Tag Archives: life

China 2019 – Shanghai

First of all, I must ask you not to judge the quality of photography of Worldwide Explorers and Skye Photography based upon my photographs.  As the least knowledgeable photographer of the group, while I got excellent tips from our guides Marcus and James, I still managed to cut off the tops of buildings, take the photo from too high an angle, misalign the composition of the picture, etc.  Both of our photographs will make you weep… but for different reasons.

With that disclaimer, on to Shanghai.

Shanghai is the largest city in China by population and the second most populous city in the world with a population of 24 million.  It is a global financial center and the world’s busiest container port.  It sits on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze River on the East China Sea.

Today, Shanghai is a mixture of new and old.  There is the modern Shanghai with some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

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There is the historic Victorian Bund.

 

 

And, just a short walk away, is the old Shanghai with narrow streets, storefront vendors and crowded homes and shops.

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China 2019

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to China.  We flew out on Saturday morning January 19th non-stop to Shanghai and returned on Saturday, February 2nd after a non-stop flight from Beijing.  We were part of the Worldwide Explorers’ photography tour (https://www.worldwide-explorers.com/ ; https://www.worldwide-explorers.com/blog ) – a very small group, only six of us plus three guides, one of whom was our Chinese interpreter.

We went from Shanghai to three “water towns,” old villages east of Shanghai unchanged for a thousand years.  Then we went east to Zhangjiajie, China’s first national park, a UNESCO heritage site and the location for the movie Avatar.  When we returned to Shanghai, the photo tour was over but we had hired the Chinese interpreter as our guide for Beijing.  We took a bullet train from Shanghai to Beijing and then got to see the Forbidden City, the Beijing Zoo and the Great Wall before heading back.

China is a fascinating country; it should have a sign when entering that says “country under construction.” Everywhere we went, even in the rural areas, buildings were either being built or torn down.  Sometimes it was hard to tell which one it was.  Shanghai is a city of contrasts – the very modern skyscraper city, the elegant old Bund and, just a few blocks away, the old, old back streets of an earlier Shanghai.  The water towns were very interesting.  I expected to arrive at them in a rural setting.  Instead, we drove and stopped in a city, walked to an entrance beyond which was this older, hidden village – canals and all – surrounded by a modern city.  Very strange.

I could have spent days at the Forbidden City.  Supposedly, it has buildings whose rooms total 9,999.  Even during the off-season (January), it was very crowded.  By contrast, we went to a sparsely visited section of the Great Wall.  Most of the pictures you see of the Great Wall are probably taken around Badaling.  This section has been completely restored and is only a short hike (5 minutes) from taxi to wall.  We went to Simitai which is much less traveled and also not restored.  We had an hour hike to get to the wall but we were the only ones there.

A few pictures of Shanghai at night; more photos of the trip will follow.

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Giving Thanks

 

Giving thanks

The End

The End

Although I am not at death’s door, there are those moments when I can see the door from here.  To prepare for the Day of Atonement, I have a few requests for my all my loved ones (family and friends).

First, don’t say “He passed.”  I died.  Saying “He passed” sounds like I had a bad urinary experience or an unhappy encounter with cannibals.

“Two cannibalistic ship captains passed each other in the night.”

Second, don’t say “He is in a better place.”  Repeated requests to all Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – have produced diddly squat so there is no corroboration for this assertion.  You can say that I am in good company.

“You go to Heaven for the scenery and hell for the company.” –Mark Twain

I may have better luck with Buddhists because a Zen Buddhist pizza guy once said he would make me one with everything.

Third, please do not have responses say anything about resting in peace.  I have no such intention.  For eternity, I plan to pester, bother, aggravate and, in general, annoy anyone who ever incurred my wrath.

“Agitate, agitate, agitate.” –Frederick Douglass

If you wish to delay the inevitable arrival of death’s door at the end, you can listen to the interminable The End by The Doors:

Aw, shit!

 

I had an “Aw, shit!” moment the other day.  We had received warnings of immanent, severe weather.  It was the usual blurb from local meteorologists:

“Nothing to worry about (if you’re Superman).”

“Secure children and small pets to sturdy fixtures driven at least six feet into the ground.”

“If you are driving on a major highway, abandon your car now!”

“Good news.  The storm has been downgraded by the National Weather Center from cataclysmic to merely life-threatening.”

I took the usual precautions by checking for loose objects, taking light weight items inside and resupplying my liquor cabinet.  I went out on the back porch to watch the storm, which did turn out to be rather severe.  As I sat there placidly and amusingly watching the rains beat sideways and the winds pick up, I noticed an object floating in the lake near my house.  Someone, I thought, has had the misfortune to have their shed blown into the lake and slowly sinking.

At the moment, I realized that it was MY shed blown into the lake and slowly sinking.

Aw, shit!

How many times in our lives have we had that unfortunate moment when we realize that no amount of prayer, wishful thinking, incantations to the gods or promises of remorse is going to reverse the irreversible.

All of this, by way of my swamp of consciousness, brings to mind a winner of the Bulwer-Lytton contest.   As you may recall, entrants to the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest are invited “to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels” – that is, deliberately bad.  This one came immediately to mind:

“The bone-chilling scream split the warm summer night in two, the first half being before the scream when it was fairly balmy and calm and pleasant for those who hadn’t heard the scream at all, but not calm or balmy or even very nice for those who did hear the scream, discounting the little period of time during the actual scream itself when your ears might have been hearing it but your brain wasn’t reacting yet to let you know.”

In other words, “Aw, shit!”

Ah shit