A Travellerspoint blog

Flowers in Spring and the Glover Garden

Don't forget to stop and smell the flowers as you wander through life

sunny 16 °C

Travelling in spring has consistently been one of the more visually appealing experience for myself. Though I am more a late autumn/winter lover, seeing flowers blooming and new blades of grass growing again after a long harsh winter makes me happy. Generally, people's mood are better in spring so you'd get to see more smiles on the streets as well.

I enjoyed walking randomly in smaller cities just to enjoy an occasional moments of serendipity. For these moments, I allowed myself to get lost and then tried to navigate myself again. Locals in small towns will sometimes be very helpful and tried to offer to walk me home or just asked me to join them for a meal if I am in a more rural area.

I stopped and admire many of this little flowers by side of the road in Nagasaki.

Walking up on staircases like these always made my day

In spring, one of the best places to go in Nagasaki is the Glover garden. This estate is the only surviving western style mansion in Japan and has been designated as an important cultural asset. The owner of the house is a Scottish merchant who has literally helped the modernization in shipbuilding, coal mining and other industrial improvements. He grew to be so influential that he treats with rebel samurai and play a strong part in local development. Sounds like an epic 7th sea story where a merchant grew to become someone so much more than just a merchant. Today, we get to see the evidence of an exceptional life well lived etched in the very stones and gardens of this area.

Looking out from the veranda of the mansion, you will see a nice koi pond and another good vantage point of the city.

Here's a shot of the main house while standing near the pond

As one can see from the designs, western influence is indeed strong

There is also a statue of a famous opera singer Miura Tamaki in the garden. She was famous for her role as Cio-cio san in Puccini's Madame Butterfly. This shows that other than being an engine in economic development, Glover was also a strong patron of the arts.

Glover Garden is beautiful in spring, full of well placed blooming flowers. One can see them in carts, or planted in well curated gardens. Can you spot Puccini's statue?

If you really enjoy flowers and have the budget for such a visit, I recommend the Keukenhof in Lisse, Netherlands. This garden is normally open in late March and close by Mid May.

Back to Glover garden, besides the main exhibit, there are also a few others building scattered in the area for you to explore. Each room is rather unique and has a plaque to explain the content of the room and the artifacts found within. On top of the opportunity to admire nature, one also gets the chance to learn a bit more about history which is excellent I think.

The coffee and tea offered here is surprisingly better than most offered in your regular tourist traps around the world.

I will end this week's entry with one more picture that resonates with me.

Notice that the flowers grow out from seemingly dead and dry branches. This is a reminder that regardless of how harsh the present reality is, perseverance through the winter, clinging on to hope will allow me to one day see beauty restored to a desolate scene. This hope might just be the lifeline, the light at the end of the tunnel in this increasingly chaotic world.

In the next entry, this blog will move out of Nagasaki and focus on another city in East Asia. See you next time.

Posted by canglingy 19:21 Archived in Japan Tagged gardens flowers museum sightseeing Comments (0)

From Nagasaki to The Hague

The pursuit of peace: A glimpse into living monuments dedicated to peace in the east and the west

sunny 18 °C

Most of the time after violent man-made disaster strikes, that particular generation afflicted by it will learn that issues can always be resolved in other ways than violent means. And then, we lapsed into another hateful cycle, be it being driven by greed by constantly gaining advantages over the vulnerable or just being apathetic as one watches the world outside of his or her own bubble burns, unfeeling and uncaring of the fate of their fellow human brethren. We seemed to be prone of forgetting the horrors that the previous generation had endured and painful process of civilization reconstruction. The pursuit of peace in this generation has never been more important or viable now that the means to communicate messages of peace is made easier with the proliferation of the internet.

