Passage to China: a photo essay

Old Jun 8th, 2021, 10:19 AM
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Passage to China: a photo essay

Confucius say, 'View the following fotos if you're interested OR if you merely need a sleep-aid.' Mrs Z and I went to China in 2007 and brought digital cameras with us for the very first time. Here are the results. I was then still addicted to Cokin, Cokin filters from Paris I mean (some imagery was made more awkward as a result). Anyway, what follows is both lengthy and slightly dated, now at 14 years old. We'll skip our old TR format and do things more pictorially here. But we will continue to include musical interludes to break things up, in this case a pair of numbers by rockstar Ciu Jian (see later).

This Photo Essay features some of the usual suspects or tourist cliches. It shows some realities harsh and otherwise, plus bits of art, portraiture, history

A nine-shot overview to start: incense at the Beijing Buddhist Lamasery.

Mao newspaper collectibles in Yucun 'fishing' village. *See our Bill Clinton story about this location in the Li River section, involving Chun Li 'Angel'.

There are 55 minorities across China, and they make up 8% of the population. This elder lived in Pingan and was from, if memory serves, the Dong part of the Zhuang ethnic group.

Chengdu--reflections on modern buildings.

There was something dreadfully wrong with this seagull. Kidding, this is one of those trained fishing cormorants near Yangshou.

Hong Kong nocturnal water reflection.

Aerial view of the Hengduan mountains, the foothills of the Himalayas that flyers see en route to Jiuzhaigou.

This Tibetan woman in Zhangzha raced over, then insisted that we take her picture with the nose prop, after seeing us do the same with children just outside her shop.

Overview shot Nine. Many Chinese people believe that the number nine represents auspicious omens.
The itinerary is Beijing, Chengdu, Songpan, Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou, then Yangshou with the Li River hinterland, followed by Pingan & the Longji rice paddies before ending finally in Hong Kong.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 12:02 PM
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Beijing's dusty hutongs (Mongolian -'water well'). In Mao'er hutong, one may find traces of the Cultural Revolution. *clicking on the photos allows for a more condensed view.

In Ju'er hutong, one may see autumnal mahjong gatherings outside of the 'siheyuan' courtyard walls.

A lot of hutongs have been torn down for roadways and gentrification. Heartache for some, employment for others.

Bicycles everywhere.

Bike repairman on Di'anmenwai Dajie road.

This pair of workers were another example of folks insisting that we take their photo. Astonishing to see city workers still using primitive brooms in a country that can be so very modern with its tech elsewhere.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 12:19 PM
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As they say better late than never. .

Your pictures are special, certainly with the wait. .;
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 12:55 PM
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A Weifang eagle kite. Kites were apparently a Chinese invention and can be found being flown by enthusiasts in places such as Beijing's 2nd Ring Road.

Statue bust of historic literary bard Lu Xun.

Bei hai park.

Reflections on Lu Song Yuan hotel.

For many in Beijing. life is a struggle.

Historic 'baogushi' lion at the Lamasery.

Tibetan and Mongolian monks practice Buddhism at the Lamasery.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 01:52 PM
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The Forbidden City aka Palace Museum. As of this year 2021, some 16 year-old renovations of key 'gates' were due to be complete. Not sure whether covid has delayed that or not.

Perhaps someone with more knowledge than me could name this spot?

After seeking permission from their teacher, we gifted a yellow sports jersey from my Toronto school (Bruce PS) to this grade 4 class in front of the Hall of Spiritual Cultivation.

Traditional door-knocker with Imperial lion. We were told that its resembling the number '8' was no coincidence, another nod to auspicious figures.

Sandalwood and pine incense would once have been placed inside this crane bird, as well as the heavy copper stoves seen throughout.

The Pavilion of 1,000 Autumns. Fall is a great time to visit China.

Detail.

Further detail. Over a thousand dragon waterspouts also adorned the various roofs.

Yellow roof guardian mythical beasts.

Such a photogenic series of structures.

Note incense smoke in lower right.

Five marble bridges cover the Golden Stream, including the Gate of Amiability.

Reflection from Hall of Joyous Achievement of Digital Competency.

