The Beauty of Sunset
07 February 2012
On my travels, the time of the day I always look forward to is dusk. One obvious reason is that this is a good time to admire the beauty of nature, when the sun sets over an unfamiliar landscape, casts long shadows and puts a soft, warm glow on everything its rays caress.
An ancient Chinese adage says “夕阳无限美,只是近黄昏”, which loosely translates to “the setting sun is infinitely beautiful, however it heralds the dark”. With due respect to our forefathers and their enduring wisdom (I am of Chinese descent myself too), I do not share the same pessimistic view that they had. Perhaps in the anarchic times that they lived in, the dark was something to dread. But in the modern era that we bright-lights-city dwellers now live in, darkness, sometimes, is a luxury we seldom get to enjoy.
To me, sunset is the most cheerful part of the day. It is when people are knocking off, and looking forward to a nice dinner and spending time with their family—when people are most relaxed, and in their most natural element. Dusk is also the best time to do people-watching, to observe the cultural practices of the people in the place I am in, and watch how they interact with one another. Best of all, it is the time of the day when people are most likely to have a few minutes to spare, and they are in their most chatty mood, and therefore most suitable for listening to stories of the local people, and also acquiring travel tips.
This picture shot in Port Dickson, Malaysia, epitomises this. It shows a local couple enjoying a leisurely stroll by the beach, presumably after a day at work. The other person, who is (unfortunately) still at work selling ice cream to the people at the beach, has however also worked himself into a very relaxed mood, shown by his posture. He knows it is almost time to call it a day, and to start looking forward to a nice dinner with his family.
My stays at Shangri-la, to me, is just like sunset. On my travels, I always look forward to returning to the hotel after a long, hard day at work. It is the perfect, cosy place to let down my hair, remove off all masks, be natural, enjoy a leisurely meal and a light-hearted chat or two with fellow travellers, and just pamper myself with the facilities.