My Photographs: Top 5 Qingyuan Mountain – Quanzhou, China.

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Qingyuan Mountain, February 2018. The beautiful Qingyuan Mountain is a protected national park region of China’s Fujian province, located just three kilometers outside the city of Quanzhou. Dating back to Imperial China’s Tang Dynasty, the mountain is famed for its giant statue of Laozi (also known as Yuxian Rock), the founder of Chinese Taoism.  

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My Photographs: Top 5 Guandi Temple – Quanzhou, China.

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Guandi Temple, February 2018. As with most Chinese cities, there are plenty of temples scattered around Quanzhou. I consider myself something of a temple veteran, so decided to limit myself to this magnificently carved city centre structure on Tumen Street.

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Wall of Sound – a short story from The Netherlands.

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In June 2010 I arrived in The Netherlands with the notion of finally ‘settling down’. Young, in love and still just a little wet behind the ears, my girl and I had all the typical rat race dreams: Get the jobs so we could save money. Save money so we could get the house. Get the house so we could have kids. Have kids so we could be a happy family, a regular functioning cog in this big old machine we call society. What could possibly go wrong?

It was a Saturday morning mid June 2013 when I woke up and instinctively realized it was game over. S was curled up on the far side of the bed, about as far away from me as it was possible to get without falling out. She’d gotten home late the night before, so late in fact that I hadn’t even heard her come in.

Gingerly lifting myself out of bed, I felt my heart beating a million miles a minute. Jesus, this was it wasn’t it? I shuffled off to the toilet for a pee before making my way to the kitchen where I instinctively flicked the switch on the kettle and stood there for a moment shivering. It was the steam of the boiling water in my face that eventually shook me from my coma, forcing me to the fridge. Grabbing the milk, I set the carton down on the counter, popped a teabag into my cup and began pouring the water. Adding the milk, I clutched my brew in both hands and turned to find S framed in the doorway.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Yongmunsa Temple – Yangpyeong, Korea.

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Yongmunsa Temple, February 2015. “Hi I’m River, so nice to meet you!” he said, clamping a hand down on my shoulder. It was early morning in Seoul and I was incredibly hungover after a beer-fuelled night of noraebang (Korean Karaoke) had led to full-on alcohol carnage at Club FF. I was a virtual zombie in the car as River sped off for the fifty-three kilometer journey. Located in the sleepy country province of Yangpyeong, the walking trail up to the temple complex begins here in the forest valley of Yongmunsan Mountain.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Muse On LP Bar – Busan, Korea.

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Muse On LP Bar, February 2015. Busan’s vinyl-collecting muso community can be found at this trendy city centre bar in Haeundae district. I’d been randomly strolling the streets when I saw the sign outside a towering building on Banpo-dong. So I ducked in and made my way up the stairs to the 3rd floor.

Muse On LP Bar, February 2015. A seat at the bar gets you face to face with the house vinyl collection, lovingly attended to by the duty DJ. He doesn’t get involved in serving drinks, he’s exclusively there to keep the tunes rolling, grant requests and make sure everything is filed in the right place. A man after my own heart!  

Muse On LP Bar, February 2015. Be prepared to put your hand in your pocket! The beers are pricy but varied and icy cold. There are also plenty of cocktails to choose from and drinks usually come with some salty nibbles.

Muse On LP Bar, February 2015. According to the barman, Muse On’s owner is a sound system buff who’s been collecting antique stereos and speakers for over thirty years. The bulk of these bits and bobs are stored in a corner of the bar.

Muse On LP Bar, February 2015. I made a friend that night, a local boy who was taking some time out from hardcore studying to clear his head, unwind and enjoy some tuneage. I remember it being a wildly eclectic playlist, with the vibe switching between the likes of The Carpenters and Pixies, to Talking Book era Stevie Wonder and The Beta Band.

For more on the city of Busan, take a look at my articles on the UN Memorial Cemetery, Haeundae Beach, Jagalchi Fish Market and my choice spots from across the city.

You can also leaf through my various articles from around Korea, including Seoul, The DMZ and Jeonju.

Pissing With Stifler – a short story from The Netherlands.

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In June 2010 I arrived in The Netherlands with the notion of finally ‘settling down’. Young, in love and still just a little wet behind the ears, my girl and I had all the typical rat race dreams: Get the jobs so we could save money. Save money so we could get the house. Get the house so we could have kids. Have kids so we could be a happy family, a regular functioning cog in this big old machine we call society. What could possibly go wrong?

Those first few years in Amsterdam were a blast! I loved the city, had the job of my dreams and S and I were saving plenty of money as we looked to move out of our rented apartment and buy a place of our own.

Cheesy photo opportunity #456 – Ad’s stag weekend – January 2011.

In January 2011 a bunch of my old schoolmates flew over from London for My old friend Ad’s stag weekend. He was finally getting married and it was up to me to make sure he saw the best (and worst) of Amsterdam.  “How was Cameron Diaz?” enquired my mate Palmer as we exchanged hugs in Rembrandt Square’s Old Bell Pub, my favorite Amsterdam watering hole. “Delightful!” I grinned, “she complimented me on my shoes”.

It was a really fantastic weekend; one of the last times we were all together in one place. And we really made it count, devouring plate after plate of delicious Indian food at Tagore Restaurant on Utrechtsestraat before hitting the city bars. In between we toured The Heineken Brewery, wandered around Albert Cuyp Market and… inevitably… ended up in the Red Light District’s seemingly unavoidable Banana Bar. What happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Jagalchi Fish Market – Busan, Korea.

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Jagalchi Fish Market, February 2015. While on the face of it Busan might seem like an unashamedly modern city, there are plenty of opportunities to tap into its traditional roots. One such experience is the weird and wonderful Jagalchi Fish Market in the commercial district of Nampo-dong. Fittingly located on the edge of Nampo Port, this is the biggest fish market in Korea!

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