Lijiang – China part 2 of 5

July 29, 2011

Lijiang was the second city that we visited in China and it couldn’t be more than different than Shanghai.  It was a breath of fresh air and was easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.  The city of Lijiang is mostly known for it’s Old Town area which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with history dating back more than 800 years.  It is at the base of the Himalayan Mountains and has a population of approximately 1,250,000 people, most of whom visited and never left.  It’s very understandable why one would never want to leave this place because of the beautiful mountains and relaxed pace of life.

We arrived in Lijiang in the mid afternoon and were taken directly to dinner before being dropped off at our hotel in Old Town.  After getting checked in to the hotel, we had the rest of the night to ourselves and my friends and I did a little bit of exploring but we didn’t venture out too far.  Others in our groups made it a later night and found a few bars to bounce between.  Luckily in this city the bars weren’t littered with whores such the way it was our first night out in Shanghai.

Old Town in Lijiang, China


Fire escapes of NYC buildings

July 17, 2011

Fire escapes have been a means of egress for buildings in New York City since the early 1900’s and they’re still in use today.  Although new buildings aren’t building fire escapes on their buildings, they are still an important part of the architecture and safety of today’s buildings.

My favorite way to see NYC is to walk around and look at the different buildings in each area.  I don’t see other people noticing the architecture and the uniqueness of the buildings in NYC that often but recently I started noticing the different forms of fire escapes and I thought it’d be interesting to take photos of them.  Some of them are long and skinny while others are wide and spacious.  Usually they’re painted to blend in or match the building but sometimes they’re accented to stand out against it.

The buildings below are all in the Midtown and SoHo districts of New York City, taken on July 17, 2011.

Public Transportation, lack thereof in the US of A

July 10, 2011

I think if highways and air travel are highly subsized to the tune of billions of dollars each year, then why can’t the gov’t subsidize high speed rail travel? Sure it’ll cost billions to build but once built it will generate revenue. Over time, as it expands it’ll generate more revenue therefore the gov’t would start to lose less and perhaps in the future can even break even or generate profit.

Instead of us sending BILLIONS of dollars over to the Middle East because gas is over $4.00 a gallon, why don’t we all pay $100/month to ride the public subway systems that can be built in each city.  Then if we want to travel further, say to visit family or even for a short vacation close by, then we buy tickets at an affordable price.  Maybe $50 roundtrip within the state and $200 within half the US, if going from coast to coast then $400 roundtrip.  I have no idea how many people would use it so I can’t figure out what those numbers would equal, but I’m sure it’ll start to get into the billions of dollars as well.

While driving seems to be a pretty ordinary and necessary task, it isn’t.  Having lived in New York City for the past year and experiencing the convenience, and also the frustrations of public transportation, I am ashamed to look to Europe and see an infrastructure already built and invested in.  What the hell is the US doing, why aren’t we investing in the infrastructure of our own country?

Shanghai – China part 1 of 5

July 8, 2011

Leaving Tampa, FL at 6:00am on Friday, June 10th and arriving into China at 2:00pm the following day, Shanghai was the first city we visited.  Shanghai is compared to New York City in the sense that it’s the business epicenter of the country.

One fact about Shanghai that’s tough to imagine is that there are over 3,000 buildings taller than 18 stories.  I’m not sure how many buildings there are in NYC over 18 stories but I’d guess around 500 – 1,000 which is still less than one-third the amount in Shanghai.

After arriving we were met by our first tour guide, Tony, and he took us to the hotel.  We didn’t have anything planned for the night so we all went out to dinner at a restaurant near the hotel.  After dinner a few of us went out to a few bars across the street which ended up being nothing less than whore houses.  The girls out front were really aggressive, especially since we were a group of five guys.  Personally, I didn’t like the fact that they’d grab a hold of you so I’d tell them to not touch.  Also, along with the aggressive whores there were nagging beggers and one of the begger’s child lached a hold of my friend’s arm and was hanging all over him beyond anything I’d be comfortable with.

The next morning we started our trip with a long day of touring.  Our tour guide took us to the British Concession, called The Bund, which is similar to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.  It’s a few mile stretch of wide sidewalk along the water where people walk, run, and otherwise be leisurely.  The buildings directly next to the sidewalk along the water are British influenced due to their occupancy of the area in the past.  Eventually the land was given back to China but the architecture remains.  After the British Concession we visited the French Concession which is a much smaller area a few miles away.

Next we visited the Buddha Jade Temple which is a very famous temple in China, and then we had lunch in the same area.  After lunch we headed to a large market in Shanghai which has a very large, beautiful garden next to it.  We headed to the garden first but to get there we had to walk through part of the very crowded market.  This was out first sight of a crazy Chinese market and everyone was very excited to have time to shop.

After the shopping we had dinner at a local Chinese restaurant and then we went to an Acrobatic show.  I thought the acrobatic show was a little hyped up because our tour guide told us it’s a really great show and if some of the actors mess anything up then they can potentially die.  The only part of the show which could’ve been life threatening was the end where five guys on dirt bikes got into the steel globe and rode around.  It was definitely impressive but I still didn’t feel like they’d die if they messed up.  The show was pretty cool I thought, even though most of our group feel asleep because we were really exhausted from the day.

This building, which was built in 1994 and called the Oriental Pearl Tower, is 1,535 feet tall.

The Bund

Hard to tell from the photo and even standing there it didn’t feel like it, but most of those buildings are around 1,000 feet or taller.

Jade Buddha Temple

First market we visited