Machu Picchu Walls

Machu Picchu, 2009

Machu Picchu, 2009

Machu Picchu, 2009

Machu Picchu, 2009

I haven’t included many photos from my 2009 trip to Peru in this blog – until today.
The choice of photogenic walls in my collection is huge: the Great Wall of China, graffiti on walls in San Francisco and Toronto, stone walls throughout Peru, sleepy garden walls in England, or highly decorated temple walls in Thailand. Too many walls, too few blog posts.  So here are a couple of examples of the amazing stone work that is Machu Picchu, Peru, a Unesco world heritage site

There are lots more walls by others you might want to check out.

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Guangzhou Art

Koi - art made with silk embroidery.

Koi – art made with silk embroidery.

One room of the Chen Ancestral Temple held beautiful examples of painting with silk thread.
Another room held these beautiful blue stone sculptures:

Ancestral urns?

Ancestral urns?

There were rooms of artifacts related to scholars; during the more recent dynasties, rich Chinese were often scholars.

This describes the next photo.

This describes the next photo.

A giant's inkstone with beautiful carving

A giant’s inkstone with beautiful carving

This describes the next photo.

This describes the next photo.

A scholar's study.

A scholar’s study.

This scholar would not have been able to see out his window, but would instead have been inspired by beautiful classic scenes.

A window screen in the scholar's room.

A window screen in the scholar’s room.

These look like roses. China teas?

These look like roses. China teas?

Beautiful glass work of ducks on a pond in front of a mountain.

Beautiful glass work of ducks on a pond in front of a mountain.

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.

Farming, Fishing and Coal

Rural Yangtze-3218

This post is a selection of ‘rural’ shots taken during our cruise upriver from the Three Gorges Dam to Chongqing.

Fishing weirs (above shot and below) had a wheel which reminded me of a spinning wheel:

Rural Yangtze-3225

Hillsides were steep and some were terraced for farming, though this was not a common sight.  Agricultural land now flooded would have been much more productive and easy to work.  Do these retaining walls really work?  Only time will tell; there have already been major landslides in the three gorges.

Rural Yangtze-3160

Rural Yangtze-3282

Coal was delivered and stored at waterside and hauled up steep hills and over mountains.  It would have been a lot easier before the dam.

Rural Yangtze-3162

Temples or shrines were also seen.

Rural Yangtze-3220

Rural Yangtze-3257

Rural Yangtze-3280

And construction work took place on steep slopes.

Note the switchback trail leading up over the pass and the pack horse at the first turn at the lower right.

Note the switchback trail leading up over the pass and the pack horses at the first turn at the lower right.

A closer view of the previous scene.  Workers finish a retaining wall above the dock and packhorses round the first bend of the switchback road.

A closer view of the previous scene. Workers finish a retaining wall above the dock and packhorses round the first bend of the switchback road.

Next post: Gorgeous gorges

A Pixie at the Shanghai Museum

We were not there to see the Impressionists (more's the pity) but I found lots of interesting things to see.

We were not there to see the Impressionists (more’s the pity) but I found lots of interesting things.

The Shanghai Museum is a “must see. ”  It is architecturally satisfying, inside and out, professional, classy and has a huge variety of exhibit types and methods of display.

Lovely sculptures protect the building:

Shanghai Museum-2961

Shanghai Museum-2960

This plaque applies to the next photo, the sculpture of a Pixie.

This plaque applies to the next photo, the sculpture of a Pixie.

The description of this        sculpture is in the previous photo.

The description of this sculpture is in the previous photo.

The stairwells were well lit so I could photograph how beautiful the interior is.

Shanghai Museum-2964

Shanghai Museum-2963

While cameras were permitted, the light levels within the museum were too low to capture much.

The map below is fascinating as it shows the current spread of the hundreds of ethnic groups in China. The major group (90%) are the Han Chinese as shown by the vast areas of pale yellow in the east. Tibetans (golden yellow) occupy the south west and Mongolians (bright chartreuse) the central north. The Uygur (light chartreuse green) are in the area in the northwest beneath the Kazaks (forest green.) While waiting to take the picture I overheard the following comment from a well-heeled couple with American accents, she of Chinese descent, he a Caucasian: “We are descended from the Tang Dynasty (618-906) but I don’t see it in the list. Why is it not there?” Ummm, because these are ethnic groups not dynastic descendants…?

