August 31, 2008

A Break-In

Not really, but yesterday evening I was playing Wii when my doorbell rang. Because I wasn't expecting anybody, I assumed it was another wrong delivery, like what happened last time. But no, it was three people: a middle-aged man and woman and an older woman. Immediately the three of them started yammering away (in Chinese, of course) at 100 mph. I, being a) a lao wai and b) perplexed by having three strangers show up at my front door, stared at them blankly until my brain revved into gear enough to understand what they were saying. Apparently the guy's co-worker was coming in from somewhere, Britain I think, after having spent some time in HK, and he was going to be working in the Lujiazui district in Shanghai. This threesome were scouting apartments in the area (the woman in the lead was the agent, I think) and were looking at a place on the 22nd floor of my building. However the person wasn't there, so they came to my place to see if they could see how the apartments are laid out.

Not feeling very threatened by this trio, I let them in and they began sniffing around my place (and imparting the above information to me). They were pretty efficient about it but seemed surprised that my place only had one bathroom (I guess the place on the 22nd floor has, or is supposed to have, two).

Anyway it was funny, mainly because it was completely unexpected and they were all talking at warp speed while puttering around my apartment. But the best part was when I was seeing them to the door, the agent scolded me for walking around my apartment barefoot. She said I would get sick. I just thought that was funny, being mothered by a Chinese leasing agent :-)

For those of you who haven't seen my Huangshan pics, I highly suggest you do so now. There are some pretty dang memorable shots in there, if I do say so myself. (And, not being able to say it any other way -- that's how I'm going to say it.) You also may be interested in the Hong Kong and Macau sets.

I'm planning more travel soon, so stay tuned!

August 26, 2008

Exhausted But Amazed

Man, whenever I come back from a vacation, or any length of time without the Internet, I've got like 6,000 things to catch up on in my RSS reader. It's a tad overwhelming. I should probably just mark them all as read and move on with it.

Huangshan was amazing. On the first day, we climbed about 7 miles worth of stairs. It HURT. Just imagine that. SEVEN MILES. of STAIRS. OUCH. But it was worth it, for we got amazing photos of the North Sea and West Sea, so named because of the clouds that roll in and out. The rest of the time, it was rainy and misty and terrible.

There are so many other things I could write about, and I might when I have time. But now I am exhausted and waiting for the pictures to upload to flickr. Let me just say that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness nature on such a grand scale. Looking at the vast gouges of jagged earth and roiling tendrils of mist that compose 北海 and 西海, I felt time stop. Seeing those peaks and valleys was worth every sore calf muscle, every overpriced bottle of water, every bug squashed in the hotel room, and every ragged gasp of wheezing breath I just barely managed to exhale as I willed myself to put one foot in front of the other ... just ... one ... more ... time while hobbling up that accursed set of stairs.

Seven miles. And that was just the ascent. It was another seven down, and that's only because we took a cable car partway. There are people who do that ascent and descent twice a day, with loads of hotels' dirty laundry, bottled drinks, and other sundries on their backs. I don't ever want to hear you complain about your day job again.

The pictures should finish uploading in an hour or two, so go check them out. I might post some of my favorites here on the blog. But just know this -- the pictures cannot do the view justice. Everything felt so sharp and clear and in-focus. A picture just doesn't capture the awe-inspiring majesty of looking at those peaks in person. I could have sat there for hours, and I probably would have if the mist hadn't rolled back in. It's amazing. It takes literally 15 seconds for the entire valley to empty out of, or fill up with, an opaque white cloud that kills all sightseeing opportunities. People run from one viewing platform to another, hoping to catch a glimpse of the rock walls that have been obscured for their entire visit. I feel very lucky to have gotten the time and views I did, although there were plenty of other times during the trek where I was frustrated because the mist was blocking a view. It's like, "I know there's something beautiful out there, but I can't see it, dammit!" That's frustrating.

Tourism trips improve my Chinese. I would pass small children with their families and hear them say "... lao wai ..." or "... wai guo ren ..." and then I would say (in Chinese) "Lao wai? Where? I'm not a lao wai! I'm Chinese!" I love hearing them gasp and laugh when I answered them. Unfortunately from then on it was downhill as they would continue the conversation and, more often than not, I would not understand them, haha. But it was still fun.

