Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hong Kong: Park & Aviary

Hong Kong Park is a lush public oasis next to Cotton Tree Drive in the Central District of Hong Kong Island. It was built in 1991 and features several attractions and ammenities (all connected by beautifully landscaped paths, with signs in English)...
lily ponds, fountains, rest benches, playgrounds, the Greenhouse, the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware, the Tai Chi Gardens, the Conservatory (housing gorgeous orchids), and the Aviary, where one will find 80 species of Asian birds flying free in a huge and architecturally impressive tropical jungle enclosure. The last photo below is the Bali Starling, but you will no doubt be more interested in the rainbow colored parrots, which wouldn't settle down near enough to the camera during my visit.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guangzhou: Cell Cities

It was fascinating to me, as I explored some of the side streets along the Pearl River, to see so many buildings dedicated to selling various electronic devices... mostly cell / smart phones. Inside, you'll find hundreds of specialty stores or booths. Some deal in certain parts, such as batteries, and some specialize in certain devices, such as hand-held languange translators. Alot of Chinese apparently love to customize their phones, and the variety available to do so is amazing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guangzhou: Zhu Jiang

Zhu Jiang = Pearl River... China's third longest river, after the Yangtze and Yellow, flows through Guangzhou. I spent an entire afternoon and evening exploring beside it, simply letting my curiosity lead the way. The shops, seafood restaurants (pick one that displays large tanks), promenades, and bridges along the Pearl River are worthy of your time, but I must be honest, Guangzhou is my least favorite city in China. Vast. Dirty. Congested. I would recommend only one day and night there if you have Baiyun International Airport as your connection to other destinations (ie. Nanning, Liuzhou, or Guilin). Make it your final day before returning home... I came down with a cough the evening of my walk, likely due to the extremely polluted air, and it took a few weeks to get rid of it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guangzhou: Shamian Isle

Shamian Island is a very small enclave spanning only a few blocks (bordered on the south by the Pearl River) that had been divided into two concessions, given to France and England, by the Qing Dynasty government in the 19th century. I spent one night at the Guangdong Victory Hotel there ~ an elegant massage and spa is next door ~ and the White Swan Hotel, perhaps Guangzhou's most famous hotel, is there as well. Both hotels are ideal departure spots for a day exploring beside the Pearl River. All of the original Shamian Island colonial European architecture remains, flanked by trees, tranquil parks, and pedestrian avenues... thus attracting the always busy Guangzhou wedding photographers. In fact, I probably encountered at least 10 couples posing during my late morning walk. Weddings and wedding photography are definitely big business in China!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Guangzhou: Yuan Xuan Taoist Temple

North of Guangzhou is the district of Huadu (just west of the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport). Not much going on there, although like most Chinese population hubs they do have a beautiful and thriving People's Park. But on the western outskirts of Huadu is a gem that somehow has escaped the average China tourist agenda... the largest Taoist temple in Guangdong Province, the Yuan Xuan Taoist Temple. Wow. One layer after another of artisitic majesty, and the new areas still under construction (behind the huge bronze statue of Confucius) while I was there are likely now finished ~ I visited in September 2010. To put the photos below in context, it was 95 degrees that afternoon, probably why I was one of only a few guests walking the grounds at that time. I can assure you, many visual treasures await inside the various buildings, but photos are not allowed.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nanning: More About It

A unique feature of Nanning (capital of Guangxi Province) is the divided main roads. As you can see from the photos below, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles travel on the right side of the islands, cars and trucks get the left side... safety no doubt the motivating factor there. You'll notice the cleanliness of the city right away, but that's true with most big cities in China (in Shanghai there are street cleaners with brooms and trash bags every other city block). Also, alot of beautiful palm trees in Nanning.

Chinese women do not like exposing their skin to the sun, so you'll see umbrellas everywhere. A striking thing about Nanning is the ever-present youth... in the many large parks, shops, or out at night. Seems like they dominate the city, in a good way. Other Nanning attractions: The Bird & Flower Market (Yuanhu Road / Zhonghua Road intersection), the Guangxi Provincial Museum (34 Minzu Dadao ~ check out the bronze drums), and the Convention & Exhibition Centre (near the east financial district).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nanning: Zhong Shan Lu

Lu = Road in Chinese. Zhong Shan Lu is Nanning's always thriving after dark
"Food Street" ~ located one block behind the Yongjiang Hotel (where I stayed, 1st photo below, which has a great breakfast buffet, 2nd photo below) and diagonally opposite the Wan Da Plaza shopping center (in the background of the 3rd photo below, which features Nanning's motorcycle taxis... dirt cheap, noisy, and a helluva lot of fun to ride, especially at night!). Definitely spend an evening there and sample the foods of Guangxi, Guangdong, Hunan, and Yunnan Provinces.

Zhong Shan Lu is dormant during the day, but at night, every night, you'll know it's time to eat by the crowds packing the endless row of food stalls and grilling areas... place your order, find a seat, order a beer or two, and enjoy. Check out the metal cooking boxes that accompany the fish orders (2nd photo below ~ somewhere under all that good stuff is a tasty and tender whitefish). At the bottom inside are hot coals, so the food is still cooking, and keeps warm, right on your table! Oh, and fresh fruit smoothies, made to your specifications, are available for only $1 US.