyon, landscapes, cliffs & mountain ranges.

For access there is a daring road carved into the side of a cliff, though difficult to reach, it’s well worth the trip.

Hidden away in the Taihang Mountains it’s covered by an amazing transportation system.

guoliang-village-zhengzhou4
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guoliang-village-zhengzhou9Guoliang Village was a tiny Chinese village high in the Taihang Mountains in Henan Province. Nobody heard about it. The only way to reach it was via steps cut on the side of a very steep cliff on which their village was built. They called the stairway their “Sky Ladder.” Perhaps the difficult access and a defensible position kept the little village safe when trouble was brewing in the area. But in 1972, the village elders including Shen Mingxin were determined to build a road. They wanted their village connected to the outside world and for people to be able to reach it other than by laboriously climbing stairs. So in 1972, with hand tools, 13 strong villagers started carving a road down the side of the canyon road. It is a single lane road that is about 12 or 13 feet across and about 15 or 16 feet high. Many tourists see their handiwork as a colossal feat. The road was finished in 5 years, and the result is that the village is famed as a tourist attraction.

The road is amazing considering that it is tunnels and levelled cliff face. The road stretches about a mile. It reminds me of a tunnel an ant colony might dig. They carved arches for their tunnel and levelled sections of cliff face so that tourist buses are able to go up. It isn’t wide enough to be a two lane road, but cars can pass each other slowly. The road was opened in 1977.

Along with seeing the road, tourists like visiting the welcoming little village people. They like hiking up the road because the canyon and the mountaintop area have spectacular scenery. The village itself is unusual because the villagers built it of stone. The walls, chairs, tables and even the bowls and some eating utensils were made of stone. The village probably has an interesting history of survival in a harsh land. The canyon below the village is very narrow and deep. There are coloured rock layers, and you can better see the colours of the layers in the tunnel and along the road cut. There is also a beautiful waterfall.

It is said that to pay for the tools to carve the road, the villagers of Guoliang Village 郭亮村 sacrificed a lot and even sold their animals and other necessities of life. What they probably didn’t realise was that the government would later think that this was a prime tourist attraction in central China. When the borders were opened for foreign travel in the last decade, foreigners started to find it and post pictures about it. Even a few years ago, it was a difficult place for foreigners to find and reach, but now the village is getting famous. Hotels have opened in the village, and bridges and walkways have been built for the tourists so that they can walk around in the area. Foreigners say that the hiking and scenery is excellent and there are lots of stairs to climb around on.

In the summer of 2011, there was a dispute between the villagers and officials about access and payment. Access to the village was restricted to foreigners, but some tourists still got in. So if you are planning a trip there, check the internet for the latest news.

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Getting there is still not easy. Here is an address to show people: 河南新乡市辉县万仙山景区.

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The Village of Guoliang is about 120 kilometres or 75 miles north of the city of Zhengzhou in the Wanxianshan Scenic Area. If you want to go there by train, the nearest train station is at Xinxiang at (新乡) that is about 50 miles southeast of the Wanxianshan Scenic Area. From there, you can take buses to the town of Huixian 辉县. Get off at the Huxian Bus Station, and then take another bus to the Wanxianshan Scenic Area. This leg costs about 6 RMB or 1 USD and takes 30 minutes. From there, there are buses that cost 11 RMB that go the the scenic area. This leg takes about two hours though it is only about 40 miles away because the buses make many stops. The bus lets you off at the scenic area at a place where you can hire another ride or hike the 4 kilometres to Guoliangcun or 2.5 kilometres to another village called Nanping. There is an 80 RMB entrance fee if the park is open. The walk through Guoliang Tunnel is breathtaking, but keep an eye out for motorists. The road is steep in some places.

 

 

Camouflaged Village in Afghanistan


At the bottom of the sandstone slope is a village, looking very much like the natural cliffs at the top of the picture.

This is really unbelievable! You would never know this is a village looking down from above!

The best natural camouflage ever!!! Amazing nature’s camouflage!

Can you believe it??

Environmentally friendly

Cave dwellings that blend absolutely with the environment.

Long lasting & maintenance free.

Militarily, it’s excellent natural defence.

No cause for alarm even with the most sophisticated modern weapons.

And you wonder why they couldn’t find Osama 
bin Laden?

