Monochrome Macau

Here’s a selection of photos from Macau which, I thought, looked better in monochrome.  The better to show off the smog in the first two photos.

 

In the waters around Macau

In the waters around Macau

Another view from Mont Forte

Another view from Monte Fort

On Fort Monte with a view of Grand Lisboa Casino and Hotel in the northern half of Macau,

On Monte Fort with a view of the Grand Lisboa Casino and Hotel in the northern half of Macau.

 

The facade of St. Paul's with those lovely striped stairs resulting from the Black and White conversion.

The facade of St. Paul’s with those lovely striped stairs resulting from the Black and White conversion.

Senado square.

Senado square.

My partner and I decided to forego the temptation of the casinos in Taipa, and the swimming pool at the hotel, and walk into the commercial centre of Taipa. At the pharmacy below we finally found aspirin, which we had been unable to figure out how to buy since Shanghai! It wasn’t quite dark, but it was smoggy and the buildings were tall so the lights are already on. The boys??? Well, make up your own mind.

In the 'city' of Taipa in the northern half of the island which makes up the bottom half of Macau.

In the ‘city’ of Taipa in the northern half of the island which makes up the bottom half of Macau.

Buddhist Macau

Macau 2013

Not far from the Christian centre of Macau was this charming neighbourhood Buddhist temple.

You could buy incense to burn ranging from tiny sparkler-sized to huge cones.

Macau 2013

Macau 2013

Macau 2013

The star attraction however was a special bowl. If you rubbed your hands firmly on the handles the water in the bowl would seem to boil. These two photos feature some of my traveling companions and one very amazed other lady.

Macau 2013

Macau 2013

I rather preferred the little shrine between the sidewalk and the busy road which I hadn’t noticed when we arrived.

Macau 2013

Next Chinese post: Las Vegas of the Orient

Chen Corridors

A simply framed bit of garden.

A simply framed bit of garden.

Inside the Chen Ancestral temple corridors criss-crossed the space and surrounded an interior courtyard. At the back was a sculpture garden. The various rooms contained museum artifacts and art (next post.)

See the drinks dispenser at the end of the corridor?

See the drinks dispenser at the end of the corridor?

See the drinks dispenser at the end of the corridor?

Ruining the look of the back garden (and I don't mean the neighbours!)

Ruining the look of the back garden (and I don’t mean the neighbours!)

Hemmed in on all sides.

Hemmed in on all sides.

Also in the back garden, this charming sculpture:

This statue is modern

This statue is modern.

The walkway was never devoid of people, but by now the weeklong celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic was over and there were fewer local tourists.

A walkway around the interior courtyard.

A walkway around the interior courtyard.

A walkway around the interior courtyard.

A walkway around the interior courtyard.

When preparing this post, I was surprised that I hadn’t taken photos of bicycles for several days. To remedy that, I offer this.

 

A back corridor.

A back corridor.

Next Chinese Post: Art from the Chen Family Ancestral Hall.

Yangshuo Market

Walking to lunch. Hot and hungry.

Walking to lunch in Yangshuo. Hot and hungry.

 

After our Li River cruise, Li villages tour and lunch, we were taken to Yangshuo’s street market. It was mid-day and very hot. A number of people – the smart people – found somewhere cool to sit and drink beer or coffee or something cool. I took photos.

A very busy street. It was along here that some of our number were taken to a shop featuring brand name knock offs.

A very busy street. It was along here that some of our number were taken to a shop featuring brand name knock offs.

Yangshuo style.

Yangshuo style.

These are two of my favourite street photos from the entire trip.

Up an alley full of hostels.

Up an alley full of hostels.

An alley of hostels and bars.

An alley of hostels and bars.

Next China post: more Yangshuo street photography.

Yangshuo Street Photography

This woman was so tired and couldn't keep her eyes open, yet she had to look after the baby. I felt sorry for her, but wasn't in the market for knives!

This woman was so tired and couldn’t keep her eyes open, yet she had to look after the baby. I felt sorry for her, but wasn’t in the market for knives!

The same photo in Black and White, which I prefer.

Guilin

Another sleepy vendor.

Another sleepy vendor.

They say that street photography gets easier over time. Not wanting to be too obvious about shooting people, I tried a few from the hip. This one is the only one I liked.

Shot from the hip.

Shot from the hip.

At last, we headed out of the heat and back to our hotel for Chinese massages before the evening light show. No photos of the massages!

Leaving the market, anxious to get out of the heat.

Leaving the market, anxious to get out of the heat.

