The Great Outdoors Community covering the Great Outdoors & Adventure! <![CDATA[Ice Hockey Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Mon, 4 Feb 2013 16:43:11 +0000 <![CDATA[Carnation Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Sat, 23 Jul 2011 13:06:51 +0000 <![CDATA[Rose Quick Tip by madmaude2]]> Thu, 13 May 2010 17:47:55 +0000 <![CDATA[Hyacinth Quick Tip by Clay_Miller]]> Tue, 30 Mar 2010 12:41:07 +0000 <![CDATA[2010 Winter Olympics Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> Sat, 20 Mar 2010 17:29:16 +0000 <![CDATA[Daffodil Quick Tip by Clay_Miller]]> Thu, 18 Mar 2010 02:25:56 +0000 <![CDATA[ The Promises of Spring]]> Chinese New Year (also known as Spring festival) celebration began on Valentine’s Day this year. 15 days of feasting. After the Spring festival celebration, what do we look forward to? Spring, naturally!
Spring comes early this year. It was still winter coat I was adorning last week and today, the weather has gone above 22 deg. C! What a remarkable warm-up! That only implies one thing. This year, the cherry blossoms will bloom in no time! For the last decade, it’s been shifting
forward from end April to end March. Now, I think we’d actually see Sakura in mid March! What a promising time! The world will wake up from its slumber and hibernation to embrace the promises of Spring!

Spring in Kyoto
As with the Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) I found Spring to be most beautiful in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Kyoto is extremely regal during this time of the year. If you are lucky like I was, you'll probably get to see maikos dancing all the traditional dances at the temples too. It is a rare treat that only greets tourists and locals alike during this time of the year when the Sakura is in full splendor in its splendid garden as well. A most unforgettable sight, one of the things anyone should see before one dies!

It is absolutely the loveliest time of the year - Spring. 
The beginning of the cherry blossoms & party time. 
It is a time for joy & rejoice. A time to enjoy simple beauty in life.

The best time of the year to visit Japan.
To enjoy these short-lived, beautiful & magnificent sights, Kyoto is the ultimate choice. 
The geishas are out there dancing & the mood is one of exuberance.
Enjoy the dance of life & the best of what Japan has to offer now.
Spring is that time of the year.

The Story of Hanami & Sakura

(An excerpt from
Hanami was first used as a term analogous to cherry blossom viewing in the Heian era novel Tale of Genji. Whilst a wisteria viewing party was also described, from this point on the terms "hanami" and "flower party" were only used to describe cherry blossom viewing.
Sakura originally was used to divine that year's harvest as well as announce the rice-planting season. People believed in kami inside the trees and made offerings. Afterwards, they partook of the offering with sake. Emperor Saga of the Heian Period adopted this practice, and held flower-viewing parties with sake and feasts underneath the blossoming boughs of sakura trees in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Poems would be written praising the delicate flowers, which were seen as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral. This was said to be the origin of hanami in Japan.”
Spring time - Merry time & Marry time
It was said after the offering of the ring, it's the beginning of sufferings. 
Well, what do u think?
In Japan, weddings are costly affairs. 
They can cost as much as a house or even more.
Yet, there are still an amazing numbers of marriages going on seasons after seasons. 
I suppose that bodes well; there's hope afterall :)
In any case, good luck to all those who decided to have a wedding in this country & this season!
Hmm, I wonder how much those kimonos alone cost?!
Kimono & All things traditional
During the Spring & the Cherry Blossom season, you’ll encounter many young adults adorning beautiful kimonos and taking the catwalk around town. These are mostly young girls coming of age or maikos and geishas who are out and about during the Miyako Odori (Cherry Blossom Dances) performances which runs in the entire month of April.

