Happy Chinese New Year!


新年快乐!Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Lunar New Year!

Welcome to the Year of the Wooden Horse or the Year of the Green Horse. Why a wooden or green horse? The Horse is one of twelve animals representing a twelve-year cycle in the Chinese lunar calendar. Combined with the five elements in the Chinese Zodiac, Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth, the calendar goes through a 60-year cycle where each animal is associated with a different element every 12 years. Visit HanBan for a great summary of the Year of the (Wooden) Horse. Click here for more information about the elements.

This year may bode well for those born in the Year of the Horse with some promising personality traits such as being outgoing, energetic, active, friendly, trustworthy, and popular with friends, family, and acquaintances. The same may hold true for all of us during the Year of the Horse if the Green Horse appears this year and proves auspicious. However, as Wood can burn Red with flame, 2014 may also bring turmoil and crises. Who’s to say which Horse will cross the chronological plain this year. 没关系 (méi guānxi). No problem. Party on! It’s time to celebrate Chinese New Year!

How do the Chinese celebrate the New Year? Well, it starts with days of shopping for and buying any and all things red, gold, and (this year) green to make the holiday more festive. Shoppers stock up on food, drink and treats for Chinese New Year dinners, fireworks to blow off at stroke of midnight, and hongbao (红包 or red envelopes) to fill with money for the children.

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Chinese New Year is a time for families to celebrate the holiday together. Families who stay home and host festoon their houses with New Year decorations and prepare huge meals for extended family who join them for an evening…or often longer. It’s a time to enjoy great food and holiday delicacies, to catch up with family you might not have seen for a while, and to give hongbao to the children. If you’re lucky, your child will bow before you and promise to be behave as they ask for their red envelope.

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Going home to visit family by train, plane, or bus is a holiday tradition not often mentioned. The week-long lunar celebration triggers the world’s largest annual mass migration with an estimated 3.6 billion trips made, including 225 million Chinese who traveled overseas for Chinese New Year.

After dinner, many Chinese families relax and watch the annual New Year Show on Chinese Central Television (CCTV). Part variety show, part music concert, the event is watched by an estimated 750 million people.

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Just before midnight, millions of Chinese take to the streets, rooftops, or any open window to blow off fireworks to usher in the New Year. The spectacle is unbelievably loud and beautiful. The fireworks during the 2012 Year of the Dragon celebration in Shanghai were incredible! Click on the video below to watch.

2012 Chinese New Year in Shanghai, China

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The next day, many Chinese families venture out to enjoy local public festivities. They may go shopping, watch New Year parades, or tour old, familiar places. The Lunar New Year is a time to remember family, friends, and ancestors, and many visit places that have been an important part of their families’ lives. These photos were taken in 2012, at the Temple of the Town Gods in Shanghai.

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新年快乐!Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy New Year to you and yours!

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mge-kili-cover-front-thumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

The Christmas Tree


The Christmas tree has become the centerpiece of most modern Christmas celebrations. Whether its origins are Christian is unclear. Legend has it that Protestant reformer Martin Luther began the tradition of adorning trees with candles around 1500 A.D. after being awestruck by moonlight reflecting on a stand of evergreens. He brought a small fir tree home and decorated it with candles lit in honor of Jesus Christ’s birth.

Some claim that the Christmas tree has secular origins that range from the early Egyptian worship of evergreens to the Romans’ Saturnalia festival or Druidic rituals practiced during the winter solstice.

Whatever its origins, the modern Christmas tree represents something different to people who celebrate the holiday now than it did to their ancestors. The evergreen is a changeling in the sense that it can take any shape or form. It can be any color, tall or short, big or small, real or artificial, filled with lights, candles, garland and tinsel or none of them, topped by a star or angel, glittering or austere, and filled with identical ornaments or a hodgepodge of collectibles. The tree looks like whatever the person who puts it up wants it to be.

The only aspect that hasn’t changed through the centuries is that the tree should be a coniferous pine. Perhaps its evergreen nature symbolizes that it will always have a special place in people’s hearts, no matter what form it takes.

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May your holidays ever be filled with the Christmas spirit.

 

 

snowflakeM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

The Christmas Nativity


The Nativity, or crèche, is one of my family’s favorite Christmas symbols. Introduced to Europe in 1223 by St. Francis of Assisi, who wanted to emphasize Jesus Christ’s birth at Christmastime by reenacting the event with humans and animals, the Nativity has become an iconic part of the Yuletide. Nativities can be both live or inanimate with pieces in all shapes and sizes.

My family loves to collect Nativity scenes from around the world. Each one is unique with cultural influences from the places where they were made.

Here’s a wooden one from Africa.