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Photos by 3rd Recon Bn RVN USMC

Value versus Valuable

By P Chong                                                                        21 November 2011

1984 & 1997 Lincoln Cent Double Ear

2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter with Extra Leaf

Here below is a laughable illustration on the question of “Value Vs Valuable”. With old things in Australia, we have a market for “Trash & Treasure” – what’s trash to you maybe treasure to others.

An elderly lady was standing at the railing

of the cruise ship holding her hat tight so that

it would not blow away in the wind.

A gentleman approached her and said,

“Pardon me, madam.. I do not intend to be

forward but did you know that your dress

is blowing up in this high wind?”

“Yes, I know,” said the lady. “I need both

my hands to hold onto this hat.”

“But madam, you must know that you are not

wearing any panties and your privates are

exposed!” said the gentleman in earnest.

The woman looked down, then back up at the

man and replied,

Sir, anything you see down there is 75 years old.

I just bought this hat yesterday!”

There is a thing or two about the collection of old vintage, antique or classic. Amateurs will not be able to value such items – only the experts & antique appraisers are called upon for such valuation.

However in an auction where collectors assemble, bids can go higher than the estimated value. It all depends on “What is it that you really want? And what’s the price you are willing to pay for it?”. When it meets with the heart’s desire, it becomes priceless!

In another light, to me the question of sentiment is held topmost in my mind & heart. When I was in college those days in England, I did woodwork as an option subject. For it I chose to do a needlecraft work-table out of teak, all crafted with joints only. Though not an exceptional skilful handyman, I laboured with all my heart and was credited in giving it to the girl of my heart, who became my wife. Now . . . how would you appraise such a priceless piece of art?

This needlecraft work-table will always remain in my heart

and never to part!

Photos: Wikipedia

All Creatures Great & Small – Finger Monkeys

Amazonian Rainforest, Monkey Island (Peru).
Image via Wikipedia

By P Chong                                                                                    Saturday, 8 October 2011

Human beings like to possess. With creatures great & small,

there’s no exception. In fact, for the rich & famous, keeping

an exotic zoo in the backyard is the thing. The more exotic the animals,

all the more they keep & treasure.

You’ll find a range of pets from the creepy crawly ones like snakes to fierce & ferocious creatures such as lions & tigers and to the very gigantic elephants.

What about a monkey as a pet? Not just any monkey but a tiny little “finger or pocket monkey”? These monkeys are just 14 inches tall & so cute! They’re called finger monkeys, a specie from the rain-forests of South America – Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia. They are also known as ‘Pocket Monkey’ and ‘Tiny Lion’. These primates belong to the family Callitrichidae, species Cebuella and genus C. pygmaea. (Dumage.com – Pictures)

This cute little primate hugs and grips on to your finger so tight that it pulls your heartstrings, and you wish you could take it home with you.

The finger monkey is the tiniest living primate in the world. It’s so small that it can hold on to your finger.

Enjoy! If it wasn’t for the Internet, would you have ever seen 

or have known about these little creatures?

 

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These are the smallest monkeys in the world although there are some primates that are bit smaller (pygmy mouse lemurs and pygmy tarsiers). The body weight of adults in the wild averages only 4 ounces! You can see from the picture why they are often called “finger monkeys.” They are about 5 inches (13cm) tall, not including the tail. Which means they might be hard to observe in the wild as they’re tiny enough to be high-up in the trees on small branches. Up there, they have to be on the lookout for birds of prey. They are able to jump more than 16 ft or 5 m! Quite a distance for such a small monkey.

They inhabit the Amazon rain forest in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. They scramble about like squirrels in the deep rain forest and drink the sap of trees. Since they are so tiny they can climb very high up in the trees on slender branches to find untapped sources of food – the sap and gum of trees. Ever see gum arabic listed in the ingredients of food products? It is a commercially available exudate from acacia trees that these little monkeys are happy to eat straight without any mixers. They also like to eat grasshoppers and some other insects when available. They enjoy a view of the water and prefer forests that may have a riverfront view or else flood-plain. (FactZoo.com)

Male pygmy marmosets may make displays of strength and prowess when confronted by other males and competing for territory. They do this by raising and flattening their ear tufts, arching their backs, grimacing while eyeing each other and displaying their genitals. Females usually give birth to two and sometimes three babies.

