Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Imin Minaret Turpan City Xinjiang Region

苏公塔
Imin Minaret mosque, Turpan, Xinjiang
Front view of the Imin Minaret mosque, Turpan
The Imin Minaret was the highlight of our recent trip to Turpan City in China's western Xinjiang Uyghur "Autonomous" Region. The beautiful geometric simplicity of this mosque's lines reminded us strongly of the ancient ruins we visited a few years ago in Egypt - helped no doubt by the same earthern coloring.

Fortunately for us, we were the only ones there when we visited, and we had this magic monument to ourselves for the 30 or so minutes it took us to walk through and around it.

Minaret tower of the Imin Minaret Mosque, Turpan, Xinjiang
Tower of the Imin Minaret, Turpan
Looking at the plaque out front, the Imin Minaret (also called the Sugong Minaret) was built by Imin Hoja, head of Turpan prefecture in his 83rd year, and his son, Su Lai Man Gong, in 1777.

Imin pledged loyalty to the Qing Dynasty and made great contributions in the struggle against invasion and separation for all his life. In his later years, he built this minaret to express his indebtedness to the Qing Dynasty and his piety to Allah.

Courtyard in the Imin Minaret, Turpan, Xinjiang
A courtyard of the Imin Minaret, Turpan, Xinjiang
The minaret is the largest Islamic structure in Xinjiang, and was designed and built by the Uygur builder, Iblain and others.

It is more brick than wood, which is said to contribute to its elegant lines. The Minaret is 37 m high and 10 m in diameter at its base, and has a spiral staircase of 72 steps inside.

Graves at the Imin Minaret, Turpan, Xinjiang
Cemetery at the Imin Minaret, Turpan, Xinjiang
The big statue out the front is no doubt of Imin Hoja himself.

The outside of the Minaret features about a dozen different typical Uygur geometric patterns rendered in brick.

I recall the entry fee being in the range of, in USD, about $3 to $5 each, but it was one of the best spent entry fees of anywhere during our time in this fascinating region.

Statue of founder, Imin Minaret, Turpan, Xinjiang.
Statue of Imin Hoja, the founder of Imin Minaret mosque, Turpan, Xinjiang.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival 2017

哈尔滨国际冰雪节

The 2017 Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival began on Thursday and will last into March.

Harbin Ice Festival

Over 7,000 laborers worked around the clock helping the artists produce the hundreds of ice sculptures at Sun Island, Zhaolin Park and "Ice and Snow World".

The huge ice sculptures in the "Ice City" were produced using 180,000 cubic meters of ice from the Songhua River and 150,000 cubic meters of snow.

Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival 2013


The Harbin Ice Festival opened on January 5th and runs until March this year.

Harbin Ice Festival 2010

Other big snow festivals around the world include the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan and Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival. The Shangri-La Hotel in Harbin is the city's most luxurious hotel to stay during the Ice Festival.

Zhaolin Park, Harbin Ice and Snow Festival


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Monday, September 05, 2016

Gomar Monastery

Gomar Monastery (Gomar Gompa) is a 400-year-old Tibetan monastery in Qinghai in western China.

Gomar Monastery, Qinghai, China.

The chörten (stupa), located outside the monastery walls is a modern affair, dating from the 1980's and can be climbed.

Gomar Monastery, Qinghai, China.

Gomar Monastery is about 1km from Wutun Monastery in the monastic town of Tongren.

Gomar Monastery, Tongren, Qinghai, China.

The walled monastery has a number of different buildings and is home to over 100 monks. Buddhist paintings, gargoyles and the serene, curving temple roofs are the main sights.

Opening hours at the monastery are 8am-6pm. Women may be denied access at certain times.

Gomar Monastery, Tongen, Qinghai, China.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Zhangjiajie Skywalk

China's skywalks have been in the news recently. These mega-expensive, architectural wonders are a symbol of the new, confident China. However, the skywalk at Yuntaishan in Hunan Province hit the headlines when the surface panels of glass cracked, leading to frightening scenes for the tourists walking along it at the time.

Zhangjiajie Skywalk, Hunan, China.


China is home to the highest and longest glass skywalk in the world, also in Hunan. Zhangjiajie skywalk, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, spans a 430-metre gap between two cliffs in Zhangjiajie National Park in Hunan. It is 300m above the ground.

The Zhangjiajie skywalk, which can carry up to 800 people, doubles up as a runway for fashion shows. For those seeking even more of a thrill, the bridge also lays claim to the world's highest bungee jump.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Atmosphere Bar Beijing

The highest bar in Beijing, this exclusive, 80th floor bar affords a view that extends all the way from Tiananmen Square to the nearby mountains.

