Ten years ago this week I arrived in Hong Kong to live and work. It’s hard to believe the time that has been dropped on history over the last decade. My hair is grayer, my waist size is bigger, I am significantly more mature, but I am also more secure, happy, and satisfied and I am hopeful as I look to the future. I love this city and the people I have met here along the journey, none more special than my beloved. So, at the end of this week, raise a glass with me to Hong Kong and my unanticipated, but joyful sojourn that brought me to this place I now call home!
Here is my original post on my trip to Turkey. Below are some more photos:
We begin with photos of the Blue Mosque (the largest, most elegant I have ever seen in all my travels)...
Where in the world have I been recently? The answer is Turkey. Jan. 3rd through the 18th I was in Antalya and Istanbul for a work conference and then a few days of exploration and fun. I am giving Turkey a 5 out of 5 stars for a wonderful place to visit. If you have never been there, plan on it sometime in 2009 or whenever you first have the chance. Istanbul is a 12-hour flight direct from Hong Kong on Turkish Airways, which offered modern aircraft with ample leg room in economy class. It's only a 10-hour flight on the way back with the wind propelling you along. I slept all of the flight both ways, otherwise I could tell you something about the entertainment system. I do know each seat has its own video screen. Hey, anytime you can catch a direct flight (personalized entertainment or not) it ought to increase your chances of visiting.
Antalya is a resort town that grows from 1 million this time of year (the dead of winter) to 5 million in the summer when tourists come roaring from Russia and all over Europe. For example, the French love to go there since it's just a two hour flight from Paris to Istanbul. Here is where we stayed. The rooms are of ample size and they're clean. And the food was truly amazing. It's a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so plan to make good use of the gym and pool! Excursions from the resort to Old Town and some ancient ruins that have been well preserved is about a 30-minute ride by public bus or taxi. Plan to get out of the resort to explore. Otherwise, you will get bored.
An hour's plan ride from Antalya is Istanbul, the ancient capital of Turkey. I now consider this one of the premier world cities I have visited. London still tops it, but not by much (that will tell you how much I think of the place). We were only there for three days, but we took advantage of the time to visit the Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. Fascinating. And the people are friendly and outgoing and easy to get along with. They also speak English remarkably well. A theme running through my mind was "I could live here." Istanbul made Hong Kong look boring and sleepy. And our hotel (chosen on-line with little to go on but good recommendations) there was also satisfactory. The best part about it was the location, within walking distance to all the major sites listed above, and its cleanliness and friendly and well informed staff. You can easily spend big money on hotels in Istanbul, but why not save some Lira by staying at a place like the Garden House?
That's my brief overview. Here are some pictures (more in a future post):
My Turkish Delight Dealer - Delight is, well, delightful!
A gorgeous day to relax along the Mediterranean
Antalya's Old Town Seaside
Amphitheatre ruins at Perge (near Antalya)
I'm going to be here, there, and a little bit of everywhere the next three weeks. Today I'm in Amsterdam, Holland followed by Brussels, Paris, and London, and then onwards to the US of A. Naturally, I found myself in a familiar conundrum over the weekend while I was packing, and that is: what books do I bring to read on the journey? I intended to have Meltdown finished prior to departure but I don't think that will happen so along it comes. It's a big book so I think I'll go with this and leave it at that. This also tempted me since it's on my shelf and will be good to read as his term ends. Then there is a pile I left on the dining room table of books I really want to read and thought "these are ones I want to take" but I can't leave here with a bag full of reading since I know I will purchase some more along the way. (Plus, I have some catching up to do with my Fall Into Reading Challenge. One of those books comes along as well.)
Here are some other things I've been reading that captured my attention. And keep coming to this space. I'll be writing along the way or I have already written in preparation for being on the way!
Read this whole story (and I do mean read every word). Many, many more churches should do what this church did!
This week, next week, and the first two days of the following week I will be hitting the road. Therefore, I am going to reduce my writing from five-plus posts a week downwards to about three. We will pause our studies on Barth, sin, theodicy, and watching films theologically. However, I'm calling these next two weeks reading weeks for two reasons: a) hopefully between all these meetings I will be doing a lot of reading while on the road in America and b) I want to post my reflections on some of the reading I have been doing recently, with a special touch on fiction. It starts Wednesday with my review of A Fine Balance.
I'm off again this morning to New York, then Philadelphia and Boston before returning to Hong Kong in a few weeks. The bulk of this trip is work related, but I will get to sneak in some precious time with my family and our new addition, Claire. She was born to my brother and his wife recently and this will be the first chance I'll have to hold her and meet her in-person. That will be a highlight.
It's a long ride today (about 16 hours direct) but I have some sleep to catch up on & I've got a couple of books, newspapers, and magazines to keep me company (plus Cathay's film selection is pretty good). I admit there is still a rush I get from returning to the States from time-to-time. There's something about going to the place of my birth and growing up years that I can't get out of my system. But it reminds me of a great line from Paul Simon's Once Upon a Time There Was An Ocean. "Nothing is different but everything has changed." Exactly. "Nothing is different but everything has changed." That describes how I feel when I visit Boston.
We're Bangkok bound tomorrow for a few days of rest and a little work. This seems well deserved after over two weeks of heavy work related travel. Bangkok is a nice get-away from Hong Kong because it is a direct, short flight (about 2.5 hours down). But packing again forces me to ask the inevitable question: what to bring? Since I will finally have the opportunity for some uninterrupted reading time, which is badly needed, I have to choose what books to bring. Tough choice. Despite purchasing A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World just this afternoon, I think I will finish off two books I am in the middle of. They are: Paul by N.T. Wright and When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. I may also do some book shopping down there!
August 10th and 17th I am speaking on Philippians 3 and need the background on Paul. I am thinking of using those occasions to give a perspective on Paul, the follower of Jesus rather than a more clear-cut exegetical approach to that particular chapter. In other words, what does this chapter teach us about Paul in relation to Jesus? Wright, and his "fresh perspective," has a lot to teach me. It may be a little heavy for the pool but I think I can handle it. I need to. Those Sundays are fast approaching.
No posts from me in the next three days. I'll be back on Monday, August 4th.
If you have not, read this first. And now for a quick update I promised you. I left this morning on my two-week journey having successfully taken on one carry-on suitcase. As predicted, it took several tries but with a little discipline (truly leaving out what I do not need) and some twists, turns, and jams I made it. It's out the door and off to the airport, just me & my bag.