Archive - Jan 2007

January 17th


I caught this traffic maneuver without even trying. Cars can make right turns on red in China without yielding. These two cars are roaring around the corner.

Meanwhile, the moped, which isn't considered a vehicle and is thus apparently exempt from the red light, wants to go through the intersection.

I can't describe to you how fast this happened: The moped cut between the two turning cars and went across the intersection, through a red light.

Looking back on China

Since I have returned from China, people have been asking the usual questions:

Did I like China?

Well, that's a difficult question. I enjoyed the trip. I learned a lot and saw many sights. We were inundated by wonderful food. We met wonderful people. But I couldn't live there! Not at this stage in my life, anyway.


A gigantic picture of Mao hangs above Tiananmen Gate, right below the balcony where the Chinese leader proclaimed the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The gate above is one of many landmarks centered on the meridian line, a symbolic line of power which runs through the Forbidden City, right where the Emperor's thrones are, as well as through Tiananmen Square, right through Mao's casket, and then through the Meridian Gate, which is the center of China's road numbering system.

January 16th

Tea ceremony

The time came in Shanghai for the newcomers to go on their own without guides. Lance and I wanted to visit the Shanghai Museum. Our hosts had been there several times before, so they dropped us off and we were to find our way back to their apartment after we were finished. No problem, I thought.

As we exited the museum, two cute young women came up to us. "Do you know English?" they asked. Well, we did. And they were eager to practice. They were university students from some far away town, in Shanghai for the New Year, and they wanted to visit some real speakers of English.

January 15th

I. M. Pei

The last building designed by legendary architect I. M. Pei was the museum in Suzhou, China. It is a masterpiece. Pei, who had roots in Suzhou, referred to the classical gardens of Suzhou when he designed this modern building.

Pei was even more direct in creating mountains in a courtyard than were the designers of the old gardens.

January 14th

Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum holds many ancient Chinese art treasures, including the above ink drawing, which is about 600 years old.

I was struck by this statue. The blushed cheeks are made blush by using a different color clay.

This wooden head is about 1,100 years old. It is four times life size.

Lingering in the Gardens

This scene in the Master-of-Nets garden is replicated at the Metroplitan Museum of Art in New York City.

More framed scenes from the Lingering Garden.

January 12th

Master-of-Nets Garden

The smallest of the famous classical gardens of Suzhou is the Master-of-Nets garden, so named because the politics-weary scholar administrator who completed it was once quoted as saying that he'd prefer to be a fisherman.

January 11th

Weeping Willow

Weeping willow line the expressway going back into Beijing from the Great Wall. The extend of tree plantings in China is staggering. I had Michael, our friend, guide and interpreter, tell the driver of our car that if people planted that many trees in Minnesota, I'd be rich.

Suzhou's Lingering Garden

Although the city of Suzhou is a center of high tech, the old town, which has been preserved, is famous for its many gardens.

The Chinese classical gardens were created by scholar/administrators as a way of escaping the city. They were meant to emulate the countryside. The rectalinear lines of the city were to be broken up by the unusual rocks of the Suzhou region, which were placed to represent mountains.