Tag Archives: photography

There’s always time for sunsets

1 Oct

Autumn is my favorite season in Shanghai.  The winds blow away the pollution, the nights get cool and there can be beautiful, beautiful sunsets.

The first glance out the window

The first glance out the window

We saw this one from our kitchen window on a recent weekend.  Dinner waited as we both stared in awe at the colors that splashed across the sky.  The sunset felt prophetic – the light leading into the heavens.

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Ten minutes later – it was gone, only a memory.

Just before it disappeared

Just before it disappeared

I’m glad I took the time for this sunset.

Happy National Chinese holidays to you all.  Today kicks off a week of vacation during the best time of the year.  We’ll be staying in Shanghai – too much travel for me this year – and enjoying the fall.

Hopefully there will be some more sunsets soon!

Do you speak English? (A Santorini photo shoot)

16 Feb

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, please click here.

I'm ready for my close up

I’m ready for my close up

We had spent a pleasant morning in Santorini walking along the old path.  I was dressed in a long white flowing gown that Li had purchased for me that complemented the scenery.  Li wore a blue shirt with a white collar.  We meandered along, looking for the best angles and light.

Along the old path

Along the old path

I felt like a movie star.

We were looking for a certain place that would memorialize our belated honeymoon – a certain view that already had been publicized hundreds of times before.

Looking for the light

Looking for the light

Finally, after asking for directions at multiple places, we found it – the blue roof church with the white bell tower that had appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine many years ago.  The best views are actually taken from a parking lot above the church so you can look down with the Aegean sea behind you and puffy white clouds.

Together under the blue, blue sky - and dressed for the occasion

Together under the blue, blue sky – and dressed for the occasion

In the parking lot were over a dozen Chinese tourists snapping away – posing together and individually – some in casual clothes, others dressed up for the occasion in similar outfits as Li and myself.  We asked a couple of different people to take photos of us  together and hoped that we would have the “money shot” in the bunch that would represent out trip to Greece, our marriage and give us happy memories for the future.

It was a great experience and after we shot those photos we headed back down to the Old Path and started making our way to find a place to have lunch.  Before we got very far, we were stopped by some people eating at one of the many restaurants along the path.  Their table was closest to the path and they looked at me and very timidly asked “Do you speak English?”

Li and I looked at each other and nodded ascent.  They then asked, “Why are there so many Asian women in long white dresses like yours around here taking pictures?  You look beautiful – but we can’t quite understand why there are so many right here.  We’ve been eating lunch and must have seen two dozen women dressed that way over the last hour or so.”

We smiled and explained how the church above the restaurant had turned into something of a Mecca for Chinese tourists because of its fame in the National Geographic photo shoot.  The group who stopped us said they were Canadian but had never heard of that specific photo.  We then shared how the Aegean Sea could be phonetically translated as the Sea of Love in Chinese and how young Chinese couples wanted to get a shot by the church as a memory.  We suggested they climb up the path to take a look.

We talked a little more, sharing where we were from and why we were there and at the end parted company with a smile and good wishes and went on to look for the perfect spot for lunch.

Have you had a random question like this when you have been traveling?  The funny thing is – most of the Asian couples they had seen could probably have spoken English because if you are traveling in Europe without a tour, you need someone who can talk with the hotels.  It was only because I had a non-Asian face that I was asked this question.

The church and the two of us - a perfect pairing - the money shot

The church and the two of us – a perfect pairing – the money shot

Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

We are celebrating Christmas this year with family and friends in the US.  The weather still looks a bit iffy, but fingers crossed that we make it there in one piece! I anticipate there will be lots of cookies and carols and hopefully board games.  There may be snow and mistletoe as well. 🙂

This year has been a year of travel – trips to Cambodia, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, the US, Greece, Dubai and within China.  It has also been a year of change – two different wedding ceremonies, a new job, much longer hair, lots of visitors and old and new friends.  In all – pretty great.