I am also grateful for all the monuments, facilities and museums that have been erected in the memory of man’s horrific moment so that people like me can have a glimpse to a world that has its peace forcibly stripped away. Through these introspective moments, my own resolve to pursue the path of conflict resolution via peaceful means is further galvanized. In this week’s entry will offer a glimpse to the two different, perhaps contrasting fundamental approach to peace building in the East and the West. For the East, I will focus on the Peace Park in Nagasaki and for the West, I will write about the Peace Palace at The Hague. The East starts this approach by internalizing grief, meditate on it, and from there gave birth to an entire community committed on this path. The West takes a more active role, works on arbitration and attempt to seek justice in a conflict. The development of different school of thoughts came later. I acknowledged that this is an overly simplistic observation, but I see the east tempered more by compassion, internal deliberation and the west is shaped by the need of taking active action, driven by justice.

When you step into the Peace Park, you’d notice a big statue in the middle.
The right hand points to sky, signifying the threat of nuclear weapons. The extended left hand symbolizes eternal peace. The folded right leg and extended left leg signify both meditation and the initiative to stand up and rescue the people of the world. The plaque reads
After experiencing that nightmarish war,
that blood-curdling carnage,
that unendurable horror,
Who could walk away without praying for peace?
This statue was created as a signpost in the struggle for global harmony.
Standing ten meters tall,
it conveys the profundity of knowledge and
the beauty of health and virility.
The right hand points to the atomic bomb,
the left hand points to peace,
and the face prays deeply for the victims of war.
Transcending the barriers of race
and evoking the qualities of Buddha and Go,
it is a symbol of the greatest determination
ever known in the history of Nagasaki
and the highest hope of all mankind

The statue on the left is from Netherlands, the plaque reads: "The statue shows a mother protecting her infant child from danger, representing that we must protect not only the present generation but also the coming generation as well so that the people of the world can live in peace together."

The statue on the right is from Italy, the plaque reads: "The statue, which depicts a mother holding her baby high in the air with both hands, is an expression of love and peace."

This is a picture of the hypocenter, where bomb dropped on that fateful day.
There is also another plaque next it to it that gave an account on happens on that day and it reads, At 11:02 A.M., August 9, 1945 an atomic bomb exploded 500 meters above this spot. The black stone monolith marks the hypocenter.
The fierce blast wind, heat rays reaching several thousand degrees and deadly radiation generated by the explosion crushed, burned, and killed everything in sight and reduced this entire area to a barren field of rubble.
About one-third of Nagasaki City was destroyed and 150,000 people killed or injured and it was said at the time that this area would be devoid of vegetation for 75 years. Now, the hypocenter remains as an international peace park and a symbol of the aspiration for world harmony.

This is a picture of the peace fountain.
The fountain is a prayer for the repose of the souls of the many atomic bomb victims who died searching for water. Carved on the plaque in front of the fountain, were lines from a poem by a girl named Sachiko Yamaguchi, who was nine at the time of the bombing. It reads: "I was thirsty beyond endurance. There was something oily on the surface of the water, but I wanted water so badly that I drank it just as it was."

Emerging from the chaotic aftermath was a community united by faith and inspired a bright light, Dr Takashi Nagai. His life story and his “Nyokodo” concept (literally means as yourself modelling after Christ’s commandment) marks him as a modern Job and it shows me that even in extreme pain devoid of meaning, there is still faith, hope and love to be found. I will not write in depth about his life because that would at least warrant a few entries but I will leave one of his sayings here. “Unless you have suffered and wept, you really don't understand what compassion is, nor can you give comfort to someone who is suffering. If you haven't cried, you can't dry another's eyes. Unless you've walked in darkness, you can't help wanderers find the way. Unless you've looked into the eyes of menacing death and felt its hot breath, you can't help another rise from the dead and taste anew the joy of being alive.”

The beauty of God’s creation is found in his life and his life became a gift to the city, help them to come to terms and to stand up once more. Unlike Hiroshima where there’s still deep seething anger at the events, you will only find peaceful understanding in Nagasaki. I think, this is where the people of God rediscover the gift of faith, hope and love. There is beauty and gratitude even in the horrors of war. Takashi Nagai’s journey and writings is a direct reflection of this. A raised fist in Hiroshima will pass down hatred where folded hands in Nagasaki are the beginning of reconciliation. Today, peace messages and flower offerings remains a visual reminder on beauty blossoming from horror.