I met Walnut Lady while taking a picture on the descent to the Hot Springs. She was with her grandson and they were meeting up with the rest of their family. I used my new Chinese phrase "Ladies first" to tell her to go ahead of me while I stopped and took a picture. We got to talking and I managed to do pretty well. Then she said goodbye as she went down the stairs. I saw her again on the shuttle to the main gate, and she waved and smiled. Then I ran into her and her family in Tunxi, and she was so excited. She kept saying something that I couldn't understand -- and nobody with her knew how to translate into English. So I politely said goodbye again. Then, because Tunxi is a stultifying labyrinth of boredom, I ran into her again like 20 minutes later. She tried again, to the amusement of nearby shopkeepers and 7 or 8 passerby who found it interesting to watch a 老人 converse with a smiling but not-understanding 外国人, to say something to me. No go. But Herbert remembered the Chinese phrase, and when we found Charles and Kitty again, we asked her what it meant. "Walnut", she said. So we're assuming that this lady wanted me to buy her a walnut, or vice versa. Thus the Walnut Lady (核桃女) was born. That's how these things happen. I shoulda got a picture with her.

Okay, so, no travelling for at least 2 weeks. Okay? Okay. I'm exhausted. And flickr seems to be borking out again. Boo.

August 21, 2008

Hong Kong, and Macau Day 2

Monday morning I woke up bright and early (read: 6:30). I rolled over in bed and flipped on the TV, and a steady stream of Cantonese started pouring out of a newscaster's mouth. It sounded really really strange. Like Chinese (Mandarin), but different. Of course I couldn't understand anything. A couple times I thought I did, but I think my brain was just doing some wishful thinking there. It was a little frustrating because it sounded close enough to Chinese that I thought I should be able to understand it, but no, to no avail.

I went downstairs and had some breakfast with Jen and a couple of her friends. Then we met up with some others in the lobby and took a taxi over to the ferry terminal. We bought our tickets for the TurboJet and settled in for the hour-plus ride to Hong Kong. Along the way we passed through immigration. That's one amusing thing about the whole trip, actually. The entire time, I stayed within China's borders. However, I had to leave mainland China to get to Macau, leave Macau to get to HK, leave HK to get to Macau, and leave Macau to get to mainland China. I had to go through immigration each time. So my passport received a lot of stamps :-)

The ride into HK was fun. We sang Disney theme songs and watched the terrible ferry-only TV channel provided for us. The weather was crisp and beautiful. Approaching HK, more islands started to appear in the water. Having not seen the ocean for so long, this was very exciting! Soon, more started to appear, dotted with buildings here and there. And then all of a sudden the great skyscraper-filled Hong Kong island appeared! I really wanted to take a picture, but I knew I'd have plenty of chances later.

We debarked and went through immigration, then made our way into the Shun Tak Centre looking for a place to exchange money into Hong Kong Dollars. After some wandering around, we found one, and also an HSBC ATM where I withdrew some money from my bank account. That all went pretty smoothly. Yay for international commerce!

We exited the Centre and went directly into the Sheung Wan subway station. The other kids fiddled about with buying pre-paid metro cards, but I marched over to the ticket window and bought a new RFID metro card (similar to the ones I have for Shanghai and Beijing). When buying, I also asked the teller (in Chinese) how to get to Victoria Peak, since that's the only thing I really knew I wanted to do that day. She told me to go to the Central station, and so I did. My friends were on their way to HK Disneyland and needed to debark at the same station, so they did, but then we went our separate ways.

I exited off the platform and saw a really helpful subway map on the wall. Kind of like Shanghai's subway station maps. You see the surrounding area and major attractions. I saw the listing for the Peak Tram, so I headed out that exit.

I made my way through the Central district, through skyscrapers and parks and hilly roads and double-decker busses, following the tourist signs for the Peak Tram.


Double-Decker Bus

Hong Kong Building

Two International Finance Center

Bank of China HQ

AIG Building

Pool Sculpture

Hong Kong Hills

I really love the way that you can look through gaps in the buildings, down alleyways, and see hills in the distance that are dotted with other buildings. To me that's really cool. There's definitely nothing like that in Shanghai. The layout reminded me of a San Francisco, with all the winding hilly roads. But of course, in San Fran they drive on the right side of the road and therefore have no need for these signs on the pavement:

Crossing the Street

Notice the sign is in Chinese too, because on the mainland they drive on the right side of the road.

