Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wine and Georgian

drink and lunch after mass
Georgians are proud of their 7000 years (or some said 8000 years) wine making history, probably the first wine making country in the entire world. Every family have their own homemade wine and chacha (hard alcohol made with stems and skins of grapes or local fruits sometimes). These homemade wine and chacha could be wild and raw, but you may find really good ones if you are lucky. The thing is, they dont really need good wine with the way they drink. If they are having a feast or gathering, named assupra’, guests gathered at a long table, with a toastmaster, orTamadasaying a poem, or toast with a long speech every time and drink bottom up after each toast, then accompany with a piece of bread or grilled meat or for chacha or vodka, accompanying a sip of water or soft drink. And that could go on all night. We only saw them gathered in a restaurant having such big feast and unluckily havent been to one at home during our month stay in Georgia.

home-made chacha distillation
home cellar in Kutaisi
Georgians are very generous about alcohol too. Many a time, we were walking down the street, bumped into some gathering, usually guys, in a flee market, a wedding preparation, a construction site, or even in front of a grave, we were invited to join and were offered chacha or homemade wine. Once, in Kutaisi, we even got a whole two liter of wine when we were passing someones garden. All I could say is, Georgians are extremely hospitable. We are told that its normal for a Georgian man to drink 10 litres of alcohol for one evening!

Monday, November 25, 2013


一起床見到天色陰暗,知道不是行山的好日子。但是心想,所謂好,只是定義在一個期望上,期望天晴。天晴好行山,難道天陰就不行山 ? 為何要個天弄個天晴給我行山? 有時候行多期望都事原於自我膨漲,到頭來弄得做事却步不順心。天晴行山看太陽,天陰行山看雲霧,各有樂趣。

提起精神,放開心情讓之後約六小時的行程帶給我們怎樣的經歷。我們選了大部份遊客走的一日路線,經過村落一路往山中走。走進森林中,還以為深秋的佐治亞森林會是紅黃交錯的,誰知紅黃啡色的是我們踏着的落葉,頭上的常綠是松樹弔着大松果。密密的樹影蓋過天際,天色是怎樣看來不太重要了。那又何必追求藍天白雲呢? 況且雲霧在樹間飄渺,像白紡輕撫松葉;也像身穿透紗的少女在林間飄逸,看霧紗也看得我出神。






Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Georgians could be explosive

wanna complaint against this "hotel"
Not only kids like playing with firework anywhere in the street, Georgian themselves are explosive in character. We met an old female beggar along Rustavili Avenue in Tbilisi, who love to hit my arm asking for money, while another time in Ursguli, we fell into an argument with the hostel owner, as we camped for 10Lari and he suddenly asked for 5Lari extra when we leave and pay, as we have used his kitchen. He was screaming and almost attacked me when we insisted for the unexpected gas usage money back. Eventually, our persistent triumphed and he just gave us the money, asked us to leave right away and nothing else happened when he calmed down promptly, while we packed our tents and backpacks. The spark is strong but short, like firework. Just be firm and calm and you would be fine.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013



在教堂另一面走出來,終於見到藍天,見到更多的洞穴。多留一會便要離開,因為是週日下午,交通疏落,截順風車較難。臨離開還有一段長長的下階通道,還這旅程留下離怎印象。看到老婆很雀躍地笑,她覺得很好玩,舟車勞揗也不算甚麼。幸運地居然給我們截到一程過回旅館的貨車! 為這旅程添上完滿句號。

Monday, November 11, 2013

Finding a good life in a monastery

Staying in Akhaltsikhe for one more day because of the good deal of cheap stay in guesthouse, on the last day of sight seeing we went to the Sapara monastery. Hoping to get a lift for 10.2 km southeast of the town, we waited on the crossroad for an hour on Monday noon (yes we are late again taking off) and there was still no vehicle taking us. So we walk on along the road. We passed village and still followed the road out of my photographic memory of the offline map, not realizing hat there was actually a short cut directly up to a pass. We walked zigzag up passing meadow and had a good view of the town and the old town castle.

When there was still 3 km to go, we were picked up by a father of the monastey who drove a nice big 4x4. We arrived the monastery where there was a monk waited for us to show us the church. He opened the lock and let us see the inside is the church. The fresco was beautiful and well kept since the church was built on the 13th century. David the monk then showed us the old church meat to the current one, it was built even earlier on the 9th century but the fresco had been covered by oil painted during the soviet time and was completely destroyed.  We were left some time to walk around to take some pictures. There was ruin of old castle on the nearby hilltop but we were not interested in climbing up. We picked the sweet water from the spring near the resident building for the monks. 
David offered to find car to drive us half way back. That's so nice of him. 

While waiting for the car he let us ask question about the monastery, I asked about the life in the monastery. There are now eight monks and they are like brotherhood working together, taking turns on different jobs. They include cooking, cutting trees for firewood, raising cattle and milking, conducting religious activities, receiving guests etc. There can be a male guest who can come for 5 days to live with them and their routines. They wake up at 5am sometimes even 4:30 for morning prayers, have only two meals a day, mostly vegetarian unless special occasion there could be meat.
David has been here for four years. Before that he worked in a bank and wanted a more complete life. From friend he knew this place and came as a guest. In staying he followed the lifestyle and felt a more spiritual completeness and kept on. The monks saw his eagerness to stay and allowed him to. Then he became a monk here. As first his parents were surprised and upset about it. Later they visited him and knew he have a happy life, so were less objective against that.
Winter was cold here and the monks still have to work, especially collecting firewood. It was closed off as the road to here was covered in snow, unless a tough 4x4 could risk along. There was no visitor up to five months.
The car came to pick us up for half the way, where we found he way more directly back to the village and then back to the city. In mind I am happy for David who could escape the materialistic world and find a simple lifestyle that makes him happy. Also from the simplicity he has more complete spiritual life and gets closer to God. 
Hope we can do the same too. Happy and spiritual life is in fact not too difficult to reach. Somehow the modern and materialistic lifestyle make such a simple life difficult to reach. Is it just a matter of being able to let go ? It also involves attitudinal change about value of change.