Friday, February 26, 2010

Chasing the Sun

One Spring evening. It was the earliest I could head out and the glow, oh the glow.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

China Escape Forbidden City Part 2

Last week I started our China weekly series with the Forbidden City, click here to see. Today we continue our journey into the buildings.

The buildings are actually museums that housed collections of Ming and Qing dynasties. Some buildings were closed for renovations but several others were open.

A couple of tips: Some exhibits cost extra, 10 RMB per person per exhibit. (RMB is short for ren ming bi which means Chinese currency in Mandarin.) This is about $1.50 Canadian which is a very small amount but time is of the essence. We were disappointed with the clock museum but felt the jewellery exhibit was okay. Most exhibits are included with the admission fee of 60 RMB and these, I think are the better ones.

It was challenging to photograph indoors with the dim light, but I adjusted the ISO and used flash in some areas, so check your pictures before moving on.

There are also lots of visitors at this major attraction, timing and angle are things I considered as I do not want crowded photos.

Lastly we wondered if we needed an English speaking guide, but I was told by a recent visitor there are signs in English throughout the palace ground. So with the complimentary map we received from the ticket office, also in English, we guided ourselves.

Okay, now the pictures... Shown below is the Emperor under the shade of the umbrella as he is followed by his officials.
On the wall: the assembly of officials on palace grounds. As I glanced at this picture I remembered the saying with great power comes great responsibility, I do not wish to have such power.
A fine example of ceramics, look at the intricate details and the colors skillfully applied.
Some china were displayed in smaller buildings like this one, this one is behind cleaner glass.
Some windows were covered up with decorative paper.
I began to notice the hand painted decorations on the beams of the buildings.
The imperial roof decorations.
We ended up in the Imperial garden which is located at the very back of the Forbidden City.
The garden has a calming atmosphere about it, even the air feels cooler. This is the busiest part of the Forbidden City. Nearby are souvenir shops which we ignored as we did not want to miss out on other parts.
A bold display of dahlias surrounded by cypress, which are popular trees in classical gardens.
The walkways are lined with decorative details made of little colored stones, this one depicts melons.
One of the numerous doorways we went through to head back to the entrance. I like the weathered look of the peeling paint.
I am impressed with the tile work that lined this doorway.
I noticed the hinge decoration on each door is different, some have simpler designs, others are golden in color. This one with the dark colored metal is more intricate.
Even the door handle depicts different creatures, some has dragons, I think this is a lion. He looks particularly mischievous.
The Nine Dragons Screen which we saw pictures of when we were planning our China trip. At this point I was overwhelmed with visual delight and realized how far China had grown in her arts. But what I am more deeply impressed with is the 600 years the Forbidden City had seen with more to come.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Current Affair

The state of my table at the moment, I am working on illustrations for a children's storybook.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our Olympic Day

On Sunday we decided to check out some of the free activities Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics had to offer, click here to view all. As we only have one day to be local tourists, we chose attractions that are educational with short or no waiting time and are within walking distance of each other.

