Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Get Up & Go's guest blogger this week is Briar Jensen - giving tai chi the once over . . .
Apparently, tai chi is all about internal energy flow, but the only energy I’m channelling is nervous energy. How much of a goose (or perhaps that should be crane?) am I making of myself? But I don’t care.
I feel enormously privileged to be invited to join a tai chi session in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park by people I don’t know, don’t share a language with and will probably never meet again.
Lumpini Park is a green oasis in the heart of Bangkok. Like New York’s Central Park, it’s a place for exercise, relaxation and recreation. It’s also a great place to escape the heat with its shady trees, artificial lake and trickling fountains.
Every morning the park is filled with people meditating, socialising and exercising – from ballroom dancing to sword fighting.
On an early morning walk from my hotel, the Sofitel So Bangkok, I stop to admire a group of women practising tai chi when, with hand gestures and an encouraging smile, I’m invited to join in.
While it looks simple, tai chi takes concentration and control. I lack the fluid movements of the leader as I cross my arms the wrong way and turn in the wrong direction. My ‘White Crane Spreads Wing’ is more ‘Black Bird Dies Slowly’.
But the grins of appreciation at my clumsy efforts have me brimming with pride. Hmm, the energy flow of pride – that’s probably not quite the tai chi philosophy, but I certainly feel good on the inside.
The writer was a guest of Accor Hotels.
More: The Sofitel So Bangkok overlooks Lumpini Park. The rooms are decorated in four themes: earth, water, wood and metal and the staff wear quirky, vibrant uniforms designed by Christian Lacroix. Visit www.sofitel-so-bangkok.com
Friday, October 3, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Among the best ways of staving off jet lag when you arrive in a far-flung place, so they say, are walking and sunshine. And I love to walk, so when I landed in the lovely Swiss city of Basel in the early morning - too early to check into my hotel - I looked for a way of keeping occupied (and awake) after my 30-something-hour trip.
The helpful receptionist at Hotel Krafft Basel suggested that if I wanted to do something that most tourists would miss, I should head to the local flea market. It was a Saturday morning, the sun was shining, so I set off for the short walk across the Middle Rhine Bridge from the hotel. Using a map provided by the hotel, it was easy to find my way to the market, set under the trees in the lovely Petersplatz square.Much like flea markets anywhere, a lot of the stalls seemed to be people selling off their no-longer-useful stuff. Toys, clothes, shoes, mirrors, paintings, old vases and tea sets, books and more. But there were a few more interesting items too, including an accordion and quite a few chandeliers.
After browsing for a while, I decided that by the time I got back to the hotel, I'd have exposed myself to enough daylight to help reset my body clock and should be able to make it through until bedtime. Bearing in mind that in the European summer, sundown is not until around 10pm!
The Petersplatz Flea Markets are held every Saturday from 7.30am to 4pm.
Follow Lee Mylne's blog: A Glass Half Full www.aglasshalf-full.com
Read Lee's report on Swiss hotels in 2015 in Get Up & Go.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
They keep our necks warm, they are lovely companions, they can be roiled up into a little ball as a pillow, they accessorise the plainest outfit, they'll cover up a bad hair day, their colours can enhance your looks, they are beautiful gifts, they can be worn as a sarong, a sash or a stole . . . in fact not to have one on hand can be quite anxiety making.
Silk, pashmina, cotton, merino wool, cashmere, hand-knotted, woven by angels - any which way a scarf comes into being makes the world a better place.
I have far too many scarves to even put on a post, but I'll start my tale with three old friends who have travelled the globe with me.
The first is a beautiful blue and black fringed scarf from India. I purchased it in Chennai - no bargaining, it came from a boutique that didn't play hard and fast with tight fists. This is a one-off, and when it is folded in a drawer near it's market cousins, it remains expensive and haughty.
A few days before I purchased the scarf I was in a bus trundling through the southern part of India. The bus had made frequent 'comfort' stops - let's call then toilet stops at places that I couldn't quite cope with and I have a high tolerance for shitty toilets.
At one stop I said to my lady companions that perhaps it would be more hygienic if we just went into the bushes. All agreed with me.
As we were squatting in easy silence I looked behind me and there was a holy man wandering through the bush and starring at us. We all turned to wave and the poor skinny fellow took off like a rocket - don't think he'd quite seen that many white bums lined up ever.
This next, soft, pretty confection came from the markets in Istanbul. I had just finished a cruise from Athens with my sister and we were stock piling scarves. They only cost about $5 each but were comely and colourful. We wore them draped around our shoulders back to our hotel.
In a café near the hotel a young, pushy fella called us every night with true Turkish hospitality to come and have apple tea with him. We did, but he was starting to get annoying and we were trying to find ways to avoid him.
One night I said, 'why are you flirting with us, we are old, there are lots of young, gorgeous girls around. 'Ï don't care', he said, I just want a little bit of kissing and . . .'- yep, he wanted more. I just starred at him and said 'you're a lunatic'. He laughed hysterically and attracted the attention of his boss. The boss came out and shooed him away. 'Why did you do that,' I said - 'he doesn't work here, so why not?' he said. So a strange man had been flirting with us and making us apple tea from the café . . . ah, Istanbul.
This silk organza lovely was found at Stanley Markets, Hong Kong. I had bought an embroidered silk coat that I was thrilled with, and not cheap either. While the coat was being packed up I saw the edge of this scarf poking out from under a pile of sweaters. As I gently tugged it out I saw it was silk organza with fine cotton tufts sprouting - it was intriguing and quickly attached itself to me. I bargained for a while then put my foot down and said I should have it for free, as the coat had no bargaining attached to the deal . . . shopkeeper was bemused and said - 'why not'.
That trip to Hong Kong I was invited on a helicopter ride too see this amazing city and surrounding islands from on high - what a flight! And the scarf playfully tickled my neck as the helicopter swooped through the mighty canyons of the vertical city.
Tell me about your scarves . . . where did you buy them, what do they mean to you, and do they tell a story?