Japan has unknowingly taken too much blogging time. I will just do a briefer overview of the Peace Palace at The Hague.

This is a picture of the peace palace.

And another picture at night.

The Peace Palace is more majestic because it is the seat of international law. It houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice. This is where conflicts are resolved when countries got into a fight, extremely important to prevent all out wars like the previous world wars. Some of the sessions are open to the public. (It can be very boring if you go in without understanding the case) If you want a tour of the place, advance reservation is extremely important. I was unlucky when I missed out a tour but my subsequent visits to The Hague have always been rather fruitful.

As you can see from the pictures, there are not much massive statues with symbolism like the peace park in Nagasaki. The funder, Andrew Carnegie was a much more practical man that wanted a functional building. Thanks to his vision and generosity, Arguments between nations can be resolved with a pen (most of the time) and not swords.

There is however, some neat addition to the park such as the multilingual words for peace etched in stones.

And I enjoyed this collection of rocks from every country in the world, it conveys a sense of solidarity of every citizen of the world and a reminder that the soil we step on is not that much different from each other after all.

An eternal peace has also been burning here since 1999.

To sum up today's entry, I think an integrated philosophy of both the east and west is necessary on the pursuit of peace. It is important to execute peace keeping mechanism and also retain a solid core of conviction to keep one’s resolve which achieved not only by books, but also meditations and internalizing the griefs of the past.

As spring is now in full bloom, next entry will have a lighter tone. Once again, the blog will go back to Nagasaki and attempt to wrap things up. Until next time.

Posted by canglingy 19:29 Archived in Japan Tagged churches museum sightseeing travelling peace Comments (0)

Springtime in Nagasaki

Discover more with slower travels

sunny 16 °C

Most of the time, this blog tend to veer away from more popular touristic destination and it is no different this week. This entry will move the spotlight from the West all the way to a small town in Japan, Nagasaki. I recommend taking the longer, more scenic route and start your journey in Busan, South Korea instead of flying in one of the major airports in Japan and take the fast train to your destination. This way, you will have the opportunity to go slower and see more scenery along the way. Let’s veer off course a little and talk about one of the Korean food I enjoyed since this entry starts from Korea. I am quite sure that visitors to Korea have tried this on different occasion and for me, the samgyeopsal is such a guilty pleasure. This dish is simply thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat and is cooked on a grill at a diner’s table. The meat is neither marinated nor seasoned so it retains a solid meaty taste. One would commonly eat the meat with accompaniments such as rice, lettuce, aged kimchi, sliced garlic or as creative as you can get.

A typical dining place will look like this

Now back to the journey, from Busan, take the ferry to Fukuoka. There are two options, one will take you to Fukuoka in a little under 3 hours and the other is an overnight option that takes 11 hours. Go with the latter if you have time and you will see beautiful sunsets, sunrise and might even spot some marine life too.

Here are some views from the boat, much better than just jetting off, yes?

I took this ferry route twice so far and both times I was the only non-local on the boat and simple people watching was another interesting way for me to past time on the long journey. Upon arrival to Fukuoka, do note that the customs is going to inspect you more thorough on the chance that you are the only foreigner. (I think they might be bored since foreign traffic is not much at the pier) Again, there are two options for land transport; one is the slow train that will give an opportunity for the traveler to look closer at the serene Japanese countryside or the traveler can just take the express train.

The train chugs along different small towns and I like to see how the landscape varies slightly in each area.

This is another side of Japan that is not always featured in international news or magazines. Besides high tech metropolis crawling with rushing albeit polite citizens, there is also another facet of desolate beauty in the rural area where houses are scattered further apart and fields dominates the landscape instead of endless buildings.

Nagasaki lies at the head of a long bay which makes it a good natural harbor and because of this characteristic; Nagasaki holds special influence in the history of Japanese contact and influence with foreign cultures. When one sees how monoculture Japan is today, Nagasaki is a remarkable city. Portuguese explorers first came in the 16th century, followed by the Jesuits, and then the Dutch and the British. Christianity was the spark for many bloody conflicts and in a few points of history; it was completely outlawed with the followers persecuted mercilessly. The city thrives during the Meiji Restoration, survived an atomic attack and set a strong example of being a city of peace and perseverance today. The Christians too, survived, endured in the midst of all these hardship and today they are still a visible presence in the city. Their faith is a visible testament on how God could make things beautiful again in His own time. Nagasaki has a right to seek retribution for the wrong being done to them and yet today, they preached the path of peace.

