Saturday, March 29, 2014


I have returned from China and the result is generally good.  Twenty something days travelling in China and I feel good, I lost weight, and the dry mouth I was experiencing is completely gone.  I think I may have lost as much as 15 pounds.  This is not because I did not eat.  I wonder with the utmost fascination why every chicken in America tastes the same and every one in China tastes different.    I think that we Americans have somehow broken our meal plan in some significant way. 

Since my last camera failure in China, I took three camera setups to China.  My 20D with two lenses, and the Pentax 67, plus my 4 x 5 with the 6 x 9 back and the Shen Hao 6 x 17 cm back. The tally looks like this, 12 rolls of 120 film, and 25 gigs of digital images from my 20D.

The casualties were significant.  The Pentax broke in 3 different ways.  I was still able to shoot several rolls of film.  One -- It was unable to be adjusted by time value due to loose set screws.  If you need mini screw drivers try the street market in Hong Kong ... Two -- the mirror froze which was easily fixed by replacing the battery.  Three it now won't advance film.  It will need to be serviced.   it was mechanically damaged during shipping.

The 4 x 5 took a couple of significant hits.  The 6 x 9 cm back was taken out of the game by having it's winding mechanism ripped off.  Additionally, one of the lockdown levers (for the swing), fell off.

The 20D lost a lens filter when I managed to tip it's backpack over.  Shattered glass everywhere.

I drove my car today.  Well yesterday actually.  It was a bit weird.  I haven't driven a car since March 3.  In China it is really urban ... even in places you feel are less than urban there is concrete.  And street lights.  The government does this.  Even in the seemingly ancient village of Mishi, there were concrete roads and street lights, belying the ancient feel of the place.

I was carrying my cameras in a backpack.  The several women helping me were complaining because I was carrying the backpack -- it was too heavy.  They decided I needed a rolling bag.  So in one of several fishing villages in Hong Kong, we moved all the camera gear from the backpack to a rolling suitcase.  It was a brilliant move.  From that point on I hardly touched the bag.  They pulled it along ... and brought it to me when I needed it. 

So the take down from the trip is good. I had a great trip.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lunch with Gloria's Friends

Shamian Island,113.244581&spn=0.010223,0.019011&sll=23.109181,113.248615&sspn=0.020446,0.038023&brcurrent=3,0x0:0x0,0&hnear=Huangsha+Station,+Liwan,+Guangzhou,+Guangdong,+China&t=m&z=16

When we arrived at Huangsha station near Shamian in Guangzhou, it was pretty clear, that Gloria had no idea where she was, relative to what she saw, despite having worked near this station some decades ago.  The shopping mall was new and the roads were bigger.  Eventually we managed to locate Shamian, whose location and character haven't really changed, since it's historical importance seems somehow valuable to the Chinese.  Travelling with someone who calls a place home, can drive our expectations up, thinking, mistakenly at times, that they are fully oriented, when in fact, things have changed dramatically, and the cues one might normally rely on are simply gone.

The Shamian is a neighborhood  on the Pearl river ... which despite being frequently referred to as an island, is actually a sandbar.  to steal directly from the Wikipedia (


Shamian Island was an important port for Guangzhou's foreign trade from the Song to the Qing Dynasty.[2] From the 18th to the mid 19th century, the foreigners lived and did business in a row of houses known as the Thirteen Factories, on the banks of the Pearl River to the east the present Shamian,[4] which was then an anchorage for thousands of boat people.[5][6] Shamian became a strategic point for city defense during the period of the First and Second Opium Wars. In 1859,[2] the territory was divided in two concessions given to France and the United Kingdom (of which 3/5 belonged to the British and 2/5 to the French).[7] It was connected to the mainland by two bridges, which were closed at 10pm as a security measure.[4][8] The English bridge to the north was guarded by Sikhs, and the French bridge to the east was guarded by Vietnamese French troops.[5]
Trading companies from Britain, the United States, France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Portugal, and Japan built stone mansions along the waterfront.[4] The construction on the island was characterized by climate-adapted but Western-plan detached houses with hipped roofs and large verandahs.[9]
The island was the scene of fighting during the "June 23 incident" in 1925.[10][11]
After 1949, the mansions of Shamian became government offices or apartment houses and the churches were turned into factories.[4]

End of excerpt. 

We walked around the sleepy town in the evening and it seemed every bit it's laid back rumored self.  We went looking for the White Swan, a hotel down on the water, which as near as we could tell was closed for renovations.  I was disappointed because I thought I might be able to break my moratorium on ice and order a gin and tonic, and imagine myself a nineteenth century traveller in "Canton" to trade my sugars, and spices, and opium, and ...  whatever other magic they might have traded in those days. 

We had a nice walk about the neighborhood and then rode back to Gloria's on the subway. 

Pearl River Draft

This is about my 25 th new beer for this trip. It's only 3.6 % alcohol so it's cheaper and safer than the water.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Zhi Sun

Function follows form ... Wait, what?

Mosquitoes and Me

On the 12th I was bitten by a mosquito in Renhe, which is a bit North of Guangzhou.  Although there is no strong evidence of malaria in this area ... it is within the range of possibility.  If I were infected with Malaria ... odds are good that sometime in the next 16 days I would be symptomatic. 

Tips Regarding the Canton Tower

Hi. Today I went and looked at the Canton Tower.   First tip.  If you want to go to the Canton tower and ride the elevator to the top and maybe get a t-shirt, go to the nearest subway station and get off at the Canton Tower.  I have a lot of confidence in local knowledge, and often it works out great.  Not today.

Second tip:  RTFM Shawn.  I still haven't read it.  But I bet it says right in there how to get to get to the Canton Tower. 
Third tip:  If you are a cabbie in Guangzhou and someone asks to go to the Canton Tower, please tell them to ride the subway and take them to the nearest station.

Fourth tip:  If you are a Guangzhou resident, and a Western traveller asks to go to the Canton Tower, do not take them to the south end of the national mall and try to walk to the Canton Tower.  It can't be done in a reasonable period of time (I think we walked about 4 miles), and I have no reasonable evidence it can be done despite the appearance of a bridge across the Pearl River. Take your friends to nearest subway station and go to the Canton Tower stop and get off.

Then look around for a really freaking big tower. 

My apologies to the three English speaking young men, who asked me at 11:00 how to get to the tower, because I told them they would probably have to walk across the river. The correct thing to tell you, (as I found out a few minutes later)  was to get on the subway and ride to the Canton Tower station.  You had missed the last train on the short route, so it might have been faster to walk anyway. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Worst beer ever.

Today, Lantau Island ... Tomorrow Chueng Chau Island

I spent today on Lantau Island, just across from Hong Kong Island. Apparently there are still native populations of the original occupants, and also feral cattle and buffalo. I shot film and ate wonton from a street vendor. I saw bananas growing and what appears to be a whole island full of local jungle.  The local fishing village of Tai O is pretty interesting.   I sent 6 rolls of 120 to the film guru in Tuscon at the Post Office in Tai O.

Tomorrow, the New Territories. Chueng Chau Island.  A fairly informative post -- here -- if the monkey could actually remember where she went.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where's All the Good Food Pictures?

Well, since I've been on this tour, there aren't any. In fact, last nights dinner, included pork stomach, pork colon and beef tendons, all things I'd rather not eat. I've managed to find the only cooked on the spot food in the hotel buffet breakfast. Thanks for the noodles.

Snow Beer