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Showing posts with label Environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Environment. Show all posts

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Juzizhou Bridge: A Return to Changsha, Hunan

As recent posts suggest, I am now in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. I arrived here while the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was underway. Coincidentally, I was also in Changsha five years ago during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. At that time I experienced great difficulty using my VPN to get through the Great Firewall and access online sites blocked in China. This time I have had a far more online positive experience. I have not had any additional unusual problems since those I experienced almost three weeks ago in Zhongshan, Guangdong.

When I mentioned some of the internet challenges I faced five years ago, I shared a photo of Changsha's Juzizhou Bridge. A year later, I shared another photo of the bridge, this one from the western side of the river at night. Although a subway line below the river now matches its path, the bridge remains an important link across the Xiang River while also connecting Tangerine Island (Juzi Zhou) to both sides. Below is a fresh series of eight photos taken north of the bridge from the eastern side of the river. The colors may seem a bit off, but they are in part a result of something that hasn't changed much in Changsha since I first visited the city over 8 years ago — heavy air pollution. All of the photos include Tangerine Island, which blocks the view of the shoreline on the river's other side where the most easily visible buildings stand. In addition to people on and below the bridge, vehicles crossing the river, and ships passing by, the sun descends from one photo to the next, eventually to be partially hidden by Yuelu Mountain.

two people under Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



ship and Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



buses and people on Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



two boats approaching Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



ship approaching Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



man under Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



buses crossing Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



sun setting behind Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

More Flooding in China: Twenty Scenes from Taiyuan, Shanxi

In a piece about widespread flooding in China this year, Te-Ping Chen explored the possible causes, such as:
“China’s urban construction was carried out at too fast a pace,” says Jia Haifeng, associate professor with Tsinghua University’s environmental science and engineering department. Officials have tended to focus on visible projects such as roads, bridges and housing, he said. “They emphasized infrastructure above ground, but not so much infrastructure below ground.”

Many roads are built without being properly leveled, said Andrew Buck, an urban planner at Beijing landscape-architecture firm Turenscape, meaning that water easily accumulates. Older drainage systems often can’t accommodate current demands.
During my recent time in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi in northern China, I noticed it too apparently lacked appropriate infrastructure to deal with wet weather. Almost any time it rained, some streets became challenging to cross by foot or walk on (sometimes there isn't a useable sidewalk) due to water quickly accumulating in places.

Today the rain was especially heavy. When I went out for lunch I was soon faced with an unusual decision: try looking for food in another direction or step into water nearly knee-deep with a slight smell of sewage. I had deliberately put on sandals, was wearing shorts, and didn't have any open sores, so I figured I would take the submerged route to get a better sense of the extent of the flooding.

Below is a series of photos presented in the order they were taken during a brief outing this afternoon in a popular central shopping district. They include scenes of people crossing roads, vehicles trying to make it through high water, not-so-lucky vehicles, people dumping out water from an underground garage, a person clearing debris from a grating where water drained, and water flowing out of a sewer hole. Based on the pattern of garbage on the sidewalks, the flooding had already subsided from its high point by the time I made it outside. None of what I saw was as dramatic as what I experienced in Hengyang, Hunan, two years ago — in other words, no chengguan offered me a ride on a raft. It also wasn't as dramatic as many other recent examples of flooding in China. But the photos capture a side of life in a city, and in a country, in need of a water drainage infrastructure upgrade.

Car driving on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



car driving on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



Scooter and people on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



stalled car, person riding a bicycle, and people walking on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



young man and woman with umbrella on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



woman and girl with an umbrella walking on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



two young woman pulling up their skirts to avoid getting them wet on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



people crossing a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



men dumping out water from a flooded garage



men dumping out water from a flooded underground garage



SUV driving on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



woman pushing scooter on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



people crossing a flooded street next to a Starbucks in Taiyuan, China



man riding a motorbike on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



car driving on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



man standing in a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



open sewer hole cover in a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



young man clearing debris from a grating for drainage on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



motor-rickshaw on a flooded street in Taiyuan, China



water coming out of a sewer hole on a sidewalk next to a flooded street in Taiyuan, China

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mountains from Houhai

Exiting a metro station wasn't the only time clear skies and good air in Beijing caught my attention recently.

a dusk scene at Houhai in Beijing with mountains visible in the background
A clear view at Houhai

After an intense and at times slightly painful hailstorm the previous day, I took my friends visiting from the U.S. to Houhai. While standing on a small bridge over the lake, I looked at the horizon and exclaimed "I can see the mountains!" I excitedly explained to my friends that air pollution often makes it impossible to see these mountains from central Beijing.

