Friday, December 31, 2004

There were very few Chinese tourists caught up in the tragic tsunami, though many Chinese tour groups were there. Turned out the Chinese' aversion to sun-bathing and money-saving habits saved their lives. The Chinese travelers stayed at cheaper hotels, away from the beaches, and didn't spend their morning by the sea snorkeling and sunning. The travel agencies catering to Chinese like to offer very general tours of the areas, shuffling people from one sight-seeing spot to another, with the requisite shopping break (with kick-backs for the guide). Chinese tourists traveling abroad within a packaged tour also hate to venture out alone; no independent activity meant no time dawdling on the beach, and no chance of being swept away. This time, being so Chinese was life-saving, probably the only time being timid and dark skin-phobic is beneficial.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

A Zen Story

I had a bit of time today so I browsed a few fortune-telling web sites, I like to do this at the end of each year for omens of the new year.

It's almost always a mixed message, either it's good career luck mixed with health problems, or good marriage prospects mixed with bad money luck. The fortune-teller of one site had a story that made me think even if everything does not turn out as hoped, there is still no reason to despair or give up.

In his tale, a suicidal man goes to a sage, asking what the point of life is, if everything leads to disappointmet. The sage didn't say anything but had him drink tea made from lukewarm water. The tea leaves didn't unfurl in the water and tasted tepid and lacked flavor. Then the sage gave the man another cup of tea made from boiling water; the tea leaves first sank in the boiling-hot water and then rose again. The tea tasted fragrant. The sage told the man, lukewarm water is like a life without ups and downs, it might be easy-going, but you wouldn't know the flavor of living. Boiling water may be hard to bear, but it brings forth the true character of a person.