We heard of Michael Lin's hand-painted mural at the Vancouver Art Gallery, it was easy to find. The gallery is also offering free admission to the Leonardo da Vinci's exhibit during the Olympics. With at least 2 hours in the line-up, I think I'll go in March.
Right across from the mural is the Olympic clock that counts down the time to the games.
Wrapped around this building is the biggest Canadian flag I ever saw.The magnolias are already blooming downtown.
The Pan Pacific Hotel is featuring the Kla-howya: Aboriginal Village Welcome where you can see various artists demonstrating different Native art. There are cedar bark basket weaving, wood carving, also dance performances at various times of the day. The fragrance of cedar that filled the place truly made us feel welcome.
At Canada's Northern House, there is a short 15 minute wait. I wandered around and snapped away at the surrounding buildings. David stayed in line and for that he received a pin that says Nunavut!
We enjoyed our stay at Canada's Northern House, lots of informative displays, there was even a delightful fashion show. The lower level showcased displays of soapstone carvings, paintings, exquisite beadwork, and lino printing demonstration.
While David and other visitors listened to an interesting presentation of Inuit life, I stood amazed at the fine quality of these baskets, made of birch bark, spruce root and porcupine quills.
Our next destination is the Royal Canadian Mint Pavilion. When we saw the queue below, we decided to check back later at 8 pm. We got in after couple minutes wait. Inside are various displays of coins, we watched a video on how coins are made. There is a chance to lift a gold bar and photo opportunity with the $1 million dollar solid gold coin. But what we really wanted to see are the Olympic medals, however that's a 6 hour wait so we skipped that.
The Hudson Bay Company is decorated with pictures of Canadian athletes.Only a half hour wait to see the Olympic Cauldron from a raised platform.
While we wait in line we can see the Olympic rings shining a white color, signifying a silver medal won by Kristina Groves in Speed Skating Ladies' 1500 m.
On our way to the car we saw some Salvation Army volunteers handing out complimentary hot chocolate in exchange for smiles. It was much appreciated as it warmed us up from the inside. Even with daytime temperatures of around 10 degree celsius it is still close to freezing at night.

The grand finale to our day is the Vectorial Elevation Light Display by English Bay. Only a few people passed by while we had the show to ourselves, this is around 10:30pm. I stayed in the car and watched the various displays while David took some pictures.
Apparently you can go online and program your very own design. The lights below were caught in transition. We much enjoyed our day visiting the various spots and are glad for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Seven Things and Windows

Last week I was tagged by P.K. From what I understand the basic rules to this game is to tell 7 random things about yourself readers don't normally know, then you mention which blogs you're tagging and finally you leave a comment on those blogs saying they've been tagged.

Here's my 7 things:
I've lived in 3 countries, Indonesia, Singapore and Canada.
At one of my past jobs I wired several audio mixing consoles, the kind that disc jockeys use at radio stations.
I speak some Mandarin, I can read some too.
I like shiny things, I think I must've been a crow or a magpie in my past life.
I've been listening to Pet Shop Boys for over 20 years.
Little things make me happy, even just having burger and fries makes me smile. When I mentioned this to one of my teachers he said I'm very lucky.
When I eat I leave the best for last.

I would like to tag Jutta, Nicola, Susan and Ben and Suanne. Okay people no pressure, and only if you want to!

I'm also sharing some pictures of windows I took last week, since we're on the subject of looking in.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hydrangeas Everlasting

After strolling past garden after garden of fresh blooms, I could not help but notice these skeletal remains of Hydrangeas from last winter. I think what caught my eye are its simple papery forms, void of color, yet still standing strong.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

China Midweek Escape

Hello Thursday! Today we escape to China! In October 2007, we visited several Chinese cities and took over 18,000 pictures. Yes, I went camera crazy and I've decided to share my China pictures with you. Of course there will be some serious editing, only premium content will be shown! So every week we scoot off to China in one of my posts.

Beijing is our first stop. We found a hotel near the tourist attractions and public transportation. The first day we took the Beijing Subway and two stops later, arrived at the Forbidden City. I saw some pictures of this ancient place before but they did not reveal its sheer magnitude in scale. Building after building, hallway after hallway, it was endless. We ended up wandering the area the entire day.
I found it hard to believe I was walking through what used to be the Emperor's residence.
Below: In the background one of the buildings was fenced off and renovations underway for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
The changing of the entrance guards, who kept the crowd moving at a steady pace into the Forbidden City.
We were there after the first week of October which is a Chinese Public Holiday. Most crowds have returned home but there are still some local tourists.
One of the locals told me, with the stronger economy, China is seeing a fair amount of Chinese touring the country, something not seen during Communist times.
The sun decided to peek out at the end of the day.
It brought out the colors of the buildings.
The area promptly closes at 5 pm, so we hurried through several courtyards to return to the entrance.

Next week on China, more to come on the Forbidden City. Hmmm... I wonder what's in the buildings?