These monkeys are not good pets as they do bite and throw faeces. In captivity they are not happy away from their families and are hard to care for.

If you are thinking of them as “Exotic Pets”, you must find a veterinarian able to treat a primate before you bring your pet monkey home. These veterinarians are not easy to find.

Vietnam – World’s Biggest Cave

Hidden in the depths of the Vietnamese jungle lies The Hang Son Doong, part of a network of over 150 caves, the world’s biggest cave has been discovered by British cavers in 2009. The cave passage in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, originally thought to be a modest 150 metres long and 200 feet high, is so large its end is yet to be found.

These are some more of the breathtaking images:

Intrepid journey: A caver stands in front of a huge rock formation as the light shines beneath a skylight in Hang Son Doong

But these remarkable images – taken during two further expeditions of the caves – show the previously undiscovered depths of the magnificent cave passage, now the largest in the world.

At a mammoth 2.5 miles long, 330ft wide and almost 800ft high, Hang Son Doong also known as Mountain River Cave, is as high as 25 double decker buses.

Wonderful waterfalls: A waterfall explodes into Hang Son Doong in the hidden depths of the Vietnamese jungle, which is part of a network of over 150 caves

And as shown in these amazing images taken by photographer Carsten Peter, there is even a jungle concealed deep inside the cave.

Carsten from Munich, Germany, took the images in 2010 when he joined British and German cavers during further expeditions of the site.

The purpose of the expedition was to make a complete exploration of Hang Son Doong and create a photographic record of the cave.

Cartsen, 52 said he spent up to two weeks at a time deep inside the caves, where he slept with just a sleeping bag and spent his time exploring and photographing the secret underground world.

He said: ‘We discovered new parts of the cave, it’s a huge area so to find them and access them is very difficult.

Photographing caves of this size is a challenge, it needs a lot of preparation.

But it’s a great feeling to photograph a newly discovered cave, for me I see the cave for the first time when I see the photographs.

I love to explore, I have been in some great caves in my lifetime and this is one of the most magnificent.

I’ve been a photographer and explorer for the last 35 years and I’ve visited so many caves, I’ve lost count.

But this is by far one of the most unique and unusual caves I have ever seen.

To see a cave so large it has a forest inside is superb – it was overwhelming.’

 

Source: Daily Mail Reporter/Science And Tech

Last updated on 28th July 2011

Photos: National Geographic Magazine

AUSTRALIA

Flag of Australia
Image via Wikipedia

A United Society Transmitting Righteousness And Love In Abundance


Australia, the country of our choice

We hold you in great joy

May you ever be

A country for the free.


Australia, a united society

We stand in complete unity

May we not divide

Despite our differences wide.


Australia, transmitting righteousness

We hail you in fearlessness

May you always be fair

To everyone in your care.


Australia, a land of abundance

We greet you with substance

To make this a greater land

We must all render our hands.


Australia, a land of love and cheer

We shall always hold you dear

Let’s make this a better place to be

Towards this end will be our destiny.


Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Originally First Penned On Monday, 21 July 1991

Asparagus – A Nutritional Guide


It is interesting to note that there are old beliefs that asparagus could increase feelings of compassion and love, promote fertility, reduce menstrual cramping, and increase milk production in nursing mothers. In some countries they are also used as an aphrodisiac.

Nutritional values for 100 g

USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 13 (November 1999)

Nutrients Units Asparagus cooked
Water g 92
Energy kcal 24
Protein g 2.6
Total lipid (fat) g 0.3
Carbohydrate g 4.2
Fiber, total dietary g 1.6
Minerals
Calcium mg 20
Iron mg 0.7
Magnesium mg 10
Phosphorus mg 54
Potassium mg 160
Sodium mg 11
Zinc mg 0.4
Copper mg 0.1
Manganese mg 0.1
Selenium mcg 1.7
Vitamins
Vitamin C mg 11
B-1 (thiamin) mg 0.1
B-2 (riboflavin) mg 0.1
B-3 (niacin) mg 1
B-5 (pantothenic acid) mg 0.15
B-6 (pyridoxine) mg 0.1
Folate mcg 146
B-12 mcg 0
Vitamin A I.U 539
Vitamin A mcg RE 54
Vitamin E mcg ATE 0.4
Lipids
Fatty acids, saturated g 0.07
Fatty acids, monounsaturated g 0.01
Fatty acids, polyunsaturated g 0.136
Linoleic acid (18:2) g 0.129
Alpha-linolenic acid (18:3) g 0.007
Cholesterol mg 0

Asparagus, high in potassium, great for fibre, low in salt, and a terrific, healthy vegetable to grow, is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks and garlic.
They have been cultivated for more than 2000 years in South of Europe.There is nothing nicer than growing your own crop and taking it fresh to the table. It’s a perennial and it lives for up to 30 years.

