Friday, August 15, 2008

Tang Dynasty Fashions

P1010246, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Olympics Opening Cermonies featured historical costumes like those dosplayed in this pageant at the Tang Paradise Park in Xian.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Drum Tower

IMG_3207, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

One of the many minor historic buildings in Beijing is the Drum Tower. This temple like building north of the Forbidden City was used as the official time keeper for the city.

Large drums are kept at the top of the tower which is only accessible by a tall steep narrow set of stairs.

Within the room is a single original drum that is no longer usable. The other drums have all been restored. Every hour drummers in historic dress perform on the drums.The drums are about four feet in diameter and ten feet long. The drummers need to stand on a platform to reach the drumheads.

The tower also has on display historic time keeping pieces once owned by the royalty. Outside the drum room is a observation deck that goes around the entire tower.

The Drum Tower was the sight of an attack on two Americans and their tour guide during the Olympics. The assailant killed one American and then jumped to his death.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Linear Parks

IMG_3345, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This linear park is sandwiched between a hutong neighborhood and Ring Road 1 on the north side of Beijing. While in it, you almost don't realize you are in very urban area. It is very popular with walkers and exercisers. Beijing has done a very good job of incorporating green spaces into very small urban areas.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Beijing Sidewalk

IMG_3789, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

As part of the general face lift for Beijing, the city is being rebuilt literally from the street up. One large project that was under way was reconstruction of sidewalks throughout the city. From door to curb the entire sidewalk was dug up and replaced with pavers. The new pavers have patterns that enhance navigation.

Down the center of the sidewalk, one row of pavers has raised ridges that would help with traction in rain and snow. At the curbs and corners, the handicap ramps have bumps as well.

This standardizes all the sidewalks throughout the city and provides a uniform appearance. Because of the heavy pedestrian traffic, the sidewalks tend to be very wide.

Sleeping In The Park

IMG_3807, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Beijing is not without its housing problems. While not epidemic, the various public spaces are often used by homeless people as temporary beds. In this picture, this well-dressed and groomed man is asleep on a park bench with all his belongings underneath the bench.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tear Down This Wall!

IMG_3237, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Beijing is a city of many small enclaves. Each neighborhood area is bordered by walls between the sidewalk and the interior buildings. In portions of Beijing where the walls have become old and worn, they are literally being rebuilt in place. The new wall is in the same location, but gets repainted a fresh pink color. The new tile toppings are placed on the top and match the style used on the Forbidden City. On the other side of the walls, the homes and other buildings abut right up against the wall.

Sidewalk Superintendent

IMG_3913, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Most of the sidewalk construction in Beijing is being done with very simple tools and methods. As the sidewalk area is dug up, a staging area is set-up in the adjacent hutong neighborhood. The fill and materials are brought out in wheelbarrows and a swarm of workers descend on the area.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Subway Sleepers

IMG_4349, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Taking a cue from European cities, there are pedestrian underpasses at major roads to allow people to cross the street without interrupting traffic. This passage is near the very popular Beihai Park. As can be seen by the picture, small families as well as individuals have set up camps in these subways.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Park and Ride

IMG_3854, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

At Beijing subway stations there are special park and ride lots for bicycles. The racks have canopies that shield the bikes from the weather. The big blue sign gives the rates.

Subway Line Minders

IMG_3848, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

At the busier subway stations, there are uniformed men and women that enforce the lines for the inbound trains. The men have a para-police uniforms but the women are dressed more like school hall monitors. They make sure that passengers are allowed to leave the cars before anybody enters.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Morning Rush

IMG_3849, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Commuters in Beijing have been taught to form lines for subway cars. Each line forms at the mark for the car door at the track platform which makes them more orderly than most American commuters.

