Entries Tagged as 'Uncategorized'

International Women’s Day in China

During the One Child Policy (一胎政策) which finished in 2015, the Chinese government tried to persuade the population not to discriminate against having female children.  Unfortunately, the campaign was not successful and has resulted in there being far more males than females in China. Traditional families, especially in the countryside chose to have a male child over a female child.

This is a government propaganda sign in Rural China (Bakai, Rongjiang, Guizhou Province) reminding the local population that males and females are equal.

Boys and Girls are the same.

However, due the gender imbalance, the government is now asking women to lower their aspirations and be less picky when choosing a male partner for life.

There is still a lot of work to do.


Lijiashan Cave Dwellings 李家山 窑洞 (photo of the week)

Lijiashan 李家山

Amazing cave dwelling in Shanxi Province

Hidden away up an eroded valley a few kilometers from a remote stretch of the Yellow River is Lijiashan 李家山. It is one of Shanxi Province’s hidden gems.  A village almost exclusively made up of traditional cave dwellings 窑洞.  It’s a place to spend a few days disconnected from the modern world, read a good book on one of the sunny terraces of the local home-stays and sip a cold (or lukewarm) beer. All the home-stays are cave dwellings built into the side of the mountain.  If the sky is clear, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular starry nights (full article coming soon).

Tianning Temple and Pagoda 天宁寺塔: A Beijing Hidden Gem

Tianning Temple and Pagoda

Tiannng Temple and Pagoda 天宁寺塔

Tianning Temple and Pagoda 天宁寺塔


Gazing out of the taxi window, stuck in one of those infernal Beijing traffic jams on our way to the cavernous Beijing West Train Station 北京西 for the umpteenth time, I always found my eyes fixing on a huge pagoda majestically rising above the sprawl of residential buildings. I can’t count the number of times I said to Margie, “we must find out what it is”.

Tianning Temple and Pagoda 天宁寺塔

However, once on the train and out of Beijing, our thoughts moved on to the new adventures that lay ahead and our curiosity in the pagoda waned until the next time we were yet again on our way to Beijing West 西站 and the pagoda again caught our attention.

Tianning Temple and Pagoda 天宁寺塔

Sometimes, we asked our friends living in Beijing if they knew the pagoda. Most just shrugged their shoulders and told us it was obviously the famous Bai Yun Si 白云寺 (White Cloud Temple). However, that just couldn’t be so.On the map, the Taoist White Cloud Temple is on your right as you drive west towards the station, this pagoda was on the left. It had to be something else.

Taoist Monks in BaiyunSi 白云寺

With a few days to spare in Beijing on our last trip, we decided to find out what this mysterious pagoda was. And what a find!

Tianning Temple and Pagoda 天宁寺塔

After visiting the White Cloud Temple we headed south west crossing under the six-lane elevated highway that heads towards Beijing West train station and entered Fengtai District. From there we basically followed [Read more →]

Route and Map 2016: Beijing to Xian

2016 Beijing To Xian


This summer we travelled with a friend who had never been to China before. So to give him a good introduction we made a route from Beijing to Xian passing through the province of Shanxi. Its a route that took in some magnificent Buddhist cave art, wonderful old towns and castles, the Great Wall and included some of the most beautiful temples in China. Finally finishing up with the Terracotta Army in Xian.


Old Castle town near Jincheng

Old Castle town near Jincheng

Li Qun 力群 Wood Cuts 木刻绘画 in the Wang Jia Mansion

Li Qun 力群 Wood Cuts 木刻绘画

Li Qun Wood Cut

Li Qun Wood Cut


Here are just a few of the beautiful wood cuts we were able to enjoy when we visited the rambling and extraordinary Wang Family Home in Shanxi Province a few hours from Pingyao.

Wang Jia Mansion

Wang Jia Mansion

We had no idea that there was a Li Qun exhibition on when we visited. It was a fantastic surprise. Some of his wood cuts are really stunning works of art.

Li Qun Wood Cut

Li Qun Wood Cut

For more on Li Qun Click here: I hope you enjoy the photos we took. I am afraid there is some reflective glare on one or two of the photos due to the wood cuts being protected by glass.

