Monday, June 28, 2010

Memories of Lillooet

Hello Monday! Just a few pictures left from our camping trip in Lillooet, one of the first signs to welcome visitors, a reminder of its Gold Rush days. Some pink chestnut blossoms which I saw for the first time, an old metal gate created its shadow on the sidewalk and a motorbike by the hotdog stand. I am missing the sun, the weekend was a grey one but these pictures made up for it. :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Yangtze River Journal Day 9 Fengdu

This week went by too fast but.... there is still time to escape to China! We carry on with Day 9 along the Yangtze River, see all China posts here.

Our boat arrived at Fengdu harbor, where a flight of 200 steps greeted us. At the stairs I captured the view below, many ships were anchored which meant a lot of visitors had already arrived.
At the top of the stairs, our guide offered 2 choices to get to street level. An even longer flight of steps or cable car, which most preferred so this resulted in a long queue for tickets. Each ticket cost an extra 20 RMB, we all felt this should be included in the cruise. Getting on was interesting, there was no stopping which meant you stood in front of the seat and it scooped you up! Thankfully it moved slowly so two could share the same seat, below the scene of the Yangtze on the ride up.
We were soon surrounded by rich greenery on the slow and steady ride, the air felt cool and refreshing.
An opening amongst the trees revealed the other method to the top, some passengers took the steps and said it was a nice walk.
At the top of the hill, we waited in another queue for vehicles to the temple. Many tourists shops and some eateries lined the street. A typical food stand below, others nearby advertise similar noodles and dumplings menu. I did not see anyone eating, but the ingredients looked very fresh.
One of several fruit stalls, this one displayed pomelos, grapes, longans, oranges, bananas and coconut drinks. The Chinese character in the background said tea. As we strolled by, the man pointed at the dragon kites and yelled out his price.
The cars finally came and we arrived at one of the temples. Our guide spoke English with a thick Chinese accent, but to make matters worse, she spoke very fast. I could barely understand, she gave a brief history and pointed out the significance of the buildings, it all sounded like an interesting mess. She also walked quickly, I managed to take some pictures but made sure to follow her every step of the way. Below a view of one of the garden walkways at the temple, the dusty blue against the earthy red looked appealing, the red lanterns made lovely accents.
More red lanterns, this time in a row hung from the ceiling, they added a touch of festivity.
Off to the side of the walkway, more luxuriant foliage, Fengdu is rich with growth. Nestled amongst the trees the temple seemed very enchanting.
Some architectural details I noticed on the tour, golden brown roof tiles of similar shade as the ones at Forbidden City.
Our guide spoke even faster as there were lots more to see, we could no longer comprehend her. We passed through one of the prayer halls and David pointed up, the ceiling structure seemed very intricate.
A view of the roof through the window details, a delicate linear design.
Amongst the roofs, a shot of the distant hills. I am reminded of how peaceful this spot felt.
The guide took us to the back of the temple grounds, some bolder colors appeared on the walls. Pictured below, the stack of brightly colored umbrellas for sale became instant companions with the moon shaped doorway.
Down a long flight of steps, earth tone red contrasted with mustard yellow, a delightful combination of colors.
All kinds of fascinating colors entertained our eyes but our favorite was the brilliant blue below, it just suited the prolific growth around it. I walked up and down and took several shots before the guide ushered us on. We began our way back to the ship, I am thankful our guide kept the group together, the place was like a labyrinth we would be hopelessly lost without her!
Back on street level, a long wait for the vehicles to return to the cable cars. We were finally allowed to browse the tourist shops but were relieved to see the ride, everyone was tired and hungry.
A last look at Fengdu, some shops were already closed, we were one of the last ships to leave. Back on the boat, dinner was good with more visiting. A cabaret followed, the girls dressed up in Spanish and Chinese costumes and danced for us. The security guard who ensured only passengers board the ship sang a lovely song in Mandarin, there was even a draw for a prize. The staff performed from the bottom of their hearts, we enjoyed the show very much, music went on and stopped around 11 PM.

The ship continued to sail throughout the night while we slept soundly, a much needed rest for another busy day ahead. The China journey continues next week!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Today is the First Day of Summer

Which I almost forgot until Tom Allen on CBC Shift reminded me. Some pretty wisteria and giant purple allium graced the garden entrance while orange ice land poppies lined the fence in the back alley. Flowers in the neighborhood are in full bloom now, my walk was very enjoyable.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Two pictures from sunny Lillooet celebrating this special day! The cowboy on the red horse herds his cattle while they roam through fields of local flowers with butterflies. May all the dads out there have a gorgeous day!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Against the Yellow Walls

Two pictures of sunny Lillooet, shades of evergreen and blue stained fence with a heart shaped cut out against the mustard yellow walls, a small getaway from grey Vancouver.