One can escape the crowds by careful planning

and also by choosing to visit less-popular sites.

Hiring a guide is a good idea here.

The Prosperous Hall of Full Memory Cards.

A visitor or a museum official?
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 02:13 PM
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All along the watchtowers. The Wall at Mutianyu has Ming dynasty guard towers, marvelous during October. This was the site of the previous month's Free Tibet banner protest by some Canucks.

Genghis Khan and his posse won the subsequent security contract.

Detail from the Summer Palace.

Further detail.

The area is lovely and

has much to offer for painters, sketchers and shutterbugs.

Backlit lantern, one of several.

Authentic architecture.

Stoney statuary.

Shi Qi Kong Qiao (17 Arch Bridge) in Kunming Lake.

Colourful lotus in pond.

Little Emperor with toy drum.

Historic doors one.

Historic doors two.

Farewell to Beijing.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 02:49 PM
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Onto Sichuan ('four rivers'). Our guide in the capital Chengdu, and beyond, was young Dodo. She was from the 'Yi' ethnic minority.

Many other ethnic minorities are seen across China, but which ones are accurately portrayed seemed unclear. We sometimes got the impression that Han women were employed to dress up then pose as a minority, and in at least one case (Pingan), I have since seen the same young woman from there modelling a totally different ethnic tribe's costumes for a travel agency website.

Dodo took us to the Sanxingdue museum, which focuses on the mysterious Shu people. Ancient alien visitation is one theory attached to this 4,000 year-old civilization and its bronze mask relics seem to reinforce that perception.

Dodo also took us to the Giant Panda research centre. Some visitors paid an extra fee to hold the babies.

Mrs Z and I visited the Renmin Tea House, a lakeside haven in People's Park. Our choice from the menu was Stone Mountain Heming jasmine green tea. The tea doctor waiter used a long-spouted copper pot and we adhered to the local norm of tapping one's table with two fingers to indicate whether more hot water was desired after drinking the first serving. The tables were turned there: curious locals came over a few times to take our photos!

This tourist was having his ears cleaned by a wandering specialist. He used various scoops, prongs and feathery brushes to probe, with a cool tuning fork conclusion. Doiiiing!

Sticking with the bodywork theme: after tea, we had some reflexology and shiatsu treatments at a nearby clinic. One soaks one's feet in a hot herbal mix beforehand. Note that Sichuan food is also regarded as medicine. Local cooking ('chuancai') can often include the notorious, tiny pepper from the prickly ash ('hua jiao'). They are incredibly HOT--you have no idea.

A moon bridge symbolized how we both felt after the treatments. A building on fire symbolized how we felt after consuming some 'mapo dofu' ('old man's bean curd') with chilis. Gotta admit that the incendiary food actually did go some ways towards conquering both of our colds. NEXT: Jiuzhaigou et al.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 03:25 PM
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Time for our First Musical Interlude, the hit song 'Nothing to my Name' by Cui Jian (try pronouncing his name among locals--you'll provide endless entertainment). Sung like he meant it, back when that was dangerous to do. Each time hearing it, I imagine some downtrodden rural worker with little to look forward to, while say, a private jet belonging to a Shanghiai tech millionaire flies over his impoverished village.
Anyway, a break as promised, from the fotos.

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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 06:32 PM
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'Beautiful' is a tired word, but it certainly applies to Jiuzhaigou park in northern Sichuan. Not for nothing was it partnered with Yosemite. The superb landscape includes waterfalls, forest and especially, colourful lakes--the official website blew our minds with its outstanding imagery.

Changhai lake aka Long lake.

Shuzeng lake's partly-submerged trees.

Typical submerged log in Peacock river.

The park has decent infrastructure but the throngs are massive. More than once, groups tried to elbow us out of the way.

Pearl Shoals waterfalls.

as above

Fod'ors lake.

Tour guide gal. One may instead utilize the park bus system without a guide, as we did, but it pays to do your homework and familiarize yourself with both wings of Jiuzhaigou's 'Y'-shaped form.

The local Minshen mountains.

Many Qiang Tibetans live in the area, which is on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.