In no time I was sweating like a pig under the hot sun, but I found the entrance to the Peak Tram just fine. I paid my ticket and we started on the upward climb:

Victoria Peak Tram Tracks

The climb was pretty damn steep for most of the way. Here's a picture showing the angle of ascent:

Victoria Peak Tram Angle of Ascent

I'm holding the camera parallel to the horizon in that shot! I almost felt like I was lying down.

We got off at the Peak Tower, and the whole place was one giant shopping mall. Go figure; that's what HK is famous for! There's even a Madame Tussaud's on top of the mountain. Talk about unnecessary. There's luxury shopping, fine dining, overpriced souvenirs, and so on. I can't imagine going up there for a meal. It's so out of the way and costs 40 HKD just to get to the peak. I guess they have restauraunts up there for the people who go up at night. Seeing a view of the city at night is apparently spectacular, although I didn't do it.

Inside the tower is a bunch of escalators taking you up to the roof of the structure where, if you have paid the extra 10 HKD, you can step out onto the roof and get an unobstructed view of the city. Of course yours truly did so and captured the following amazing shots:

View from Victoria Peak

View from Victoria Peak

View from Victoria Peak



View from Victoria Peak

Going to the tops of things is awesome. (Hell, I'm going to do it again on Saturday when I climb Huangshan.) But honestly, it was fun for about 10-15 minutes. Then it's like yeah, it's pretty, but, you know, there are only a couple spots for a good view from the peak. It's not like the Jin Mao tower where you have a 360-degree view of the city. It is great being able to see the city on the water, though.

I'm just glad they didn't charge me for the "Janitor Sleeping in a Bathroom" attraction:

Janitor Asleep in Bathroom

I made my way down from the peak and then began a period of aimless wandering around Hong Kong. I didn't have a tour book, I couldn't really find one, and I was by myself. I ended up taking the metro a lot and navigating the subway system there. I don't know if London's subway system is confusing, but HK's sure is. By comparison, Shanghai's is a model of efficiency! Never thought I'd say that about anywhere.

I ate lunch in the IFC Mall and befriended a Swedish woman who was sitting next to me. She works in a bank upstairs, helping manage the assets of individuals worth $50 million plus. Sheesh! I think that's in HKD, which would make it like 6.4 million USD, but still. I was like "um, I'm never going to need your services." Haha. I ran across a Dymocks and got perhaps inordinately excited about a foreign bookstore! I perused for about 20 minutes and ended up buying this. What an appropriate book to be selling in HK.

I tried taking a random subway trip to the Kowloon Bay stop and seeing if anything interesting was there. A spot on the map advertised "Festival Walk" and I was like ooh, an interesting stroll, yay! But "Festival Walk" turned out to be the name of a shopping mall. I was more than a little disappointed with this discovery and turned around to go home.

(Side note: Every time I think about HK or Kowloon Bay, I think of Wayne's World. There's a scene where Rob Lowe's character is ordering Chinese food, and he speaks Cantonese on the phone. Everyone's amazed at his ability to speak the language, especially Tia Carrera's character, who is from HK. Then Rob Lowe goes "You sound more like Kowloon Bay than Hong Kong." Everyone's amazed again, because she was indeed born in Kowloon Bay. Yup, these are the kinds of things that stick with me. Also, before I saw the word written down, I thought it was spelled "Calhoun".)

I then killed some time in a Starbucks, managing to speak Chinese to the cashier. After that my next job was to find the Peninsula hotel in the Tsim Sha Tsui area. I was supposed to meet up with one of Jen's friends there to see Batman: The Dark Knight. I sat there reading my new book for about an hour, but they didn't show up. (I heard later that their plans changed while at Disneyland.) So I was on my own for dinner. I took the subway to Causeway Bay and went out of a random exit. I walked around a little bit before finding a Yunnan noodle shop. I sat down and ordered, speaking again in Mandarin, and ate myself some damn good spicy noodles. The shop had the TV on and the station was playing Liu Xiang's unceremonious exit from the Olympics. The sound was off, so I didn't understand what was happening. I only knew that he looked like he'd injured himself. I'd heard rumors a week or so ago that he was injured, so I figured that's what had happened, and sure enough, it was.

After dinner I took the subway back to the Shun Tak centre, briefly considered flying in a helicopter back to Macau, changed my mind when I saw it was over $2000 HKD, bought a ticket for the ferry instead, and settled in to read and nap on the way back to Macau. It was probably about 6:30 or 7.