They looked at me with expressions I probably would have had years ago. It was understandably hard for them to share my excitement since the mountain scene itself, though pleasant, wasn't especially glorious from our vantage point and my comment mostly made them think about Beijing's pollution.

I will refrain from sharing more photos featuring recent clear skies in Beijing. But after some posts on other topics, I won't refrain from sharing photos of unexpectedly clear skies in another northern city.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Moment of Blue Skies and Good Air in Beijing

When I see people excitedly mention blue skies in Beijing, I typically have conflicting feelings. On one hand, I feel happy they are enjoying a beautiful sky. On the other hand, I find it regrettable that the moment is so special in part due to air pollution.

But I felt only amazement after existing Beijing's Dongsi Shitiao metro station a couple of weeks ago and seeing a blue sky with clouds that look normal to me though not to everybody in China. Blue skies don't always equal good air quality, but in this case the pollution levels were good according to U.S. standards for both short term and long term exposure. The sky and air were quite a change of pace from the heavy pollution on the day I arrived from Hong Kong and many other days I have experienced in Beijing.

So here are a few photos from a moment which shouldn't have been so remarkable but was.

blue skies above the intersection at the Dongsi Shitiao metro station in Beijing


blue skies and clouds reflecting off a building at the intersection above the Dongsi Shitiao metro station in Beijing


blue skies and clouds reflecting off a building at the intersection above the Dongsi Shitiao metro station in Beijing

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Shaoyang Rainbow

Just over two months ago on the day I arrived Shaoyang, Hunan, I saw something I can't remember having ever seen before in China.

rainbow over a street scene in Shaoyang, Hunan

I had once wondered if I would ever see such a thing.

It was, and is, a special day.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Two More Blue Sky Scenes in a Zhongshan Village

More blue sky & clouds scenes, these from today in Shimen Village, Zhongshan:

watch tower and blue sky in Shimen Village, Shaxi Town, Zhongshan

open window of a yellow building with a blue sky and cloud above in Shimen Village, Shaxi Town, Zhongshan

Sharing these and other photos of blue skies in Zhongshan (here and here) was partly inspired by my recent experience viewing some photos shared by friends elsewhere in the world. I doubt the deep blue skies had been intended to be the primary area of focus in their photos, and I found it striking my eyes were so drawn to them.

I will move on to other topics shortly. For more thoughts on how blue skies and "normal" clouds can seem unusual to me and others in China, see an earlier post with photos from Macau here.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Blue Sky in Zhongshan

Today Zhongshan had a blueish sky.

blue sky above a tower near the former residence of Sun Yat-sen in Cuiheng, Zhongshan
Watch tower near the former residence of Sun Yat-sen in Cuiheng, Zhongshan

It didn't mean Zhongshan's air quality was "good", but the air was significantly better than when I was deceived by a similarly blue sky in Shanghai.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Drop of World Water Day From Zhongshan, China

Yesterday at a blt supermarket in Zhongshan, China, I was reminded that today, March 22, is World Water Day.

"12% off" sale for a selection of bottled water at BLT in Zhongshan

Like a recent promotion in Zhongshan on International Women's Day, I question whether it appropriately reflects the day's spirit. A sale of relatively expensive waters from around the world on a day partly focused on finding ways more people can have access to any sort of safe water doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. But I guess I shouldn't complain. I visited this particular supermarket specifically due to its unusual-for-Zhongshan selection of carbonated water and saved a few RMB.

Although carbonated water is a treat for me here, in Zhongshan I always drink bottled water. I wouldn't feel safe regularly drinking tap water in China.

