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Blind Pianist Jin Yuanhui

Jin Yuanhui

TODAY I came across an old article I wrote of an interview with a young blind Chinese pianist who performed in Kuala Lumpur. That was 20 years ago.

Out of curiosity, I googled him. Lo and behold, he went on to become the pianist who was given the honour to perform at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony held at Beijing National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest) on 6th September 2008!

The following article was published in The Star on 21st April 1993.  ____________________________________________________________________

Blind Yuanhui aims to be a Beethoven

KUALA LUMPUR: Nine-year old keyboardist Jin Yuanhui may have brought music to thousands who have heard him play, but he has not been able to see the joy on their faces.

He was born blind.

Yuanhui is the youngest member of the 49-member China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe which arrived here on Monday.

The “baby” of the troupe aims “to be a great musician like Beethoven”.

Having a good ear for music and a strong sense of rhythm, he learned to play the electric keyboard at three and gave his first performance at six.

He plays more than 100 Chinese and foreign pieces and has travelled to Holland, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Hong Kong and Singapore before coming here.

Recently, he narrated a story on TV of a happy blind boy growing up under the care of the society – the story of himself.

Yuanhui, whose father is a mechanic and mother a factory worker in Rizhao City, Shandong Province, practices two hours a day and also jogs for exercise.

Two similar accidents brought farmers Sun Jishu, 29, and Chen Yiqian, 25, together. Both had their right legs amputated as a result at ages 15 and 11 respectively.

They first met in 1987 and a year later, disco-danced to the first prize of the Second National Art Festival for the Disabled Persons. And they have been dancing ever since.

Both are from farming families in Zibo City, Shandong Province.

Recalling the incident that left him crippled, Sun said he thought it was the end of life for him.

“My family kept encouraging me and, after a while, I became determined to challenge the odds,” said the eldest in a family of four.

It was also the same for Chen, the third in a family of five.

“We want to show the world that we are also capable of what the able-bodied can do, and even better,” he said.

Their performance at a charity premier at the Putra World Trade Centre last night left a deep impression on the audience. The troupe will be performing again tonight and tomorrow.

Organised by the Malaysian Confederation of the Disable (MCD) in co-operation with the National Unity and Social Development Ministry, proceeds from the shows will go to the MCD.

The Star, 21st April 1993, page 3.

The Star, 21st April 1993, page 3.

Harriet’s Home

HARRIET TUNG, WIFE of the HC of Monaco hosted lunch for the ladies group on this date three years ago, at the Tung’s family home in Deep Water Bay, HK.

She took us on a tour through the residence and provided some historical background of the home as well as some artifacts and family heirlooms on display at the residence. The tour ended with lunch held at an enclosed gazebo that overlooks the sea.

Scenic sea view from the top floor of the residence.

Scenic sea view from the top floor of the residence.

A group photo of the ladies; a pleasant walk through the sprawling residence grounds that ended with lunch at the gazebo.

A group photo of the ladies; a pleasant walk through the sprawling residence grounds that ended with lunch at the gazebo.

(Harriet’s husband is shipping magnate and entrepreneur Mr Tung Chee Chen, and brother of HKSAR first Chief Executive Mr Tung Chee Hwa.)

Zhaoqing City in Guangdong Province

WE WENT ON a familiarisation trip to Zhaoqing City, China on April 15-17 back in 2010. The trip for Heads of Mission accredited to the Macao SAR was organised by the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC in the Macao SAR.

What I remember about the three-day trip were the wonders of nature Zhaoqing has to offer – lakes, mountains, caves and cliffs, waterfalls; while its industrial development is fast booming too. I also remember on our final day, I experienced the ride of my life at the newly-opened Guangdong International Circuit!

Our journey from Hong Kong that Thursday began with a ferry ride to Macao. From there, some 30-odd of us packed into two buses, made a brief stop at the Macao-Zhuhai border for immigration and health inspection procedures.

Three hours later, we arrived in Zhaoqing and checked into OYC Hotel. The hotel is set against the famous Seven Star Crags Lake, Qi Xing Yan Park and Ding Hu Mountain; together they form a beautiful backdrop and offer picturesque views.

View from the room of the placid lake and hotel surrounding.

View from the room of the placid lake and hotel surrounding.

With friends at the hotel lobby; a Russian swimmer in a giant aquarium entertains diners at the hotel’s Palace Café.

With friends at the hotel lobby; a Russian swimmer in a giant aquarium entertains diners at the hotel’s Palace Café.

After lunch, we headed to the nearby Seven Star Crags Scenic Spot. The rain was a little dampening to our sightseeing so I could only imagine the scenic lake on nice clear sunny day. The Star Lake is famed for its cliffs and caves and in particular a group of seven limestone peaks known as the Seven Star Crags. They are named as such due to their natural formations which resemble the seven stars of the Big Dipper constellation.

By the Star Lake on a rainy day.

By the Star Lake on a rainy day.

Pix: The Water Moon Palace at the Star Lake… this scenery is known as the famous sight of Water, Moon, Rock and Cloud. These five pavilions (four quadrilateral ones surrounding an octagonal one in the centre) form the Water Moon Palace. It is said that if one were to stand on the pavilions, one will find “the lake, the moon, rocks and clouds, the earth and the heaven blend into an integral whole”. (chinadaily.com.cn)

The Water Moon Palace at the Star Lake is  made up of five pavilions – four quadrilateral ones surrounding an octagonal one in the centre. It is said that if one were to stand on the pavilions, one will find “the lake, the moon, rocks and clouds, heaven and earth blending together into an integral whole”.

