Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Clearer Day in Changsha

The intersection of Remin West Road and Cai'e South Road on Tuesday, the same day I shared examples of people protecting themselves from the sun on a smoggy day in Changsha:

intersection of Remin West Road and Cai'e South Road in Changsha on a smoggy day

The same intersection on an overcast Friday, which had much lower levels of pollution:

intersection of Remin West Road and Cai'e South Road in Changsha on less polluted day

The pollution was still higher than what would be acceptable in the U.S. for long-term exposure, but it felt like fresh air after recent days. The worst days in Beijing, and sometimes elsewhere, may make for flashier news, but the regularity of days like Tuesday not only in Changsha but many other places as well is a bigger problem for people's health in China.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Xtepiration in Changsha

I planned to post something I had expected to be delightfully simple before moving onto more delightfully complex matters. But the post turned into something also delightfully complex and took me down several unexpected paths. Since it clearly won't be finished today, I will now share a photo which tangentially relates to it. As a bonus, it includes a message which may inspire some people.

part of large advertisement for Xtep with the message "KEEP MY BELIEVE" covering a space apparently under construction

The space under renovation along Changsha's South Huangxing Commercial Pedestrian Street was covered by the upper portion of marketing material for the Chinese sportswear company Xtep. Since I don't know what appeared below the cut, I will refrain from commenting on its possible intended message. You are welcome to seek a deeper meaning in the scene though.

For an extra bonus, while I stood there with my camera out, a person walked by and enthusiastically posed for a photograph. I accepted his gracious offer.

young man wearing a face mask with his hands in the air and fingers making V signs.

And now I feel inspired to continue work on the other post.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Umbrellas More Common Than Face Masks on a Rainless and Smoggy Day in Changsha

Similar to what I found earlier this year in Chongqing, one thing that remains mostly the same in Changsha since previous visits is the air pollution. Today was no exception, and Changsha had some of its most polluted air for recent days.

a smoggy view of Furong Middle Road in Changsha

According to U.S. standards, the air quality in terms of a 24 hour exposure to the smallest particles was in the "very unhealthy" category. I saw few people wearing face masks, and those I did see were clearly not the types effective at filtering harmful pollutants.

Despite the smog, the sun at times did its best on a rainless and humid day to reach humanity. So far more than people wearing face masks, I saw people employing commonly used methods in China to avoid tanning.

two young women holding sun umbrellas walking down a street in Changsha

man blocking the sun from his face with a bag

woman holding an umbrella walking by a construction worker in Changsha

woman holding an umbrella at a street intersection in Changsha

Perhaps if these people knew the degree to which heavy smog blocks the radiation that causes tanning, they wouldn't have felt the need to take any extra precautions today.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Snack for Two on a Motorbike in Changsha

Some people talk on a mobile phone while on a motorbike. Some people sleep on a motorbike.

Today in Changsha, some people ate while on a motorbike.

two girl eating while sitting on a parked electric bike in Changsha

And in the background, you can spot something related to a couple of themes for some upcoming posts.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shooting Rubber Covered Pockets of Air in Changsha

Earlier today while reviewing photos I took in October 2012, I noticed one scene at a riverside pedestrian area in Changsha captured a familiar theme — the deliberate destruction of innocent balloons.

I didn't know when I took the photo that later I would see the same activity in Hengyang and in Shaoyang. Hunan is a tough place to be a balloon.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Shooting Rubber Covered Pockets of Air in Shaoyang

A common evening sight along the river in Hengyang is people shooting balloons. In neighboring Shaoyang I didn't see as much of the activity, including at a popular pedestrian riverside area somewhat similar to the one in Hengyang. Possibly I was just not at the right place at the right time.

I did see the activity on at least one evening though. This time a boy enjoyed the opportunity to obliterate threatening colored balloons.

balloon shooting game operator in Shaoyang

boy shooting balloons in Shaoyang

In true balloon-shooting spirit, the boy showed no mercy. He noticed me watching, so, similar to the four boys with toy guns I met in Maoming last year, perhaps I was lucky to walk away unscathed.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Barking Dogs, Barbecue Buddha, and a Broom Attack

Today while walking down Renmin Road in Changsha, I encountered two dogs who had plenty to say to me.

two dogs in Changsha

Perhaps the closer dog had realized at this moment I knew they were mostly just bark. But at least they were standing next to an interesting location — a Chinese barbecue shop.

two dogs in front of a Chinese barbecue shop

It opens at 5:00 p.m. and closes around midnight. When closed it displays a painting of what appears to be Buddha holding grilled skewered beef.

painting of Buddha eating barbecued beef skewers

Or maybe it is tofu. Whatever the case, the shop's name specifically mentions beef.

