Sunday, June 8, 2008

China Mandalas 2008

China 2008
By ShaRi

If you click on the Dalas and other artistically generated images, you will get a somewhat larger version :)

My adventure began with being wheeled thru the airports in a wheelchair in order to conserve energy for the real marathon in China. I tipped them all, but the very courteous and polite young lady in Tokyo refused to take the tip that I offered. The flight to Phoenix was very bumpy, but the international flight was pretty smooth. I managed to put myself in a semi-meditative state for this long 8 hour flight frOM LAX 2 Narita. It was another 4 hours frOM Tokyo to Beijing, but the layover in Tokyo sure helped!

Fri. May 23 Arrive Beijing and transfer to the Sunshine Holiday Plaza for 3 nights.

On a clear day, you can hardly see at all.
View frOM our hotel room.
Air pollution levels on an average day in Beijing are nearly five times above World Health Organization standards for safety. China's extremely inefficient use of coal - the country's main source of energy - results in much of the pollution. Despite promises to stage a green 2008 Summer Olympics, Bejing has had persistent air pollution - thus city officials are planning to reduce its motor traffic by half during the Games to improve air quality. In February 2008, the Chinese government announced that it would close 144 gas stations in Beijing, which amounts to about 10% of such stations in the city, to improve air quality in preparation for the Olympics.
Since 2001, when Beijing won the right to hold the Olympics, nearly $17 billion has been spent to clean the air, but the city remains under smoggy conditions on many days and athletes frequently complain about the air quality.
Beijing (Chinese: 北京; pinyin: Běijīng; Wade-Giles: Peiching or Pei3-ching1; IPA: [pèitɕíŋ]; Chinese Postal Map Romanization: Peking; pronunciation (help·info), a metropolis in northern China, is the capital of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Beijing is also one of the four municipalities of the PRC, which are equivalent to provinces in China's administrative structure and is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Beijing Municipality borders Hebei Province to the north, west, south, and for a small section in the east, and Tianjin Municipality to the southeast.
Beijing is China's second largest city, after Shanghai. It is a major transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and motorways passing through the city. It is also the focal point of many international flights to China. Beijing is recognised as the political, educational, and cultural center of the People's Republic of China, while Shanghai and Hong Kong predominate in economic fields. The city will host the 2008 Summer Olympics. frOM

Sat. May 24 Morning visit Temple of Heaven. Afternoon visit Tian An Men Square and Forbidden City.

The fabric of the Universe! The fabric from the back of a perhaps decades old desk chair in our hotel room in Beijing with the 'fabric' of a 400 year old juniper tree in the park on our our way to the Temple of Heaven.

The front of same chair with a tree from the garden at Suzhou in 2002.

While strolling through the park one day
In the merry merry month of May
I was taken by surprise
By a pair of roguish eyes
In a moment my poor heart was stole away

A smile was all she gave to me

Of course we were as happy as can be

Ah! I immediately raised my hat
And finally she remarked
I never shall forget
That lovely afternoon
I met her at the fountain in the park

While strolling through the park one day
In the merry merry month of May
I was taken by surprise
By a pair of roguish eyes
In a moment my poor heart was stole away

A smile was all she gave to me
Of course we are as happy as can be
Ah! I immediately raised my hat
And finally she remarked
I never shall forget
That lovely afternoon
I met her at the fountain in the park


Orr in this case, the shade of a 300 year old tree!

Not exactly 'La Grande Jatte' eh?


Thought I heard someone say that the rose was the national flower of China, which surprised me, as I do not associate the rose with China. I asked Chairman MaoMao, and he said it was the rose and the peony.
Have you ever stopped to think about where and how today’s seemingly endless variety of roses originated? Although the full explanation would touch upon every continent of the entire northern hemisphere, the vast majority of modern roses owe more of their genetic heritage to Chinese species than to all others combined.
Even in early times, we find evidence of Chinese influence in the genetic background of roses: recent genetic research has revealed that Rosa fedtschenkoana, an extremely hardy, repeat-blooming species hailing from extreme western China and adjacent lands, along with Rosa gallica and Rosa moschata, is one of three species to have contributed its genes to the making of the famous damask rose. It is this venerably ancient hybrid whose potent fragrance is literally synonymous with the word “rose” to billions of people today. We can only wonder at the circumstances that brought together these widely separated wild roses, but it may be no coincidence that the Silk Road threaded its way through and connected their homelands. BTW, the next trip will be a Silk Road tour in 3 years for Sifu's 60th BirthDay!
As exotic and wondrous as the damask was, for most Europeans, the average rose still bloomed but once a year. It would be an understatement to say that it was something of a revolution, then, when in the late 1700s the first “China” (or “Bengale”, as it was originally known) rose known botanically as Rosa chinensis is said to have arrived in Europe by ship. Instead of blooming just once a year or a scant several times per season in a select few varieties, the West suddenly opened its eyes to a rose that could flower non-stop throughout the growing season. It had other novel attributes, too: the petals spiral open from an elegantly pointed bud instead of expanding uniformly like a peony, and the colors tended to intensify with age rather than fading. The race was on to combine this new seemingly miraculous repeat blooming rose, whose scent was mild, though fruity and pleasant, with the best of Europe’s once blooming roses.
The appearance of the China rose in the West was soon followed by that of the larger and generally more fragrant Rosa odorata, the “tea-scented China” – or “tea” rose, for short – which either smelled of tea due to its blossoms’ unique aromatic compounds, or because the plants were unloaded from a ship bearing a precious cargo of tea and had picked up the scent by accident. Many thousands of crosses between the roses of the East and the West produced a continuous parade of new varieties; although breeders’ efforts were frustrated at first when the desired combination of traits proved elusive, they were relentless and ultimately prevailed over a period of decades. Many new classes of roses were created in pursuit of breeders’ goals before the mid-1800s advent of the “hybrid tea”, the class that famously combined the elegant bud and flower shape of the ancient Chinese tea rose with sturdy, long stems suitable for cutting and, in some varieties, a deliciously strong damask scent laced with notes of fruit and spice. The rise to popularity of the new hybrid tea was immense, and it would leave an indelible mark on all future rose breeding that continues to the present day.
Once grown almost to the exclusion of other classes, hybrid tea roses today have waned somewhat in popularity as garden subjects because of a reputation for disease susceptibility, lack of winter hardiness in northern regions, and a tendency to display a severe, vertical growth habit that appears awkward in the landscape. Yet just as the damask is the very essence of rose fragrance to most noses, the hybrid tea is precisely what most of us picture when we imagine what a rose should look like, and this very special flower shape would not grace our bouquets without the great ever-blooming roses of China.
China’s contributions do not end with China and tea roses, however. This expansive nation also happens to be the center of diversity for the genus Rosa, containing more species than any other country on earth. Not surprisingly, other lesser-known species have been used by breeders in recent times to help enrich the gene pool of modern roses. Rosa bracteata, the Macartney rose, with its exceptionally leathery and dark, glossy foliage, has been used to create hybrids with particularly beautiful, disease-resistant leaves, heat tolerance and may offer hope for resistance to a new disease known as “rose rosette”. Rosa soulieana, a highly fragrant white rambler, was used to help develop some of the newest purple shrub hybrids like MIDNIGHT BLUE™. Rosa davidii, a somewhat obscure species from western China, is in the background of the popular landscape rose HOME RUN® and lends its strong resistance to mildew as well as black spot. Look soon for an exciting new group of roses called “hulthemia hybrids” which have a conspicuous dark blotch at the base of each petal, a trait they derived from the very unique species Rosa persica, also known as Hulthemia persica, which also grows wild in western China. Thanks to today’s creative breeders and intrepid plant collectors, you can look forward to seeing many more unique contributions from China’s roses right in your own back (or front!) yard.
Sew i guess instead of My Wild Irish Rose, it should be My Wild Chinese Rose! These roses were amoungst the many buckets of roses that surrounded the parameters of the Temple of Heaven.

As the gang climbed the StairWay 2 Heaven, I sat in the shade and relaxed.
According to Xinhua, in early 2005, the Temple of Heaven underwent a 47 million yuan (5.9 million USD) face-lift in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the restoration was completed on May 1st, 2006.
The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven (traditional Chinese: 天壇; simplified Chinese: 天坛; pinyin: Tiāntán; Manchu: Abkai mukdehun) is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern urban Beijing, in Xuanwu District. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.
The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The complex was extended and renamed Temple of Heaven during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor in the 16th century. The Jiajing Emperor also built three other prominent temples in Beijing, the Temple of Sun in the east (日坛), the Temple of Earth in the north (地坛), and the Temple of Moon in the west (月坛). The Temple of Heaven was renovated in the 18th century under the Qianlong Emperor.
The Temple grounds covers 2.73 km² of parkland, and comprises three main groups of constructions, all built according to strict philosophical requirements:
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿) is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 32 metres in diameter and 38 metres tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails. It had to be rebuilt after it burned down in 1889.
The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. The Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360 meter long raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer.
The Circular Mound Altar (圜丘坛) is the altar proper, located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather. It was built in 1530 by the Jiajing Emperor and rebuilt in 1740.
In ancient China, the Emperor of China was regarded as the Son of Heaven, who administered earthly matters on behalf of, and representing, heavenly authority. To be seen to be showing respect to the source of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The temple was built for these ceremonies, mostly comprising prayers for good harvests.
Twice a year the Emperor and all his retinue would move from the Forbidden city through Beijing to encamp within the complex, wearing special robes and abstaining from eating meat. No ordinary Chinese was allowed to view this procession or the following ceremony. In the temple complex the Emperor would personally pray to Heaven for good harvests. The highpoint of the ceremony at the winter solstice was performed by the Emperor on the Earthly Mount. The ceremony had to be perfectly completed; it was widely held that the smallest of mistakes would constitute a bad omen for the whole nation in the coming year.
Earth was represented by a square and Heaven by a circle; several features of the temple complex symbolize the connection of Heaven and Earth, of circle and square. The whole temple complex is surrounded by two cordons of walls; the outer wall has a taller, semi-circular northern end, representing Heaven, and a shorter, rectangular southern end, representing the Earth. Both the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Circular Mound Altar are round, each standing on a square yard, again representing Heaven and Earth.
The number nine represents the Emperor and is evident in the design of the Circular Mound Altar: a single round marmor plate is surrounded by a ring of nine plates, then a ring of 18 plates, and so on for a total of nine surrounding rings, the outermost having 9×9 plates.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars, representing the four seasons, twelve months and twelve traditional Chinese hours respectively.
All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles, representing the Heaven.
The Seven-Star Stone Group, east of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, represents the seven peaks of Taishan Mountain, a place of Heaven worship in classical China.
As we took one last look at the To'H, I was taken arm in arm by 2 Chinese ladies, that appeared to be with their own tour group, while a RAther tall Chinese gentleman took our picture. Not a word was spoken in either language, just the universal language of the theatrical gesture!

After lunch, the gang headed off to the Forbidden City and Tian An Men Square, but it was way too hot and strenuous for me, so i hung with our bus driver. He drove me to somewhere in Beijing, placed me on a traditional little Chinese folding stool and left saying he'd be back in 30 minutes. We communicated in the universal theatrical sign language, as he didn't speak English and i don't speak Chinese! I sure must have been a sight on that street corner, as folks sure turned to stare as they walked and drove by. A little old lady walked by me fusssing and laughing at me in Chinese, and she repeated her rant as i was still there on her return trip! I suspect that the bus driver went home, as he had a different shirt on when he came back. He then drove me to a shady spot close to where we were to meet the gang. There was a garden wall high enough for me to sit on. When I started to sit down, he fussed at me because he hadn't got the newspaper down for me to sit on so I wouldn't get my pants dirty. He remained attentive to me for the rest of our time in Beijing, making sure that I got off the bus safely and making sure that folks waited for me as i was always the last one to get off the bus.
I must add that on both trips, the bus drivers were superb! They managed to get those big buses thru crowded and narrow roads without incident.

As we waited, i saw a young man on a very small bicycle with a very small falcon tethered to his arm. He pedaled by looking up at the wall behind us. Every now and then he let the falcon fly, but kept him tethered. I wondered if he was hunting nuisance birds.
I also noticed that this time folks, usually older women, would come up to you with a crushed plastic bottle in their hands, wanting your empty or nearly empty one. This is new since the last trip. I wondered if the government was giving them money for them.

Hold the jade up to the sun and if it glows and shows its impurities, then it is honest jade.

Jade is regarded by the Chinese as a stone descended from heaven. They value its hard, cool texture and translucent colors. It is extremely difficult to carve but China's craftsmen create incredibly intricate ornaments and jewelry from jade.
For thousands of years, the Chinese people have given jade objects as gifts or used them to decorate one's home or person. In the past, jade was a symbol of status and rank in Chinese society and nobles would carry jade jewelry and official stamps made of jade on their person at all times. In modern times, Jade is often a symbol of wealth and is still considered to be lucky. It is said that if a lady wears a jade bracelet, then any bad luck will be stopped, causing the bracelet to break. (: Hmmmmmm, i wonder if that works for a jade thumb ring!:)
The art of jade cutting is very demanding and requires approximately seven years of apprenticeship to completely master. Jade cutters are very careful about wasting the precious material and will often design a piece based on the shape of the original rough stone.
Bian Heh's Jade
In the Spring and Autumn Period, Bian Heh in the Chu state got a rough jade on Mount Chu. He decided to present the valuable jade to the emperor to show his official loyalty to his sovereign, Chuli. Unluckily, the jade was judged as a common stone by the court jadders, which made Emperor Chuli very angry, and had Bian Heh's left foot cut down cruelly.
After the enthronement of the new emperor Chuwu, Bian Heh decided to submit the jade to Chuwu to clarify matters. Emperor Chuwu also had it checked by the jadders in the court. And the conclusion resulted in the same fact that Bian Heh lost the other foot.
After the death of Emperor Chuwu, the prince Chuwen was enthroned, that gave the poor Bian Heh a gleam of light of proving his clear conscience. However, the moment he thought of what he had incurred, he couldn't help crying beside a hill. He could not stop crying for several days and nights; he almost wept his heart out and even blood was dropping from his eyes. And it happened to be heard by the emperor in the court. He ordered his men to find out why he was so sad. Bian Heh sobbed out "Call a spade a spade. Why was a real jade mistaken as a plain stone again and again? Why was a loyal man thought faithless time and time?" Emperor Chuwen was touched by Bian Heh's deep grief and ordered the jadders to open the jade to have a close look. To their astonishment, in the rough coat, the pure content was sparkling and translucent. Then it was carefully cut and polished fine and at last the jade became a rare treasure of the state of Chu. In memory of the faithful man Bian Heh, the emperor named the jade by Bian Heh. And so the term "Bian's Jade" came into being.
People usually describe something extremely precious in its value with Bian's Jade.

Sun. May 25 Day excursion to the Great Wall at Badaling Section and drive by the Olympic Competition Venues to see the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) and the National Aquatics Center (Ice Cube) on the bus. Evening Peking Duck dinner.

Badaling (simplified Chinese: 八达岭; traditional Chinese: 八達嶺; pinyin: Bādálǐng) is the site of the most visited section of the Great Wall of China, approximately 50 miles northwest of Beijing city within the Beijing municipality. The portion of the wall running through the site was built during the Ming Dynasty, along with a military outpost reflecting the location's strategic importance.
The portion of the wall at Badaling has undergone heavy restoration, and in 1957 it was the first section of the wall to open to tourists. Now visited annually by millions, the immediate area has seen significant development, including hotels, restaurants, and a cable car. The recently completed Badaling Expressway connects Badaling with Beijing city.
It was here that President Richard Nixon and his wife, accompanied by Vice Premier
Lǐ Xiānniàn, visited on February 24, 1972, during his historic journey to China.

The Great Wall is a symbol of Chinese civilization, and one of the wonders that the Chinese people have created. Badaling Great Wall, the most representative part, was promoted as a key national cultural relic, protected under the approval of the State Council in 1961. In 1988, it was enlisted in the World Cultural Heritage Directory by UNESCO. July 7, 2007 has once again witnessed the worldwide reputation that the Great Wall gained: it was listed among the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Badaling Great Wall is situated in Yanqing County, over 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of Beijing. It is the most well-preserved section of the Great Wall, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). This section with an average altitude of over 1,000 meters (3,282 feet) is the outpost of the Juyongguan Pass. The mountain slope is very steep and the roads are tortuous. These features made it a military stronghold. Badaling Great Wall is like a strong dragon winding its way along the mountain ranges.

The Great wall originally functioned as a fortification. As early as the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC), Qinshihuang, the first emperor of Qin Dynasty unified the whole nation and began to build the Great Wall to protect China's borders from the intrusion of the northern nomadic tribes. Most parts of the preserved Badaling Great Wall were built and reinforced during the Ming Dynasty to defend the capital against the intrusion of these Mongolian people. The structure of the wall consists of huge bar-stones and bricks. The inside of the wall has been formed by tampering earth and small stones, which makes the wall very firm and strong. Internally, the wall is about six meters (20 feet) wide, which would allow horses to gallop five abreast. A number of small holes have been drilled on the wall to allow archers to shoot arrows. There is a barrel-drain and a moat both inside and outside the wall. In a word, military fortification has been paramount in the consideration of every wall detail.

The signal fire platforms were an important part of the whole fortification of ancient China. A signal fire platform is actually a blockhouse that was built on the top of the wall. It was used to send warning signals. Since the Ming Dynasty, the amount of smoke and gunfire released conveyed specific military information about the enemy. One release of smoke with one shot of gunfire signified 100 enemies; two smoke releases with two shots of gunfire meant 500 enemies; three smoke releases with three shots of gunfire indicated more than 1,000 enemies. Once one signal platform fired a beacon, the others would follow likewise so as to alert the command as to the strength of the enemy.

As a landmark erected at the top of a group of mountain ranges, Badaling Great Wall has also witnessed many significant historic events. The first emperor of the Qin Dynasty toured there, Yuan Taizu, the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) passed the Badaling Great Wall and took control over the whole of China. Empress Cixi fled from there to the western part of China in 1900 when an alliance of eight western countries invaded Beijing. At present, Badaling Great Wall stands still there recording the hardship and bitterness that Chinese people have endured in the past 2000 years. It is a priceless cultural heritage of humanity.

Badaling Great Wall was the earliest part of the great Wall opened to tourists. It has drawn tens of millions of tourists both from home and abroad. More than 370 foreign leaders and celebrities have visited there.
We were scheduled to go to Badaling in 2002, but the road to this mountainous entrance was closed because of the snow storm. As I rested in the shade of one of the windows, I was spotted by some of the middle school kids who were apparently assigned to find some tourists and give them thier papers on the Great Wall and to take a picture of us, and to practice their English for the upcoming Games. As I lingered for a while, I got a bit of a collection! What a great souvenir! Priceless!

(If you click on the papers images, you will get a version large enough to read.)

After my rest, I decided 2 try and climb up a little higher, but I walked right into the dreaded vendor station! When I turned down the first t-shirt offer, they immediately produced a much larger size without my saying or indicating anything. I bargained them down a bit before buying it. I saw that seveRAl others of us bought the same one, in the same colour even!

(If you click on the t-shirt images, you will get a version large enough to read.)

Of course, when you buy one thing, then they all come at you with but more, more, more... Well, one of them got thru to mee with these 4Seasons postcards frOM the Great Wall.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...Something sure looks familiar!

The mountains in the background in the picture to the left look a bit like the Sandias in the winter don't cha think?

WOW, wouldn't it bee kool to light up the Great Wall with Luminarias?

The symbol of the dragon represents spiraling DNA, the path into greater enlightenment.
The Celestial Chinese Dragon is comparable as the symbol of the Chinese race itself. Chinese around the world, proudly proclaim themselves "Lung Tik Chuan Ren" (Descendents of the Dragon). Dragons are referred to as the divine mythical creature that brings with it ultimate abundance, prosperity and good fortune.
As the emblem of the Emperor and the Imperial command, the legend of the Chinese Dragon permeates the ancient Chinese civilization and shaped their culture until today.

Its benevolence signifies greatness, goodness and blessings.
The Chinese Dragon, or Lung , symbolizes power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. A dragon overcomes obstacles until success is his. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious.
Unlike the negative energies associated with Western Dragons, most Eastern Dragons are beautiful, friendly, and wise. They are the angels of the Orient. Instead of being hated, they are loved and worshipped. Temples and shrines have been built to honor them, for they control the rain, rivers, lakes, and seas. Many Chinese cities have pagodas where people used to burn incense and pray to dragons.

This dRAgon is from the wall on the way into the Summer Palace.

Go to for 'Seeking Her Husband at the Great Wall' a Han Folktale.

