Monthly Archives: January 2012

Book Review: White Tiger by Kylie Chan

I had one day “off” – it was my vacation day where I would do what I wanted; no chores, errands or plans. So, inevitably, I ended up in a bookstore. Mostly, I buy e-books now. They are cheaper and condos are no longer built to actually hold STUFF so I have no room. However, I still love a good paperback. You can flip though it, you can read it in the tub and it’s lighter than my iPad (yes, I’m a weakling). So, I bought 3 books and one of them was “White Tiger” by an Australian author, Kylie Chan. And, like most of my impulse buys, I liked the look of the cover. The story is set in modern hong kong and the cover has a stylised tiger (no surprise there) and an old fashioned Chinese junk (boat) and a girl in a martial arts uniform. Plus, I like tigers. And, on top of all of that, I loved the story too.

The story is in the style of Chinese story telling mixing in characters from mythology with good old-fashioned martial arts. It pulls in magic (Chinese style – energy work), endearing and lovable characters, tragedy and bad guys. The characters are ones that you wish you knew. People who you would want to hang out with just to hear their stories or listen to the type of pithy or funny comments that they might make on the current social issues of the day.

Ms Chan also did a wonderful job describing Hong Kong. I’ve travelled quite a bit and there are those places that have a distinct feel to them – something about they way they smell or how the storefronts are arranged or the commonplace things that aren’t quite the same as home. She captured Hong Kong – Kowloon, the subway lines, the island – so that I found myself nodding and thinking “oh yeah, I remember that!”.

My only complaint is that I can’t get the second trilogy from Australia fast enough!!!

White Tiger followed by Red Phoenix followed by Blue Dragon


Aerial Yoga – Take 2 and 3

I went back. Playing with the silks was just too much fun (see my first blog about aerial yoga “Hang like a monkey and chant ommmmmmm” and  Once I got comfortable with getting in and out of them, I could concentrate on the actual poses! On the semi-technical side of things, this type of yoga is great to stretch out your back and do all sort of bendy poses without worrying about falling down or crushing your hips into the floor or basically, no gravity!  and by using the silks, you get a great stretch and work out on different bits of you than floor-bound yoga.

On the cool side, wrapping yourself up like a wonton in the silks is just such fun. (I don’t know the proper name for this yoga pose – sorry!). Laying full out in the silk feels like you’re in your own little cocoon or desert tent or something equally exotic.

Some of my fave poses:

– pigeon pose – one leg in the silk, the other one up off the floor, gently swinging

– cobra – simple, but restorative with the silk around your armpits

– side plank – I’m not very good at it yet, but love leg support by the silk and upper body working stretching out of it

– forward fold – one leg in the silk and then….bring the other one up and cross at the ankles – great for building trust in your own body strength.

too bad I can’t hang a silk in my condo!!

Travel in Perspective

I used to travel quite a bit. I won’t say “a lot”, because the more you do something, the more you find people that do way more than you. Like my friend who no longer has a permanent address. But during the course of my work and holidays, I got to go to a lot of interesting places and can give you a rundown on best airports to be stuck in.

It all started with my dream to go on a photography safari in Africa. That gave me the impetus to get the boatload of vaccine shots required. Once properly shot up, work asked me to go to South America and then back to Africa and I think there was somewhere else in between. Not to mention the initial foray into Georgia (ex-Republic, not state). But it was the vaccinations holding me back. I don’t like needles. Never have. And when the nurse, the NURSE, for heavens’ sake, says that the next one is going to be bad!!!!  I was expecting the old line about “you won’t feel a thing”, “it’s just like a pinprick for a second”…and, yes, I hate pinpricks too… but instead I get the equivalent of a general disclaimer from the medical personnel! If I hadn’t already had 6 other shots by then, I would have left. Lastly, if you think I’m exaggerating, the nurse closed the door so my whimpers wouldn’t upset the people in the waiting room.

So, there I was, a walking petri dish. I figured that I should get my suffering’s worth from the shots and went tons of places before they wore off. Eventually, I bought a bookshelf atlas to record all the places I was going. Not only did I make it to Africa and Brazil before the shots expired, there were short forays to Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China, all over Europe and Mexico.

Travel taught me the importance of packing light, slip on shoes, toilet paper, really good underwear and head lamps – in that order. It didn’t matter if it was for business or holiday, the process of travelling to another country/continent is a drag for me, unless I’m going business or first class. Although some airports are more interesting than others. There are those that love this process – the hustle and bustle of the airport, seeing who you might sit next to, getting served on the plane and watching movies. To me, so far, the adventures at the destination outweigh the adventures of the full body search at security. More to come….

