Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Welcome to Learning about the World

As an avid traveller, I find those long weeks and months between trips frustrating. So I’ve decided to go on a ‘learning journey’ around the world, taking in every country, some that I’ve been to, many that I haven’t. I want to read a book by their most famous author, listen to some of their music, cook one of their most famous dishes.

I’m already on my fifth country, so in this introduction blog, I’m just going to give a summary of the journey I’ve been on until now.

Here is the story so far:


(All the images of flags on this blog were downloaded from http://www.33ff.com/ - they will let you do the same if you visit their site)


GUATEMALA



Quite randomly, the first country I started with was Guatemala.
I read The President by Miguel Angel Asturias. A really interesting read and quite claustrophobic in its study of a Latin American dictatorship.


I listened to Marimba music which, despite the fact I’m a big world music fan, I did find it hard to get into it!

I also cooked Tapado, a Guatemalan seafood soup, which was dee-lish! I’ll definitely be having that again.

It sounds like a really fascinating country and I haven't met a lot of people who've been there. Would love to go and visit the Mayan sites and the people are rumoured to be amongst the friendliest in the world!



HONG KONG


Not an independent country as such, I started my exploration of Hong Kong by reading An Insular Possession by Timothy Mo. It's a long book and written in a style that would have made the Victorians proud. What's more, the book isn't so much about Hong Kong, as about everything that happened in the region, Opium wars etc., that ultimately brought Hong Kong into existence. The really exciting thing about this book is, I found out at the end, that the characters were based on real-life people. It must have taken years of research to pull everything together and, although it's not a book for the beach, I take my hat off to Mo's stylistics and sheer willpower.


I've never had the pleasure of visiting Hong Kong (well, not yet anyway, on my 'to do' list) but listening to metroradio via the Internet had me in a taxi driving along the South China sea, with the mountains of Hong Kong Island in the distance. I don't know a lot about Cantopop, but this following track My Left Eye sees Ghosts by Cantopop princess Sammi Cheng appeals to me on some unexplained level.






I also turned my hand to Sweet and Sour Pork Hong Kong style.


One thing that really struck me about the history of Hong Kong was how recently the city came into being. Neighbouring Macau has been around a lot longer, yet Hong Kong has surged forward with an energy all of its own.


Keep reading for another two countries tomorrow!
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