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Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Friday, January 11, 2019

Hu Jintao Looking at a Fish

A piece about a site in Zhongshan I had planned to post yesterday turned out to be more challenging to put together than expected. I think I finally sorted out the loose ends which had bothered me, but I won't get around to finishing it today.

Instead, today I will share a photo that tangentially relates to the future post.

Photo's caption:
"2004年12月21日,时任中共中央总书记,国家主席,中央军委主席胡锦涛视察中山市食品水产进出口集团,时任中央政治局委员,广东省委书记张德江等陪同"


The photo in the above photo is displayed at Zhongshan's Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. According to the caption, it was taken in 2004 and captures a moment as Hu Jintao (far right), then general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and president of China, inspected the Zhongshan Foodstuffs and Aquatic Import & Export Group Co., Ltd. The caption doesn't say anything about whether the visit was a success, but with all those smiles it looks like at least this part went quite well, at least for the non-fish entities.

I now see that the photo relates in yet another rather tangential fashion to the unfinished future post. So I will add that it includes another exciting photo of a past Chinese leader displayed at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and has an indirect fish theme. Most importantly, I can now rest in peace knowing that I have a "Hu Jintao Looking at a Fish" post.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Names and Views of the Changjiang Reservoir in Zhongshan, China

After passing by some flowers on a recent foggy day in Zhongshan, I found a good view of the dam at the Changjiang Reservoir (长江水库).

dam at the Changjiang Reservoir in Zhongshan, China


Changjiang is the name of a famous river. The name may not ring any bells, and that's probably because the river is typically named the Yangtze River (扬子江) in English. The short story about the river's English name is it is based on just one of its sections. Using China's current system for romanizing Chinese words, that section would instead now be named the Yangzi River.

But the Yangtze River never comes close to Zhongshan, and there's more to the story about how the Changjiang Reservoir got its name:
Why is the reservoir named Changjiang (the Yangzi River) although it has nothing to do with the mother river - Changjiang. According to a legend, about 300 years ago, a Mr. Long and his nephew came from their hometown Jiangxi province to farm in this wildness. They named the place they resided "Changgang" (literally, it means a [series] of hills) because on their way from Jiangxi to Zhongshan, they walked [past] one hill after another. To commemorate their hometown Jiangxi, they changed "Changgang" to "Changjiang". (In some Chinese dialects, Gang is the [homophone] of Jiang.)
Despite the story, journalist Jiang Shangyu (江上雨) doesn't think the name lives up to the reservoir's splendor (link in Chinese with many photos of the reservoir), and their argument was published in the Southern Daily newspaper (link in Chinese without many photos). The suggestion was to change the name to Qingling Lake (庆龄湖) in honor of Soong Ching-ling (宋庆龄), a prominent past political figure in China and the third wife of Sun Yat-sen — the "founding father of the Republic of China". In China, the name Sun Zhongshan is commonly used for Sun Yat-sen, and that's where the city of Zhongshan gets its name.

Apparently Jiang's suggestion had an impact. A few signs near the reservoir display the Qingling Lake name.

sign for Qingling Lake (庆龄湖) in Zhongshan, China


However, it doesn't appear to be the official name. According to online maps the name remains the Changjiang Reservoir. And that is the only name used on a Zhongshan government website (example in Chinese).

The body of water is rather large and surrounded by much greenery. Unfortunately, at least where and when I arrived all I could find with views that was open to the public was a small area in front of the Scenic Holiday Hotel. But I could at least spot an island through the fog from one vantage point.

foggy view at the Changjiang Reservoir (长江水库) in Zhongshan, China


So I don't have much to share in terms of photos, though I am glad I made it there. And I will conclude with one of the more picturesque trees I came across at the reservoir, lake, or whatever you'd like to call it.

tree at the Changjiang Reservoir (长江水库) in Zhongshan, China

Monday, January 7, 2019

Flowers in Zhongshan

Last year I posted a photo of several red silk-cotton flowers I saw on the ground in Jiangmen. I identified them as coming from the Bombax ceiba tree, which is known by a variety names. Later I shared photos of the flowers being collected at a park and drying outside at two nearby locations. In both cases, the flowers may have been destined to become an ingredient in Five-Flowers tea.

Several days ago in Zhongshan I noticed a different type of flower. I don't plan to write as much about them as I did about the red silk-cotton flowers, though I do hope to do a short piece on the near Changjiang Reservoir. But since the flowers caught my eye, I will take this opportunity to add to the flowers-in-Guangdong theme.

flowers near the Changjiang Reservoir in Zhongshan, China

Friday, January 4, 2019

A Generational Meme in China

I will keep this short and sweet since these tweets by Kassy Cho speak for themselves:



A compilation by Victor Sun on YouTube includes these examples and more:



That's all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Countdown for the New Year that Didn't Happen in Zhongshan

After finishing my last post of 2018, I headed out to see see what the final moments of 2018 and the first moments of 2019 would bring in Zhongshan. I didn't expect the city would have anything even close to the spectacular New Year's fireworks I saw last year in Taipei, but I figured I could stumble upon something.