I arrived in Macau at around 8 or 8:30 and looked around for a place to exchange my HKD back into patacas, but couldn't find one. Very strange. So I hopped in a cab and said "Casa Real", the name of my hotel, expecting it to work like last time. The driver didn't recognize the name, but I pulled out my map and told him the street name and number in Chinese. That didn't work though, because he dropped me off in the very center of the peninsula, on the road I wanted but pretty far from where the hotel was.

Initially discouraged, I instead realized this was the perfect time to take pictures of Macau's neon insanity that I view as a certain nose-thumbing to the Vegas strip. I was surrounded by bright neon lights, flashing bulbs, and signs promising me untold wealth if only I'd wager some money on their blackjack tables. Here now, a glimpse:

Grand Lisboa

That's the Grand Lisboa, the unquestioned centerpiece of Macau's skyline. I read somewhere the ball at the base is supposed to resemble a pearl, and the building itself is like water shooting up from the pearl. Or something. To me it looks like an egg that's exploding.

Wynn & MGM Grand

Casino Lisboa

Hotel Lisboa

Deep breath ... just a couple more!


The Rio Casino


Then I wandered over to another nearby section and noticed that one casino had a two-story TV on the side that was showing the US vs. Germany basketball game.

Full-Size Basketball

So I sat down and watched for about 20 minutes, during which I also text-messaged my German friend and made fun of his country's ability to play basketball.

Then I began the long walk back to my hotel. I saw a cool pedestrian bridge that was lit up in an interesting way.

Pedestrian Bridge

And I tried to sneak a picture of a guy who was sneaking a cigarette, but he turned and caught me at the last second:

Smoking Man

At some point, I reached my hotel, tired and sweaty and disheveled from walking around all day and night.


If I missed posting any HK pictures, and I know I did, the full set is here.

I don't know if I'll get to post about the subsequent morning in Macau, because tomorrow evening I am leaving for Huangshan and I won't have Internet access there. But I promise that at some point, I'll post about my remaining time in Macau -- although the next couple days after I return will likely be filled with Huangshan posts and pictures!!

August 19, 2008

Visit to Macau, Day 1

Sunday morning bright and eary (actually, just early, it wasn't bright yet) I hopped on the MagLev to the airport and then to Macau. Macau is part of China now but considered a Special Administrative Region (SAR) after the handover from Portugal. The upshot of this is that internationally speaking, you have to leave China to enter Macau. This means that I had to go through immigration on both departure and arrival. So that's what I did.

Flying into Macau, I could see the amazing blue, puffy-cloud-filled skies. The peninsula and its islands are at the southernmost tip of China, way closer to the equator than Shanghai, so the tropical feel was to be expected. It was so tropical, in fact, that when I got off the plane and took out my camera, the lens and LCD screen were fogged up! I had to wipe them off with my shirt to take a picture.

After that, a cab pulled up and I got inside. My first thought: the driver's on the right side! Holy shit! I've never seen that before. But yes, in Macau (and Hong Kong also) they drive on the left side of the road. It's so different. I entered the car on the left side. Oncoming traffic was on my right, not on my left. Very strange. Obviously the drivers and residents are used to it. But not me! It was great.


They Drive on the Left over Here


Macau is on the sea (probably even moreso than Shanghai, whose name literally means "on the sea") and and stretches across several islands (Taipa, Cotai) and the main peninsula that's attached to mainland China. So on the ride in from the airport, we crossed over numerous bridges, which again is pretty cool to me. All these intricate stone ropy constructions to get you from one place to another. I recall hearing about a family member of mine who was scared of bridges; not me. I love them. And I especially love them when the skies are blue, the air feels like the beach, and you've just arrived in a brand new destination.

Macau Sky Tower

Cities on the water look cool to me. I can't figure out why. I think it's because you have flat expanses of water edging up against towering skyscrapers, creating an extreme contrast in elevation. I think it's the contrast that I find intriguing. Macau and Hong Kong have that in spades.