This time we went to the Cloisonne factory after the Great Wall. I looked for the artist that I found there the last time, but alas she was not to be found. On the way out, at the last minute, i found this little gem of a lotus pin.
Cloisonne is an art form developed in the 15th century, and now used to decorate vases, bowls, lamps, jewelry and ornaments.
The art of cloisonné (Jingtailan) is a unique combination of sculpture, painting, porcelain making and coppersmithing that is said to have originated in Beijing during the Yuan Dynasty. To make a cloisonné piece, a copper body is first made and then intricate engravings are made with a copper wire. Different colored pigments are next applied to the engravings. Finally, the piece is fired and polished.
The oldest existing piece was made during the Yuan Dynasty, but Jingtailan underwent a major change during the Ming Dynasty when at about 1450 to 1456, a new blue pigment was discovered and gave Jingtailan its current name based on the Chinese word for blue (lan). Ming Dynasty cloisonné is also considered to be the most intricate. Nevertheless, Jingtailan reached its peak during the Qing Dynasty due to great innovations in coppersmithing techniques.
Jingtailan can be found on large objects such as vases and other large utensils and decorative items, as well as small items like earrings, bracelets, chopsticks or jars. Beijing people like to give Jingtailan as gifts for it is something inherently Beijing. frOM

Although I wasn't able to get a shot of the Olympic buildings, i did manage to get this shot of a skyscraper that was designed to resemble the Olympic Torch.

Many opted out of this show. Many said it was fake. I said it was a good KungFu OpeRA.
The Legend of Kung Fu follows the story of a young boy found wandering outside an ancient temple. Like every boy in China, he dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master. On the road to enlightenment the young monk encounters many difficulties and temptations.
The show has English subtitles shown above the stage to keep you informed of the story line. The actors do not speak, the show is all Kung Fu, dance and acrobatics. It is the fusion of modern dance with Chinese traditional arts which make this performance unique and spectacular.
The best Kung Fu practitioners from all over China have been found for this production and it shows on the stage. Their average age is just 17 years old! Additionally the costumes, set design and special effects are up to international standards, created by some of the best stage directors and designers in China.
The Legend of Kung Fu is produced by China's leading performance art production company, China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts.

Of all the things the vendors were trying to get me to buy, none of them were fans. Then on the way in to the show, a lovely young lady was standing there demonstrating this fan. Very effective, and without having to say a word to me! It fit perfectly into my purse and provided me with much comfort during the rest of the trip.

Mon. May 26 Morning visit Summer Palace. Afternoon flight to Kunming. 1 night at the Jinjiang Hotel.

The Summer Palace or Yi he yuan (traditional Chinese: 頤和園; simplified Chinese: 颐和园; pinyin: Yíhé Yuán; literally "Garden of Nurtured Harmony") is a palace in Beijing, China. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water. The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometers was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In its compact 70,000 square meters of building space, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures.

The Summer Palace started out life as the Garden of Clear Ripples (traditional Chinese: 清漪園; simplified Chinese: 清漪园; pinyin: Qīngyī Yuán) in 1750 (Reign Year 15 of Emperor Qianlong). Artisans reproduced the garden architecture styles of various palaces in China. Kunming Lake was created by extending an existing body of water to imitate the West Lake in Hangzhou. The palace complex suffered two major attacks--during the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860 (with the Old Summer Palace also ransacked at the same time), and during the Boxer Rebellion, in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden survived and was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902. In 1888, it was given the current name, Yihe Yuan. It served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, who diverted 30 million taels of silver, said to be originally designated for the Chinese navy (Beiyang Fleet), into the reconstruction and enlargement of the Summer Palace.

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace an "outstanding expression of the creative art of Chinese landscape garden design, incorporating the works of humankind and nature in a harmonious whole." It is a popular tourist destination but also serves as a recreational park. frOM

Guided by nature, artists designed the gardens exquisitely so that visitors would see marvelous views and be amazed by perfect examples of refined craftwork using the finest materials. frOM

The Long Gallery includes Chinese paintings decorating the many sections. The paintings illustrate stories from the classical novels or legends and there are reputed to be 8,000 of them. Almost everybody who has been there would say that the Long Gallery is the most impressive scene. The gallery is 728 meters long and has 273 rooms. In 1992, it proved that it is the longest of its kind in the world, and so it was added to the Genis World Record. It is in the south of Wanshoushan (Longevity Hill) and in the north of Kunming Lake. Walking in the gallery, you can enjoy viewing the beautiful lake as well as the hill. Each beam in the gallery is colorfully painted. They are very enchanting. frOM

As the symbolic structure, the Tower of Buddhist Incense tops the high grand towers of both the Summer Palace and the "three mountains and five gardens" (Longevity Hill, Jade Spring Mountain, and Fragrant Hill; Garden of Clear Ripples, Garden of Everlasting Spring, Garden of Perfection and Brightness, Garden of Tranquility and Brightness, and Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure). Set up on the 21-meter-high (68.9-foot-high) base steps of the front slope of Longevity Hill and towering to a height of 41 meters (134.5 feet), it can be seen from throughout the area. Facing Kunming Lake southward, backing on the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, it was flanked by symmetrical buildings. With eight porticos, three levels and four layered eaves, the front part imitates the Yellow Crane Tower in Hubei Province. It is the elite tower among treasured ancient structures.
A nine-level pagoda at the tower's location was planned which Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) ordered to be dismantled during the construction of the eighth level. After the unfinished pagoda, there stood the Tower of Buddhist Incense instead in 1758. Unfortunately, it was ruined by Anglo-French forces in 1860; then rebuilt during1891-1894, at a cost of 780,000 taels of silver. Inside is a gilded statue of the thousand-handed Kwan-yin. Set off by eight pillars, it glows with sacred beauty. On the first day and fifteenth day of the lunar month, the Empress Dowager Cixi would go there to pray and burn joss sticks. In 1989, the Tower of Buddhist Incense was opened to the public. It is now undergoing reconstruction, the largest such project in modern China, costing 50,000,000 yuan with a planned completion date in 2006.

Another wheelchair incident at the Kunming airport. I kept forgetting to tell them that i needed a BIG wheelchair, so they came with one that was too small. The first one they brought broke down by the side of the road. They brought another one, but it was too small too. Then a girl offered my driver hers which was bigger, but it had no footrests. Sew, i started walking it along with my feet. By this time, both my driver and I were laughing hysterically. When we finally caught up with the gang, I offered him a tip, but he wouldn't take it!
Kunming (Chinese: 昆明; pinyin: Kūnmíng; Wade-Giles: K'un-ming; IPA: [kʊn'mɪŋ]; UN/LOCODE: CNKMG) is a prefecture-level city and capital of Yunnan province, in southwestern China. Because of its year-round temperate climate, Kunming is often called the "Spring City" or "City of Eternal Spring" (春城).
Kunming is the political, economic, communications and cultural center of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government. It is also home to several universities, museums, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. The headquarters of many of Yunnan's large businesses are in Kunming as well. It was important during World War II as a Chinese military center, American air base, and transport terminus for the Burma Road. Located in the middle of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 m above sea level and at a latitude north of the Tropic of Cancer. It covers an area of 21,501 km² and its urban area covers 6,200 km². Kunming has an estimated population of 5,740,000 including 3,055,000 in the urban area and is located at the northern edge of the large Lake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes.
Kunming consists of an old, previously walled city, a modern commercial district, residential and university areas. The city has an astronomical observatory, and its institutions of higher learning include Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University, Yunnan Minorities University and a medical college. On the outskirts is a famed bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty. Kunming was formerly called Yunnanfu (云南府; literally meaning "Yunnan Capital") until the 1920s.
It is the leading transportation hub (air, road, rail) in SW China, with a rail connection to Vietnam and road links to Burma and Laos. Kunming currently has a new international airport under development, which is slated to be the fourth largest international airport in China. Situated in a fertile plain 640 km southwest of Chongqing, Kunming is an important trading center between the far west and central and south China. It is one of China's largest producers of copper. Copper is smelted with nearby hydroelectric power. Coal is mined, and the city has a few iron and steel complexes. Other manufactures include phosphorus, chemicals, machinery, textiles, paper, and cement. Although it was often the seat of kings in ancient times, Kunming's modern prosperity dates only from 1910, when the railroad from Hanoi was built. The city has continued to develop rapidly under China's modernization efforts. Kunming's streets have widened while office buildings and housing projects develop at a fast pace. Kunming has been designated a special tourism center and as such sports a proliferation of high-rises and luxury hotels.
From 2005 to 2010, the city of Kunming plans to nearly double in size, in terms of both population to eight million and area, and it hopes to be one of the trade, transport, financial and cultural centers of Southeast Asia. Kunming's transport links to Southeast Asia and elsewhere, particularly its air links, are steadily expanding, with direct routes already existing to all major Chinese cities, most major Southeast Asian cities and even major cities in Japan and South Korea.
All of China is on the same time. In Beijing, it was getting light at 4am. In Kunming, it was barely light at 6am.

Tu. May 27 Morning visit the Western Hills and the Provincial Minority Museum. Afternoon drive to Dali and visit the old town. 1 night at the Landscape Hotel, which is in the old town section of Dali.

About 500 m west of the center along Dongfeng Xi Lu, the Yunnan Provincial Museum has a collection of clothes and photographs of Yunnan's cultural groups. There are also Dian bronzes, dating back more than two thousand years to the Warring States Period and excavated from tombs on the shores of Dian, south of Kunming. The largest pieces include an ornamental plate of a tiger attacking an ox and a coffin in the shape of a bamboo house, but lids from storage drums used to hold cowries are the most impressive, decorated with dioramas of figurines fighting, sacrificing oxen and men and, rather more peacefully, posing with their families and farmyard animals outside their homes. A replica of the Chinese imperial gold seal given to the Dian king early on in the second century implies that his aristocratic slave society had the tacit approval of the Han emperor. There is a prehistoric section with plaster models and casts of locally found trilobites, armored fishes, and dinosaur and early human remains.
Ethnic populations (as of 2006):
Han (汉族): 4,383,500
Yi (彝族): 400,200
Hui (回族): 149,000
Bai (白族): 73,200
Miao (苗族): 46,100
Lisu (傈僳族): 17,700
Zhuang (壮族): 14,000
Dai (傣族): 13,200
Hani (哈尼族): 11,000
Naxi (纳西族): 8,400
Manchu (满族): 4,800
Buyi (布依族): 3,400
Mongol(蒙古族): 2,500
Lahu (拉祜族): 1,700
Tibetan (藏族): 1,500
Yao (瑶族): 1,100
Jingpo (景颇族): 1,100
Wa (佤族): 1,000
Bulang (布朗族): 441
Pumi (普米族): 421
Shui (水族): 294
Akha (阿昌族): 263
Nu (怒族): 156
Jinuo (基诺族): 135
Dulong (独龙族): 75

While the gang was upstairs, i was rummaging thru the museum gift shop. I kept choosing baby bags(as in papoose)that were way to expensive. Then i found this little jewel. When i unfolded it, I thought i was looking at the infinite night sky! It is my true treasure of this trip. It was 400RMB, and the lady O' the shop said that the YunNAN young people no longer carry on this tRAdition of needlework.(click on the needlework and wOManDala 4 larger versions)

An unexpected and somewhat dubious treasure was had by those of us that bought something frOM this gift shop! Definitely priceless and one has to wonder, What the....(click on the cartoon bag if ya wanna see what i'm talkin' 'bout)

I found the symbol of my mom's and my Chinese astrological sign with horns similar to the headress in the museum! Also reminds me of the crescent horns of Hathor.

Lake Dian (Chinese: 滇池; pinyin: Dīan Chí) or Kunming Lake (Chinese: 昆明湖; pinyin: Kūnmíng Hú) is a large inter-land lake located close to Kunming, Yunnan, China.
It is a freshwater fault lake at 1,886.5 m (6,189 ft) above sea level. The lake covers 298 km² (115 sq mi). It is 39 km (24 mi) long from north to south, and the average depth is 4.4 m (14 ft).
Its nickname is "Sparkling Pearl Embedded in a Highland," and it was the model for the Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace in Beijing.
Pollution is a major problem for the lake. In the city of Kunming, the capital of subtropical Yunnan province, there is no talk of drought, since the city is right next to one of Asia's biggest freshwater lakes. But until the first wastewater plant was built in 1990, 90 percent of Kunming's wastewater was pumped untreated into the lake. The lake water is now undrinkable despite several billion US dollars having been spent trying to clean it up. Some experts predict that over 55% of the lake's fish population has been killed off by this disease ridden type of pollution.The water in the lake is rated Grade V (the worst grade) which makes the water unfit for use in agricultural or industrial uses. frOM

Perhaps that is why the dRAgon cries out.

Located northwest of the Yunnan Province, 300 kilo-meters (186 miles) northwest of Kunming, Dali City is the economic and cultural center of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. The area is surrounded by mountains on the east, west, and south, and has the Erhai Lake in its center. Here you will find 25 ethnic minorities, which have created a unique cultural heritage amidst the area's picturesque surroundings.

Curtains to the bathroom and an inadvertent self-portrait.

The bathroom sink.

frOM the inside.

The Courtyard.

Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake are praised as Dali's leading scenic areas. Most attractions in Dali lie between these two landmarks, such as the Butterfly Spring, and the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple. Ethnic minorities have inhabited Dali for generations, with the Bai Minority making up the majority of Dali's population (65%). The customs of the ethnic minorities bring charm to daily life in Dali. Each spring, celebrations and festivals bring the city to life. Celebrations such as the March Street Festival and Butterfly Fest provide excellent opportunities to learn about local folk customs.

As early as 4,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Bai people settled in the Dali area. In the Second Century AD, it was brought into the territory of the central government of Han Dynasty (206 BC-220AD). Two ethnic states, the Nanzhao State (738-937) in Tang Dynasty (618-907), and the Dali State (937-1253) in Song Dynasty (960-1279), were once established here as well. Throughout the ages, Dali remained an intermediary area linking economic and cultural communications between ancient China and other countries via India. The remains of Dali Tai He City and the Dali Ancient City bear witness to thousands of years of historic changes in Dali. Together with the Xizhou Town and the Zhoucheng Village, the ancient towns in Dali show the best of historic customs of daily life within the Bai Minority.

Where even the trash cans are charming!

Present day Dali is a city that combines history with modern convenience. It is divided into two areas- the Ancient City and the New District (widely known as Xiaguan). The Ancient City is centered around the ancient city of Dali, first built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Ancient buildings, city walls and the old city moat are the sites most frequented by visitors. The famous Foreigner Street in the Ancient City attracts visitors with its handicrafts, and local culinary delicacies. Xiaguan, located to the south of the Ancient City, home to the government of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. Here hotels, public squares, and shopping centers add modernity to the otherwise historical city.

Shades of things to come :)

Wed. May 28 Morning visit the three White Pagodas, the morning market and view the Bai minority architecture at the village town of Xizhou and a local tie-dye factory at the village town of Zhoucheng. Afternoon drive to Lijiang. 2 nights at the old town Sanhe Hotel.

The Three Pagodas are an ensemble of three independent pagodas arranged on the corners of a symmetric triangle, near the town of Dali, Yunnan province, China, dating from the time of the Nanzhao kingdom and Kingdom of Dali. The Three Pagodas are located about 1.5 km (0.9) miles north of scenic Dali, Yunnan province. They are at the east foot of the tenth peak of the massive Cangshan Mountains and face the west shore of the Erhai Lake of the ancient Dali town.

The Three Pagodas are made of brick and covered with white mud. As its name implies, the Three Pagodas comprise three independent pagodas forming a symmetric triangle. The elegant, balanced and stately style is unique in China’s ancient Buddhist architectures, which makes it a must-see in the tour of Dali. The Three Pagodas, visible from miles away, has been a landmark of Dali City and selected as a national treasure meriting preservation in China.

The main pagoda, known as Qianxun Pagoda (pinyin Qian Xun Ta), reportedly built during 824-840 AD by king Quan Fengyou (劝丰佑) of the Nanzhao state, is 69.6 meters (227 feet) high and is one of the tallest pagodas in China’s history.[1] The central pagoda is square shaped and composed of sixteen stories; each story has multiple tiers of upturned eaves. There is a carved shrine containing a white marble sitting Buddha statue at the center of each façade of every story. The body of the pagoda is hollow from the first to the eighth story, surrounded with 3.3 meters (10 feet) thick walls. In 1978, more than 700 Buddhist antiques, including sculptures made of gold, silver, wood or crystal and documents, were found in the body during a major repairing work. The designers of the pagoda are supposed to have come from Xi’an, the capital of Tang Dynasty at that time and the location of another pagoda, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, which shares the similar style but is two hundred years older.

The other two sibling pagodas, built about one hundred years later, stand to the northwest and southwest of Qianxun Pagoda. They are 42.19 meters (140 feet) high. Different from Qianxun Pagoda, they are solid and octagonal with ten stories. The center of each side of every story is decorated with a shrine containing a Buddha statue. There is a lake behind them. Named (聚影池) Juying Chi (Reflection pond), the pond is known to be able to reflect images of the Three Pagodas.

The Three Pagodas was initially built for the auspicious reasons. According to the local legends, Dali was used be a swamp breeding dragons before the human moved in. As the dragons, which were believed deliberately creating natural disasters to dispel human intruders, revered pagodas, the Three Pagodas were built to deter the dragons.
The Three Pagodas are well known for their resilience; they have endured several man-made and natural catastrophes over more than a thousand years. Their mother building was known as Chongsheng Monastery (pinyin Chong Sheng Si, also known as SanTa Si, Tianlong Si) and used to be the royal temple of the Kingdom of Dali and one of the largest Buddhist centers in south-east Asia. It was originally built at the same time as the first pagoda but was destroyed in a fire in the Qing Dynasty reign period. The temple was later rebuilt in 2005. It was recorded that Qianxun Pagoda had been split in an earthquake on May 6th, 1515 AD (Ming Dynasty). However, it miraculously recovered ten days later in an aftershock. The most recent record of severe earthquake in the Dali area occurred in 1925. Only one in a hundred of the buildings in Dali survived, but the Three Pagodas were undamaged.
The central Qianxun Pagoda was built sometime in the latter half of the 9th century (after the Kaicheng period, 836–840).[2] During repairs in 1979, three copper plates were found at the bottom of the steeple which recorded the exact years of previous repairs, those being 1000, 1142, and 1145.

I sat under these trees waiting for the gang to come back down.

The main distribution of the Bai people is in the Dali Bai Autonomous County of Yunnan Province, together with Lijiang, Kunming, Yuanjiang, Guizhou and so on. According to the census taken in 2000, the Bai ethnic group numbered some 1,858,063 individuals.
The Bai language derives from the Zang-Mian Austronesian family of Sino-Tibetan Phylum but with the character set of the Han people as their written form of language.
Arts and Crafts:

The Bai people are masters of artistic creativity including architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and other craft techniques such as lacquer work. The great Three Pagodas in Dali, having stood since the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and resembling the Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian are excellent examples of Bai creativity and skill. Contemporarily, their dance and music spread among the Han people after becoming accepted as part of the court entertainment. In the Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368–1644) Dynasties, the majority of the skilled lacquer artisans were selected from Yunnan Province.
For the diet, they prefer sharp, cold and spicy flavor, so they prefer cured ham or fish eaten with rice or flour; though some people in the mountains eat corn as a
staple food.

The Bai people favor white clothes and decorations. White in Chinese is pronounced 'Bai', so maybe this is where their name derives from. Women in Dali traditionally wear a white coat trimmed with a black or purple collar, blue loose trousers; embroided shoes, silver bracelets and ear rings.

Although the Bai people believe in Buddhism, they also respectively worship their village god ('Benzhu'), Nature god, the Prince of the Nanzhao regime, or even a hero of folklore.

The grandest festival of the Bai people is the March Fair, held annually at the foot of Mt. Cangshan in Dali between the fifteenth and the twentieth day of the third lunar month. Originally it was religious activity to rally and pay homage, but it gradually evolved into a fair including performances of traditional sports and dance, as well as the trade of merchandise from different regions. Another important festival is the Torch Festival, held on the 25th day of the sixth lunar month to wish both health and a good harvest. On that evening, the countryside will be decorated with banners with auspicious words written upon them. Villagers will then light torches in front of their gates, then walk around the fields while holding yet more torches in order to catch pests. frOM

Sifu and the gang get in on the act!

Thirty-three km. from Xiaguan lies the town of Xizhou by the side of Erhaj Lake and the Wanhua Brook. Historically, it was a military fortress of Nanzhao Kingdom and a temporary palace of the King of Nanzhao.