Just outside the market, mid afternoon, so no food customers.

Just outside the market, mid afternoon, so no customers.

Li River – Tourism

Waiting for the next tour group.

Waiting for the next tour group.

Taking foreign and Chinese tourists on the lovely River Li is a booming business for the town of Yangshuo and the neighbouring city of Guilin; the name of Guilin is probably more familiar to westerners than Yangshuo. Our boat was bigger (and uglier) than the colourful boats pictured here. There were about 40 of us (a combination of buses 2 and 3 from the Sinorama 21-day tours) so the smaller boats would not have been big enough.

Looking back towards the village of Yangshuo.

Looking back towards the village of Yangshuo.

Chinese tourists always waved at us.

Chinese tourists always waved at us.

A private boat, and photographer.

A private boat, and photographer.

Some boats put in to shop at vendors on the riverside. Ours did not!

Some boats put in to shop at vendors on the riverside. Ours did not!

People Rule!

As part of a tour of China, where the People’s Republic has a hand in the itinerary, we tourists get taken to People’s monuments. In Chongqing we were dropped off in People’s Square just in front of the Hall of the People.

I believe you had to pay to get in. Not part of the tour....

I believe you had to pay to get in. Not part of the tour….

Across the Square is the Three Gorges Museum – visible behind the arch –  which was not part of our visit. But we wandered up and down the plaza…turned loose with very little explanation other than the time we were to return to the bus.

Wet, but the rain had stopped. An immense plaza .

Wet, but the rain had stopped. An immense plaza looking down from the Hall.

The plaza looking towards the Hall of the People.

The plaza looking back towards the Hall of the People.

And an even longer view of the plaza.

Mom, in her heels, can’t keep up!

The chap in the yellow shirt was our wonderful tour guide.

The chap with the yellow jacket around his waist was our wonderful tour guide.

No idea who this is or what it represents. No English translation.

No idea who this is or what it represents. No English translation.

Final of Fengdu, China

While looking for background for some later posts, I found this web page on Fengdu which I think is a better reference than in an earlier post.

 

In an earlier post I commented on the neat flower displays that didn’t seem to get vandalized. However, Fengdu was generally dirty and scruffy. The incense container being used as an ashtray (below) is in contrast to those I saw in other sacred sites. And Chinese people smoke a lot.

In keeping with the run down theme.

In keeping with the run-down theme.

Some parts of the Ghost City were rather run down. But the blue was eye-catching.

Some parts of the Ghost City were rather decrepit.
But the blue was eye-catching.

A colourful corner.

A colourful corner.

Fellow tourists on Sinorama Bus 2 may find themselves in this picture:

To the right of this line of people was the diorama about souls in hell.

To the right of this line of people was the diorama about souls in hell.

Once we left the main site, we walked through vendors, and I was taken by this family preparing fruit, especially the smile on the boy’s face.

One member of this family has had enough for one day!

One member of this family has had enough for one day!

I thought these were rather cute and considered buying one for my 5 year old granddaughter, but didn't think they would make it home undamaged.

I thought these were rather cute and considered buying one for my 5 year old granddaughter, but didn’t think they would make it home undamaged.

The English in this one is right, for a change!

The English in this one is right, for a change!

Next posts: Toronto, Canada

Chinese Bridges

A beautiful bridge spanning one of the gorges upriver from the Yangtze.

A beautiful bridge spanning one of the gorges upriver from the Yangtze.

China has a long history in bridge construction. The oldest bridge still in existence in China is the Anji Bridge constructed during the years between 595 and 605. Everywhere you go in China you see beautiful, functional, and often very new bridges.  The Yangpu Bridge in Shanghai was featured in an earlier post.

I first began to appreciate Chinese bridge building when reading Simon Winchester’s marvellous book about Joseph Needham. called ‘The Man who Loved China.’   Needham was one of the first westerners to recognize China’s scientific and engineering discoveries, most of which preceded western science by decades or even centuries.

When we travelled up the ‘three little gorges’ we passed under a very modern bridge (above and below.)

A closer view

A closer view

Structural detail.

Structural detail.

In Wushan, where our tour of the Three Little Gorges began, was another modern structure.

Another style of bridge, again with red as a prominent design feature.

Another style of bridge, again with red as a prominent design feature.

Bridge on-ramp and tour boats.

Bridge on-ramp and tour boats.

Structural detail.

Structural detail.

Lower down the Yangtze we passed this massive structure. The scale can be appreciated when you realize that there are people in the lower right foreground!

