China trip – bye bye Beijing and west coast interlude

quiet Beijing hutong morning
quiet Beijing hutong morning

Before flying back to Canada, I had a few days in Beijing staying in a lovely small courtyard hotel in the Drum and Bell district again. Because of a strong rain the night before, the air was actually quite pleasant and the sky was blue that morning!

Beijing rush hour hutong style
Beijing rush hour hutong style

The hutongs (the traditional alleys of Beijing) have their own busy-ness but it is not like the regular traffic jams of the larger streets. Everything is at a smaller scale – even the vehicles.

Vancouver reflections on the way out of harour
Vancouver reflections on the way out of harbour

…and after a flight of 12 hours and one night’s sleep, the seemingly surreal beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia as we cruised slowly out of the harbour. (It is great to have a friend with a boat!)

feeling fine
feeling fine

Although the winds were too light at this point to actually sail, the day was beautiful and enjoying the scenery from the shade cast by the sail cover was just about perfect… the word “awesome” got slightly but justifiably overused during these few days 🙂

sunset in the Gulf Islands
sunset in the Gulf Islands

Sunset the first evening after managing to prepare a pretty delicious meal in the galley – or maybe sailing makes you hungry 😉

view from hiking trail
view from hiking trail

Pirates Cove Marine Provincial Park had some nice hiking around and through the point of an island.

otter
otter

Yay! Wildlife!!

sculpted landscape
sculpted landscape

Fantastical rock forms…

tidal pool
tidal pool

Fascinating tidal pools… the very first one I saw had the most diverse inhabitants.

view from shore
view from shore

There she is, still afloat!

Nanaimo Harbour
Nanaimo Harbour

A beautiful day in Nanaimo…

back to Vancouver
back to Vancouver

Strong winds made for a quick trip back to Vancouver and sadly the end of an amazing trip.

photos (cc) 2013 Hilary Farmer

except #4 (c) 2013 TJ Radcliffe

China trip – Beijing to Xi’an

Beijing Drum Tower
Beijing Drum Tower

I just got back from my vacation last week. It’s the first time in quite a while that I have gone very far afield so I decided to share a few photos here.
I arrived in Beijing but just stayed long enough to enjoy one evening in a busy hutong and then meet some friends the next morning as they were finishing their China trip before I headed off by train to Zhengzhou.

Zhengzhou - park with haze
Zhengzhou – park with haze

Zhengzhou is not my favourite place in China. It is a useful travel hub with lot of high speed trains coming and going to various destinations. However even this less than lovely city manages to have a large and leafy park serving as much needed lungs for the populace. It was very well used anytime I visited it from very early morning to late evening.

Shaolin Temple view
Shaolin Temple view

From Zhengzhou it is a short bus ride to Shaolin Temple – famous both for kung fu and for being the site where Buddhism entered China. Although crawling with tourists even more than when I was there 15 years ago, one can still get glimpses back in time… blinkers required!

Shaolin Temple detail
Shaolin Temple detail

If you’re in the mood, you can try out some exercises as illustrated right on the architecture!

Xi'an - terracotta warriors and horses
Xi’an – terracotta warriors and horses

After doubling back to that hub Zhengzhou, we went to Xi’an. Last time I was in China it seemed too far but now the high speed train takes you there in just 3 hours – 300 km per hour!! The terracotta warriors were fascinating, impressive and also appalling when you consider the megalomaniacal mind behind the whole thing.

Xi'an - beautifully sculpted terracotta horses
Xi’an – beautifully sculpted terracotta horses

And for the end of this segment one of my favourite shots… perfect horses ready for parade in any era – very life-like!

I will continue with the next leg of the trip soon!

photos (cc) 2013 Hilary Farmer