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Tai O – An architectural masterpiece – Photodiary

This week we visited the little known architectural wonder that is Tai O fishing village in Hong Kong. A fishing village built entirely on stilts, visited mainly buy tourists wanting to purchase dried fish and eat local snacks. But look a little further, delve into the back streets and you will find a community that has built (and is still building) an entire village on stilts in the inlet of the South China sea. Here is our photo diary of a quiet Sunday spent exploring the structures that seem to defy gravity, and watching the villagers build new structures and maintain the old houses. Tai Po eclectic east15

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Festive Friday Food Post – Traditional Christmas Pudding with Thai Rum and Candied Yuzu Peel

Our Friday food post has gone festive this week with a traditional christmas pudding. We have a little twist of course! Eclectic East Christmas puddingYou might think Thai Rum (known as Sang Som) is better suited to being drunk from buckets on a beach in Koh Phangan in the glow of the full moon, and you might be right! But we challenge you to change your preconceptions about and give this a go – it might bring back some happy memories! Our second unusual ingredient is candied yuzu peel. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit with a milder zest than a lemon or lime – the candied version is quite mellow and adds a nice depth of flavour to this pudding.

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Eclectic East Christmas pudding ingredientsWe can’t take credit for this winning recipe. It comes courtesy of the failsafe Delia Smith – you can find it here. We can only take credit for adding the Yuzu and Thai Rum which certainly gives the pudding an Eclectic East kick. If you want to try the same, substitute the rum for Sang Som and sustitute the candied peel for yuzu candied peel.

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Garnish your pudding with some yuzu peel (shown below) and serve with flames powered by Sang Som rum and some brandy (or Sang Som!) butter.

Eclectic East Christmas pudding2Ours is currently wrapped in brown paper and waiting for the big day. We can’t wait – Merry Christmas!

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Fu Zhongwang Public Art in Weihai

This week I am in Weihai, mostly meeting with clients at factories but also taking some time to see this wonderful piece of public art that proudly adorns the Weihai sea front.

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This giant sculpture is titled Haisong Square Picture in Picture and is by and artist called Fu Zhongwang. Fu Zhongwang is a renowned Chinese sculptor and is the current president of the Hubei Museum of Art. The giant copper sculpture is about linking the sea and the land and represents Weihai’s past, present and future.

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I have been coming to Weihai for the past 6 years as part of my job as a textile designer. It’s a really friendly city in the far North East of Shandong province.  It is a seaport with a colonial history – it was leased by the British from 1898 – 1930 when it was called Port Edward and the area was called Weihaiwei. Now it is a bustling industrial city, and a seaside holiday destination. I’m not sure if I would be taking my holidays here J but I’m happy to be here every so often and soak up the public art on beautiful sunny days like today!

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Big thanks go to my lovely colleague Emma for taking me here today.

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Eclectic East Movember

Here at Eclectic East, we thought we would get into the Movember mood with this hipster sweatshirt from Japanese t-shirt brand Graniph.
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graniphMr EE and I found this brand whist cycling around a very very cold Kyoto. We had to warm up, so we stopped at this interesting looking store, only to find that it was not only warm and interesting looking, it was full of limited edition t-shirts and sweatshirts using designs from emerging designers and artists. Bonus! Hunting down the quirky and warm option, I went for this novelty number which is very fitting for this Movember month. Mr EE took full advantage of the bulk discount and stocked up on printed tees.

Movember cycling14graniph_04 storeIf you are into printed t-shirts and also into design then Graniph is the brand for you. They work in collaboration with artists and designers from all over the world; I saw artists from Budapest, Tokyo, Sydney, London, Barcelona, Seoul, Taipei and Jersey. I will give a special mention to the artist Jonah Block since his moustaches are also in season it would seem!

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Jonah Block design

If you are a budding artist and want to work in collaboration with Graniph you can find details here about how to get your work printed up and sold in their stores. Good luck, and happy hipster Movember!

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Japanese Textiles – Eclectic East Kimono Collection

Japan is hands down, one of the most fascinating and inspirational places I have visited. If you have not already been – it should be on your wish list. The culture is so rich and that richness is carried through into all aspects of life – be it design, food, fashion or art. As you know, my passion is textiles and I have come clean as having an addiction. eclectic east kimono 7

Japan did not disappoint in fueling my addiction, the patterns that adorned so many of the traditional fabrics are unmistakably Japanese in style but, at the same time, incredibly current and contemporary when seen in a modern context. I found a wonderful store in Kyoto where I spent a happy few hours sorting through hundreds of vintage kimonos and somehow managed to select just 7! (Mr Eclectic East explained that carrying more than 7 kimonos around Japan for a week in his backpack was above and beyond the call of his duties as a husband). Here they are for your viewing pleasure in all their patterned glory! Note the beautiful embroidered details, rich silk fabrics and intricate hand stitching on each one.

eclectic east kimono 31 eclectic east kimono 33 eclectic east kimono 32This one is made with a traditional shibori technique which involves hand tying each of these white dots to create this resist dyeing pattern – the pattern and the colours are still very contemporary looking and the tie detail in coral makes a beautiful accent colour detail.

