medellín, colombia

after leaving chengdu, i flew straight to medellín, with an eight-hour stop in athens to pack a suitcase (to replace the one that was still in beijing, but that’s another story). i went to medellín to attend a workshop on photographing with nonprofit organizations; my “client” was la fundación las golondrinas, a social services organization that provided child development services, education support, small business technical assistance, and other programs in the low-income communities of medellín. like rio de janiero, the low-income areas of medellín are located in the hills above the city. the view is spectacular, but the conditions in the…

truck furniture maker

as in many countries i’ve visited, having an english-language t-shirt is a status symbol; it doesn’t matter what the t-shirt actually says. i passed a woman on the down escalator while i was going up whose t-shirt read “TRUCK FURNITURE MAKER.”  (there actually is someone called “truck furniture maker” on Facebook, so maybe she is also a truck furniture maker; but she probably isn’t.) other notables included the woman with the “VENICE BTACH” t-shirt; the sweet-faced, adorable young couple on qingsheng mountain wearing t-shirts reading “WE LOVE TO DO THE WILD THING” and “YOU FUCK’N ASSHOLE” – and my favorite: if…

le shan and the giant buddha

on of the weekend of the mid-autumn festival, i took the train to le shan, home of the giant buddha. the le shan buddha is more than 1,200 years old and was carved into the cliff facing the confluence of the three rivers flanking le shan. the statue is 71 meters tall, the largest stone buddha statue in the world. each ear alone is 7 meters tall. first, some street photography, including a photo of what appears to be the largest cucumber i have ever seen: i went to the buddha park on the sunday of the weekend, and it…

temples: daci temple

so, i’ve blogged about food, and i’ve blogged about pandas … what’s next? temples. mount qingcheng had taoist temples, but there were plenty of buddhist temples in and around chengdu as well. first, we’ll look at daci temple, which is located in downtown chengdu. daci temple was built approximately 1600 years ago, and is now surrounded by high-rise buildings. the day i visited, there was some kind of celebration going on, possibly related to the mid-autumn festival (what we think of us the mooncake festival). the place was mobbed with people lighting candles and burning incense, listening to a buddhist monk…

more about food

in my first post, i mentioned sichuan hot pot. hot pot is a meal of meats and vegetables cooked on skewers in boiling, flavored oil. the best hot pot restaurant i visited had a brightly-lit refrigerated room full of food – as elegant as anything i’d find at trader joe’s, if trader joe’s did hot pot – and aprons on the back of each chair. most of the time, it was obvious what the meat on the skewer was. but not always; just because something is “chicken” doesn’t mean it’s the part of the chicken i normally eat. this was…

the back side of mount qingcheng

whereas the front side of the mountain is known for taoist temples, the back side of the mountain is known for hiking. there are 20 km of pathways up and across the backside of the mountain. scenes from tai an, the old town at the foot of the mountain: there wasn’t much sun on the day i went, but there was a lot of green. apiaries; lots of waterfalls; prayer flags there are food vendors along the paths to cater to the hikers (also selling toys to distract the kids from being dragged up the side of a mountain). one…

the front side of mount qingcheng

mount qingcheng is one of the most important centers of taoism in china. according to myth, it was where the yellow emperor, a legendary ancient chinese ruler studied with ning fengzi, an also legendary taoist teacher. there are temples all the way to the top, 1,260 meters above sea level. first, we have gates: the main gate to the park, the entrance to jianfu palace, and some temple gates. there was a lot of up to get to the good views. the sign next to the monkey reads “hey, kids, your parents keep saying ‘we’re almost at the top,’ but you’ve only…