History

The Great Wall -Boundary Post #2

This week’s theme is boundaries and as I said in the last post I feel boundaries can be physical, political or emotional. My first post showed something very political with pictures of the DMZ between North and South Korea.

In this post I want to show something that can be emotional as well as physical.

The Great Wall - a boundary physical as well as emotional

The Great Wall – a boundary physical as well as emotional

The Great Wall of China was an easy link to boundaries that are physical and even political. The wall was built to keep out the invaders from long ago. It divided the boundaries between the Chinese civilization and the Huns and Mongolians. However, for me it is also emotional as I think about our time in China. It was a place I never thought I would see in real life. I was lucky enough to visit it twice. We have many fond memories of trips and friends in China. Sometimes it feels a little emotional as we move on across boundaries. The challenges we faced while there and how it changed us crossed cultural boundaries within. I wish there was a photo to show that emotional journey, but this was the best I could do. Feelings cannot always be put into words, or displayed in a photo. It is personal about my experiences then and now, so you will just have to trust me. 😉

There are more interpretations of boundaries here.

 

 

Categories: China, History, teaching overseas, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , ,

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.

 

Categories: Culture, History, travel, 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.

IMG_7372

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.

20140929_HKProtest2

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: , , , ,

Endurance -Achieve your goals & dreams

Part of being an expat has offered us a great opportunity to travel. The world became smaller. Things that most people dream of are just around the corner, in our backyard or a short trip away. We have been lucky enough to see the Great Wall of China. My first visit was with a tour group, so the time was limited. I wished to get up these steep steps, but managed barely half way before the time forced me back. My goal, if I ever returned, was to get further. I really wanted to reach the top of those steps and the end of the restored section of the wall where some of the great monument lay crumbling from countless footsteps and hundreds of years.

This past summer we were able to return. Here is the starting point around gate 13 at the Mutianyu section of the wall. Goal in sight we started off.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall... go as far as you dare.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall… go as far as you dare.

 

Around gate 19 or 20 we can see the steepest section ahead.

Warning steep climb ahead

Warning steep climb ahead

The top! The day was glorious with clear blue skies and we could see further in the distance than our last trip to the wall. The wall snaked and turned over the green hills into the distance. August can be quite hot and humid, but today was reasonable. Once we started the climb I was sweating quite a lot. My legs began to shake and I wasn’t sure if I could make it. I had just recovered from a bad virus that sapped all my energy and strength and I was still not 100%. Throw in a touch of jet lag and a busy travel schedule to top it off. Later I would discover I was sick again and in 2 days time the same or similar virus returned and I was in bed. I was determined. I stopped regularly and took in the view while I rested. I drank lots of water and pushed on.

Reward... a view like this!

Reward… a view like this!

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

My endurance paid off and I made it to the top of the steps and past the final gate #23 open to tourists. We went to 24, but just couldn’t make the next steep climb on unsecured steps to #25. Maybe next time. Sometimes it is best to leave some travel dreams ‘undone’ so you have the desire to return.

IMG_8171

We started at the star… gate13. We went right to the end of the map (left side) #24. Approx. 5km one way and hundreds of steps.

Have you ever pushed yourself even when your body and mind said “I can’t”? Tell me about it in the comment section, or join Word Press this week for their photo challenge Endurance.

Sorry I am still not into my regular routine and I post when I can. Please stay tuned…

 

Categories: Chinese Adventures, History, Photography, teaching overseas, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

An Ordinary Day

Last week while taking a drive down a country road we passed by this old one room schoolhouse. You never know what history lurks around every corner, nestled in an ordinary place on an ordinary day.

 

Old One Room School House.

Old One Room School House.

 

What unexpected sight did you come across recently?

Stay tuned…

Categories: History, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences | 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: , , , , , , ,