Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

I love looking at street photography and I think there is something so raw and captivating about looking at the plethora of detail in a street photograph. It is almost like people watching but through the photographers lens. It is also interesting the difference night and day can make on the ambience of a street photograph. This one below is taken on an iphone. I’ve always been a bit cautious and shy of taking out my DSL camera when out in a busy environment but I am starting to gain more confidence.

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Taken at west street (Xi Jie) in Yangshuo, Guilin, China.

I call this one ‘I see red’

 

ps. feel free to go back to my previous written and photographic posts about my travels in China! There are more to come also (:

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China through my lens- Part 2: Guangdong

Next we flew from Chengdu (Sichuan province) to Guangzhou airport (Guangdong province). ImageImage

 

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I revisited the panda house at Chimelong zoo in Guangzhou. They are cutest creatures ever to roam this earth. The pandas are definitely the highlight of this place in my opinion. Along with the international Chimelong Circus show! (This show is a must watch if you ever go there)

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Look… its a giant sea lion!!

 

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White whale performance

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While in Zhuhai I also went to Chimelong ocean kingdom park. It is very similar to Ocean park in Hong Kong. The only drawback of that day was the time it took to queue. Talk about waiting for 45mins for a 2min ride!

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A pretty place I found while on my run.

 

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China through my lens- Part 1: SiChuan

Over these next few posts I will be uploading my China photos! I have so many photos to sort through but hopefully you will see some decent photography in here!

After our 11 hour flight from Auckland to Guangzhou, we headed straight for our transfer flight to ChengDu, SiChuan. Sichuan was the first leg of my 2- month China adventure.

On a foggy winter morning, I visited the BeiChuan Earthquake memorial site near Mianyang city.

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Visitors entering the memorial site.

 

We couldn’t stay in ChengDu and not visit the cultural streets. Here are photos from Jinli Ancient street. There are traditional stores and many street shops selling delicious local cuisine. The leisurely lifestyle and the strong fondness for dining of the locals are especially evident along this cultural street.

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Man doing Tai Chi…

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The ever bustling Chun Xi Road is definitely one of my favourite places in Chengdu. Chunxi is like the 5th Avenue of New York, the Wangfujing of Beijing. I miss all these lights and the hustle and bustle of the big city…

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Next stop in the Sichuan province was Zigong. ImageImageImage

These 3 photos were taken at the Lantern Lights festival. If Zigong had to be renowned for one thing it would be it’s annual lights show. Even all throughout the city lights are hung on the lampposts, trees and on the side of main streets. A drive around the city at night definitely puts you in the festive mood for CNY! Although I guess the novelty wears off for locals. 😛

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Goodbye China!

I am writing this (although this will be uploaded once I’m in Auck) at the airport waiting to board my flight back home. The last time I wrote a blog post at the airport was two months ago when I was flying from Auckland to Guangzhou. Excitement and anticipation pretty much sum up my feelings then. Whereas now, my mood is sad and sentimental.

Airports are emotional places. Or I guess goodbyes are emotional and they often tend to take place at an airport. This quote I found sums up my exact melancholic sentiment: “You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

I still can’t quite grasp how my time here has come to an end. Two months passes very quickly when you are on holiday, travelling and spending time with family and friends. Essentially, time really does fly when you are having fun. I have had a memorable and amazing time, and I feel utterly blessed. The people I have met and the experiences I have gained are now memories I will cherish.

I’m not quite sure what awaits me in New Zealand. I think that’s partly why I feel like I’m not ready to go back. Being in China has been an ‘in-between’ period between school and uni. It’s almost been like an escape from my life in Auckland. I haven’t accessed Facebook in months- though I am not complaining. There is something very liberating about not needing and not caring about social media. I like taking time away from the known and just spending time to think and be with family in a new place- or one that is not entirely familiar. Most of my friends have started university and it will definitely be a weird feeling for me once I’m back and have no definite agenda. If I don’t find a job I don’t know how I’m going to spend the next few months till uni… To be frank, I’m a little scared with this new direction of where my life is headed. Or maybe I’m being overly dramatic. It’s probably both. China has treated me well but of course all things come to an end.

Travel Diaries: Guilin

My recent trip to Guilin, Yangshuo was simply incredible. Unlike the rushed and tiring itinerary of our tour group holiday in Hainan, our time in Guilin was relaxing yet full of worthwhile activities thanks to my grandpa’s well thought out daily plans.