Shanghai Museum-2966

I took one photo of a costume because it was so colourful but forgot to note the group which would have worn it.

Shanghai Museum-2967

Next post: Chinese calligraphy and painting.

Venice of the East – Suzhou #1

Suzhou is one of the places our tour should have shown us more of. I just looked at the map given to us by our hotel, and can’t believe how little we saw. This was partly due to the questionable logistics of flying us into the far eastern side of Shanghai and then bussing us (and getting us caught in a Friday traffic jam) to the western side of Shanghai where Suzhou is located.

We stopped at one bridge: the Everlasting Bridge (Wannian Qiao) over one fairly boring section of the city moat.  Also part of the site were a gate through a reconstructed part of the city wall (sorry, no photos), and a larger-than-life statue of Wu Zixu.

Everlasting Bridge - going up

Everlasting Bridge – going up

Everlasting Bridge, looking down.

Everlasting Bridge, looking down.

Suzhou is know as the Venice of the East because of its many canals. You can Google ‘Images’ for  ‘Suzhou canals’ to see what we missed and what you should see if you go there.

Suzhou moat looking one way (compass direction impossible to tell with the smog.)

Suzhou moat looking one way (compass direction impossible to tell with the smog.)

Suzhou moat looking in the other direction.   To be honest, I did not notice all the fishers when I took this picture, but I cropped it to show just them because the rest of the view was uninspiring.

Suzhou moat looking in the other direction. To be honest, I did not notice all the fishers when I took this picture, but I cropped it to show just them because the rest of the view was uninspiring.

Across from the fishers. See another tour group in the background?

Across from the fishers. See another tour group in the background?

Dragon boat detail.

Dragon boat detail.

Wu Zixu was the founding designer and urban planner of Suzhou city in 514 B.C.  Historical records suggest that Wu Zixu lived near to where his statue can be found.

Wu Zixu

Wu Zixu

You can find more information about the bridge, the gate and Wu Zixu here.

Next Post: A Chinese Garden in Suzhou

Xi’an at Dusk

Advertising an important event.

Advertising an important event.

We arrived in Xi’an at dusk, after an afternoon flight from Beijing.

The two Chinese characters “西安” in the name Xi’an literally mean “Western Peace”.  (And neither character is on the flag above!)

Xi’an became a cultural and political centre of China in the 11th century BCE with the founding of the Zhou Dynasty. The capital of Zhou was located southwest of contemporary Xi’an. Following the Warring States period, China was unified under the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) for the first time, with the capital located at Xianyang, just northwest of modern Xi’an.  The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of the Terracotta Army and his mausoleum just to the east of Xi’an almost immediately after his ascension to the throne.   It is the Terracotta Army that most tourists come to Xi’an to see.

But Xi’an has other attractions.

The city is surrounded by a well-preserved city wall which was re-constructed in the 14th century during the early Ming Dynasty and was based on the inner imperial palace of Tang Dynasty.

Rent-a-bike on the city wall.  Unfortunately, not part of our itinerary.

Rent-a-bike on the city wall. Unfortunately, not part of our itinerary.

Xian is fortunate to have its city wall.  Most like it in China have been destroyed.

Xian is fortunate to have its city wall. Most like it in China have been destroyed.

It was getting very dark so the photo was grainy.  For effect, I just added more grain to it.

It was getting very dark so the photo was grainy. For effect, I just added more grain to it.

Detail from a roof line.  Seven mythical animals.

Detail from a roof line. Seven mythical animals.

Light posts on top of the city wall.  Out with the old, in with the new.  October 1 is coming soon.

Light posts on top of the city wall. Out with the old, in with the new. October 1 is coming soon.

Turns out there are electric lights inside these lanterns, which came on just as we were leaving.

Turns out there are electric lights inside these lanterns, which came on just as we were leaving.

Inside the city wall and at the crossroads of its main axes are a Drum Tower and a Bell Tower. We saw them, briefly, at a distance, from the bus taking us to dinner and a Chinese Opera. This photo looks west from near the eastern gate, but you cannot see either of the towers.

Smog, at sunset, from Xi'an's city wall.

Smog, at sunset, from Xi’an’s city wall.

There were other interesting architectual and historical sites which we did not get to see including the city’s Muslim quarter, which is home to the Great Mosque of Xi’an, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, both spectacular towers well over 1,000 years old and which have survived great earthquakes. They protected Buddhist writings in the past.

Next post: Dinner at the opera!