Is this a bridge? Well the overpass behind the orange structure is a type of bridge.

Is this a bridge? Well the overpass behind the orange structure is a type of bridge.

Recently China has been constructed many record breaking bridges.
China is currently home to the Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge, the world’s longest bridge measuring over 164 kilometres (102 mi).
The Xihoumen Bridge bridge in Zhejiang province is the second longest suspension bridge span.
The Sutong Bridge in the Jiangsu province is the second longest cable-stayed span.
The Sidu River Bridge is the highest bridge in the world.
The Chaotianmen Bridge bridge is the longest arch bridge span.
The longest sea bridge in the world is currently under construction between Macau and Hong Kong.  

A list of China’s bridges is here.

Next post: Urban development above the Three Gorges Dam.

Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam-3132

In the afternoon of our first day on the Yangtze cruise, we visited the Three Gorges Dam.   It’s the largest hydroelectric power dam in the world, completed in 2012, and not without its detractors, including Scientific American and an organization called International Rivers.  The major criticisms are social (1.4 million people displaced), geological (there have been landslides in the gorges and streams feeding the Yangtze and there is a risk of earthquakes throughout central China due to the weight of the lake behind the dam), and environmental (downstream droughts, species extinction, water shortages as far away as Shanghai, and water pollution due to what was left in the river before it was flooded.)

First we were ushered into a visitor centre where, among other things, there were some very useful scale models.  The dam is  at back left, the area which accommodates visitors is green and island-like  in the middle, and what looks like two dashed lines to the right of the green island are the two ship locks.

Three Gorges Dam- A very useful model, since the place was huge and we couldn't fly over it.

A very useful model, since the place was huge and we couldn’t fly over it.

In the middle of the green ‘island’ on the model are the visitors’ centre, bus parking, vendors, and a few memorials and statues.

Outdoor escalators so you didn't have to climb the hill.

Outdoor escalators so you didn’t have to climb the hill.

At the top, a lookout and a memorial.

At the top, a lookout and a memorial.

Looking back downriver from near the top of the  escalators.

Looking back downriver from near the top of the escalators.

 

When I stopped to take photos from one of the landings between escalators I was told by someone in uniform to move along. A travel article in the UK Telegraph in early February 2014 by Fionualla McHugh  mentions a much heavier presence of military, but I didn’t notice it. In most other respects, her trip and its review parallel my own experience!  I love this quote from her story:

“In China, you often find yourself juggling two opposing notions at the same time while continuing to function with surprising ease. F Scott Fitzgerald believed this was the definition of a first-rate intelligence; let’s just say an adaptable attitude helps when travelling in the Middle Kingdom.”

The site was very crowded, as I am sure it is every day, but this was the first day of China’s weeklong celebration of  the  founding of the People’s Republic, so the number of Chinese tourists was higher than usual.

Beautiful landscaping.  It was hot. I broke down and had a pea flavoured creamsicle. It was VERY good.

Beautiful landscaping. It was hot. I broke down and had a pea flavoured creamsicle. It was VERY good.

 

If you have a dam and you want to move ships from below to above it, or vice versa, you need to have locks. The Three Gorges Dam had two huge locks and were in the process of building a ship’s elevator for smaller boats.  Each lock is large enough to hold six huge cruise ships or perhaps 4-6 industrial barges.  The first photo is of a lock in action, the second of the top end of the locks and the third of the entrance to the locks (looking downstream) which are far below road level.  (I’ve been fascinated by locks since my only canal boat holiday in England in 1992!)

 

I managed to get his shot through the bus window of ships in a huge lock. Our ship went through the locks after dark.  Each lock rose 100 feet and thee were 5 of them.  We only watched the first one and then went to bed.

I managed to get his shot through the bus window of barges in a huge lock. Our ship went through the locks after dark. Each lock rose 100 feet and there were 5 of them. We only watched the first one and then went to bed.

this time from near the top of the viewing hill.

Another view of the locks, this time from near the top of the viewing hill.

And another view of the locks, which are far below the road levels you can see.

And another view of the locks, which are far below the road and park level.

Towards the end of our time at the dam we were actually behind – as in upstream from – the dam itself.  There is something deceptively peaceful about this photo, which is a favourite of mine.

The top of the dam from the upstream side.

The top of the dam from the upstream side.

The head pond with a few boats. And smog.

The head pond with a few boats. And smog.

Looking way across the head pond to hills and an urban centre enveloped in smog.

Looking way across the head pond to hills and an urban centre enveloped in smog.

Next post: The rural shore of the Yangtze