As I walked towards the Central Power Plaza, a shopping mall at one end of the popular Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian street, I noticed that both the vehicular and foot traffic was far heavier than usual so late at night. And when I finally arrived at the shopping area, I saw that the Christmas tree there was still up and the large mostly open square was packed with people far more densely than I had ever seen it before.

So I joined the masses. Midnight was mere minutes away, and I asked one couple why so many people had gathered there. They said they had no idea themselves and had similarly joined in hoping to catch whatever there might be to catch.

people gathering to celebrate the first moments of 2019 at Central Power Plaza in Zhongshan, China


I then noticed that a number of people appeared to be video recording a large digital display on a building across the street.

a dark large digital display on a building


Aha . . .

But nothing ever appeared on the display. And soon a small number of people, presumably with the help of their mobile phones, simultaneously counted down from ten to zero.

Nothing happened. After a few moments quite a few people emitted sighs of disappointment. Suddenly, what sounded like fireworks livened things up, but there were no visual signs of them in any direction. After just a few explosions all was back to as it was before, except now people were quickly dispersing.

After milling about a bit, I asked a group of young women if they knew why everybody had gathered. I was luckier this time, and they explained that in past years, including last year, a countdown to the end of the year would appear on the large screen. They had assumed the same would once again happen this year. The one woman said she suspected the government had decided it wasn't safe anymore and had canceled it. I asked her what she thought about the safety issue and she said "Well, I came here. I don't think there's a problem."

Like others, they seemed deflated. So I told them I sort of found the experience exciting. After they asked why, I explained that I had never before experienced anything quite like this on New Year's Eve— everybody tightly packed together anticipating a big countdown and celebration and then . . . mostly nothing, not even the countdown. It was almost surreal. I could now say I certainly had had yet another special experience to bring in a new year.

At least my perspective appeared to amuse them.

So I wished them a happy new year and headed away. I knew the perfect thing to do. I would have my first 2019 drink at a bar I hadn't visited before with a name that seemed to describe much about the past year, including its last moments.

Fittingly for its name, after a long walk I was surprised to find it closed.

The W.T.F. Bar in Zhongshan China


Yet again, somebody felt amused.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Game of Xiangqi, a Shop, and a Look Back at 2018's Travels

Soon 2018 will be over in China. For the last post of the year here, it would be hard to top one with another photo of people playing xiangqi. This evening on Mazhou Street (麻洲街) in Zhongshan I stumbled upon a lively game:

men playing a game of xiangqi on Mazhou Street (麻洲街) in Zhongshan, China


The player wearing red slippers had to temporarily leave the game. After all, nobody else was around to take payments at the small convenience store across the street.

small convenience store on Mazhou Street (麻洲街) in Zhongshan, China


For me 2018 began in Taipei, from where in mid-February I made my way to Jiangmen in Guangdong province via Macau and Zhuhai. I spent two months in Jiangmen and of course saw some xianqi games — whether they were during the Lunar New Year or accompanied by various forms of smoking. Then I headed to Yunfu where I explored wonderful karst topography and a historical street. Next, in Zhaoqing I also explored much history and nature. Getting caught up on other matters meant I haven't yet shared much about the city here, though at least I managed to share my impression of the wonton's at a restaurant there with a logo rather similar to McDonald's. Similarly, I didn't manage to post much about Qingyuan, where I saw a rainbow for the first time in a while.

Next I returned to a familiar location, Guangzhou, whose towers provided a stark contrast with my previous recent locations. Then it was on to Hong Kong where I caught some FIFA World Cup football in a mall and, of course, more xiangqi. After Hong Kong, I returned to the land of the Great Firewall and had some peculiar problems using some sites it blocks while I was in Shenzhen, though at least my location had a striking view. I had growing suspicions the issue was quite local. In fact, my problems were resolved after arriving in Huizhou, although the problems were only growing for some ducks there. Once again, catching up on matters and such led to me blogging very little about a city. But such was not the case when I made my way Ganzhou in Jiangxi province. During nearly two months there, I observed much burning during the Hungry Ghost Festival, more rainbows, and, yes, more xiangqi — both during the day and at night.