Tibetan mask.

Fall foliage made augmented the scenic attraction.

Panda lake.

White stupa pagoda.

Prayer flags.

More prayer flags.

The return of the son of prayer flags.

Tibetan demon.

Tibetan tiger painting.

Tibetan portrait painting.

Tibetan demon.

Carved yak bone with symbols.

Tibetan belt.

Tibetan stockade.

Water-wheel.

Tibetan culture.

Dreamy lady.

Textiles for sale.

Remember laughter? NEXT: Songpan town and Huanglong park
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 06:25 AM
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En route to Songpan.

Again the contrast: from Beijing's pollution to this exhilarating fresh air.

High altitude snowman.

The roads are very good but

be sure to stock up on gasoline.

Songpan is an old town, known for its horse treks.

Songpan is also known for the sale of illegal fur from endangered species.

More poached fur.

The town motif is Tibetan King Songsten Gampo and his bride, the Princess Wengcheng.

Some little people in Songpan.

as above

Persimmons

Greens in market basket.

It is a classic frontier town, rough and raw.

Chef

The grizzly yak abattoir slaughterhouse. Open-air and unexpected.

The sign saying, 'DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS OF THE ABATTOIR!'

Songpan's old town, Songzhou, has an interesting mix of people, including Han, Tibetans and Buddhists. There are also Hui Muslims, like this town muezzin shown here.

as above

Wispy beards everywhere.

Dragon for good fortune.

Tibetan fortune-teller.

Guanyin Ge is the old Buddhist temple here.

Temple door-knocker.

One can get there by rickshaw pedicab.

Worshippers pray with incense and

they also toss bits of prayer paper into the mountain air.

Roadside gathering.

We gave this boy a bunch of new combs and asked him to share them at his school that morn.

His friend wanted in on the action.

Is that mom or a servant, cycling these kids to school?

Beginning readers.

Again, its a frontier town, in the back of beyond.

Friendly woman.

Friendly man.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 06:39 AM
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Near Songpan, one finds Huanglong park ('yellow dragon'), a sort of twin geographical attraction with Jiuzhaigou. Its main feature are travertines. Think Yellowstone or Pammukele in Turkey. Calcite deposits combine with bacteria and algae to create characteristic blue/green ponds. cable car is the only way up into this scenic mountain wonderland.

Unfortunately, a young, power-hungry cop ruined this day for us. He aggressively harassed our innocent guide, Lucy, falsely claiming that her papers were not in order. His claim was bogus.

Like Jiuzhaigou, the crowds here were substantial, even during this shoulder season.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 06:54 AM
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zebec,
I'm completely overwhelmed by your stunning photos. These are truly remarkable photos of China and some of its people. I wish I had enough words to express my feelings, but they almost brought me to tears!

My husband and I were scheduled to go to China just as the pandemic broke and given the current state of politics, we don't foresee going there any time soon. These photos break my heart for what we are missing.

Thank you for posting them! I may need to return multiple times to get my fix.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by progol View Post
zebec,
I'm completely overwhelmed by your stunning photos. These are truly remarkable photos of China and some of its people. I wish I had enough words to express my feelings, but they almost brought me to tears!

My husband and I were scheduled to go to China just as the pandemic broke and given the current state of politics, we don't foresee going there any time soon. These photos break my heart for what we are missing.

Thank you for posting them! I may need to return multiple times to get my fix.
I agree. the picture show quite an eye for capturing life there,
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 12:15 PM
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Unquestionably one of the best collections of photographs from China that I have ever seen. Absolutely stunning! I'll return for several visits. Thanks!
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 12:41 PM
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Zebec, thank you for sharing your incredible photos. We have been to China three times to various regions and you brought back so many of my memories.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 12:44 PM
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Little red panda.

Little red kid.

Little Red Book.

Guilin. Wonder what kind of Workman's Compensation Board exists for injured construction crew laborers there?

These heavily-layered women may have been working with toxic waste.

And now Guanxi province. Let's take a ferry cruise down the Li(jiang) River, from Guilin down to Yangshou.

The Captain steers clear of obstacles.

