China

Ente gut, alles gut

Beijing made us really a wonderful farewell gift, as we are strolling through it this weekend under APEC conditions. As the impression often is shaped by how the whole experience ends, this looks like a perfect epilogue to our time in Beijing. Today we drove along the Changan Avenue, passing by Tiananmen Square to visit friends on the other side of the city. The sky was blue and the traffic in flow. The traffic management simply took half the cars off the road and put at least one traffic police every few hundred meters. The Tiananmen Square itself is heavily guarded by military and armed police. While we were driving along the landmarks of our memories of Beijing, we nearly felt like a "state guest" ourselves, even we were not in one of the black limousines, but just on the back seat of a shabby Hyundai taxi. Even the air is really clean in some areas you are advised not to open the window, as there are snipers on the roofs, which might misinterpret that move. Well, there is nothing I want less on my last days here than a nervous sniper. You can't have it all. But that's fine for me. As we say here: Ente gut, alles gut.

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Beijing on a clear weekend

These are windy days and it is nice to see the blue sky and even some stars in Beijing. Also the traffic was not too bad this weekend. Well, I spend most of the time away from the busy crowds anyways and enjoy my last few months here, to keep the city in a good memory. A weekend like this one, make it easy.

View from home at a clear full moon night.

View from home at a clear full moon night.

Early Sunday morning in the Temple of the Sun Park.

Early Sunday morning in the Temple of the Sun Park.

Lotus flower, as seen in Temple of the Sun Park.

Lotus flower, as seen in Temple of the Sun Park.

Hyperopia

Finally my arms got too short to properly be able to read small text. They call it Hyperopia, and it means I am getting far sighted. First I though of getting longer arms is not that easy, and may look rather imbalanced when I am scratching my feet walking along. So we went to the Beijing Glasses City. Here you get custom mades glasses starting from 5 Euro, and it is quite some fun also.

A wide range of entry models at the Beijing glasses city.

A wide range of entry models at the Beijing glasses city.

Hans van Dijk - 5000 Names

I found 5000 Names is a very interesting exhibition on the Chinese work and legacy of the Dutch born curator and scholar Hans van Dijk. It shows works, letters and artifacts of the time in the 1990, when he was a mentor of the coming generation of contemporary artists, when there was no such thing in China. 

The exhibition is running until August 10th in the UCCA Ullens Center of Contemporary Art in the 798 Art District, Beijing.

Exhibition entry and introduction.

Exhibition entry and introduction.

Builders at the Sheshan Observatory

Sorting photos in preparation for exhibitions, I came across these two snapshots. One is taken 2004 and shows workers doing maintenance work at the Sheshan Observatory. When they saw me climbing around the roof with a camera, they posed for a photo, as if they knew (they didn't) there is a similar photo dated 1899 which is hanging in the Observatory Museum, literally below their feet.

Builders at the Sheshan Observatory, as seen in 2004.

Builders at the Sheshan Observatory, as seen in 2004.

A picture of builders of the Sheshan Observatory from 1899, as seen in the Observatory museum in 2004.

A picture of builders of the Sheshan Observatory from 1899, as seen in the Observatory museum in 2004.

Baojin Shankou Hike

In the South-West of Beijing lies a limestone area resulting in a magnificent karst landscape, North and South of the Baojin Shankou Canyon. There was a bit of haze today, but it clear weather it must be even more beautiful. On the South there are gardens and small farms. In the past all over here food was grown. Now there are just remains left, but they are still active.

 

You may download here the GPS track in gpx- and tcx-format. We started a bit late today and did not explore the area to the fullest. Given the geology, there must be caves around. We met a teenager with a torch (and an acrobatic throwing knife, which impressed me a lot) who was heading for one of them. But we returned to avoid sunset before reaching clear trails again. To reach the starting point you will have to cross a bit of "Tourism with Chinese characteristics". But no worries, they will all disappear into some sort of park worshipping with their mobile phone cameras some sort of plastic Confucius. This absorbs them all, really.

Here comes position and GPS plot: 

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Development knocking at the door

Before traveling to Europe for about a fortnight, I cycled along some old residential places in Beijing. Actually, they are not old by normal standards. But they have become rare here, while land has become incredible expensive. They are not in good condition either, and would be costly to renovate; not even to think of the "opportunity cost" versus putting a few high rise buildings there. They are not Beijing Hutongs, which have been partly accepted to be a heritage, and they are neither "useful". So, they are neither seen as heritage, nor are they viewed as something of value. Their time has come.

I decided to come back with a camera and take a few snapshots. I was lucky, because when I returned today, some of them were already demolished (the satellite photo underneath still shows the blue roofs which show that this was a more recent development) . They are/were along the canal, outbound the city, beyond the 4th ring. Please refer to the co-ordinates in the grid below for exact location.

 

Location of the residential area which is still in tact.  - Satellite photo: Google Earth (on the 11th of October, 2013) 

Location of the residential area which is still in tact.

- Satellite photo: Google Earth (on the 11th of October, 2013) 

Location of a demolished area. In the East is the railway, which can be seen in one of the photos.  - Satellite photo: Google Earth (on the 11th of October, 2013)  

Location of a demolished area. In the East is the railway, which can be seen in one of the photos.

- Satellite photo: Google Earth (on the 11th of October, 2013)