Being a former Portuguese colony, Macau's maps and street signs all have Portuguese (in addition to Chinese and English) on them. This is a welcome sight as that langauge is superficially similar to Spanish, which I vaguely recall from two years in 7th-8th grade and three years living in Austin. So I know what "salida" means on a sign, even if it wasn't right next to the word "Exit" (or even the Chinese 出口, which I can read also. Happy days. An example of the tri-language signs:


However, most Macau natives speak neither Portuguese nor English, but Cantonese, which is an official language. Some might speak Mandarin also, moreso now than when Macau was controlled by Portugal, but it's overwhelmingly Cantonese. So right off the bat you've got four languages you're dealing with: English, Portuguese, Cantonese, and Chinese (Mandarin).

On my hotel's web site, they give the address as being on "Avenido do Dr. Rodrigo Rodrigues." So I assumed that I would be able to tell this to the cabbie and be on my merry way. No such luck. He didn't understand. I had a map with me that had the Chinese name of the street, so I figured with that plus the number, we would be good, but either my cabbie didn't read Chinese or he didn't know where it was. Luckily I mentioned the name of the hotel (in Portuguese, but it's simple, Casa Real), and the cabbie knew, so off we went.

I arrived at the hotel, checked in, and found my room in short order. I walked down two flights of stairs and knocked on Jen's door, and she came out. It's been 8 or 9 years since I've seen her, so we spent a little while catching up. She told me her friends were going to the Cirque de Soleil show Zaia, so I tagged along. Jen is touring China with a production of The Sound of Music, so I met some of the cast as they joined us. We walked over to The Sands:

The Sands

The Sands

From there we caught a free bus to The Venetian (where Zaia was playing). On the bus, Jen and I talked about what I should do on Monday. Her and some friends were leaving Macau at 7:30 AM to catch the ferry to Hong Kong and from there to HK Disneyland. I had no desire to go to Disneyland and had been planning to stay in Macau and do touristy things. But Jen convinced me that, in the couple days her and her company had been in Macau, they'd run through all the touristy things and that there wasn't so much to do, or at the very least, not much interesting stuff. After some discussion, I decided to go to Hong Kong with them, but just break off and do my own thing for the day.

We ate a late lunch at McSorley's, an Irish pub in the Venetian, watched some of the Olympics, chatted a bit, and then headed out to the show. It was pretty interesting. I liked all the clowns and the breakdancing green robot :-) I didn't take any pictures though because I wanted to enjoy the show, oh, and also because at this upper-class resort the ushers actually prevent you from taking pictures. (Not so at many other places in China.)

After the show, I joined Jen and some other kids for dinner inside The Sands. I was in Las Vegas once about four and a half years ago, and it felt exactly like what I felt like in Macau. Grand, sweeping displays of opulence, all ignored while people sit at blackjack, roulette, poker, so so many other kinds of games. We had to thread our way between slot machines and gamers to get to the cafeteria. I wonder why the gambling industry feels compelled to dress itself up in neon and put on this show of luxury? Maybe because people with a lot of money like to gamble?

After dinner, we headed over to the Macau Cultural Center. Jen left to get ready for the show, and I found my seat and settled in to enjoy the performance. I had never seen The Sound of Music, but now know that I've heard a number of its songs. (Especially The Vandals' cover of "So Long, Farewell.") I really liked the show; especially the historical context of being set in Austria before the German annexation in the run-up to WWII. Hindsight is 20/20, I guess. I wonder how much of that context was known to the Macauian (is that the proper term? Macauite? Macauvian? In Chinese it's easy; you just add 人 to a place name to denote its denizens, so these people would be 澳门人 or Aomenren) audience.

No matter: the performance was sold out (like most of the Macau performances have been, I learned), and the audience hung on every word. They laughed at the appropriate times and I even heard a couple people singing/humming along with the songs. The entire script was projected on either side of the stage during the audience, both spoken words and song -- whereas, during the Beijing opera performance, only the song lyrics were projected on the wall. During intermission, I took this picture of The Sands at night:


On the right-hand and bottom-left sides, you can kind of see how my camera lens was all steamed up.

After the show, we went back to the hotel. It was someone's fake birthday, so there was cake and a small get-together/party in someone's room. I met some members of the cast, including the guy who played Rolf and the guy who played Max, and some of the stagehand crew. It was pretty interesting talking to the actors and getting their perceptions of China. Obviously some of their experiences are vastly different from mine. They've been travelling around the country and have visited tons of cities like Chengdu, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, and so on. They haven't had to learn much Chinese, as they've got interpreters with them (or they will hire different ones in every they visit, I'm not sure). However, some of their experiences are quite the same, including many of the cultural and sociological differences that separate China from the United States. Anyhoo, talking to them was pretty neat.