Finding clear and reliable numbers on China's water safety can be challenging. For example, although a 2014 report by the World Health Organization and Unicef indicates China has made notable strides in the number of people with access to improved drinking sources, this is largely based on the assumption that having piped water on premises is better. The report doesn't address whether the tap water in China is actually safe. Even by China's own standards, though, much of its water is bad. Incidents of severe water contamination are obviously not positive signs and some experts are highly suspicious of tap water. Other experts argue that China's approach to improving water access and water quality largely through a "infrastructure-focused approach" is misguided and should instead "focus on cleaning water sources and recycling water".

When I wonder about the reliability of the bottled water I drink and the amount of tap water I have ingested indirectly through prepared foods, I am not sure how much I have accomplished. One of the things I enjoy during my trips to the U.S. is drinking and using water straight from the tap without worry. This is one respect where I would say most Americans don't appreciate how good they have it.

For more about something that is so important yet easy for some to take for granted, see Tariq Khokhar's "5 reasons why water is key to sustainable development" and David Sim's "World Water Day 2015: Photos to make you think twice about wasting this precious resource". The latter includes a number of striking images from China and elsewhere providing more reason to appreciate regular access to safe water, especially if it as close as the kitchen sink.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fang Tang's Caricature World at the Zhongshan Cartoon Museum

The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (中山漫画馆)
The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (中山漫画馆)

The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (website in Chinese) opened just over two years ago at scenic Yixian Lake Park in Zhongshan, Guangdong. The Chinese characters "漫画" (mànhuà) in the museum's name are translated into English as "cartoon". But in a different context on a sign introducing a collection of pieces by Fang Tang (方唐), the characters are translated as "caricature", which captures the spirit of his work displayed there.

Fang Tang, formerly known as Chen Shubin, was born in Zhongshan in 1938 and has achieved national recognition (source in Chinese). According to the Zhongshan Daily Overseas Edition, Fang donated a number of his pieces to the museum because he felt it was a better option than them becoming "rubbish" after he dies. As a whole, I considered Fang's works to be the most striking examples in the museum, in large part due to the topics they covered.

Below are photographs of six examples of his work along with their titles. I would typically take a pass on translating artwork titles, especially without consulting the artist. However, for the sake of providing some context, I gave it a shot, erring on the simplistic side. Titles in the original Chinese are included as well, and dates are listed when possible.

With the exception of "Henpecked Disease", I would not have been surprised to see the below examples as editorial cartoons in an American publication, although a slightly different meaning could have been intended or interpreted in some cases. The pieces provide a taste not only of what Fang wanted to creatively express but also of what he has been allowed to express in China.

Sign introducing the collection of pieces by Fang Tang
Sign introducing the collection


Security (安全) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting the Statue of Liberty waving a metal detector over people
Security — 安全 (2003)


Give Some Oil (给点油吧) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting apparent religious/spiritual figures and the Statue of Liberty al in line to receive oil
Give a Bit of Oil — 给点油吧 (1981)


Recollecting (回想) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting men looking at a caged bird in a deforested area left only with tree stumps
Recollecting — 回想 (1986)


Henpecked Disease (惧内症) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting crowd of men running away after an angry-looking woman is revealed on a pedestal
Henpecked Disease — 惧内症 (1985)


Worship (崇拜) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting a man walking by a pointing man standing atop a pyramid of people bowing
Worship — 崇拜


Conviction (信仰) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting a man impaled by a arrow sign and holding an arrow point in the other direction while also holding a book
Conviction — 信仰

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Another Smoggy View in Chongqing

Perhaps I shouldn't have left the previous post, which was about a coat's timely message and Chongqing's temperatures, somewhat hanging with a comment about bad air pollution.

I have mentioned Chongqing's air quality before, and probably will do so again, but, to bring a little more closure to the earlier post, here was a view this afternoon from the SML Central Square shopping mall:

view from top of SML Central Square in Chongqing looking towards the Yangtze River

The buildings barely visible in the distance are located across the Yangtze River. I can't say to what degree fog may have played a role in the haze, but, even though Chongqing's air quality improved over previous days, it was definitely bad today.

Maybe someday soon I will see a "Make it Fresh" coat.