One of the highlights from this holiday was gliding along on the bamboo rafts on Yulong River, also known as the ‘little Li River’. Both sides of the water are surrounded by the signature hills of the area and bamboo forests with signs of the occasional primitive civilisation of a few locals. These signature mountain ranges are all uniquely and strangely shaped. On a misty day, the scene is stunning. It was like I had escaped society and into a picturesque book. It was not peak tourist season and apart from us on the bamboo rafts there were very few other tourists, making the experience all the more intimate. It was almost unreal. I wish I had a notebook with me at the time, capturing the essence of the moment and exactly how the scene made me feel rather than trying to recreate the experience by writing this a week later.

The famous tourist street ‘West Street’ or ‘Xi Jie’ was also full of gems. From Chinese cuisine restaurants to western cafes and bars to souvenir shops, West Street is as eclectic as it is cultural. The majority of visitors here are tourists from all over the world and throughout China. One can hear various languages spoken on this street. This street holds a fusion of west and east. The courtyard like setting with an old oriental style fused with the jazz and pop music played by the bars at night makes an ambience of both quietness and noise, and chaos and elegance. My favourite place on this street is a cosy and quirky place called Ryley’s Café. There is a bookshelf near the entrance overflowing with books both in Chinese and English. On the opposite wall there is a note board full of random messages left by strangers. There is a small stage for live performances at night. The walls are ornamented with vintage posters and records. The bar at the back is lit with LED lights. It is a place where one could spend hours reading, writing, talking or scrolling through the Internet.

My trip to Guilin, Yangshuo made me want to travel and explore more. It reminded me of when I backpacked in Vietnam and Cambodia on a world challenge expedition with school. There were many backpackers in Yangshuo. When we were driving back to Yangshuo on the bus from having seen the Silver Caves, we stopped by the road to pick up two western backpackers. It startled me a little when I heard them speak Chinese. I find it somewhat refreshing and amusing hearing foreigners speak the language. Yangshuo is a place definitely worth visiting if you ever travel to China!

Photos will be uploaded soon!

Travel Diaries: Hainan Tour Group Thoughts

Travelling in a big group is exhausting. I travelled to Hainan and stayed there for 5 days with my mum, grandma and young cousin with a tour group. I now know to never travel with a tour group again if possible. Or a cheeky energetic 6-year-old cousin.

Hainan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China and can be known as the ‘Hawaii of China’ given its abundance of coconut trees, beaches and warm temperature all year round. Before arriving, I had anticipated staying in 5 star hotels with a sea view while sipping on coconut juice. Lying on a hammock while watching the sunset. Chilling by the beach while indulging in a good read. Yes, my perception of holidaying in Hainan was really generic. In reality travel with a tour group meant travelling on a tight budget (average hotels and even more average food) with a tight schedule and thus having 6am wake up calls and a rushed itinerary.

Here are some observations and thoughts during my time in Hainan.

-Chinese people love to take photographs at every single tourist attraction. But its not like they just take a few at the main picturesque spots. Many tourists feel the need to take a photo of every single artefact at an exhibition or of themselves by the sign of an attraction regardless of whether they have an interest in the place/thing. Are you seriously going to look back in a few years time at these photos of yourself in front of some antiquated vase that some native group used in the Hainan region a century ago?

-Selfies selfies selfies. #Imreadyformycloseup. One particular memorable moment happened when we were catching the boat to get to a small resort island. There was a chubby 20 something year old male sitting in front of me dressed in a matching Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Within seconds of getting seated he pulled out a gopro to take several selfies. Those ones where you hold the camera above your head to make your face seem slimmer and more attractive..

-Travelling at the end of February is not travel peak season. Yet, at every attraction we visited there were countless tourists packed at each location. This is China. It was impossible to take a decent photo of the picturesque landscape without having a plethora of people in the background all with their cameras out trying to capture the same thing.

-This leads to another thought that kept crossing my mind. I wonder how many photos of strangers will have me in the background. Accidental photo bombing LOL. Looking at some of my photographs from this trip I assume a lot.

-That moment when the bus starts moving and I haven’t sat down yet.

-The moment when you want to yell out of frustration at your naughty 6-year-old cousin but there are too many people in close vicinity so you just grin and bear it.

-That awkward moment when you try to get a stranger to take a group photo but your DSL camera is supposedly too complicated for an amateur to take a decent photo with everyone in the frame and in focus… even though its set on auto…

Next week (3rd) I will be travelling to the beautiful Gulin! (NOT with a tour group Thank goodness)

I will be uploading photos of my China trip once I get back to Auckland!