I then traveled from Ganzhou to Zhuhai by bus, and I finally found some Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi Oreos to try. After Zhuhai, I moved on to yet another familiar city, Zhongshan, where I have been since. Left out of this account are various days trips I made to Macau, one of which allowed me to see the Macau Lunar New Year Festival.

Personally, some of the most unexpected parts of the year for me was the amount of time I spent in Guangdong province and that I never made it farther north than Ganzhou. On several occasions I planned heading much farther north, including to Shijiazhuang in Hebei province and relatively nearby locations, but life is complex — sort of like a game of xiangqi.

There is so much from the past year I still want to share and write about. Hopefully at least some of that happens later. But now, I will spend the last half hour of 2018 by exploring a tiny bit more.  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Protected Guardian Lion in Zhongshan

Signs of the Christmas spirit in Zhongshan, China, weren't difficult to find on Christmas Eve, particularly in commercial areas. However, in most of the city as I walked around things looked as they could on any other night. So on that note, here is a photo of something I saw on Christmas Eve that didn't have anything to do with Christmas yet still wasn't something I see every day.

helmet with plastic vizor on top of a Chinese guardian lion


While I attempted to take a photo of a Chinese guardian lion with a helmet on its head, a man working inside came out and removed the helmet. It was clear he assumed I would prefer a photo without the helmet and was trying to help. So I explained that the helmet wasn't a problem and I actually liked its placement. Appearing to be amused, he smiled and returned the helmet to where it had been. Afterwards I took the above photo.

I guess even Chinese guardian lions can benefit from some extra protection. They can also be a convenient place to leave a helmet.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Apples, Trees, and Santa Hats: More Christmas Scenes from Zhongshan, China

During this blog's life, I have shared Christmas scenes from a variety of cities in China such as, in chronological order, Wuhan, Putian, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Hong Kong, and Wenzhou. The Wuhan post includes general information about the holiday in China that still largely holds. To complement the scenes of a Christmas Midnight Mass in Zhongshan I recently witnessed this year, below I will share a set of photos capturing some other aspects of how the holiday was celebrated in Zhongshan, even if just for fun with little or no religious connotation. The post isn't as extensive as many of the earlier posts and none of the displays I saw were as elaborate as the somewhat surreal Star Wars Christmas display at a mall in Shanghai several years ago. But they offer a peak at the holiday in yet another city in China.

Not at all surprising, one of the first signs of the holiday I noticed on Christmas Eve night were two young women setting up a display of traditional-in-China Christmas apples in decorative boxes for sale.

young woman setting up a display of Christmas apples in Zhongshan


I wondered about their choice of location in the midst of a small informal night market in front of Fuye Square. All I can say is that just as I was about to walk away they already had potential customers.

young men looking at Christmas apples for sale in Zhongshan


Not very far away on the Qijiang Bridge, I saw more people selling Christmas apples.

Christmas apples for sale on Qijiang Bridge in Zhongshan


At the time they were keeping an eye out for relevant authorities some other vendors thought soon might be on the way to stop such activities.

On the other side of the bridge, the Central Power Plaza shopping mall had a large Christmas tree outside.

Christmas tree at Central Power Plaza in Zhongshan, China


Unsurprisingly, it was a popular location to take photos, including for a group of women wearing Santa hats.

people taking photographs next to a Christmas tree


On the nearby Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian Street, more Santa hats could be found.

two young women wearing Santa hats while walking on the Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian Street in Zhongshan


On Christmas Day, I stopped by Lihe Plaza. In addition to the Christmas tree outside, there were also giant reindeers and a Santa Claus above the main entrance to the shopping mall.

Christmas tree and giant reindeers and Santa Claus at Lihe Plaza in Zhongshan


In one open air pedestrian area there was a market set up with a theme mixing Christmas and Pihotrain — a young Shenzhen-based company with Disney-like ambitions.

Pihotrain Christmas market at Lihe Plaza in Zhongshan, China


Most of the vendors in the market were similar to those I have seen in the same location when the market has had other themes. But at least one vendor added a Christmas touch with decorations.

vendor stall with Santa-themed decorations


And one vendor even added Christmas apples to their selection.

vendor selling jewelry and Christmas apples


We're back to the apples, so this seems like a good time to say, yet again, "that is all", at least for Zhongshan. Some day / year I hope to share past Christmas scenes that never made it here from at least two cities not mentioned above. Until then, enjoy the apples.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Scenes During Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at a Catholic Church in Zhongshan, China

Several days ago on Christmas Eve I stopped by the Immaculate Conception Church (圣母无原罪堂), also known as the Shiqi Catholic Church (石岐天主教堂), in Zhongshan, China, while it was holding Midnight Mass. Below are a few photos I took along with some very brief commentary. When I looked inside, the church was packed, and people were singing.

people observing Midnight Mass at the Immaculate Conception Church (圣母无原罪堂), also known as the Shiqi Catholic Church (石岐天主教堂), in Zhongshan, China


Outside the church, people could be found praying as well.

people praying


Some took advantage of the holiday photographic opportunities.

