Friday, June 22, 2007

Rice Fields and Workshops

I'm back today with some more shots from Dali where we spent 2 days touring the beautiful countryside. Like Kunming and Beijing Dali streets were line with many, many shops offering everything from food to cell phones, you name it. often you'd see shops where people were gathered to eat, gamble or get a bike repaired.

One of the many rice fields along the way to Dali.

A cool looking door to a workyard in Dali, it looked to be very old like many things in this area we walked through off the lakeside. I think this was the industrial area which had many lumberyards and supply depots for construction.

This workshop I think was a place to repair your bike or mmaybe get something else fixed like a wagon. I think many of the shop owners also live in their shops.

I think this guy was pushing his bike because it was broken. I snapped this pic early in the morning and the look on this guys face tell us a lot I think about his life condition--hard work.

I love the expression on this lady's face a she just emerges out of the shadows. I'd get this type of look all the time. In Dali on the streets I never saw another westerner the whole time, as a result people were always staring at me which was cool, but made it hard to snap pics of people as they were aware of my camera and would sometimes turn away.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The sunlight was at times in China very intense, especially in dali. the air there was much cleaner than in the cities of Beijing and Kunming, especially Beijing where it was overcast with a haze even on a sunny day. I think Dali was fairly high up, much higher in elevation than Beijing so like being out west in the US the sun is a lot more intense in the cleaner air.

I took this picture in the old Bai pagoda in Dali, which was built in 1339.

This was taken at the lakeshore in Dali where Echo and I spent a morning walking around.

This was one of the many open air markets sprinkled throughout Kunming. Here could could buy just about anything from pets to food, clothes and various arts and crafts.
This lady was selling fresh fruit on the street near the market we were shopping at. There were many fruit venders in this area I guess due to the fact there are a lot of people shopping. the fruit is great, but you have to buy and cut it yourself otherwise you's risk getting sick. Who knows where and what she's been wiping that knife on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Mote and Construction

This is a shot of the river or mote around the forbidden city near Bahai lake. Unfortunately it's heavily polutted with lots of trash and plastic water bottles that people unfortunately toss into the drink as they exit the site. What a drag.

This shot was typical of so much of China, eternal construction everywhere. This was shot on the busride back from the Forbidden City.

A shot of the zillions of morning commuters on their waay to work.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Country Farmer--City Begger

I had a little break from posting here as I was at the Philly Wizard Con this past weekend, you can see the pics from there on my other blog.

Todays pics are from Kunimg and on the bus ride there. We saw a lot of very beautiful countryside on the ride between Kunming and Dali. Lots of terraced farms where they were growing all kinds of vegtables from rice to soybeans etc.

The other pictures of the begger lady are from Kunming. We saw the same lady in two different spots in the same afternoon, so either her "begger pimp" moved her around or she could move pretty good herself. The story I heard about how many of these people became beggers, kidnapped and crippled as children, raised to be beggers is one of the most terrible things I have ever heard.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Beijing Night

Tonight's post is all pics I snapped during the eveings while in Beijing. It's such a colorful and sort of mysterious place at the same time after the sun goes down. Lots of neon lights but also lost of dark spooky places, alleys, doorway etc. It's clear that they are trying to really make the city a great place to see at night. the highways all have large areas that are illuminated by neon or colored lights. The slow shutter speed of the A80 aslo helps add a certain coolness to night shots with glowy, ghostly images. Very Blade Runner...

Echo buying cherries.

This is the Korean BBQ spot we ate at...yumm!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A little Dali-Fresh fruit

This little pagoda was sort of a boathouse at the end of the peir where you could take a tour of the lake that surrounds Dali. We got there too late to take the trip, but walked around the lake and the local area, even having an icecream.

We hired a tourguide for a day since we didn't have much time in Dali. It cost us $200 RMB or about $30 us, and you couldn't beat that. Dali which is located in the southern Yunnan province of China is about 8 hours from Tibet and certainly once of the most senic places in all of China. It's supposedly also close to Shang-gri-la and is home to several ethic minorities, the Bai being the largest. Echo's grandfather was a member of this tribe and came from this region. One of the first places we visited was this old pigoda, built in 1339, the middle ages when this area in China was very prosperous due to trade. In this old pagoda we watched a three-tea wedding ceremony, got a tour and bought some gifts. This old boat was laying in the middle of a courtyard in a dried up fountain or pool.

