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Guyi Garden Tour

March 19, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Chinese garden, building structure on the edge of a lake

We visited Guyi garden in February two years ago. We went again this month with a Historic Shanghai group, guided by Shelly Bryant who has researched the classic gardens of Shanghai and published a book on them.

Garden entrance with people posing in front of bamboo crane sculptures

The three main symbols in this garden are bamboo, cranes, and plum blossoms.

a pink blooming plum tree

The gardens are full of symbolism in the buildings, the walkways, and the artwork. I see something new every time. The gardens are peaceful and beautiful. They are meant to be used for music, dance, art, and poetry.

To see all the 2017 pictures – click here.
To see the 2015 pictures – click here.

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Friday Market

February 26, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

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Just around the corner from a beautiful little mosque, is the Friday Muslim street market.

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meat on skewers near a coal fired grill

We found great food. Plenty of lamb and beef, as well as breads and pastries.

fried noodles, cake, bread twists

While standing in line for some “lung and sausage” this man noticed DaddyBird standing next in line, reached over and patted DaddyBird on the stomach and then gestured to his own stomach. The comradery of portly men, apparently.

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So, first his wife took pictures of the two men, but that wasn’t enough, so I ended up taking pictures of all three with their camera and my camera.

We ate some lovely meat filled buns, but the “food adventure” of the day was eating lung. It looks like white cheese. It has a soft texture. It is not something that I would want to eat often, but it is not as weird as it sounds.

We went home to drop off our purchases and then headed out again to go to the Joy City mall where there is a large ferris wheel on top of the building.

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Here is a bird’s eye view of the intersection below and the elevated walkway around it.

large city intersection seen from above

There is an old neighborhood next to the mall that is being demolished. This sometimes takes years because the residents refuse to leave and try to negotiate better compensation for the loss of their homes.

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The missing roofs give you a peek inside.

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For additional Friday market pictures – click here
For additional mall pictures – click here

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Chinese New Year!

January 31, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Our experience of Chinese New Year in Shanghai (2015) involved an amazing amount of fireworks. It started about a week or so before the actual date and kept right on going for another week or so after. The actual eve of the New Year the fireworks sounded like a war zone and went on for at least an hour. Fireworks were invented in China, as you may know, and they are  integral to Chinese culture. Fireworks are used to celebrate everything, all year round. It is not like it is in the States where there are very limited types of fireworks that are available to the public and they are only sold for a limited time prior to the 4th of July. The fireworks sold to the Chinese public are big ones that shoot up into the air and make a great deal of noise.

Click here for video from 2015 (Be forewarned, it is loud.)

Unfortunately, during the Gregorian calendar New Year’s celebration 2016, many people were killed and injured in a crowd incident. As a result, fireworks are now banned in most of Shanghai, even for New Year. It has been a very quiet year. Therefore, this year we traveled up to Jaiding which is outside the banned zone to see some fireworks.

There is another tradition, a very long television show. I do not know exactly what time the show starts, but it runs right up to midnight. We watched several hours of it. It involves a variety of performances – singing, dancing, comedians, and skits. Some of the grander performances are done on location in various cities – Harbing, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. It was quite spectacular and interesting even though we do not understand a word.

The next morning we went into the center of old town Jaiding to the Daoist temple and Quixia ancient garden. We arrived in the afternoon. It appeared that we missed the crowds who had been there earlier to make prayers and offerings to start the year off right.

We spent a little time in the garden and checked on the kittens we had seen four months ago on our previous visit.

Not a lot has changed except size.

One of the greatest features of Chinese gardens, in my opinion, are the cave structures. I am very jealous of the kids who grew up in playing in these gardens and caves.

I made Daddybird watch my bag while I walked through. A young family with a little boy came along and debated whether to go through. The boy wanted to do it, but was unsure, so Daddybird encouraged them to go. Carpe diem! The boy came back by and said “thank you.”

We called it a day, took the bus to the metro station and then home.

To see all pictures, click here. To review our previous visit to the garden to compare foliage and cats, click here.