Because of its favourable geographical situation, the town used to be a commercial centre before 1949 and there were more than 140 national capitalist families among whom the Yan's, the Dong's, the Yin's and the Yang's were the biggest ones in capital. Their houses are of the typical Bai design known as "Sanfang Yizhaobi" (a courtyard rooms on three sides and a screen wall on the remaining side) and "Sihe Wutianjing" (dne big courtyard with four smaller ones at the four corners of the main one). Xizhou Town is composed of more than 88 compounds of this kind. Some have several yards and some have yards within yards. In short, the houses here show the strong and unique Bai national characteristics in their painted roofs and pillars, upturned eaves, and "dougong" systems (double bow-shaped brackets on columns supporting upturned eaves).
In recent years, streets and roads have been widened, new markets have been established and a scene of prosperity prevails throughout the area. In 1988, one of the compounds of the Yang's was made to open to foreign visitors with the name of "Xizhou Tianzhuang" (Countryside Villa at Xizhou) by the Tourist Bureau of Dali Prefecture. frOM

Nice rest stop!
Zhoucheng Village is the largest and the farthest northern village of Dali City. The village has 7,571 inhabitants of 1,470 families. The entire village is in a square shape with row upon row of houses. The Yunnan Tibetan highway stretches across the village. Situated at the foot of Cangshan Mountain, the village is not far from the Butterflies' Fountain and Erhai Lake. Recently, a peasants' cultural centre has been set up, including a movie theatre, a basketball ground, a kindergarten, a reading room, a library, a TV room, a ping-pong room and a reception room, greatly enriching the peasants' cultural life during their spare time. Hardicraft and commerce here are constantly developed. The patterns of hand-made tie-dyed cloth in particular are pure and beautiful. Clothes of this material sell well abroad. The yearly Torchlight Festival of the Yis and the Bais fascinates tourists and visitors by their distinctive national features, magnificent scope and vivid atmosphere.

A friend frOM the RAinbow artists group who is a seamstress gave me $ to get her some material. I got this for her in Zhoucheng Village. I was going to get more, but credit machine was broken and i only had enough rmb for 2 meters. O well, i guess it was the universe's way of saving me frOM the 44lb. check-in luggage limit in effect on flights within China.

Th. May 29 Today we go to Yufeng Monastery to see a typical Tibet Lama temple, and also go to Baisha village to view the famous Baisha Murals and a Naxi nationality village (Joseph Rock's former reseidnce in Yuhu Village), then drive back to the old town for lunch. In the afternoon, we will explore the Dongba Script (Museum of the Naxi culture), the old town of Dayan and also pay a visit to the Nature Conservancy's Visitor's Certer in Lijiang. In the evening, we will attend a performance of the Naxi orchestra.

Another charming bathroom sink!

The Old Town of Lijiang, a well-preserved old city of ethnic minorities with brilliant culture, is a central town of the Lijiang Autonomous County of the Naxi Ethnic Minority in Yunnan Province. Located on the plateau which is 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) above the sea level and embraced by the tree-covered Lion Mountain in the west, Elephant and Golden Row Mountains in the north, vast fertile fields in the southeast and crystal clear water running through, the old town looks like a big jade ink slab, therefore got the alias the Town of Big Ink Slab (Dayanzhen).
The Old Town which occupies an area of three point eight square kilometers (912 acres) was firstly built in the late Song Dynasty and the early Yuan Dynasty and has a history of more than 800 years. Since Kubla Khan who is the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty set his reign here, Lijiang was on a fast developmental way and became the political, cultural, and educational center in this area, playing a very important role in the trading activities among Yunnan, China hinterland, Tibet, India and many other Asian countries. Till now, when walking on the streets of the Old Town, one can feel the prosperity and flourish of the town from the shops with fancy and superb collections of handicrafts.
The Lijiang Old Town is built along the lie of mountains and the flow of rivers, providing a very precious sample of the research on the old-time architecture. The unique geographical location, historical background and multiracial inhabitants make the town the most special one.
The Old Town is the only old city built without a city wall and there is an interesting story telling the reason. Lijiang had been under the reign of the hereditary Mu family for more than 500 years. If the Chinese character 'Mu' (represents the governor of Lijiang) is put into a frame (represents the city wall), you have the character 'Kun' which means 'siege' or 'predicament'. This would mean that the governing Mu family and their descendants would always be trapped like a rat in a hole. Because of this symbolism, Old Town Lijiang was never given a city wall.
As a result of the combination of the multinational culture and the progress of Naxi ethnic minority, the buildings in the town incorporate the best parts of the architectural traits of Han, Bai, and Tibet into a unique Naxi style. The layout of the town is free-style and flexible, the houses are close and diverse, and the lanes are narrow and meandering. Naxi people pay much attention to the decoration, the commodious and applied houses are mostly timber and tile structure compound with a garden, each has engraved vivid figures of people and animals on doors and windows, beautiful flowers and trees in the garden.Living in such a beautiful and comfortable environment is a real pleasant thing.
The old Town of Lijiang is a city depends on water for existence and water is just like its blood. Black Dragon Pool (Heilongtan) is the main water source of the town and subdivides into many streams which can reach every family and every street in the town. Due to the reticular aqueducts, willow trees grow everywhere and there are almost 350 varied and inimitable bridges in the little town, some of which were built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The usage of the water created by the local people is very scientific. They build three mouths every well from the upriver to the downriver. The water in the first mouth is for edibility, the second one is for cleaning of the vegetables and fruits, and the last one is used to wash the clothes. The water not only meets the need of the dweller, but also gives the town a beauty of gentle. The town reputed as the 'Oriental Venice' and 'Suzhou in Highland', but it is much, much more than this. Once you have visited Old Town Lijiang, it will capture your heart for the rest of your life.
The center of the Old Town is the Square Street (Sifangjie). Four main streets radiate from Square Street and extend to the four different directions. Countless lanes extending in all directions form a network and connect every corner of the town. Streets in the Old Town are paved by the local bluestones which are neither muddy in the rainy season nor dusty in the dry season. The massive and fine-grained stones add a sense of antiquity and mystery to the Old Town. The sluice at the center of town is opened late in the night and the resulting current of water flushes and washes all the streets to keep the town clean. This practical use of water is part of the daily life of the residents in Old Town.
On December 3rd, 1997, the Old Town of Lijiang was put in the list of the World's Relics by the World Cultural Heritage Commission of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). The charming Old Town is now a famous tourist attraction for its traditional ethnic culture and customs, inimitable buildings and the wonderful natural views.

I don't have photaes of this place as Samn'Ella began to pay us a visit. However, I do have a tale of a bit of misadventure to tell. After hiking to our restaurant for supper, where my table was up these old, railess stairs. I guess MaoMao saw the fear in my eyes as i looked at the stairs in horror, because at that very moment, he asked some folks at the table downstairs to trade with me. After supper, we were scheduled to hike to the South gate, which i didn't think i could do. I also didn't think i could find my way back alone. Fortunately, Warren & Lisa volunteered to go back with me. Good thing, as I was very disoriented, and we in fact missed the turn to the front of the hotel. We stumbled across the back entrance, but were flagged down by hotel security. We were sure that they were going to arrest us! Fortunately, Warren showed them his hotel card, so they escorted us to the employee entrance. We were still not home safe, as we were still disoriented having come in a different entrance than the original one, and at night too! Finally, we got our bearings and landed safely in our rooms.

This small lama monastery is on a hillside about five km past the town of Baisha. The monastery sits at the foot of Mountain Yulongxue, and was established in 1756AD. The main attraction nowadays is the camellia tree of 10000 blossoms. Ten thousand might be something of an exaggeration, but locals claim that the tree produces at least 4000 between February and April. A monk on the grounds risked his life to keep the tree secretly watered during the years of the Cultural Revolution.
The steps to the monastery were to steep for me, sew after witnessing Bill's bargaining prowess in action, I rested in the shade at the bottom of the steps. There were some Naxi ladies there with a basket for donations for their singing and photaes with. After indulging them, Bill went on up into the temple. Soon one of the ladies came over to me with a pad and pillow for me to sit on. Again, we comunicated with the universal theatrical gesture language. I explained that the steps were too steep for me with my knee.
The Baisha Mural is located in the Baisha Village on the plain north of Lijiang. The mural was made from 1385 to 1619, employing the eclectic artist energies of Chinese, Daoist, Tibetan and Naxi Buddhists and local dongba shamans. This rich fusion had resulted in a tremendously powerful art, heavy in spirit and awe-inspiring in its presentation of the mystical world. Dominated by black, silver, dark green, gold and red colours, the murals in the back hall, overlaid with centuries of brown soot, are doomladen and bizarre. The scenes and figures, some still vivid in detail, are largely taken from Tibetan Buddhist iconography and include the wheel of life, judges of the underworld, the damned, titans and gods, Buddhas and bodhisattvas. There are trigrams, lotus flowers and even Sanskrit inscriptions on the ceiling. The deliberate damage done to the paintings is apparent and terrible, but the loss of the irreplaceable wooden statuary that filled the temple, of which there is no trace, is even more tragic.

Lijiang is the base of the Naxi (also spelled Nakhi and Nahi) minority, who number about 278,000 in Sichuan and Yunnan. The Naxi are descended from Tibetan nomads and lived until recently in matriarchal families, though local rulers were always male. Women seem to run the show, certainly in the old part of Lijiang. The Naxi matriarchs maintained their hold over the men with flexible arrangements for love affairs. Both partners would continue to live in their respective homes; the boyfriend would spend the night at his girlfriend house but return to live and work at his mother's house during the day. Any children born to the couple belonged to the woman, who was responsible for bringing them up. The father provided support, but once the relationship was over so was the support. Women inherited all property, and disputes were adjudicated by female elders. (We need some o'this in this country. Barack is still a MAN and participated in the unmitigated Hillary bashing by the pebbles in this country that hate strong bolders of power.)
Naxi women wear loose clothes with broad waistbands and sleeves, long trousers, hundred-pleat aprons, and boat-shaped embroidered shoes. Men's garments are similar to those of the Han people. And their color of choice is black.
The Naxi speak a language belonging to the Yi branch of the Tibeto-Burman family. Traditional religions include the national worship of Dongba, lama Buddhism and Daoism. They are part of the Sino-Tibetan Tibeto-Burman ethno linguistic group.
Na means senior and honored and Xi means people. Their ancient name is "Muoxie". Over 1000 years ago, Naxi people invented two kinds of primeval pictographs—Dongba Character and Geba Character of pinyin. They were known as the live pictographs which are rare in the world today. Dongba Scriptures written in Dongba characters has about 9000 volumes in China and around 11,000 collected in other countries. In 1957, Naxi people invented the pinyin character diagram based on Latin letters. Now Chinese is the popular language among Naxi people. The Dongba Scripture (or Dongba Jing) that their ancestors left has recorded all facets of the Naxi life and is highly valued for posterity as a means of studying their character and history. The Dongba Scripture (Dongba Jing), a religious work written in the Tang Dynasty in pictographic script, describes the various aspects of Naxi people during their long transition from slavery to feudalism. It is extremely important element in the study of Naxi literature, history, and religion.
The Dongba priests used this form of character to record the Naxi’s civilization. This Dongba character is considered as the only unique existing pictographs in the world today.

There are approximately 1400 Dongba characters that are still in use today. Pictographic characters are also highly praised for their calligraphy and artistic value. Dongba priests usually write pictographs into scriptural forms using small sticks. In the Old Town, there are many souvenir shops selling Tee shirt and painting with these old pictographic characters. However only the Dongba priest read and write such characters. Currently there are only 20 elderly Dongba shamans in Lijiang. When these shamans are not around, such knowledge of Dongba characters will ceased to exist unless the new generations of Naxis’ are willing to acquire such knowledge.
The Naxis''s classical literatures are written in Dongba pictographs. Currently there are about 20 thousands pieces of well-preserved classics stored in libraries or museums in China and also in some other countries as well.
Geba script
The Geba script is structurally similar to Chinese and contains a mixture of symbols derived from Chinese characters, independently invented symbols and simplified pictographs taken from the Dongba script. Few examples of texts in the Geba script are known, so the script is little understood.
Notable features:
Written in horizontal lines running from left to right.
The phonetic values of Geba symbols are not fixed, instead each user (usually a dongba, or priest) tends to prefer one set of readings over another, and symbols can have various phonetic values, or one phonetic value can be signified by a number of different graphs.
Part of the Naxi Geba syllabary

The main feature of Dongba religion is in their ancestors and nature worship. Dongba which stands for sages, are responsible for passing down the Dongba culture to successive generations. Most Naxi people believe in the Dongba religion, which is a form of Shamanism, and also in Lamaism. Sorcerers, called "Dongba," are invited to chant scriptures at weddings, funerals, and New Year Day and other festivals.
Naxi people are fond of song and dance. Using flutes, reed pipes, and wind-string as its main instruments, Naxi ancient music, as a kind of classic music, is widely popular with the Naxi ethnic group. Naxi ancient music combines holy tunes from Daoist and Confucians ceremonies and literary lyrics and topics from poets. Naxi ancient music is praised by the contemporary as the "living fossil of music".
In ancient China, "Dongjing" Music was performed during the religious Taoism ceremony. Later this music was being adopted by Scholars and officials as part of their music appreciation and culture. Disciples of Confucius used this kind of music to promote inner peace and harmony within themselves. The Taoists adopted it for their physical and spiritual exercises. This Dongjing music was very popular amongst the educated elites. During the Jiaqing period (1522-1566 AD) of the Ming Dynasty, the headman of Naxi brought this Dongjing music into Yunnan Province from Nanjing, Fujian and Sichuan. In the late Qing Dynasty, with the spread of western civilisation, this Dongjing music almost ceased to exist in central China. Fortunately in the remote and isolated area of southeast China, the Naxi people continued to enjoy and appreciate Dongjing music.
The Dongba dance of the Naxi people is very ancient and requires high skill. What's more interesting is that the Dongba scriptures have preserved dance steps with the ancient hieroglyph Dongba characters. As the quality of these characters is close to photographs, the dancing characters are vivid as a direct painting of every dance. There are many categories in the Dongba dance. The "God Dance" describes the gods' adventures to establish their Sublime position; the "Instrument Dance" manifests the power of ritual instruments and weapons; the "Animal lmitation Dance" portrays various birds and animals; and the "Battle Dance" defeats demons to protect the religious power, etc. These are representative of the most common types of Wu dances. These dances still exist today, with old Dongba people still performing according to the ancient dance steps. The Dongba dance step is really a precious heritage in the history of the Chinese dance Culture. frOM
Naxi people make a living on agricultural production. They plant various crops, such as rice, corn, potato, wheat, beans, cotton, and hemp, etc. The banks of Jinjiang River are areas of forest with abundant produces of medical materials and special local products. Yulong Mountain District has a variety of plants and is reputed as "Treasury of Plants". Handicraft industry has achieved development recently. Mid and small size corporations on other industries, such as machinery, mining, power generation, chemical fertilizer production, and manufacturing, are growing rapidly. The Lijiang horse has also enjoyed the reputation for years of one of the 'Three treasures of Lijiang' which were presented to the official courts because of its ability to transport goods in mountainous area.
The Naxi's breakfast is simple and usually consists of steamed bread, but lunch and supper are often more sumptuous. They like to pickle pork. The pickled Pipa pork is famous for lasting several years.
Based on the lunar calendar, the main Naxi festivals are Spring Festival, Pure Brightness, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and Torch Festival. Generally, these festivals are celebrated with worship and sacrificial activities. The Naxi people are warm and kind. After a hunt, they will share a piece of the kill with a casual passerby. When visited, they will prepare six or eight delicious dishes to treat their guests. Most of the young Naxi people insist that they have one spouse and usually they have a very complicated process to protect their monogamous marriage. But for those living beside Luguhu Lake in Lijiang, they still keep the 'walking' marriage which is the only remaining vestige of a matrilineal clan among all the ethnic groups of China.
frOM & & &

Lijiang Town is officially called "Dayan Town"-- "Dayan" literally means a "great inkstab", a graphic description of the town's location on a piece of rich flatland fed by a river and surrounded by green mountains. There is no other town in China like Dayan which incorporates the folkways of so many people and the architectural styles of both north and south China. Some say that Lijiang is not unique just because it is unique in too many ways-- how true this is.
The air antiquity assumed by the town testifies to the wisdom of the Naxi people in building it here, not elsewhere. The town is on flatland about 2,400 meters above sea level. To its north are Mt. Xiangshan and Mt.Jinhong and to its west, Mt. Shizi, which effectively shield the town from winter winds. For miles upon miles, cropland expands to the southeast, where the sunshine is abundant and the climate, mild, characterized by breezes blown from the south that cools the summer heat in June and July. It is this area that the local people have turned into a "granary".
What is especially interesting is the way people use water from the Jade Springs. The flow is diverged into the city through three channels. Taking a stroll in the town, you find water your constant companion, flowing merrily either in a stream at your side or in tunnels beneath your foot. To the human race, water means life. To Dayan town, however, it brings not only life, but also beauty. Unlike those asphalted roads in big cities which are straight, streets here wind naturally along streams and around hills. On the West River in the town, there is a sluice-gate which, when lifted, allows water to pour into the city for street washing.
The Yulong Mountains are located where the Qinghai-Tibet and Yunnan-Guizhou plateaus interlock, and together they form the peak of the Yunling Mountains-- the southern-most section of the Himalaya Mountain range. Harboring a string of marine glaciers, the Yunlong mountain range, with snow accumulated over ages, extends unbroken for 35 kilometers, forming the "Jade Dragon" dancing in clouds. Its silvery "scales" shining bright, the "dragon" has a proudly erect "head" in the far north, while its other parts, rolling south, look like the back of the "dragon." The southernmost peak, rising 5,596 meters above sea level, is also known as the "jade pillar that props up the sky."
Earthen and wooden housing structures are most popular. A typical courtyard here resembles what is found in Beijing-- walled and in neat squares, with the principle rooms facing south. Unlike the Beijing courtyard which has rooms facing east and west, spacious corridors line both sides of the Nazi courtyard which also has an imposing arch over the gateway.
Bridges are seen everywhere, linking streets and lanes. Many were built during the Ming and Qing period from the 14th to the early 20th centuries which have survived the wars and earthquakes. For all this, the town is known as the "Venice of China" or the "Suzhou on the plateau."
The Children of the land of flowers, the Naxis are fond of flowers and almost every courtyard is a garden. Moreover, every Naxi courtyard is built at the side of a ditch with willow trees growing on both sides. Unwritten but rigorous rules, called "sanyanjing" or "three-hole wells," are followed with regard to use of water. Water in the uppermost "hole" or upper-most section of the ditch is meant exclusively for drinking; the next lower section is where people wash rice and vegetables for cooking; and washing of clothes is allowed only in the lower-most section of the ditch.
The history of the town dates back to the South Song period (1127-1279). In 1253, Kublai, in his expedition to conquer the state of dali, came to what is now Lijiang after his troops crossed the Jinsha river by using inflated bags of animal hide. That explains why many names of places in the Naxi languages are transliterations of "army camps," "drilling grounds," etc. for the Mongolian language.
In the early years of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), there were about 1,000 families in Lijiang, which constantly grew in size during the Ming-Qing period. The heart of the Dayan Town is called "Square Street" - a six "mu" (15 "mu" in one nectare) business center which serves as a hub of communication to Sichuan Tibet and other parts of Yunnan.
Since the Qing period, the town, itself a major producer of handicraft articles, has been the distribution center for goods produced in northwest Yunnan, hence the word "gong ben" in the Naxi language which means "a place with many warehouses." Tibetans send their woolen textiles and medicinal herbs here for shipment to other parts of China, and tea and articles for daily use from Xishuang Banna, Fengqing and Xiaguan of Yunnan are sold to Tibetan areas via the town.
During the Second World War, the Flying Tigers - a group of American pilots voluntarily helping China in fighting the Japanese Aggression - built the Basha Airport in the Lijiang area to implement what is known to historians as the "Hump Operation." And along with the airport came banks and companies, and consequently, the area became prosperous.
By taking advantage of its geographic location, the town has served as a center of economic and cultural exchanges between people of the Tibetan, Han, Bai and Naxi ethnic groups and, moreover, as a shining example of their solidarity.

Lashihai Watershed is situated along the southeastern slopes of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (5500 meters). Established as a nature reserve by the Yunnan provincial government, the forests between Lashihai and Wenhai are home to Asiatic black bear and more than 15 rhododendron species. The Naxi and Yi, two of Northwest Yunnan's 14 ethnic minorities, reside in the watershed.
At an elevation of 2500 meters, Lashihai (Lashi Lake) is the largest highland lake in Lijiang County, and an important habitat for over 57 species of migratory birds. With the highest waterbird species diversity of any lake in Northwest Yunnan, the lake provides a winter home to protected migratory birds species such as the black-necked crane, whooper swan and black stork. The birds feed on Lashihai's abundance of local crops, aquatic plants and 7 different species of fish. The Class III protected water lily is one of the 47 aquatic plant species found in the lake. Naxi villages surround the lake and provide opportunity to explore their traditional cultural heritage and interaction with nature.
The watershed's highlands reach to over 3800 meters, supporting a wide variation of plant and animal species, including protected raptors, forest wildlife, traditional medicinal plants and treasured fungi. In spring, the mountainsides fill with the color of blooming rhododendrons and azaleas. Wenhai is a Naxi village situated on the shores of a small alpine lake (approximately 3200 meters) and is only accessible by foot. Traditional Yi villages exist in the higher regions and are infrequently visited.

Fri. May 30 We will take a flight to Kunming, followed by a connecting flight to Guilin. 2 nights at the Fubo Hotel.

