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Saturday, 10 December 2011

We expected to see some martial arts in China, but on the hotel roof?

Morning exercises in Hong Kong. Pay special attention to what he does with his sword after he is finished!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

These 'Rules' are based on my personal observations based on two weeks of travelling through China on train. We had drivers in each city, so had personal experience of what it was like to be part of the traffic in each city we passed through.

Road Rules in China

1. The first rule is don't drive. Road signs are incomprehensible, and the driving even more so. Having got that out of the way, lets see what rules the locals seem to follow.

2. Don't stop at zebra crossings. Pedestrians will wait for cars to pass in the middle of the road until it is clear, and then walk. The only safe way to cross the road is to tuck yourself behind a local, and closely follow them.

3. Drive right in the middle of the road as much as possible, especially on blind bends on mountain passes.

4. Get in the correct lane as late as possible, preferably using the opportunity to queue jump.

5. Queue jump as much as possible. if you can gain three car lengths, do it.

6. Use your horn as much as possible, especially when coming up behind cyclists.

7. None of the above applies to cyclists. They can do what they like.

This video, taken from the Drum Tower in Xian, shows what is a very average interaction between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. There are cycle lanes, but at junctions cyclist have to take their chance with everyone else.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Queuing in Beijing 

Trains are the best way to get around China, but Beijing West Railway station has to be experienced to be believed. After finding the entrance we joined one of the two queues to get in. Chinese queues are not queues as we know them. Our queue temporarily seemed to be moving faster, so people halfway down the other queue rushed across to join our queue, joining it ahead of us.  At this point the other queue seemed to be moving faster, so of course they all rushed back to join their original queue in the middle. At this point our queue seemed to be moving faster, so ...okay, I guess you’ve got the message about Chinese queues. Us? We’re British. We stayed where we were.  British don’t queue jump, we go to the back of faster moving queues not join them half way down. And that obviously was not going to work here.
Eventually, we got to the front of the queue. Here we were confronted by airport style x-ray scanners. The system here seemed to be to put your luggage on the scanner, and rush though the body x-ray as fast as possible and grab your luggage on the other side as fast as possible as it comes through.  Here we most definitely did join in the scrum; I did not want to lose one of my bags at this point!

Hong Kong airport had it sorted. When a man tried to queue jump at the scanners, he got sent to the back of the queue and thoroughly frisked when it was his turn. You don't mess about with airport security anywhere in the world. 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Circles of light when I went into the garden on a glorious late autumn day. Created by trying to take pictures of elderberries with the sun at their back. Just having fun with a new lens.
                                                                     Panasonic 45-175x

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Public Toilets in China

Hotels were all okay, we were staying in hotels with Western standards. However, one cannot stay in a hotel all day. This one in Shanghai was one of the best. It was clean, there was a lip on the toilet which helps reduce accidents, and a clean sink to wash your hands in. But don't expect soap or toilet paper. The occasional Rest Room also had a hand rail to help you stand up again. Must have been the disabled toilet!
The second toilet in the video was on the boat cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo - I recommend you take a bottle of hand sanitizing gel to China with you and not worry about it too much! The view is too good to miss.
Toilets on trains tended to start off clean,but showed no sign of being cared for during the journey, which is not good on a twelve hour overnight journey.. There was a western style toilet at one end of each carriage and a Chinese squat toilet at the other end.
One rule that applies wherever you are in China is not to put paper in the toilet - the drains can't cope with it. That's what the bucket is provided for.
Hong Kong was the first place we smelt disinfectant, must be something to do with our decadent Western influence!
Interestingly, when there was a choice the Chinese prefer to use Chinese style squat toilets. They are regarded as more hygienic because there is less touching needed to use them. Seeing how most Chinese toilets are cared for I can well understand their reasoning!
We were presented with lots of helpful notices in case we were not sure about the best way to conduct ourselves. From what to do with our 'cast off' to looking after our treasures while we were in the washroom on the train.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Shanghai at dusk. A panoramic view along the Bund. Panasonic GH2 14-42 lens. 1/4000s F8 Focal length 42mm. First edited with Silkipix as raw files, noise removal with Neat Image and then stitched manually in Photoshop Elements.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

San Liu Jie Light and Water Show

The director of this show, Zhang Yi Mou, is the same man who directed the introduction of the Chinese Olympics. Its worth going all the way to China just to see this. The stage is the Li jiang river, the backdrop is the mountains. We sat in the 'Assistant Directors' seats (second best seats, the best ones are the 'Directors seats') waiting for the last of the light to drop out of the sky so the show could commence. I focused on the actors and exposed for the lights, and then locked focus and exposure so it would not change during my short videos. All pictures were taken with my Panasonic GH2 camera and my 20mm lens. I was fortunate to have a barrier in front of my chair, I was able to rest my camera on it to keep it stable. The story is, of course, a love story, but its almost irrelevant that its impossible to understand a word.

The important thing here is the spectacle.

Waiting for the light to drop out of the sky

The mountains are lit by spotlights. We spotted them the next day while walking in the local countryside.