While riding the bus to Dali from Kunming I snapped this pic of a guy in the construction zone looking like he was snagging his lunchtime break.

A pic of one of the many fruit-men or women you'd see just about everywhere in China, carrying large baskets of fresh fruit here and there, selling them to you right on the street. It seems that you could get plenty of fresh vegtables and fruit anywhere in any city. Sometimes we'd buy some and eat it later in our hotel room. I had some peaches which were maybe the best I have ever tasted. This fella was carrying a very spicy ginger root according to Echo.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chinese Food

A real quick hit today since I'm pretty under the weather-or over the pot I should say. Seems I got something on the plane ride home and have had diarreah since Tuesday evening...not good my frineds, not good. Yesterday was pretty bad in fact. i have a call into my doctor today to see if I can get something to help my ass out--literally! As I mentioned before, you have to get used to a different idea of cleanliness in China. The level of dirt, grime, grease etc is probably off the charts for most westerners, especially us Americans. The average glass of water will give you the worst Montezuma's revenge, or is it General Taso's revenge?

I snapped this pic on the busride back from Dali as we passed through sort of the edge of the city where there is a lot of construction and industrial businesses. These guys looked like they were lined up waiting for work. I saw many groups of men sitting around like this waiting I guess to be hired out for the day or to be picked up.

I bought a nice Sumi brush form this old guy in Kunming along one of the many shopping side street bizzares. I never saw an actual art supply store, but you's see places selling stationary supplies.

This is a site Echo and I saw many, many times. These small resturants on the street with the owners cleaning the food in the street, right on all the dirty and grime. I can't imagine ever eating in one of these places. the Chinese must have stomachs of iron. I wonder how many healthcodes this breaks?

Gee, don't these guys looks kind and inviting? I want to eat there!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Our First Meal

This is the Dorm that Echo and I stayed at in Beijing. It was located at the Beijing University of technology. the dorm wasn't that bad except for the bathroom, which would at times release some pooh-sewer gas smell into the room, so we'd have to keep the bathroom door closed and the fan on. It was really located in a very good spot for us because we had access to many things like the internet and resturants as well as a comic shop, which I posted about on my other blog. There was also a little store on the first floor where we could also buy sundries like water, snacks etc., and have our laundry done. Echo's friend Summer's father managed the dorm, so we got a great hook-up.

This was the first resturant we ate at in Beijing. Since our hours were really swithed (Beijing is 12 hours later than EST) we woke up early and went out to explore and look for a place to eat. Echo had lived near here before, but she said so much had changed in the six years since she'd moved to the US, she almost didn't recognize the place. Echo remembered that this place was open and that she used to eat here as kid. A few of here old schools are nearby withing walking distance. We actually passed one on the way here. I have to say, while I was really hungry I was also a bit leary about the food as the place was a bit dirty, though in hindsight now, not nearly as dirty as many places I saw.

For less than 3 dollars US we bought our first breakfast. there was no coffee or tea to be had, nor diet anything, so I had a Pepsi with no ice. It didn't quite taste like Pepsi here, it had a slightly different flavor and was less sweat. I ate a soup with Touf, which I didn't really like and some pork buns, which I did. I also had a couple of pickled/hardboiled eggs. Echo had a soup with pork intestines in it. I tasted it and it tasted good, but I can't eat stuff like pork way, not for my diet or colesterol.

Echo was in pure heaven eating her "home food". She had been looking forward to this for soooo long.

Here I am trying the soup....

Friday, June 8, 2007


Today I'm posting more pics from the Forbidden City. We spent a good part of a whole day there and still we had to skip some parts or some halls were closed by the time we made it to them. I'm not the kind of guy who likes to rush, especially on vacation. No way! That's too much like my regular life, rushing to meet this deadline or that deadline. I like to take my camera, stop, look around, really try and see a place, really look at it, try and absorb as much as I can visually and in the case of FC, spiritually.

