Wow, it feels strange to be back in front of a computer monitor. Richard and I have just arrived back from our photo expedition in China. I have never felt so cold, or so illiterate in my life, but it was a fantastic experience. China is a very beautiful country!
We didn’t spend much time in the larger cities, mostly travelling into the country side – by public transport bus. We only caught the wrong bus once, and everyone was so helpful that even though we only knew a few words of Chinese and not many Chinese spoke English, we got by ok. Our itinerary took us too Hangzhou, Mukengs Bamboo Forrest, Tunxi, Tangkou, Huangshan, Emerald Valley, Chengkan, Nanping, Guanlu, Wuzhen, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau.
The funniest thing was the amount of times people would try and speak to Richard in Chinese. (about 20 times a day!!) Although his grandparents were Chinese, his Chinese vocabulary is as limited as mine. Even when he told them he couldn’t understand, they would just assume he spoke a different dialect of Chinese to them and would proceed to write down the Chinese characters expecting that he could at least read Chinese if he couldn’t speak it. No such luck!
One of our favourite destinations was the UNESCO world heritage listed Hóngcūn. The village was one of the locations for the filming of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Since starring in the movie, tourism has increased dramatically. Although most of the tourists were Chinese, who were fascinated by a Western looking girl and I found myself the subject of many Chinese people armed with cameras themselves. The younger people would mostly ask, and queue to have a photo taken with me, but in general the older generation worked more in a “paparazzi” style! Luckily we managed to find accommodation in a local homestay, so most of our photos are taken in the evening after the crowds have left, and also at dawn before the tourist buses arrive.
Hóngcūn was actually designed in the shape of an ox. Nearby Leigang Hill is the head and two trees standing on it are like giant horns. Four bridges across Jiyin stream resemble the four legs of the ox, and the village houses form the body. The Jiyin stream that meanders through the village represents the intestines and the beautiful lakes such as Nanhu and Crescent Pond are the stomachs. A very beautiful place and definately worth getting up at sunrise to photograph even though it was freezing!
Here are a few of our photos from Hóngcūn, some more photos of china to be posted one day when I finish catching up with all my client work…