I hung out for a little while, ate some cake, and then went to bed. I'd agreed to get up at 6:45 in order to eat breakfast at 7 and leave the hotel by 7:30 to spent the day in Hong Kong.

Tomorrow: Hong Kong by day and Macau by night. You can cheat a little bit and look at the full Macau picture set.

August 12, 2008

A Night at the Opera

I can honestly say this is the first opera I've ever seen. So I took a buttload of pictures. The opera was pretty enjoyable. The costumes were fascinating to watch!! That definitely helped make up for the fact that I couldn't understand anything. Luckily, Sophia translated at key moments. And I knew the story coming in, so I could at least get the gist of what was going on.

I'm not going to lie: the singing and music was ... um ... well, every bad cliche you've probably heard about Beijing Opera's aural component probably is true. The shrill singing, the arrhythmic music, the strange sounds, etc. It's all there. Like I said, I didn't mind too much; after all, it's part of the experience. Some of the high notes resonated in my ears a bit too much. But I stopped expecting the music to have a beat, and that helped also.

Onto the visuals. First, read through the story real quick. That'll help things make sense.

Click each picture for a full-size version.

Beijing Opera

We open with Qin Xianglian. Her and her two daughters have not seen Xianglian's husband, Chen Shimei, in three years.

Beijing Opera

They travel to Beijing but are confronted by Shimei's guard.
Beijing Opera

Chen Shimei.

Beijing Opera

Xianglian pleads her case to Wang Yanling, a local administrator. Here's a video:

Beijing Opera

On the advice of Yanling, Xianglian sneaks into Shimei's birthday party disguised as a minstrel.

Beijing Opera

Qi Han, following orders from Shimei, prepares to kill Xianglian and her daughters.

Beijing Opera

Xianglian pleads for her life.

Beijing Opera

Xianglian and her daughters weep over the body of Qi Han who, after hearing their story, agreed to spare their lives. Realizing he could not return to Shimei in failure, he kills himself.

Beijing Opera

At his trial, Shimei attempts to kill Xianglian. He is stopped by the judge, Bao Zheng.

Beijing Opera

The trial.

Beijing Opera

Shimei is stripped of his finery and title ...

Beijing Opera

And hauled off to prison, sentenced to death.

Beijing Opera

Shimei's family pleads for his life, but to no avail.


If you made it all the way to the bottom here, I have a special treat for you. This is from a small little opera that came before the main one.

I Just Saw Jackie Chan in a Hair Product Commercial

This makes me happy.

August 8, 2008

When This is All Over ...

I think I'm going to keep blogging here after I return to the US from China. I really like it. Who knows what interesting things I will have to say when I no longer am living in China, but hey, one can always hope, right?

Meta-blog note: I use Google Reader and occasionally (okay, pretty frequently) share items that I find interesting or amusing or worth, you know, sharing. Those items now are encompassed in a widget labeled Interesting Stuff on the right side of this blog. So you can get a sense of the things I like to read.

Book note: I am about halfway through The Best American Essays 2007 and am loving every word. I became a DFW fan after reading Consider the Lobster and so picking up this collection, edited by him, was a no-brainer.

Thoughts on the Opening Ceremony

  • There are a lot of countries on this planet. Some I have never even heard of: Andorra, Gabon, Kiribati, Mauritius, Nauru, Sao Tome & Principe, and Seychelles.
  • The drummers at the beginning? Holy crap.
  • The typography performance was awesome.
  • Those cheerleaders, jumping and swaying in high-heel boots while the countries walked in, must have been TIRED. And the poor athletes from the countries at the beginning - they must have had to stand in that hot stadium for like 2 hours! I feel for the Israeli team, who were one of the first to walk in.
  • The finale: wow. I told you China has a penchant for pageantry!
I'm so glad I got to visit and take photos of the Olympic buildings on my trip to Beijing. Time well spent.

The Bird's Nest

Water Cube & Bird's Nest

That last photo is attracting some serious attention on flickr. From the 7th to the 8th It's been viewed over 100 times and currently stands at 408 views. Nuts! By far the most popular of my pictures. Perhaps people like to see what the area looked like, almost like a vacant lot, just 3.5 months ago.