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Last Saturday it felt like ages since it had been sunny - it was two days. Help! Have I become that person? Anyway, the returning sunshine couldn't have been celebrated better, because some friends took me to Bettina Papenkort's Indigo Spa in Alaró. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen - the house, the garden and the rolling hills with the Mediterranean gleaming silver far out in the distance. I was in paradise, for as you know, I came here primarily looking for beauty. 

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In a little room at the bottom of the garden, Bettina had set up a spa room, where she gives facials and massages using products that she has made herself! I admire people like that so much. The work that goes into it is so incredible, and all using herbs, flowers and other natural ingredients. AND the packaging is beautiful. 

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I expected everything to be really expensive, seeing it's all hand made and hand wrapped individually, but no. The most expensive item I saw was 60 euros, and then it want down all the way to 10. Guess which one I bought! Ohhhh, the smell alone was so heavenly that when I came home I thought there was another, rich woman, who had suddenly moved in with me. But no, the fragrance came from my own hand, from the product demonstration! 

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 If you love luxury, exclusivity, well-being, yoga and calm, AND have a car, this is the place for you. The place and view alone are worth your trip. Oh, and Bettina is so lovely, warm and welcoming; one of the many super-creative and hard-working people on this island. 

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And her daughter is an excellent cookie-maker! And her dog Jasper is the best dog evah. So as you kind of guess by now, I recommend a visit to Indigo Spa. 

 

BETTINA PAPENKORT 

INDIGO DAY SPA
HOLISTIC TRAINING & TREATMENT CENTER
Camino de Son Fiol J
07340 Alaró
Mallorca Baleares Spain

 

TEL +34 609 812 511

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Ellen and I traipsing through an old neighbourhood in a small town in Guangdong province

 

Here is my good friend Ellen from North Carolina. We met in Hong Kong when I was teaching her and her husband Cantonese, and then became friends over a shared passion for Chinese food and adventure trips to China. When she was brutally torn away from Hong Kong after only four years of adventures, it marked the gestation of a new thought in my head: Why can't be the one who's leaving for a change? 

This week was her second visit to Mallorca in a month, and what do you know - Ellen went straight into adventure mode! This time it was tile related. 

 

Why don't you have a personal documentary made when you're next in Mallorca? I'm here every day with my video camera and tripod, ready to show you all the adventure things! Yes, not only tiles! 

 

Cecilie

www.penandwok.comwww.penandwok.com

www.learncantonese.com.hk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palacio San Marques outside upstairs suite evokes English club

 

I thought my new house had high ceilings, but that was before I visited Palacio Can Marques in Palma's narrow and mysterious Carrer de Apuntadores. Apuntadores! It was the first street I went to when I came here last May for reconnoissance. The name sounded so interesting, but do you think I looked it up? Oh no. I thought Punt, maybe means bridge? Something like guys who raise and lower bridges? But there are no... Never mind. I just looked it up . An apuntador  is a prompter in a theatre. So... pretty close! 

 

Majestic soaring ceilings and elegant staircases in the lobby

 

Anyway, last month my friend Mariette was here, and already other people are more adventurous than me, for it was she who dragged me into the beautiful lobby to check out the hotel, which had just opened. A kind receptionist showed us around, but I wanted more and sent them an email asking if I could take a closer look. The lively and knowledgeable hotel director Mariya took me around the Palacio, which used to be owned by the family Marques. And get this: The ceilings are 11 metres high! 

 

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AND! The rooms have books! Real books. That's all I need to know... 

 

 

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 Each room is a suite and they all look different, with lots of lovely art and objects sourced all over the world by one of the owners herself, who also happens to be a designer! By the way, the room above overlooks one of my favourite plazas in Palma, the Plaza de la Drassana. There you can find Bar Arenas where they have the second best tapas in Palma, after Hostal Corona of course, because they (the tapas in Arenas) are made by Chinese! There is something about that Chinese touch that makes all food better. 

 

Can Marques five star hotel luxury hotel

 

And just to seal the deal - the bathrooms! Ohhhhh. Me, I'm a firm shower taker. Firm. I don't lie around in baths. What for? Just lie there, to get clean? But I would make an exception if I could stay in this suite in Palacio Can Marques. I really would. 

Next time: The restaurants. 

PALACIO CAN MARQUES

C/ Apuntadores 15, 07012 Palma de Mallorca

Phone:+34871520290

E-Mail:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

dreamy morning view of the Forbidden City

 

One of the reasons why I just had to leave Hong Kong after 30 years there and in China, is that everything had become so damned ugly. It was just high rises of 80 floors or more; cold, sterile, forbidding; glass and metal canyons. It made me feel like an ant. Look at this streetscape of Hong Kong:

 

Signs, Chinese characters Hong Kong street

 

All the signs are gone. The famous neon signs are all but gone, as are most street markets and anything that's cool and beautiful, the beauty being that it's unique and could only be Hong Kong. Now most of the city consists of shopping malls, high rises and highways. 

 

Xiahe in Gansu province monastery Buddhists monks

 

Mainland China, dead set on out- hongkonging Hong Kong at all cost and in addition still on a great momentum started by Mao in the 1950s to get rid of all Chinese culture, is well on the way to becoming a gigantic shopping mall interspersed by highways as well. It hasn't yet succeeded everywhere, what with it being the fourth biggest country in the world and therefore quite a lot of area to get through. You can still find towns like the one above, Xiahe, not yet succumbing to the wrecker's ball. But with the latest push to get rid of all religion, perhaps they will now finally be able to raze the monasteries and build some proper skyscrapers. 

 

Stained glass pavilion Guangdong province

 

I understand that people don't want to live in hovels, but when it comes to visual beauty, the shiny new stuff just doesn't cut it. 

 

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So because I couldn't very well ask Chinese and Hong Kong people to keep living like they did 30 years ago just in case I should drop by and want to take a photo, I had to leave. It was the only thing I could do. And guess what? I miss China, but, like the past itself,  it's a China that no longer exists. Now I live among beauty again. 

 

 

Mar Ripoll talks to Eddie Erlank Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com
It's quite hard to fathom that Mallorca, (like Hong Kong of yore) was known as something of a cultural desert. For me, I think there's nothing but culture, culture, and art, art everywhere I look. And now I don't even have to leave my house to see art and beauty, for my very neighbour, Mar Ripoll, is a great artist! Whose work I can see from my balcony (if she puts it in her garden). 
Mar with painting 2 Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com
Like all great artists, Mar Ripoll works all the time in a fervour of creativity, and isn't so interested in the world outside. Unfortunately this means that she forgets to show people her work! But last Saturday she finally opened her door to a few selected customers. Including me, who have been begging her to show me her stuff for eight months.
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And how worth the wait it was! Truly modern, truly original, ethereal and yet painted with great authority, you can lose yourself in these paintings and see more and more in them the closer you get. 
Detail of Mar Ripoll painting
Look at the texture, and the details! Not only that, Mar makes her own paper! I will show you more photos of her stuff as soon as I can get my hands on them, but oh, she's so secretive! I had to beg her (again) to even show these pictures on my website. 
People, I tell you, buy now before she gets famous and you won't be able to afford her stuff. You saw the name here. Mar Ripoll. Contact me for more details - I WILL get them, eventually!