A view at breakfast!

Sat. May 31 We start the day with a cruise on the picturesque Li River to Yangshuo. We will have ample time to visit the sites, bike ride and shop around
Yangshuo before we drive back to Guilin.

The photos on the Li River lent themselves well to various Photoshop art filters. Click on these for a larger version.

Morning chores on the river.

Just because you've become a young woman,
There's still some things that you don't understand,
Before you ask some guy for his hand,
You keep your freedom for as long as you can,
My mama told me, you better shop around.

There's some things that I want you to know,
Just as sure as the wind's gonna blow,
The men'll come and the men are gonna go,
Before you tell 'em that you love 'em so,
My mama told me you better shop around.

Try to get yourself a bargain, girl
Don't be sold on the very first one
Good-looking guys come a dime a dozen
Try to find you one who's gonna give you true lovin'

Before you take a man and say I do,
Make sure he's in love with you,
Make sure that his love is true,
I hate to see you feeling sad and blue,
My mama told me you better shop around.

Try to get yourself a bargain, girl
Don't be sold on the very first one
Good-looking guys come a dime a dozen
Try to find you one who's gonna give you true lovin'

Before you take a man and say I do,
Make sure he's in love with you,
Make sure that his love is true,
I hate to see you feeling sad and blue,
My mama told me you better shop around.

Shop Around Lyrics
Songwriters: Gordy, B; Robinson, W;

About 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from Elephant Trunk Hill and above the western bank of Li River Scenery , there towers Fubo Hill, another of Guilin's wonderfully scenic spots. It reaches the height of 213 meters (698.8 feet) and emerges 62 meters (203.4 feet) above the water. Half of it stands in the river and the other half of it on land. Since the galloping water is always blocked here and eddied, the hill is considered to have the power of subduing waves. Moreover, it was on this hill that a temple in commemoration of General Fubo was built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), which gave rise to the name Fubo Hill.
Natural scenery of rocks and stalactites as well as artificial cloister and pavilions compose the fantastic and unique sight of the hill. At the foot of the hill lie the Pearl-Returning Cave, the Thousand-Buddha Cave and the Sword-Testing Rock, all of which have great appeal. A gracious cloister and tearoom were built on the southern slope. Halfway to the hill is the Tingtao Pavilion (Pavilion of Listen-to-Waves). Stone stairs wind up towards the hilltop on the western slope of the hill. The Viewing Platform on the stairway is an ideal spot for taking in the panorama of Guilin.
Standing above the ground, Fubo Hill, or Wave-Subduing Hill, slopes into the Li River in the east and looms in the west. It is so named because waves and ripples run back wherever they meet the peak, which descends into the river, blocking the water. A tale also has it that Ma Yuan, called General Fubo, of the Han Dynasty had once passed by Guilin on a southern expedition. He poured all the pearls he carried into the river, so the hill was named after him in his memory, and there used to be a Fubo Pavilion on the hill in the Tang Dynasty. frOM

The imagery of the Li River is featured on the 20 yuan note (see photo).

The Li River or Li Jiang (Chinese: 漓江, pinyin: Lí Jiāng) is a river in Guangxi Province, China. (Also see the Li River disambiguation page.) The Li River originates in the Mao'er Mountains in Xing'an county and flows through Guilin, Yangshuo and Pingle, down into the Xi Jiang, the western tributary of the Pearl River in Wuzhou, its course of 437 kilometers is flanked by green hills. Cormorant fishing is often associated with the Lijiang. Its unusual karst topography hillsides have often been compared to those at Halong Bay, Vietnam. frOM


Karst topography is a landscape shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite. Due to subterranean drainage, there may be very limited surface water, even to the absence of all rivers and lakes. Many karst regions display distinctive surface features, with dolines or sinkholes being the most common. However, distinctive karst surface features may be completely absent where the soluble rock is mantled, such as by glacial debris, or confined by a superimposed non-soluble rock strata. Some karst regions include thousands of caves, even though evidence of caves that are big enough for human exploration is not a required characteristic of karst.

Even on the river, you can't get away from the venders!

Karst landforms are generally the result of mildly acidic water acting on soluble bedrock such as limestone or dolostone. The carbonic acid that causes these features is formed as rain passes through the atmosphere picking up CO2, which dissolves in the water. Once the rain reaches the ground, it may pass through soil that may provide further CO2 to form a weak carbonic acid solution: H2O + CO2 → H2CO3. Recent studies of sulfates in karst waters suggests sulfuric and hydrosulfuric acids may also play an important role in karst formation.

This mildly acidic water begins to dissolve the surface and any fractures or bedding planes in the limestone bedrock. Over time these fractures enlarge as the bedrock continues to dissolve. Openings in the rock increase in size, and an underground drainage system begins to develop, allowing more water to pass through and accelerating the formation of underground karst features.
Somewhat less common than this limestone karst is gypsum karst, where the solubility of the mineral gypsum provides many similar structures to the dissolution and redeposition of calcium carbonate.

The karstification of a landscape may result in a variety of large or small scale features both on the surface and beneath. On exposed surfaces, small features may include flutes, runnels, clints and grikes, collectively called karren or lapiez. Medium-sized surface features may include sinkholes or dolines (closed basins), vertical shafts, foibe (inverted funnel shaped sinkholes), disappearing streams, and reappearing springs. Large-scale features may include limestone pavements, poljes and blind valleys. Mature karst landscapes, where more bedrock has been removed than remains, may result in karst towers or haystack/eggbox landscapes. Beneath the surface, complex underground drainage systems (such as karst aquifers) and extensive caves and cavern systems may form.

Erosion along limestone shores, notably in the tropics, produces karst topography that includes a sharp makatea surface above the normal reach of the sea and undercuts that are mostly the result of biological activity or bioerosion at or a little above mean sea level. Some of the most dramatic of these formations can be seen in Thailand's Phangnga Bay and Halong Bay in Vietnam.

Calcium carbonate dissolved into water may precipitate out where the water discharges some of its dissolved carbon dioxide. Rivers which emerge from springs may produce tufa terraces, consisting of layers of calcite deposited over extended periods of time. In caves, a variety of features collectively called speleothems are formed by deposition of calcium carbonate and other dissolved minerals.
A karst river may disappear underground a number of times and spring up again in different places, usually under a different name (like Ljubljanica, the river of seven names).

An example of this is the Popo Agie River In Fremont County, Wyoming. Simply named The Sinks and Sinks Canyon State Park, The river flows into a cave in a formation known as the Madison Limestone and then rises again ½ mile down the canyon in a placid pool. When the river was dyed, it took two hours for the dye to reach the rise such a short distance away.

Farming in karst areas must take into account the lack of surface water. The soils may be fertile enough, and rainfall may be adequate, but rainwater quickly moves through the crevices into the ground, sometimes leaving the surface soil parched between rains. A karst fenster is where an underground stream emerges onto the surface between layers of rock, cascades some feet, and then disappears back down, often into a sinkhole. There is an example of this in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

Water supplies from wells in karst topography may be unsafe, as the water may have run unimpeded from a sinkhole in a cattle pasture, through a cave and to the well, bypassing the normal filtering that occurs in a porous aquifer. Karst formations are cavernous and therefore have high rates of permeability, resulting in reduced opportunity for contaminants to be filtered out.

Groundwater in karst areas is just as easily polluted as surface streams. Sinkholes have often been used as farmstead or community trash dumps. Overloaded or malfunctioning septic tanks in karst landscapes may dump raw sewage directly into underground channels.

The karst topography itself also poses some difficulties for human inhabitants. Sinkholes can develop gradually as surface openings enlarge, but quite often progressive erosion is unseen and the roof of an underground cavern suddenly collapses. Such events have swallowed homes, cattle, cars, and farm machinery.
The Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa protects Discus macclintocki, a species of ice age snail surviving in air chilled by flowing over buried karst ice formations. frOM

Guilin (Chinese: 桂林; pinyin: Guìlín) is a city in China, situated in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on the west bank of the Li River. Its name means "forest of Sweet Osmanthus", owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city. The city has long been renowned for its unique scenery.

In 314 BC, a small settlement was established along the banks of the Li River.
In 111 BC, during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, Shi An County was established, which could be regarded as the beginning of the city.
In 507 AD, the town was renamed Guizhou.
Guilin prospered in the Tang and Song dynasties but remained a county. The city was also a nexus between the central government and the southwest border, and it was where regular armies were placed to guard that border. Canals were built through the city so that food supplies could be directly transported from the food-productive Yangtze plain to the farthest southwestern point of the empire.
In 1921, Guilin became one of the headquarters of the Northern Expeditionary Army led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
In 1940, the city acquired its present name.
In 1981, this ancient city was listed by the State Council as one of the four cities (the other three being Beijing, Hangzhou and Suzhou) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage, as well as natural scenery, should be treated as a priority project.

Guilin cuisine is known for its snacks and the use of spices, especially chili. The famous Guilin chili sauce, Guìlín làjiāojiàng (桂林辣椒酱), used widely in cooking by locals, is made of fresh chili, garlic, and fermented soybeans, and is considered one of the city's Three Treasures (桂林三宝). The other two of the Three Treasures are Guilin Sanhua Jiu (桂林三花酒), a variety of rice baijiu, or liquor distilled from rice; and Guilin pickled tofu (桂林豆腐乳).
Guilin rice noodles (桂林米粉; pinyin: Guìlín mǐfěn) have been the local breakfast staple since the Qin dynasty and are renowned for their delicate taste. Legend has it that when Qin troops suffering from diarrhea entered this region, a cook created the Guilin rice noodles for the army because they had trouble eating the local food. Specifically, the local specialty is noodles with horse meat, but this dish can also be ordered without the horse meat. Zongzi (粽子; pinyin: zòngzi), a dumpling made from glutinous rice and mung bean paste wrapped in a bamboo or banana leaf) is another popular delicacy in Guilin.

Guilin was used as the planet Kashyyyk in Star Wars: Episode III
Many scenes from The Painted Veil (2006 film), adapted from the 1925 W. Somerset Maugham novel The Painted Veil were filmed in Guilin and the surrounding area.
The scenery from the twenty Yuan bill is that of the Li River.
Guilin is the final area of the video game Shenmue II and the home of Shenhua.
Guilin was mentioned in the novel The Joy Luck Club as the original home of Suyuan Woo, the mother of the primary narrator of the story, Jing-mei Woo.

"I often sent pictures of the hills of Guilin which I painted to friends back home, but few believed what they saw."
- Fan Chengda (Chinese Song Dynasty scholar)
桂林山水甲天下 - "Guilin’s scenery is best among all under heaven."
- popular Chinese saying

The day before this section of the trip, about half of us came down with what was most likely food poisoning. We threw Imodeum at it to no avail. Fortunately Shen Mao Mao had some Chinese apothecary medicine that did! Guilin was the main reason that many of us came on this trip.

The "Chinese tradtional medicine" doesn't merely mean those products in China that can be called Chinese traditional medicine, but it is the medication produced by applying the medical theory of Chinese medicine. It generally refers to the use of all kinds of natural resources that can be used as medicine; such as plants, animals and minerals, etc. It has several thousand of types. Most of these medicines have a long application history. For the past thousands of years, they have provided a sufficient and reliable guarantee for the health of the Chinese nation, as it is the main weapon used for the preventing and curing of diseases.

Naming: Chinese traditional medicines are called by a great variety of complicated names, which relate to the change of era and the difference in places. On the whole, the naming of Chinese traditional medicine is mostly in accord with place of origin, performance, growth character, shape, smell, the part used as medicine and the name of the discoverer, etc.

Processing: It is thru the processing of Chinese traditional medicine that the the irritation and toxicity of the medicine is reduced. Sometimes it can also increase and change some performances of the medication to better meet clinical requirements. The way of processing can generally be divided into four categories; ordinary processing, water processing, fire processing and water & fire processing.

Four natures: This refers to cold, hot, warm and cool. These are the four different natures of medicines as observed and generalized in the long-term practice of medical treatment.

Five flavors: This refers to the five flavors of sourness, bitterness, sweetness, spiciness and saltiness. Different flavors of medicines means different functions.

Channel Tropism: This refers to the optional function and use of medicines that rule the use of Chinese traditional medicine. When using medicines clinically, first identify the viscerae, bowels and channels where the pathological changes occur and then select corresponding medication to treat the disease.

Ascending, descending, floating and sinking: These are tendencies of medication in the therapeutic effect.

Combination: It refers to the combining of more than two medicines to optionalize the application of medication in accord with the requirements of the state of a disease and the performance of medication. The felicity of combination has a direct influence on the curative effect. frOM

I bought this very western style painting in Yangshuo. The store owner said it was painted by a woman. And i think this just might bee the same spot where the painting was done!
Some folks indulged in snake wine on the cruise. Supposed to improve virility. Well, i suppose that which does not kill you makes you stronger!
There are at least three features of snakes that capture the attention of traditional healers: they have an incredible flexibility and speed, they shed their skin, and certain snakes are extremely poisonous when they bite. The flexibility of snakes has suggested that they might be helpful in the treatment of stiffness, for example, arthritis. The speed with which some snakes move indicated to traditional observers that, as medicines, their substance can move quickly around the body. Snakes are said to treat “wind” syndromes, which likewise tend to move around quickly. However, people are also cautioned not to consume snake wine when exposed to potentially pathologic wind, as the rapid movement of the snake medicine may aid the initial penetration of wind.

The fact that snakes shed their skin has suggested that they have a regenerative quality for treating chronic skin problems. As a result, snake skin and whole snake are used in the treatment of skin diseases. This application is similar to the use of sloughed cicada skin for treating skin ailments. Acne, carbuncles, itching skin, and psoriasis are examples of conditions that may respond to snake skin. Snake skin is also considered useful in reducing clouding (nebula) of the cornea, the “skin” of the eyes.

Poisonous animals often cause paralysis when they bite and this is due to the presence of neurotoxins. They are then used medically by oral administration (which greatly reduces the toxicity) for the treatment of convulsions (by inhibiting intense muscle contractions). Also, some forms of paralysis are “tonic” in nature, that is, due to overcontraction of muscles, and in such cases the nerve toxins can overcome paralysis. Agkistrodon (but not zaocys) is a poisonous snake used for epilepsy and paralysis. Scorpions and millipedes (scolopendra) are used similarly. Anti-convulsive activity is also ascribed to snake skin and cicada skin.

Several records in Chinese medical books indicate that snake slough is useful for malignant sores, such as mammary abscess and tumor, boils, carbuncles, and furuncles. The slough is usually roasted and then used both internally and topically.

i spot some real, live Chinese Taurusii!

Snake bile has long been valued as a tonic, characterized as such by its sweet aftertaste. It is used to make a special health drink at snake restaurants (which are today still found in southern China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan). The bile of a snake to be eaten is mixed with some rice wine and consumed before the meal as an invigorating beverage and appetite stimulant. In the treatment of diseases, snake bile is used for whooping cough, rheumatic pain, high fever, infantile convulsion, hemiplegia, hemorrhoids, gum bleeding, and skin infections.

One of the best known remedies using snake bile is San She Dan Chuan Bei Mu, or the mixture of three snake gallbladders plus the herb fritillaria (F. thunbergii). In the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the official recipe for the mixture is 1 part snake bile added to 6 parts fritillaria powder (dry, and pulverize the mixture); the dosage is just 300–600 mg at a time, 2–3 times per day. Snake bile is collected in spring and summer when the content of solids is highest. Snake gallbladder is sometimes combined with pinellia or citrus to produce an antitussive and phlegm-resolving powder for treatment of acute bronchitis.

The bile from two snakes, Naja naja (Indian cobra) and Ophiophagus hannah (king cobra) show 11 bands in thin layer chromatography (TLC), while the bile from most other snakes show only 8 of those bands, indicating unique medicinal ingredients in the cobra. All the snakes contain cholic acid but not deoxycholic acid or lithocholic acid. In the marketplace, snake gallbladders are sometimes substituted by those of geese, ducks, and chickens. These gallbladders have a different form that can be easily distinguished by those who make the effort to do so; further, the TLC profile of the bile from these substitutes is entirely different from that of the snakes, and the bile from fowl do not produce the sweet aftertaste common to the snake bile.

Snakes are also used in the treatment of cancer. The small agkistrodon is a common ingredient in modern treatments, especially for leukemia. A combination of Agkistrodon halys and Natrix trigrina (water snake), in the form of a powder (3–5 grams per day), is used as an adjunct to herbal decoctions and drugs to treat hepatoma. Snake venom is also sometimes used as medicine; recent research has shown that snake venom may have value in treating cardiovascular diseases. Blood pressure reducing and anticoagulant properties have been identified, and are especially prevalent in the vipers.

Most of the snakes are now raised, but the materials on the market place come from a variety of sources, including those collected in the wild. Because there are some snakes that are now endangered species, and because the snakes or their isolated bladders are not easily identified by officials, the U.S. Wildlife Department has restricted import of all snake medicinal materials unless the shipment is accompanied by a suitable certificate indicating the origins of the snakes. Further, the FDA has restricted import of many liquid preparations, including the liquid forms of snake bile. Unfortunately, the use of snake materials may be virtually eliminated in the West, because most Chinese suppliers are not otherwise compelled to spend time and effort certifying the origins of the materials.

One means of helping to preserve snakes is to use the snake materials in powder form rather than using them in decoctions. The powdered snake is usually recommended in dosages that are about 1/3 to 1/6 that for decoction of the same materials (the Pharmacopoeia of China gives a dosage of agkistrodon for decoction at 3–9 grams, but for powder to be swallowed, only 1–1.5 grams), probably because decoction poorly extracts some active components and damages others. Cold alcohol extraction is considered acceptable and allows use of small doses as well.

A Painted Snake Makes a Man Sick

In the Jin Dynasty, there lived a man named Le Guang, who had a bold and uninhabited character and was very friendly. One day Le Guang sent for one of his close friends since the friend had not turned out for long.
At the first sight of his friend, Le Guang realized that something must have happened to his friend for his friend has no peace of mind all the time. So he asked his friend what was the matter. "It was all because of that banquet held at your home. At the banquet, you proposed a toast to me and just when we raised the glasses, I noticed that there was a little snake lying in the wine and I felt particularly sick. Since then, I lay in bed unable to do anything."
Le Guang was very puzzled at the matter. He looked around and then saw a bow with a painted snake hung on the wall of his room.
So Le Guang laid the table at the original place and asked his friend again to have a drink. When the glass was filled with wine, he pointed to the shade of the bow in the glass and asked his friend to see. His friend observed nervously, "Well, well, that is what I saw last time. It is the same snake." Le Guang laughed and took off the bow on the wall. "Could you see the snake any more?" he asked. His friend was surprised to find that the snake was no longer in the wine. Since the whole truth had come out, his friend recovered from his prolonged illness right away.
For thousands of years the story has been told to advise people not to be too suspicious unnecessarily.

Chinese people reduce the functions of wine to three main categories: to cure diseases, for longevity and for the practice of etiquette. For several thousand years, however, the functions have not been limited to these three categories and at least also include using wine to bring joy, to forget worries and to boost one's courage.

Food has a special meaning to the Chinese people. The "waste not, want not" ethos means that a surprising range and variety of plants and animals, and every part of a plant or animal is used. This has given rise to a remarkable diversity in the regional cuisine, but to Westerners it can be overwhelming - surprising, fantastic, delicious, horrifying or disgusting - and above all, different!

We did see and hear these guys practicing in Guilin.

Dragon Boat Festival or Duanwu Festival is a traditional festival and statutory holiday in China. Most Chinese will have one day off for celebrations. The Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2008, the festival falls on 8th June. The main celebrations of course include the dragon boat racing but eating Zongzi (A pyramid-shaped glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves) is also customary.

Three Meals a Day

The Heavenly King sat on his throne in the sky watch all the men in China work hard each day. He felt the hardship the men when through as they tried to make ends meet. He felt the men's pain when they toiled in the fields to gather food for their families. There was so little food that everybody in China ate only once a day.
With a heavy heart, the Heavenly King summoned the Great Bull Star from the corner of the constellation. "Great Bull, I want you to go down to earth to bring a message to the men. Tell them that if they work hard each day, their hard work will be rewarded with enough food for eating three meals a day. They must understand not to give up and good things will arrive in due time." The Great Bull Star transformed himself into the form of a bull and went to earth.
When Great Bull arrived on earth, he gathered all the men and leaders together to share the message from the Heavenly King, but he didn't get it just right. All he said was, "Everyone can eat three meals a day. " All the men in China were happy and relieved to know that the Heavenly King will give them food and they won't have to work anymore. They had a grand party for the Great Bull which lasted three days.
Upon returning to Heaven, the Great Bull went directly to the Heavenly King's throne. "I did what you told me to." The Great Bull was so proud of himself because believed he completed the task the Heavenly King had given him.
BOCK! A stick flew across the room and hit Bull's head. Bull took cover and looked at the Heavenly King. "Sire, why did you throw the stick at me?"
The Heavenly King was disappointed. "Bull, you gave the men only half my message. They don't realize that they need to work hard in order for them to eat three meals a day. They think I will give them the food. So Bull, you will return to earth to help the men toil in the field so they can eat."
Now you have it… why farmers use oxen to aid in their farming; and how we can afford to eat three meals a day.

