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Benzilan – The Place I Barely Remember

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Panorama of Benzilan

Hit by an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale, Benzilan in Yunnan, China had temporary make-shift tents as accommodation for the people which lined the street outside our hotel. We got there at night & it was the start of a series of cold nights thereafter. And the hotel doesn’t have any lifts! I felt sorry for the guys who brought unbreakable chunky luggages. Walking up the stairs with such load is enough to bring on back pain. My room that I shared with Miss Lai was on the first floor, not that bad considering that I had brought a convertible Eminent trolley bag which I hauled up like a backpack.

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My camera backpack, the Lowepro Photo Sport 200AW was filled with 80% essentials (survival equipment) & 20% photographic gear. On the first 2 days, people on the trip got a little surprised as to why I had a relatively big pack but only carried a Samsung NX200 wherever I went. I began to whip out things…….Lifestraw™……Lifeventure Shelter 2 Bothy Bag……Gerber multitool…….Sealskinz gloves…..survival kit…….Fenix PD32 light…hiking pole…..travel pillow….thermal blanket……spork…….power bars…..soup packs……purifying tabs……Platypus drinking bag……..alcohol wipes……first aid kit…..Garmin 76CSX…..batteries….. I explained to them that survival was my priority when going out into the wilderness for my adventures. Photos are secondary.

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Nice bag, no?

If I was going to travel for an indefinite period through the cold, mountainous region, I wasn’t going to leave my safety to chance or the tour guide. If we had gotten stranded for whatever reason, at least we would have purified & filtered water to drink. I’ve never been to China before & didn’t know what to expect except that the people look very similar to me. 😀

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Angela posing.

Sandwiched between the demure Angela & the excitable Leong, their antics drove me to the toilet. I have never laughed this much, all 12 days mind you, at two contrasting individuals trying to take pictures & get along. Leong’s model-opportunisticism, both as the photographer & the one being photographed, was worthy of commend. He took very flattering shots of Angela but Angela felt that he did better with aunties & housewives making them look like stars. So the hammering begun. Leong was untameable. He went after cows, goats, yaks, whatever that moved……even other tourists, to get his portraits. He even managed to herd a bull back across the bridge over a torrential river! In witnessing such charismatic flaunts, I decided to document him. I don’t remember much about Benzilan or the journey thereafter except that I was always in stitches as the taunts & threats were continually thrown at Leong by Angela, should he not succeed at taking flattering shots of her again. Leong took his task seriously & clicked furiously to get that right shot afterwards!

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Feeling the pressure…..Leong has to perform, or else…..

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Leong succeeded to ask Alex to photograph him. Alex is a hotshot photographer!

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He got Uncle Nigel to take a shot of him too! How does he do it??? 😀
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He would make sounds through the lens hood….

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And the only time we stopped laughing was when he was deep in slumber…..

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I took him taking me.

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Benzilan was beautiful but I can only remember how much those two amigos made me laugh.

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Walking across the suspended bridge.

Going On Air with Linora Low on Red FM

On 11 May, I was invited to be on air as a travel blogger on Red FM, made possible when Donovan Chan introduced me to a very cool babe who’s a DJ for the show. Linora Low is a fitness devotee & her hair colour suggests the bubbly personality that goes with her show! It’s red! You can find her on FB.

We got on to a great start talking about the myriad of gadgets that I take on trips & what they were for. Our video camera recorded even instances of an alarm ringing in the background, something she picked up while I was totally oblivious to it. In the studios where the acoustics absorb sound & exude silence, Linora was probably more acute to buzzes & rings than I would have been. So we got on chatting. Then we went on air & did things behind the camera where no one could see. We were Facebook-ing & Tweeting!!! Muahahahahah! And swapping seats!

We talked about everything under the sun & where the moon can’t shine given that we had attended the same launch of the Vibrance Kegel Device. This is what girls get up to when they meet. Of course, we covered food topics, how can we not? We are Malaysians where we are predominantly filled with thoughts & suggestions of what to eat & how to eat it. The one hour on the show was really short considering how much we talked when the mic was off. Wait for the recording to be posted!

Here’s a shot of me behind the console!

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Her own mic cover!

And then the super fit DJ herself in her red tresses & Macbook Pro!

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Redhead!

Then a shot of the two of us!

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Note:- Uploading the video now & will embed once done! I’ve been filled with assignments all month & that takes precedence over blogging but do know that I tweet in between. Will post more once I settle my work!

Foodhunt During CNY!

Testing the Trip Journal application on my Android & bringing you this interactive episode of my quest for food when all the shops & eateries were closed during the Chinese New Year, a celebration that spans 15 days. This is the only time of the year the Chinese rest & rightly so, for they deserve it after all their hardwork throughout the year providing food & services to the Chinese community. Do click on the notes & pictures to see where I have been! If this is good, I will be utilising this on road trips as well my work assignments just to let you have an idea where in the world I am & what I’m doing! Do drop me a comment on this app!