China’s Aizhai Suspension Bridge, Hunan

Aizhai Bridge connects two traffic tunnels in the mountains, cutting the time needed to traverse the canyon from 30 minutes to 1. The bridge was built as part of the G65 Baotou–Maoming Expressway, an expressway in southwest China‘s Chongqing Municipality to Changsha, near to Jishou, Hunan.

With a main span of 1,146 metres (3,760 ft) and a deck height of 350 metres (1,150 ft), it is the sixth-highest bridge in the world and the world’s twelfth-longest suspension bridge. Of the world’s 400 or so highest bridges, none has a main span as long as Aizhai. It is also the world’s highest and longest tunnel-to-tunnel bridge. The bridge contains 1888 lights to increase visibility at night. (Wikipedia)

Construction took five years. Work finished at the end of last year, making it among the world’s longest and highest suspension bridge, carrying traffic 355 metres above the foot of Dehang Canyon. Construction of the bridge started in October 2007 and its main sections were completed at the end of last year. It is designed to help ease traffic in the mountainous region, where queues are common due to the narrow, steep and winding roads.

 

A brave worker put the final touches on the Anzhaite Bridge.








The bridge, which connects to two tunnels, was built to ease traffic. 

Drivers can take in the views of the Dehang Canyon 

People and traffic during the opening ceremony.


Vehicles motor along a two-way, four-lane motorway. Pedestrians walk along it on a special walkway under the road.

Aizhai is the fourth suspension bridge in China to cross a valley so wide that it seems to be connecting two mountain ranges. The first three were the Siduhe, Balinghe and Beipanjiang 2009 bridges. Located deep in the heart of China’s Hunan Province near the city of Jishou, the suspension bridge is the largest structure on the Jishou to Chadong expressway with a deck 1,102 feet (336 mtrs) above the DeHang Canyon.

The two tunnels on either side of the Aizhai Bridge allowed the engineers to use the mountain top for the location of one of the towers, reducing its height to just 165 feet (50 m) – unusually short for a bridge with a span nearly as long as the Golden Gate bridge at 3,858 feet (1176 m). In addition to cost savings, the stubby support also allows the bridge to blend more naturally into its surroundings. The taller bridge tower is no less unique with side span cables that soar down the backside of a mountain, making first time visitors quizzical as to what exactly lies ahead.

With most of the structure hidden from view, the bridge will come as a jaw-dropping surprise whether you enter the canyon from either tunnel. Due to a gap of approximately 328 feet (100 m) between the last truss suspenders and the tops of the bridge towers, the engineers added some additional ground anchored suspenders to stabilize the two massive suspension cables and reduce any oscillations that could damage other components of the bridge. An overlook and visitors center will offer additional views of the broad valley.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

View Slideshow

China’s Luxurious Floating Aircraft-Carrier Hotel

 

The Kiev, a 1,000 foot vessel, once the pride of the flagship of the mighty Soviet navy’s Pacific fleet (first began December 1972), serving them well for almost twenty years, as well as being able to hold more than a thousand crewmen, she could be loaded with dozens of missiles – some nuclear-tipped.

But now the Kiev is leading a much more sedate & humble life . . . available for business retreats, intimate getaways or simple relaxation (without actually getting away). That’s because the Chinese have bought the aircraft carrier and transformed her into a floating luxury hotel, the world’s first luxury aircraft carrier hotel, costing $15 Million.

It’s strange to think that a ship that was once a weapon of war is now a place of relaxation and fine dining.

The Kiev will stay permanently docked at theTianjin Binhai Aircraft Carrier Theme Park. Much as a Soviet-era sailor might resent the indignity, Kiev won’t go back out to sea. She’ll entertain guests and clients at anchor, a bizarre museum to a different country’s naval power. Guests will relax with Western-style cuisine in ornate luxury suites, dreaming of Chinese seapower.

Sold to Tianjin International Recreation Port in 2000, the Kiev has been refitted, furbished & transformed into a world-class floating hotel with 148 room – including two presidential suites, three VIP guest rooms and 137 standard rooms. Since it was purchased over a decade ago, the Kiev has also been upgraded with a luxury restaurant – something the original crew would have no doubt killed for.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

View Slideshow

Source: China Daily

Photos: DWP/WENN/All Over Press

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

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.

“Young Man In A Hurry”

Young Man in a Hurry!”

If you run fast to get to somewhere

Oftentimes you’d miss the fun of getting there.

Life is a journey . . . not a destiny!

SANY1753

Last Sunday, Lilian & I did something which we should be doing all the time or at least from time to time – taking the free train ride to Mandurah. Like most retirees, having been accustomed to our own vehicle for convenient transportation, taking the train had always been far from my mind. I was always driving around when visiting friends or places, near or far, until stricken by glaucoma about three years ago. To be restricted in my mobility & to depend on others carting me around is not easy for me.

What a train ride it turned out to be! Lilian drove from our home in Lesmurdie & we parked the car at Bullcreek bus deport. We just hopped in & no ticket is required for seniors/retirees on Sunday. The electric train runs by conveniently every short interval & in just about half hour we reached our destination, Mandurah.

SANY1754

Along the way, with my partially impaired vision, I was enjoying the scenery, which often escape you when driving yourself. The ride was smooth & relaxing with lighted sign & announcement telling you each stop – Murdoch being the first & eventually Rockingham before Mandurah. From the station we boarded the awaiting bus, again for free, which took us to the fore-shore of Mandurah – the place where activities & visitors congregate.

There was the Annual Crab Fest on with a galore of music, activities, stores, crowds & noise filling the festive atmosphere. This certainly broke the monotony of life’s routine, and as an avid photographer, my trigger finger was happily clicking away. Photos are so precious for memories. Like they say the best things in life are free, & we certainly avail ourselves to having a good time. We ended up eating at Cicerello (the famous place for fish & chips) & watched the sunset. Believe you me, the sunset is more glorious & colourfully spectacular than the early morning sun rise.