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This one is a ceramic set made in China and bought at a store in the United States.

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This is a ceramic Nativity from Peru in South America.

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This set was made of cloth, metal, and twine in Zambia, a country in southern Africa.

Here’s a porcelain Nativity with Thai figurines from Thailand.

Although each set it different, they all symbolize Christ’s birth, and that has special meaning to our family on Christmas.

Have a blessed Christmas! May it bring you peace and joy.

 

snowflakeM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Santa Claus and the Spirit of Giving


Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas. Kris Kringle. Father Christmas. Known by many names, Santa is an almost universally recognized part of the Christmas celebration. To some, he’s an integral symbol of the holiday; to others, he’s a controversial, commercialized figure who’s pulled the holiday too far away from its origins honoring Jesus Christ’s birth.

To me, Santa represents the embodiment of a giving spirit. Like the 4th Century Greek bishop Nikolaos of Myra, or Saint Nicholas, who gave gifts anonymously and hid coins in the shoes of children, Santa Claus recognizes even the littlest among us. Like Santa and Jesus Christ, who lost his life for preaching a message of salvation, giving to others in need is something we can all do at Christmastime.

Whether in his Swedish, Chinese, American, or incarnation, Santa is one of the world’s most recognizable figures. I haven’t visited his home in the North Pole or Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland (if you ask the Finns), but he often stops by our home to give presents to good children and those who are young at heart.

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My son and I track Santa’s progress via the NORAD Tracker as he delivers presents to children around the world on Christmas Eve. When he’s a time zone or two away from arriving at our house, Alex writes St. Nick a note with his Christmas wish list, puts out milk and something sweet to eat, and darts off to bed. Whenever my son asks me if Santa Claus exists, I simply answer that he only visits those who believe in him. Those who don’t aren’t ready to accept his gift.

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May this Christmas season be a gift to you!

 

snowflakeM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Christmas Greetings


For general Christmas greetings and more, visit my Thoughts & Sayings.

I want to depart from travelogues for a few days to focus on my favorite holiday, Christmas.

I love Christmas and its many traditions. The celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth and the trappings of the season hold a special place in my heart. No matter where in the world I live or what cultural events and traditions I observe, Christmas will always be my favorite.

When I was young, I used to draw illustrated Christmas cards for family and friends. In the days before technology made it easier to do graphic design, I spent hours sketching cartoon characters and winter scenes by hand. I haven’t had time in years to sit down and sketch a Yuletide scene — I barely have time nowadays to send out an annual Christmas letter — but I still enjoy looking at cards from Christmases past.

Here are some of them. I hope they make your holidays a little brighter!

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Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season!

 

snowflakeM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

The Support


A poem.

God provides the foundation

On which our home is built

A solid base that anchors it

To soft soil or shifting sand

Your strength is the structure

That keeps this delicate form

From blowing, washing away

When the wind and rain come

Your dedication is the frame

That holds up this fragile life

As it reaches toward heaven

Buttressing its soaring wings

And though we need the Lord

Who shelters and protects us

Our home would lie in ruins

If not held together by you

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For my wife.

M.G. Edwards

July 2012

The Adventures of Fishman (with Photos)


In keeping with the superhero theme kicked off by my interview with super author Kevin Rau, I’m updating a post I published in January 2005 called The Adventures of Fishman — this time with photos. May it inspire anyone with young children to turn their toys into characters of a story that will help parents have fun too.

Whenever I play with my son, I try to have fun. We play well together; in fact, my wife tells me that he has a great time whenever he plays with dad. Sometimes my mind gets carried away, and I make up epic stories with whatever toys are available at the time.

The other night I happened to stick a toy fish on the head of my son’s Mr. Perfect doll, and presto! the superhero “Fishman” was born. Thus began The Adventures of Fishman, a crazy aquatic superhero. Eat your heart out, The Incredibles!

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By day, “Fishman” is Mr. Joe Perfect, a mild-mannered consultant for Discovery Consulting. He’s Mr. Everyman, the kind of guy you can bring home to meet the parents. He’s courteous and thoughtful, everything anyone could ever want in a man. He says sweet things when you press his stomach such as, “The ballgame doesn’t really matter. As long as I’m with you, I don’t care what we watch.” Or “Here, let me make dinner tonight,” or “Let me stop and ask directions.” He wears beige khakis and a snazzy blue dress shirt, the wrinkle-free kind with the indestructible buttons. He sports a short, preppy haircut. He’s masculine but not macho. He’s single but a great catch.