Today, the faithful remains

The easiest way to explore the city is to hop on the trams and identify your own places of interest. The tourist center is loaded with helpful information for foreigners. There are plenty of museums, parks, churches, shrines, historical building and an aquarium waiting to be explored. After exploring those, I wandered into the neighborhood, played with school children, explored shops at the outskirts and hiked up Mount Inasa to get a good panoramic view of the city.

Here are some shots taken during spontaneous wanderings in the city. Do note that if you are only doing a day trip, you have to prioritize a few areas and you won't be able to explore in depth.

Dropped by a primary school

It is nice to see that young children are given the responsibility and opportunity to grow their flowers in spring

I slowly made my way uphill, occasionally stopping and attempting to chat with older people and children who thought I could converse in Japanese.

The panoramic view is ultimately rewarding after the long walk.

I stayed on until the sun begin to set before I start my descend.

In the next entry, the spotlight will still be on this city and I will talk more about its pursuit of peace. Until next time.

Posted by canglingy 18:22 Archived in Japan Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises churches sightseeing travelling Comments (0)

Easter Reflection

Remembering Brussels

rain 17 °C

It is Easter Sunday and I felt apt to take a pause and to reflect on the hope that I professed I hold. Another round of attacks in a supposed safe haven earlier this week shook me and I grieved for such violent trampling of another's comfort zone. While Brussels occupies my thought this week, I would like to also express my sympathy and support for those in Turkey, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Somalia, and elsewhere who have been affected by recent terrorist attacks. I'm heartbroken by your suffering, and I stand with you.

In painful moments when the message of hope, peace and love get thrown around in a supposed holy week, it can really sting the ones in suffering. In his book, the problem of pain, CS Lewis said it well. “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Now that peaceful existence has been painfully shattered, the faith that I professed rouse me to think and to act.

Christ's final journey to the cross takes him through the heart of darkness as he was sold out for a few pieces of silver, saw one of his closest friend disregard everything that he has said about loving your enemy and sliced a guy's ear off, got stuck in a political ping pong game when bureaucrats tried to stick charges on him but did not want full responsibility, he was bullied, tortured and in the end hung outside to die. All Christ ever did was love and give the masses hope in a world engulfed by Roman superiority. The injustice that he received is a showcase of the depravity and violence human beings are capable of. That hatred was triumphed over by forgiveness ultimately birthed from a deep deep love. Forgiveness was on his lips even as he was breathing his last and suddenly, the oppressors themselves were set free from the chains of hatred as well.

Today, the sheer barbarity of Islamist militants certainly managed to start striking fear in the hearts of many, suddenly nowhere seems to be that safe anymore. As many are trying to make sense of the senseless murder, I think it is important that we do not give way to hatred. They can take away everything, but not our capacity to love, to hope and to build peace. The horrors and hope more than 2000 years ago can and should be connected to horrors and hope of today. As I remembered the violence that Christ went through, I remembered the violence the unfortunate ones face today. As The Lord's resurrection brought about a triumph over evil through non violent means, may we too, bring about a movement of life in remembrance of both the events of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

If you are around Brussels, go offer your support. It is the heart of the European Union and hosts the EU parliament. it is currently closed for visits due to heightened security alert but I think tourist should also make it a point to be there to stand in solidarity and to show that we are unafraid of their ideology. This is the main area.

On the walls of the visitor center, you will see pictures that characterize the generations and important events in the world. When our time comes to be judged by the future generation, I hope that it will be a picture of peace.

To my readers, Happy Easter Sunday. See you next week!

