Guoliang Cun

Guoliang Cun is a village at the top of a stone staircase that is only recently accessible by car. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and more than made up for the terrible accommodation options.




Tiananmen Square during the National Party Congress

Kyle decided to visit Tiananmen Square, but I forgot to warn him that it was the first day of the 18th Party Congress. This is the big event where every party leader comes to Beijing to “decide” on the leadership of the country for the next five years. He came back home that evening with some great photos.

On a normal day, there are tons of uniformed police around Tiananmen, but they were in full force on this day.


For most of the morning, it seems that they kept tourists from entering the square, then changed their minds as the entry queue grew too long.


As if the uniformed police weren’t enough, the photos of the “under-cover” police falling into step and marching around the square to and from their posts just added to the spectacle.


It must be a tough job to be a pretend tourist for a living. I knew there were a lot of under-cover watchers in the square, but I had no idea that there were this many.


My personal favourite is the uniformed police who walk around and scan the ID cards of “suspicious” looking people by reading the ID card’s RFID chip on a hand-held computer. They’ve taken it to a new level with these strange looking scooter vehicles.



The Giggling Tree, Yangshuo

I was looking for a hotel in Yangshuo and wanted one that was away from the sound of late night karaoke that permeate downtown. Trip Advisor pointed me toward the Giggling Tree. It was a great choice.


I’ve haven’t done too many plugs for hotels in the places I’ve travelled, but this one was worth it. The setting was beautiful, the staff were incredibly helpful, and the food was great too.

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I highly recommend it.

Biking and rafting in Yangshuo

We biked up river through the farm fields. It’s what one does while in Yangshuo.


Then we rafted back down the river through the amazing scenery.


The little bamboo rafts hold together pretty well considering the occasional trip down a small waterfall.



Impression Liu Sanjie light show in Yangshuo

The Impressions Light Show was conceived by the same person who developed the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


There might be a complete lack of a sensible plot, but the sheer number of performers and the beauty of the scenery more than makes up for it. The stage is a section of the Li River with the karst hills as a backdrop.







Signs that amuse me: The place where you can drink til you fall

My dictionary doesn’t have a few of these characters so I couldn’t figure out what this is trying to say in Chinese.  The English tag line of “the place where you can drink til you fall” is strangely grammatically correct for a poster advertising a new apartment building.


A park in Yangshuo

One of the few things that Chinese cities occasionally do well is providing public parks. In such a populated country, space in urban centres is cramped beyond belief. The residents of cities that do have parks, like Yangshuo, take full advantage of them.

It’s not uncommon to see people practicing a musical instrument, kung fu, or tai chi.


Of course, where there are people, there are other people trying to sell them things. This boy was cautiously choosing a balloon.



The Hensler’s invade the Bund in Shanghai

A visit to Shanghai isn’t complete without visiting The Bund. We went for dinner and took an evening stroll.


Half the experience is checking out the view of Pudong on the opposite side of the river.


The other half of the fun is watching Chinese tourists check out the view, and check out each other. The fun wouldn’t be complete without some form of uniformed oversight.


Kyle took a great self-portrait in the photo below. I think it’s a great shot.


Boarding the bus in Beijing

One of the more difficult things to get used to in China is the ruthless pushing and shoving anytime there’s a crowd.  I was walking across an overpass near Beijing West Train Station and paused to take a photo.  I ended up shooting these videos as bus after bus was boarded by pushing hoards of people.


Visiting Nanjing was a nice break from Beijing. We were originally going to climb to the top of the local hills, but were enticed by the cable car.


The view on the way up was pretty nice. Like all cities in China, Nanjing is growing at an outrageous pace.



What makes Nanjing nice is that there are still large parts of the city that have been preserved either in their old form or as park.


Large portions of the old city wall remains intact, and make the city even more impressive.







Wedding season in Qingdao

Qingdao is a city on the coast with a nice beach and a beer festival. We went for the beer festival, but couldn’t help stopping to watch the spectacle of hundreds of Chinese couples fighting for space to take wedding photos on the beach.


Each couple hires an entourage of photographers, make-up artists, and a guy whose sole purpose is to carry a flash while trying to text friends on his phone.

Costume changes are absolutely essential.






Signs that amuse me: Street signs in Tianjin

Every major roadway in Tianjin has at least one big blue sign reminding drivers to use common sense.





However close to pop art these signs are, the ceiling of Tianjin’s super-modern train station takes the cake for being the most absurd and culturally out of context.


A Beijing Guoan game

I live a big block away from Worker’s Stadium, where the hometown football club plays. We got nosebleed seats for a game against Dalian, but it was the crowd that provided most of the entertainment. The game was slightly absurd, and the referees did their best to ensure that Beijing maintained their one point lead. It seems that as long as you play for Beijing, you’re allowed to pick up the ball and walk with it.

The white gloved People’s Armed Police occupied the first row of the stands and kept watch on the crowd from seats on the field.

The biggest shock was that after the game, nearly everyone started collecting garbage and taking it out of the stadium. I’ve never seen anything like this, let alone in China.