The custom of celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival dates back to the Spring and Autumn Periods over 2,000 years ago. The festival is held to commemorate Quyuan, an ancient scholar and hero. Quyuan was a high official of the Chu State who committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River (in today's Hunan province in central China) after knowing the Chu Army had been defeated in a vital battle.
The local people knowing Quyuan was a good man, felt very sorrowful about his death. They went out in their boats to rescue him or at least to try to find his body.
Another legend goes that after Quyuan's death, People of the Chu State, loved him so much that they threw food into the river so that the fish would eat the rice rather than the body of their beloved. People in some parts of China still throw Zongzi into the river.

Dragon boat racing is one indispensable part of the festival's celebration. Dragon boat racing is held at that day each year in many cities in southern China. Dragon Boat Racing is particularly popular in regions of the southern Yangtze River such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces where the race takes place almost every year. This year, a large scale boat racing will be held in the famous tourist city of Guilin on June 15th, which will make a grand feast for spectators. Visitors who visit Guilin during this period can enjoy the grand spectacle.
BTW, these are not dRAgon boats :)

Zongzi is a pyramid-shaped glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in reed or bamboo leaves. Celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival will not be complete without a taste of Zongzi. Many different fillings can be used for Zongzi and include the jujube zongzi, ham zongzi, bean paste zongzi and pork zongzi. The most famous Zongzi is from Jiaxing in Zhejiang Province. In the past, Chinese families made Zongzi on their own at home but nowadays, except for remote rural countryside, people buy ready Zongzi from supermarkets or shops.

People hang the cuttings of the plants Calamus and Chinese Mugwort on their front doors to keep out evil spirit in another tradition of the festivities.

Chinese astrology takes three moons, four star images and twenty-eight constellations as its nucleus. The three woons represent the three areas around the north celestial pole, they are Ziwei woon, Taiwei woon and Tianshi woon; the four star images refers to the four areas near the ecliptic which circulates the sky. The four images in yellow and white Road nearby include the images of the following animals: black dragon, rose finch, white tiger and black soldier. Each of the four images is divided into seven sects, and there are 28 constellations in all.

Shades of Monument Valley!
MV photo frOM

In the astrology, the 28 constellations are divided according to the four orientations—the east, the south, the west and the north and the seven elements—the sun, the moon, the water, the fire, the earth, the gold and the wood, which are used to forecast the future.

The Chinese astrology is mainly employed in the national court and martial affairs and has influenced most deeply the upper-class of the society.

For the story of 'Li Chi and the Serpent' go to

As the gang was dodging traffic on their bicycles, i remained in town dodging vendors. After taking pictures for folks and them taking pictures of me, I found a place of relative solitude where i worked out my new cameRA.

Yangshuo County (simplified Chinese: 阳朔县; traditional Chinese: 陽朔縣; pinyin: Yángshuò Xiàn) is a county in Guilin, Guangxi Province, China. Its seat is located in Yangshuo Town. Surrounded by karst peaks and bordered on one side by the Li River (漓江) it is easily accessible by bus or by boat from nearby Guilin. Over the years, it has become popular with foreign backpackers.

The town borders the Li river on one side, and is situated on a small plain between a number of karst peaks. Two main roads run away from the water and form the central part of the town, Chinese Street (Dei Chui Lu) and West Street (西街, xi jie). Most foreign-oriented businesses, such as hostels, hotels, rock climbing companies, restaurants and entertainment venues, are situated on West Street or the pedestrian only Xian Qian Street which runs between Chinese and West Street.

Visitors to Yangshuo can swim in the Li river or the cleaner Yu Long 遇龙河 (Dragon River), climb one of the many nearby karst peaks or hire a bicycle for a cycling trip through the karst scenery. Additionally, there is a butterfly cave near the town and a number of cave systems. Yangshuo is also China's foremost venue for rock climbing, with around 300 bolted routes and several companies offering guiding and equipment hire. With mountain biking and kayaking becoming more popular, Yangshuo is becoming an adventure sports centre as well as a stop on the traveller's trail.

Most of the original culture of the town has been absorbed into the tourist industry. For example, you can "rent" a fisherman with cormorants to watch him go fishing with them. You can also "rent" local women, in traditional ethnic dress, to pose for photographs.

Rock climbing in Yangshuo was first put on the map by American climber Todd Skinner who visited in 1992 establishing a number of classic lines such as "Moonwalker" which traverses the famous Moon Hill arch.

Much of recent climbing history has been influenced by the establishment of the Australian owned company Chinaclimb in 2001. Other companies that have contributed include Karstclimber, X-Climber and Spiderman Climbing.

There are around 200 routes documented in the current edition of the Paul Collis Yangshuo climbing guidebook, a number that continues to grow almost daily. The majority of these routes have been established by visiting foreign climbers or expatriates residing close by. While most routes are single-pitch bolted sport climbing routes, a growing amount of multi-pitch sport routes are beginning to appear as climbers venture above the first anchor. There is also great potential for traditional climbing.

There are numerous locations to climb around the Yangshuo region, with most easily accessible either by hiring a bicycle, public bus or taxi-van. The most famous of these crags is Moon Hill with several 5.13 graded lines first climbed by American Todd Skinner in 1992. Other crags of note include Low Mountain, Twin Gates, Baby Frog, The Egg, Bamboo Grove and Wine Bottle cliff. All of these are well documented in Paul Collis' guidebook available in most climbing shops in Yangshuo.

Moon Hill 月亮山 (Yuèliàng Shān) or Moon Mountain is a hill with a natural arch through it a few kilometers outside Yangshuo in southern China's Guangxi autonomous region. It is so named for a wide, semicircular hole through the hill, all that remains of what was once a limestone cave formed in the phreatic zone. Like most formations in the region, it is a karst.(:This is not Moon Hill:)

It takes about 20 minutes to climb to the arch, or considerably longer for those who mean to reach the hill's summit. Access is not free and visitors must pay an entrance fee to be allowed to climb the hill. Souvenirs and refreshment vendors often follow climbers up and down the path.

Dragon occupies a very important postion in Chinese mythology. It shows up in arts, literature, poetry, architecture, songs, and many aspects of the Chinese conscience. The origin of Chinese dragons is unknown, but centainly pre-dates the written history.

In addition to a concrete tourist path which passes through the arch, and a somewhat rougher, steeper path leading to the summit above the arch, Moon Hill has several rock climbing routes, the first of which was climbed by Todd Skinner in the 1990s. It has also been used for abseils in several adventure races.

Moon hill offers some broad, panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, which is characterized by the knobby karst hills found throughout the region.

The bird family Phalacrocoracidae is represented by some 40 species of cormorants and shags. Several different classifications of the family have been proposed recently, and the number of genera is disputed.

There is no consistent distinction between cormorants and shags. The names "cormorant" and "shag" were originally the common names of the two species of the family found in Great Britain, Phalacrocorax carbo (now referred to by ornithologists as the Great Cormorant) and P. aristotelis (the Common Shag). "Shag" refers to the bird's crest, which the British forms of the Great Cormorant lack. As other species were discovered by English-speaking sailors and explorers elsewhere in the world, some were called cormorants and some shags, depending on whether they had crests or not. Sometimes the same species is called a cormorant in one part of the world and a shag in another, e.g., the Great Cormorant is called the Black Shag in New Zealand (the birds found in Australasia have a crest that is absent in European members of the species). Van Tets (1976) proposed to divide the family into two genera and attach the name "Cormorant" to one and "Shag" to the other, but this flies in the face of common usage and has not been widely adopted.

The scientific genus name is latinized Ancient Greek, from φαλακρός (phalakros, "bald") and κόραξ (korax, "raven"). This is often thought to refer to the creamy white patch on the cheeks of adult Great Cormorants, or the ornamental white head plumes prominent in Mediterranean birds of this species, but is certainly not a unifying characteristic of cormorants. "Cormorant" is a contraction derived from Latin corvus marinus, "sea raven". Indeed, "sea raven" or analogous terms were the usual terms for cormorants in Germanic languages until after the Middle Ages, and the erroneous belief that these birds were related to ravens lasted at least to the 16th century.

Cormorants and shags are medium-to-large seabirds. They range in size from the Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus), at as little as 45 cm (18 in) and 340 g (12 oz), to the Flightless Cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi), at a maximum size 100 cm (40 in) and 5 kg (11 lb). The recently-extinct Spectacled Cormorant (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus) was rather larger, at an average size of 6.3 kg (14 lb). The majority, including nearly all Northern Hemisphere species, have mainly dark plumage, but some Southern Hemisphere species are black and white, and a few (e.g. the Spotted Shag of New Zealand) are quite colourful. Many species have areas of coloured skin on the face (the lores and the gular skin) which can be bright blue, orange, red or yellow, typically becoming more brightly coloured in the breeding season. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet have webbing between all four toes.

They are coastal rather than oceanic birds, and some have colonised inland waters - indeed, the original ancestor of cormorants seems to have been a fresh-water bird, judging from the habitat of the most ancient lineage. They range around the world, except for the central Pacific islands.

All are fish-eaters, dining on small eels, fish, and even water snakes. They dive from the surface, though many species make a characteristic half-jump as they dive, presumably to give themselves a more streamlined entry into the water. Under water they propel themselves with their feet. Some cormorant species have been found, using depth gauges, to dive to depths of as much as 45 metres.

After fishing, cormorants go ashore, and are frequently seen holding their wings out in the sun; it is assumed that this is to dry them. Unusually for a water bird, their feathers are not waterproofed. This may help them dive quickly, since their feathers do not retain air bubbles.

Cormorants are colonial nesters, using trees, rocky islets, or cliffs. The eggs are a chalky-blue colour. There is usually one brood a year. The young are fed through regurgitation. They typically have deep, ungainly bills, showing a greater resemblance to those of the pelicans', to which they are related, than is obvious in the adults.

Humans have historically exploited cormorants' fishing skills, in China, Japan, and Macedonia, where they have been trained by fishermen. A snare is tied near the base of the bird's throat, which allows the bird only to swallow small fish. When the bird captures and tries to swallow a large fish, the fish is caught in the bird's throat. When the bird returns to the fisherman's raft, the fisherman helps the bird to remove the fish from its throat. The method is not as common today, since more efficient methods of catching fish have been developed.

I had been admiring this image all along the ways, so I decided to spend my last few moments as a lady in waiting purchasing it, as Yangshuo seemed to be the spot 4 mee to purchase art. When i finally found a shop that had it,

they didn't take Amex, so i was able to bargain them down to cash on hand!
Go to for 'The Magic Paintbrush' story.

The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped nature. They placed emphasis on animals and even depicted cormorants in their art.

For the story of 'The Magic Leaf' go to

Cormorants feature quite commonly in heraldry and medieval ornamentation, usually in their "wing-drying" pose, which was seen as representing the Christian cross. For example, the Norwegian municipalities of Røst, Loppa and Skjervøy have cormorants in their coat-of-arms. The species depicted in heraldry is most likely to be the Great Cormorant, the most familiar species in Europe.

In 1853, a woman wearing a dress made of cormorant feathers was found on San Nicolas Island, off the southern coast of California. She had sewn the feather dress together using whale sinews. She is known as the Lone Woman of San Nicolas and was later baptized "Juana Maria" (her original name is lost). The woman had lived alone on the island for 18 years before being rescued.

The bird has inspired numerous writers, including Amy Clampitt, who wrote a poem called "The Cormorant in its Element". Which species she was referring to is not obvious, since all members of the family share the characteristic behavioural and morphological features that the poem celebrates. The combination of "slim head vermilion-strapped" and "big black feet" perhaps points at the Pelagic Cormorant, which is the only species occurring in the temperate U.S. with these features.

Behind my garden respite, I found a little art store where I purchased 2 paintings. I must say that the store owners are just like the vendors in that they keep trying to get you to buy more stuff. And my propensity for bargaining is not very high, nor am I as skillful as Bill Doleman!

Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain't right,
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.
As I walked down the middle of the street in Yangshuo, there appeared a shadow to my side. The shadow followed me with his scissors in hand. He was cutting out my silouette as we walked along. How could I refuse? Later, another shadow appeared. Although I kept saying "I already have one", he of course persisted. It such an amazing skill to me, that I bought his too. Shadow number one was young and Shadow number two was old. Shadow #1 was more expensive than Shadow #2.

If you think buying something frOM one vendor makes the others give up, you would be sadly mistaken!

I bought these lovely postcards frOM one vendor, without bargaining, and that set off another one who stuck with me, as Phil put it, like stink on s...

She wanted to sell me a set of postcards, I said no. Then she added another set, I said no. Then she added some little wooden duckies, I said all 3 for 10 yuan, at which point she drug her forefinger across her throat.

I ran behind Nate, who told her to go away in Chinese, but she didn't. I ran over to Tiffany who said turn your back, don't look them in the eye! I did, she paid no mind as she circled around. I tried to position my self in the middle of a group, to no avail. Finally, it was time to get on the bus, which ended her pursuit.

I had a similar experience in the restaurant in Lijiang. Unfortunately I showed an in terest in a necklace, but she wouldn't come down to 10 yuan, which was all the Chinese money I had left, as the hotel there did not exchange money.

Chairman MaoMao gifted us with this lovely comb!

Sun. June 01 Morning visit the Fubo Hill Park and the Elephant Trunk Hill Park. Afternoon flight to Hangzhou. 1 night at the Lily Hotel.

Fubo Hill was too steep, so I hung out in the park. As I sat under the shade of a tree, a young woman stopped and looked me up and down and then gave me a thumbs up. Then a young man that was with her entourage asked me how old I was. i told Mao Mao about it, and he thought maybe it was a thumbs up for getting around so well, but they had not seen me walking around. Seems like my friend Swari had similar experiences in Taiwan, where it was a compliment to be asked your age.

We also visited a Chinese Arts University where this professor painted this for us. It was interesting to me in that he painted the foreground first. In the US, we would have been taught to paint the background first. And thanks Bill for taking this photo for me! Bob Avila was the lucky boy that bought the painting for 800 RMB.

This morning i awoke from a dream of many galloping, frisky horses. Then, after the demonstration, i walked into a room in the gallery and Lo & Behold, there it was!!!!!!! Sifu says that when the horse comes it means great success. (Click on mural for larger version)

The Breakfast Buffet Mural
(Click on mural for larger version)

Another horse image, but definitely not one of the horses in my dream!

Mon. June 02 Morning cruise the legendary West Lake and visit the Longjing Tea Plantation. Afternoon drive to Suzhou. 2 nights at the Le Xiang Hotel.

Hangzhou (Chinese: 杭州; pinyin: Hángzhōu; Postal map spelling: Hangchow) is a sub-provincial city located in the Yangtze River Delta in the People's Republic of China, and the capital of Zhejiang province. Located 180 kilometres (112 mi) southwest of Shanghai, as of 2004 the entire Hangzhou Region ("shì", 杭州市) or Prefecture-level city had a registered population of 6.5 million people. The urban agglomeration of the Hangzhou metropolitan area (杭州市区) has a resident population of 3,931,900 as of 2003, of which 2,636,700 are legal residents, of which there are 1,910,000 residents in the urban core six districts.

As one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, Hangzhou is also well-known for its beautiful natural scenery, with the West Lake (Xī Hú, 西湖) as the most noteworthy location.

Xī Hú (Chinese: 西湖; literally "West Lake") is a famous fresh water lake located in central Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province of eastern China.
The lake is divided by three causeways called Sū Dī (苏堤) , Bái Dī (白堤), and Yánggōng Dī (杨公堤).

West Lake is located west to Hangzhou City. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides, with an area of around 6.5 square kilometers. The distance from north to south is about 3.2 kilometers, and east to west, 2.8 kilometers. The circumference is around 15 kilometers. The average depth of West Lake is 2.27 meters, and the capacity is about 14,290,000 cubic meters. The lake is divided by Gu Shan, Bai, Su and Yanggong Causeways into five areas. Ordered by their areas, they are Outer West Lake(外西湖), West Inner Lake(西里湖, or 后西湖, or 后湖), North Inner Lake(北里湖 or 里西湖), Little South Lake(小南湖 or 南湖) and Yue Lake(岳湖). "Outside West Lake" is the largest. "Gu Shan" or Gu Hill is the largest natural island in the lake. Su & Bai Causeways run cross the lake. Three small man-built islands, "Xiao Ying Zhou"(小瀛洲), "Hu Xing Ting"(湖心亭), "Ruan Gong Dun"(阮公墩), lie in the center of Outside West Lake. Thus, the basic layout is "one hill, two causeways, three islands, and five lakes".

West Lake is not only famous for its picturesque landscape, it is also associated with many scholars, national heros and revolutionary martyrs, thus embracing abundant cultural deposits. In addition, many ancient buildings, stone caves and engraved tablets in surrounding areas are among the most cherished national treasures of China, with significant artistic values.

Due to its prominent historical and cultural status among Chinese scenic resorts, West Lake was elected as National Key Scenic Resort in 1982, one of Ten Scenic Resorts in 1985 and national 5A tourist resort in 2006.

the picture of "Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon" was printed on the backs of both the foreign exchange certificate one yuan bill issued by government in 1979 and the fifth version of RMB one yuan bill issued in 2004, indicating the status of West Lake in China. There are dozens of lakes called west lake nationwide, and "West Lake" usually refers to the west lake in Hangzhou.


The earliest name for West Lake was "Wulin Water"(武林水). "Book of Han, Geography Column" said, "Qiantang, affiliated to west governor general. Wulin mountain is the origin of Wulin water. (The water) runs east into the sea, covering 830 Chinese miles." Its former name include "Qian Water", "Qiantang Lake", "Mingsheng Lake", "Jinniu Lake", "Shihan Lake", "Shang Lake", "Lianyan Lake", "Fangsheng Pond", "Xizi Lake", "Gaoshi Lake", "Xiling Lake", "Meiren Lake", "Xianzhe Lake", "Mingyue Lake", and etc. But only two names were widely accepted in history and recorded in historical documents. One is "Qiantang Lake", due to the fact that Hangzhou was called "Qiantang" in ancient time. The other is "West Lake", for the lake is to the west of the city. The name "West Lake" first appeared in two poems of Bai Juyi, "Bestowed on guests as returning from West Lake in the evening and looking back to Gushan Temple"(西湖晚归回望孤山寺赠诸客) and "On the returning boat to Hangzhou"(杭州回舫). Since North Song Dynasty, most poems and articles of scholars used the name "West Lake", while the name "Qiantang Lake" was gradually taken no notice of. "The request of dredging West Lake" written by Su Shi was the first time that "West Lake" appeared in official document.

Over 2,000 years ago, West Lake was still a part of Qiantang River. Due to the sediment of earth, the surrounding mountains on north and south sides of the lake, Wu Mountain and Baoshi Mountain gradually stretched to form shoal heads. Later these sand spits slowly merged to finally form a sandbank. A lagoon emerged to the west of the sandbank. That is the old West Lake. This occurred during Qin and Han Dynasties. "West Lake Dream Searching"(西湖梦寻) written by Zhang Dai (张岱) recorded, "Big Stone Buddhist Temple. According to ancient history, Qin Shi Huang traveled east into the sea, and moored the boat to this stone." The referred Big Stone Buddhist Temple was located by Baoshi Mountain, to north of the West Lake. These days the "Qin Shi Huang mooring stone" can still be seen.

After Daye 6th year(610), Sui Dynasty, Jiangnan Canal was opened and connected to North Canal. Thus, five major rivers of China, Hai River, Yellow River, Huai River, Yangtze River, and Qiantang River, were all connected, which facilitated the transportation in Hangzhou and boosted the economic development. The tourism in Hangzhou also started to boom.

In Tang Dynasty, West Lake had an area of roughly 10.8 square kilometers, nearly double the present size. The western and southern parts of lake all extended to the foot of West Hill. The northeastern part stretched to Wulin Gate area. Pilgrims could take the boat to the hill-foot and walk up the hill to worship. Because there was virtually no hydraulic project in those days, the lake flooded when encountering heavy rains, and was dried up during long drought.

The diamond shape is the reflection off a skyscraper.

In September, Jianzhong 2nd year(781), Li Mi (李泌) was appointed as the governor of Hangzhou. In order to supply fresh water, he creatively induced the water into the city. He ordered dig six wells be dug in the populous areas like Qiantang Gate and Yongjin Gate, and set up "shadow conduit" (buried clay and bamboo pipes) to introduce lake water into the city. The six wells have long vanished today. The only existing relic is the Xiangguo Well, located to west of Jinting Bridge on Jiefang Rd. The other five wells were Xi Well (to west of Xiangguo Well), Fang Well (or Four-eyed Well), Jinniu Well( northwest of Xi Well), Baigui Well( to west of Longxiang Bridge), and Xiaofang Well (or Six-eyed Well, inside Qiantang Gate, now the Xiaoche Bridge area).

