Spring in Beijing

Outside my window, catkins are rolling in the air. They are the fluffy, pollen-bearing cotton balls of willow trees that set out to play each spring in Beijing. To see them fluttering in the air, carefree and dreamy, is a pretty sight, but I have to be careful when opening my front door because those lurking in the corridor will come scurrying in with such cheeky swiftness.

I figure I should document spring here before it leaves. In fact, it is already planning its exit to make way for summer. Green sprouts have begun to replace the blossoms on the tree branches. It is now Guyu (grain rain) – the last solar term of spring – and Lixia (start of summer) will soon take over.

But I am not sure I am ready to let spring go.

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A poem on death

These past few days I have been thinking about our fleeting time on earth, and what exactly do we get out of life. The profound relationships we build with people around us mean a lot to me, but they are also exactly what we tend to overlook when we chase shiny achievements. And when our loved ones leave before we do, what should we do with the paralysing sorrow and grief?

Here’s a poem I chanced upon last night:

After Your Death
by Lisel Mueller

The first time we said your name
you broke through the flat crust of your grave
and rose, a movable statue,
walking and talking among us.

Since then you’ve grown a little.
We keep you slightly larger
than life-size, reciting bits of your story,
our favorite odds and ends.
Of all your faces we’ve chosen one
for you to wear, a face wiped clean
of sadness. Now you have no other.

You’re in our power. Do we
terrify you, do you wish
for another face? Perhaps
you want to be left in darkness.

But you have no say in the matter.
As long as we live, we keep you
from dying your real death,
which is being forgotten. We say,
we don’t want to abandon you,
when we mean we can’t let you go.

Five interesting WeChat official accounts

WeChat is the only app a person truly needs in China. It is everything, with the functions of WhatsApp, Facebook, blog, e-wallet and more rolling into one amazing, powerful app.

The official accounts on WeChat are what I read when I ride in the subway and before bedtime. Here are five accounts that I adore:

1. Yi Tiao 一条

Yi Tiao is touted as the “most beautiful video channel in China.”  And it truly is. Fascinating people and places are featured in neat, captivating videos.

(WeChat ID: yitiaotv)

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Dujiangyan

Dujiangyan is where I found the cutest hotel in China: a loft at Flying Dragon Humanities Hotel:

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By Chinese standards, the room is creative and charming. It is so whimsical, like a hideout every child dreams of having of.

Dujiangyan is located about 90 minutes drive from the city centre of Chengdu, which is the capital of Sichuan province and home to panda research bases.

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Aprons

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Throughout my life, most of my important conversations with mum happened in the kitchen. While she plucked leaves from stems, chopped garlic, slipped chicken cutlets into the sizzling wok, sending droplets of hot oil everywhere, I would pad into the kitchen and try to get her attention. “Mum…”

Strangely, having this apron to call my own feels like a rite of passage, a coming of age; of having an item that I’d like to take with me into the future kitchens that I will be having.

It used to be a lot of requesting for something (permission to go out with friends), and then slowly evolved to discussing a question (should I be a Journalism or Chinese Studies major?), and arrived at informing her of a decision I’ve made (getting into grad school).

And in recent years, it’s largely just about being in her presence, exchanging random thoughts and getting updates on the newest members she added to our backyard garden.

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