I’ll look back at my 2013 resolutions in another week, but for now – enjoy a couple of my favorite shots from the year.  All credit for these goes to my husband, Li.  One year down – a lifetime to go.

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Merry Christmas!

Dubai – photos and thoughts

19 Dec

Aside from multiple camel sightings, I packed a lot more into my trip to Dubai last month.  Traveling for business is always exhausting, but this trip managed a good balance of exploration and eight hours straight in a meeting room.

My first day I arrived about noon and so had half a day to explore with another colleague before we headed into the mandatory dinners and mingling.

First we went to the Dubai mall under the Burj Khalifa.

Divers into an art exhibit in the Mall of Dubai

Divers into an art exhibit in the Mall of Dubai – ironically, I saw a miniature version of this fountain when I was in New York a couple of weeks later

It was so tall that my camera couldn’t capture the entire building in one frame.  I understand that it is taller than two Empire State Buildings put on top of each other.

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At the base is a fountain show – reminiscent of the one in Las Vegas that was featured in Oceans 11.  We found a restaurant overlooking the fountain and chowed down.  One of my favorite dishes was chicken on rice pilaf – the rice studded with almonds and pistachios.

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That evening for the work events we watched the sun set over the city and then enjoyed the lights of the hotel shaped like a sailboat.

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The meetings took place outside of the city in the real desert – you don’t have to go far – 30 minutes will take you away from all of the modernity of the city.

Blue sky over the dunes

Blue sky over the dunes

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The second day they arranged a 4×4 trip and so I got to see what it was like.  We whipped up and down the dunes and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  I’m not sure I’d like to drive – one of the trucks got stuck – but as a passenger – bring it on!

The last couple of days we spent by the ocean’s edge, which is one of the great contradictions of Dubai.  You can go to the beach in the morning and dune bashing in the afternoon.  I didn’t have time to go swimming, but I did manage a walk on the beach one morning before things started.

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As a final treat, we did our team meeting the last day in the Burj Khalifa – for afternoon tea.  We discussed business from 138 floors above the ground before everyone scattered to their own corners of the world.

Tea on the 138th floor?  Please!

Tea on the 138th floor? Please!

Dubai felt a little like a commercial – there was so much new construction, big malls, flashy watches – all things available and ready.  Ironically there were a lot of stores that specialized in selling fur coats – which I hypothesized was for the Russians who come to defrost in Dubai’s heat.

It was a very interesting place – and I enjoyed my time there, but I don’t think I would go back unless I had business to do.  The place felt shallow, transient – very international – but kind of like eating candy – I know it’s not good for me, but still want to gorge every now and again.  And Emirates – the airline – totally, worth it.  It was head and shoulders above any airline I have flown before, from the toothbrushes in the lounge to being able to use your electronics during the entire flight.

Perhaps if I had met some local people, been able to appreciate their lifestyle and gotten away from the “tourist track” it would have been easier to understand the city.  As it is – it remains an enigma.  Who knows – maybe I will go back.

Goodbye Dubai - a final view from the lounge

Goodbye Dubai – a final view from the lounge

Have you been to Dubai?  What do you think?  Would you like to go?

Initial images of Santorini

17 Dec

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, please click here.

Leaving Crete was bittersweet – we had had a wonderful time in both Chania and Heraklion and could have stayed there the rest of our vacation very happily.

Li prior to boarding the ferry - he's not a fan of boats, but everything worked fine

Li prior to boarding the ferry – he’s not a fan of boats, but everything worked fine

Boarding the ferry though, the anticipation continued to build as the siren call of Santorini became louder and louder.  The sky was blue and we sat in luxury on the second level of the ferry.

Casting off under the Greek flag

Casting off under the Greek flag

On the way!

On the way!

Disembarking we found the driver from the hotel and along with another couple headed up the steep cliffs to our hotel.

Right outside the door of our room

Right outside the door of our room

Li had selected the hotel because it was on the highest point of the island and so the car twisted and turned going higher and higher until we arrived.  After settling in to the room – built into a cave in the cliffs – we decided to walk along the old path to a restaurant recommended by the hotel.

