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Showing posts from May, 2010

Ancient China

Our hotel in Hangzhou sits right next to the Grand Canal, the longest canal in the world. I could hardly believe I was running along the river, dodging willow trees on while being captured by the traditional Chinese architecture this morning. Something so mundane yet exotic as if I was being teleported back in time. The Grand Canal starts at Beijing, passing through different provinces and ends in Hangzhou, spanning 1,776 km. I have a novel idea that If I run a marathon (42k) everyday, I could cover the whole distance in 42.3 days. Any takers?

Later the day, we visited a replica of Qin Dynasty Palace. Words could not express how I felt. I held my camera up but didn’t even know how to capture the place. I looked through the viewfinder but couldn’t find a view that would do its justice. I put my camera down and realized no photo could capture the spirit of the place, mind you it’s only a replica. The scale is breathtaking. The palace for the Emperor is gigantic yet the living compound …

Nanjing: city with a tearful past

Another two-hour bus ride took us from Wuxi to Nanjing, where 300,000 people were killed in 1937 during Japanese’s six-weeks occupation. A Deconstructivistic memorial hall was built on the site where piles of skeleton was found. Located by survivors of the Nanjing Massacre, the Memorial hall covers approximately 280,000 sq.m. Before arriving at the exhibited section of the burial ground, Visitors first walked along a tall, dark, and hostile wall at entrance that leads to a lose cobblestone pathway which signifies the multitude of victims. Archaeologists point out that judging from the positions of these remains, many victims died of “abnormal death.” A young boys skull was located on his chest, and long nails were pierced into the bones of different victims, including women and children. The Japanese “sliced babies not just in half but in thirds and fourths,” author Iris Chang wrote in her book, the Rape of Nanjing. Chang succumbed to depression and took her own life in 2004, seven ye…
Nanjing: city with a tearful past


The day began with hitting a touristy spot - old town Shanghai. With the money that’s coming in, the “old town” is well kept and is pretty new. Aside from the authentic architecture style, the old town is revamped to become an outdoor shopping centre, garnished with two Starbucks locations. Yes, I had a coffee and it tasted the same as any Starbucks on the other side of the world. Next was Suzhou. Home to the Grand Canal, one of the world’s longest man-made waterway (1,794 kilometers), Suzhou is named “Venice of the East.” The fertile land has been a prominent commercial centre since the 14th century. To my disappointment, I didn’t see any 14th century structure but a modernized Suzhou with an industrial park. People living in this area are among the richest in the Province. Compare to 30 years ago where people used to make around $36 a month, people at the industrial park now average about $3000 a month. Living standards also spike in recent years. According to our tour guide, people…

Shanghai: first impression

After a long and gruesome flight, I am now in Shanghai. First impression? A slum on steroid. High-rises and Skyscrapers are going up everywhere, butting up against old two to three stories houses and housing compounds. Streets don’t follow a grid system, or even a pattern for that matter. The airport is about an hour away, connected through a network of highways. As we get closer to the city, we see massive new constructions underway. One development I saw was like a few stadium-sized space-framed spaceships landed randomly on the plain field. To be fair, all we did yesterday was just landing in Shanghai and drove to the airport. Perhaps my first impression will change after all. I look forward to getting out of the city today and see some organic old villages and towns in Suzhou. Oh, by the way, connecting to facebook and twitter is next to impossible (perhaps illegal as well). It took some maneuvering to even be on tumblr.