Beijing Subway

IMG_3845, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Beijing has built a new modern subway system that rivals many American cities in sized and sophistication. When I was there it consisted of a ring route, an east-west line and two north-south lines. Several lines were still under construction which were designed to serve Olympic venues. Because of the construction, some stations had been temporarily closed.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Street Safe

IMG_3841, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

In the United States, you are unlikely to find soldiers drilling on the plaza of a major office building. These soldiers partially obscured by the poster promoting the Olympics. The building here is on Wanfujing Dajie, one of the big shopping and banking districts just a few blocks east of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beijing Security

IMG_3840, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Army and military police type units are much more common in China than in Western countries. They tend to patrol and drill in small groups. The troops seem to be very young. If you look closely (or click through to the larger image), you can see that several of the soldiers are wearing sneakers instead of black shoes. I'm sure these kids get extra demerits. See this post for another picture of soldiers drilling.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Native Crafts Sales Lady

IMG_4181, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This lady was running on of the stands selling regional crafts and clothes. The straw hats were decorated with silk flowers. The samples of the sweet snacks were kept under a lace cover.

Tibetian Costume

P1000817, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

These clothes for sale at the Ethnic Park represent the Tibetian region of the country.

China Clothes

P1000763, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Each of the "regions" in the Ethnic Park had a small gift shop or store that usually highlighted native crafts or clothes. These very colorful dresses represent one of the western regions of the country.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Old And New

IMG_4093, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Minority Ethnic Park has many building that are built in the style of traditional homes and temples. This building overlooking a beautifully landscaped lake has modern high-rise apartment buildings visible through the omnipresent Beijing haze.

Birds Nest Haze

P1000779, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Ethnic Minority Park is adjacent to the sight of the Olympic (aka Birds Nest) Stadium. Because of the haze inherent in Beijing, it is barely visible through the landscaping from most places in the park.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Vietnamese Ethnic Group

P1000829, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Most of China's minority ethnic groups are on the border areas that have not always been Chinese territory. This group called the Jing is shown wearing a native dress that bears more than a mild resemblance to the ao dai worn in Viet Nam.

More about the Jing can be read here which also has information on all 55 official minority groups.

56 Ethnic Groups

IMG_4192, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Chinese love statistics and one that is commonly bandied about is that China has 56 ethnic groups. The majority of Chinese are Han, but the other groups are scattered around the country.

This chart at the Ethnic Minority Park lists them by region and shows typical native dress for each group.

For a more legible version of this picture see the original 8 megapixel version of the picture.

Ethnic Minority Park

IMG_4024, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

One of the tourist attractions in Beijing is the Ethnic Minority Park. This cut-rate EPCOT style theme park is divided into different regions. In each region the local native dress and ethnic dances are shown and demonstrated.

I have tn true translation of the sign in this sign so I'm a little curious what the exact translation of the park name is.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tienanmen Square Guard

IMG_3561, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

A soldier is standing at attention in Tienanmen Square in front of the iconic portrait of Mao at the entrance to the Forbidden City. There were small groups of soldiers or police around the square. On a later drive-by we noticed a formation of military equipment for a parade or ceremony.

Drilling Soldiers

IMG_3511, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Small groups of soldiers can be found in many parts of the city conducting marching drills. These soldiers are on a parade ground near the entrance to the Forbidden City and by Tiananmen Square. Small groups of eight to ten soldiers would do different drills on a rotating basis. These soldiers are practicing marching in formation.

Martial Arts Drills

IMG_3515, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

These Chinese soldiers are drilling with batons. The movements closely resemble tai chi or some other type of martial arts practice.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tall Steps at the Forbidden City

IMG_3468, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This building is one of the central temple buildings within the Forbidden City. The large decorative stone to the side is a single block of stone over 100 feet long weighing over 200 tons.

Large Stone Carving Sign

IMG_3467, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Knowing that I would not remember all the details about the Large Stone Carving, I took a picture of this sign explaining its size and history.

The mind boggling feature of it is that it weighs over 200 tons and was brought to the Forbidden City by dragging it over a frozen pathway during the winter.