Another major attractions here are the cliffside inscriptions. There are some 523 stone inscriptions that had been carved since the Tang Dynasty, as well as recent ones by famous calligraphers. It was said that visiting scholars were so inspired by the sceneries and poured their feelings out into poetry, travel notes and even paintings onto the cliffs. We saw the ones mainly written in Chinese but there were reportedly inscriptions in other foreign languages too.

The chinadaily.com.cn wrote that “the cliffside inscription group in the Seven Star Crags is the best in South China in terms of the quantity, density and quality of stone inscriptions. It records… (among others) major historical events and dynasty changes of Zhaoqing. Because of its rich history, the government of Guangdong province listed it as a cultural heritage site under provincial protection in l962.

Labelled “a poetry gallery of a thousand years”, some of China’s famous poetry can be found here engraved onto the stones.

Known as “a poetry gallery of a thousand years”, some of China’s famous poetry can be found here engraved onto the stones.

The multi-colour lights in the caves highlight numerous stone scenes and carved pictures, which can be better viewed on a boat tour.

The multi-colour lights in the caves highlight numerous stone scenes and carved pictures, which can be better viewed on a boat tour.

Interestingly, there was a site where foreign countries had each planted a tree (to commemorate a prior special event). I found one from Malaysia. It says “michelia macclurei dandy” which is a tropical plant belonging to the Magnolia family.

Pix: A plant from Malaysia growing somewhere in the Seven Star Crags Scenic Spot.

A plant from Malaysia growing somewhere in the Seven Star Crags Scenic Spot.

That evening, the delegation had a meeting with the leaders of Municipal Government of Zhaoqing, including the Mayor of People’s Government of Zhaoqing Municipality Mr. Guo Feng and Vice-Mayor Ms. Huang Ling. Also present was Ms. Lin Jie, Director of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Bureau of Zhaoqing. This was followed by a 12-course sumptuous dinner.

Pix; Welcome dinner hosted by Mr. Guo Feng, Mayor of People’s Government of Zhaoqing Municipality.

Welcome dinner hosted by the Mayor of People’s Government of Zhaoqing Municipality.

The next day, we took a 1 hour 15 minutes bus journey to Panlong Gorge in Deqing county. Panlong Gorge is home to more than 100 waterfalls which have been described as rare beauties and acknowledged as some of the region’s most impressive. Opened in 2001, its leisure activities include rafting, hiking, boardwalk and rope gliding. The largest group of waterwheels in the country is also found here.

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For us, the visit was literally a breath of fresh air,  indulging in pure oxygen as we hiked on the designated path  and relished the many wonderful waterfalls along the way.

Photos by the waterfalls.

Our many photos by the waterfalls.

Members of the group pose for group photos.

Members of the delegation posed for group photos.

Lavender Garden at Panlong Valley, Zhaoqing

Lavender Garden at Panlong Valley, Zhaoqing

Panlong Paradise Resortm Zhaoqing

Panlong Paradise Resort, Zhaoqing

A group photo before we left Panlong Valley.

A group photo before we left Panlong Valley.

During the bus journey through the countryside, we saw prevalent farming activities with padi fields and vegetable farms, while the city was a lively one with foreign brands like Nike, KFC and Wal-mart shopping mall.

Zhaoqing city centre.

Zhaoqing city centre.

On our final day, we visited the Zhaoqing Hi-tech Zone and the Asia Aluminium Industrial City.

(Top) The delegation was briefed on the economic progress of Zhaoqing; (bottom left) Delegation members listened intensely; (bottom right) A few appeared to get together and discuss where to put their money in, if only we had any! 

(Top) The delegation was briefed on the economic progress of Zhaoqing; (Bottom) After listening intensely, a few got together and appeared to be discussing where to put their money in… if only we had any! 🙂 

Then we made a brief stop at the newly-opened Guangdong International Circuit (located within the Zhaoqing Hi-tech Zone) where we also took a tour of the site. The circuit, the second motor sport facility in Guangdong after Zhuhai International Circuit, was completed in 2009 and relatively new when we visited.

When the host asked if anyone wanted to go for a ride, my hand shot up without thinking, without even consulting hubby. Hubby was even surprised! I was one of the four in the whole group. So the four of us (two ladies and two men) were taken to the control room area and there we waited for our turns, I was to be third. I recall the waiting was unnerving. By the time my turn came, I was literally shaking (part nervousness and part excitement). I put on the safety helmet and got into the passenger seat. CG Pakistan took a picture of me with the car but I never got a copy of it. I buckled up as the driver explained that the car would reach a speed of 200kmph at one stretch (the circuit is 2.8 km long with a straight stretch of 718m). Reality hit me then, and I meekly requested him to slow it down a bit! He obliged, we took off, picked up speed, screeched past a few corners and within minutes, it was all over. Still, I came out of it with wobbly legs, and I wasn’t even driving!

Briefing at the Guangdong International Circuit followed by a tour, and me getting a joy ride!

Briefing at the Guangdong International Circuit followed by a tour, and me getting a joy ride after that!

Lunch at Soogie International Hotel, Zhaoqing and a final glance at the police cars that had been escorting the delegation.

Lunch at Soogie International Hotel, Zhaoqing and a final glance at the police cars that had been escorting the delegation.

Past 2pm, we left Zhaoqing city for Zhuhai. After a 3-hour journey we were back in Macao for dinner hosted by the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC in the Macao SAR.

Commissioner Lu Shuming and wife Madam Gao Shuqing; a display at the Commissioner’s Office.

Commissioner Lu Shuming and wife Madam Gao Shuqing; a display at the Commissioner’s Office.