Thursday, 27 May 2010

The village at Huang Cun

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Nestled at the base of Huangshan, Yellow Mountain, is the delightful village of Huang Cun. Legend tells us after the village was totally destroyed by fire hundreds of years ago a sage was consulted who told the villagers to rebuild in the shape of a water buffalo. As part of the rebuilding the village has built in fire protection with small streams running through the streets and a central lake called the Half Moon Lake.
These days the village has outgrown the original design and there are houses and shops outside the core village and lining the banks of the lake on one side. However much of the initial village is still in existence and the villagers proudly open it daily to tourists.

On approaching Huang Cun, at the base of Yellow Mountain (China's Grand Canyon) it is clear this is a popular tourist spot and a favourite place for artists to practice their craft. Artisits were sitting on small stools with their paints and easels developing a variety of renditions of the lake, the bridges, the village and the surroundings. My effort at painting the village is included here!

Within the original village there are small shops and restaurants dotted along the winding pathways and it is not unusual to run into a family of geese out for a stroll. If you get lost you find one of the small canals that run along the pathways and follow the flow of the water back to the lake.

The villagers are very welcoming and will allow you to photograph them at work and rest. There are many opportunities for a photographer to record very authentic photographs of ancient Chinese culture and living.

A day out with Henry, Amanda and Qian Yi

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It has been some time since we had this day out but I have just found the photos and thought I would put them up. Ron works very closely with Henry  (He) Congpei and he is the most delightful man and ever so helpful. Henry has been responsible for much of our happiness in Nanjing. He has acted as Ron's right hand man, translator, interpreter, advocate and friend and all the while has also been the communication anchor between Ron and the Chinese staff and NFLS. Henry is a gem beyond being able to measure in value.
One day last year we went to the zoo with Henry and his family - his wife Amanda and his son Qian Yi (who has since decided his English name will be Thomas - ala Thomas the Tank Engine!) Zoos in China are not really very pleasant places when you compare them with modern zoos and I struggled with the conditions the animals are kept in. The Pandas seemed to have a nice enough home but most of the other animals, although looking healthy enough, were in very poor containment and many were obviously emotionally stressed. Also the visitors to the zoo were not very careful about where they threw their rubbish and many of the cages had plastic waste and food wrappers strewn around.

Qian Yi was the saving grace of the day. At the time he was still 2 and full of fun and excitement. He has defintely inherited Henry's good nature and sense of humour and mischief. Amanda was kept on her toes racing around after him and playing with a bubble gun that really was more fun than the zoo!
We had a delightful afternoon and I just love the pic of Ron with Henry and family - one of the happiest moments in Nanjing.

Xuanwu Lake - Nanjing

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Xuanwu lake is approached through the Xuanwu gate in the Nanjing city wall. Xuanwumen Metro station is the closest to the lake.  The name Xuanwumen means Xuanwu gate. Nanjing city sits to the south west of the lake. It is a quick ride on the metro from the city.
The lake is dotted with five islands and each of these has a history in legend. Chinese families enjoy the use of their parks and lakes and you will find it is a popular place for Chinese people to spend  the weekend.

The islands can be accessed by hiring small electric cars, boats or by walking. They are all inter connected with pathways and bridges. A convoy of electric open busses circles the park at an alarming rate so watch out for them as you amble along the paths!  There are many boat operators who will hire you a boat to drive yourself (pedal or electric) or you can cruise the lake with a driver taking the boat through the arched bridges and around the islands.
Legend has it that a large black dragon came to the lake one day when the clouds were settling low. There are also some stories concerning snakes and turtles that are said to live in the lake. The waters of the lake are now quite polluted, probably not a home for much marine life at all, more or less a large dragon. However there will always be a number of people fishing along the shores and they set up tents and spend the better part of the day picnicking in small groups. It is a lovely family environment.

There is a garden sculpture that depicts 2 dragons fighting and a large sculpture of a female in Buddhist regalia surrounded by children. I have not been able to find the significance of this statue and fountain but it is quite impressive.
Kite flyers can be found on sunny days with slight wind. Watching a string of hundreds of kites rise into the summer sky is quite spectacular.

There are a number of roadside restaurants and cafes dotted through the park.
All in all a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Nanjing.