By night, Joe is “Fishman,” a mighty superhero. Endowed with a ruby red iron Fishhead to mask his identity, he carries a candy trident that he uses to fight crime in Discovery Village. After eating a bad filet of soul one night at a local restaurant, Joe found himself suddenly endowed with the superhuman sense of knowing when something fishy is happening. Determined to use his power for good, he uses this ability to sniff out all things rotten and fight evil for the good of mankind and fishdom; well, at least Discovery Village.

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Fishman’s greatest nemesis is the One-Eyed Monster (OEM), a villain who escaped from the sinister labs of Monsters, Inc. and terrorizes the good citizens of Discovery Village. Our superhero’s mission is to stop OEM from carrying out his sinister plans to wreak havoc on the village.

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Here are some action shots of Fishman thwarting OEM’s plans to derail a commuter train. Fishman pins down OEM and saves the train before it falls off the edge of Discovery Garage.

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Fishman saves the day again! Three cheers for Fishman!

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buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

The Bride


A Poem.

 

A fairer creature I never did see,

Than she who brought me jubilee,

Of whom noble poets and sonnets sing,

The beautiful one who takes my ring.

 

Far fonder than the sweet roses dare,

She surpasses ever their beauty fair,

In sacred white she casts away the veil,

Her beauty regales me in full assail.

 

The shimmer of her eyes stills the room,

The light of her smile shines the groom,

Standing by my side she fills my dreams,

At the altar, a resplendent angel, she seems.

 

Alas, my love, I have become one with thee,

Be my companion evermore, for eternity,

Together we will soar over the deepest hollows,

Bride and groom we’ll fly as the future follows.

 

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I wrote this poem in 2002 for my wife to commemorate ten years together. A decade later, it is as true now as ever.

buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. His collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

When I Saw a Lion


When I Saw a Lion

by Alex Edwards

Clang! The car bounced on the dirt road. We’re on our way to see a lion!

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When it was two hours later, it felt like two years. We stopped at 6 o’clock to stop and see the sunset.

After an hour, we went to see a lion. When we saw the lion, I was scared and surprised. It was cute and cuddly, but I wouldn’t go out and cuddle with it.

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It was the best day ever. I wish I could see the lion again.

The End

Note: This story was written by my young son, Alex, after our June 2011 trip to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, a country in Southern Africa. The lion in the photo is the same one that inspired him to write this story.

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M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His next book, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be released on March 31, 2012. He lived in Zambia during 2009-11 and now lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Zhujiajiao, the Venice of Shanghai


On January 26, 2012, my family and I traveled to Zhujiajiao, an ancient village in Qingpu District about 45 minutes west of Shanghai. Zhujiajiao bills itself as the “Venice of Shanghai.” Why not the “Venice of China”? Well, perhaps because China has hundreds, if not thousands, of traditional villages like Zhujiajiao scattered throughout the country.

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Founded over 1,700 years ago, Zhujiajiao has canals, wooden oar-driven tour boats, stone arch bridges, and plenty of traditional Chinese architecture. However, it bears little resemblance to Venice, Italy.

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Some of the village’s attractions include a Buddhist temple that rises above town, a small Temple of the Town God dedicated to the spirits that protect the village, and a theater that offers performances of the Chinese classic play The Peony Pavilion during the summer months and on Saturdays.

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The traditional Qing Dynasty-era architecture that lines a picturesque network of canals is a main attraction, as are the Chinese foods, beverages, and souvenirs for sale from many vendors. Lotus root, soy beans, pork, toad, and seafood are local specialties.

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The toad was delectable.

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The snails aren’t your garden variety escargot.

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Dried, not fried, chicken is also a local favorite. Not recommended for tourists.

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The crowds during Chinese New Year were horrific. We thought we were going to be crushed in an alleyway! Fortunately, body heat kept us warm on a cold winter day.

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In spite of the crowds, the atmosphere was festive during our visit. Dragon boats with drums beating sailed in the canals, and well-groomed dogs sported bright red Chinese New Year coats. Red lanterns with gold tassels festooned the streets.

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Zhujiajiao is a nice daytrip from Shanghai along with Da Guan Yuan, a park on the shore of Dian Shan Hu (lake) that replicates the garden featured in the classic Chinese novel The Dream of the Red Chamber.

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Just don’t go when it’s busy!

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Here are some short video clips from our visit.

Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
Dragon boats in Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
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P.S. This has been a busy week in China with family and Chinese New Year’s festivities. Last night we could barely sleep as the locals blew off rounds of fireworks to welcome the god of wealth on the 5th day of New Year’s. I have to say that I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet – not to mention warmer weather – back in Thailand. We return home to Bangkok tomorrow.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His upcoming travel novel, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be available in March 2012. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. Visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or contact him at me@mgedwards.com. Find him on Facebook or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.