Green Yellow Green

Between periods of rain, a dry moment appeared. Glistening evergreen fresh from the spray, I could see raindrops through the delicate petals of the Iceland Poppy. Some water drops remained on rhododendron leaves, I longed for sunny days.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yangtze River Diary Day 9 Chongqing to Fengdu

Hello Wednesday! Let's go to China today and continue with Day 9 of our trip, see all posts here.

In the morning we were awaken by a Chinese tune that came from our bedside table. It was the sweetest sounding wake up call we ever heard! The first day on Yangtze River was off to a healthy start, pictured below were some passengers who participated in the short tai chi lesson. Against the backdrop of Chongqing skyscrapers, everyone followed the teacher's every step.
The loudspeaker announced breakfast was ready in the dining hall. We were anxious about the other guests but soon relaxed as we visited and ate a filling Chinese and Western meal buffet style. There were mostly North Americans at our table, but the ones seated at other tables were from all over the world: Belgium, Germany, England, Russia, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, Japan. Many, like us, were visiting China for the very first time.

Shortly after breakfast the ship left Chaotianmen Dock and floated downstream along the river. Various vessels of sorts remained anchored, there were cruise ships similar to ours as well as smaller tourist boats and container crafts.
We would not arrive in Fengdu until 2:30 PM so we remained on deck and enjoyed the view. It was a cloudy and hazy day in Chongqing, the camera had a difficult time focusing, but I managed to get some decent shots. We ventured into the rural region, below were white farm houses with dark roofs and windows against the luscious green, just like a Chinese painting. I was delighted to see this as I had hope to see the old ways of life on the Yangtze.
A close-up of the shore, a cultivated piece of land with vegetables at various growth stages amongst patches of banana trees. The houses looked bigger than anticipated, it seemed the farmers did well.
A close shot at one of the houses on the cliff, I was amazed at the brick work, the sideway bow tie design looked particularly pleasing.
Another picture of an interesting home, bunches of tall dried grass leaned against the lower level walls, it reminded me of a traditional Chinese farm cottage from my childhood.
The bright colors of this building came through the haze, the others around it were orange and white. I could not get enough of its round windows, such cute and cheerful architecture, this could be a school or community centre.
Not all residents of the Yangtze River lived in houses. The very long fishing vessel pictured below were equipped with satellite dish on the upper deck and kitchen facilities on the lower deck, this was a fully functioning work, eat and sleep boat.
Ship number 869 was loaded with tires, it was not as big nor shiny as other cargo ships. Anchored a short distance from the shore attached to another boat, we wondered if both loads were waiting to be transferred.
The shore was crowded with residential homes. On the bottom right hand corner, a small floating vessel with the red cylindrical top caught our eyes. Boats just like it lined the Yangtze, it was not until they light up at night that we realized they offered safe passage on our river journey.
Exhausted from the previous day's excitement, we returned to our cabin for a short nap. The bedside table played the sweet Chinese tune again, this time to let us know lunch was ready. More visiting and delicious food at the dining hall, plus extra time for photos on deck. We noticed several ships such as the one below, it seemed to pump silt from the river bed and dumped the residue back into the water.
One of several shipyards we came across that serviced ships right on shore against a backdrop of the metropolis. What puzzled me was how they got such a big boat on land, no machines were in sight. Hmmm.
Photographed below one of several factories along the shore that spewed noxious smoke into the air. Only meters away from residential homes and farmlands, this was a sad sight indeed.
We began to notice taller and taller buildings, the crane in the foreground was an indication of incomplete development. The blue sign by the water read Yangtze ship route, were we close to Fengdu?
Along the ship route, several locals waited for their transport, where were they going?
It was close to 2:30 PM, the staff gathered up everyone at the lobby. We were separated into groups and assigned tourist guides. Once attendance was taken we went off on smaller boats for our shore excursion. Photographed from the boat, below is our 4 star cruise ship named Three Kingdoms. Next week our China adventure continues!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Loot

Some wool purchased last Friday led to a crochet beginning for a couch blanket. Also picked up on Friday, some buttons by Vancouver ceramics artist Roxanne Gagnon. Handmade one of a kind pottery, they conjured up pictures of warm and fuzzy winter goodies, I could not leave them behind.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Local Garden Shades

Some colors from the local garden, a soft yellow rambling rose, a vibrant snapdragon red and some bright stars from the blooming stonecrop. Hope you are all enjoying your weekend! :)