Large Stone Carving

IMG_3462, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

One of the frequent decorative features of Chinese temples and palaces is a large stone carving that is part of the steps up to the building. This one at the Forbidden City is the largest in Beijing and weighs over 200 tons. It is intricately carved with dragons and other symbols.

This picture is taken at a very low angle looking up the steps.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

China Pandas

IMG_3733, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Beijing Zoo which is a wonderful large spacious park-like oasis in the city has five pandas as part of the panda habitat. The panda area requires a separate admission ticket, but is well worth it. The pandas have indoor and outdoor areas and could be in either. Like pandas the world over, they seem to be camera shy and like to find secluded spaces to rest in.

Sleeping Panda

P1000506, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

On hot summer days, pandas do what they do most days, sleep. This panda is inside the main panda building taking a rest by his supply of bamboo.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Temple Dogs and Lions

IMG_3453, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

These statues are technically lions, but are often called temple dogs because of their canine features. They usually come in pairs with one on each side of the steps or gate. This one is male because he has a ball under his paw.

Lady Temple Dog

IMG_3458, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Temple Dogs or temple lions come in male and female varieties. The best way to tell them apart is to look at what they have under their...paw. Female temple dogs have small cub on his back.

Golden Roof

IMG_3460, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

All the roofs have the same style ornamentation which is these figurine people and temple dogs standing in a row.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Brass Elephant

IMG_3408, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This brass elephant is also in the private area of the Forbidden City. If you look at the wall in the background, you can see that the paint has not been restored like it has in the larger parts of the area.

Emperor's Garden

IMG_3411, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

At the northwest corner of the Forbidden City is the personal garden of the emperor. Here the buildings are smaller and the grounds are more decoratively landscaped. This building is a small private temple for the emperor.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

City In Haze

IMG_3947, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Here is another view from the hill on top of Jingshen Park in Beijing looking towards the Forbidden City. If the haze were not so thick, you could see the government center in the distance.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Forbidden City Aerial View

IMG_4003, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This faded aerial photograph shoes the relationship and size of the Forbidden City and Jingshen Park. Jingshen Park is the green circle at the top of the photo and everything inside the blue moat is the Forbidden City.

Looking South

IMG_3939, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This is the view of the Forbidden City from the hill in Jingshan Park. The green covered entrance gate is being restored. All the orange colored roofs are part of the Forbidden City.

As you can see, I was not kidding about the smog and haze limiting visibility.

Go North

IMG_3404, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Most of the major tourist attractions in Beijing stretch along a north-south axis. South of the Forbidden City is Tienanmen Square and north of it is Jingshan Park. It has a pagoda at the top of it. The hill is very popular with exerciser as it has a lot of rugged steep steps and paths to the top. From the top the views of the Forbidden City would be excellent if it weren't for the ubiquitous smog.

Monday, February 4, 2008


IMG_3405, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

I assume the words in Chinese mean something because they went to a lot of trouble to work the scaffolding around them. The North Gate to the Forbidden City has a full ticket booth and the temporary parking is easier for groups to load and unload.

North Gate

IMG_3403, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The traditional method of touring the Forbidden City is to enter at the South Gate, but using the North Gate is much more practical if you intend to continue on to Tienanmen Square afterwards. Like several portions of the Forbidden City, the North Gate spent much of 2007 in scaffolding undergoing refurbishment for all the Olympic tourists.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Forbidden Moat

IMG_3915, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The entire Forbidden City complex is surrounded by a wide moat with entrances at the north and south end. The south end faces Tienanmen Square is the more famous side. The north side tends to be quieter. This picture was taken on the northeast corner of the complex and looks on the emperor's private garden area.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Group Photo at Forbidden City

IMG_3500, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This picture is of the group of American and Chinese students at the inner front gate to the Forbidden City.

Forbidden City Front Gate

IMG_3502, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Forbidden City in Beijing is simply enormous. This entrance is actually the inner entrance which is on a courtyard open to the public. It takes a ticket to get further inside.