Saturday, August 31, 2013

Trip to Shanghai - High Speed Train

High speed train in the station.

Last week Margot and I had to go to Shanghai to renew our residence permits.

We took the high speed train from Beijing to Shanghai. This is an identical train in the station at Nanjing. This was the only stop and it was about 5 minutes. It is a 1318 km or 800 mile trip and takes exactly 4 hours and 48 minutes. Currently the maximum speed is 300 kph or 185 mph.

The beauty of the train compared to airplane is that the train always leaves on time, you can get up and move around, and essentially no security hassles getting on.

These next few photos were taken out the train window and we whizzed through the country site.
Greenhouses in rural China

These are greenhouses. It is interesting that the are not everywhere but in clusters.  But the clusters are big. No idea how many acres are under roof here. They are pretty low tech - earthen mounds at the ends and plastic sheeting overhead.  The black is insulation to keep the heat in.
Cattle feeding operation in rural China

This is a cattle feeding operation.

No idea what they are planting this late in the season.

That roto-tiller is all the automation they are using in this field.

One of the challenges in Chinese agriculture is that, in general, they have very small operations. Each villager is allotted a small piece of land to work. This results in a patchwork of fields and crops. No economy of scale or much control over pesticide and fertilizer usage. This is starting to change as more families move to the cities.
Burial ceremony in rural China

This is a funeral or burial ceremony. You can see from the mounds and tablets that this is a cemetery. I think it is traditional for mourners to wear white.
Brick factory in rural China

This is a brick factory. These are dotted all over the countryside. Brick is the standard material of construction for fences, homes, etc. I don't mean brick facades as in the U.S.  - I'm talking solid brick walls. It is difficult to tell whether a structure is 1, 10, 100 or 300 years old since the techniques are timeless.

I'm pretty sure this is a quarry. Looks like the entire hill is being taken down. Apparently they don't have permission to change or move the tower on the hill top. Maybe it is some type of survey or navigation marker.
Shanghai skyline from Yu Garden Renaissance Hotel in Shanghai

We stayed at the Yu Garden Renaissance Hotel in downtown Shanghai. This is the view from the lounge on the top floor. This view is toward the east. The clouds are the remnants of a typhoon that hit China well to the south.
Shanghai Tower as seen from the lounge at the Yu Garden Renaissance Hotel in Shanghai

The tall building in the clouds is still under construction. When completed it will be the 2nd tallest in the world - at least for a few years.

They could have spent a little more money on the architectural consultants in charge of naming it. It is called the Shanghai Tower.
Yu Garden lights at night

This picture is of the tourist development near Yu Garden.  More on Yu Garden in a later posting but it is the dark area on the left side of the picture.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tom and Misheil Visit the Great Wall 2

Tom took some pictures on the Great Wall, also.

Here is the tower Tom and Misheil climbed to on the wild section of the wall.

See the earlier posting for more details.

Tom and Misheil Visit the Great Wall 1

This is the view from where they stopped.

This is looking out the doorway Misheil posed in earlier. The view is back toward where we wimps waited.

This is inside the tower.

Misheil waited inside the tower while Tom climbed up to the top.

Below is a cool panorama that Tom took with his cell phone.

Tom and Misheil Visit the Great Wall

Tower on the Great Wall at Lianyunling

On Sunday Tom, Misheil, Margot and I visited the Great Wall at Lianyunling.

This is the same section that we visited with Sue, Bob and Alyssa last fall. You can review that visit here for background on this section of the Great Wall.

Great Wall at Lianyunling
Tom Savage and Misheil Savage at the Great Wall at Lianyunling

There are 1100 steps up the mountain to get to the entrance to the great wall. Yes, I was pretty worn out by climbing that many steps. Tom and Misheil raced ahead and decided to go even higher.
Long view of the Great Wall at Lianyunling

This is the view of the tower in the 1st picture from a higher section of the wall

Tom and Misheil decided to continue on up to the tower at the top of this picture. This section of the wall is overgrown and unrestored.

Here is a closeup of them at the tower. Misheil is in the doorway and Tom climbed up onto the roof area.

Click to enlarge.

One section we all climbed is so steep that they installed a chain to help you get up and down.

Click to enlarge.