Other than the colourful performances at Gion, you’ll also be treated with the most perfect weather to drink and wine with friends in the park. Who is to say that Spring is not the most liberating season of the year?
Here we are… Spring awakening!
  ]]> Mon, 1 Mar 2010 16:23:17 +0000
<![CDATA[ Like a butterfly!]]> Sakura (aka Cherry Blossom) is fleeting. Maximum period we get to see it in full bloom annually is 3-4 weeks. Mostly, simply 10-14 days. Sakura is my most favorite flower. I've seen it in bloomed a couple of times in different parts of Japan, Canada & China. It's a flower that is synonymous with Spring!

It's a
(national) flower


It's a festival

It's a dance (Miyako Odori)

It's a mochi

It's a cake

It's a scent

It's a bento (lunch box)

It's a print

It's an anime

It's a Japanese coin

It's a national gift... a gift of between friends!

It's the Spring of Life! Kirei! Like a butterfly!
]]> Mon, 1 Mar 2010 16:16:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ Go for Gold, Canada!]]>
Originally, I had titled this review "China's first Gold". However, as the Winter Olympics progresses, I do think I need to show some support for Canada. So, here's to Canada's Ice Hockey! All the very best of luck!!! Stay focus & do what you do best! Go for Gold, Canada!!!

China's 1st Gold

My favorite of the sport events is figure skating, especially the Pair Figure Skating. I've always that that's the most beautiful sport activity in the world. It's graceful, colorful & very romantic. Gliding through the ice with beautiful music is just so heavenly to me. The aesthetics of figure skating is undeniable to anyone who has a sense of flow and music. It is one sport I enjoyed watching, be it at the Olympics or the World Championships. Interesting enough, this year, both Chinese pairs won the Gold & Silver medals (Gold: Shen Xue & Zhao Hongbo; Silver: Pang Qing & Tong Jian). The Russian pairs missed the medals as with the Canadians. It wasn't too long ago that it's either the Russian or/& the Canadians monopoly in this event. How things have changed! I thought they were some of the most beautiful pair skatings around! Anyhow, Shen Xue & Zhao Hongbo managed to clinched China's first Gold Medals and their very first Winter Olympics, so that calls for celebrations :-)

I find it interesting that other than Korea, China is the only one other Asian countries that has been actively participating in the Winter Olympics. I do believe the Japanese are in some of the ice skating events but so far, I don't think they have scored any gold medals! That's so unfortunate. Japan used to be real good in the Women's Single for figure skating! But, let's not give Japan a miss yet as the Ladies Figure Skating final will only be held on Feb. 25 so there is still a big chance that Mao Asada might dethrone South Korean Kim Yu-Na ;-) It'll be exciting to watch for the Feb. 25 finals!

Evan Lysacek (from U.S.) won the Men's Single Gold! 
As for Ice dancing, the Russian pair tangoed to the lead & it'll be Russian's only hope for a medal! The pair Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin will be very interesting to watch in the Final!

Latest Update: The Canadian Pair Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir won the Gold for Ice Dancing while Oksana Domnina & Maxim Shabalin won the Bronze. The Silver belongs to Meryl Davis & Charlie White from the States! Way to go, Canada!

Some Surprises
Zhou Yang, the youngest Chinese contestant and the only one who took part in the event, won her first Gold at the Winter Olympics Ladies 1,500 m Short Track. It was such an exciting 2+ minutes of sports! Very impressive & a remarkable achievement. She has certainly made many Chinese proud of her achievement and a boost to China's morale! Well, what can I say, I may not be a Chinese citizen, my great grandparents did originate from this country so that still makes me a Chinese ;-)

New Discoveries
I found something I like to watch and that's Freestyle Skiing. It's exhilarating to see what a sports person could do up in the air and the amount of courage it took to have that lift off and trusting that one'll land in one piece solidly! Amazing!!! I love seeing the somersault jump high up in the air and the excitement of seeing a firm landing. It certainly feels a little like a plane touch down! Aerial Skiing is breathtaking!

Another interesting event is Curling. This is the first time I actually caught a glimpse of it. The game between France & China (Men) was truly spectacular. What a turnaround for the French! Good work!!!

