My Hometown Hangzhou

My hometown Hangzhou is known as “paradise on earth.” An ancient Chinese saying says: “Above there is heaven; below there is Hangzhou.”

Anyone who has visited Hangzhou is impressed by its scenic beauty. A mirror-like lake, called West Lake, is nested in lush hills, like jade carved into green velvet. Along the lake are peach and willow trees, wavering and whispering in gentle breeze.

In the springtime, when the peach trees are blossoming with pink and white flowers in between the green willows, West Lake looks like a cheerful bride ready to wed. A pagoda, named Precious Stone Pagoda, stands on the top of the hills at the north side of the lake, as if a faithful guard watching out for his bride.

Hangzhou is also a historical city. It served as the capital of China in Song Dynasty (960-1279). In the 13th century, Marco Polo traveled to Hangzhou – the center of trade and culture during that time, and wrote elaborately in his journals about West Lake. He considered Hangzhou as “the most beautiful and splendid city in the world.”

Throughout history, Hangzhou has inspired poets, artists, philosophers and politicians. Many of them had left mesmerizing poems about West Lake. A classical poem by Su Shi, a renowned poet in Song Dynasty, says it all:

The brimming waves delight the eyes on sunny days;
The dimming hills present rare views in raining haze.
If comparing The West Lake to the Beauty of West Shi,
It becomes her to be adorned in either ways.

Today, Hangzhou has renewed itself into a center for technology and entrepreneurship. With a population of seven million, Hangzhou accounted for 20 percent of the province’s GDP, 30 percent of its imports and 17 percent of foreign investment.

A recent survey by Forbes reveals that Hangzhou scored the highest on the list of “the top ten best places for business,” before Shanghai and Beijing.

It is a base for global manufacturers such as Motorola, Siemens, and Toshiba. It has several of the most successful homegrown companies – the biggest auto parts maker Wan-Xiang, soft drinks group Wahaha, and Internet company Alibaba.

Cancun Renewal

Who can imagine that was a former fishing village thirty years ago?

Surrounded by Caribbean sea, Cancun today has renewed its natural wonder with beautiful white sand beaches and crystalline turquoise waters. Walking barefoot in the sand awakens all my senses.

The beach is not the only attraction for Cancun. The ancient and the promise of the return of Kukulcan invite me to explore its endless wonders and mysteries.

A parasail over the Cancun sky gives a bird-eye view of its unprecedented beauty. Feeling like a bird flying into the infinite blueness, my heart sings with ultimate joy!

Looking back, a year has passed with much to be grateful; and looking ahead, another year is coming with more to be hopeful!

What A Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.
I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.
– Louis Armstrong

I came across this song by Louis Armstrong. What a treat to read something like this. I particularly like “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, Are also on the faces of people going by.” I can’t help posting it here to remind myself and everyone: what a wonderful world we have!

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Furnishing A Beautiful Home

Furnishing a new home can be a very challenging project. There are so many things that need to be taken into consideration: the quality, the style, the comfort, and the price, etc. Most of all, how we furnish our homes tells a lot about who we are and what we value.

Despite my strong interest in home design, getting the right furniture for my new home is still quite an overwhelming task. After some intense research and numerous visits to furniture stores, I found the fine furniture by Amini Innovation Corp. (AICO) a shining crown jewel that clearly stands out among its rivals.

Designed in the United States with an exquisite European touch, AICO furniture featuring Michael Amini Signature Series are impressive collections of distinctive style and fine quality. Each carefully designed piece is marked with superior craftsmanship. Thanks to globalization, AICO furniture is handcrafted and manufactured in China, making this high-end luxury home furniture relatively affordable.

Among its many selections, Cortina bedroom set caught my attention. Inspired by the beautiful resort Cortina d’Ampezzo in northern Italy, the Cortina bedroom furniture is a stunning example of combining classic sleigh bed with modern elegance. Its unique Oval Marble Medallion accent in the center of the headboard gives a feel and look of majesty; and the gentle curves and subtle texture set the tone for romance. Indeed, each collection of AICO furniture is characterized with a cultrural and cosmopolitan flair.

When it comes to home furnishing, I see it more than a project to furnish a beautiful and comfortable home. It is also a chance to go deeper inside ourselves and understand who we are and how we want to express ourselves. As we know, after traveling all over the world, the greatest trip is returning home – that’s where our families and friends are.

Please also see my previous post Home, Sweet Home

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Fashion Show in Santana Row

If you think Silicon Valley is a place for “geeks” who only wear jeans and t-shirts, not any more! Last weekend, the Annual Fall Fashion Show in Santana Row flashed the runway with the season’s latest style and high fashion – right on the street of Santana Row in a lush garden park setting.

With world beat music and impressive chic models, the fashion show featured the world’s top brands, from leading British designer label Ted Baker, to cross-cultural fashions of Anthropologie, to world-wide renowned fine leather Furla purses and high-end luxury shoes designed by orthopedic surgeon Taryn Rose – all are picked from the neighborhood’s retailers.

The elegant black and white outfits are still the high point of this year’s fashion. Additionally, the combination of vibrant brown and blue color has become my newest fancy for the Fall.

After the fashion show, I cruised into the designers’ shops featured in the show. Among them, I found Anne Fontaine a timeless class. A French designer drawing her creativity from her Brazilian roots, Anne Fontaine’s collection captures the purity and simplicity of white with a touch of feminine and elegance. In her boutique, “each shirt has a story and a meaning, and with each new creation, a new woman emerges.”

Another fun boutique is Pink Stripes – a unique retail concept combining clothes and sweets. Here, you can shop while sampling truffles, chocolates and other sweet treats. It even has a live model in the window! The shop carries the lesser-known lines from Nanette Lepore, Tracy Reese, Rachel Pally, etc. The price is quite affordable ranging from $50 – $150. The place is hip, hot and entertaining!

The Fall Fashion Weekend, highlighting six fashion shows over Saturday and Sunday, is one of Santana Row’s signature events. A must-visit place in Silicon Valley, Santana Row represents a high quality lifestyle that “blends a distinctive mix of living, shopping and dining experiences.”

Please also see my previous post about Santana Row.

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