In the previous post about the Temple of Heaven I noted people taking wedding photos there. Same at the Great Wall. Check out the lower left of this picture.

The Huairou district where this section of the Great Wall is located is known for its fruit and nut orchards. There are a large number of farms or orchards that city dwellers can visit for a picnic or to pick fruit. They seem pretty popular and there seemed to be a fair amount of traffic going to the places.

This is a sculpture about 10 or 15 feet high promoting the tourist area attractions.

We visited the same cloisonne factory that we have been to before. The process involves soldering copper wire onto a copper vessel in the pattern desired.

There is some more information about the process at this link.  Cloisonne

In the next step the pattern is filled with pigment/water mixture.

The vessel is fired for about 5 minutes to evaporate the water and fuse the pigment. This is repeated  5 to 7 times to completely fill the pattern.

After the last firing the vessel is polished with 3 successively finer times of stone.

The copper is then plated with gold.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tom and Misheil's Visit to Beijing - Temple of Heaven

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests at the Temple of Heaven Park Tiantan in Beijing

Tom and Misheil came to Beijing for a few days of sightseeing after we left Cebu.

They hit the jackpot weather wise - 3 days of beautiful blue skies.

On Saturday we visit the Temple of Heaven. This is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

This is a picture of the inside of the hall.

You can learn more about the Temple of Heaven here.  Wikipedia - Temple of Heaven

Here the 4 of us are standing in front of the Imperial Vault of Heaven.

There is additional information in the blog posting from 4 years ago.  Temple of Heaven

This is looking north from the Circular Mound Alter. That is the Vault of Heaven in the center of the picture and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in the background.

It was a popular location for wedding pictures. There were 2 couples posing on the grounds.

This couple had a whole entourage. It was pretty windy and they were struggling to wrangle the dress into the right pose.

The group above may have been professional models and not a true wedding photos.

I'm pretty sure this is just some couple that chose to pose here the day we visited.

This is the corridor from the east gate to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

There is a rose garden in the park. They were mostly well past their prime. I'm sure it is very beautiful in May.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cebu Day 4 and 5 - Dinner, Baptism and Party

After the time at the beach we drove back to Cebu.

Here are a few pictures from the drive.

This truck is carrying rice, I believe.

This firewood for sale along the road.

The black material is charcoal.

I saw this too late to get a decent picture. There must be at least 10 people on this motorcycle/sidecar.

The family had dinner at a nice restaurant high up in the mountains above Cebu. There was a rain storm coming in which created some interesting cloud formations.

Misheil, Mia and Myla were all sporting identical bracelets they had purchased together.

The next day we were treated to massages by Misheils's friend Ruffa.

Here is the view from club.

We did a little shopping for Filipino souvenirs. Outside the store this young woman was rolling cigars.

Here Margot is posing at the church before the Baptism ceremony.

Everyone had a chance to pose with Liam.

Here are the proud parents, Chaoyang and Mia.

The ladies spent a lot of time on the decorations at the restaurant for the dinner.

We had a great time!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cebu Day 4 - Beach

Beach in Daanbantayan

After the tour of Daanbantayan we drove a couple of miles to a piece of waterfront property in the family.

This is the view to the north.

Here is the view to the south.

These houses are used by the caretakers of the property. They also look after the mango farm that Fidela owns.
Fishermen near the shore at Daanbantayan, Cebu, Philippines

These guys were fishing just offshore. The guy in the boat is hitting the water to scare some fish into a net he has just set.

Front row Fidela and Margot.

Back row, l to r, Delia, Rebecca, and Pearla.

Front row, l to r - Mia, Jennifer, Aledel. Second row - A.J., Myla, Rebecca, Misheil. Third row - Chaoyang, Tony, Carl, Tom and James.

Click to enlarge.
Tom Savage, Misheil Coyoca Savage and A.J. Gonzalez

In this picture Tom is helping A.J. across the rocks.
Tom Savage and Margot Savage in Daanbantayan, Cebu, Philippines

Margot and I are resting on the seawall.

Thanks to Aledel for this picture!

Does anyone know what type of nut this is?

Jennifer agreed to pose for me.

Oh, what an ardent photographer won't do for a picture of a girl in a bikini.

Looks a little safer when you see the whole scene.

Run! It's a shark!