Culture

Boundaries -The DMZ

Boundaries can be physical, political or emotional… or so I think. My first thought for this week’s Word Press theme was the DMZ (De -Militarized Zone) in between North and South Korea. This is a very political boundary. We visited the area while in Seoul, Korea on a short trip in the Fall of 2012. Organised and guided daily tours leave Seoul; picking you right up at your hotel. The ‘waiting’ area in the DMZ has souvenir shops, food stalls and viewing areas. A place to pass the time as your group awaits their timed entrance. You can read more about that trip and the DMZ here.

A bridge to nowhere

A bridge to nowhere

This photo is showing a part of the above bridge which ends in a large chain link fence. Many people and families have tied ribbons on the chain link and posed for photos.

Messages and ribbons along the Southern side of the DMZ

Messages and ribbons along the Southern side of the DMZ

Can you show a boundary in a photo? Do you want to see other interpretations? Then check it out here.

 

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Categories: Culture, History, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Symbols: WP Photo Challenge

Chinese language uses symbols, not western recognisable letters and shapes, to communicate meaning in written contexts. The thickness and order in the strokes is just as important as the symbols themselves. In the new modern technological age Pin Yin has been introduced, a way to use a western letters and phonics to spell out words to make it easier for computers and smartphones to communicate. A debate has arisen if the old style character writing will slowly fade away. Chinese Characters have adapted before, as they used to be more representational of the items and words they represent.

Living in China for 5 years made it hard to communicate verbally and written was even more difficult. However, those characters will forever be a symbol to communicate and a memory for our time living in Shanghai. That chapter has just closed and a new one is on the horizon. I am still raw with emotion as we have been back about 1 week. Let me share some symbols of that journey.

My watch with the more traditional characters to symbolise numbers 1-12. In the centre is the character lǎoshī  showing ‘teacher’.

What time is it?

What time is it?

My name on a pendant written in Chinese Characters.

Hand Carved Chinese Pendant - can you read my name????

Hand Carved Chinese Pendant – can you read my name????

Simple things can hold a lot of meaning that cannot be put into words. It may mean something to a group of people, an individual or culture. Check out Word Press for more examples.

Stay tuned….

 

Categories: China, Culture, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Shanghai Silly: Potato Chips

When I was kid I remember the strange potato chip flavours coming out. Grape seems to be the one I recall and wanted to try the most. Funny I don’t remember if I ever tried them – maybe I was to chicken. 🙂

When we first arrived in Shanghai that memory came back as we walked down the aisle of chips. I tried lime, a sweetish more like key lime pie and ice tea, a lemony flavour. They did have grape or blueberry and I assumed it was ‘normal’, but the next time we went to shop they no longer carried that flavour. This time I was going to be sure to try them and I missed out. Another time I bought Cheetos and was surprised by the unusual flavour. I can’t read Chinese, but on closer inspection I realised I bought steak Cheetos. 😦 I don’t know if it was the flavour or not what I expected, but I wasn’t a fan and never bought them again. Recently I saw another kind of cheesies had something on top that looked like cheese. Mmmm cheesies with extra cheese on top. Nope it was vanilla icing like. Bizarre.

funny chip flavours

funny chip flavours

We usually stick to our old standards now. John likes the plain Lays, which are not as salty or greasy as home. Large bags are a third the size of home, but the flavour is great. I like the cheese Pringles. We bought some at home, but again the greasier and saltier flavour are not as good.

While out shopping I decided to snap a few photos of some of the new flavours that came out recently. Maybe they were just for Chinese New Year, or will be more long-term if they are a hit. My new favourite is Thai Green Curry. They are lime and a hint of coconut…. sounds strange, but it is good. Before that I discovered chocolate and sea salt. It is sweeter than usual chips, but nice too. The chocolate is light and just enough. I tried the numb and spicy hot-pot, but it was something I would not eat again. That and the sour plum melon is too Chinese for me. It has this spice that is in many dishes here and I don’t like it. The pepper and chicken were OK, but I prefer my favs thanks.

My favs in the middle and 2 new ones to try.

My favs in the middle and 2 new ones to try.

Chips are not too expensive; about the same price as home. The small bags run 3.80 RMB, which is around .75c Canadian and the larger bags are 5.20 RMB or $1.00. The tins are 8.00 RMB about $1.50.

What is your favourite chip flavour? Do you ever try any of the new flavours that come out?

