600km Walking Pilgrimage through Spain

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on September 2 2008

From the moment I discovered an ancient pilgrimage path in Spain in June last year, the attraction of walking hundreds of kilometres towards an assured destination grew on me daily. My eagerness to go on a month-long journey on foot across the steep slopes, lush valleys and forests of the Pyrenees, and through countless small towns and villages, was part of a subconscious quest to find depth and meaning in my life. At the age of 33, I was approaching – prematurely, perhaps – what seemed to be a mid-life crisis.

Straits Times Life! Article,Denise Chng Lisan,Camino de Santiago,Camino Frances

Letter from Quebec: Preserving Heritage

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on November 8 2008

'TRAVEL is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living,' wrote Miriam Beard. Life in Quebec is now my teacher, pointing out my knowledge gaps and honing my ideas of living - be it language, culture, life-skills, or the environment.

Denise Chng Lisan

Meeting 老路 Lao Lu

Posted by Denise CHNG Lisan On Friday, August 21, 2009
The least I would expect on this road trip would be to meet a fellow Chinese. But meeting 老路 Lao Lu caught me with a greater surprise than meeting a Chinese. She is a 77-year old Gaspesian strong-minded lady who came up and spoke to me in fluent Mandarin.

On many occasions, from the streets of Bangkok, New York or wherever, people throw a few words at me in Mandarin, like 'Ni Hao' (How are you, in Mandarin), to demonstrate their little connection with the Chinese culture. Some even take me for Japanese and say 'sayonara'. But Lao Lu is not one of those. On our first encounter, she held her solo introduction so well that I was in awe. The thought that here I am in Gaspesie, near the tip of the vast land, in a little quiet village, coming to face a Quebecoise lady who spoke Mandarin in such fluency left me dumbfounded.

We spoke a little more at length, and she shared that she has been to China 28 times. 28 times. I wonder if I have been home to Singapore 28 times, that often, in my life. She was even passionate enough to pack her bags and leave for China to study the language for 6 months before the Olympics. But by the stroke of luck, she met with an accident and had to return back to Quebec with the unfinished dream. Her passion for the language remains alive and her love for the Chinese people and culture is evident and contagious. I could not help feeling a little ashamed of my lack of fluency in my own mother-tongue. Maybe she would be my spark, lighting the interest in my own language back to life.

She invited me and Richard to her home for breakfast the next morning. This is what I love about travel - meeting special people and connecting with them in ways unplanned and unimaginable. Lao Lu's youth and wonder in her heart connected with me and Richard.

At Lao Lu's home, I learnt that she was a tour guide for many years and traveled far and often in her younger days. She shared with me her 'Chinese room' where she kept Chinese paintings, vases, dolls, souvenirs and carvings. We poured over albums of photos from her travel, and I even got to 'meet' her long-time friend from Singapore, Lilian, or Pek-yi Kok. Richard and I marveled at the synchronicity of our encounter. Here, this special lady is talking to me about 'Bukit Timah' and durians from Singapore. She said her friend lived at Bukit Timah and she stayed there while visiting Singapore many years ago. Suddenly, then, Lao Lu made me feel homesick, right in the middle of my travel.

Richard and I are camera-addicts. We took pictures and videos to keep souvenirs. When I suggested putting up the pictures on my blog, Lao Lu said, "I want to say hi to my friend in Singapore!" I became excited. If I could do something to connect Lao Lu with her friend, that would give me lots of pleasure.

One thing led to another. By the time we left her cosy home, we had eaten three toasts each (because of her delicious homemade strawberry jam) and sung a couple Chinese songs to celebrate. Imagine Lao Lu singing 'San Zhi Lao Hu' (Three tigers). That was what she did. She sang it with such gusto and enthusiasm that I would like the world to see. I hope she is as proud of herself as I am of her.

2 Response to 'Meeting 老路 Lao Lu'

  1. Brian Said,'> 7 March 2018 at 00:13



  2.'> 7 March 2018 at 01:16



    Ave Maria - Lourdes, France

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