Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kunming Ethnic Village Park

Strange place. A collection of artificial looking minority ethnic Chinese villages built around a lake. Like a zoo but for humans instead of animals.

Gek with Mui Hua, our hostess in Kunming. She is letting us stay at her’s, a very nice condo in the west of the city.

What was this thing doing in a cultural theme park? I don’t know. Seemed to sum up my impression of China so far. Rapidly relegating it’s culture to museums in order to join the global village. Low culture is being promoted as high culture. We went to see what was billed as a ‘culture show’, Dynamic Yunnan, in Kunming city centre. The dance routines and stage craft bore only a passing reference to their cultural origins. More River Dance than Chinese Dance. Made me yearn for some throat singing and shoulder shaking!!!!!

Xian Park Sculptures

To the south east, outside the city wall is a park and recreation area with a little park with a series of lovely, larger than life bronze sculptures.

All of them show some sort of domestic scene and humour. You just have to smile at the charaters!!!

Xian Artist Area

By the south gate of the city is a redeveloped area which now houses artist studios and jade shops. The buildings are all grey. The same as the redeveloped Hu Tongs in Beijing. Looks smart but feels sterile. Perhaps time is needed to humanise the streets.

Court yards house the artists studios,

Almost entirely traditional Chinese art with very little oil painting.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Xian Warriors

The mandatory shot of the hall.

and the heads.

This kneeling archer, minus cross bow, is the only complete figure found so far.

Apparently, the emperor was not a very nice man, treating his subjects very cruelly. But they got their own back after he died, stealing all the 6000 pot warriors’ weapons and using them against the emperor’s successor. And, for good measure, they set fire to the warriors pits. Clearly the population at large did not share the same view of the after life as their illustrious leader!!! Magic.

I cannot tell you what I really think of what has happen on the site………suffice to say I was more impressed by Xi’an’s city wall.

Xian Hot Springs

When Xi’an was the capital of China, the emperor had a summer place built at hot springs about 20 km from the town. A different bathtub for every member of the imperial family.

This voluptuous lady was his favourite. Visitors were queuing up to have their pictures taken leaning on her thigh. Wonder what the emperor would have made of that? Not a lot me thinks. The place put me in mind of Roman baths complete with pictures of semi naked women taking a dip.

Xian Taoist Temple

The Taoist Temple gate.

leading to a very nicely refurbished temple complex,
with a holder for massive sticks to burn.

We consulted a Taoist Monk who confirmed our compatibility. Gek is a Gemini water snake and I am an Libra earth dog. So that’s ok then!!!!

From the Xian city Wall.

Gek doing the bin thing. And that snake and turtle are still chatting away.
You have to love her!!! We were a bit too ambitious. We never made it to the distant tower. Had to turn round and come back. I said we should have hired a tandem!!.

A tourist crocodile being harassed. Yousee lots of them. Not many free and easy travelers like ourselves.
On the other side, and elderly gentleman exercising with a child's toy.

and in the gate courts yard some serious rehearsals under way.

Xian City Wall

A massive wall surrounds the old city, over 13 kms of it

with only four gates.

Not as complicated as the wall around Luca but much higher and wider.

A very strange emblem comprising a snake apparently talking to a turtle. Go google!!!!

High Tea at Raffles, Beijing

The lobby lounge. Not Raffles Singapore but it will do!

First scrutinise the menu,
to find we are early for High Tea. Not to worry, order a lone pot of tea
Relax and read the China Post and wait for time to time.
And then hight tea. Smoked salmon nibbles, finger sandwiches and assorted scones and cakes. Very, very nice.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tale of two Trains.

Ulaanbataar station 7:30am readying for the off,

and thirty hours later, arrive in Beijing.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Find me a Singaporean

A Singaporean film crew came to UB to follow Yee Ling around for a couple of days. Yee Ling is between Gek and the shows presenter, Belinda Lee, opposite Reno. Great Sunday lunch too!!! The TV production team has a brief to find interesting Singaporeans in all parts of the world. Countries where Singaporeans wash up include Iceland. Unbelievable!!! You would think Mongolia was far enough off the Singapore radar!!!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Leaving the Project

I am into the last two weeks of my VSO placement, construction skills course curriculum design targeting trainees from the unemployed in UB. So a couple of parting photos. Above shows John Larsen, our international consultant from Australia on a site visit with Selenge. John has given great support to the project on his month long visits.

The project has so far trained over 450 young adults in various basic construction skills . Our target is 2100 trained construction workers by the end of the project. All the training courses include three months on the job training.

30% of the trainees are young women which in any other country would be remarkable, but here in Mongolia it is the norm for men and women to be involved in all types of work. The gender balance issue in the project's terms of reference was in fact a non issue!!!

Construction Exhibition - UB March 2008

The major Construction Exhibition in Mongolia.

I was even interviewed for the Tele!!

The main business was to recruit trainees to our courses and the interest construction companies in on the job training. A very busy 4 days. Our fliers flew off the stand!!!!!