 

Categories: China, Culture, everyday occurances, strange adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Chinese Symmetry -WP Photo Challenge

When I take pictures I often follow the rule of thirds to make things more interesting. This causes difficultly when looking for pictures with symmetry. I took a rainy stroll around the block today and looked for things that created symmetry.

A street sign showing Chinese characters isn’t symmetrical, but some Chinese characters can be divided equally.

some Chinese characters are symmetrical

some Chinese characters are symmetrical

Wednesday is New Years Eve and Chinese lanterns and other decorations are popping up all around. The entrance to this shopping area was very symmetrical.

Chinese New Year decorations near City Shop and Yanlord Town

Chinese New Year decorations near City Shop and Yanlord Town

Expensive cars grace the streets in my neighbourhood and I noticed the grill of this high-end car to be symmetrical.

man made symmetry

man made symmetry

Look for what creates balance and symmetry in your neighbourhood. Find something? Post about on WP or tell us about in the comments below.

Stay tuned…

 

Categories: China, Culture, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cover Art: Photo Challenge

After the chills that ran down my spine earlier this week when I heard about the horrific event at the Canadian Parliament I thought every newspaper and magazine will be covering the events in pictures, words and accounts as they try to piece together the how and why it happened. After all things like this don’t happen in Canada.

Here are my cover shots….

 

The Peace Tower and Canadian Flag a witness to lost innoncence in Ottawa on Parliment Hill

The Peace Tower and Canadian Flag a witness to lost innocence in Ottawa on Parliament Hill

This photo below was taken this past summer at the re-enactment of a battle of 1812 which, took place 200 years ago July 1814 in Chippewa Ontario. I added a soft focus to the  close up of a solider uniform and gloved hands.  The gloved hands are gentle.  Hands are meant to heal, help and hold. To me this photo  is a symbol of bravery and honour as Canadians stand up and fight for everyone to keep us safe. 200 years later this still rings true. Thank goodness to the quick action and thinking of those that risked their lives to keep so many others safe. Thoughts and prayers go out to the young man who lost his life.

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This week Word Press asked us to show “Cover Art”. A photo that could grace the cover of a book, magazine or album.

 

Categories: Canada, Culture, History, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Signs of Democracy

We recently traveled to Hong Kong for a few days and while we were there the student lead protests had just begun. Read more about that with my post Last Night. Be sure to look at the comment section where I posted a link to a young girl’s blog who lives in Hong Kong and is taking part in the protests. A very interesting perspective, one that you won’t get from a news report or newspaper article.

This week Word Press has given us the theme signs. Previously I posted on signs from around China and street and silly signs around my neighborhood in Shanghai. WP talks about how signs can point us in the right direction, decorate, announce and show us about a time or culture. This was very true of the protests that are ongoing in Hong Kong. I decided to post more of the signs from Hong Kong that we saw around Admiralty and Central during the protests. It certainly is representative of time and culture.

The contrast of signs on HK streets Sep. 29, 2014

The contrast of signs on HK streets Sep. 29, 2014

 

Hand made signs on cardboard, streets and fabric are in English and Chinese stating their feelings and ideas. Most ask for democracy. The contrasts between the handmade signs made from whatever materials were on hand and the massive  neon lighted signs of the high-end designer shops is opposite in every way. Will these become signs of change?

 

 

Stay Tuned…

 

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, History, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , ,

Last Night

Last night a peaceful protest in Hong Kong turned into something much bigger which may make change for the future. Demonstrations started with hundred then thousands of young people, mostly university age students. The reason for their assembly to try to influence the changes that may take away some of the freedoms of the people. From what we can gather, Hong Kong which returned to China in 1997, has been allowed freedoms and government to act somewhat independently from the rest of China. News came that this may start to change. 2017 a new process would allow people to vote, but the candidates would be hand picked by the capital, no longer a freedom from local residents to pick their own candidates. The young people took to the streets last night and peacefully blocked roads in the financial district of Hong Kong. The police tried to disperse the crowds by using tear gas, but the people stood strong.

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From reports only a few were hurt and the and the crowds remained calm despite the police presence. This says a lot about the people. They are staying put, but without violence, disruption, chaos or rioting.

