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Silent Sunday

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Intercontinental Hotel: Lijiang

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Adjacent to Lijiang’s Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Intercontinental hotel offers style, comfort and outstanding service. All the villas are modern and comfortable with rooms and architecture based on local ethnic crafts and culture making the Intercontinental an ideal place to stay, especially if you can pay with points. I really hated to leave this sanctuary. It would be an ideal place to come to finish editing a writing project.

The service was friendly and efficient. The staff all seemed genuinely eager to help. There were always enough staff with fluent English on hand to help.

The food in the executive lounge was beautiful and ample. I was upgraded to an executive room so I could have afternoon tea, cocktails and appetizers and breakfast in the lounge. They always offered a choice of Chinese and Western fare.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta

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Pottery changed to architectural detail

Isn’t “delta,” i.e. change pretty darn close to “transience”? I understand the small difference, but it is in the same ball park.

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Wednesday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

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Fallen Cherry Blossoms

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

“Life is but a day;
A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way
From a tree’s summit.”
― John Keats, The Complete Poems

“Like vanishing dew,
a passing apparition
or the sudden flash
of lightning — already gone —
thus should one regard one’s self.”
― Ikkyu

From Charming Lijiang

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From Lijiang

For years I’ve wanted to visit Southwest China and Lijiang in particular, but flights here were always so pricey. I finally figured it’s cheaper to fly to Kunming and then take a bus to Lijiang so I could see its UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town.

N.B. There are no fast trains to Lijiang and the slow trains aren’t much faster than the bus. I wager my bus was cleaner than the train.

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The bus station was a bit confusing, but once you get past the noise and construction, getting a ticket is just a matter of showing the clerk the name of your destination in your guidebook, showing your passport and paying. I left from Kunming and the ticket was 217 rob ($32). A friend had taken the bus and suggested it was a pleasant journey as you get to see a lot of mountains, rice terraces and rural homes along the way. That was true, but my bus attendant made sure we sit in our assigned seats. Till I was on the half empty bus I had no idea there were assigned seats. So I was on the aisle the whole way. I could glimpse the scenery, but it’s not a great view. I did get a lot of reading done.

Since I’d taken a photo of the address of my hotel, I thought I it would be easy to get a taxi there. I showed two drivers the enlarged Chinese address and they refused me. The number I had for the hotel didn’t work.

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A kind old man with an electric cart wanted to help. I figured he’d has as much trouble as the other two. So I just took out my Lonely Planet and pointed to an address of a hostel near my hotel. I know that the Hostel International staff tend to speak English well. Once there I could walk or get a short taxi ride to the hotel. That plan worked. It took longer and I was tired, but it worked.

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Today I’ve spent most of my time exploring Lijiang’s Ancient Town. It’s full of shops, inns, cafés and craft shops. As is often the case most of the shops sell the same goods. I don’t think you’d make much money selling tea, drums, silver or traditional scarves here. The scarves and tea seem good quality, but I’m not in need of either.

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Charming Lijiang

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The Last Emperor

I know I saw Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor when it first came out, but now that I’m in China and know more of its history, I couldn’t pass up a friend’s offer to lend it to me.

The story is told in flashbacks as Puyi, China’s last emperor, reflects on his life now that he’s imprisoned by the Communists. He symbolizes all they hate about old China, but Puyi can’t really help that.

I vividly remembered Puyi, the tot who became emperor when his father was killed, getting taken from his home to the palace. I wonder why his mother didn’t live at the palace since her husband was the emperor. I’ll have to look that up. The film than continues by showing the folly of having a young boy assume the emperor’s throne. Now I’m sure someone else, like the Lord Chancellor was actually calling the shots, but that wasn’t in the film.

Since no one can correct the emperor, even when he’s 3 or 4, Puyi soon becomes a brat. He’s never able to leave the vast grounds. It isn’t until he’s seven that he’s able to see his brother, one of the few people who will talk straight with him. It’s quite bizarre to see this boy treated with such deference by hundreds of grown eunuchs, who indulge his every whim.

In 1912, China became the Republic of China led by Sun Yet Sen, yet we stay with Puyi, who’s shocked to learn that he’s no longer the emperor of China, he’s just the emperor of the Forbidden City and he can’t leave. I don’t fault the film with sticking with Puyi’s biography, but the events in his life made me curious about the wider history of China, which I know in outlines.

Throughout his life, Puyi seemed to be a puppet. Though he was allowed to have his way in trivial matters around the palace, he never governed. He talked of wanting to choose a wife who spoke English and French, but the dowager chose for him. In the film he seemed to get on well with is wife and his concubine, but according to an article in The Guardian, Puyi was pretty asexual and certainly not a big family man.

I found the parts with Mr. Johnston, the emperor’s tutor, played by Peter O’Toole, who can perform such a role with the needed aplomb, most interesting as Mr. Johnston was the only character with any force, the only one to question or challenge the emperor. He did so tactfully, but most kowtowed as they wanted the emperor to have his way, while they feathered their nests with goodies from the imperial storehouses and coffers. How that money and the opulence of the majestic lifestyle continued after the Republic took over mystifies me.

When the Communists arrest and interrogate Puyi, he had my sympathy, but I still yearned for a hero who would take action. .I wondered why he never left China. He seemed to have been conditioned early on to never go beyond the familiar.

He did flee the Forbidden City and lived in the Japanese legation and later Manchuria, where he thought he’d actually rule, but he was just a puppet for the Japanese. To me it was clear that once Japan surrendered he needed to leave. he was inert, either unwise or paralyzed to take action. The film with its majestic setting and costumes cries out for an epic hero. There’s a tension in this film that Puyi never was that sort of hero. And he suffered for that.

Seen in Tianjin

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Gallery

Chinese Zumba?

Here’s my first stab at an iMovie. It’s less than a minute long. The guy in the orange was so joyful.

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