Lantern festival is celebrated on the 15th night of the new Lunar year and marks the end of the festivities. Apparently, the origins of the festival can be traced back to the first century CE. Traditionally, large paper lanterns are heated by small candles and then rise into the air. They symbolise letting go of your old self and bringing in a new you. You would write on the lantern your wishes for the new year which would then be lifted up to the Gods. This setting off lanterns into the sky is bigger in Taiwan and, anyhow, it was pretty windy which mean several, of the few we saw, burnt before they took flight.
The other things about it is the amount of fireworks. Although traditionally, I think, a new year thing they seem to be much more common at lantern festival, at least on the mainland.
We very rarely go away at the Lunar New Year. Firstly, it is so expensive as almost everyone else in China is on the move and secondly, we are never well enough organised before Christmas when the bargains are to be had.
We therefore tend to stay put. Some years the weather is great and others, not so much. This year was one of the better ones.
When it gets like this I love it: Freezing cold, but beautiful blue skies. The river freezes so you can walk on it. There is also a mini-fair effort.
The river here can be quite picturesque given the right weather. It also looks better while frozen on one of those cold, crisp, clear winter mornings. Perfect for a winter's morning walk.
I really like the repeating patterns in these apartment blocks. They also look good at night when some of the lights are on.... One day!
Japan may be famous for it's Cherry Blossom but it is fairly impressive here too. Just a week or so ago all was browny/yellow on the ground. the trees were still bare and a dull grey colour.
A week of nice weather, and by nice I mean late teens early twenties, and everything is different.
To round off our week off for the Lunar New Year we took a trip down to the water park and the TV tower. The water park is a massive man made lake with some impressive, but new bridges that look like traditional Chinese/Japanese bridges. The whole thing was built because of Tianjin being an Olympic city. What? You missed that? Tianjin hosted some of the Olympic football and so therefore to be an Olympic city!
The water park is also home to the world's least impressive fun-fair. I am not even slightly sure that I trust Chinese built and maintained roller-coasters even if they were working (Which they weren't!).
First off, I thought Dagu was the swampy planet where Yoda lived! But no! Apparently it is a gun emplacement that defended Beijing's port city (Tianjin). The website describes it thus:
'The Dagu Kou Forts, also called the Taku Forts... [were] built in 1816 to protect Beijing, the capital of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). As a heroic symbol of China's fight against foreign invasion, the emplacement is considered one of the three treasures of Tianjin by its people.' I'll come back to the last sentence in the quote in bit.
Getting there was fun! We took the light rail from Tianjin station (a bargain at 90p for an hour's journey). I do have to say that if you are ever planning to make a film and need a set for that post nuclear apocalypse scene then the place to come and scout for locations is anywhere along the that journey.
After the world heritage site of the Great Wall, the other thing we did during the Lunar New Year holiday was to look at some of the historical stuff in Tianjin. This is mainly centred on the 8 concession areas (There were 9 but America gave hers to Britain), in the same way that Shanghai has the concessions so too does Tianjin. Although to a large extent the original sutff has gone, there are still some interesting things to see. For example Pu Yi's house is there which is OK but not the most interesting thing, even if it is important.
So, I've returned to probably my two favourite Tianjin themes... The Station and the frozen river. I just can't get enough of the space age architecture of the station, which was just incredibly busy as most of Chinagets on a train during that week it seems.
More or less 6 months after moving to China I thought I should probably see what all the fuss was about and get out and see the wall. The wall is about 8500KM long so the first question is which bit? Most people seem to head up to Beijing to see it and I am sure we will too in the end.
As the river freezes people use it to fish. No comments as it speaks for itself. Was a bit nervous at first standing on the ice.
We'd been told that it gets really cold here (it does!) but that the air was so dry there was never a frost (doesn't seem to be) or much in the way of snow... Two out of three's not too bad.
Big floodlit buildings, bridges and statues, a reflection or two, add in some blurred movement from a boat and Bob's your Uncle... Neil's looking to get the camera and tripod out.
This is the first instalment of what I imagine will be a recurring theme as I work my way down the river... There a number of really interesting bridges and pieces of public art.
The Steel work was quite eye-catching at night.
This is the same bridge as before but showing a boat moving down the river and the Jin Tower, which is the tallest building in Tianjin in the background.
The next bridge up, which leads to the Old Italian Concession, is modelled on a Parisian theme. It sounds fairly bad, but actually the effect is quite nice. The Italian concesion is full of EUropean resaurants and is not a bad place to eat, but it does, to me a t least, feel really touristy.
China is (in)famous for its poor air quality and smog. The first day we were here I could see why. Then we had a few days or low humidity, moderate heat and beautiful blue skies. It was pretty close to perfect.
This is the view from our apartment looking towards the city centre. On this day, as you can see (well, you can't) viability was poor. I think this might have been mist rather than smog but I'm certainly no expert on things geograpahy.
But then, on another day we got this. More or less taken from the same place. Actually it was by the trees that you can see in the on above. The river is at most a two minu
So, as you can see pretty impressed so far.
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.
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