As I took photos of the shop and the Buddha painting, something unexpected occurred. A shirtless man approached me and began screaming at . . . I'm not sure who, maybe the dogs, though they weren't doing anything at the time. He was possibly using the local dialect.

I sensed something wasn't quite right as it certainly wasn't normal behavior. Especially compared to what I had seen and dealt with during my earlier 10 years of life in Baltimore, I wasn't worried, but I remained alert. I commented to the man about the painting. His yelling continued unabated.

I then decided to start video recording to capture the moment to see if a local friend could understand the man. But he had stopped yelling by then and started to walk away.

I sensed all was not over.

As the following video shows, I was not wrong, but what occurred was even more unexpected — especially the dramatic "unsheathing".

After the man walked away, one person watching nearby used hand gestures to communicate he thought the man was "crazy". I am somewhat surprised I haven't seen similar examples more often in China. Baltimore was more eventful in this regards.

I have no idea what the man did with the broom handle. It looks like it could have been a great skewer for some large pieces of beef.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A One-Wheeled Phone Conversation

Recently I shared examples of people using mobile phones while in control of moving motorbikes in Hengyang. Today in Changsha, I saw an example of someone using a mobile phone while riding another type of powered vehicle.

girl with a mobile phone to her ear while riding an electric unicycle down an alley

Despite the vehicle only having one wheel, I suspect the phone use presents less of a safety issue given the vehicle's slower speed and it not requiring any hands to operate. Although they are not an everyday sight, I have noticed more and more electric unicycles in use, often rented for a fun ride. I didn't ask the girl if she owned the unicycle. She appeared preoccupied as she zoomed past.

From Hengyang to Changsha With a Few Stops In Between

Over a month ago I arrived in Hengyang, Hunan.

motorbikes waiting at the intersection of Chuanshan Avenue and Zhengyang North Road in Hengyang
Intersection of Chuanshan Avenue and Zhengyang North Road in Hengyang

And almost exactly a month ago I left Hengyang and went to neighboring Shaoyang.

man carrying two baskets on a pole across the intersection of Wuyi Road and Dongfeng Road
Intersection of Wuyi Road and Dongfeng Road in Shaoyang

From Shaoyang I went to neighboring Loudi.

woman crossing the road at the meeting point of Dixing Road and Yuetang Street in Loudi
Meeting point of Dixing Road and Yuetang Street in Loudi

From Loudi I went to neighboring Xiangtan.

vehicles waiting at the intersection of Chezhan Road and Jianshe North Road in Xiangtan
Intersection of Chezhan Road and Jianshe North Road in Xiangtan

From Xiantan I went to neighboring Zhuzhou.

Tiantai Road in Zhuzhou with the Shennon Tower (Zhuzhou Television Tower) in the background
Tiantai Road in Zhuzhou

From Zhuzhou I went to neighboring Changsha — the capital of Hunan province and where I am now.

Intersection of Chengnan West Road and Baisha Road in Changsha

Both Hengyang and Changsha were return visits. The other prefecture-level cities in Hunan were first-time visits, and by design, with one minor exception, I have not previously mentioned them here. After flipping through all of my photos from the past month to prepare this post, I am reminded I have more than enough to process and share.

The frequent travel and amount of time I spent immersing myself a diverse set of cities meant I was not able to blog as much as I would have liked. In the near future, I will share some of what I have experienced and learned in Hunan. I plan to also touch on some topics related to two cities elsewhere in China where I spent a significant amount of time earlier this year — Chongqing and Zhongshan.

So as usual, more soon . . .

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Balanced Sleep in Hengyang

Whether or not you are a motorbike-taxi driver in Hengyang, sufficient sleep is an important part of a healthy work-life balance.

man sleeping on a motorbike with his legs propped up on the handlebars

Some people are more flexible in where they can get it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Inflated and Deflated Hunan Style

At Donghu Park in Zhuzhou, Hunan, during the day children enjoy playing on an appropriately inflated slide.

children playing on a large inflated Pororo-themed slide at Donghu Park in Zhuzhou, Hunan

At night children may reflect when they discover the slide has been deflated.

child looking at a deflated slide ride at Donghu Park in Zhuzhou, Hunan

Some may even prefer it that way.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Waiting for an Early Passenger in Hengyang

Two motorbike-taxi drivers waiting for passengers around 7:30 a.m. in Hengyang:

motorbike taxi driver waiting at an intersection in Hengyang, Hunan

motorbike taxi driver waiting at an intersection in Hengyang, Hunan

The two types of helmets seen in the photos are common equipment for motorbike-taxi drivers in Hengyang. As suggested in an earlier set of photos of motorbike drivers in Hengyang, most other people ride sans helmet.