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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Chris attended a business meeting at one of the Dead Sea resorts in Jordan. It was the first time I visited that country.

Jordan is sandwiched between Israel and Saudi Arabia while it shares a border with Syria in the north. Security is a major concern in this part of the world.

Queen Alia International Airport is 65 km from the resort while the capital Amman is 45 km away. We saw a few checkpoints on the main road to the resort. Our hotel’s security routine included looking underneath our bus for bombs with a mirror-on-a-stick.

Jordan does not have any oil but it is blessed with the Jordan river which enabled it to grow fruits and vegetables despite the country is surrounded by deserts. The river has a major significance in Judaism and Christianity. This is the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and where Jesus of Nazareth was baptised by John the Baptist.

The surface and shores of the Dead Sea are 430.5 metres (1,412 ft) below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. Soon after we left the airport, we were going downhill on the main road.

The road that leads to the resort passes many farms and we saw truck loads of tomato, carrots, cabbage and onion. Many farmers set up roadside stalls to sell vegetables. They looked really good.

The resorts are located on the right bank of the dead sea and comprise a cluster of hotels: Hilton, Marriott, Kempinski and Mövenpick. We stayed at the Hilton which is closest to the conference center.

On the other side of the dead sea is Israel and the Palrestine’s West Bank. We are on the east bank of this lake.

The lights on the other side of the lake is supposed to be from the West Bank and Jericho.

The main reasons for tourists to come here is (1) to sample the dead sea mud which is rich in minerals and has numerous beauty and heath properties, and …

(2) to swim in the super salty water in which one cannot sink. With a salinity of 342 g/kg, or 34.2%, (in 2011), the hypersaline lake is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot live, hence its name.

The density of the lake water is 1.24 kg/litre (pure water is 1.0). One can effortlessly float about on top of this water. The extra buoyancy is strange at first but one get used to it quickly.

While there is no need to worry about sinking, it is important to maintain balance. Otherwise you could flip over or fall to one side and get the super salty water in your eyes or mouth. I felt little stings at a couple of places on my body. It turned out that I had a break in the skin at those places. I did not even know there were tiny cuts there.

Next door to the Hilton is a small shopping mall where one can buy dead sea mud, dead sea salt, and all kinds of products based on these local elements. Minerals are big business here – potash useful as fertilizer is the most important export.

Also visible from the hotel is a water theme park – i assume they must use freshwater in the pool and rides  … but how unexpected and precious it is to find a park in a desert where there is no water and next to a lake where it is so salty.

According to Wikipedia, the Dead Sea area has been known as a health resort for thousands of years.

The mineral content of the water, the low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each may have specific health effects.

The conference was over in 3 days. I doubt if I gained any health benefits but I enjoyed the uniqueness of the environment.

I (Chris) was in Hong Kong and managed to catch the Art Basel 2018 show on its last day. The show was hosted at the Hong Kong Exhibition Center on the Wanchai harbourfront.

Sis had complimentary tickets and access to the VIP lounge, where we had a nice simple lunch there.

A Swiss sponsor’s hardware were used to show the international scope of the organizer. AP had a booth serving champagne in the VIP lounge.

My favorite of the show is this video-on top of-a painted/printed piece. It depicts a mountainous megacity with high-rise buildings and construction cranes, and the street traffic is animated. Hong Kong is a bit like, that and Rio too. It is both futuristic and realistic.

The other favorite and also a crowd-pleaser is this sheet of sheer woven material that is ever so light, and it floats and undulates gently following the constantly varying air currents supporting it.

Cindy Sherman was there.

Timeless ?

The pieces below are those that caught my eye.

Live participant at this installation. She was cleaning the dishes.

I did not get the names, there were mobs in front of most pieces.



Nice miniatures of Hong Kong street scene.

Papier-mache with chinese ink characters

There were even organized tours. Somehow I doubt that it was organized by Art Basel.

I was curious to hear what the tour guide/commentator was explaining to those kids about a painting full of photorealistic gemstones and pearls framed by a bright gold-hued frame.

We did not stay long because there were so many people. Art Basel 2018 was a spectacle and a marketplace.


We love bookstores and Chris has been posting our visits on the blog. So far we have 25 bookstores from around the world from Moscow to Tokyo. Click the link to see the posts.

Moscow, House of Books

Tokyo, T-site

As much as Amazon is a threat especially to many small bookstores in the US, the bookstores (at least the major ones) have not disappeared outside the US. Thank God.

From the oldest in the world in Lisbon to a super modern store in Sao Paulo – both selling mostly portugese books …

Lisbon, Livraria Bertrand

Sao Paulo, Livraria Cultura at Iguatemi mall

From MIT which publishes academic books on advanced technologies to the Parisian publisher who puts out reprints of early 20th century original (translated) work by Einstein and many other physicists and mathematicians …

Boston, MIT Press

Paris, Edition Jacques Gabay

We will keep this series up.

Hope you find these posts interesting. To find our other posts on bookstores,  just click on books in the Categories on the sidebar of any one of these posts.

When I(Chris) was in Hong Kong during Easter, I came across this bookstore.

Breakthrough (突破) was a magazine that was published between 1973 and 1999. When I was in secondary school in Hong Kong, I was a school librarian and flipped through it. The history of the magazine, the social movement and its activities are described here.

Breakthrough is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to the education and development of youth culture with a christian viewpoint.

As you enter, you are greeted by this sign which says “re-experiencing the temperature of paper books”.

The organization’s mission is to develop, via media and interpersonal relationship, the city’s youth so that they become leaders of the 21st century.

They are a publisher of chinese language books.

The Book Gallery located near Jordan is one of three bookstores run by the organization.

These are key rings made with resin which resembles the signs used by old Hong Kong taxi and minibus (I think), particularly the font and colors.

Can be custom made with your phrase.

There is a coffee bar with barista service.

They also stocked a small collection of card games and board games, some of them translated from English or German.

The gallery like most shops in Hong Kong is small but it felt open and comfortable. A nice place to rest your feet and browse.

It is rare in Hong Kong to find an establishment like Breakthrough that is doing something meaningful and not entirely commercial.

Before we leave Oslo, we have an addition to our bookstore of the world series …

Eldorado Bokhandel is the largest independent bookstore in Scandinavia offering 4,000 square metres of books, culture and music. It is located at Torggata 9A.

The bookstore opened in 2013. The facade is fairly non-descript, narrow and does not reveal much about the store. We almost walked past it.

Eldorado has Norway’s largest departments for children’s books, audio books and classical music, as well as a coffee shop, a back yard restaurant (we did not see as it was winter) and four levels (we did not count).

It had a large collection of classical music by Naxos.

In fact, the layout is a bit confusing as it has several levels and the rooms are not rectangular.

A ramp with ducks in the background.

The atrium space with armchairs were very welcoming.

They have a fair number of English books and it was a very up-to-date selection.

and it included Norwegian literature

In English, a reason to buy books !

… a small theatre with comfy chairs

Drawings of people from around the world on the walls above bookshelves of travel books


… a throne from fantasy books ?

Evolution of the Penguin books logo  … cannot remember the context of this poster, maybe it is just a poster for sale.

They were closing at 6 … never figured out what the tall man is about.

Quite a bookstore befitting the name Eldorado.