Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Travel-Bug Tales: Sunny Greece....adventure on public transport from Thessaloniki to Kriopigi!

Freedom in a bit of Yoga on Kriopigi beach.......
Finally, the long awaited Travel-bug Tale is ready to be disclosed...this time its the land of ancient philosophy. Not having been to Greece before, I only knew what I saw in the glittering seaside photos found on Google, and having been a busy month there was not much time to do any research either. When end of May 2014 came I packed the night before and met Winney at the station the next extremely early morning with a perfect Plan B....just turn up and see how it goes! After all I was sure we would find at least one spot to just lie in the sun and hover over my kindle as the days roll by, as it was the sort of holiday I needed. However the one bit of research I managed to do was 'How-To get from Thessaloniki Airport to Kriopigi', and that in itself was a challenge. Dear Google managed to throw up lots of rather pricey airport transfers and EUR100 taxis, though there were a few skimpy threads on buses, people generally advised against it. So we discovered why when we arrived. It is true that the local Greek bus service is not amongst the most regimented in terms of time keeping or connection, hence proving to be quite the adventure and the inspirational back-bone of this post!

On the terrace of Alkion Hotel (Kriopigi) where we stayed.....

Alkion Hotel overlooking the pool and sea.....Kriopigi, Greece.

Greek lunch!



Alkion Hotel, Kriopigi, greece.

Kriopigi beach....relax......

It took us much longer than we thought to travel from Thessaloniki Airport to Kriopigi, as we did it by public transport in about 3 hours. A little tricky, but we saved a massive chunk of the expensive taxi ride and it was exciting being able to see how the locals really live through the inland journey across many small villages....they really do stop almost anywhere if someone decides to flag down the bus away from a stop, and the locals never seem bothered by it at all. Welcome to a land where almost anything goes, so just flow with it and enjoy the ride....is the message that we got! Here's How-To find your way to Kriopigi:

  1. From Thessaloniki Airport take a 15 minutes taxi ride to the Thessaloniki KTEL Bus Station; please make sure it is the KTEL one that you get to where coaches serve across the country.
  2. At the Thessaloniki KTEL Bus Station, take the coach bus to Kriopigi Bus Station. (Tip: Return ticket from the ticket office worked out cheaper than two singles, listen carefully to the speaker announcing where the bus is departing and follow the flow of people. Bus service is not too frequent with one bus every 1 to 2 hours in gap, check the Greek KTEL Bus Timetable beforehand just to be safe.)
  3. Arriving at Kriopigi, which essentially is just one main street, most of the 12 hotels or resorts are within walkable distance.

And that was how we got to our lovely Alkion Hotel, which in all its simplicity and relaxed state was really all we needed at that time. We had a half-board package of breakfast and dinner included, which was a really good choice, as only having one single street with shops to explore there weren't too many restaurants to choose from....yet we still ended up in a tourist trap one lunch time! Lesson learnt, and we did enjoy the food as well as friendly but relaxed manner of our hotel....not to mention the pool and the walkable Kriopigi beach. Definitely recommended for a relaxing getaway, provided you work out how to get there first, nothing too glamorous but just the place to hide away and simply lie in the sun!
Arriving in Thessaloniki for yummy lunch!

Between the old Roman ruins and new concrete tops....Thessaloniki, Greece.

Marble by the sea....Thessaloniki. Greece.





With Sophia and Winney in Thessaloniki, Greece.
So from the seaside village of Kriopigi with nothing more than a few resort-like hotels, hills and swallows....to the second largest city Thessaloniki, where we spent an afternoon with my lovely friend Sophia and her family. Travelling on local buses, meeting stray cats, eating Tzatziki daily and spending time in the sun.....all in the region of Halkidiki. By the time we left, we decided we will do the second claw and birth place of Aristotle next time! Hopefully this travel post has brought you a little bit of sunshine as we settle into autumn....I am starting to think ahead to my trip to Singapore (Cheongsam Tea details to be announced as all you darlings are invited to join) very soon. Also my Zen Yoga wesite is finally up and running, so please spread the word and I hope to see those of you in London at one of The Cat Pose's Zen Yoga class one day. Have an absolutely fabulous mid-week darlings!


Until the next time,
May xx

♥ Follow ‘Walking in May’ by:
Love on Bloglovin
Plus on Google+
Like on Facebook
Tweet on Twitter
Pin on Pinterest

THANK YOU darlings! ♥

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Qipao Love: Part 18 ~ Cultural appropriation and the Qipao (Cheongsam)...a matter of opinion?