Hang like a monkey and chant ommmmmmm

Aerial Yoga. Sounds like a blast, no?  Well, it was. We were all beginners so the class was more about what to do and how to work with the “silk” than traditional yoga. Throw in a few giggles at the beginning for good measure too. You have to master the floss and cross first (more about that later), but, c’mon, if someone said to you that you could do a dancer pose while upside down and hanging hands-free, doesn’t that sound cool?!? Some things I learnt in the class:

First, just to clarify, it’s not actually silk. I love the stuff especially being Chinese and a girl, but am not about to stretch out like a plank 5 feet in the air in something that has been excreted from a worm. Not that trusting. All the equipment is rated for WELL OVER a person’s weight.  1000 lbs. Even my horse would be ok…..if he could do yoga.

Second, there are a few basics to know. Like how to get into the silk without trapping your hand beneath your butt or that just because you like the colour blue, doesn’t mean that’s the silk for you. So the first was the “floss and cross” – a pretty graphic secure pose. Basically, bunch up the silk so it’s like a rope and thread that between your butt cheeks (that’s the “floss” part in case you weren’t keeping track) and then cross your legs so that they are on opposite sides of the silk. You have to work pretty hard at this point to fall out, but it’s still scary to let go!!

Third, those artists that do the aerial acrobatics for a living deserve more money. Seriously. Just moving around from pose to pose or getting in or OUT of the silk requires more dexterity and upper body strength than I thought. And the whole thing requires core strength.

Fourth, once a person gets the hang of it, this will be seriously iced.

Favourite pose of the night: Superwoman flying down to rescue a cat

Check it out at


….is the name of the restaurant that I and a friend ate at last night. We stumbled on it by chance as it was around the corner from the organic spa we went to as well! We were so hungry, we would have probably picked the first halfway decent place and we got lucky because Beast is definitely more than halfway decent. It’s a sharing menu and the items are a bit on the pricey side (average around $11, $12 per dish)….ok, yeah, this is not where you go for a quick, cheap meal, but it is where you go for fresh, innovative food.

They also use local grown and sustainable ingredients when they can which is perfect. (Although I’m not sure what is local down at King and Bathurst in Toronto! LOL)

We had 5 dishes (they recommend 2-3 per person): ricotta dumplings, bc octopus (the oysters were still on the plane), “poutine”, bone marrow, and mushrooms on toast. They were ALL good. How many times do you get to say that? Our faves were the bc octopus and the bone marrow.

The octopus (sorry, I forgot my camera) was slices of cephalopod with chorizo, potatoes and almonds heaped on top. It is rare that a dish that smells so enticing lives up to the delicate yet full aroma with the flavour. I could have eaten two.

The bone marrow was also rich with flavour. Bruleed on top with salt crystals, the marrow was bursting with flavour and seasonings. Every once in a while, a salt crystal would pop on my tongue. My friend and I restrained ourselves, but confessed to each other afterwards that we both thought about either licking the bone or chiseling off the crusty bits to savour.

The dining room was small and it wasn’t crowded on a Wednesday night. Um, interesting decor…not quite sure what the message was (naked, anthropomorphised animals laying in the grass), but it was a good place if you actually wanted to hear what your dinner company was saying.

Would definitely go again.

My first blog!

Yes, this is it. I’ve started to blog. With my life ever increasingly electronic, it made more sense to me to try to work with the flow rather than get swept down towards the rapids. Hence, I have not deleted my facebook account, I tried Twitter, I love and now WordPress. I hope somebody reads this otherwise it feels too self-indulgent and I hope the readers will be kind because for goodness sakes, I’m an engineer – I’m not supposed to know how to write!

Allright, well, as in computer programming where the first baby step is getting the computer to say “Hello World!” (do they still do that??), I’d better start with an introduction….or more of a teaser. I’ve had all sorts of ideas for blogging (or journalling as we used to call it). My horse is one source of amusement, although he’s quite an apathetic old horse and it’s really everyone else in the barn with funny issues! Then there are my friends who are a wonderful, brilliant bunch of people whose stories I can dine off of for weeks. It’s usual for me to require a flowchart or some sort of matrix organiser to keep track of which country they are all in and for one or two of them, it’s really not enough. A few of those friends have fertile imaginations that sprout all sort of seeds like the best topic for a new animal horror movie or the movie about renewable energy that should be made. Then there’s my photography. I am shameless enough to subject any innocent people browsing by my site to my photos. Although I will commit to editing them first. No offense to my friend that decided to take 9 months off of work and travel, but I’m NOT sitting down to 1000 photos with a running commentary.

As for me? Well, I think I’m a fairly typical Chinese Jamaican, horse-riding, environmental engineer who has had enough jobs in enough countries to have her CV described as “interesting” by everyone who reads it. And if I ever find another one of me out there, I’ll compare notes to verify the “typical” part. Happy reading.