Page 2 of Kuan Yin Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Singapore » Chinatown January 1st 2015

They say that history is written by the victors, not by the vanquished. History books can be rewritten or destroyed entirely. It’s a lot harder when the stories are tied up in buildings; they have their own stories set in stone. Ea Hoe Hean Club As I was looking for the original Tiger Balm factory in Singapore (see previous post “A Tale of Two Brothers’) I came across references for the Millionaires Club. Well, I wanted to learn more about that – who wouldn’t? And once you head down that particular rabbit hole, it’s hard to stop. The Ea Hoe Hean Club, popularly called the Millionaires Club, was founded in 1895, and while it may have originally started as a social club, it soon turned to political ventures. Several of its members were actively involved with ... read more
Ea Hoe Hean
Jinrikisha Station 4
Jinrikisha Station 3

Asia » Singapore December 29th 2014

I set off this morning to find the building that once housed the Tiger Balm factory in Singapore. But a little background first… It starts in Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar.) A Chinese gentleman, Aw Chu Kin, was well versed in Traditional Chinese Medicine. He was encouraged to move to Burma by his uncle due to hard economic times in China. He soon set up his own physician practice and apothecary shop under the name Eng Aun Tong, or the Hall of Everlasting Peace. He married his wife, who, in due time, produced three sons. The first died young, the second, while popular and street smart was dreadful at his studies. Some sources state that he was probably illiterate, but boy, could he talk! This son was named Aw Boon Haw, which means “gentle tiger.” The ... read more
tiger gate
Tiger Balm wrestler
1925 Buick

Asia » Singapore » Orchard Road December 25th 2014

I always get lost in Singapore. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I once worked with a guy who said I must have a magnetic nose, because I always knew the direction of north. That talent fails me here, maybe due to Singapore’s location near the equator, or the different view of the stars. Regardless, I was annoyed that I had forgotten my compass, and immediately set out to buy another one. And anyone who thinks you don’t need a compass to navigate Singapore’s busy and well-mapped streets has never been in a Singaporean shopping mall. Orchard Road – the main shopping district – is about two miles of solid shopping malls. You can start in one mall, and exit two blocks later from an entirely different mall without every coming outside. In some places ... read more
faucet cleaner
another mall
bank ad

Asia » Singapore » Chinatown December 23rd 2014

Flying over Singapore, seeing the containerships and oil tankers parked in the Singapore Strait, waiting for their turn to dock, and my heart starts to lift. Singapore has that effect on me. Flying out of Ko Samui is pretty easy. It’s a small airport, about the size of a regional airport in the US, but it is beautifully appointed. Silk Air and Bangkok Airways have free wifi – and the free use of computers – for their customers, along with complimentary sandwiches, pizza, and muffins. Airports in the US could learn a thing or two. However, due to weight restrictions I was forced to check my bag. I hate checking bags, and make a point of only taking what I can fit into a carry-on. But, if you have to check a bag, Singapore is probably ... read more
Ko Samui airport
Death for drugs
zero dengue

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Surat Thani December 18th 2014

Wat Phra Yai, commonly called “The Big Buddha,” is probably the most photographed sight in Ko Samui. It is on the top of every “Must See” list, and seems to be popular with Thais as well as with tourists. The temple is located on the small island Ko Phan, but, no worries, there is a causeway you can walk across to get to it. In fact, if you hadn’t looked at a map you might not even realize it was on an island. Entering the temple grounds is more like coming into a county fair than a religious site, but maybe that’s not all bad. There are coffee shops, and art galleries, and T-shirt stalls, and an ice cream stand, and a store selling hand-made soap, and, well, you get the picture. There is no ignoring, ... read more
Buddha gazing on all
art gallery by gate

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Surat Thani December 16th 2014

It isn't supposed to rain in Ko Samui this time of year. I did a little research about Ko Samui before I decided to spend the end of the year here. December is supposed to be warm – make that hot – and mostly sunny. Typical afternoon rain storms, but not bad beach weather. I looked forward to lazy days in the sun, reading cheap novels and swimming in azure waters. However, Typhoon Hagupit apparently didn’t read the same sources as I did. It parked itself over the Phillipines about a week before I arrived in Ko Samui, causing untold destruction and taking the lives of at least 27 people. After the typhoon had had its way with the Philippines, it moved off to the west, slowly losing power as it did so. Guess what is ... read more
Wat Bo Phut
Bo Phut stupa
detail of temple building

North America » United States » California » San Francisco October 2nd 2014

Going to the Autumn Moon Festival in San Francisco’s Chinatown is probably about as close to Hong Kong as you can get without leaving the US. It is crowded, colorful, raucous, and there are lots of interesting things to eat. The main streets are closed to vehicle traffic, and vendors of all sorts set up booths in the street selling noodles, Chinese newspapers, and sweets. I wandered up Grant Street, the more touristy street, sampling noodles and trying not to get trampled. Pacific Street crosses Grant, and at one end of Pacific there was a stage. In between dance numbers, a Chinese healer, with interpreters in two languages, claimed to cure any number maladies and injuries. At the other end of Pacific Street, a lady sang Chinese opera. She was very enthusiastic, but I can’t say ... read more
street stalls
Autumn Moon Festival 2
Uighur dancer

North America » United States » California » San Francisco » North Beach September 21st 2014

Every city needs its own personal phallic symbol, and Coit Tower at the apex of Telegraph Hill fills that spot nicely for San Francisco. The tower was named for Lillian Coit, a wealthy, and rather eccentric, woman who had great respect for the firefighters of the city of San Francisco. She died in 1929, leaving a big chunk of money to the city “for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved.” The money was used to build Coit Tower as well as the nearby monument to San Francisco’s volunteer firefighters. Some say the tower was built in the shape of a fire hose nozzle, others say that’s nonsense. I’ll let you be the judge. The best part of Coit Tower, however has little to do with the shape of ... read more
Coit Tower
the city detail 2
reading the news

North America » United States » California » San Francisco » North Beach September 9th 2014

Perhaps you need to be of a certain age to recognize City Lights Bookstore as the Holy Grail of the free speech movement. Well, at least one of them at any rate. Founded in 1953 by the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti as a literary meeting place, today it offers three floors of books, with lots of chairs scattered around and signs inviting you to sit and read. City Lights was one of the touchstones of the Beat Generation. These decidedly anti-authoritarian folks were frequently well-educated, often military veterans, left-leaning free speech advocates. Two years after the bookstore opened, Ferlinghetti started City Lights Publishing. Authors such as Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and others found a home here. In 1956, City Lights published the Allen Ginsberg poem “Howl.” It contained the line “I saw the best minds ... read more
Kerouac Alley
Beat Literature

North America » United States » California » San Francisco September 7th 2014

My first full day in San Francisco dawned cool and damp, with the city’s infamous fog hanging low over everything. I’ve never been here before, so I decide to head to the water and hit up some of the more well-known tourist sites. It’s mid-week and the children are back in school (or should be!) so it shouldn’t be too crowded. First up was a ride on the cable car. I walked over to Powell where I had seen cable cars the afternoon before. I should have walked up the very steep hill to California Street to catch the correct cable car, but I eventually figured it out. Just a note: Everything you’ve ever heard about the steepness of San Francisco’s hills is true. Some enterprising soul has even developed an elevation map of ... read more
California Street cable car
Ferry Building from land 2
Ferry Building from land

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