Posted by canglingy 19:58 Archived in Belgium Tagged history peace Comments (0)

København suburb- Kastrup

Inspired by our blue planet and harbors exploration

semi-overcast 14 °C

This week's spotlight is on one of the suburbs in Copenhagen. I intend to show my readers the other parts of Copenhagen that most foreign visitors wouldn't normally go. Kastrup doesn't feel very touristy because it is the home for some industrial buildings such as the SAS cargo head office. Transavia and Kastrup glasswork. However, Kastrup houses the largest aquarium in Northern Europe and a pleasant neighborhood/pier that can be explored by foot.

To get to Kastrup, take the M2 metro if you are coming from the airport, get off after 1 stop. If you are coming from the city center (Kongens Nytorv), get down at the 7th station, the journey should be about 15 minutes. If you wanted to get a closer look at the neighborhood, I recommend taking the public buses. Bus 2A and 5A will take you to Kastrup. The Danes speak great English so getting around is no problem. One extra note, I do not recommend getting the Copenhagen visitors card if you are only here for a short visit (1-2 days), it is expensive and you will not be able to visit sufficient attraction to get your money's worth.

I have an interest in huge aquarium as it gives me a rare glimpse of some treasures of the earth that I would otherwise not be able to see. From Kastrup station, den bla planet (literally the blue planet) is about 10 minutes of walking distance. This huge building is a landmark in this suburb, you won't miss it.

As you walk closer, you'd see that this aquarium is a mammoth compared to most building one might see in Copenhagen.

There is a walkway leading to the entrance of the blue planet.

This facility resembles a whirlpool when seen from above. One can catch a great view when flying into Copenhagen provided the clouds are clear. The blue planet is another testament of the Danish pursuit of sustainable energy as they are equipped with cooling units using seawater from nearby, this greatly reduce energy consumption through conventional means. Another unique aspect of this place is that it is not just a huge showcase of exotic marine life (looking at you, Dubai), it is also an area to help scientific research, disseminate marine information and also assist educational institution in their pursuit of knowledge. As I grow up, I have become slightly more discerning in regards to where should my money be channeled. In this case, the blue planet gets my vote over the luxurious displays in Dubai at any time.

A total of 7 million liters of water is on all side and it really gives the visitor a sensation of being underwater. When I look at huge tanks surrounding you like these, the sensation sinks in and I appreciate the work being done.

There are 5 main sections, each of them highlighting the distinctive waters in our planet. For the record, they are divided into the rainforest, the african great lakes, cold waters, warm ocean and adapted species. The cold waters section is native to Danish waters and it has a child friendly touch pool. The adapted species is where you can find interesting creatures such as the snapping turtle, Australian lungfish and primitive fishes. Not limiting themselves to underwater species, there are boa constrictors in the rain forest section.

I enjoy spotting the species in their natural habitat, it gives an appreciation on how these creatures live and interact with nature. It is a welcoming break from the complexity of our lives. Can you spot them?

Seemed harmless, but these are piranhas.

I could stare at this for a long time without getting bored. Signs of life in seemingly barren rocks.

The blue planet is by the sea, I went for an extended walk after exiting the area. First up, more windmills in the distance, I really admire the dedication of keeping their energy source sustainable. Did you know that Denmark is one of the world's leader in green technology?

SAS cargo headquarters on the other side of the coast

Shores were not the usual sand, but the rocks were nice to walk on too. Make sure your foot is covered properly.

Tried to get a close up picture of the ducks before they are escape into the waters. The fun is in the attempt to try to gauge the duck's comfort zone with a stranger holding a strange device.

Weather forecast wasn't that great. Lots of boats still docked at their spots. The gathering of the boats create a nice man made scenery.

The piers connects to a residential area and a park, if I grow up in a district like this, I can imagine myself being more passionate about seafaring and marine life. The neighborhood is very quiet in the evening. It has a more uniformed setting compared to the more distinct structures in the danish countryside. Kastrup's industrial nature is reflected in houses. I took some snap shots on my way back.

Oh look, I found another place for breakfast that happens to serve one of my favorite food.

I will do a pivot back to Asia in the next entry. Until next time.

Posted by canglingy 18:39 Archived in Denmark Tagged boats sightseeing Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 39) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 »