Monday, May 18, 2009


I took close to 2000 photos in under a month. Almost 8 gigs worth. I've looked at them all a few times now and I think it's time to share some. Speaking of the nighttime Neon Sign picture, when I first arrived in that town 3 days prior it was dark and raining and the reflection of that sign on the vacant rain soaked street was a really cool effect. I wanted to get that picture. Earlier in the day when that shot was eventually taken, the wind picked up and the leaves turned and it seemed that darker skies where coming. I was excited because I knew that picture would be better if the street was wet. But I didn't get the rain I desired and ultimately there were a few other hang ups as well. Like I was drunk off my ass, I didn't have the proper equipment, I don't have the know-how to use said proper equipment if I did, I didn't have enough time plus I was drunk off my ass! One top of all that, I didn't discover my camera lens was jacked until I got to China. I had never noticed the problem previously so I had no reason to check it before I left. All I did was charge the batteries and buy some extra memory. Despite all of that, one of the ten or so shots I took turned out decent enough so I posted it. It just seemed to fit the mood of the story I suppose. Wait, did I say drunk off my ass twice? Either way, I feel like I have a good eye for photography so fuck it.

Of the 2000 or so photos I found 108 of them that turned out pretty good. I mean 108 that seemed worth sharing in terms of the story of my trip. That seems like a lot though. I've never tried anything like this before and I wasn't sure where to start now but then out of nowhere I got an email from our friend Roger asking if I could send him the pictures I of the Dentist I had told him about... I had seen a dentist along this muddy back alley that lead to nowhere one day and I got a couple of pictures and they turned out pretty good.

On one side of the dentists office is a used shoe store, on the other side is a place to buy cola, ice cream and umbrellas. The office, if you even want to call it that, isn't much bigger than a walk-in closet and it's wide open. You can see the mud that people have tracked in from the alley and anyone that is seen by the doctor is also seen by anyone who happens to walk by at the time. The doctor, will happily smoke a cigarette while he contemplates the next move. So lets start there....

(I believe you can click on the pictures and get a bigger version.)

The Great Wall pictures deserve to be near the top also. What an amazing experience that was. And what a hike! You can do some seriously walking on that mofo. It was crazy the amount of people that were up there. I was thankful that the sun peaked out there a little bit. Not only was it pretty cold and windy but the contrast between the shady and sunny areas of the mountains made for some really nice photos. With a full day and a kick ass lens or two you could really get some good shots. It's like I had said about Glacier National Park, it's impossible to take a bad picture.

The Summer Palace might be the best thing to see in Beijing. That might sound crazy considering everything else you can see there but the Summer Palace is spectacular. Built some 6 or 700 years ago. Much like the Great Pyramid or the Great Wall, the Summer Palace takes the term "man made" to a whole new level. A mountain is all you see when you first walk in but as you walk around you see the amazing palace that's built on top of it. Behind it is a huge man-made lake. It appears to be as big as Lake Mead. Absolutely incredible. When I think of a man made lake, I think of a river, a dam, then a lake. Well this one started as a stream and a tens of thousands of shovels. My guide informed me that the lake is only 4 meters deep and the earth for the mountain came from the lake. It's as interesting as it is beautiful.

I had asked my guide what these red bars where for. She told me that there were some kind of new structural addition to the buildings. I'm not a construction engineer, but those don't look structural to me. I nodded my head as she spoke but I was thinking it seemed odd.

An hour later or so I stumbled onto this sign hanging from a building. Ah-ha! Almost every building in the Forbidden City had a sign similar to this hanging from it. I just never put it together until I seen it this plainly. Once I figured it out I realized I didn't have the heart to tell the guide she was wrong.

You can take a boat and on the other side of the lake is the 17 Arches Bridge. ...I think that's what they called it anyway.

I forget the name of this park but I do remember it's located near old Beijing. It was very beautiful. If perchance anybody knows the name of it. please let me know.

Well besides the dentists pics we appear to be heading on a most decided Beijing theme here so let's keep at it...As much as I hate to say it, the Forbidden City was amazing to see but at the same time it was something of a let down. I can't really say why other than most it is off limits to visitors and once you've seen one building from the outside they all kind of look the same. Nonetheless the numbers are staggering. If memory serves the Forbidden City spans over 110 acres and has just shy of 1000 buildings. My guide told me that if you were born in the Forbidden City, and slept in a different room each night of your life, you would be 21 before you will have slept in every room. Another interesting factoid that I remember is that the brick floor, if you will, over the entire complex, which you will see below, is 15 criss-crossing layers thick. They did this so any potential tunnelers would not be able to surface within the grounds. I also heard interesting stories about Emperors from centuries ago and the sometimes political, sometimes whimsical lifestyles they led. One other thing that was staggering was simply how many visitors where there. Over 100K visitors come to the Forbidden City every day. My tour was less than ten people so we were able to dart around pretty good. Those bus tour people were fucking annoying even without the bullhorns and I was damn glad I didn't have to wear one of those hats.

More Beijing.

Tienanmen Square Morning. This one might be my favorite picture I took. I took 6 or 7 shots of this and I think this one turned out the best. It's still out of focus though. Nonetheless the wet street and the reflection on it makes the picture infinitely better I think.

We went there at 5 in the morning to see the troops raise the flag at sunrise. It was a pretty cool experience and I'm glad I did it. There was a ton of people there and I remember being surprised about that. That was stupid. They had a barricade set up and I was standing ten rows back or so when the ceremony started but I could still see perfectly. Ha Ha. I only took one picture and it too is out of focus. Nonetheless you can see the troops in formation marching the flag across the street and into the square where it resides daily. I got a crappy video of the actual procession but I won't share that here.

Then we went back in the afternoon. You can really see my jacked up lens here. Could have been a nice shot otherwise.

This is the line to enter Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. MaoZedong is a popular former Chairman of the Communist Party. His body is embalmed and open for viewing and if you want to wait in this ridiculous line you can walk past it for 3 seconds. It's free. This is the end of the line on the left which went all the way down as far as you can see in this photo, then turned to the right and went down and back the length of the building and then a left and all the way back to here. The people waiting in line on the right here are still about 20 minutes from the front. The line moved fast but it still took forever. It was was worth seeing though. It was like Bodies only not overpriced.

Ok. I think this thing is starting to run long so I think what I'm going to do is a few more Beijing pictures and then do the other stuff I have in another post or two....If you want to see more that is. Yeah that sounds good.

In no particular order...

Beijing Airport. The largest in the world. You know you have a large airport when the different terminals have dedicated exits off the freeway. (Sorry no pictures of that)

Beijing has this intricate electric busing system. I'd hate to see what happens when the system shuts down.

And I'll leave you with this. One day, while in Old (or original?) Beijing my guide, who on this day happened to be a mandarin speaking white dude from Virginia, asked me If I'd heard about the first day of the Olympics when that Chinese guy went crazy and killed a volleyball coach and jumped off a building. I replied that I did remember hearing about that. My guide slapped my arm and said, "that was the building he jumped off of".