In middle of the Tang Dynasty Zhenyuan era (785-804), poet Bai Juyi (白居易) came to Hangzhou as a governor. Already an accomplished poet, his deeds at Hangzhou made him a great governor. He realised that the farmland nearby depended on the water of Xī Hú, but due to negligence of former governors, the old dyke had collapsed, the water level of Xī Hú dried out, and the local farmers suffered severe drought. He ordered the construction of a stronger and taller dyke, with a dam to control the flow of water, and thus solved the drought problem. The livelihood of local people of Hangzhou improved over the following years. Now that Bai Juji had more leisure time to enjoy the beauty of Xī Hú, he visited Xī Hú almost every day. He ordered the construction of a causeway connecting the Broken Bridge with the Solitary Hill, to facilitate walking on foot, instead of depending on boat. Then he planted coolabah trees and willows trees along the dyke, making it a beautiful landmark of Xī Hú. This causeway was later named Bai Di Causeway (白堤) in Bai Juyi's honour. frOM

Longjing actually means, "Dragon Well" and according to legend, the Dragon Well was discovered in about 230AD. This fresh spring water encouraged the people of Hangzhou to develop their own quality tea and thus, Longjing tea was born.
The National Tea Museum is situated in the Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea plantation near West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. The building complex in 'Jiang Nan water-town' is a perfect example of ancient Chinese civilian architecture.
The National Tea Museum is the only state-level museum specializing in the theme of tea culture. It is also the largest tea museum in China with the most comprehensive collection of tea utensils and other relevant exhibits on view. The museum is made up of five themed buildings: exhibition, tea drinking, tea performance, multiple functions, and international exchanges. The exhibition hall is the main body of the museum. Branching off it are areas dedicated to the history of Chinese tea, tea drinking customs, tea utensils used in past dynasties, and the knowledge surrounding tea culture, and even the complicated process of picking and roasting tea leaves.
The two locations dedicated to tea drinking and tea performance are designed to introduce the ways of drinking tea and show the diverse tea-related performances in different regions of the world.
Visitors here not only appreciate but also take part in the tea-drinking ceremony. Guests can choose their own particular tea, for example the Chinese Longjing tea, named as the imperial tea by the Emperor Qianlong during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
The multiple function rooms generally hold international seminars and exchanges on any sort of tea culture. That is to say, National Tea Museum would rather be an international-level research center on tea and tea-related culture than just a museum showing the history of tea. Each year, tea professionals and aficionados come to Hangzhou city from all over the world for the 'West Lake International Tea Festival'. Tea, as the symbol of world peace and friendship, connects people from all over the world. frOM

The West Lake Dragon Well is called Dragon Well for short. It is produced in the mountainous regions around Longjing Village to the southwest of the West Lake in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. The Dragon Well tea has four wonders, color wonder, fragrance wonder, flavor wonder and shape wonder, namely, emerald in color, thick in fragrance, sweet and refreshing in taste and in the shape of a sparrow's tongue. The elements contained by the Dragon Well tea such as amino acid, catechu and vitamin have the effects of stimulating the production of body fluid, quenching thirst, refreshing, benefiting thinking, digesting food, removing greasiness, diminishing inflammation and detoxification.

Green tea is also referred to as "unfermented" tea. With the new shoots of appropriate tea trees as raw materials, it is made by adopting the typical techniques of inactivation, rolling and drying. According to the different ways of drying and inactivation, it is generally divided into stir-fried green tea, roasting dried green tea, sun dried green tea and steamed green tea. Green tea develops the characteristics of "green leaves in clear soup with a taste of strong astringency". It is a tea category with the longest history of more than three thousand years and also one with the largest output in China. The production areas are mainly distributed in provinces such as Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangxi. Representative teas include the West Lake Dragon Well tea, Xinyang Maojian tea and Biluochun tea.

It is also called fermentated tea. It takes new shoots of tea trees that are suitable for making this tea as raw materials. It is exquisitely made through the typical technical processes such as wilting, rolling, fermentation and drying. Its soup takes red as the main tone. Hence, it acquires its name. As the second largest tea category in China, it is divided into small species black tea, gongfu black tea and smashed black tea. Representative teas include Dianhong black tea and Yixing black tea.
Also called blue tea, it is an unfermentated tea. It is a tea category with unique and distinctive characteristics among the several tea categories in our country. The Wulong tea, which blends the production of green tea and black tea together, has a quality between green tea and black tea. It not only has the thick and fresh flavor of black tea, but also has the pleasant fragrance of green tea. It enjoys a good reputation as green leaves with red edge. The pharmacological effects of the Wulong tea are profoundly manifested in decomposing fat, reducing weight and keeping fit, etc. It is regarded as beauty tea and fitness tea in Japan. Representative teas include Wenshan Baozhong tea, Anxi Tieguanyin, Dongding Wulong tea and Wuyi Dahongpao.

(click on text for readable version)
The product, which is made by taking basic tea categories such as green tea, black tea, Wulong tea, white tea, yellow tea and dark tea as materials and reprocessing them, is called reprocessed tea. It includes scented tea, pressed tea, extracted tea, fruity tea and medicinal and healthy tea, which respectively has different flavors and effects. Representative teas: Scented teas include Jasmine tea and Pearl Orchid scented tea; pressed teas include Tuo Tea and Liubao Tea; instant teas include Green Source brand instant tea.
Scented tea is made by mixing and fumigating tea leaves and scented flowers, letting the tea assimilate the fragrance of flowers by taking advantage of the absorption of tea leaves. It includes Jasmine Tea, Pearl Orchid Scented Tea, Rose Tea and Sweet-scented Osmanthus Tea, etc. The tea dhool for fumigating scented tea is mainly roasted dried green tea and a small amount of slender and tender stir-fried green tea. When processing the scented tea, the tea dhool and fresh flowers, still giving off fragrance, are piled layer upon layer so that the tea can assimilate the fragrance of the flowers; when the fragrance of the flowers is absorbed, replenish the fresh flowers and fumigate the tea according to the above method.

The fragrance degree of scented flowers depends on the quantity of flowers being used and the time of fumigation. The more it is fumigated, the stronger the fragrance is. The ordinary scented tea sold in the market is generally fumigated merely once or twice. Since scented tea that has a strong fragrance gives one a feeling of being able to straingten out one's ideas out after being drunk, it is especially liked by people in Huabei and Northeastern areas of China. In recent years, it is also sold abroad.

Han nationality: The Han nationality has a long history of drinking tea in varied ways. They generally prefer green tea, scented tea, black tea or Wulong tea. Most of them have a liking for an unadulterated drink. They believe that only through unadulterated drinks can they best appreciate and taste the serenity, elegance and verve of tea. Drinking medicinal tea is not aimed at "tasting", but at its effect of medical and health care.

Zang nationality: The Zang people are very proficient in the nutritional deployment of tea drinking. They like butter tea the best. This tea has a rich taste with sweetness and saltiness amid acerbity, as well as a permeating fragrance. It has the effects of warming up the body and resisting the cold. Butter tea is regarded as a special product. When a couple holds a wedding ceremony, tea is used as a symbol of a happy and contented marriage.
Uygur nationality: The Uygur people revel in drinking tea and regard it as important as rice. There is a popular saying in Xinjiang: "I would rather take no rice than no tea in a day." They like milk tea and fragrant tea the best.
Mongolian nationality: The Mogolian people like salty milk tea, which is made by mixing tea, milk and salt. The boiling of the tea seems simple, but in fact it involves certain techniques. Generally, when a girl is old enough, she should learn these from her mother. When she is getting married, she should perform the art of boiling tea in public and present it to the guests to show that she has unusual skills and has been well educated at home.

China is a nation with numerous nationalities. The history, culture and geographical environment of all nationalies vary and their customs of drinking tea are also very colorful and have their own strong points. There is the Bamboo Tube Fragrant Tea of the Dai nationality, the Yanba tea and Dragon and Tiger tea of the Naxi nationality, the Thunder Tea of the Lisu nationality, the Lei Tea of the Tujia nationality, the Sour Tea of the Bulang nationality, the Three-course Tea of the Bai nationality, the Oil Tea of the Miao nationality and the Jar Tea of the Hui nationality in Yunnan, etc. They are too numerous to mention one by one and all have their own characteristics.

Tea Monkeys

It was autumn time. The air was starting to chill and the leaves were turning brown. A taoist monk was taking a break from reading his scriptures and meditations. He put a pot of water on the fire to warm the room, then he walked though the garden to watch the monkeys settle in for the cold season ahead.

For the past year, he watched a monkey family gather certain foods at particular times of the day. This time, the monkeys were eating dried flower buds and leaves. The taoist monk, amused, picked the same buds and leaves the monkeys had chosen. He was surprised to find that the flowers were sill fragrant and the leaves were sticky with natural oils. The monk went back inside to where his water was boiling. He put his handful of flowers and leaves in a small bowl, then pours hot water over them. The fragrance released from the flower buds filled the air. The leaves changed the clear water to a deep amber liquor. The monk was so enticed by the steaming liquid that he sipped slowly his first cup of tea.

The Chinese tea lore is several hundred years old and much older than that of Japan. It can be said that the Chinese tea lore places an emphasis on spirit and makes light of form. It also has different representations at different historical stages. Teas are also different but all embody the spirit of "clearness, respect, joy and truthfulness".

Drinking tea: Tea is taken as a beverage to quench thirst.
Tasting tea: Emphasis is placed on the color, fragrance and flavor of the tea, water quality and tea set. When taking tea, the taster should also be able to savor tea carefully.
Tea art: Attention is paid to the environment, atmosphere, music, infusing techniques and interpersonal relationships.
The highest ambit tea lore: Philosophy, ethics and morality are blended into the tea activity. People cultivate their morality and mind and savor life through tasting tea, thereby attaining enjoyment of spirit.
Clearness: It stands for cleanness, incorruptness, quietness and loneliness. The essence of tea art not only seeks the cleanness of the appearance of things, but also pursues the loneliness, tranquility, incorruptness and shame awareness of the mind. In a still ambit, only through drinking clear and pure tea can one appreciate the profoundness of drinking tea.

Respect: Respect is the root of everything on earth and the way of having no enemies. People should show respect for others and be cautious themselves.
Joy: The meaning of harmony lies in form and method, and that of joy is in spirit and affection. Sipping bitterness and swallowing sweetness when drinking tea can enlighten life and cultivate a broad mind and farsightedness so that disputes between others and self disappear. The spirit of joy lies in that people are not pretentious and haughty but dwell in mildness and nurture courteous conduct.
Truthfulness: It refers to truth and genuine knowledge. The supreme good is the whole formed by a combination of truth and genuine knowledge. The goal of the supreme good is to retain nature, remove material desire without being tempted by advantages and disadvantages, study the physical world to gain knowledge and continually seek improvement. In other words, people should use scientific methods to seek the complete sincerity of everything. The essence of drinking tea lies in its enlightening capacity and conscience so that everyone can live a simple life to express their ambition and handle matters thriftily and virtuously in daily life, thus attaining the goal of truth, goodness and beauty. frOM
Go to for 'In the Company of Snakes' a story of snakes and tea.

Tea journal refers to a serial professional publication of tea that has a fixed name, is numbered by volume and issued in the order of year and month, and is bound into a book. According to incomplete statistics, there are twenty two tea journals in China after reorganization. The large number of tea journals is incomparable to other tea production nations.

Simply speaking, the relationship between tea and wedding refers to applying and assimilating tea in the wedding or tea culture as a part of etiquette. Wedding is not merely a form of proclaiming to the society or requiring the society to admit the marriage relationship, but also is actually a "reception" held for the bride and bridegroom to recognize relatives and meet friends. Therefore, on the festive wedding day, which is generally also the day of a big gathering for close kins and good friends of the two families that establish a marriage relationship. When visitors come, tea is presented to them. In this way, wedding has born an indissoluble bond with tea. Hence, from this point of view, the relationship between wedding and tea can be traced back as early as the era when drinking tea began in China. However, what I am saying here is not only is entertaining guests with tea during the process of establishing a marriage relationship, but there are all kinds of etiquettes that directly use tea as rites during the wedding ceremony.
As for when tea began to serve as a sacrifice, our ancestors seem to have never done special research. It is generally regarded that the use of tea has developed from medicinal use through drinking to a series of cultural pheonomena of tea, that is to say, only after tea became an item in daily use, has it slowly been used or assimilated into the etiquette system of China, including the funeral.

The relationship between Chinese tea and Buddhism is interative. Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism, needs tea. This prevailing custom of addiction to tea promotes the development of the tea industry and tea culture in China. Apart from choosing a quiet environment as the monastic room, the sitting meditation of Zen Buddhism also requires attention to five coordinations, namely, food coordination, sleeping coordination, body coordination, breath coordination and heart coordination. It is very obvious that the five coordinations be mentioned here, especially the sleeping coordination, as it has a certain relationship with drinking tea. Perhaps just because tea plays such an important role in Buddhism and sitting meditation, later some Buddhist followers didn't hesitate to adopt the methods of making up myths or stealthily substituting one thing for another and do their utmost to describe tea as the favor of Buddha and the merit of Buddhist monks.

The first tea flower I try turns out to bee 'Superb Artistry'! :) :) :)

China is both "the homeland of tea" and "a nation of poetry". Therefore, tea has permeated the poems since a very early times. From the earliest tea poems (such as Poem on Lovely Young Girls written by Zuo Si) to the present time, lasting one thousand and seven hundred years, a large number of poems and literature have been created about tea.
As in the case of tea and poems, tea songs and dances are a tea cultural pheonomenon deriving from the primary culture of tea production and drinking. They not only appear at the later development stage of songs and dances in China, but also are merely seen after the tea production and drinking has become the frequent content of social production and life in China.
China is a nation that creates tea culture and also the sole nation that produces the independent type of drama "tea-picking drama" from the development of tea industry in the world. The tea-picking drama is a type of Chinese tradional drama popular in provinces such as Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi. In each province, owing to different districts it goes current, a distinction is made between them by naming it after the places, such as "Yuebei tea-picking drama" in Guangdong and "Yangxin tea-picking drama", "Huangmei tea-picking drama" and "Jichun tea-picking drama" in Hubei, etc. This drama is common especially in Jiangxi and has many genres. For example, the genres of Jiangxi tea-picking drama include "Gannan tea-picking drama", "Fuzhou tea-picking drama", "Nanchang tea-picking drama", "Wuning tea-picking drama" and "Ji'an tea-picking drama', etc. Though these types of drama have a multitude of items, the time of their development is generally at the stage from the middle period of the Qing Dynasty to the late Qing Dynasty.

Fine arts is a "design art", which creates visual images through the devices such as composition of a picture, design and using color, etc. Therefore, apart from the generally regarded painting and sculpture, its extent or content even include architecture. The sculpture technique in tea culture is mainly concentrated on the tea set such as pot, bowl, cup and calyx, the form of tea ball and cake and their facing. For example, the dragon and phoenix tribute tea of Beiyuan in the Song Dynasty were very particular about the patterns of their facing, which were frequently changed. In the palace, there were also activities of adding other ornaments to the tribute tea, which was then called "embroidery tea".
The tea couplet is a dazzling fresh flower in the treasury of couplets in China. There is no limit on the number of characters but it requires antithesis, neatness and coordination in the level and oblique tones. It evolved from the form of poetry in China, in all the sites, with the theme of "keeping up a friendship with tea". You will often find tea couplets with the content of tea life hanging in the courtyard or on the stone pillars of a tea shop, tea house, tea room, tea leaves shop, tea spa, on the wall of the halls where tea lore, tea art and tea etiquette performances are conducted and even in the living room of tea lovers. They not only have the beauty of primitive simplicity and elegance, but also present a feeling of "social morality and honesty and uprightness", provide people with association, add temperament and interest to tasting tea.

Tea proverb is another cultural phenomenon derived during the development of tea culture in China. According to its content and characters, it approximately belongs to the two categories of tea drinking and tea production. In other words, tea proverb mainly originates from tea drinking and production practice. It is a generalization or statement about tea drinking and production experience, which is preserved and goes round through the form of proverbs by the method of handing down by mouth and memorizing by heart. Therefore, tea proverb is not only a precious heritage of tea science or tea culture in China, but also a beautiful flower with strong and pervasive fragrance in the folk culture of China from the perspective of creation or literature.
We can see from the above narrative that tea has a close connection with all the aspects of people's lives, either in the history or in reality, and has become a unique treasure of Chinese culture. frOM

Tu. June 03 Suzhou Visit Master Chan, culture exchange. Sightseeing (Tiger Hill, Lingering Garden and the Silk Factory).

Saw this billboard frOM the back of the bus, sew i snapped a shot. Now i know why! :)

Back into big city polution :(

Suzhou (simplified Chinese: 苏州; traditional Chinese: 蘇州; pinyin: Sūzhōu; ancient name: 吳) is a city on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Lake Taihu in the province of Jiangsu, China. The city is renowned for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens which have contributed to its status as a great tourist attraction. Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Suzhou has also been an important centre for China's silk industry and continues to hold that prominent position today.


Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture, is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze Basin. 2500 years ago in the late Shang Dynasty, local tribes who named themselves "Gou Wu" lived in the area which would become the modern city of Suzhou.
In 514 BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Helu (闔閭/阖闾) of Wu established "Great City of Helu", the ancient name for Suzhou, as his capital. In 496 BC, Helu was buried in Huqiu (Tiger Hill 虎丘).

During the Tang Dynasty (825 AD), the great poet Bai Juyi (白居易) constructed the Shantang Canal (called "Shantang Street" or 山塘街) to connect the city with Huqiu for tourists. In 1035 AD, the temple of Confucius was founded by famed poet and writer Fan Zhongyan (范仲淹). It became the venue for imperial civil examinations.

In 1981, this ancient city was listed by the State Council as one of the four cities (the other three being Beijing, Hangzhou and Guilin) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage as well as natural scenery should be treated as a priority project. Since then, with suburban economic projects, Suzhou has developed into one of the most prosperous cities in China.

Four Directions Pavilion: This pavilion means that all over the world all men are brothers, showing the broad-minded spirit of Taoism.
It was frOM this paviLion that many of us viewed the cultuRAl exchange with Master Chan and his students.

On all of our cultural exchanges, the host group begins their applause the moment they see our group approaching. It certainly makes one feel like an honored guest, unlike our western ways, where applause is withheld until the end, after passing scrutiny and judgment.

Just before the exchange started, these two sparring birds fell out of the sky in front of the paviLion. I don't think they were feeling the brotherhood of the Tao!

It was my understanding that Tai Chi is not done by the yunguns, as they do not have the patience for it. This little guy, hwever, didn't seem to have any problems joining everyone in 24 Moves!
Taiji Quan is a Taoist martial art. One account of the history of Taiji Quan credits its development to the Taoist immortal Chang San-feng, who is said to have drawn the inspiration for the art by watching a fight between a snake and an aggressive eagle. Chang San-feng was reportedly a master of Shaolin Kung Fu who reached an extraordinary level of cultivation through Taoist meditation practices. Another account of the history of Taiji Quan is that many different Kung Fu masters developed it over a long period of time; as a synthesis of internal meditation and martial technique. Either way, the written history of Taiji Quan goes back about 300 years and it was not until the turn of the 20th century that it was introduced to the general public.
Taiji Quan is a very unique and powerful art, for both internal power and longevity. Taiji Quan is a martial art which embodies Taoist philosophy. When Taiji Quan was developed, the martial arts were very aggressive. One's proficiency was measured by the strength and aggression of attack, in terms of the Taoist principle of yin and yang this was a purely "yang" conception of martial arts. What was revolutionary about Taiji Quan was the incorporation of the yin element to fighting. In Taiji Quan one uses a balance of yin techniques with yang techniques, a balance between yielding and attacking. It is for this reason that Taiji Quan is described as "a needle hidden in cotton" or "hardness concealed in softness".
Presently Taiji Quan is rapidly growing in popularity for the tremendous health benefits which come through practice. Clinical studies have shown that T'ai Chi practice can lower blood pressure, reduce nervous tension, and benefit the immune, digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems. At this time, over one hundred million people practice Taiji Quan on a regular basis. Though Taiji Quan is done slowly, the movements are very difficult and strenuous. Regular practice of Taiji Quan greatly improves the functioning of the bodily systems.
Chen-style Taiji Quan is an ancient traditional Chinese Kung Fu. It is the origin of all kinds of Taiji style. It falls into two categories - the old and new frames. The old frame was created by Chen Wangting. It had five routines which were also known as the 13-move boxing. Chen Wangting also developed a long-style boxing routine of 108 moves and also a cannon boxing routine. It was then handed down to Chen Changxing and Chen Youben, boxers in the Chenjia Valley who were all proficient at the old frame. The present-day Chen style boxing boasts of the old routine, the cannon routine and the new routine. The Chen style taiji boxing is the oldest form, all the other styles of taiji quan having derived from it either directly or indirectly.