Sophisticated rather than super trendy, the bar is worthy of its elevated real estate. Revellers sip expertly mixed cocktails (over 300 concoctions available), single malts and fine wines and can puff fine cigars while relaxing to live jazz and gazing out of the huge windows.

Atmosphere Bar Beijing, China.


Apart from the view, the main pull at Atmosphere is the drinks. Yes, they are expensive, but few other bars can rival the extensive selection of cocktails for sheer quality and choice. There is also a good wine list by expert local sommelier Koen Masschelein.

1 Jianguomenwai, 80F China World Summit Wing
China World Trade Center Phase 3,
Chaoyang
Tel: +86 (0)10 8571 6459

Atmosphere Bar Beijing China.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Longgang National Geological Park Skywalk

The Longgang National Geological Park Skywalk is world's longest glass-bottomed cantilever skywalk. it opened in 2015 and measures an impressive 26.64 meters (87.4 feet).

Built at a staggering cost of over $5 million, the Longgang National Geological Park Skywalk sits at a height of 1,010 meters (3,314 feet).

Longgang National Geological Park Skywalk.


Designed to withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake and a level-14 typhoon, the Yuanduan Skywalk is a marvel of engineering. It can support 200 people at a time, but the park has opted to limit that number to 30 to guarantee an enjoyable guest experience. Also included in the development is a see-through mountain pathway.

Cost: tickets are 60 RMB.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Xiaolongbao

Xiaolongbao is the signature dish of Shanghai - a plump dumpling crammed with juicy pork mince and a shot of meaty broth.

Xiaolongbao.

The name xiaolongbao comes from the bamboo steaming baskets, xiaolong, the buns (bao) are prepared in.

Xiaolongbao in Shanghai, China.

Originally from the suburb of Nanxiang in Shanghai, xiaolongbao can be found all over the city. One recommended restaurant to try them is the Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung, which has a reputation for serving up some of the most superior buns in town.

Shanghai Xiaolongbao.

The buns are usually filled with minced pork though a variety of fillings can now be founded including vegetarian varieties.

Making Xiaolongbao.

The buns are tweaked and pinched at the top to give them their distinctive shape.

Xiaolongbao.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Oriental Pearl TV Tower Shanghai

东方明珠塔

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower in the Pudong financial district of Shanghai is one of this port city's most famous architectural icons.

Though now dwarfed by such monsters as the Shanghai Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower was the tallest building in China from 1994-2007.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower Shanghai, China


Located opposite the historic Bund, the 468m-tall Oriental Pearl TV Tower signaled the reawakening of Shanghai's power as a center of global commerce, finance and trade. The building has a number of observation points with the highest at 350m - the Space Module.

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is also host to a number of restaurants, including a revolving restaurant at 267m, exhibition space and shops. The structure is illuminated at night by LED.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower Shanghai, China


1 Century Avenue, Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai, China, 200120

Friday, January 17, 2014

Portovelo - Good in Every Purchase

By Christopher KL Lau

Portovelo
Many well-meaning social and business entrepreneurs are now finding ways in their business models to both run a sustainable business and to give back to society, in their own little way. This is a current trend which is sweeping the world of business; to not only make a profit but to help lift others out of poverty at the sametime.

One of these successful social ventures is the Hong Kong based, "Portovelo". The idea is the brainchild of founder Lavina Tien, who was inspired by her love of both travel and charity.

Portovelo
Via her journeys throughout the world, she saw much beauty in the different peoples and cultures she encountered yet she also saw much suffering and poverty. This was especially true in off-the-beaten-track developing nations such as Nepal, Cambodia and Tanzania where she witness extreme poverty which hindered the social and economic development of those respective nations. Being empathetic and compassionate, she decided to make a stance and help those in need in her own little way.

Portovelo
Tien was also alarmed by the stark and staggering statistics about child poverty, about 600 million children in the world today live on less than a dollar a day and often have to drop out of education to work and support their families.

More than 1 billion children are severely deprived of essential needs required to survive, grow and develop. These include needs like basic food and nutrition, access to clean water, healthcare, shelter and education. Touched by what she saw and armed with a Harvard Business Degree, she set up Portovelo which makes simple yet attractive slip on sneakers for sale around the world. Each sale of a shoe will go towards purchasing 15 meals for deprived children. Purchasing one of these shoes is not only a fashion statement, it also will help feed a child and maybe change their circumstances forever.

Portovelo
Portovelo also work closely with specific NGOs to help their dream become a reality; hence their partnership with the well known Flourishing Futures NGO in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Everytime a pair of shoes is purchased, the profits will provide 15 meals to a hungry child in their care. This will be of great relief to Flourishing Futures as it provides food assistance to families living below the poverty line. Poverty and hunger are a marked part of everyday life in Mongolia and these children often do not know when their next meal will be. Having regular meals will allow them to have the energy and strength to fully participate in either work and education to the best of their ability.

