Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou, China
I always love visiting Shanghai. Here’s a collection of shots from Shanghai and nearby Suzhou and Hangzhou. I’ve been asked for a few Shanghai recommendations recently, so here’s my top three:
- Visit the Propaganda Poster Art Centre – an awesome collection of Chinese propaganda through the decades in a converted basement apartment.
- Have a drink on top of the Hyatt on the Bund for the best views of the Huangpu river.
- Stay at the Astor House Hotel for a glimpse of old Shanghai with the old wooden floors and stained glass windows.
And of course, make the trip to nearby Hangzhou and Suzhou.
I get asked a lot about the pollution in Beijing. Not being particularly outdoorsy and having lived in polluted cities, I’m usually the last person to pay much attention. But there was a day last autumn when walking out of the office, I was reminded of the smell of my grandparents’ old coal fireplace. It was the day the central heating was switched on and the coal-fired power stations were clearly in overdrive. A few months ago I was rather caught by this Foreign Policy photo essay on the Beijing smog. Here are my own days of contrast. Both unedited photos were taken from my office, the smoggy day in March 2012 and the clear day in May 2012.
Below was taken at the Chengdu Panda Research Base. There are so many pandas here you’d almost forget how endangered they are. Total pandamonium. Having said that, they really are the most chilled-out looking animals chewing on their bamboo – all 12kgs per day – like old pot-bellied men might smoke their pipes. And baby pandas? The cutest things ever!
Gansu and Xinjiang, China
I’ve ended up in Xinjiang a couple of times this year. The first trip was to the beautiful Nalati grasslands. For the second trip we followed the old Silk Road starting in western Gansu and finishing in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The first stop was Dunhuang, home to the amazing Mogao Caves. Photography wasn’t allowed, but I can assure you that the thousand-year-old paintings were truly stunning. Indeed, as our guide kept repeating ‘So vivid! So fresh!’ Next stop in 2012? Kashgar, I hope.
Route travelled: Dunhuang, Liuyuan, Turpan, Urumqi
I can spend hours (and hours) sifting through photos, not least those taken by other people for a little inspiration. Let’s call it ‘siftspiration.’ I’ve created a new category along these lines, aimed at highlighting other people’s work that I think is worth checking out if you happen to enjoy sifting as much as I do.
First stop? The BBC News ‘In Pictures’ section run by picture editor Phil Coomes who also maintains a really cool blog covering various aspects of photography as a student and professional. I was indeed once so inspired I submitted the below photo which made their ‘Traffic‘ week of their ‘We set the theme.’ Happy sifting!
Guangxi Province, China
And in keeping with the season, winter greetings! This photo was shot on a very chilly trip through Guangxi Province, China in February 2008. The winter of 2007/8 was apparently the coldest winter in 100 years. Everything – from flowers to furniture – was encased in ice. Even after visiting Alaska for nine years, I had never seen anything like it. It was rather how we imagined Narnia might look.