Canada's National Sport
Having lived in Canada for a few years, it's unforgivable of me to not mention a word about Ice Hockey, isn't it? Well, what can I say, I wish the Canadians all the best! Unfortunately for the host country, she just lost a very important game to the Americans (3-5)! Well, it's going to hurt the morale of the Canadian team but I still hope they will at least be able to make it to the Semi-finals! Go, Canada, Go!!!

Latest Update: Canada won both the Men & Ladies Gold in Ice Hockey! Hip hip hurray!!!! Congratulations to both Canadian teams! Great job!

The Spirit of Competition
Having watched some of these Sports Event made me realized that we humans are truly competitive. We do strive to be the best of ourselves and it is in competition that we displayed a certain degree of whatever that's impossible and improbable. We do our best in competitions and we thrive on competitions! Cool!!!

]]> Sun, 21 Feb 2010 10:50:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hi Sunshine!]]> Sunshine! A day with sunshine is a day of possibilities.
Oh yes, the man who sang “You are my sunshine, my only … “ has left long ago. Despite that, I still like the nick name “sunshine”. Sunshine warms the heart and gives the day a meaning of its own.
I’ve had sunshine all my life, except for those years I was in Canada and China, or rather, those years I lived in a 4-season country. I was born in a tropical country and that translated to waking up with sunshine filtering through the curtains daily. At times, it was even too much that I needed to get special curtains to block out the light entirely in order to sleep over. Still, I was accustomed to waking up in daylight. It didn’t make sense at first nor did I think much about sunlight. However, recalling that I practically hibernate throughout my first winter in Canada, and then again after many years after leaving Canada and arriving in Beijing, winter is not my favorite time of the year. I felt lethargic on winter days & nights & the worst scenario would be depression. The wonders of sunshine and the lack of it changes the world for me, literally.
We need it & thrive in it
It was only recently that I realized how very much I needed sunshine in my life! Something I’ve taken for granted all my life! Rain may be romanticized by Hollywood and lovers, but sunshine is what keeps me going. I do not think nor do I wish to live in a country that has practically no sunlight for 6 months of the year. I did so in Canada before and I do know what I’m yapping about. Hence, it is not easy for me to phantom why anyone would want to live in places like Greenland & Alaska or Scandinavia. I know those places have some very scenic landscapes and are great places for vacations. But 6 months almost without sunshine? Oh my, that’s tough! For me at least it is extremely tough!

We commercialize it
That makes me wonder too… I mean when I was having it all my life, I didn’t really like too much sun. In fact, it’s common knowledge that most Asian girls dread sunlight as it’s bad for the skin and it’s fashionable to look as fair as possible! That’s why you’ve the Whitening Range in many of the Asian cosmetics and skincare products. The sun can be scotching hot in the tropics. And one reason why we’ve got some of the greatest beaches here, like in Bali (Indonesia), Phuket (Thailand), Langkawi (Malaysia) & Cebu (Philippines). Same for places like Maldives & Seychelles. What then is the problem? Humidity I believe is the answer. For many visitors to South East Asia, humidity is a big problem.


With increasing problem from climate change and the depletion of the ozone layers, I wonder if eventually sunlight will become too strong and prove to be harmful for human beings. That led us to the green revolution that many are talking about these days. In his book and speeches, Thomas Friedman reminded us that the world is in fact not having green revolution but a green party. Stores in China & Canada now charge money for plastic bags and even Walmart (or may be it was Carrefour) which stated that the profit margin for selling those bags are substantial. So, the commercial aspect of the ‘sunshine’ effect.  
We energize it & save lives with it
Now, we find ways to turn sunlight into something useful, like a solar energy. Solar power plays a big part in the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Solar lighting company Sol donated $300,000 worth of lighting systems that allow hospital and food distribution to operate in the night. Solar cell phones which were launched in mid 2009 also play a crucial role in time of disaster. Ever heard of solar powered audio bibles? They also play a role in helping the Haitians cope with their losses.

So, Yes! Hello sunshine!

  ]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2010 15:44:06 +0000