China lite

from Beijing to Shanghai

 

Hello! Long time no speak. Almost a year in fact. Not good! So I finally made time this week to play with some pics from a brief trip Coco and I did earlier in the year to China.

It was a quick flit across the oceans for Coco to see her dad (based in Beijing) and then a few days just her and me in Shanghai.

Despite the fact I grew up in Hong Kong, I’d never been to China (it was closed back then – yes, that long ago…). So instead of doing my usual avoid-the-icons thing, I played tourist and hit the big ticket items.

You could spend lifetimes exploring China so a few days was no time at all. And I wasn’t really in matching-up-pairs or diptych mode when I was shooting. But months later, looking at the images again, I’ve managed to marry up some pairs.

Let’s go China!

Part 1: Beijing

Over the course of a few days I visited the Forbidden City, a few hutongs and my favourite – the Yonghe Lama Temple.

Starting with a shot of the military in front of the Forbidden City. I clicked the camera just as I heard “NO PHOTOS!” Alas, the shot was already taken…

 

forbidden shot in the Forbidden City

forbidden shot in the Forbidden City

 

 

 

 

at play vs on guard

at play vs on guard

 

 

 

 

so clean

surprisingly clean

 

 

 

Next, the hutongs, which are charming old alleys with small courtyard homes (siheyuan) running off them, that are fast disappearing.

 

hutong life

hutong life

 

 

 

 

home pride

home pride

 

 

 

 

hutongs, under grey then blue heavens

hutongs, under grey then blue heavens

 

 

 

 

guard dog

guard dog

 

 

 

 

dining under open heavens in the hutongs

al fresco dining in the hutongs

 

 

 

 

See that beautiful blue sky by the way? That’s one of the surprises of China, that you expect the air to live up to its terrible reputation all the time. Often it was brilliant blue. Then just as you were getting used to breathing without wincing, the smog (‘fog’) would roll in…

 

from on high – all the better to see the smog

from on high – all the better to see the smog

 

 

 

I loved nosing around the hutongs, but my favourite site in Beijing was the Yonghe Lama Temple. The incense, the gorgeous old buildings, and a woman wearing a flower print skirt and cropped yellow jacket…

 

a young crowd in an ancient setting – Yonghe Lama Temple :: 1

a young crowd in an ancient setting – Yonghe Lama Temple :: 1

 

 

 

 

a young crowd in an ancient setting – Yonghe Lama Temple :: 2

a young crowd in an ancient setting – Yonghe Lama Temple :: 2

 

 

 

 

sacred screens

sacred screens

 

 

 

 

sacred study

sacred study

 

 

 

Okay, so see that lady with the yellow jacket? I thought she had a great look, especially wondering around this beautiful temple, so I kind of stalked her. For a bit. Okay, a while.

 

flower girl

flower girl

 

 

 

 

stalking the flower girl :: 1

stalking flower girl

 

 

 

 

farewell flower girl, sorry about stalking you

farewell flower girl, sorry about stalking you

 

 

Last but not least, there was ‘tracksuit man’, from another major site, the Summer Palace.

 

tracksuit man

tracksuit man

 

 

Part 2: The Great Wall of China – no pics of that but some lovely blossom instead

Yep. I didn’t take my DSLR camera with me the day we visited one of the wonders of the world. Not sure why. Anyway, here are a few pics of some beautiful blossom snapped near the Wall.

 

nature, inside and out

nature, inside and out

 

 

 

 

pink flowers – from Beijing to bush

pink flowers – from Beijing to bush

 

 

 

 

Li Jing longed for her home in the country

Li Jing longed for her home in the country

 

 

 

And I treated myself to a night at the Brickyard, a boutique hotel with a view of the Wall. (Promise if I ever go again, I’ll snap that Wall!)

 

selfie

selfies, sort of

 

 

 

Part 3: Onto Shanghai

So so different to Beijing.

 

from little red book to little red bag

from little red book to little red bag

 

 

 

 

it was obvious where the designer had got his inspiration from

it was obvious where the designer had got his inspiration from

 

 

 

 

bikes still rule

bikes still rule in the French Quarter

 

 

We splurged and stayed at the amazing Peace Hotel for a few nights, an art deco beauty right on the Bund.

 

Coco outside the Peace Hotel

Coco outside the Peace Hotel

 

Early Sunday morning, while Coco slept, I snuck out of the hotel and had a lot of fun near the famous waterfront, the Bund – with hardly anyone around except men on bikes with dogs and a 96 year old quietly busting some moves.