Here is a summery of  his philosophy on art:

Art for Serving the Masses

 The following text comes from: http://en.cafa.com.cn/iconic-chinese-woodcuts-artist


“Li strongly believes that art should serve the interests of the masses–the workers, peasants and soldiers. [Read more →]

Chinese New Year 春节: The Nightmare of Going Home

Chinese New Year

The Nightmare of Going Home

By Train

The New Year Rush

The New Year Rush

Getting train tickets in China has always been a hit and miss operation, especially if you want sleeper berths for long distance trains. At Chinese New Year, getting a ticket becomes something akin to winning the lottery.

Train Mayhem

Train Mayhem

This BBC clip sums the situation up quite well, and shows the growing divide between the haves and have nots in modern China, where just having access to a computer is an advantage。


We've got a seat!

We’ve got a seat!

Glad to be home

Glad to be home

Shangri-La goes up in Flames: The End of Zhongdian/ Dukezong

Shangri-La goes up in Flames

The End of Zhongdian/ Dukezong

Old Zhongdian / Dukezong

Old Zhongdian / Dukezong

Reports from the Chinese Press and Western News agencies talk of the Tibetan town of Dukezong (previouly Zhongdian) being destroyed by fire. It appears that the fire started in a backpacker hostel though this still has to be confirmed.

Old Zhongdian /Dukezong

Old Zhongdian /Dukezong

Memories of Zhongdian
Our first attempt to visit the town in 1991 was thwarted when the police pulled us of the bus just after Tiger Leap Gorge and sent us back to Lijiang. Zhongdian/ Dukezong was still apparently closed to Foreigners then. Eventually, we got there in 2007 on our way to Tibet.

Ganden Sumtsellin Gompa not destroyed by the fire in Zhongdian/Dukezong

Ganden Sumtselling Gompa not destroyed by the fire in Zhongdian/Dukezong

When we visited in 2007 we found an old wooden town (surrounded by a drab new town) that had been well-restored with a low key and laid back feel. There were some wonderful old Tibetan mansions around town as well as some nice bars and cafes in the old buildings. We especially remember [Read more →]

On the Road Again: Guangdong Province

Guangdong Province is our destination this year and a much shorter visit than normal. We plan to base ourselves for almost a week in Guangzhou taking time to enjoy the Dim Sum and making various excursions. High on our list are the Diaolou near Kaiping; the river side temples near Qingyuan and the Bagua Villages near Zhaoqing. If there is time we would like to pop into the little known Hakka area of southern Jiangxi province and visit the Tulou (Hakka earth buildings) near Longnan. Finally,

Street Scene Chaozhou Guangdong Province

we’ll finish our trip visiting friends in Beijing after taking the bullet train from Guangzhou.

Mo Yan 莫言 wins the Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

Author: Pen name: Mo Yan 莫言.  Real name:  Guǎn Móyè 管谟业

Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

Anyone who has read our Chinese book review section will know that I’m a great fan of the Chinese author Mo Yan. So I would just like so say how happy I am that he has been recognized for his great works.  Hopefully, I’ll now be able to find a copy of his ‘Republic of Wine’ a little more easily.

Below are the reviews of two of Mo Yan’s books that are on our blog:

Big Breasts and Wide Hips丰乳肥臀

The Garlic Ballads /天堂蒜薹之歌 by Mo Yan莫言


Zhangye Danxia Landforms Geology Park (张掖丹霞地貌)

Zhangye Danxia Landforms Geology Park

Gansu province near Zhangye


Lunar Landscape at Danxia Landforms (张掖丹霞地貌)

For more on Zhangye and around click here: Zhangye / Mati Si

On our last day (in Zhangye), we decided to visit this newly developed geo-park, a scenic area of multi-coloured rocks, which has been put on the map by Zhang Yimou 张艺谋 who shot (part of) his film San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi 三枪拍案惊奇 here. This film, which is known by the titles A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop 三枪拍案惊奇, as well as A Simple Noodle Story, is Zhang’s personal take on the Coen brothers debut film Blood Simple.

Danxia Coloured Rocks

The geology park is about 40 kms, or an hour’s drive from Zhangye, in the opposite direction from Mati Si.

Zhang Yimou and Cast

We are told to get on a bus, and after a short drive we are let off at a viewing platform, from where we gaze at the amazing scenery.

Lunar Landscape

The landscape is positively lunar, or something out of a sci-fi pic: we are surrounded by row after row of [Read more →]