Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkins and Murals

During the last full day of a recent trip covering several regions of the US, I saw pumpkins at the Dallas Arboretum.

small building covered with pumpkins at the Dallas Arboretum

During the first full day after returning to Asia, I saw murals at Taipei's Dalongdong Baoan Temple.

portion of a mural at the Dalongdong Baoan Temple in Taipei

On that note, I am back in Taiwan, although soon I will be headed elsewhere — a place that probably has more religious-themed murals than pumpkin-covered buildings.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Nanchang Scene

My trip to the US has pulled me away from blogging more than I had expected. I hope to have things back up to speed in the near future. Nanchang, the capital of China's Jiangxi province, was briefly on my mind today, so for now here is an everyday street scene from when I visited the city almost three years ago.

people on a narrow street in Nanchang, Jiangxi

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Contrasting Air

Recently in China's capital:

Recently in an American small town:

Today I was in the latter location and did not have to wear a mask in Beijing due to an "airpocalypse" yet again. As I travel from region to region in the U.S. during a several-week trip, I have found the relatively clean air — something which once seemed unremarkable — to be so remarkable. And I appreciate it all the more.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Very Different Protest in Mong Kok

Earlier this year at Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, I saw police telling a street musician to stop his performance.

The musician's initial protests attracted the attention of additional police. Eventually, the musician left peacefully, though not happily.

That was about as tense a scene I had ever encountered in Mong Kok. I can't say I expected that later in the year I would be watching far tenser scenes in a video titled "Hong Kong protests: the battle for Mong Kok".

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Graffiti Cat

Been reading and thinking a lot about Hong Kong lately—most of it rather heavy. For now, though, something lighter I saw in Hong Kong earlier this year:

graffiti on a wall of a cat and a heart

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Protesting as Hong Kongers

The protests in Hong Kong are about more than just democracy and touch on some issues which are not general to China but instead specific to Hong Kong. In "Are ‘Hong Kong people’ still Chinese? Depends on how you define ‘Chinese'" Alan Chin wrote:
To many in Hong Kong, then, “Chinese” may primarily mean a cultural, ethnic, or racial marker of identity rather than of political nationality. There are “Chinese” of various types who make up the majority population in Taiwan and Singapore, a significant percentage in Malaysia and Thailand, and large numbers around the world.

So when the demonstrators chant “Hong Kong People!” they are asserting that to be a citizen of Hong Kong is emphatically not the same as being Chinese. For the authorities in Beijing, this may send shivers down their spines.
In "Hong Kong’s young – fed up with high rents, few jobs – drive protests" Stuart Leavenworth wrote:
“To tell you the truth, we don’t want to be defined as Chinese people,” said Simon Wong, 24, one of several protesters McClatchy interviewed who made similar statements.

“I am not one of those people who thinks that Hong Kong can become independent,” he quickly added. “But Hong Kong is a special place, with a special autonomy. We just want them (Chinese leaders) to keep the promises they have made.” . . .

What would protesters want done if they had real democracy? Answers vary, but several young people complained about widening inequality and a Hong Kong economy that caters too much to tourists, many of them from the mainland. They come to shop – or at least window-shop – at the outlets for Cartier, Versace and other luxury brands that line many of Hong Kong’s boulevards.

“All of these fancy stores are for the tourists, they are not for us,” said protester Choi-Wing Tung, who’s 23. “They are driving up the rents for all of us.”
Read both articles for more about how many Hong Kongers identify themselves and what motivates them to protest.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Umbrellas and Tear Gas in Hong Kong

These are just a small portion of the striking tweets with images* about the protests in Hong from Sunday through mid-Monday.

Instead of providing any commentary, I will simply share Zoher Abdoolcarim "5 Takeaways from Weekend of Protests" (HT James Fallows):

1. The protests cut across Hong Kong society
2. This is as much about inequality as democracy
3. The difference between Hong Kong and mainland China is not just political
4. Beijing is clearly mismanaging the fringes of China’s empire
5. Hong Kong faces a tough fight ahead

Each of the points speak to much, and more detail about each of them can be found in the article on Time. Abdoolcarim concludes with:
Hong Kong—which, with its 7 million people, is just a tiny corner of China—can expect no quarter from Beijing over its fight for democracy.

*Images may not appear if you are viewing this post through a reader. See the post here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Colorful Sight in Taipei

Yesterday while I walked around outside in a drizzle, I turned around and noticed something which surprised me.

rainbow arching over buildings in Taipei

The rainbow didn't strike me as remarkable except in one way—it had been a while since I had last seen a rainbow. In a post displaying the artificial rainbow I saw in Hengyang, I mentioned I couldn't remember having ever seen a genuine rainbow in China and wondered if pollution or tall buildings were significant factors. I now see that 15 years ago two scientists presented hypotheses for how pollution may have caused a decrease of rainbow sightings in Seoul, South Korea, but they don't claim to have an answer.

Whatever the case, I appreciated the rainbow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gazing in Taiwan

Two views from the center of Gaze—an installation work by Taiwanese artist Hwang Buh-Ching portraying a "loving gaze and silent emotion" between Hwang and his wife:

Hwang Buh-Ching's Gaze in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei

Hwang Buh-Ching's Gaze in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei

Monday, September 22, 2014

Xinzhuang Lanterns

Two lanterns at the Wusheng Temple (無聲廟) in Xinzhuang, New Taipei City
At the Wusheng Temple (武聖廟) in Xinzhuang, New Taipei City

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Good Strong Mix

One of today's discoveries:

A bottle of Halen Tripel 9% alcohol beer and a bar of Lindt 99% cocoa chocolate

Swiss chocolate with too much cocoa pairs excellently with Belgian beer with too much alcohol.