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Somerset Christmas

January 2, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

cathedral sanctuary with vaulted ceiling and scissor shaped arch

Wells Cathedral

We had a very pleasant Christmas week in Somerset. It wasn’t snowy, but we did get a couple of frozen days with fog and frost. Rupert took us to Bruton and Wells.

coastline and wooden pier

Clevedon Pier

We roamed around Clevedon on Christmas day.

poster for theater performance

Pantomime

Boxing Day involved going to Weston-super-Mare to see the pantomime. The cast was talented, but a pantomime is an acquired taste. I think you have to grow up watching them to find them enjoyable. Per Wikipedia: “Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.” It also involves popular songs with rewritten lyrics and a baking skit involving pie in the face.

TIntern Abbey medieval stone ruin

Tintern Abbey

We went up through the Wye River valley stopping to see the Tintern Abbey. It was a very cold day and everything was beautifully frosted.

medieval cathedral on a foggy day

Hereford Cathedral

We stayed overnight in Hereford meeting with more friends. The next day we were off to Ledbury and caught a train to Oxford. One night in Oxford was too short, but we tried to make the most of it.

medieval church

St Michael at the North Gate, 11th century

Photos:

Somerset – part one – 109 photos

Somerset – part two – 76 photos

Somerset – part three – 14 photos

Tintern – Hereford – Ledbury -Oxford – 328 photos

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The Culture of Windows

December 25, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (USA), Central Oregon to be specific. This is a region where curtains are not only used to keep out too much sun, but also used to keep people from seeing into your home. While living in the Oregon High Desert where summer temperatures can reach and exceed 100F, at 10 am my mother would go around the house closing all the windows and drawing all the curtains to keep the house from heating up. Once the sun went down, the windows would be reopened to let in the cool night air. The curtains would remain closed, however, to allow us to sit in the comfort of our living room without being on view to anyone passing by.

At one point, I spent 15 months living in the faraway land called Ohio. Window culture differed there. As a single woman I continued pulling the curtains in the evening against any prying eyes. When I left on vacation, I put lights on timers to simulate someone being home as a deterrent to burglars, but the curtains would also be drawn to maintain the same evening pattern as when I was home and to keep it from being obvious that there was no one in the home. My landlady complained about this because it did not fit with her window culture and she thought it made the house look like it was vacant. She thought I should leave the curtains open.

There was another Ohio window culture that I found strange. They put candles in their windows, electric, of course. Sometimes there were candles in every window of the house. No one did this where I came from, except maybe as Christmas decorations. Seeing the candles in the Ohio windows made me think of the old custom of putting a light in the window for family members who left home, e.g. off to war. This made Ohio seem like the most depressing place on Earth.

Now, I’m in rural England and am informed that the curtains should be opened before sitting down to breakfast. If curtains remain closed during the day, it implies that someone has died.

view out of a window, several flowering plants on the windowsill

No one has died today.

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Wandering East London

December 24, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

four story brick building

Spitalfields Market

If you have followed our travels previously, you should know that we tend to wander around neighborhoods just to see what we can see, instead of following a typical tourist itinerary filled with museums and touristic sights. We stayed in Whitechapel, but did not bother with the Jack the Ripper tour.

This trip was heavily influenced by the fact that Daddybird has been following the Spitalfields Life blog, so many of the buildings and places we sought out are historical places mentioned in that blog.

neoclassical church colonnade and spire

St Leonard’s Anglican Church, Shoreditch 1740

We wandered into the Shoreditch neighborhood and happened upon St. Leonard’s Church which had a sign announcing a carol service that evening at 6 pm, so we made a point of coming back in time for a bit of Christmas music.

red stone building with arched windows

The Jamaica Wine House – used to be the first coffee house in England ca 1652

Daddybird’s itinerary included buildings like the one above which was the first coffee shop back when coffee was the new, exotic drink.

root beer float

What have we been eating? (surely you wonder about this) Our breakfasts have been English, but all other meals have ranged from Turkish to Pakistani to American. I generally don’t drink soda/pop/cola (whatever you call it), so having a root beer float was a pretty fantastic blast from the past.

fried chicken and waffles

I had not had fried chicken and waffles before, but now I understand. I understand.

See Day 1 pictures here. (129 photos)

See Day 2 pictures here. (89 photos, 3 videos)

See Day 3-5 pictures here. (131 photos)

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Shanghai Sacred Places

December 16, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

December is time for the Historic Shanghai Sacred Places tour. We enjoyed seeing a variety of religious buildings – some still in use, some turned into museums, and some repurposed to something completely different. To see all the pictures, click here.