The crew take a tea break.

There are river reflections and

some resemble abstract art.

Along this scenic river, one constantly passes the local motif, those numerous karst pinnacles. Such 'fengkong' limestone peaks line both sides and have all been named.

The Dragon's Plain.

Riverside geography.

Yangshou is the area where cormorants are trained to assist with fishing. Some folks actually utilize them as such.

Others such as this retired fisherman, instead pose for fotos with or without the birds.

There are other signs of commercial tourism having made its mark on this popular traveler's haunt. Note dad's hand in upper right.

Harvesting seaweed.

Bamboo rafts are another icon of this area. Some are plastic painted green.

Tourists may go for a raft ride but

most crafts are strictly for work and/or local transit.

Rafters came in all ages.

River realities: washing her laundry.

River realities: washing his chicken.

It was pomelo harvesting season.

Yucun 'fishing village'.

The nearby Yulong river, on the outskirts of Yangshou, is a fantastic place for cyclists or hikers intent on seeing real rural China. Water buffalo, ruins, hamlets and more scenic karst, make for a memorable day.

But best of all, of course, are the people.

They were very friendly.

What will this child's future hold?

Good cheer.

This woman warned us about the dreaded 'Five Step Snake'.

So-named coz once bitten, its victims have but 5 steps left before dying! Shown here in its powerful wine version.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 01:04 PM
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Time for MUSICAL INTERLUDE TWO: the official 1985 video for Cui Jian's 'Flying'. Kooky fusion music that unlike his above number, places an emphasis on fun.
I am not done. this is not the end. Upcoming: Xingping, the Bill Clinton story, Pingan, Longji and maybe a bit of Hong Kong if we can fix that file.

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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 01:29 PM
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You’re killing me with this photos, zebec.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 02:30 PM
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Yangshou Mountain Retreat eco-lodge is an excellent place to stay. And so, our Bill Clinton story. In '98, he toured here and was also taken to the impoverished fishing villages in its hinterland (I forget whether Hilary & Chelsea were there too). Clinton arrived at tiny 'Yucun' and shook hands with kids there. But due to the traditional unease which some Asian societies have around folks with special needs, he was deliberately prevented from meeting clever 16 year old Chun Li (Angel).

The local authorities pressured Chun Li's family into keeping her secreted away upstairs, as Clinton toured her family's modest ancient home, with its still-intact wooden lintels and more. Those dignitaries were embarrassed about Chun Li's diminutive size, born of brittle bone disease plus other health issues. She also had never allowed to attend school.

Months later, Clinton was told about his having been prevented from meeting Chun Li. He then did a classy thing, sending her a personal, gold-embossed letter expressing his disappointment at having missed her that way. Nine years later, we saw that same letter above the lodge's entry. Chun Li had since taught herself excellent English, in addition to learning enough computer skills to have become the lodge's front-desk supervisor. She'd also gotten married.

I contacted Clinton once we got home, to update him about Chun Li. Eventually, he responded and as per my cheeky request, also wrote a pair of letters greeting both my own Special Ed class and also the International Pen Pal Club extra-curricular, which I ran at our school. Clinton finally met Chun Li in-person at a Special Needs conference several year ago.

Chun Li's home village 'Yucun'.

Hopefully, the banners say something along the lines of, 'WE ARE SO PROUD OF OUR HEROINE CHUN LI AND HER FRIEND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT!'

Shaanxi province craft bowl.

Xingping is another dusty local village, large enough to have its own market.

This region felt very far from the more affluent eastern seaboard cities.

En route to the Market.

The Market: star anise.

Chilis

Poultry

Firecrackers!!!!!!!

A delivery of black things done by a woman pulling the cart.

Outdoor haircuts

Elders shop.

Elders gather.

Mom issues slit-throat gesture to Canadian adventure photographer.

Didja' eat yet?

Food court.

Time to eat.

And enjoy.

A meal of noodles.

A market run by locals for locals.

Pair of locals at the market. I got the impression that they were on a date.

We're not in Kansas anymore.

Count your blessings.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 05:59 PM
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Great story about Clinton and your intervention.
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