The crowd around Admiralty -HK financial district

The crowd around Admiralty -HK financial district

Today we were in the area and went to see for ourselves. At first it looked like a handful of people on closed roads. Someone pointed us further down the road and on the other side of an overpass we were startled by the crowds still there. Signs were posted on cardboard, on roads and barriers. Thousands of young students dressed in black with yellow ribbons of support with eye goggles and face masks sat peacefully on phones or chatting to friends. A few people spoke to the crowd and people quietly applauded. Talking to some of the young demonstrators you can see how passionate they are. They want to fight for freedom, show civil disobedience, but peacefully resist. One young girl quickly explained to me the reason for the crowd and why they had gathered. She stumbled over her English and kept apologising for the errors. She ended with I just want to help. I am here to help the people. She offered me a wet towel and when I refused she insisted.

one of numerous signs to get the message across

one of numerous signs to get the message across

Some shops were open, but many closed, but the people were not interested in doing any harm. It overwhelmed me to see the support, passion and how they cared for their city. As visitors many thanked us for coming and showing support. We were offered food, water, cold packs and wet towels to keep us comfortable in the heat. A young man gave us a face mask in case of more tear gas and said if we need anything speak to any of the ‘cooling stations’ which were well stocked with food, toilet paper, cases and cases of water. An elderly woman came with a trolley and in a styrofoam box she passed out hot meals to the students consisting of rice and breaded pork. Men and women in business suits came out on their lunch hour. To many people it was a photo op of selfies, but deep down you could see the care and concern that the future may hold. A young business man said he watched it all unfold from his office building and stated how proud he was of the people banding together, but how they remained calm and in control. As we walked along people apologised for bumping into you, offered you whatever they had. All these people demonstrating would cause quiet the mess, but there was no garbage strewn about. A young protester was carrying a garbage bag and picking up the small amounts of litter that were left behind. Again I was overwhelmed.

peaceful civil disobedience

peaceful civil disobedience

Whenever you think protest in a foreign country, or any country, your first instinct should be turn away. We felt safe and everyone wanted to share their message. The genuine thanks for our support, smiles and shaking our hands was like being welcomed into someone’s home. The feeling of acceptance and appreciation was unlike anything I would expect. The diverse groups of people coming together made us realise that this could be a part of history, life changing for many.

Last night as the police tear gassed the crowds the protesters quickly handed umbrellas out to those closest to the police. They covered themselves in plastic wrap, wore face masks and opened the umbrellas to protect themselves.

“The Umbrella Revolution” Last night as the police tear gassed the crowds the protesters quickly handed umbrellas out to those closest to the police. They covered themselves in plastic wrap, wore face masks and opened the umbrellas to protect themselves.

WP challenge for this week was NIGHT. This was a pretty historic night…

OK so my pictures weren’t taken at night and we only watched it on the TV because we had just arrived in HK oblivious to the news until after we checked in. It has carried on all day today and I am sure again into the night…

Stay tuned.

Categories: Culture, History, strange adventures, Uncategorized, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , ,

200 Years Ago -Canadian History

If you are from North America, chances are, you had to study the War of 1812 in history class. Way back when the British and French had control of most of North America and slowly ideas, government and people wanted change. The south became the United States of America, while the North wanted to remain loyal to the King of England. In a nutshell, tensions flared and border disputes began in what was known as the War of 1812. It lasted over 2 -1/2 years in and around the Niagara area. It stretched as far north as present day Toronto and as far south as present day Washington DC. Names like Laura Secord, Sir Isaac Brock and John Brant are well known even today as companies, universities, cities or streets and monuments that were resurrected in their honour.

Part of North American culture is reenactments of such wars for history buffs. I had heard about them, but never witnessed one. The battle of Chippewa, a small area outside of Niagara Falls, Ontario was hosting a 200th anniversary of the Battle of Chippewa and we decided to attend. It was more than just a short lived reenacted battle, but a full on affair.

Take aim..... Fire!

Take aim….. Fire!

When we first arrived white canvas tents dotted the bike path with men and women in period costume selling trinkets, foods and other antiques or replicas of period pieces. Soon shots were fired and the battle was about to begin. In the same location as the original battle men (and women) in costume lined up on the battle filed and fired guns and cannons. The traditional method of lining up in rows as each group fired and another loaded up. Some fell, as they had been ‘shot’ so lines retreated and then moved forward again. Orders were shouted and soldiers complied. The smell of sulfur and smoke filled the air. It felt like we stepped back in history as we watched authentic methods put to use.

Camp as it may have looked in 1814

Camp as it may have looked in 1814

When the battle was over we walked around the rows of tents that were filled with quilts, lamb skin and old fashioned wash basins. Traditional cast iron cooking utensils and open air fires were in view, as this was more than a display, but a working camp. What surprised me most was how they really went all out with the smallest of details.