Christmas tree at the Immaculate Conception Church (圣母无原罪堂), also known as the Shiqi Catholic Church (石岐天主教堂), in Zhongshan, China


There were at least two children handing out packets of peanuts and candies.

boy handing out candies


One girl outside was wearing red horns, which I have seen on Christmas Eve before.

girl wearing glowing red horns


Similar to when I visited a church in Quanzhou, Fujian, on Christmas Eve six years ago, there were a number of people wearing clothing identifying they were there to help.

staff wearing "Jesus Loves You" vests


Also similar to Quanzhou, there was a clear presence of relevant authorities in uniform, though far fewer — not especially surprising since this church in Zhongshan is smaller.

And there was one thing I didn't see in Quanzhou which stood out. The recent growth in the use of QR codes to make payments or transfer money was on display.

QR Code for "Parish Donation Wechat Transfer Account"


Long story short, my sense was that that some people were interested in observing the religious aspects of the holiday while others, especially those outside, were more interested in less religious aspects or simply curious. Midnight Mass ended at 11 p.m. but some people were still there more than 15 minutes later when I left after a helpful discussion with one of the assistants.

Immaculate Conception Church (圣母无原罪堂), also known as the Shiqi Catholic Church (石岐天主教堂), in Zhongshan, China


That's all. Later I will share some other scenes of Christmas spirit in Zhongshan, some of course including the traditional Christmas apples.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Second Floor Cafe Views in Zhongshan, Hengyang, and Ho Chi Minh City

My view from a cafe in Zhongshan this afternoon:



Similar to when I looked outside from a cafe in Hengyang, Hunan, one afternoon four years ago . . .



. . . the experience reminded me of looking out another 2nd floor window at a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, one morning five years ago.



As in Hengyang, the unexpected connection provided much to ponder.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Lunar New Year Spirit Is Already Coming Out in China

The Lunar New Year, also known in China as the Spring Festival, isn't until February 5. But it isn't to early to see signs of it in China's stores.

Yesterday at a store for V.S. Holiday, a men's clothing retailer headquartered in Zhongshan, China, I saw a sign announcing their Spring Festival sale.

Spring Festival sales sign at at V.S. Holiday store in Zhongshan


And not long after that, also in Zhongshan, I saw employees setting up displays of Lunar New Year items for sale at a Carrefour.

Spring Festival items for sale at a Carrefour in Zhongshan


Notably, at both V.S Holiday and Carrefour there were also clear signs of the upcoming Christmas holiday as well. So much holiday spirit . . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Game on Louyuan Street

If tonight you had looked at this building on Louyuan Street (蒌园大街) in Zhongshan . . .

building on Louyuan Street (蒌园大街) in Zhongshan


. . . and thought there would be a ping-pong game occurring inside . . .

four men playing ping-pong


. . . then you would have been correct.

I was invited to join in, but I had to decline. Their ping-pong skills were clearly far advanced beyond my own. But I am glad they left the door open making it easy for passersby to see what was occurring inside one of the old buildings on Louyuan Street.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

West Into the Clouds on Sun Wen West Road in Zhongshan

During the past two years I have shared night scenes here and here from Zhongshan's Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian Street — a historic street without the signs which can be found nearby warning of dangerous buildings. Below are two scenes as night was falling there two days ago. The lighting and clouds added a special effect.

Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian Street in Zhongshan


Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian Street in Zhongshan

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Building With a Warning in Zhongshan

In the older sections of the Shiqi subdistrict in Zhongshan exist some buildings currently marked with the sign "危房勿近" — "Derelict House, Stay Away". Despite the warning, I haven't seen any examples where something has else has been done to keep people safe from potential danger, and typically people regularly pass by in close proximity.

Below is one such house in Zhonghepo (中和泊) with the red and yellow sign. I don't know whether it is more likely destined for repair or demolition. Fortunately, whatever its fate, I suffered no harm for taking a brief close look as night fell.


house with "危房勿近" sign on it


dilapidated house in Zhongshan


inside a dilapidated house in Zhongshan, China

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Hanukkah in Shanghai Far From the Holocaust

Shanghai, China, 1939, a Hanukkah party for refugee children in the Twig family's home
"Shanghai, China, 1939, a Hanukkah party for refugee children in the Twig family's home"
From Hanukkah - The Festival of Lights: Before, During and After the Holocaust
Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center