I worked on composition while I was in China. Not technical composition, like the rule of thirds or leading lines (although I use these); I was trying to create images that gave a sense of place: What makes Shouguang uniquely itself? what does it share? The question of sharing was with respect to other cities in China and to other places in the world.
I did manage to do a series of posts on Shouguang after I got home this fall (posting has been pretty haphazard for me this year). The pictures for the above gallery were chosen to attempt to show the magnitude of the “small” city and convey that it also feels like a place for people. It didn’t feel impersonal, just spread out. Plus one picture from a traditional Chinese garden in Weifang, and a rather blurry photo of the smallest hummingbird I have ever seen. I thought at first that it was one very large bumblebee, then my son pointed out its beak. It was a dark, grey day so there was no chance for clarity.
Vibrant fallen leaf.
Cormorants on a raft.
Sunset waiting for the ferry, Vashon.
Rose illuminated by the fall morning sunlight.
Amazing fall color.
More amazing fall color.
Even more amazing fall color.
Arriving home the clear air and splendid fall colors hit me between the eyes. I believe that my perception was sharpened by the muted and hazy conditions in Shouguang during the first half of the month. It really was a “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle” experience. 2017 Favorites
Mount Tai, also known as Mount Taishan (it is called this on the UNESCO World Heritage website, even though it is redundant: Shan means Mountain) or Tai Shan, isn’t high by world mountain standards, at a mere 1545 meters above sea level (5,069 ft) but to ascend is to climb a whole lot of stone steps. Mount Tai is in the Shandong Province. In the fall of 2015 my son got a couple of days off work when I was visiting and we took a quick trip to check it out. In the photos he is the one with the pony tail and grey athletic pants.
The recorded number of steps varies, most sources put it fairly close to 7,000. Some sources attribute the differing numbers to how many of the temples and shrines one visits along the way. I personally believe that when one is ascending it is too easy to loose count, and honestly, how much does it really matter. It felt like a million to this slightly over the hill mama, and I didn’t even go the whole way afoot.
Near the halfway point there is a cable car that takes you to a spot a bit above the famous entrance gate. You then follow a path that takes you down a bit and through the entrance gate.
I felt like it was cheating but my son was obviously relieved when I gave up the idea that I was going to make it all the way. He had been once before [he has also climbed both Mount Olympus (7.980 ft) and Mount Rainier (14,411 ft-although the climb starts at about 5,400 ft)]. He had been trying to figure out how he could carry both of our packs up the steepest part (known as Shiba which means eighteen, a nearly vertical stretch of eighteen steps) and stay behind me to keep me from an unbroken fall. Sometimes he can be very sweet! I am not the best balanced person in the world.
My decision was eased by two things: visibility was low so I wouldn’t get any views to compensate for the labor…and I learned that emperors didn’t climb the whole way themselves, they were carried up in litters to near the gate the walked through the gate themselves. Before that I was being very impressed by the level of fitness expected of an emperor!
Even taking the cable way there were plenty of steps to experience between the station and the top.
I loved this wonderful park along the west bank of the Mihe River. It runs about 3/4 mile (1.25 km) between the two car bridges. Near each of the car bridges was a pedestrian (plus cyclists and scooters) bridge. One of them was obviously the old roadway but the other was a graceful gently arched bridge.
As I mentioned in an earlier post one the Mihe River runs through the eastern part of the city of Shouguang.
You can see a larger version of any photo by clicking on it.
On the eastern edge of the main part of the city is the Mihe River. The area along the river is a big and quite lovely park.
As I approached the river for the first time I saw something I had not seen before: several vendors selling fishing poles, nets, and fish traps. Often in China one will see vendors, selling food, kites, pinwheels, balloons. Walking along the river there were lots of folks, even families out fishing.
In the fall season there is a holiday period called “golden week” that starts on October 1st, which is National Day. A Chinese parallel, in some ways, to Independence Day (July 4th) in the USA.
At the community where my son lived they had a nice celebration of National Day in the evening with food and a show in an outdoor area in the middle of the complex, it included performances by dance and martial arts schools, poetry reading, and performances by individuals and small groups, ranging from very modern to traditional.
In another park the walk ways had these lovely bas relief (I’m not sure that is quite the right term). The walk way divided to go around a water lily pond and on one side of the pond they were dragons, the other had phoenixes then when the paths joined into one they had vegetables. Each of the bas reliefs was about 2 1/2 feet square, and they were all different. Here is a gallery of samples:
In September and October I visited a “small” city (roughly the population of Seattle) considered rural in China. The city of Shouguang in the prefecture level city of Weifang in Shandong province.
Shouguang merits mention in Wikipedia! It is the vegetable capital of the world (self proclaimed). The city hosts an International High-Tech Vegetable Fair every year in April/May. I went a couple of years ago: I’ll meet you at the giant bok choi. It was a lot of fun, but we didn’t see the city itself at that time.
Fast forwarding, my son got a job teaching at a new school in Shouguang and moved there over the summer, so this fall I had a chance to explore. Shouguang is a seasonal city, they roll out the carpet and have wonderful gardens oriented to being at their peek in the spring. In the fall it has a more relaxed charm. Over the course of this month I am planning to share a little bit about Shouguang in the fall. With any luck I’ll be able to explore it again next spring.
One fun feature of Shouguang was the sculptures around town, especially in the parks. Shouguang has a large amount of land dedicated to parks. Each park seems to have its own personality. The first sculpture I noticed was a giant strawberry tucked among some trees in a park. As I wandered along more of them appeared. Then I saw the giant pumpkin patch.
When I visited the town of Qufu, Shandong Province in China, I decided to spend the afternoon just wandering about and getting an idea of the layout, then focus on seeing the San Kong (3 Kong’s) the second day in town.
Qufu, not WiFi (the spell checker keeps trying to change it), is Confucius’s home town and is very much oriented to tourism, primarily Chinese tourists. Most people visit Qufu in combination with Tai Shan over two days so they start early and there was a laid back feeling of the local folks living along as I wandered slowly around.
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