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Archive for China

Zhengzhou’s Erqi Square (二七广场)

Erqi Square 二七广场 zhengzhou china henan central clock towers

I discovered Erqi Square in Zhengzhou (郑州) a little too late during my two weeks in the city. My hotel was not near this central portion of Zhengzhou. Taxi cabs were cheap, but it could take forever to get from one place to another. If I ever make it to Zhengzhou again, I would like to see the Erqi Memorial Clock Tower, pictured just to the left of center in today’s photo, at night, all lit up.

If you click on this photo for a better view, you can see the somewhat organized chaos that is China traffic. The hordes of pedestrians, bikes, and scooters generally try not to mix too much with the cars and buses, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Until recently the cars and buses weren’t nearly so numerous. With no subway system, broken sidewalks, streets filled with potholes, and polluted air, getting from one place to another–regardless of your form of transportation–was not pleasant.

Chinese food in China

It has been a while since I’ve shared any photos from my time in China last year. Today’s photo is of lunch before entering the Shaolin Temple. The rice wasn’t so great (as was always the case in China), but this dish in the lower right of the photo was fantastic. Anyone know the name of it? I’d like to try it again.

More Chinese Food

sweat sweet and sour pork squid 咕嚕肉

My last post on authentic Chinese food was so popular that I’ll show you some more photos of real Chinese food–not the stuff you will find in Chinese restaurants in the USA or Japan.

I went out for dinner one night with a bunch of my students. They did the ordering and nothing looked remotely familiar. They asked what Chinese food I tried before coming to China, and I rattled off about a dozen dish names. They hadn’t heard of any of them. In my wallet I had written a few things in Chinese that I had tried and liked, as well as some I had copied off the internet.

For instance, Sweet & Sour Pork is 咕嚕肉. I showed them the food names from my wallet, but the only one the restaurant could do was Sweat & Sour Pork, which you can see a small part of in the far left and front of the above photo. The Sweet & Sour Pork was different though. No vegetables or pineapple were included, just pork and sauce. At this restaurant it was better than the 咕嚕肉 I ordered at my hotel, which was more like Sweet & Sour Fat.

squid octopus tenticles

I’m not a huge fan of tentacles, although I have recently come to love Chanpon (ちゃんぽん) which has its fair share.

Kung Fu Fighting

kung fu moves action photography

On my visit to Shaolin Temple in China last month, I had the chance to watch a Kung Fu performance since the Shaolin Temple is known as the birthplace of the martial art. The performance was really cool at times.

However, much of it was really cheesy and touristy, which cheapened the whole experience. For instance, the show would be stopped at times to try to get people in the crowd to buy things or pay for pictures with a Shaolin Monk.

balance on finger shaolin monastery zhengzhou china

This guy did a handstand on four fingers. I guess that would be called a fingerstand.

chinese buddhist monks strike a pose


zhengzhou china

The first time I lived in Japan (more than 22 years ago now) I was out in the country. Occasionally my foreignness would draw stares. Usually the Japanese people would just glance at me a bit more than they would each other. This time, though, living in the center of Tokyo near a university with hundreds of foreign students, I rarely even get a glance.

Not so in China. In China I received prolonged stares no matter where I was, including the university. People would stop in the their tracks, or stop what they were doing, to soak up my foreignness in China. It was actually somewhat tiring. I felt relieved when I entered my hotel room and closed the door.

Given that I didn’t encounter another foreigner, other than two I was introduced to, the entire two weeks, I’m guessing that many of the Chinese people who stopped and stared at me had never seen one in the flesh before. This situation didn’t make for easy “fly on the wall” picture taking. Nearly every time I tried to take a picture of a public scene, even from a great distance with my camera fully zoomed, my subjects would cease their activities to look at me instead.

Today’s blog entry features three photos, which I didn’t realize until I downloaded them later to my computer, in which someone in the photo spotted me.

zhengzhou henan province

I was trying to photograph these guys playing cards, and the large audience they were attracting, in the park. Not only did someone behind them notice me, but they posed for the photo as well.

I’m not sure what this military group was up to. I don’t think they spotted me, but the ladies behind them did.

White Horse Temple 白馬寺

White Horse Temple 白馬寺

For my last free day in Zhengzhou, I booked a tour (with the help of a student who could speak some English) to visit Luoyang, including the White Horse Temple and the Longmen Caves (also referred to as the Longmen Grottoes).

I was picked up at my hotel at 7 a.m. Two hours, lots of traffic, and about eight hotel pickups later we were on our way. Or so I thought…

The tour guides didn’t say a word to me all day as they couldn’t speak English. The tour guide kept mentioning Shaolin Temple as she spoke in Chinese to the rest of the group. That was the only word I could catch. I assumed she was trying to sell them a tour of Shaolin Temple on another day. When we made the turnoff for Shaolin Temple I resigned myself to the fact that I was put with the wrong tour group, and I was going to get another tour of Shaolin Temple. Ugh. As everyone got out of the van for Shaolin Temple the guide held up the stop sign hand to me. It turns out the tour splits at Shaolin Temple, and I was going to the correct place after all. Yeah!

white horse temple henan china

The White Horse Temple is China’s oldest Buddhist temple dating back nearly 2,000 years. I’m not sure how old the various parts of the temple actually are now as most has probably been reconstructed. Some things looked extremely old, but they could have been built last week for all I know.

luoyang buddhism china

I would have liked to have spent an hour or two at the White Horse Temple, taking pictures and soaking in the feel of the place. Unfortunately, I was stuck with my tour group (despite the fact I couldn’t understand a word being said), and was therefore only afforded a quick walk through the place. One member of the group was from Singapore. He could say things to me in English but couldn’t really understand my responses. He told me that the guide was taking us across the way to see flowers and we would have to pay to enter. This turned into the theme for the rest of the day. The guide would take us places to get us to pay more, and she would get a kickback. Meanwhile, I spent no more than two hours total at the two places I wanted to see on what turned out to be a 12-hour tour. If I had it to do over again I would have taken a bus. Had I done so I could have spent twice as long at the White Horse Temple and Longmen Grottoes in half the time. I also would have probably gotten lost and still be stuck in some “Grapes of Wrath” corner of China.

ancient brick stone building china

The tourist from Singapore said the guide said the above wall was ancient. 2,000 years old? Maybe parts of it.

oldest buddhist temple in china

I’ll have more photos from Luoyang, China here soon…