Thursday, December 24, 2009

Walking into Chinese Brush Painting – Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China

Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China

First Comes First - A Confession

I have a confession to make. 

Roof of Ancient StructureI grew up in China.  But I did not start being serious about traveling and getting to know the various regions of the country until more recent years. 

So when I came to the US at a young age, my knowledge about the country was very fragmented.  At the time, I did not realize that.

Leaving the Old and the Slow

Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China (2)As I mentioned in my earlier post, I could not sit and watch China’s seemingly slow modernization process and took an “expedited” approach.  I arrived in an airplane at a country that’s half a globe away from where I was born, a country that was widely considered the best country in the world.  After all, impatience seems to be the trade-mark of young people.

Beautiful Mountains - Zhangjiajie, Hunan, ChinaSo, one can imagine how happy I was to leave China and everything associated with it.  Who would need to understand the  culture, history or the literature from thousands of years ago?  After all, we are moving at the speed of motor vehicles, airplanes and space rockets.  I was happy to not be bothered by anything old and slow… 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More on Tradition vs. the Modern

Changsha, Hunan, China
The other day, I was watching a video by a world renowned nature and wild-life photographer Art Wolfe

As he was demonstrating the use of light, he showed a few pictures, including the one with a barn in it. 

Now, the pictures were all amazing.  But what he said next stroke me and completely resonated with me on the subject that I brought up in my earlier blog post “To Be, Or Not to Be – Changsha, Hunan Province, China”.   

He said, in his 30 years of photographing, he’s seeing an “erosion of tradition” and things like barns are being “replaced by metal roof…”.         

Thursday, December 3, 2009

To Be, or Not to Be – Changsha, Hunan Province, China

 Changsha, China

Our trip started in Changsha, capital city of Hunan province.  I could not wait to explore this city when we arrived in the airport. 
Anticipating the Unknown
How much do I know about Hunan? 

Spicy Hunan Pepper I love their food, spicy and homey.  The most common staples are turned into delicious home-made dishes.  And that’s what I call real good cooking, not the type of cooking with expensive materials like lobsters, shark fins or abalone. 

Hunan food is like an unassuming person that knocks your socks off with extraordinary performance or a woman that does not have much makeup on and yet can talk stuff that amazes you.

Additionally, for those that are into the recent history of China, Mao Zedong was born in Hunan.  As a controversial Changsha Mapfigure, he lead the communist to take over the whole country in 1949.  For many years that follow, China and its people experienced endless political turmoil, including the 10-year long cultural revolution.  In many people’s opinion, he’s one of those that contributed to the country’s stalled (if not retracted) development and the agony in Chinese people’s lives.  (For a more complete account of Mao Zedong’s life, please visit    When the Modern Meets Tradition

Furthermore, one of Hunan’s famous archaeological discoveries is the Tomb of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) at Mawandui, and its well-preserved female mummy from 2,100 years ago.  Can you believe her joints were still flexible when freshly out of the tomb?

Oh, and in terms of its culture, Hunan embroidery is one of the major export products of the province.

All these scattered information, unfortunately, was not helpful in putting  together a reasonable expectation before I hit Changsha.  After all, most of what I know about Hunan was history.  And, after all, I Will This Building Still be Here Tomorrowhave been told over and over, how much change China is going through…

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Long Waited First Post…

Jiu Zhai Gou, China 
I’ve been contemplating, talking, telling and “marketing” this idea for a while… 

It’s been so long that every time I come back from my travels, my friends thought they will see the blog that they’ve been promised. 

It’s been so long that the person closest to me (supposedly) thought I was all about talks…

So how did this idea come about?

The simple and short answer is that, over the years, I’ve developed two passions – traveling and photographing. 

The long story will take up more space and I will slowly share with you in my later posts.  So come back often. 

But the bottom line is, many times when I researched for places to travel to, I did not see enough pictures to give me good indications of whether that particular place is the kind that I’d enjoy.  You see, I’m a very visual person.  And my travel destinations are first based on visual attractiveness.  I thought if I had this need that’s not met, there could be others feeling the same way.  So I decided to have a means to share with like-minded travelers what I see on my trips. 

So how does "perspectives” fit into the picture? 

Well, I’m a believer in that life is a process where one learns and discovers about oneself (and others as well) and he/she morphs along the process.  As a well-known Chinese saying puts it, “Traveling millions of miles beats reading millions of books” (in my own non-sophisticated translation). 

Many frequent mileage members know that the quickest way to add up their mileage is to fly far.  So often times, I take myself out of my comfort zone and face a place that’s quite different from what we have gotten accustomed to in the US. 

Nonetheless, these trips showed me many alternative options in life.  They taught me to be more receptive and flexible with various ways of thinking, many times different from mine.  And traveling has helped me realized that there is not just black and white in things that we see in this world; there are many colors awaiting for us to experience.    

So finally, here I am, a self-alleged left-brainer-turned-right brainer trying to share the world that she’s experienced through her own eyes and trying to write down some thoughts as she experiences the unexpected in the places, the sceneries, and the people… 

However, it won’t be easy going it alone and I wish this blog will be more than a one-way flow of information and thought.  I’m looking for your comments because only through your feedback am I seeing the world in a yet different view again.

Thank you for your interest!  Looking forward to a fun trip together!