Our room - snug inside the cave

Our room – snug inside the cave

The initial view from our hotel

The initial view from our hotel

Each curve presented another picturesque view.  We even saw people taking pictures on the top of a building in front of the caldera.  Upon closer inspection – it was a bride and groom.

The caldera

The caldera

The caldera - zoomed in on the bride and groom

The caldera – zoomed in on the bride and groom

Looking back towards the hotel

Looking back towards the hotel

Lunch was delicious – and as we finished up – the bride and groom came and took a shot just in front of us.   I decided that was a good omen, given that we were considering the trip our belated honeymoon.

The bride and groom came to us - though others were photographing them too

The bride and groom came to us – though others were photographing them too

The white roofed houses and the blue sea and sky

The white roofed houses and the blue sea and sky

How can you not smile with such a beautiful view

How can you not smile with such a beautiful view

We headed back to the hotel, took a swim in the pool and then I posed for a few more pictures before the sun slipped over the edge.

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Santorini was living up to the hype – and we had three days left!

Have you visited somewhere that surpassed your already very high expectations?

Back to Beijing

28 Nov

I haven’t been in Beijing for about six months and recently had the opportunity to go back for work twice in the last month.  The first time I went I had heard that the pollution was bad, but I hadn’t realized just how bad until I landed.

Getting in to the car I immediately sensed a strange taste in my mouth.  It was as if a little bit of dirt had gotten into it.  I didn’t notice it at first, but even after a drink of water the taste just wouldn’t go away.  The visitor who I was accompanying took it pretty hard and I knew in his mind, Shanghai was a better city.  It’s funny how the pollution can change your view.

A perfect cup of tea - and a way to wash out my mouth from the grit

A perfect cup of tea – and a way to wash out my mouth from the grit

Because it was his first trip though, I was able to revisit some of my favorite places in Beijing – Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  Even with the gray skies, I still had a good trip.

Posing with Chairman Mao - note the gray sky

Posing with Chairman Mao – note the gray sky

The lions in front of the Forbidden City are just as imposing under gray skies

The lions in front of the Forbidden City are just as imposing under gray skies

This shot was taken just as we left the Forbidden City - I noticed the reflection in the water and thought about how I could capture it.  One of my favorite photos recently.

This shot was taken just as we left the Forbidden City – I noticed the reflection in the water and thought about how I could capture it. One of my favorite photos recently.

My more recent visit the situation was flipped – Shanghai has had high PMI 2.5 levels for the last week and Beijing was clearer.  I flew in the evening and I picked up the most beautiful sunset out of the window as I skimmed across the sky.

The sunset welcomed me back to Beijing on my second trip

The sunset welcomed me back to Beijing on my second trip

I’m happy I’ve made it back to Beijing.  It is a completely different city depending on the weather.  What places fall into that category for you and what times of year should be avoided?

Flying high

7 Nov

I am still going through my pictures from Greece.  It is happening in fits and spurts between my new job and business travel and trying to stay in touch with my friends.  The whirlwind continues, but I am having a wonderful time soaring above it all.

These photos from Heraklion, Crete capture my feeling perfectly.  They were all taken on the same day.  I am the one flying high above – enjoying the beauty below and looking for a safe place to land.

Birds flying in the cathedral square

Birds flying in the cathedral square

Sunset over the harbor

Sunset over the harbor

An ancient wall and an airplane above

An ancient wall and an airplane above

I head out on another business trip this weekend so may be out of touch for a while, but will come back with more stories and photos.  I just need to make sure I don’t get caught up in the many currents that exist when I’m that high.  Landing can be the most difficult part – trying to relax after the go-go-go of work as it’s a long way down.  I’ll manage.

Do you soar?  What things make you ready to take on the world?  Where do you soar?   The skies of Greece were an ideal place.

Heraklion, Crete – the delicate details

3 Nov

This post is part of our travels in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, please click here.