IMG_7496-1812 MARCH

Events like this are often held at the various forts around the Niagara Region on both sides of the border, especially since it has been the 200th anniversary, which is now winding down. Smaller locations, like this in a farmer’s fields are also occasionally held. A knowledgeable speaker gave a play by play of events to explain the process to inform the crowd. What was best about this –it was free! What an interesting way to learn history and spend a Sunday afternoon.

Even some on lookers were in period dress

Even some on lookers were in period dress

Don’t forget about the 2 challenges held for Tourist in Your Own Town. June was Festivals & Gatherings and July is Home. This could be a response for Festivals & Gatherings AND Home. If you would like to participate add a link in your blog to this one here and tell us about it in the comment section below.

Stay Tuned….

Categories: Culture, History, Photography, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Festivals & Gatherings: Tourist in Your Town

Here it is June already and time for a new Tourist in Your Town Challenge. Thanks goes out to  Junkboat Travels (on blogspot)  for participating in last month’s challenge Favourite and showing some of her favourite Burger joints in and around Toronto, Canada.

It is a long weekend here in China for Duan Wu, Dragon Boat Festival. The holiday is usually mid-week, but this year it falls on a Monday. Yippee 3 day weekend. Yesterday John and I went to the Beer Festival. John’s friend had a booth and was selling his home-brew and asked John to prepare some food to go along with the drinks. We spent the day selling tasty Beef on a Bun. Crowds came despite the heat. The energy and fun-filled the air for those expats and locals alike that decided to stay in the city.

The Beerfest runs Saturday and Sunday from noon until 10PM. Numerous homebrewers, restaurants and breweries sell their ware. Most participants are from around Shanghai, but some come from other cities. With a large expat community tastes from other countries are also present. In the evening bands hit the main stage to entertain the crowds and create a bar atmosphere outside. It was held in Puxi near Fuxing Park at Sinan Mansions. Sinan is an outside venue with small 2 story European style buildings. This year is the 4th beerfest, so if you’re in the area next year keep it in mind 😉 The address is:

Sinan Mansions 519-521 Fuxing Zhong Lu (near Sinan Lu)

and in Chinese:

思南公馆 复兴中路519号 近思南路

The metro information:

Line 10 (Purple): Xintiandi 10号-新天地

Shanghai Beerfest

Shanghai Beerfest

The Beerfest gave me the idea for this month’s Tourist in Your Own Town theme: Festivals and Gatherings. Now the festival season is just starting, but if you have any photos from last year post them and give us the details, dates and description for this year. Hey maybe if someone is in your neck of the woods they may stop by. No festivals where you live? No problem… what is your summer tradition? Maybe it is a family BBQ, a weekend around a campfire with friends, a church picnic or even a parade. Just show us something festive and fun that you are looking forward to this summer.

 

Then…

  • post your pictures and then link back to this post so others can find you
  • use Tourist in Your Town in the title and tags
  • invite others to join in
View of the venues just before opening time

View of the venues just before opening time

 

 

 

The challenge runs for the month of June and a new challenge will be up the first week of July

Stay tuned…

 

Categories: Culture, everyday occurances, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Framed Twists & Turns

Natural framing, or using something that may be otherwise seen as an obstacle can enhance your photography. The trick is having the eye to see it, or right position to capture it.

Seeing the twists and turns of the Great Wall of China I was able to frame it through a gate window.

The Great Wall twists and turns along the mountain ridge.

The Great Wall twists and turns along the mountain ridge.

Meanwhile the natural frame of the twisting roots and tree trunks covered this statue in Cambodia where only the face now peeks out. From guidebooks this phenomenon is described in detail and tells you to be on the look out for it. I was disappointed when I searched high and low and couldn’t find these elusive statues covered by nature. I assumed it was now lost under layers of time as it reclaimed its space. However, I was passing by a travel guide with a small group and they stopped in what appeared to be an unusual spot, nothing to see. I happened to overhear him point out the face peering out through the tree trunk. I looked and saw nothing. I looked closer and saw this tiny little face, something I assumed to be much larger. After all the large faces at Angkor Thom where massive, but this teeny face could be easily missed. What a great coincidence nature twisted and turned and allowed only the face to be perfectly framed and visible.

Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-Boo

The more literal window frames inside the temples in Angkor Wat twisted and turned in such detail. More like spindles of wood than stone. I enjoyed looking through them and how they framed the windows into much more than just a square opening.

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Check out Word Press for TWISTS and Pixelventures for FRAMING.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Culture, Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,