 

 

Sunday in Shanghai :: 2

Sunday in Shanghai :: 1

 

 

 

 

Sunday in Shanghai :: 2

Sunday in Shanghai :: 2

 

 

 

 

busting moves on the Bund :: 1

busting moves on the Bund :: 1

 

 

 

 

busting moves on the Bund :: 2

busting moves on the Bund :: 2

 

 

 

People line up along the Bund to take selfies against the backdrop of the skyscraper district, Pudong. I realise people take selfies all over the world, but there were so many being taken, it made me think about the selfie and how strange or funny it is to watch people taking them.

 

selfies on the Bund

selfies on the Bund

 

 

 

 

they worship different things

they worship different things

 

 

 

 

The contrast between the historic Bund and shiny new Pudong is quite something. But what won me over in Shanghai was the Old Town. The chaos, friendly people and bucket loads of strange yet somehow alluring fluro meat on sticks.

 

Old Town, Shanghai

Old Town, Shanghai

 

 

 

 

Wang Wei worked, dreaming of his dinner

Wang Wei worked, dreaming of his dinner

 

 

 

The Old Town isn’t that far from the Bund and its upmarket art deco darlings, but it’s worlds apart.

 

upstairs downstairs :: 1

upstairs downstairs :: 1

 

 

 

 

upstairs downstairs :: 2

upstairs downstairs :: 2

 

 

 

And there endeth our chop chop trip to China. Short but very sweet. Hope you enjoyed it.

 

a little technicolour adventure

Well, hello! Long time no blog, huh? I really miss checking in here – like, really – but the last few months have been crazy.

One of the things keeping me busy aside from photography jobs was a quick trip to Hong Kong just over a week ago (well, south China actually). Having had two printing disasters with my 52 Suburbs Around the World book, I was super keen to avoid a third.

So I headed up to spend five days in a printing factory in south China, doing what’s called a press check, to make sure the colour reproduction was spot on.

I took Coco with me because, you know, we’re joined at the hip (and yes, okay, I have an irrational fear of leaving the country without my daughter, I admit it). Actually, I was prepared to get over my own paranoia – but Coco insisted she wanted to come. She loves an adventure no matter how much I downplayed it – “Coco, five days in a factory, eight hours a day, nothing to see or do – you really want to come?” Yep.

So off we went. It wasn’t a cheap exercise of course but it was well worth it. I made hundreds of small changes to the colour reproduction and by the end of it, was completely tuned into seeing the world in CMYK – cyan (blue), magenta (pinky purple), yellow and black.

 

magenta, cyan and yellow - checking colour in our hotel room

magenta, cyan and yellow – checking colour in our hotel room

 

 

 

and K - black

and K – black

 

 

 

Coco did an amazing job of entertaining herself for the five days. She read books, chatted to everyone and had fun with my iPhone, using an app to pimp the pics we shot on it.

 

pimp my pics :: 1

pimp my pics :: 1

 

 

 

pimp my pics :: 2

pimp my pics :: 2

 

 

 

After five days we thanked the lovely people who worked at the printers and hopped on a  ferry for the hour and a half trip back to Hong Kong.

 

ciao China

ciao China

 

Seeing as we were up that way, we stayed the weekend in Hong Kong and had what was approaching a normal holiday. Hell, we even did a few tourist things, like catching the Star Ferry across the harbour. Although the harbour takes way less time to cross now because of all the mad land reclamation, I still love the 120 year old ferries. Even if I was still seeing the world in CMYK …

 

Star Ferry :: 1

Star Ferry :: 1

 

 

 

Star Ferry :: 2

Star Ferry :: 2

 

 

 

Star Ferry :: 3

Star Ferry :: 3

 

 

 

Star Ferry :: 4

Star Ferry :: 4

 

 

 

Green isn’t a CMYK colour obviously, but in the spirit of Christmas …

 

Christmas colour

Christmas colour

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

The book is looking fantastic – it’ll be delivered to everyone who pre-ordered it in January, and I’ll be launching it some time then too. Stay tuned!

Aside from that, our little technicolour adventure has made me even more curious about China than I already am. If the air wasn’t so toxic (it’s as bad as you imagine) I’d even consider a project up there – 52 Suburbs China!

Speaking of projects, I’m still brain-storming ideas for my next one. Nothing has won my heart yet but you’ll be the first ones to know when it does.

Merriest of Christmases to those that celebrate it and Happy Holidays to everyone else.

Love from Coco, Tommy (da cat) and me, and see you in 2014.

 

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