Many people have never seen Asparagus growing but it is dead easy. Asparagus likes deep, friable, rich soil. If you’ve got heavy, clay soil, you’ll need to mound the plants up or dig in plenty of organic matter so that it becomes nice and well drained. They love soil with a pH of about 6.5 to 7. Dig a deep trench, about 75cm, for the long roots – the deeper the better. Then add organic matter.

Asparagus is very hungry and needs plenty of organic matter such as cow manure, sheep manure, or old chook poo. Scatter it thickly down the bottom of the trench because they will absolutely lap that up.

Health benefits
 – Asparagus are poor in calories and loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of folic acid, vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C.
They are also a fair source of calcium and fiber.
100 g of asparagus provide only 24 calories. The same amount provides 146 mg of vitamin B9 that is 1/3 of our recommended daily allowances.
Vitamin B9 is particularly important for pregnant women since not enough of it can cause the birth of a baby with spina bifida.

Asparagus have detoxifying and diuretic effects. Their fibers help us clean out our gastrointestinal tract. They also help the body get rid of the excess water.
Asparagus also contains the phytochemical glutathione, which has antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.

Some people notice a strong urine odor after eating asparagus. Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called a mercaptan which when broken down releases a funny scent.
The odor will disappear when the asparagus is completely digested and absorbed.

It has been reported by the US National Cancer Institute, that asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, which is considered one of the body’s most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants.

Several years ago, a man seeking asparagus for a friend who had cancer showed a photocopied copy of an article entitled, “Asparagus For Cancer” printed in Cancer News Journal, December 1979.

A number of favourable case histories are listed here:

Case No. 1 – A man with an almost hopeless case of Hodgkin’s disease (cancer of the lymph glands) who was completely incapacitated. Within 1 year of starting the asparagus therapy, his doctors were unable to detect any signs of cancer, and he was back on a schedule of strenuous exercise.

Case No. 2 – A successful businessman 68 years old who suffered from cancer of the bladder for 16 years. After years of medical treatments, including radiation without improvement, he went on asparagus. Within 3 months, examinations revealed that his bladder tumor had disappeared and that his kidneys were normal.

Case No. 3 – A man who had lung cancer. On March 5th 1971, he was put on the operating table where they found lung cancer so widely spread that it was inoperable. The surgeon sewed him up and declared his case hopeless. On April 5th he heard about the Asparagus therapy and immediately started taking it. By August, x-ray pictures revealed that all signs of the cancer had disappeared. . He is back at his regular business routine.

Case No. 4 – A woman who was troubled for a number of years with skin cancer. She finally developed different skin cancers which were diagnosed by the acting specialist as advanced. Within 3 months after starting on asparagus, her skin specialist said that her skin looked fine and no more skin lesions. This woman reported that the asparagus therapy also cured her kidney disease, which started in 1949. She had over 10 operations for kidney stones, and was receiving government disability payments for an inoperable, terminal, kidney condition.. She attributes the cure of this kidney trouble entirely to the asparagus.

Don’t be surprised at this result, as `The elements of materia medica’, edited in 1854 by a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania , stated that asparagus was used as a popular remedy for kidney stones. He even referred to experiments, in 1739, on the power of asparagus in dissolving stones. Note the dates!

We would have other case histories but the medical establishment has interfered with our obtaining some of the records. I am therefore appealing to readers to spread this good news and help us to gather a large number of case histories that will overwhelm the medical skeptics about this unbelievably simple and natural remedy.

For the treatment, asparagus should be cooked before using, and therefore canned asparagus is just as good as fresh.

To good health & happiness!