After a wonderful experience in Chania, we headed out early the next morning to the capital of Crete – Heraklion.  We took the bus and the views up and down the coast made us both want to get off and explore further.

Shortly after arriving at the hotel and checking in, we headed to the Archaeological Museum in the center of town.  The travel guides suggested we go there first before heading to see the ruins at Knossos because it would give us a better idea of how things should have looked in the past.

The museum was wonderful – it gave us a glimpse into the history of that area over 3000 years ago.  One thing that struck me was the delicacy of many of the items on display.  The attention to detail made many of them seem like I could take them home today.

There were crowns…

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and small bronze statues that looked like dolls, though I believe they were icons or offerings to the gods.

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One of my favorites were the delicate murals on the walls

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and then the mosaics lining the floor that were as beautiful as carpets.

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I tend towards delicate jewelry and details.  The Minoan culture even though it was so long ago was very relatable and made me very excited to see the rest of Heraklion and the ruins of Knossos.

This post was inspired by Alisa at Where’s My Backpack.  Her travel theme this week is Delicate.  I am happy to participate again in one of her weekly travel themes.  To see how others define delicate, please click the link.

Have you ever felt that you could walk into another culture and feel at home?  What details do you need to see for that to happen?

Horizons of Chania, Crete

27 Oct

As I was going through the hundreds of photos from our trip to Greece, I realized that there are many, many shots of horizon lines, especially where the ocean meets the sky.  These four photos were chosen from our stay in the town of Chania, Crete and capture one day – from early morning through sunset.  The photos were taken from different points as we explored the coast.  Each time I look at them it takes me back to that beautiful September day.

Morning in Chania

Sea and sky - Chania

Afternoon sky - Chania

Sunset in Chania

To see how others responded to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Horizons, please click the link.

What do you see on your horizon?

To see other posts from our adventures in Greece, please click here.

The 9th quarter review

17 Oct

The last quarter has flown by – it seems like just last week I wrote my last post celebrating Zhongguo Jumble’s two year anniversary.  Even though there was only one major trip in the last quarter (our trip to Greece) – I feel like I have been all over.

The posts show that as it was in the last quarter that I published many of my travels from the previous quarter as I got caught up with such a busy summer.  Travel posts were very popular and the following especially so:

Posing over 50 floors up

Posing over 50 floors up

1) Roppongi Hills & Tokyo City View – a post on my visit to Tokyo in May and getting swallowed by a spider (not quite)

Ready to dig in!

Ready to dig in!

2) The Pineapple Cake Wars – tasting two competing pineapple cakes in Taipei, Taiwan and hearing which kind others will choose.  The food in Taiwan was so good.  I would like to go back just so I can eat.  Taiwanese sausage has now become a staple in my kitchen.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

3) And We’re Back… – the initial post on our trip to Greece with just enough of a taste to keep people coming back to see what will happen.  I’ve only had time to get through the first day so far.

There were also two posts that sparked a lot of comments based on their topics which were more philosophical –

My mandarin accent – where I thought back to how I got my mandarin accent prompted by a taxi driver in Taipei, Taiwan

The Chinese dream – looking at the propaganda campaign that the Chinese government has been pressing lately and talking about what your dreams are.  Make sure you check out the comments on this post if you haven’t before, lots of good commentary that made me think even more.

And finally – two posts that I especially liked with some great photos to share.

The pavilion perched on the river with a tall building in the background

The pavilion perched on the river with a tall building in the background

A walk in Hefei – where I saw the possibility of a beautiful park over the Mid-Autumn Festival

Hammock with feet

Without a care in the world – photos from our trip earlier this year to Michigan, the place where I can put up my hair and dance crazy circles on the lawn.

It was a wonderful quarter and I look forward to the next one.  Did I miss your favorite post?  I’m still debating about the book possibility, so maybe more to come on that front.

More changes to come, so stick around and keep reading!  I anticipate more trips and of course, more views of Shanghai.  Autumn is my favorite season.  Happy Fall!

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