Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental


Modern Art in Beijing


Street Art, Melbourne, Australia


Art in Taipei

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.

Just a few wonderful posts:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage


Chishakuin Temple, Kyoto

Harbin 2014 314

St. Sophia Church, Haerbin, China


Chicago, Illinois


Beijing, China

Guild Hall Dining, #1


While on a walking tour of Beijing’s Tienanmen Square and environs, I learned that from way back when each province of China has had guild halls where envoys from the provinces would stay. These halls also have restaurants where anyone can sample the best cuisine from each province for a relatively low price.

I found a list of these spots on a blog called Eileen Eats and have wanted to visit some for quite a while. This past weekend I had a friend who was game and we went to Xingjiang Fanzhuang Urumuqi Muncipal Office for lunch.


Since the blog contains the addresses in Chinese as well as the romanized pinyin, we could show a taxi where to go. Urumuqi is the capital of Xinjiang, a western province with a large population of Uighurs, an ethnic group that differs from the Han Chinese in language, culture and politics. I’ve had good Uighur food in Beijing at a restaurant that’s disappeared and on my trip to Urumuqi.


Lamb & onions

After a 15 minute taxi ride from the South Cathedral at Xuanwumen, we arrived in a neighborhood and weren’t sure we got to the right place, then we saw a Central Asian facade on a building set back from the street. Sure enough this was the right place.



Upon entering we where struck by the noisy bustle of the restaurant. The place was busy and the wait staff scurried about. Soon someone noticed us and gave us a card with a number. Then after awhile someone was shouting a number in Chinese and was getting frustrated that no one was responding. I guessed, correctly, that they were calling for us. We were shown to a table and given a menu with English and with photos. Since it seemed we were the only foreigners there we were surprised, and delighted that there was English. The menu featured a lot of lamb dishes and some exotic items like braised camel’s feet. We chose a lamb and onion dish, some meat pockets, which were a lot like what a Mongolian friend would make, and Xinjiang vegetables, which turned out to be potatoes in a spicy sauce.

The food was fine, but not spectacular. Our tab came to 62 rmb (so less than $10 USD). The decor was Central Asian with a touch of Russian.

I think we should have followed Eileen’s advice and gotten the “polou rice.” I was just delighted that we found a place off the beaten path. I’d definitely try another provincial restaurant and possibly go back to this one if a friend was eager. It was easy to get a cab back to the city center.

(Tip – If you don’t speak Chinese, just say Tienanmen or Wangfujing and you’ll get to a place where you’re likely to find something to do or hop on the subway.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Repurposed


Made from magazine pages

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.

Other Weekly Photo Challenge photos:



You’ve been warned

I guess this means you should carry small bills. The driver may pawn off his counterfeit 50s on you if you pay with a 100 rmb note. He’ll probably also drive you the long way round.

Understand why I don’t like Beijing taxi drivers?

Travel Theme: Indoors


Each week Ailsa of “Where’s My Backpack?” invites bloggers to share travel photos based on a particular theme. This week’s theme is Indoors.

I knew I’d have to share a photo of the interior of Beijing’s first Stock Exchange. It’s been long forgotten and is now just a tenement, where you can hear people cooking, kids playing, etc. Thanks to Jeremaiah Jenne’s walking tour or Tiananmen Square and the area southwest of it, I knew that this isn’t just some old building, whose exterior you can see here. If it hadn’t been for this tour, I would have just walked by this building without giving it a second glance.

Now if you would like to join in (everyone’s welcome to join in!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Indoors
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes.
  • Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.

A Visit to 798


Good news! it’s a lot easier to get to the 798 Art Space as there’s a new subway line that gets you there. They’re still working on the stop that takes you right to its gate. For now, you need to get off at the Jiangtai stop and walk 15 – 20 minutes north. some may say it’s gotten to commercialized and it has, but it’s still fun to stroll around.






Where do you go to check out new art? Or old art? What kind of art do you like best?

Beijing Weekend


Ah, I’ve been having such troubles getting beyond the confines of the Internet that China likes and on to my blogs or social media. I’ve said this before and it’s getting more and more aggravating if that’s possible.