I really try and imagine what it was like to live there back in time. This means you have to slow down to take it in, like radiation, let a place bake you with it's physical and spiritual vibration. A place like this has a lot of both, a lot of history...a lot of heavy shit went down here and when I look down at the very bricks on the ground I was walking on I was thinking about how many people had trod upon the same spot. I guess I don't think much about that type of thing here in the states as modern life forces that type of contemplation out of your head much of the time. But here, on the beautiful sunny afternoon, about 2:30-3, a slight summer wind started to pick up in the inner courtyards where we were. As the warm breeze blew the trees and kicked up some dust, when the other tourists were gone I could really imagine being in the 1700's or even earlier, on the same day hundreds of years ago.

This was one of the areas that was closed off to tourists, probably for reconstruction. The goal of the goverment and UNESCO is to protect FC and return it to its original pre 1912 condition.

Detail from on of the roofs. It really strikes you after a while that this whole place is one amazing piece of art, every door, window, brick, planned, designed, carved, sculpted etc.

Look at these amazing old bricks. They were especially made and supposedly ring is struck. How many people have walked here?

One of the few lights I noticed in the entire place, which I image at one point must have been a torch? It was very high up the wall.

Feng Ping was Here.

The last two pics are of grafitti scratched into the wall. Yes, even in the Forbidden City there is grafitti. I guess people just can't resist scratching their names or saying onto a blank wall, no matter where. Perhaps this place being so famous made it even more tempting? There where many,many signs throughout FC stating "No Scratch", that the walls were protected. Seems some can't or couldn't resist leaving their mark. Now some of this might have been done back during the Cultural Revolution when a lot of damage was done to the FC, or even earlier. For a long time the city was possibly even going to be torn down, the army was brought in at one point to protect the sacking of artifacts and the entire city was closed between 1966 and 1971.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


I just returned from a two week vacation to China with my fiance Echo, who is Chinese, and that was great for many reasons, but especuially the fact that since she grew up there she speaks Chinese fluently--so I had a great Interpeter. I have always wanted to travel to Asia, especially China and Japan and this trip was really a really intense experience on many levels, especially visually for me. I bought a few extra flash cards for my Canon Powershot 80 so I'd have enough room to take a lot of pictures. I took about 3 gigs worth.

I decide that maybe the best way to show my friends and family, and those others who might be interested all the pictures and to talk about my experience was to "Blog it". So that's what I'm going to do as I have time, maybe 2 times a week or so, I'll upload some of the pics I took and give some discription of my trip. I guess it will be like an internetr version of the old Geroge Perot travel show that ran in Detroit when I was a kid. Let me say briefly that China is really a fantastic place, old mixing with the new, a culture on the move, a real contrast in many ways between what I imagined it might be and what it really is. There are always lots of people where ever you go and they are always on the move. It seemed that where ever Echo and I went there was what I called "eternal construction". Some of it of course because of the 2008 Olympics, especially in Beijing, but even in the countryside we saw an amazing amount of rebuilding and new construction happening. It's clear China is on the move and it's economy growing like crazy.

These first few shots are from the Forbidden City, a place that was high on my list of places to see on our trip. We missed it the first day we went because it closes about 4PM. I guess because it's so old there are not many lights there so it would probably be dangerous to have so many tourists wandering about. I was both amazed by the Forbidden City and dissapointed in some respects, mainly in how much of a tourist trap it was and how many spots had kiosks and stores insdie selling trinkets, t-shirts etc. It gave it a weird Theme Park aspect to it and I think to an extent, cheapens it. The parts I liked best were some of the interior courtyards and smaller little hidden places where there were few people and no modern things like ice cream stands. Echo and I stopped at a few of these spots and rested. I could really feel like I was back hundreds of years in time, and in one spot I even had a very strong feeling of Deja Vu, like I had spent alot of time in this spot. Who knows, maybe in a past life I did? The pic I snapped of the guy sleeping also makes me think about that, maybe this guys felt the same way, maybe he was sleeping at his old post from a previous life?