Qingjing Mosque, February 2018. The arresting ruins of this city centre mosque can be found on Tumen Street, just a five-minute walk down from Guandi Temple. Built in 1009, this is China’s second oldest mosque and a major pilgrimage point for the country’s Muslim community.
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.
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.
Haeundae Beach, February 2015. Not only is Haeundae considered the prettiest of Busan’s two beaches, but do a bit of digging around online and you’ll find a bucket of platitudes along the lines of “The most gorgeous beach in South Korea”. My own Haeundae experience came on a grey, chilly February weekday morning. While it’s safe to say I didn’t see the place at its shimmering best, Haeundae still succeeded in channeling a calm and dignified majesty, free from all the distractive trappings of summer tourism.
The Golden Mount, April 2015. There are more temples in Thailand than you can shake a stick at. With over a thousand structures peppered around Bangkok alone, it can be tricky deciding which ones are particularly worthy of your time. One temple that should definitely make the cut is Wat Saket. Dating back to the Ayutthaya era, this is one of the city’s most ancient temples and is best known for its 80-meter hill The Golden Mount.
The Ghost Tower, April 2015. I was having breakfast in the hostel one morning when I overheard an American guy telling a mousey South African about his top picks in Bangkok. “Dude, you haven’t done the ghost Tower?” he exclaimed, a forkful of egg suspended at the entrance to his mouth. “Dude… The Ghost Tower!!!” So I listened in and learned about this abandoned skyscraper near Saphan Thaksin BTS metro station. It was supposed to have become a five-star hotel, but the company had run out of funds mid-construction. “You can’t miss it”, said America, giving South Africa the street address, “big-ass Coca Cola poster!”
Lumpini Park, April 2015. Anyone looking for a break from Bangkok’s unrelenting urban buzz need look no further than the peaceful Lumpini Park in Silom district. Named after the birthplace of the Buddha in Nepal, this 142-acre city oasis is the perfect place for jogging, Tai Chi, or simply sleeping under the giant palm trees.