Portovelo - Good in Every Purchase
Portovelo also keep their eye on current news affairs and with the recent disasters in the Philippines, Portovelo donated a portion of all their sales proceeds to the World Visions' emergency food relief program in the Philippines, for all purchases at the end of 2013. With Portoveolo, Lavina Tien is making a huge difference, one slip on sneaker at a time!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival 2014

哈尔滨国际冰雪节

To celebrate the 30th Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival the event is bigger than ever this year.

Harbin Ice Festival

Over 7,000 laborers worked around the clock helping the artists produce the hundreds of ice sculptures at Sun Island, Zhaolin Park and "Ice and Snow World".

The huge ice sculptures in the "Ice City" were produced using 180,000 cubic meters of ice from the Songhua River and 150,000 cubic meters of snow.

Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival 2013


The Harbin Ice Festival opened on January 5th and runs for several weeks.

Harbin Ice Festival 2010

Other big snow festivals around the world include the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan and Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival. The Shangri-La Hotel in Harbin is the city's most luxurious hotel to stay during the Ice Festival.

Zhaolin Park, Harbin Ice and Snow Festival


images © Daniel Allen

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mesh Beijing

Mesh, one of Beijing's top night spots, is located inside Opposite House, a 99 room hotel which is part of a large high-end shopping development in Sanlitun called The Village.

Mesh Beijing, China


Mesh has a reputation as one of Beijing's most gay-friendly bars.

The Opposite House is easy to locate right next to 3.3 shopping centre in Sanlitun.

Mesh
First Floor
The Opposite House
11 Sanlitun Lu
Building 1
Sanlitun Village
Chaoyang district
Tel: 6410 5220

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bomb Shelter Bar

The Bomb Shelter Bar in the basement of the Red Capital Residence is a bar with a difference.

Bomb Shelter Bar, Beijing, China


Waitresses in People's Liberation Army uniform serve up delicious cocktails and audio visuals consist of Mao era propagandist opera.

This literally hole in the ground bar is a little hard to enter (see image below) but once down the steep stairs you have transcended into another, earlier world.

Bomb Shelter Bar, Beijing


Red Capital Residence
9 Dongsi Liutiao
Dongcheng District
Beijing
Telephone: 8403 5308

Bomb Shelter Bar, Red Capital Residence


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Friday, May 31, 2013

Dragon Boat Race Season 2013

端午节

It's Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔ Jié) season soon (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month).

Dragon Boat Race Season China


Dragon Boat races will be occurring all over China including a Dragon Boat festival in Shanghai and similar events in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Some of Hong Kong's popular Dragon boat races are held in Stanley, though the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival takes place off the East Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade in Victoria Harbour from 21st to 23rd June this year.

The 2012 event drew over 400,000 spectators who watched 5,000 athletes compete in teams from 21 countries.

The big event is the Lee Kum Kee IDBF Club Crew World Championships for men and women's teams including juniors, seniors and even cancer survivors' teams.

Dragon Boat races are popular in Hong Kong where there are estimated to be around 50,000 active paddlers.

Prior to this, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (Tuen Ng Festival) will take place on 12th June at various locations including Aberdeen, Discovery Bay, Stanley, Sha Tin, Tai O on Lantau, Cheung Chau and Tai Po.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Centro in the Kerry Hotel Beijing

Located in the luxury Kerry Hotel in the foreign embassy area of the Chinese capital, Centro is right up there as one of Beijing's top night spots.

Centro Kerry Hotel Beijing


Centro's motto is "Beautiful People Serving Beautiful People" and this stylish bar on Level 1 of the hotel draws the city's celebrities for its award-winning cocktails and live jazz acts. Happy hour is between 5 and 8pm though Centro is open 24 hours a day.

Centro
No 1 Guanghua Road
Beijing
100020
China
Beijing
Tel: 86 10 6561 8833 ext. 42

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Monday, April 01, 2013

Modernista

Modernista Old Cafe and Tapas bar is quickly earning itself a reputation as on of Beijing's top night spots.

Modernista, Beijing, China


Modernista is an art deco themed live house with DJs, live acts including blues, funk, Dixieland and jazz plus film screenings and open mic comedy events. There have also been photography exhibitions and a mahjong evening.

Modernista, Beijing, China


Wash down your tapas with a fine selection of beer, whiskey and absinthe.

Modernista
Baochao Hutong 44
Dongcheng
Beijing
Tel: 0136 9142 5744