As an internet user, you probably are familiar with a message re “Life Explained”. Fort the purpose of illustration, if I may, I like to draw your attention to it.

God initially created the animals . . . cow, monkey, & dog.

On the fourth day, God created man and said:
 ‘Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this,
 I’ll give you twenty years.’

But man said: ‘Only twenty years? Could you possibly
 give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the
 monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes
 eighty, okay?’

‘Okay,’ said God, ‘You asked for it.’

So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave
 in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we
 do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the
 last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at
 everyone.”

Life has now been explained to you.

As the cumulative years behind us begin to exceed the would-be years ahead of us, you gain a better perspective & realisation what life is all about. It makes no sense to be in a hurry. It is as though we are all in a hurry from the womb to the tomb. That’s precisely the Gospel truth, from the cradle to the grave, which is a certain destiny, we never seem to have time for anything. We don’t have time for breakfast . . . for meals & exercise . . . relaxation & recreation . . . for friends & last but not least for our family. This is indeed a sad indictment & before long we’d be sorrowfully interred with our bones – the best music left unsung.

Life is no race. Take time for everything. We all have 24 hours in the day. It’s how we make use of the hours that will determine the qualitative & quantitative aspects of life. People often ask me where do I find the time to write. If it’s a pleasure to you, you’d find time for it is my truthful simple answer.

Making time to indulge in life’s pleasure needs no advice or advocation. Golf fanatics are known to make “widows” out of their wives. Workaholics expend their energy cooped up with their office work. Failing to strike a balance in life is sad indeed – for there is no turning back!

It is advisable neither be a “young man in a hurry” nor an “old man barking at everyone on the front porch”. Life is precious. Live it to the full. Make every minute count. The Chinese have a saying: “A nick of time is an inch of gold.” And gold right now is your best bet & hedge against “The Great Recession”.

The chapters of life need to be read from beginning to end. Don’t skip any chapters. Don’t just read the prologue & conclude with having read the whole story. Enjoy the prose, the expression, savouring each scene that the author laboured through in his/her presentation as in the case of reading Agatha Christie’s works of fiction.

Life is short . . . so don’t engage in top gear all the time. Stretch out & linger on to appreciate life’s beautiful scenery, lest you’ll end up being sorry.

Paul Chong ©

Thursday, 12 March 2009

5.42 am

Kirkby – Down Memory Lane

Kirkby – Down Memory Lane

(Kirkby, Liverpool, United Kingdom)

Kirkby Badge_2

Way back in 1958 when I was teaching temporary at the Government English School in Bagan Serai, the name “Kirkby” evoked a magical sense of emotion, excitement and adventure. We had two Kirkby trained teachers in our midst then, Pany and Sidek, who used to awe us with their wonderful experiences. Never in my widest dream did I really plan to be some 8,000 miles away from Malaysia. But once I was selected I just couldn’t resist the temptation of seeing UK and Europe.

Together with the scholarship was R$600 for our preparation, essentially for buying winter clothing. We were departing by the former BOAC in their Folker twin-propeller plane with stops in Calcutta, Beirut and Rome before our final destination in London.

It was winter when we landed, freezingly cold and howling winds; certainly a vast contrast from our perpetually hot and humid climate. People walked so fast with such great strides as though running. We soon learnt to do likewise lest we froze by the winter winds.

Unfamiliar with the environment, we were drilled and ragged by our seniors who took pleasure to orientate us; to “kowtow” in acknowledging them as “ Yes Honourable Sir.” No question asked. Every bit of fagging to be executed like in “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” – the tradition of young public schools.

We were young and fresh, only approaching the second decade of life. The whole world was ahead of us, but timid and virtually very inexperienced as compared to these seniors who were a year ahead of us in College. Need I say, we were easy meat.

However, once we settled in, having learnt the lessons of knowing “how to bomb Tokyo” (toilet training), the task of bed-making, the etiquette of dinning, queuing for buses and all things unfamiliar, college life soon unfolded its pleasurable aspects.

College social life included many varied activities – weekend informal dancing to popular tunes from record player, occasional former dinner & dance, folk dancing, cultural concerts and festival celebrations. Some found pleasure making out at Kirkby Woods, canal walk, or a drink or two at the local pub. The Liverpoolians have a strange pronunciation of words and strong accent, with frequent utterances like “loaf” (meaning love).

Most interestingly were the educational tours as organized by the College or British Council. They took the form of short coach trips to nearby places of interests: Stratford-On-Avon for Shakespeare’s plays, and Drury Lane Theatre in London for the stage play of “My Fair Lady”. The plays in London often last for years and years with no end in sight. Other places of interest would include visits to nearby castles, quaint old towns or villages and zoos. One such visit was Chester across the Mersey Tunnel.

Central EuropeTour Party 1960 Central Europe Tour Party Summer of 1960

The greatest thrill & excitement were all the great adventures we had hitch hiking to the Lakes District, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and of course various parts of UK, from John O’Groats in the UK northernmost tip right down to Lands’ End at the southernmost point. Even greater by comparison were all the beautiful countries toured in Europe. Two Summers and two Easters saw us covering the length and breadth of Europe.

One Day When We Were Young”, a favourite tune of mine in those days, will always be dear to anyone’s heart. Life was free and easy. Academically, we didn’t have to work very hard. Many would agree with me that we had two wonderful good years of joy and fellowship. If only we could turn back the clock, have the whole life journey replayed. With the cumulative years behind us fast superseding the years ahead of us, we must look forth to the future, trusting that it would be as good, if not better than the years gone by.

Paul Chong ©

(Batch of 1959/60)