Master Chen performs Boat Fist and the ladies perform one of my favorites, the Fan Form. Chinese Kung Fu combines both of theory and practice and combines the techniques of self-defense and obtaining good health. Since Master Chen is 90 years old, I'd say it works!
It is thought that the origins of Chinese Kung Fu can be traced to primeval society. At that time people use cudgels to fight wild beasts and they slowly accumulated experience in self defense. During the Shang Dynasty, hunting was considered as an important part of Kung Fu training.
During Shang and Zhou Dynasties, martial arts evolved into a kind of dancing. Usually the dancing movements in martial arts were utilized to train soldiers and increase morale. During Zhou Dynasty, martial-arts dancing were designated as a component of education. The application of wrestling techniques at the battlefield received much attention from various states during the period of Spring and Autumn. The emperor held twice yearly wrestling contests spring and autumn to select the best exponents of martial arts. At the same time, the skill and technology in sword forging was increasing and the sword ceremony developed rapidly. During the Qin and Han Dynasties, wrestling, swordplay, and martial arts dancing were very popular. A well known instance was Xiang Zhuang's Sword Dancing in Hongmen Banquet of the same period. The style of his performance was very close to today's martial arts. Spear play reached its summit in Han Dynasty when many techniques for spear usage were practiced. The Five-animal-style exercise was another innovation of Hua Tuo in the development of Chinese martial arts.
Shaolin Kung Fu is well known at home and abroad. The original purpose of Shaolin Kung Fu was to keep healthy, treat illnesses, for self-defense and to safeguard ancient temples. It boasts diversified patterns, plain forms, and emphasizes inner peace and external strength. It's essence is to be able to store strength and allow it let it to be released in multiplications if the conserved energy.

Pushing hands is a two person training which teaches tai chi students to yield in the face of brute force. Tai chi chuan teachers were persecuted in China during the Cultural Revolution. Hand-pushing exercise is to develop the sensitivity of your skin and your responsiveness so that you outdo your opponent. It is a good way to develop advanced combat techniques of taking advantage of your opponent's force. This exercise is conducted in the way that two exercisers put their hands against each other, twining and twisting according to Taiji�'s principle of attaching, sticking, following-up, relaxing, agility and rebounding. The movements of grasp, hold, wrestle, kick, crack, stroke, squeeze, press, pick, elbow and strike should also be wisely used.
Push-hand is a composite practicing method in traditional Chinese martial arts. Since ancient times, there had been separate practices of kicking, striking, tumbling, knocking down and catching. The method of tumbling, practiced in isolation from striking, had developed in an independent way. The other four methods, though practiced in a combined way, had each distinct characteristics. The push-hand method created by Chen Wangting consists of two boxers, with hands joined, practicing twining and sticking actions to sharpen the sense of touch of the skin and the sensation within the body. Not only did the method incorporate such combat methods as catching, knocking over and striking, it also improved them. Take catching, Chen Wangting's improved method was not limited to catching the enemy's bone joints to overpower him, but was meant to attack the enemy's vital parts, too. Creation of the push-hand method dispensed with the requirements on ground space, protective gear and special clothes for practicing, making Chen's boxing into a kind of sport that can be pursued by two persons at any place and at any time. Thus, to the combat methods in traditional Chinese martial arts (kicking, striking, tumbling, knocking down and catching) was added a new content - pushing. At present the push-hand in shadow boxing is tending to become an item of combat sports.

Master Chan
Master Lin
scrutinize their respective students.

Master Chan's wife? Someone
asked me if I saw his wife. When I asked "What'd she look like?", "Like him" was the answer. I know this lady's energy called to me frOM the Four Directions Pavilion across the way, which is why I took her photo.

As i was preparing Sifu's photo, this was the way it first popped in, with the 'sun' perfectly centered under the arch of the tree branch! The 'sun' in these 3 images is frOM the center geneRAted in the above LionsDala image.

Looks like Master Chan & Master Lin are not the only ones doing the scrutinizing!

I took this beautyfull woman's photo to prove that not all Chinese women are petite!

Before Enlightenment,
After Enlightenment,
Any Questions?!

Occupying an area of 23,300 square meters (about 5.8 acres), the Lingering Garden is located outside Changmen Gate in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Originally a classical private garden, it is one of the four most famous gardens in China. Possessing typical Qing style, it is well-known for the exquisite beauty of its magnificent halls, and the various sizes, shapes, and colors of the buildings. In 1997, the garden was recorded on the list of the world heritage by UESCO.

With a history of more than 400 years, the Lingering Garden has changed hands several times. Each owner did his best to perfect the garden. It was first built in 1593 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) by a retired official named Xu Tai. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), it was bought by Liu Shu. As a calligraphy lover, he carved masterpieces on both sides of the corridors of the buildings. He had also collected unusually-shaped stones in the garden. The succeeding owners followed his model when doing restoration work. Almost demolished in the 1930s, the garden was repaired sponsored by the government and then opened to the public.

Sure wanted to sit down in this chair!

Like other famous gardens in Suzhou, the Lingering Garden seeks to create stunning natural landscapes within limited space. In this garden, domiciles, ancestral temples and private gardens are included. Buildings, trees, and flowers blend harmoniously with their surroundings. The garden can generally be divided into four parts: the central, eastern, western and northern parts according to the style of the buildings.

Of the four parts, the central part is the essence of the whole complex. This part was the original Lingering Garden while the other three were added during the Qing Dynasty. After going through winding corridors from the gate of the garden, one reaches the central part. The central part is divided into two parts: the western part and the eastern part. The former features in pools and hills while classical buildings dominate the latter. The Celestial Hall of Five Peaks in the eastern part of the garden is the largest hall in the garden. The western part is enchanting for its natural scenery. It is a large rockery built from stacked stones and soil during the Ming Dynasty. Maples cover the hill. When all the leaves turn red in autumn, it is extraordinarily beautiful. The northern part used to be a vegetable garden, but now is used to exhibit potted plants of which the Suzhou people are quite proud.

These four parts are connected by a 700-meter (about 0.4 miles) long corridor on the wall of which calligraphy carved on the stone can be found.

Not long bee4 the China journey of 2002, I looked up at the full moon and saw a vision of golden koi surrounding the moon. Although i looked for this kind of image on the 2002 trip, i found nothing similar. Then one day, whilst searching around i came across this t-shirt which was very much like my vision! Of course i ordered it, and wore it on this trip. This time there were paintings similar to the vision, and Sifu even noticed them after seeing my t-shirt, but i was never in the right circumstances to purchase one. However, the Lingering Garden at Suzhou gifted me with the images to create my own!

Chang'er Flies to the Moon

Yi got some elixir from the Queen of the West, but his wife Chang'er stole it and flew away with it to the moon. Thereafter she lived on the moon in the form of a toad, and was called the Moon Spirit.
from Huai nan zi (Writings of Prince Huainan)

People of ancient times said that there was a bay tree and a toad on the moon. Some strange books even said that the bay tree was five thousand feet tall, and that under it there was a man chopping at it all the time. However, the tree healed itself immediately after each cut. This man, who cam from Xihe, bore the name of Wu Gang. He had done something wrong while learning to become an immortal, and as a punishment was made a life-long tree chopped on the moon.
from You yang za zu (Notes from Youyang Mountain)

Fish for the Moon in the Well
One evening, the clever man, Huojia went to fetch some water from the well. To his surprise, when he looked into the well, he found the moon sunk in the well shining. "Oh, good Heavens, what a pity! The beautiful moon has dropped into the well!" so he dashed home for a hook, and tied it with the rope for his bucket, then put it into the well to fish for the moon.
After some time of hunting for the moon, Haojia was pleased to find that something was caught by the hook.. He must have thought it was the moon. He pulled hard by the rope. Due to the excessive pulling, the rope broke into apart and Haojia fell flat on his back. Taking the advantage of that post, Haojia saw the moon again high in the sky. He sighed with emotion, "Aha, it finally came back to its place! What a good job! He felt very happy and told whomever he met with about the wonderment proudly without knowing what he did was something impractical.

Windows, both ancient and modern.

While I went to the Silk Factory, I bought nothing. Go here to sea why i didn't bother to look at the clothing. Fashion Show - Silk Factory in Suzhou, China
Go here to sea the spinning process
I sat by the guys shrink wrapping the silk quilts for folks. i didn'y get one of these either. I figured the cats would have way too much fun with it!
(click on text for readability)

Silk may have been used to manufacture textiles in China as early as 6000 BC, making it one of the first fibers used in manufactured clothing. The credit for using silk as a textile fiber, and the invention of the "silk loom" is given to Xi Ling-Shi, the empress of Huang Di (aka Yellow Emperor) who lived from 2697 BC to 2598 BC.
Chinese legend tells of Xi Ling-Shi observing some silkworms eating mulberry leaves. She collected some of the cocoons, and while drinking tea, Xi Ling-Shi accidentally dropped one of the cocoons into her tea cup. She noticed a small strand of thread separating from the cocoon, and she unwound the strand onto her finger, realizing that it could be used as weaving thread.
Silk thread is a natural byproduct of the mulberry silkworm larvae (Bombyx mori), which spins its cocoon using sericteries, or "silk glands," which secrete a viscous organic liquid protein through its two spinnerets, which are mouth openings in the larva. The clear secreted fluid dries and hardens as soon as it is exposed to the outside air, becoming silk. If allowed to fully mature, metamorphosis will transform the grayish-white silkworm caterpillars into a yellow silkworm moth.
The favorite food of the three-inch-long silkworm larvae is the leaf of the white mulberry (Morus alba), which is native to China and eastern Asia. The silkworm larvae will feed for about six weeks, at which point it will stop feeding and start spinning its cocoon.
The first step in the silk production process is to treat the cocoons with boiling water or steam to reduce the "gumming force" that binds the silk filaments together. A single cocoon can produce a filament measuring over 1,000 meters in length.
Silk thread is produced on a silk reeling mill by pulling the silk filaments from the moistened cocoon (brushing, picking, and unwinding), and then twisting 7 to 8 silk filaments together. The cocoons are soaked in hot water; then the filaments are hand-separated and wound onto mechanical coil bobbins or skeins at the top of the reeling-mill. This process is called reeling, or filature.
After the silk thread is wound onto the skeins it is re-reeled into hanks. The re-reeling is done to dry the thread, increasing its elasticity while maintaining its "elongation rate." There are four different classifications for silk thread: crepe, organzine (warp thread), tram, which are twisted in two directions, or "thrown singles" which are single threads twisted in one direction.
When used as a filling for a comforter or duvet, the silk is stretched into sheets and stacked into a pile. The use of silk comforters is considered a status symbol in the Chinese culture, making them a popular wedding gift. A silk comforter is never washed, as the water can damage the silk fiber. Cleaning is accomplished by placing the comforter in the sun twice a year.

Wed. June 04 After breakfast, bus to Shanghai via Zhouzhuang and visit the most famous water town in China. Evening acrobatic show. 2 nights at the Zhao An Hotel.

Zhouzhuang, one of the most famous water townships in China, situated in Kunshan City which is only 30 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of Suzhou. It is noted for its profound cultural background, the well preserved ancient residential houses, the elegant watery views and the strong local colored traditions and customs. In the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), Zhouzhuang was a part of the fief Yaocheng and called Zhenfengli. After being donated to Full Fortune (Quanfu) Temple by Zhou Digong, a very devout Buddhist, in 1086 during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127), Zhouzhuang got its present name as a memorial of the donor.

In an area of half a square kilometer (124 acres), 60 percent of the Zhouzhuang's structures were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, which is from 1368 to 1911. The most convenient form of transport in Zhouzhuang is a gondola.

Zhouzhuang is surrounded and divided by lakes and rivers, 14 stone bridges cross the rivers, showing distinctive views of the water-town.

Built in 1742 and located at the southeast side of Fuan Bridge, Shen House was the private property of the descendant of Shen Wansan, the first millionaire of Jiangnan (South of Yangtze River) in the early Qing Dynasty. The whole architectural complex is of the Qing's style and occupies an area of more than 2,000 square meters (half an acre). Over 100 rooms are divided into three sections and each one is connected by arcades and aisles. The first is the water gate and the wharf, where Shen's family moored boats and washed clothes. The middle part includes the gate tower, the tearoom and the main hall. Bricky gate tower carved with lively and ingenious figures which tell the historic stories or show the good wishes, make it a rare artwork. Tea room and main hall are places for serving guests, and the furnishings in here are all very elegant. The last section is the two-storied dwelling which consists of several buildings which are quite different from the main hall, more comfortable and refined in pattern and atmosphere. The painted sculpture of legendary Shen Wansan is in Datang Tower; cultural relics including ancient folk instruments are exhibited in Xiaotang Tower and Back Hall. frOM

Sitting on the boat, one may enjoying the scene between bridges and feels the interest of a water township, which offers a quiet and simple life. When night falls, all streets are empty. Down the narrow lanes one catches a glimpse of dim lights. Walking by the waterside, along the road or over a bridge, the peace of the calm water and clear sky, perhaps punctuated occasionally by the distant sound of laughter, creates a harmonious and sweet environment.

Zhouzhuang inJoys rich cultural resources, a beautiful environment and simple local customs.
Dragon Dance: Men of Zhouzhuang always play the black dragon and women play the yellow dragon during holidays. Lion dance is also very common.
Fast Boating: This started in the Qing Dynasty. At first, it was the needs of war, and then people held races for celebrating the harvest and holidays, also for weddings. Farmers participate with their own boats, clothes, props, gongs and drums. Zhouzhuang now has dozens of travel boats for tourists to do sightseeing in.

Grandmother Tea: People of Zhouzhuang are very fond of tea. They drink it in a tasteful way, using ancient tea sets, boiling water in pottery or earthen Jars, bamboo slices or branches as fuel. They first wash the tea and then, several minutes later; pour on boiled water to guarantee the color, fragrance and taste. People used to see groups of old women sitting together and drinking tea, and hence the name, grandmother tea. At present, people like to take some vegetables, melon seeds, beans and other pastries during the tea drinking.

Zhouzhuang enjoys rich natural resources and local specialties. Family Feast of Shen Wansan: When the rich man Shen Wansan moved to Zhouzhuang, he invited famous chefs, selected fresh aquatic products to create a series of delicacies after seasoning and cooking, such as Wansan Pig's Upper Leg, Streamed Mandarin Fish, Pottage of Vegetables and Perch, Ginger Sauce River Snail, Bean Curd Leaf Rolls with Minced Pork, Dried Double-Flavor Bean curd, Braised Lotus Root, and Three- Flavor Meatballs. These dishes have been handed down for generations.

Wansan Pig's Upper Leg: This is Zhouzhuang's most famous delicacy. The pig's upper Leg with flavorings is cooked or steamed until well done. The soup, which turns red, is saline and sweet.
Three-Flavor Meatballs: Chicken meat, fresh prawns, pork, shallots and ginger, as well as rice wine are packed inside gluten, and then made into round balls. They are boiled in chicken soup until well done. It looks crystal-clear and very delicious.

Pottage of Vegetables and Perch: Zhouzhuang's perch has two gills, and its nice meat can be cooked in many different ways. Boiling the perch with vegetables is one of the best ways to serve. White Shellfish: White shellfish are produced in XianJiang River in April. They are washed first and boiled with some flavorings until well done. The soup, which has a milky appearance, is richly nutritious. The meat can also be stir-fried.
Wansan Cake: This has a history of hundreds of years. The Zou's family used to produce various cakes for generations. This therapy is based on fine materials and offers many different kinds, which is welcomed by local people. Every holiday, Shen Wansan's family often ordered lots of cakes to give relatives and friends, thus creating the name of Wansan Cake.
Pickled Vegetables: People collect fresh rape in late spring, then dry it in the sun. Before being completely dried out, however, they are put into an earthen Jar, then sealed and put into an airtight storage space. Several months later, the rape can be taken out and eaten directly, or used for cooking and in soup.

As the gang went shopping AGAIN!, I was allowed to sit in the shade of the information booth across from this tower. The young lady who was working there was not very bemused when folks teasingly came up and asked me for info!

Nü Wa Mends the Sky
In ancient times, the four corners of the sky collapsed and the world with its nine regions split open. The sky could not cover all the things under it, nor could the earth carry all the things on it. A great fire raged and would not die out; a fierce flood raced about and could not be checked. Savage beasts devoured innocent people; vicious birds preyed on the weak and old.
Then Nü Wa melted rocks of five colours and used them to mend the cracks in the sky. She supported the four corners of the sky with the legs she had cut off from a giant turtle. She killed the black dragon to save the people of Jizhou(1), and blocked the flood with the ashes of reeds. Thus the sky was mended, its four corners lifted, the flood tamed, Jizhou pacified, and harmful birds and beasts killed, and the innocent people were able to live on the square earth under the dome of the sky. It was a time when birds, beasts, insects and snakes no longer used their claws or teeth or poisonous stings, for they did not want to catch or eat weaker things.
Nü Wa's deeds benefited the heavens above and the earth below. Her name was remembered by later generations and her light shone on every creation. Now she was travelling on a thunder-chariot drawn by a two-winged dragon and two green hornless dragons, with auspicious objects in her hands and a special mattress underneath, surrounded by golden clouds, a white dragon leading the way and a flying snake following behind. Floating freely over the clouds, she took ghosts and gods to the ninth heaven and had an audience with the Heavenly Emperor at Lin Men(2), where she rested in peace and dignity under the emperor. She never boasted of her achievements, nor did she try to win any renown; she wanted to conceal her virtues, in line with the ways of the universe.
Huai nan zi (Writings of Prince Huainan)
(1) Jizhou: the central one of the nine regions.
(2) Lin Men:the place where the heavenly gods lived.

The really kool thing about the wOManDalas is that there is almost never a bad shot!

Good-bye Suzhou, Hello Shanghai

Shanghai (Chinese: 上海) is the largest city in China in terms of population and one of the largest urban areas in the world, with over 20 million people in its extended metropolitan area.[6] Located on China's central eastern coast at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the city is administered as a municipality with province-level status.

Originally a fishing and textiles town, Shanghai grew to importance in the 19th century due to its favorable port location and as one of the cities opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. The city flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became a multinational hub of finance and business by the 1930s. However, Shanghai's prosperity ground to a sharp halt after the 1949 Communist takeover and the subsequent cessation of foreign investment. After being allowed economic reforms in 1990, Shanghai is booming once more with intense development and financing, and in 2005 became the world's largest port.

The city is an emerging tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as the Bund and Xintiandi, its modern and ever-expanding Pudong skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower, and its new reputation as a cosmopolitan center of culture and design. Today, Shanghai is recognized as China's most important centre of commerce and finance, and is widely regarded as a future global city and as the showpiece of the world's fastest-growing economy.

Mama don't 'low no photos, sew i took a photae of the curtain!

While not exactly the show we saw, you'll get the gist of it!
Acrobatics is an interactive art form. Everyone, young or old, educated or not, can easily appreciate it while watching or seeing the acrobats perform. There is no language barrier and borders of culture do not limit it.
Chinese Acrobatics is one of the oldest performing arts. Its history can be traced back to Neolithic times. It is believed that acrobatics grew out of labor and self-defense skills, which people practiced and demonstrated during their leisure time. The early performance is "walking on three-meter-high stilts while juggling seven gaggers". Then it developed into an entire art form.
Together with the developing economy, acrobatics is also evolving into a kind of performing art. It became well known worldwide while performances are presented along the Silk Road. In Europe and North America, Chinese acrobatic performances always attract large audiences.
The acrobatic performers were trained strictly the basic skills starting from the early age of six or seven years old. Because the required techniques are extremely difficult and risky, the training is long, hard and intense. Examples of basic skills are handsprings, somersaults, waist and leg flexibility, and headstands. The performers must endure great deal of unexpected pains in order to become excellent.
Acrobatic art has its own peculiarity. As the performance itself is very depictive, it has high requirements and interdependent to light effects, costumes or clothing and music. The theme music perfectly coincided with the performance, which could make the atmosphere even livelier. A successful acrobatic show also requires appropriate clothing. Costumes further enhance the beauty of the performance and increase its visual effects. frOM

Th. June 05 Morning visit Shanghai Museum. Afternoon visit the Bund, Nanjing Road and shopping. Evening farewell dinner.

The Shanghai Museum (Chinese:上海博物館) is a museum of ancient Chinese art, situated on the People's Square in the Huangpu District of Shanghai, People's Republic of China.

Construction of the current building started in August 1993. It was inaugurated in October 12, 1996. It is 29.5 meters high with five floors, covering a total area of 39,200 m².

Designed by a local architect, the new museum building is designed in the shape of an ancient, bronze, tripod cooking vessel called a ding. It is said that the inspiration for the design was specifically provided by the Da Ke Ding, now on exhibit in the museum. The building has round top and a square base, symbolising the ancient Chinese perception of the world as "round sky, square earth".

The museum has a collection of over 120,000 pieces, including bronze, ceramics, calligraphy, furniture, jades, ancient coins, paintings, seals, sculptures, minority art and foreign art. It has eleven galleries and three special temporary exhibition halls.

