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The one year anniversary of the Red Buffalo

By on Aug 30, 2014 in Our shop | 2 comments

August was an exciting month as it marked the one year anniversary of Red Buffalo Trading. This was quite a momentous event for me considering how often I vowed to “just quit”! It has been an incredible journey for me, stepping into the online world, which up until last year was pretty much unknown to me. Asides from the obvious skills I learnt in terms of creating an e-commerce website, starting to blog, and creating social media profiles, I also had to learn to do business using my still limited Chinese. I learnt about fostering relationships, and who to trust and who not to trust. I learnt about stock keeping and book keeping and all of the other behind-the-scenes things that are needed to run a business. The unexpected part of starting the Red Buffalo was how it would rekindle my creativity. I have always enjoyed making things, at school I painted and wrote, in university I sewed...

Why travelling 20km often takes an hour (or more)

By on Aug 16, 2014 in Travel in China | 4 comments

We often wonder at the variety of ways in which our journeys to the local crags go from a straight forward drive to a bit of a mission. I guess if you factor all of the variables into the equation it is not at all surprising that the 15 – 20km journeys often takes about an hour (or sometimes more). Variable one: Development is much more important than free flowing traffic. Therefore the road going through the village is not really a road it is a public space to be used for construction work… Variable two: Saving money on construction costs is very important. So, in order to save money the nails securing the solar panelled lamp posts into the ground is only 15cm long… Variable three: It is very important to stay entertained whilst driving. So to make sure that people don’t get bored of the tedious task of driving with a car full of passengers, the rear view...

The Queen Sirikit museum of textiles

By on Aug 12, 2014 in Travel in Thailand | 2 comments

No visit to Bangkok would be complete without a visit to Queen Sirikit museum of textiles.( At least not the visit of a textile lover!) It seems that the Queen of Thailand has a deep love not only for her people but also for the Thai traditions of making textiles. “The museum’s mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a center for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia, with a special emphasis on the textiles of, and related to, the royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. Additionally, its goal is to create public awareness of Thai identity 
and culture, and the beauty of Thai traditional textiles, through research, exhibition, 
and interpretation.” – See more here. In the museum you can watch a beautiful short documentary on the full process of making Thai silk, from the harvesting of...

The streets of Bangkok

By on Aug 9, 2014 in Travel in Thailand | 4 comments

You would think that living in a city of 6.5 million people would prepare me for a trip to a “big” city like Bangkok. Except that it didn’t…. Kunming, despite its huge population, is a village compared to Bangkok. Population wise the two cities are pretty much on par, but in terms of development and worldliness they are light years apart. We foreigners stand out like sore thumbs in Kunming; and in Bangkok nobody looks at us twice. In Kunming people dawdle across the streets randomly without fear of being run over; in Bangkok crossing the street feels like a suicide mission. In Kunming I often rush past people because they are so slow, but in Bangkok I am the one being shoved aside as I amble along the sidewalks. In Kunming the only option for public transport are taxis and busses (and a very new one line metro which nobody trusts yet) but in Bangkok there are tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis,...

The Grand Palace in Bangkok

By on Aug 6, 2014 in Travel in Thailand | 4 comments

It is no secret that I love shiny, pretty things. More than once I have written about how much I love the architecture of Laos and Thailand, but on my most recent trip to Bangkok I think we can safely say the the love for these buildings turned into an infatuation! Yesterday I went to visit the Grand Palace  in Bangkok that was built in 1782, as commissioned by the Thai King, King Rama I. In my life I have never seen such an abundance of mirrored and painted tiles in one place. The Grand Palace complex is no longer used as royal residence for the King of Thailand, but is still used for many important official events. The sprawling complex measures 218,400 square metres (2,351,000 sq ft) which takes about three hours to tour. In the oppressive Bangkok heat touring this complex over mid day is quite a feat! Fortunately there are a couple of water points at which the complex attendants...

The smell of fresh dumplings

By on Jul 29, 2014 in Life in Yunnan | 2 comments

A while ago the key to my electric scooter’s lock suddenly stopped working. I had just finished a morning session at the cerebral palsy clinic where I volunteer, and I needed to go to a teaching job in the city. Needless to say I was less than amused when I could not get the lock off the bike. In a huff I set off to catch a bus across the city only to discover that I had absolutely no cash to pay for bus fare. I raced to an ATM, drew money and by that time I was so late for my next job that I had to take a taxi to get there. After teaching I went back to the tiny back road that our clinic is on in the hope of finding someone who could help me free my e-bike from the lock. After about an hour of trying to convince various shop owners to come help me angle grind the lock off the bike I finally found someone who was willing to believe that I was not trying to steal someone else’s bike. He...