Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photo of the Day: Read All About It

Taken at Dawai, the school I went to first semester to study Chinese. This was mid-March, around the time of the riots in Tibet if I remember correctly. We decided to all buy China Dailys (the English language newspaper) and see what they had to say on the matter. Blatant government censorship was an interesting new phenomenon for us, coming from America and Australia.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Photo of the Day: Winding Down

Sunset in Dalian. The calm before the storm that is rush hour traffic.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Photo of the Day: Yellow River Rafting

Not the best I could have done (the lighting is over-exposed) but it was an extremely sunny day. Besides, it does solve the question: Is the Yellow River really yellow? It is.

[It is brownish yellow, technically, but still a very thick color that no river should be.]

The rafts we were on, by the way, were made of inflated sheep innards. Very resourceful, very durable, not very pleasant to look at.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Photo of the Day: Just Browsing

Taken at Victory Plaza, which is basically the main shopping area of Dalian and located right next to the center Square. It spans a good four or so floors underground. I know people who have lived in Dalian for years and still get lost in the massive expanse that is Victory Plaza.

This, however, was taken above-ground. It was a friend's birthday, so her coworkers and I met here, then proceeded to walk together over to Tapas, a (really nice) Spanish restaurant.

Random note- a lot of the bits and bobs for sale in Dalian are shell-related, since the city is on the seaside and obviously never short of marine paraphenalia.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Photo of the Day: Modernity

What's that in the sky? It's a bird- it's a plane- it's yet another highrise! As with most of industrialized China, there is always something bigger, taller, and shinier being built. I heard that along the beach, apartment ads would claim they had the "best view" of the ocean...until another development would spring up, higher and even closer to the beach, blocking the original one's ocean view and selling point.

The blue train at the bottom is the 202 tram that ran north to south in Dalian (the 201 ran east to west and was more of an old-fashioned trolley). I rode this tram for twenty minutes every day at noon to get home from university. I didn't dare ride it during morning rush hour, though, because I like having enough oxygen to breathe.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photo of the Day: Sunset on the Yangtze

For our week-long May Holiday vacation, my study abroad group started with a four-day cruise on the Yangtze River. We set sail from Wuhan and sailed upriver to Chongqing, stopping along the way at various cities affected by the Three Gorges Dam, as well as visiting the dam project itself. Funny thing was, the cruise was marketed towards Germans- so the majority of the passengers were German or Dutch, and all announcements were made first in German, then English.

The gorges, which are also depicted on the back of the 10 rmb bill, were incredible. Sailing through them while sitting on the top deck, with the sun on our faces and wind in our hair, was indescribably relaxing. Being surrounded by such tranquility in nature led to much introspection and (greatly needed) clarity within all of us.

Of my entire year in China, cruising the Yangtze was my absolute favorite experience. (National Holiday in Ningxia being the second and the Harbin Ice Festival, third.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Photo of the Day: Chinese Movie Set

Zhenbeibao Film Studio in Ningxia. Called the "East Hollywood," several famous Chinese movies have been set here, including one of my favorites- "To Live". Besides all the abandoned sets, props were laid out as well, so the girls and I acted out a great battle scene with fake swords and shields. There was also a live monkey there; I'm not really sure what its purpose was other than to pose for pictures. I got too close and it almost bit me.

Interestingly enough, while searching for the name of this studio I came across a post on TravelChinaGuide.com by a person that followed the same itinerary as we did on our National Holiday. So for anyone interested in what I did my first day of this Holiday trip I keep talking about, this post gives you a very good idea.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Photo of the Day: Hong Kong in Sepia

Taken from The Peak, which provides a fantastic view over Hong Kong. I spent a week there in August, while the Olympics were taking place. (If you click on the picture, it displays the picture in its original size, which lets you see more detail. I had this as my desktop background for months.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Photo of the Day: Off Guard

Note: no photo yesterday because I was too busy transferring every post from my old blog to this one. After all that hard work, I decided to let my readership see my face for once!

My best friend Leanna snapped this picture of me while we were in the Helan Mountains, in Yinchuan, which is in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. We were surrounded by rocks that reached into the clouds, as well as some with early-civilization-era carvings on them. A lot of them sported discolored streaks, showing the effects of erosion over the many thousands of years.

Supposedly, if you stepped onto this particular rock, you would become pregnant. I can safely report that none of us ended up in such a predicament. Especially not the men.

[This one looks less focused than the others because I stole it one off Leanna's camera and it didn't respond so well to being scaled down.]

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photo of the Day: Cards

Another sight seen all over China. So much so, that every foreigner with a camera in China attempts this shot at one point or another. This one was taken in Suzhou, outside one of the Gardens.

Of the plethora of cards photos I have, this is one of my favorites. Usually they end up being taken from far away, so as not to intrude on people/let them know I'm stalking their game, and the result is either very blurry or grainy as a result of using too much zoom. But this one I quickly snapped as I was walking past and it turned out crisp and clear, has nice composition, tells a story and all that. (In my opinion, anyway.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Photo of the Day: Biking through Suzhou

A friend of mine came with me to Shanghai for a week in October, and after a couple days felt the need to escape the hustle & bustle of Shanghai. So we planned a daytrip and took the fast train to the water town of Suzhou. We bought a map, rented bikes, and visited the numerous gardens in the city, and had a beautiful day of sightseeing and exercise. Suzhou is definitely one of my favorite cities to visit in China.

And for the record, most of my pictures from that day were taken whilst I was riding my bicycle. Nearly gave my friend a heart attack when he turned around and realized it.

