LIJIANG, CHINA: “NAXI LIFE”

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Rooftops of Lijiang

Beautiful early morning view from my hostel’s 3rd floor.

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Small Square, Early Morning.

I love to get up early and explore places with the feeling of being virtually alone. Fortunately, I got that feeling this morning. This is a small square that by the afternoon, was overrun by tour groups with flag-waving guides.

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Water Wheels

‘Water Wheels,’ divide the ‘Old Town’ from the ‘New Town.’

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Early morning shot of a canal on the ‘New Town’ side.

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Chairman Mao. In a square near the business district. Taller than a mountain.

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‘Old Town’ Scenery

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My hangout for coffee and Tibetan beef momo dumplings. LAMU’S HOUSE OF TIBET. Tibetan Beef Momo Dumplings. Delicious!

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Smells Like Dead Spirits

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Bridge connecting two important trade streets back in the day. When they used to travel via horse carts…‘New Town’ Waterway

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Samurai Doggy & Girl

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Naxi woman

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Boy Praying

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The Naxi created a written language over 1000 years ago using an amazing system of pictographs. The ONLY hieroglyphic language still in use.

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Three wells that people still use for drinking and washing clothes.

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Three Friends in a Cafe

Lijiang has been the base of the Naxi minority for the last 1400 years. Naxi women wear blue blouses and trousers covered by a blue or black apron. The traditional cape apparently symbolizes the heavens.

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“I was lost for about two and a half hours in the windy, maze-like streets of Old Town…and came upon one of the coolest places ever — providing me with one of the coolest moments in my life...I happened upon this little door…it said ‘bar,’ but…it was just one room, dark room, with a voice that said (i couldn’t see anyone) ‘come in.’ I said ‘no, thanks’ and walked away…but ended up returning due to the intrigue…one room with a couch and pillows….”

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So, this is it. My dream dwelling. He just lies on the couch and listens to music…So, from the doorway, you can see the whole room. There’s no bar, really. He just hangs out here to relax during the day then has jam/drinking sessions with his friends every night…

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This is my favorite aspect of the room. A small stage with a chair and amplifier…a solitary black and white photo on the brick wall of hands strumming a guitar…a mini-horse’s saddle (?), half-drunk liquor bottles….just love it!

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Sorry for the blur — it was so dark in there, but I hate using a flash, distorts the color too much…so, this is him. We didn’t exchange names, he didn’t speak much English…see his guitar and the Bob Marley pic. We’d try to speak a little, then he would just recline and listen to his Chinese rock music…

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As I walked in, the beer shelf was to my right. There were only two kinds of beer, 1 Chinese and 1 Budweiser. I opted for the Chinese and then asked how much. He said ‘no money. free.’ And that’s how my afternoon with this cool guy began…

Lijiang, China. June 2009

PINGYAO, CHINA: “WALLED IN”


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Yamen Hostel, Pingyao. 30 rmb/ nt. around 5 usd.

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Yamen Hostel courtyard

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One of a million archaic archways leading to homes and courtyards…

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Sakura Cafe. The place to hang when you’re in Pingyao.

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Sakura Cafe Apple Pie

The Apple Pie at Sakura Cafe. It’s a whole pie. Naturally, I expected just a piece. I was even getting impatient, asking them how long it takes to get a piece of pie out here. Then, this came. I was like, a whole pie? How much? It was what it said in the menu…24rmb…in general, the Chinese eat big portions of everything. In KFC or McDonald’s, couples will get two sandwiches, chicken on the side, and ice cream for dessert….I love to watch the Chinese eat unabashedly. Whereas, in Vietnam, they sit in KFC for hours to see and be seen with a small fries and small Pepsi…not the Chinese!!!

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Men on Bike Carts in a Narrow Alleyway

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Bike Cart

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Looks like a house built into the wall

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The best-preserved ancient walled city in China – Pingyao.

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Pingyao residents

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Through another winding gateway

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Ancient walls built in 1370

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Its residences and shops, and even the government office are all STILL in the style of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties

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The most sedate cats and dogs in the world. Maybe they’re opium-heads? I dunno. It’s a bit disconcerting. I watched an owner play ‘chase’ with her dog today and the dog didn’t make a sound…just ran all around the room…I kept watching and thinking ‘Bark, dammit! Bark!’

April 2009. Pingyao, China.

DALI, CHINA: “CHINESE BOHEMIA”

City Wall with the mountains behind
City Wall with the mountains behind

Dali lies at an altitude of 1900m with a backdrop of the 4000m Cang Shan (Jade Green Mountains.)
Dali lies at an altitude of 1900m with a backdrop of the 4000m Cang Shan (Jade Green Mountains.)

One of many cafes in Old Dali
One of many cafes in Old Dali

Bjork and Tibet
Bjork and Tibet

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Man smoking outside one of the town gates
Man smoking outside one of the town gates

New/Old Dali
New/Old Dali

The rolling clouds seem close enough to touch
The rolling clouds seem close enough to touch

He has an Ancient Secret
He has an Ancient Secret

Early rainy morning in Dali
Early rainy morning in Dali

BAI PEOPLE'S BREAKFAST: The Bai People's Pancake, Fried Goat cheese with Chinese Ham and Scrambled Eggs, Yunnan coffee
BAI PEOPLE’S BREAKFAST: The Bai People’s Pancake, Fried Goat cheese with Chinese Ham and Scrambled Eggs, Yunnan coffee

Early morning in the clouds
Early morning in the clouds

Dali Town by the mountains
Dali Town by the mountains

My Puppy in Dali
My Puppy in Dali

MAY 2009. Dali, China.