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Dawn Princess Cruise

Dawn Princess cruise ship, berthed at Port Cha...
Image via Wikipedia

Dawn Princess Cruise

Sydney-New Zealand

(5 – 18 December 2008)

(By Paul Chong)

Dawn princess berthed at Port Chalmers, Dundedin, New Zealand

Dawn-PrincessThe magnificent Dawn Princess


Cruising down the river

On a Sunday afternoon

With the one you love

The birds above

Waiting for the moon

The old accordion playing

A sentimental tune

Cruising down the river

On a Sunday afternoon.”

Not sure how many can remember the old pop song “Cruising Down The River” of the early 50s. This hit tune crops to my mind when talking of cruise. My mind conjures also the romantic cruise on the Seine in Paris, which provides one of the most relaxing & expedient ways to view the sights of Paris in all their grandeur in the glass-covered decks of the Bateaux-Mouches. The European Rivers such as Rhine, Danube are also worth noting.

I guess the TV series of “Love Boat” promoted the greatest thrill & advertisement re cruises on the high seas, with romance filling the air. After a couple of traumatic experiences of rough crossings in the English Channel, I was going to give cruising an entire miss until persuaded to try the Star Cruise on the Virgo from Singapore to Phuket in Thailand, with a stopover in Langkawi Island, Malaysia. No more sea-sickness was encountered then, and the four-day cruise was very delightful indeed.

SANY1297Monica – Our main waitress

A Princess cruise holiday is a dream holiday. You are pampered & given royalty treatment from room services to dinning in style. Some people do plan their dreams & romances by going on cruises. Some are habitually living on these love boats. Because of time & space, there is little to distinguish dream from reality. They say that dreams do come true, but then dreams fade and whatever reality there is remains only in your memory. Just when you are having such a good time, the end comes sooner than desired. Then you wonder was it all a dream? If you are young or young at heart, modern cruises are really adventurous, romantic & escaping into the world of fantasy, similar to the popular TV series “Love Boat”.

In planning for a perfect holiday, there are no shortage of exotic places to lure you. Travel brochures are full of glorifying descriptions of holiday escapes – compelling destinations like the new artificial Beach Resort in Japan, the new “Skywalk” at the Grand Canyon, play a game of tennis atop the the ultra modern 6-Star Dubai hotel, or the “themepark” at Las Vegas with all its thrills & spills. Or come 2010, the Resort World of Sentosa, Singapore will provide a kind of new excitement & experience.Whatever you are after, they range from the boring normal escorted tours to the extreme adventurous.

S001smOur cruise itinerary

To me, to really enjoy yourself, you must have the luxury of time & leisure. Tight schedules & rush always spoil many a holiday for most people. For this reason, the fully escorted land tours are out, where you are trying to cover sight-seeing & shopping all within a limited time scale. I guess I’ll be tired out each day and at the end of it all finished up with nothing but glimpses of the tour.

SANY1538Casual Self-Service (24-Hour) – The Horizon Court

Cruising is increasingly popular. There were over 2,000 passengers. It affords escapism, high sea adventures, thrills & spills, the luxury of time & leisure, aboard ship galore of activities & first class entertainment. You can have breakfast, lunch & dinner – all served with the finesse of well-attired waiters & waitresses. Be served as lady & lord in fine dining, lunch & breakfast too.

But if you are one of those who care more for your extra snooze, just stay in bed & have the meals delivered to your stateroom, or you can have access to the convenience of 24-hour food service at the Horizon Court. Here there is no shortage of choice & variety, also fruits & other desserts. If you love eating, you can eat as much as you want – you just help yourself.


SANY0042 Dawn Princess docked in Auckland Harbour, within walking distance to the City centre.

There is however one down side to cruises. The land content tours or shore excursions are not inclusive, even shutter buses from the docks to the city centres are charged. Usually the ship will dock in the morning & sail away again by six in the evening. Too rush for a satisfying sight-seeing & you are confronted with a variety of tours & pretty pricey too.

No holiday can be perfect or completely satisfying. I guess the important thing is that you’ll be able to say “Been there, done that.” It will be an experience well worth savoured.

The sheer pleasure of seeing the magnificent fjords of New Zealand in all their awesome wonder alone makes the cruise worthwhile. Though when sailing through the fjords region that day it was raining & cloudy, we get to see hundreds & thousands more cascading waters down their edges. Herein below are some beautiful photos by Google:

Cruise on the Fjord
Doubtful Sound Fjord
Cascading Waters
Milford Sound Fjord
Milford Sound

Paul Chong

Sunday, 11 January 2009.