[note: today's potd was chosen as a response to Suzhou's appearance at number 14 on this list: World's Worst Places to Work]

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photo of the Day: More fun with signs

Another favorite sign of mine (the other being this one), also found on the Dongcai side of town. I have no idea what it's referencing, since you don't see tractors nor horses in cities like Dalian. Or cities in China in general, since there'd be no place for them on the roads.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Photo of the Day: Hill with a View

So that hill I mentioned in yesterday's post, where I got lost on the way to lunch? This was the view on the way down over the city of Dalian. I was still lost.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photo of the Day: Detour

Apologies for the weekend hiatus, went home for some business.

Story behind this photo: I got lost on my way to lunch one warm September day (I got off at the right bus stop, but started walking north instead of south) and ended up on a very isolating walk up the hills between Dongcai and Liaoning High School. I found this flower vine blossoming in the cement jungle towards the end of this hike. I wound up nearly half an hour late to lunch, but it was a lovely diversion.

-Insert your own cliche analogy about the lone wild flower here-

Friday, March 13, 2009

Photo of the Day: The 406

The 406 bus in Dalian. Fairly empty and calm; during rush hour (and even when it's not rush hour) the buses can get extremely packed. For Westerners with a sense of a 'personal bubble' (and with a sense of smell) it can be a bit uncomfortable. Sardines in a can comes nowhere close to just how tightly packed you are- I've had many a bus ride where I didn't even have to hold onto anything and I still managed to stay completely still and upright on the bumpy bus ride.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Photo of the Day: 东北财经大学

The main building of 东北财经大学, or the Dongbei University of Finance and Economics.

The Chinese language students were only in there for the 'opening ceremony', the Chinese studies building and international dorm was a few hundred feet to this building's left.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Photo of the Day: Soup for sale, Xi'an

February 08; on Xi'an's Muslim Street- My relatives and I had stopped in Xi'an on our way home to Shanghai after spending Chinese New Year in Sichuan.

For about 50 US cents you'd get in a bowl the sweet date broth, as well as lemons, dates, kiwis, sweet fungus, etc. and a freshly cut up pear (though it tasted like a pear/apple hybrid). Sugary and warm, and perfect for a winter stroll.

(As an added bonus, but more because I find it hard to describe, here's what the final result looked like:)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Photo of the Day: Hopscotch

[Apologies for no picture yesterday, computer had a virus and wasn't letting me update]

Hopscotch Bar in Dalian, a chill dive bar and my favorite spot to hang out with friends. I like this picture because all I used was a simple point and shoot with a low ISO setting (and me standing extremely still) and I think it turned out well.

The city's a different place at night. Dingy lights and shoddy craftsmanship sometimes lead to the coziest hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants. Down a few feet from Hopscotch there was a Muslim family running a noodle shop, and chuanr (kebab) stands are everywhere, adding to the smoke and dim lights of the city. I've also never felt safer walking through a city at night.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Photo of the Day: A Beijing Train Station Sunrise

From Dalian you could take an overnight train to Beijing, which was quite convenient because you'd board around 9 pm, fall asleep, and wake up around 6 am already in Beijing. We went the week after the Special Olympics ended, at the end of September, and the sky in Beijing was still clear and blue. When we came back to Beijing at the end of the week to catch our train home, the sky was already gray and smoggy again. Sunrises from a train are fantastic to wake up to though, no matter where you are.

(I realize I didn't quite follow the rule of thirds on this one. In fairness, it was 6 am and I'd just woken up seconds before they hustled us off the train)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Photo of the Day: Student Lunches

[The girl in the blue is the one I'm currently visiting in South Carolina for Spring Break.]

Eating lunch with my classmates (the two girls and guy in the foreground), all of them American. Class ended at 12 every day and there was an endless amount of choices for food around the Dongcai campus. They were all incredibly cheap too; usually costing 5 rmb for a bowl of noodles (~75 cents) or 7-10 rmb per person to share dishes 'family-style' as we're doing above.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Photo of the Day: Temple in the Mountains

(The woman walking is my aunt)

In Guangyuan, Sichuan Province, with my extended relatives, who were visiting some of their extended relatives in the mountains. We drove further into the mountains after lunch to play in the freshly fallen snow; after they parked the trucks they stopped into this Buddhist temple to offer some prayers since it was around Chinese New Year's. I don't know that it was frequented often but it looked well-maintained enough. I was politely told I couldn't participate because I wasn't a Buddhist, so I just took pictures.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Photo of the Day: No Exploding Cars

One of my favorite signs. Chinese below it translates to "urban area."

Taken on my daily 8 am commute to class; bus stop was behind me and Dongcai is just ahead on the left.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Photo of the Day: Badminton with a View

A friend and I picked up a random game of badminton with some young Chinese students whilst walking behind Cheng Huang Miao in Shanghai. In the background are the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Tower, and the World Financial Center. October 2008.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Photo of the Day: We're in the Desert!

We were all pretty excited. So we choreographed a jump. We got this on the FIRST SHOT.

Taken in the Tengger Desert, where the BCA study abroad group and I went for National Holiday (which is Oct 1 every year, but we took off the entire week beforehand). Specially picked for today because today I flew all the way out to South Carolina to visit Leanna, the girl in the middle in purple, for Spring Break. We're having a mini-Dalian reunion!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Photo of the Day: The Church of KFC

At Youhao Square, a Dalian staple. Second floor balcony is actually a nice place to sit and watch the cars driving in the square's roundabout, and the shopping area of Victory Plaza just down the street.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Photo of the Day: 广告

Outside the University of Finance and Economics (Dongcai), where I spent my second semester studying Chinese. (广告 means advertisement)
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