Monday, November 28, 2011

Culture Corner: Jiangsu & Zhejiang

Ok, so here are a few photos taken around my university and some of the other places I visited the past year.  The first few were taken on the same morning, so bear with the recurring theme...
This is the view out my kitchen window of the campus's north gate, students straggling in after an all-nighter at the internet cafe.
These are only some of the basketball courts on campus.  Yes, they fade into the distance.  Altogether there are three areas with hoops, of which this is just a part.  As such, it's safe to say basketball is popular.  This photo was taken early in the morning on my walk to class, otherwise each hoop would have a group of boys imitating NBA players, ignoring the idea of teamwork, as best their height challenged frames can.  (No, it's not pollution, well, maybe a little, but mostly it's fog.  It's very humid in Wuxi year round.)
The same foggy morning, bicycle traffic running about 27%.
I live in Jiangsu Province, which is located in the lowlands near the ocean, and is therefore swimming with canals, lakes, rivers, filth ridden water, and the like.  I'm sure for millennia people have been using these ways for business, and the canals and channels running through my campus remain no different, hence the wooden boat above puttering along.  The building where I teach is on the left.
Not an example of modern art, this is one way in which the Chinese transplant trees.  They take a fully grown tree, lop off its limbs, chop its roots, wrap it in hemp and move it.  The trees somehow survive the trauma, and despite looking mutated, will often grow new leaves and branches.  But not without first looking like a green pom-pom Dr. Suess creation.  My campus's hospital is in the background.
This is a fairly typical Chinese street, electrical wires, fruit stands, crud, air conditioners, dusty awnings, dusty gray streets…  Though this is the city I live in, Wuxi, it could be just about any city in China.
I'm standing atop a small pagoda in the market area of Wuxi looking down upon the Bird and Flower Market.  Guess what's sold there?
  This is another random street in Wuxi.  What's most interesting about this photo is that, were you to show this to any Chinese person, unless they lived on this street, they wouldn't be able to tell you where it is.  The average Chinese street is completely anonymous in the context of China.
This is East Lake in the city of Shaoxing, a place I visited last Labor Holiday.  A further moment's glance and you notice that the canal on the right – the canal used by commercial boats – is not the same color as the lake.
For some reason I really like this photo.  I think it displays how relaxed China is.  This is an early morning street in the small city of Shaoxing.  People chatting, selling fruits and vegetables, and all is quiet and peaceful.  Not one SUV, traffic light, or neon advertisement admonishes me to consult my doctor about some pill that will treat my restless leg syndrome but give me side effects that are worse than the initial ailment.  I'm happy with my restless l-l-l-l-leg, thank you.  (The sign you see above is a community bulletin board.)
During the holiday I also visited an island called Putuoshan, which is home to one of the four holy Buddhist mountains in China and is protected by the deity Guanyin, whose giant bronze statue you can see facing the sea.  (In China, nature is not nature unless man has stamped it accordingly.)
This is atop the mountain at Putuoshan (it isn't very high, it's location to the compass point east being more religiously important than its height), looking down upon the many small monasteries, temples, beaches, and of course the ocean – a relatively clean ocean as it is outside the ripples of pollution emanating from Shanghai.  I had a most relaxing time here, sleeping on the beach and walking the small trails between the monasteries and temples. 

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