SAPA, VIETNAM: “A GREEN DREAM”

View from my balcony. 'Luong Thuy Family Guesthouse.' VND90,000
View from my balcony. ‘Luong Thuy Family Guesthouse.’ VND90,000

Center Square
Center Square

Church in center
Church in center

Sapa town
Sapa town

My street food. Thit Bo. Roasted Sweet Potato.
My street food. Thit Bo. Roasted Sweet Potato.

 H'Mong women
H’Mong women

Sapa valley
Sapa valley

Water Buffalo. Literally.
Water Buffalo. Literally.

River rapids in the valley
River rapids in the valley

Trekking through Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages
Trekking through Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages

Village children
Village children

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Rice fields
Rice fields

Village house
Village house

Two boys herding a buffalo up the mountain.
Two boys herding a buffalo up the mountain.

Rapids
Rapids

June 2009. Sapa, Vietnam.

SHANGHAI, CHINA: “NOODLE BREAK”

Xhengjian dumplings
Xhengjian dumplings
Prisoner in a dumpling prison
Prisoner in a dumpling prison
Old Shanghai architecture
Old Shanghai architecture
 Noodle Boys on break
Noodle Boys on break

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Bike and Rice Break
Bike and Rice Break

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This is part re-told from a friend living in Shanghai and bits and pieces from the internet: “Moller Villa: Legend has it that Jewish Eric Moller came to Shanghai in 1919 empty-handed and made his fortune here by winning large sums at the horse races, culminating in the construction of this fantasy home for his daughter. The daughter is said to have had a dream in which she saw a castle like those in the Hans Andersen fairy tales. On awakening, she drew a sketch. The father was so fond of his youngest daughter that he immediately commissioned an architect to build her dream house.

In reality the Mollers were originally Swedish with British citizenship. Eric Moller was the son of wealthy businessman Nils Moller, who had started a business in Hong Kong in the 1860s. It was said that a fortune-teller told Moller that if he ever finished the house, ill-fortune would befall him. So Moller dawdled, adding bits and bobs for more than 10 years, finally completing the task in the late 1940s. According to Johnston, Moller’s daughter said that the fortune-teller tale too is false, but there is no doubt that Moller’s fortunes took a turn for the worse following the breakout of World War II.

Moller left Shanghai in 1950 soon after the communists came to power. A few years later on a flight to Singapore, as his daughter Nancy watched and waited for him at Singapore’s Kallang Airport, his Qantas plane crashed on landing, killing Eric Moller and 32 other passengers.”
 
 
Jamison in his Shanghai Apartment
Jamison in his Shanghai Apartment
 
Ghosts of People Past
I could feel the presence of people who lived in the apartment many years ago.
 
April 2009. Shanghai, China. 

NANJING/NANKING, CHINA: MORE TO IT THAN TRAGEDY

Jasmine Hostel, Nanjing. Quiet, relaxing.

Nanjing Massacre Museum.
FAMILY RUINED:
Never returns the son killed,
Never returns the husband buried alive,
Sorrow drowns the wife raped,
Heavens…

Main reason I came to Nanjing was to see this museum. One of the best books I’ve ever read, ‘The Rape of Nanking’ by Iris Chang. Found out in the museum yesterday that Chang committed suicide in 2004. She was working on a new book about the Bataan Death March. She was born in Princeton, NJ and the pressure of being a Chinese American and after her book, kind of representative of the victims to get the Japanese to admit guilt…she confronted the Japanese Ambassador in public…she started to feel paranoid, watched by the CIA…she thought they were trying to make her look crazy to discredit her…fell into deep depression…and killed herself. Brilliant writer, intense.

Bike,Tree,Lake

Ming Xiaoling Tomb. The first section of the avenue leading up to the mausoleum takes you along the ‘spirit path,’ lined with stone statues of lions, camels, elephants, and horses. These stone animals drive away evil spirits and guard the tomb.


Zhongsan Mountain National Park

Zhongyan

 April 2009. Nanjing, China.

GUILIN, CHINA: BAMBOO BOAT FROM GUILIN TO YANGSHUO

In May/June 2009, I took a life-changing month-long trip to China. I had no plan rather than to land in Beijing and work my way back down all the way back to Saigon, Vietnam. I just kept going from hostel to hostel on trains or buses (trips that the hostel staffs would arrange, so I’d cross my fingers and hope to make it where I intended.) I made it everywhere just fine. Below are two pictures of my bamboo boat trip from Guilin to Yangshuo. I’ll never, ever forget it.

MAY/JUN09. Guilin to Yangshuo, China. (Sony Camera and Lens)

SAIGON, VIETNAM: “VIETNAMESE FOOTBALL FRENZY”

In December 2008, I was staying on Dong Khoi, the premier street in the center of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Looking out my window, I could gaze upon the historic Hotel Continental, a favorite haunt of author Graham Greene, and the Opera House. One night, I got to witness the streets of Saigon go crazy in celebration for beating Thailand in the Suzuki Football Cup: the first time-ever for the Vietnamese to be champions in Southeast Asia. Below are some photos depicting their insane pride.

 

DEC 2008, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.