Enough whinging as my Aussie friends would say and on to my Beijing weekend of May 19 – 22.

I had a great few days. On Friday I took a walking tour led by an American historian who’s been in China for 16 years. He’s written for The Atlantic, The Economist and other publications. I’d seen both the Confucian Temple and Lama Temple (which is a Tibetan temple) a couple times before, but I’d barely scratched the surface, I know I’d walked by rooms and artwork with a glance, unaware of the real significance.

(The tour was with The Hutong group, which offered a lovely tour of a traditional market that I took a few years back. The do cooking classes as well.)


I learned a lot about Confucius and relationship and history between Tibetan Buddhism and China’s view of it.

According to our guide, Confucius was one of many philosophers and was particularly popular when he was alive. Legalism was promoted by the rulers then, but when that regime was ousted the new leaders sought some sort of unifying belief system and heard about Confucianism. They settled on spreading Confucianism and then learned that Confucius didn’t write any books and that the previous regime had burned the most of books his earlier followers wrote and they also killed a good many of those followers. So the new regime scrounged up what they could and patched together a book, The Analetics resulted.

As for the Lama Temple, it was a prince’s palace. He became emperor but kept this palace as a retreat (yet it’s not far from the Forbidden City so it must have been for the earliest “staycations” in history.) After he died, there was a problem of what to do with this palace. You couldn’t sell it. Other people, i.e. mere mortals can’t live where a past emperor lived. Eventually it was given to a sect of Tibetan Buddhist that like the Lutherans broke from the main faith. The prince had been friends since childhood with a man from this sect and he’d had a fondness for Tibet.

We learned that this sect is the one headed by the world famous D.L. (the term our guide used as he explained some of the history). When we were standing by a chair that should be reserved for The D.L. but has someone else’s photo on it, a Chinese man tried to listen in. He was pretty conspicuous and it was rather awkward so the guide moved us away from him. The guide describes the current D.L. as more like John Paul Ii than Pope Francis because he’s rather conservative. He believes when this D.L. dies China will choose a successor and so will the Tibetans in exile and things can get heated.

Hotel Review

The Grand Mercure Dongchen offers beautiful rooms and good service. I actually reserved a room here by accident. I wanted to book a room at the Mercure by Beijing’s South Cathedral, but inadvertently booked this location.

I found the staff welcoming and the room, a junior suite modern and comfortable. (I’ve stayed at enough Accor hotels this year to get upgrades for each reservation.)

One nice touch was that they printed their hotel guide on scrolls to harken to Beijing’s past.


The hotel is within walking distance of the Yonghegong Tibetan Temple and the Drum and Bell Towers, but these sites are really, in my opinion, of interest for travellers who’ve already seen Beijing’s most famous sites like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace. They’re nice but not essential to see. It’s nowhere near the cathedral I wanted to get to and got lost finding. While I think it’s a lot newer

It’s not very crowded and the cocktail buffet had meagre offerings compared with busier hotels.

All in all, I’d suggest staying here if business brings you to north central Beijing but don’t bother with the Executive Lounge as you’ll probably need to eat more anyway. Room service would be the way to go.


Charlie singing

Charlie singing

This weekend I went to Beijing with some friends, one whose travel style is higher than mine. She doesn’t like to take public transportation so she’s been hiring a driver, Charlie, to take her around. I just wouldn’t consider hiring a driver a $100 or more a day. It’s not something English teachers can afford, though business teachers can. (So become a business teacher if you want to make big bucks.)

My friend arranged for Charlie, her driver, to take us around on Saturday. He picked us up at 9:30 and he was full of energy. Neat as a pin, and jovial as can be, Charlie drove us to the Silk Market, then to “The Village,” another shopping area and finally to the Pearl Market. As he drove he sang Peking Opera songs. He’s self-taught and quite good, or we thought so. He’s really serious about opera and after each song, he supplied a synopsis in English.

Not only was he a fun driver, Charlie was a very safe driver and hospitable. He’s lead an interesting life growing up in village near Shanghai, becoming a “little boss” in a factory, meeting his one love there, teaching himself English and opera and eventually starting a driving business which now consists of a fleet of 12 drivers.

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