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You get a free cat with this one!

eclectic east kimono 13 eclectic east kimono 12 eclectic east kimono 11I love the fluidity of the pattern in this one as it appears to flow up the Kimono. It is also printed with metallic pigment details which adds a little “bling” to the proceedings – shouldn’t every girl have a bit of bling now and again?

eclectic east kimono 16 eclectic east kimono 15 eclectic east kimono 14This one is the most classic Japanese pattern out of all the Kimonos I bought. I don’t know if it comes across in the photo but it is such a wonderful colour palette, such delicate subtle colours and the fabric (a stiff silk cotton blend) makes it have a formality that the others don’t have – it is stunning in the flesh!

eclectic east kimono 28 eclectic east kimono 29Simple and informal. This one is cotton and the assistant told me it is a more everyday kimono. I love it for the weaving pattern and the simple colours.

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eclectic east kimono 21eclectic east kimono 22 This one is my favourite! The pattern is so subtle and current and the beautiful ombre dyeing of the lining feels so luxurious. I feel totally inspired by this Kimono and feel a new design coming on. 

eclectic east kimono 1By far the most decorative, with intricate hand embroidery. I can imagine this flowing silk Kimono adorning a beautiful young girl at a traditional ceremony. The colours are fresh and vibrant, the pattern is fluid and playful.

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eclectic east kimono 9 eclectic east kimono 10eclectic east kimono 5Hope you enjoyed looking at these as much as me. I’m back in Kyoto in February so I will go back to the emporium and try to convince Mr EE that we should invest in an extra suitcase.

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Crosswaters ecolodge – striking architecture in China

Part of me feels like I shouldn’t post this….. I want to keep it a secret so it stays quiet, calm and unspoilt forever. But it is too beautiful not to share, you are in for a treat!

eclectic east crosswaters3Earlier this month Eclectic East took a mini break to crosswaters ecolodge. Nestled amid swaying bamboo forests in the valleys of the Nankunshan Mountain Reserve in Guandong province, it is so far removed from the hustle, bustle and pollution of urban China, it was easy to forget that it was only a few hours drive from Hong Kong. Designed by EDSA, the architecture considers local materials and the flowing landscape whilst still creating structures and spaces that feel contemporary and avant garde. The scheme was constructed using local and recycled materials that were all on the site. Bamboo is something that you get used to seeing in construction when you live in Asia but this lodge is exceptional, the use of bamboo brings together traditional materials with striking design which beautifully and simply expresses the structural elements of it’s form. eclectic east crosswaters6

eclectic east crosswaters2eclectic east crosswaters10eclectic east crosswaters12Windows that fully opened up to the cool forest outside brought in the wonderful mountain air, traditional bamboo screening the use of reflective pools are all designed to create a resort that feels contemporary in a way that doesn’t intrude on the landscape around it.

eclectic east crosswaters11So what did Mr and Mrs Eclectic East do all weekend other than admire the wonderful architecture? Well… firstly we ate very well indeed! All the food in the resort is locally sourced so mountain frog (yes really!) and river fish are specialities of the lodge – very tasty indeed! Not surprisingly bamboo is also on the menu which is delicious and very good for your health apparently. Whilst we weren’t eating we enjoyed swimming in the natural swimming pool in the river, hiking in the surrounding hills, yogaing on our balcony overlooking the river and simply enjoying the swaying bamboo trees and imagining we were in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

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When the sun went down and we had eaten too many frogs and drunk some very bad wine (suggest taking your own if you visit!) we climbed the resort’s very own star gazing tower and were dazzled by the beautiful twinkly sky and thought how lucky we were to have found this little bit of paradise in the mountains.

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A Very Eclectic East Tea!

Today at Eclectic East we are enjoying a nice cuppa.

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Not just any cup of tea but an eclectic one! We just returned from India where we were served darjeeling first flush, a wonderful light tea, served without milk. Today we have made our Indian tea in our traditional Chinese tea set given to us as a wedding present; the characters say “double happiness” which is always given to a newly married couple. To add to the eclectic mix we stirred our tea with a Japanese wooden spoon and served our tea with Japanese green tea cookies brought back from our recent trip to Kyoto. Delicious! (The tray is Ikea 😦 sorry to let you down!)

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