My beehive and a groovy Cheongsam.... [Caroline Opacic Photography]
Having received a reader's email voicing cocerns about cultural appropriation and the Qipao (Cheongsam) recently, it has made me consider some of the questions this issue brings to light. There has been an ongoing spin in the media on famous people wearing certain traditional garments of other cultures being offensive or even racially prejudice, with different arguments from different sources. Perhaps it is time to voice my two pennies worth of thoughts on the matter, and of course I cannot claim to represent all persons of Asian heritage at all, so thoughts are essentially mine alone and they are not meant to be offensive or political in any manner. As a Cheongsam enthusiast and advocate, I feel it is important to spread the beauty of this dress and prevent scaring those who love the Cheongsam into not being able to wear it just because they are ethnically different. Living in London I have come to appreciate diversity as well as freedom, there are not many cities around the world with such great appreciation for difference, culture and freedom. Where I can walk down the street of good ol' London town in a piled high beehive and Qipao without so much of a batted eyelid by passers by, I am probably unlikely to get away with it in other parts of the world....even in an Asian country. Nothing major of course; I will probably get passers by stopping to stare and guessing I am either crazy, dressing up for a fancy dress party, going to a formal event or wedding. Such is the circumstances that have restricted the use of the Qipao today (unless of course it could be Chinese New Year), and almost to the extent of a social phobia in being too different to fit to the norm of daily modern fashionable Western style dress in an Asian country. My question is...should this circumstance be normal even for those who have an ethnically Chinese background living in Asia? Why should the Cheongsam no longer be the norm? Does it have to be in Vogue in order to be fashionable?

Anna May Wong (Source: Pinterest)

Sceen from 'Flowers of War' (Source)

Chinese-born Japanese actress Yoshiko Otaka (Yamaguchi) [Pinterest]
Is it just body image or a deeper fear, and indeed why should women fear what they wear? I have been addressing this issue post by post through developing the Qipao Love series that I hope can become a useful reference point or even inspirational motivation for others, and have been calling forth women who love the Qipao or Cheongsam to embrace that love by celebrating it with others through the monthly Qipao LoveR feature. A garment that was still being worn as daily wear about more than 60 years ago being replaced by modern trend directed clothing in an effort to become more Westernised or fashionable is a fact. The art of making the Qipao through traditional means is dying and specialised tailors are disappearing, so one day it could become something only seen in museums. Therefore I see it important to encourage more ladies to get to know the Qipao, and for those who love collecting the Qipao like myself to be able to wear  it without the prejudice or fear of being seen as some sort of fun-only costume...if I should wear it let it be with love, so if others wear it then I hope it is with love and appreciation too. My close Japanese friend also fears the art of the Kimono might one day die out, and with her teachings I learned to dress in a Yukata (summer Kimono) the traditional way from how to tie the obi traditionally to how to behave when wearing the Yukata. Dressing can be an art. When one loves something one will carry it with respect and appreciate its beauty, which I hope is the message I have been able to spread.

Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor in Cheongsam (Divine Stitches

Clark Gable and actress Li Li-Hwa (Source: Pinterest)

Vintage Butterick sewing pattern....to make your own Cheongsam (Divine Stitches)

Love my Yukata even though I'm not Japanese..... [Yukata How-To]
Photo: Caroline Opacic Photography

Wearing my Yukata with a proper lightweight Obi.... [1920s Modan Garu]
Perhaps I have a different approach to others in seeing information as a means of helping others to understand some context of a culture, and actually encouraging others to appreciate traditional dress. Have a look at the photos (above) of Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor dressed in traditionally Chinese garments, but not looking any bit offensive...well to me anyway, in fact I think they look beautiful. I feel the difference between the offensive and non-offensive is crucially 'how one wears the traditional dress', so here's a few ideas to consider:
  • Research that dress! If you would like to wear a Qipao (Cheongsam) respectfully, then do a little research into what looks nice with it and know the name of what it is that you will be wearing. It is probably best not to mix a widely perceived Chinese dress with items from other Asian cultures, to avoid making broad statements about all Asian cultures, or indeed dig out the political through a historical war context that could simmer a stereotypical grudge of some sort. If in doubt, keep it simple.
  • Mere fun-filled costume or true loving appreciation? Your intention matters, and how you choose to wear a traditional garment will allow others to decipher information about you as well as how you feel about the garment. If you love something, then you will simply want to do it justice and appreciated it in the best way that you can.
If wearing a traditional Qipao (Cheongsam) is still daunting because of cultural sensitivities, then perhaps you can start with a modern Cheongsam instead. There are several newly emerging independent Cheongsam designers in Asia, who are selling rather modernly modified designs incorporating Western dress features with an element of creativity as well as play of fabric, to make the Cheongsam more accessible to younger working females of today. [For a reference of the different Modern Cheongsam designs I have tried, take a look at the Qipao Love series.] Have a fabulous start to the week darlings!



Until the next time,
May xx

♥ Follow ‘Walking in May’ by:
Love on Bloglovin
Plus on Google+
Like on Facebook
Tweet on Twitter
Pin on Pinterest
THANK YOU darlings! ♥

In my very first modern everyday Cheongsam....on a Singapore trip. [Qipao Love]