Monday, 12 January 2009
Time for another installment of photos from my honeymoon, which had to wait until January because I'd reached my Flickr upload limit for December! (I'm seriously contemplating whether a 'pro' account is worth the money but I'm not sure I can justify it.)
This time, the photos are from China - more specifically, Beijing and the surrounding area.
Beijing railway station, the night we arrived. We could see its lights from our hotel room, and it was a great landmark for navigating our way back.
At the Buddhist temples, incense is offered up - by piling bundles of incense sticks into fires burning in metal boxes (like these ones). All the scents mingle together and one poor guy has to go round clearing up - here you can see he's just taken the inner box out of its ornate stand (replacing it immediately with a new fire) and is about to dispose of several bundles of incense before he takes the old fire box away.
It can be hard to find authenticity in post-Olympic Beijing, but when you do manage to find a street which is still undeveloped and away from the tourist track, there are still odd snatches of traditional life to be found. These guys were in the middle of a game of Chinese chess.
Trying to be Hollywood? The Olympic logo and motto on the hillside by the Great Wall. You can see the hundreds of tourists flocking along that section of wall - we turned in the opposite direction when we arrived, and by the time we'd gone a few hundred yards it was empty and peaceful (aside from one lady singing Chinese opera out-of-tune).
I felt guilty visiting Beijing Zoo because many of the animals are kept in horrible conditions. The panda house is one of the better ones, and there was a great exhibit about the panda rescue after the earthquake in Sichuan. My favourite panda moment was when one of them reached for a branch of bamboo and lay back with it, not realising one of his friends was already eating the end. The panda who lost his meal sat up, very surprised, and wandered around for a couple of minutes inspecting and rejecting every branch in the area before eventually settling on a different one.
This picture was taken at the Summer Palace just outside of Beijing. It makes me think of the 'willow pattern' design, but for real. I was worried about whether any of my photos at the Summer Palace would come out due to the very heavy mists, but in the end I think it just adds to the atmosphere.
Beijing is a real mixture of 'ancient and modern', and a classic example is that the street sweeping is still done by men and women with brooms. Labour is cheaper than machinery! It was pointed out to us later that most of the street-sweepers are from one particular ethnic group.