Archive - Jan 2007

January 23rd

Lotus and clouds

Several of you have commented that the post below is symbolic of a lotus flower, symbolic of enlightenment in Buddhism. Here is another post, which I believe to be clouds.

January 22nd

Buddhist temple

Our main activity during our short, damp visit to Hangzhou was to a Buddhist temple which is over 1,000 years old.

The temple is surrounded by elegant gardens, including a stream. On the opposite side of the stream are cliffs. In the cliffs are carved staircases and Buddhas by the dozen.

This Buddha is probably well over 1,000 years old.

January 21st

Chinese traffic, cont.

Here is a bunch of traffic at a red light in Shanghai. It took me a while to notice that there are no cars in the picture. Just mopeds, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles--and a man pulling a dolly.

January 20th

Flying pigeon

Where to all the bikes in China come from? They seemed to me to be as sturdy, standardized, bland and ubiquitous as the Model T must have been here in 1920.

The bicycles are called Flying Pigeons. The prototype was developed by a model worker in a factory shortly after the Communist takeover in 1949. He named the bike "The Flying Dove," in honor of the desire people had for peace during the Korean War, as well as after the other wars which had plagued China for the previous decades.

Mr. Yu

While in Hangzhou, I got up early one morning to go for a walk along the legendary West Lake. I didn't get very far before this old man flagged me down and asked if I spoke English.

I had been used to brushing off people who asked if I knew English because chances were high that they simply wanted to lure me into a tea ceremony or something of the sort. We were told this, and we learned it first-hand.

January 19th

Chinese media

Read this article for a fascinating glimpse of the Chinese media. Buried in the lower paragraphs is the shocking statement that an average of 13 people per day die in illegal Chinese coal mines. (Another startling statistic I heard last week: 150,000 Chinese women commit suicide each year. That amounts to one every four minutes.)

Tight margins

Everybody is moving in this picture. The bicyclist leans over to let a speeding car by. Nobody's flinching. Welcome to China.

Looking through my photos, I came across this one of the Master-of-Nets garden that I missed the first time through. This probably gives a feel for the courtyard better than the other photos.

Shanghai, cont.

In the French Concession, an area of Shanghai that was controlled by the French government, a park is the site for a card game. There was gambling going on, and that is illegal, so I got a lot of stares when I pulled out my little camera. I think it made the men uncomfortable.

January 18th

Shanghai supermarket

I made a special trip to the Carrefour supermarket, a French-owned chain, to get pictures of the produce department. I snapped only a few shots before security kicked me out. Taking pictures is "against the rules."

Women in China

One sobering reality in modern China: Women are still regarded as chattel. Although Mao declared women equal, and they have made strides, the overwhelming force of Chinese traditional culture still keeps women in a subservient position.

It starts at birth. The saying, "It is better to have a boy than a girl," still holds sway. There are practical considerations. A girl, when she marries, becomes the property of the groom's family. She will take care of the groom's parents in their old age, not her own parents.