Thursday, 31 January 2008

Cute overload

A break from China today while I introduce you to Cute Overload, which is exactly that. Good site to cleanse your brain and soothe the sole after viewing some of the other crap out on the net. A sample...
Baby Tamarin mokeys at the Paignton Zoo. Their names are "Padme" and "Chewie". Caught in the act. Thiese pics KILLS me.
The real ratatouille.
Then there's Miracle Pets...

And the writing is funny too...
I like big nuts and I cannot lie
You other brothers can't deny [shimmies up tree]
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung [shimmies down tree]

And lastly, this one's for you Z-man.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Xi'An and he Terracotta Warriors

After arriving in Xi'An late my Dad brother and I decided to explore the city walls of Xi'An. The stands 12m tall, 12-14m wide at the top and 15-18m thick at the base. It covers 13.7km in length with a deep moat surrounding it. In other words, the stuff of fairy tales.
Rather than walk a part of it, we decided to hire bikes and cycle around the whole thing. It took about 90 minutes and was well worth it. The walls allow you to peer down into the buildings, houses, schools, people and live within the city walls.View from our hotel.The next day we headed out on a local bus to see the Warriors. You can take a cab out, but the bus is much much cheaper and gives you a much better view.
Discovered in 1974 by a local farmer the Warriors are now a huge tourist attraction.
The Terracotta Warriors are pretty amazing, again, you can't really appreciate the detail or scale in the photos. Lucky us had a bright sunny day that illuminated the Warriors for optimum viewing.
To give you some idea of scale, the little things at against the back wall are people.
Me, in concrete.
Nice patterns in concrete and grass.Trip back to town, and your classic road trip shots.
On returning to Xi'An we walked about the city and then headed to the fabulous Muslim quarter.
I was ecstatic to be wandering through the bazaar-like ally ways and look at all the trinkets and souvenirs on offer. Then out to the food street and the great smells, awesome packaging and lively atmosphere. Then it was once last look at the wall all lit up at night before hoping onto the night train back to Beijing.

Tiananmen Square, Mao and The Forbidden City

One must-see place in Beijing is of course Tiananmen Square. A massive square, its centerpiece is not only a monument to China's beloved dictator, it still HOUSES Chairman Mao himself. My brother and I joined the large and steady queue and were lead through the Mao Zedong Mausoleum and past the man himself, well, his embalmed body at least. I have to say he was looking a little bit orange and waxy but quite good for someone who's been dead since 1976.
The Mao Zedong Mausoleum with guards protecting it.The Forbidden City was truly beautiful, not to mention massive. Built between 1406 and 1420, it was once an entire working city, it now consists of 980 surviving buildings which cover an area of 720,000 square metres.

It's a fantastic place to wander around through all the little alleyways. The decoration was amazing, but I especially liked these three-dimentional tiles.More tile detail from a doorway.
It's difficult to appreciate just how big the city is and to take in all the amazing craftsmanship and detail that went into building it.After the Forbidden City my bro and I headed out the back and up Coal Hill to a beautiful panoramic view of the city. The painted ceilings were particularly stunning.

Monday, 28 January 2008


So, its taken me a while to go through all the pictures I took but finally I've gotten organised. China was a blast, so amazing to have a Christmas there with my sister (who had been living there for the last five years), my parents (who on retiring moved to China to see what my sister has been on about all these years) and my brother up from Melbourne. Great family reunion. Oh, an of course I finally met the apple of my parents eye, my sister's pooch, Miss Zoe.
Some of the things I love China for, are its quirky statues, this one at the front gates of a school...
...the mix of old and new architecture...
...the patterns and decoration......the exercise apparatus you find in all the parks and streets. At all hours of the day you find men, women and kids of all ages working out on these funny contraptions.
And the bikes laden with goods. Above are a sort of deep-fried bread twist.
There's not a lot of graffiti in China, but down a side street I did find this little guy lurking behind a tree.
I felt like Beijing had changed a lot since my last visit over two years ago. It felt a lot more Westernised: there are lots of good bakeries and all the same clothing chains you find in Europe (and at the same prices) were in every mall.
There were a few misty (high pollution) days but aesthetically I liked the muted colours of the city on these days. Otherwise it was beautifully clear, sunny and not that cold at all. And, wonderfully dry by day – it doesn't rain much during winter in Beijing I'm told.

For a drink, try Q bar. We had Christmas lunch at The Western, THE most amazing buffet I've ever seen. They had made to order sushi and Chinese dishes, dim sum, incredible seafood, classic Western dishes and the most decadent selection of deserts. There was even a chocolate fountain—say no more. Oh, and did I mention a bottomless glass of champagne? Heaven. The Western ran a Christmas special but they have a regular Sunday brunch that I'm sure is just great as well, so check it out. We also had a lovely smaller buffet lunch at Greenfish, one of the The Ritz-Carlton's (Financial Street location) restaurants. Friends also recommend The Orchard, in Hegezhuang Village, a little way out of town but apparently worth the trip. I've been to Face Shanghai, but there is also a Face restaurant and bar in Beijing.

My trip was jam-packed. Three weeks included side trips to Harbin for the Ice Lantern Festival; Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors; a portion of the Great Wall and Shanghai. So stay tuned ...