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Chinese deities end SE Asia luxury tour
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) July 10, 2017

A statue of a Chinese goddess that became a social media sensation after being pictured flying business class for a Southeast Asian tour has headed home after putting her feet up at a premium airport lounge in Singapore, organisers said Monday.

Adorned in brightly coloured clothes, an extravagant headdress and garlands of flowers and cash, Chinese sea goodness Mazu got the chance to relax a little in the lounge early Friday before a flight home -- on business class, no less -- following a whirlwind seven-day tour of Malaysia and Singapore.

The statue made headlines after it was pictured strapped into a business class seat on the way to Kuala Lumpur from a temple on an island in China's Fujian province, believed to be the birthplace of the goddess, who is revered as a patron of sailors and fishermen.

But after the luxury treatment on the first leg, the goddess and two heavenly guardians had to come down to Earth for the rest of the trip, travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca by bus, before journeying down to neighbouring Singapore at the back of a lorry.

The deities' heavenly powers could not save them from gridlock last Thursday as they travelled towards Singapore from Malaysia, with their journey taking four hours longer than expected.

Singapore's immigration authority clarified Monday that the goddess and her entourage spent just over an hour clearing the land border between Malaysia and the city-state, rather than several hours as had previously been reported.

Mazu Ancestor Temple administrator Lin Junhua told AFP that close to 300,000 devotees came out to see the goddess in both countries.

The organisers of the tour decided to bring Mazu to Malaysia and Singapore for tours of Chinese temples because the countries' large ethnic Chinese communities revere the goddess.

"We're very encouraged by it and since there are Mazu temples where there are Chinese immigrants, we're certainly don't rule out the possibility of taking (the deity) to as far as San Francisco some day," he said.

Putin and Xi talking N.Korea, trade at Kremlin
Moscow (AFP) July 4, 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were due to hold formal talks Tuesday against a backdrop of mounting tensions over North Korea ahead of G20 summit talks with Donald Trump. The meeting in Moscow comes as North Korea claimed the launch of its first inter-continental ballistic missile, and US President Trump urged China to "end this nonsense once and for all". ... read more

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