Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Posts Tagged ‘ Xiamen ’

Dispatches from China 1
January 8th, 2010

Shao Ping and I have been traveling through China, visiting friends in the main. We have been to Xiamen, Fuzou and Shanghai. Our travels have taken us from the cities into the hinterland. We have covered about 1600 km by road so far. The photographs below have been taken at various points. Let’s see what I can share about each place.

We took a drive with our good friend Shu Lung up into the mountains beyond Fuzhou and Ningde to explore some interesting geological formations and historic towns.

The photograph above shows Tai Mu Mountains. They are located in Fujian Province. They are quite precipitous. We climbed for several hours to reach the summit. The actual highest point was a rock without any safety barriers. They left that to the more hardy souls to explore while I took photographs. The nearest large city is Pingnan.

The next day we took a rather dangerous and precipitous drive up into the mountains to Yuan Yang Xi to check out some old Lang Qiao bridges. Yuan Yang Xi is interesting. The river bed is almost perfectly flat and just a few centimetres deep in most parts. One can walk across it with the right footwear. It is shown above together with a Lang Qiao bridge.

We passed a number of villages and small towns with old homes built from mud brick. They are known as Tu Lou homes. We ventured into some of these villages to meet the locals. Tu Lou translates into “earth buildings”. The houses above were taken on the way to Yuan Yang Xi.

Later that day we went to an area that has only just been recently opened up to the general public. Roads were still being constructed or repaired due to landslides and in fact at a couple of points we had to wait for graders and excavators to shift their position. It was a worry for me. The roads were built into the sides of these precipitous mountains with drops to the valley floor exceeding several hundred metres in most places. There were no guard rails in many parts and the fresh landslides always managed to spook me.

Add those factors to the general craziness of the local drivers and one can understand why I found myself going around the bend in more ways than one. Sign posts and other markers were still being constructed. We were the only visitors that morning and the person in charge of the new national reserve informed that I was the first “wai gau ren” (foreigner) to visit the park. The photogarph above is taken at Yuan Yang Xi. The average altitude of the region was 800 metres plus.

Near Ningde we stopped to check out the Lang Qiao bridge shown above. They are constructed of wood and no nails are used to fix the wood together. These bridges are a dream for carpenters and architects to observe. It is a heaven of tongue, groove, dowel and the like I guess.

We have been up to Shanghai as well. It snowed there just a couple of days before we arrived. It has been quite cold. Shanghai is an amazing city. We stayed with friends in Songjiang, not far from the city centre. It is an amazing place. Songjiang has been recently developed. It is well planned and a nice play to stay. We went into the city and whiled away the time taking photographs, eating, drinking and chatting. More detailed missives to follow as we go across to Taiwan, back to China and then down to Singapore.