The permanent galleries are:

Gallery of Ancient Chinese Bronze
Gallery of Ancient Chinese Sculpture
Gallery of Ancient Chinese Ceramics
Gallery of Ancient Chinese Jades
Gallery of Ancient Chinese Paintings
Gallery of Ancient Chinese Calligraphy
Gallery of Ancient Chinese Seals
Gallery of Ancient Chinese Numismatics
Gallery of Chinese Furniture in Ming and Qing dynasties
Gallery of Arts and Crafts by Chinese Minorities
(Click on text boxes for larger version)

China has always been richly endowed with the raw materials needed for making ceramics. The first types were made about 11,000 years ago, during the Palaeolithic era. Chinese Ceramics range from construction materials such as bricks and tiles to hand-built pottery vessels fired in bonfires or kilns to the sophisticated porcelain wares made for the imperial court.

The Chinese tradition recognises only two primary categories of ceramics, high-fired cí 瓷 and low-fired táo 匋. The oldest Chinese dictionaries define porcelain [cí 瓷] as "fine, compact pottery" [táo 匋]. In the West the property of translucence is often regarded as a defining feature of porcelain, but this is not the case in China, where any thick or opaque piece that rings with a reasonably clear note on being struck would be regarded as porcelain [cí 瓷].

Chinese ceramic wares are also classified as being either northern or southern. Present-day China comprises two separate and geologically different land masses, brought together by the action of continental drift and forming a junction that lies between the Yellow river and the Yangtze river. The contrasting geology of the north and south led to differences in the raw materials available for making ceramics.

Chinese porcelain is mainly made by the following two materials or a combination of the two. Both rocks derive from the weathering and decomposition of granitic rocks.
China clay / (Gaoling) - composed largely of the clay mineral kaolinite.
Pottery stone - are micaceous or feldspar rocks. Historically they were also known as petunse.

In the context of Chinese ceramics the term porcelain lacks a universally accepted definition. This in turn has led to confusion about when the first Chinese porcelain was made. Claims have been made for the late Eastern Han period (100 to 200 AD), the Three Kingdoms period (220 to 280 AD), the Six Dynasties period (220 to 589 AD), and the Tang Dynasty (618 to 906 AD).

Fragments of pottery vessels dating from around the year 9000 BC found at the Xianrendong (Spirit Cave) site, Wannian County, in the province of Jiangxi represent some of the earliest known Chinese ceramics. The wares were hand-made by coiling and fired in bonfires. Decorations include impressed cord marks, and features produced by stamping and by piercing.

The Xianrendong site was occupied from about 9000 BC to about 4000 BC. During this period two types of pottery were made. The first consisted of coarse-bodied wares possibly intended for everyday use. The second being finer, thinner-bodied wares possibly intended for ritual use or special occasions. There is archaeological evidence suggesting that both types of wares were produced at the same time at some point.

Some experts believe the first true porcelain was made in the province of Zhejiang during the Eastern Han period. Chinese experts emphasize the presence of a significant proportion of porcelain-building minerals (china clay, porcelain stone or a combination of both) as an important factor in defining porcelain. Shards recovered from archaeological Eastern Han kiln sites estimated firing temperature ranged from 1260 to 1300°C. As far back as 1000 BC, the so-called "Porcelaneous wares" or "proto-porcelain wares" were made using at least some kaolin fired at high temperatures. The dividing the line between the two and true porcelain wares is not a clear one.

During the Sui and Tang periods (581 to 907) a wide range of ceramics, low-fired and high-fired, were produced. These included the well-known Tang lead-glazed sancai (three-colour) wares, the high-firing, lime-glazed Yue celadon wares and low-fired wares from Changsha. In northern China, high-fired, translucent porcelains were made at kilns in the provinces of Henan and Hebei.

The city of Jingdezhen (also Jingde Zhen) has been a central place of production since the early Han Dynasty. In 1004 Jingde established the city as the main production hub for Imperial porcelain. During the Song and Yuan dynasties, porcelain made in the city and other southern China kiln sites used crushed and refined porcelain stones alone.

Jingdezhen became the main production centre for large-scale porcelain exports to Europe starting with the reign of the Wanli emperor from 1572 to 1620. By this time china clay and porcelain stone were mixed in about equal proportions. China clay produced wares of great strength when added to the body layer. Whiteness became a much sought after property, especially when combined to form blue-and-white wares. Porcelain stone was used with lower temperature of 1250°C in the region. Compared to those mixed with china clay, which required 1350°C. The large southern egg-shaped kiln varied greatly in temperature. Near the firebox it was hot. Near the chimney, at the opposite end of the kiln, it was cooler.

Sancai means three-colours. However, the colours of the glazes used to decorate the wares of the Tang dynasty were not limited to three in number. In the West, Tang sancai wares were sometimes referred to as egg-and-spinach by dealers for the use of green, yellow and white. Though the latter of the two colours might be more properly described as amber and off-white/cream.

Sancai wares were northern wares made using white and buff-firing secondary kaolins and fire clays. At kiln sites located at Tongchuan, Neiqui county in Hebei and Gongxian in Henan, the clays used for burial wares were similar to those used by Tang potters. The burial wares were fired at a lower temperature than contemporaneous whitewares. Burial wares, such as the well-known representations of camels and horses, were cast in sections, in moulds with the parts luted together using clay slip. In some cases, a degree of individuality was imparted to the assembled figurines by hand-carving.

Jian blackwares, mainly comprising tea wares, were made at kilns located in Jianyang of Fujian province. They reached the peak of their popularity during the Song dynasty. The wares were made using locally-won, iron-rich clays and fired in an oxidising atmosphere at temperatures in the region of 1300°C. The glaze was made using clay similar to that used for forming the body, except fluxed with wood-ash. At high temperatures the molten glaze separate to produce a pattern called hare's fur. When Jian wares were set tilted for firing, drips run down the side, creating evidence of liquid glaze pooling.

Qingbai wares (also called yingqing) were made at Jingdezhen and at many other southern kilns from the time of the Northern Song Dynasty until they were eclipsed in the 14th century by underglaze-decorated blue and white wares. Qingbai in Chinese literally means "clear blue-white". The qingbai glaze is a porcelain glaze, so-called because it was made using porcelain stone. The qingbai glaze is clear, but contains iron in small amounts. When applied over a white porcelain body the glaze produces a greenish-blue colour that gives the glaze its name. Some have incised or moulded decorations.

Blanc de Chine is a type of white porcelain made at Dehua in the Fujian province. It has been produced from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to the present day. Large quantities arrived in Europe as Chinese Export Porcelain in the early 18th century and it was copied at Meissen and elsewhere. From the Ming period porcelain objects were manufactured that achieved a fusion of glaze and body traditionally referred to as "ivory white" and "milk white." The special characteristic of Dehua porcelain is the very small amount of iron oxide in it, allowing it to be fired in an oxidising atmosphere to a warm white or pale ivory color.

Chinese potters have a long tradition of borrowing design and decorative features from earlier wares. Whilst ceramics with features thus borrowed might sometimes pose problems of provenance, they would not generally be regarded as either reproductions or fakes. However, fakes and reproductions have also been made at many times during the long history of Chinese ceramics and continue to be made today in ever-increasing numbers.

Authentication-The most widely-known test is the thermoluminescence test, or TL test, which is used on some types of ceramic to estimate, roughly, the date of last firing. The TL test is carried out on small samples of porcelain drilled or cut from the body of a piece, which can be risky and disfiguring. For this reason, the test is rarely used for dating finely-potted, high-fired ceramics. TL testing cannot be used at all on some types of porcelain items, particularly high-fired porcelain.

The idea for this image came to me in a dream.

maze n. A graphic puzzle, the solution of which is an uninterrupted path through an intricate pattern of line segments from a starting point to a goal.

a·maze v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es To affect with great wonder; astonish.
n. Amazement; wonder.

Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. Earliest paintings were ornamental, not representational; they consisted of pattern or designs, not pictures. Stone Age pottery was painted with spiral, zigzags, dots, or animals. It was only during the Warring States Period (403-221 B.C.) that artists began to represent the world around them.

Painting in the traditional style is today known in Chinese as guó huà 国画, meaning 'national' or 'native painting', in opposition to Western styles of art which became popular in China in the 20th century. Traditional painting involves essentially the same techniques as calligraphy and is done with a brush dipped in black or colored ink; oils are not used. As with calligraphy, the most popular materials on which paintings are made are paper and silk. The finished work is then mounted on scrolls, which can be hung or rolled up. Traditional painting also is done in albums and on walls, lacquerwork, and other media.

There are mainly two techniques in Chinese painting,
Meticulous - Gong-bi (工筆) often referred to as "court-style" painting
Freehand - Shui-mo (水墨) loosely termed watercolour or brush painting. The Chinese character "mo" means ink and "shui" means water. This style is also referred to as "xie yi" (寫意) or freehand style.

Artists from the Han (202 BC) to the Tang (618-906) dynasties mainly painted the human figure. Much of what we know of early Chinese figure painting comes from burial sites, where paintings were preserved on silk banners, lacquered objects, and tomb walls. Many early tomb paintings were meant to protect the dead or help their souls get to paradise. Others illustrated the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius or showed scenes of daily life.

Many critics consider landscape to be the highest form of Chinese painting. The time from the Five Dynasties period to the Northern Song period (907-1127) is known as the "Great age of Chinese landscape". In the north, artists such as Jing Hao, Fan Kuan, and Guo Xi painted pictures of towering mountains, using strong black lines, ink wash, and sharp, dotted brushstrokes to suggest rough stone. In the south, Dong Yuan, Ju Ran, and other artists painted the rolling hills and rivers of their native countryside in peaceful scenes done with softer, rubbed brushwork. These two kinds of scenes and techniques became the classical styles of Chinese landscape painting.

(:Orr in my case, frOM the back of bus #1:)

In imperial times (beginning with the Eastern Jin Dynasty), painting and calligraphy in China were the most highly appreciated arts in court circles and were produced almost exclusively by amateurs—aristocrats and scholar-officials—who had the leisure time necessary to perfect the technique and sensibility necessary for great brushwork. Calligraphy was thought to be the highest and purest form of painting. The implements were the brush pen, made of animal hair, and black inks made from pine soot and animal glue. In ancient times, writing, as well as painting, was done on silk. However, after the invention of paper in the 1st century CE, silk was gradually replaced by the new and cheaper material. Original writings by famous calligraphers have been greatly valued throughout China's history and are mounted on scrolls and hung on walls in the same way that paintings are.

During the Six Dynasties period (220-589), people began to appreciate painting for its own beauty and to write about art. From this time we begin to know about individual artists, such as Gu Kaizhi. Even when these artists illustrated Confucian moral themes – such as the proper behavior of a wife to her husband or of children to their parents – they tried to make the figures graceful.

The "Six principles of Chinese painting" were established by Xie He, a writer, art historian and critic in 5th century China. He is most famous for his "Six points to consider when judging a painting" (绘画六法, Pinyin:Huìhuà Liùfǎ), taken from the preface to his book "The Record of the Classification of Old Painters" (古画品录; Pinyin: Gǔhuà Pǐnlù). Keep in mind that this was written circa 550 A.D. and refers to "old" and "ancient" practices.

1. "Spirit Resonance", or vitality, and seems to translate to the nervous energy transmitted from the artist into the work. The overall energy of a work of art. Xie He said that without Spirit Resonance, there was no need to look further.

2. "Bone Method", or the way of using the brush. This refers not only to texture and brush stroke, but to the close link between handwriting and personality. In his day, the art of calligraphy was inseparable from painting.

3."Correspondence to the Object", or the depicting of form, which would include shape and line.
4."Suitability to Type", or the application of color, including layers, value and tone.

5."Division and Planning", or placing and arrangement, corresponding to composition, space and depth.
6."Transmission by Copying", or the copying of models, not only from life but also the works of antiquity.

Huangpu River, the most important shipping artery of Shanghai, wriggles like an undulating muddy dragon from the mouth of the Yangtze River in Wusong to the East China Sea. The yellow and ice-free Huangpu River is 114 kilometers (71 miles) long, 400 meters (0.25 miles) wide and has an average depth of nine meters (30 feet).

Huangpu River joins 29 kilometers (18 miles) north of downtown Shanghai and divides Shanghai into two parts, east and west. Cruises are available everyday, including the shorter cruises (navigating the main waterfront area between the Yangpu Bridge and the Nanpu Bridge) and the complete cruises (meandering eastward along the golden waterway, over a distance of 60 kilometers or 37 miles). Whether it is in the daytime or at night, the views along the river are beautiful. The great modern skyscrapers and the characteristic buildings in different architectural styles are the best records of the development of the city and the Huangpu River, the birthplace of Shanghai, is the faithful eyewitness.

The Bund, also called the Zhongshan Road, is a famous waterfront and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It starts from the Baidu Bridge, which is at the connecting point of the Huangpu River and the Suzhou Creek, to the East Jinling Road and winds a 1500 meters (less than one mile) length. Walking along the Bund, which is at the west shore of the Huangpu River, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower can be seen on the opposite side and also the Jin Mao Tower. Being one of the Top Ten Shanghai Attractions, the Bund is a really beautiful and special place which is worth visiting. The newly-built Flood Control Bank has the function of preventing the oversize flood; the square with the statue of Marshal Chen Yi is an open air podium which gives new views of the Shanghai Plaza Culture; the Cenotaph which stands on the man-made island is a monument of people's heroes; the riverside greenbelt, the Electronic Waterfall Bell, and the Great Mural Carving are all representatives of the Bund.

The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 52 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance. The Bund was the centre of Shanghai's politics, economy and culture hundreds of years ago, consulates of most countries and many banks, businesses and newspaper offices were settled there, and that's why we have these art-like buildings. Although they were not designed by the same person or built in the same period, the architectural pattern is similar.

As the gang was turned loose on Nanjing Road to go SHOPPING AGAIN, I hung with the bus driver again. He was very kind to me. He opened the windows at the back of the bus where i was sitting, as well as the roof vent, so that I wouldn't get too hot and could have a breeze to keep me comfortable.

I was not on Nanjing Rd., I was on Hankou Rd.
Nanjing Road (Chinese: 南京路; pinyin: Nánjīng Lù) is the main shopping street of Shanghai, China, one of the world's busiest shopping streets. In a broad sense, Nanjing Road includes East-Nanjing Road and West-Nanjing Road, while in narrow sense, it only refers to the Nanjing Road before 1945 (today’s East-Nanjing Road), which is pedestrianized. Prior to 1949, the road's English name was rendered "Nanking Road" using the standard romanization of the time.

Nanjing Road is located in the city center, running in a west-east direction. Its eastern section (南京东路)is in Huangpu District and extends from The Bund (Wai Tan-外滩) west to People's Square. The western section (南京西路) begins at People's Square and continues westward towards Jing'an District. This section is known for its luxurious shopping centers. It is the world's longest shopping district, around 6 km long, and attracts over 1 million visitors daily.

The history of Nanjing Road can be traced back to the year 1851. At that time it was called “Park Lane”, which comes from the Bund to He’nan Road. In 1854, it was extended to Zhejiang Road, and eight years later, once more extended to Xizang Road. In 1865, it was named formally “Nanking Road” by the Municipal Council, which administered the International Settlement. In Chinese it was usually referred to as the Main Road (大马路) (literally Great Horse Road). In 1943 the International Settlement was annulled, and after World war Two the government changed its name from Nanking Road to East-Nanjing Road, meanwhile named the former Bubbling Well Road West-Nanjing Road, and give a general name of the two roads—Nanjing Road, which with five kilometres total length.

As early as the beginning of 20th century, eight big department stores were established along the street one after another. A series of franchised stores were set up at that time.
In 2000, as a part of the development plan held by the local government, Nanjing Road was reconstructed to be a characteristic pedestrian street. The width is about twenty-eight meters and the total length is one thousand two hundred meters, which extends from Henanzhong Road to Xizangzhong Road.

As China's most important shopping street and popular Shanghai tourist attraction, Nanjing Road is also a working place for professional con artists who are trying to rip off tourists. For men, they often offer female companionship with promises to provide sexual services and karaoke companionship. However, this is a trap. Some of them try to convince men to come with them to get "special massages" - again, sexually oriented propositions.

frOM the balcony and frOM the back of bus #1, we're both just watching the world go by.

Other scams involve invitations to a tea ceremony. The so-called Tea-house scam or "Gong Fu Tea", is supposedly a traditional ceremonial, held in a small tea house situated in a shopping gallery. The catch is that the "guests" will be asked to pay for each cup of tea they consume during the ceremony, while they are led to understand that the price announced at the beginning (about 40 RMB) is for the whole ceremony, not for each single cup of tea. The touters generally speak good English, claim to be students and strike a fast friendship with unsuspecting tourists. One such location to avoid is the teahouse located at, Bai Min Xiang Xie (2nd flr), Nanjing DongLu, Han Kou Road 643 r. This teahouse is run by a company called Anlogine Consulting who has been reported to be involved in several of these scams in Shanghai.

I couldn't help but wonder about this lonely, little e in a Chinese character patch.
InnLight10mee anyone? Below the sign were many rows of ladies bikini cut panties in RAinbow colors.

Another scam involves visiting "art galleries", where tourists are strong armed into purchasing low quality items.

MaoMao says these are the real national flag of China! Folks here don't use dryers. Good way to save energy, but i'd worry about the pollution.

It can be difficult to avoid these people as they might wait in front of hotels to lure unsuspecting tourists, or approach victims surprisingly while walking along the street. Often, asking to take their picture will cause them to leave. Another deterrent is to travel in a group, as they tend to favor lone travelers as targets.

Got Tape?

Tourists and guests often celebrate various holidays at Nanjing Road, such as the Chinese New Year, New Year's Eve, Christmas and Easter. Some parts of the buildings and shopping malls seen in front of the Nanjing Road today may host a fireworks display over the main isle of the street.

Flour sculpture is an art that mixes glutinous rice flour with color and pinched into various small figures. The figures are vivid and colorful; hence they are called "three-dimensional pictures and silent dramas". The great master of flour sculpture is Shanghai artist Zhao Kuoming. His works enjoy a high reputation because they are free from mildew, vermin and cracks. Even dozens of years later, they look new.

Shanghai boasts one of China's best and most distinctive cuisines. Influenced by its location just south of the Yangtze River and at the estuary of the Huangpu River, the region abounds in a selection of freshwater fish and shellfish. Dishes from this area are lightly and delicately seasoned. Shanghai people have a 'sweet tooth', and more sugar is used in Shanghai than in any other part of China.

Nope, it wasn't RAining and the lens was clean!

We created the Orb Theory based on the findings of our field investigations and through our research. We discovered that a spiritual orb represented the soul of a departed person. The soul being the essence of who they were in life, complete with their intelligence, their emotions and their personality. The orb or sphere is common in our every day lives. The earth and moon are spheres. Our blood cells are sphere shaped. The vision of Black Elk describes hoops within hoops. We use the symbol of the circle to represent eternal existence, with no beginning nor end.
We teach that a spirit is represented in an orb configuration pattern. When the spirit is moving about, its shape is an orb with a contrail, but when it comes to rest, meaning that it is no longer in motion, the spirit energy that is compressed within the orb is released and this spirit energy expands into what we call Ecto-Vapor or Ectoplasm. Often an orb will contain more than one soul and when its spirit energy is released, multiple orbs flow forth from the single orb. The orb may be observed as a small white ball of light shooting through a room and through a wall. When recorded on film, the orb size is often confused because the photo is only 2D and its size is dependent on how far from the lens the orb is when captured by the camera.

As wee waited for the gang to return frOM their shopping spree, i was served tea and MaoMao showed me some of his photaes of his lovely home in Nanjing. He also gave a private preview of the next trip, on which he is already working. It willbee in 3 years on the occasion of Sifu's 60th year. It willbee a Silk Road tour. I was the 4th one to sign up after the presentation was to the gang after dinner. This impressed Sifu. Well, i've got 3 years to tRAin!

Daylight upon entRAnce, Nightlight upon exit!

Zigien again China. Keep the torch burning. See ya in 3 years on the Silk Road!

China, Land of ContRAsts!

Fri. June 06 Transfer to the airport for your international flight home.

Journey's End

At the feet of Restless Mountain,
By the shore of Dreaming Sea,
Veiled by mists of Time Forgotten,
Speaks the voice which beckons me.
On this silent hidden island
Stands an ancient wall of stone.
Past the giant granite warrior,
Through formless gates I walked alone.
On I climbed past fleeting shadows
Of Eldritch and forgotten things
Until at last I stood before it,
That for which the Dragon sings.
Among the billowing soft white clouds.
The Crystal City half undressed,
Smiling as its rays enfold me;
Within its light, my soul carressed.
And now beyond the pain and sorrows,
Beyond the realms of life and death;
Within the heart of past tomorrows,
Asleep I fall with one long breath . . .
~Rick Allen