A walk through the narrow lanes of Old Chongqing on China’s National Day in 2008 was a fascinating experience. We arrived in Chongqing at the end of our Yangtze River cruise early in the morning. A personal tour guide met us at the boat and took us on a walking tour of the second largest city in China in the time we had available before our flight to Hong Kong left late in the afternoon. The last highlight of this tour was a visit to Old Chongqing, part of the old city that has been preserved as a tourist attraction and living museum.
The streets of the old town were packed with people making the most of the holiday weekend. Street vendors were plentiful and offered a colourful array of food and other goods for sale. This man was of particular interest because of the way he fashioned melted sugar toffee into dragon-like confections. Curious onlookers stopped to watch him create his masterpieces.
What would a celebration be without balloons? We found this balloon vendor near the edge of the square below the Great Hall of the People in Chongqing on China’s National Day. Later in the day we came across another person also selling balloons at the entry to Old Chongquing, where the people of the second largest city in China crowded in the narrow lanes to experience how their city used to look. I doubt that it was as well presented in the old days as it is today where this small remaining part of the old city is now used as a tourist attraction.
Every bride wants her wedding day to be something special. If it can happen on a nationally significant day, it makes the day even more special.
Our visit to Chongqing in 2008 coincided with China’s national day. On the steps leading up to the Great Hall of the People we came upon this young couple having their wedding photos taken. Below them in the large square a crowd of people was gathered to watch dance and drum competitions that form part of the day’s celebrations. Apparently girls like to be photographed in a western style wedding dress, as well as in traditional Chinese costume.
Some of the earliest visions I have of a Chinese peasant come from story books in my childhood. This was very much a British colonial view of “coolies” carrying heavy loads on both ends of a wooden pole and wearing baggy clothes and a flat conical straw hat. While fashions in language and clothing have changed through the years, the ubiquitous wooden pole is still commonly seen in the streets of towns and villages all over China.
At the end of our Yangtze River cruise at Chongqing our cases were carried off the boat by men with poles. Here in The People’s Square in Chongqing a woman carries heavy baskets full of grapefruit which she hopes to sell. It was China’s National Day when we visited the square and it was thronging with people who had gathered to watch performances of dance and drum by groups from the surrounding municipality.
In some ways this image reflects a blend between the old and the new. While the number of cars is rapidly increasing in China, older forms of transportation still survive. Tricycles like this one can be found all over China. They are real work-horses and can be seen carrying enormous loads, sometimes to the extent that the rider has to get off and push! Note the spare inner-tube dangling at the side corner of the tray.
The modern Citroen taxi in the background is a sign of the new China.
This is one of my favorite images from our 2008 trip to China. Its not because it is a technically great image, but that it represents part of how China had changed so much since our previous trip in 1987.
Here we have a modern girl riding her electric scooter and talking on her mobile phone. In 1987 she would not have had either of these possessions, would probably have been riding a bicycle at best, and been wearing a green “Mao” uniform. The bridge across the shipping canal beside the Gezhou Dam would not have been built, nor the dam itself which was a precursor to the Three Gorges Dam further up the Yangtze River.
Small Boy in Ghost City
I was sorting through photographs of our 2008 trip to China a few days ago when I came across this image of a small boy squatting in a plant border next to a temple at Ghost City on the Yangtze River. It was only later when my wife pointed it out that I realised what he was doing.
For the whole of our four day cruise on the Yangtze the weather was overcast and the atmosphere smoggy. This added more than a little atmosphere during the stop at Fengdu to visit the Ghost City.
Fengdu is modelled after the Chinese Hell in Taoist mythology, built over 1800 years ago. The Ghost Town has become an island since the Three Gorges Dam project was completed, and part of the ghost town of Fengdu has become submerged. Scenery above the “Door of Hell” has remained however.
What do you do when there’s a sign that says “Keep off the Grass”? You don’t see many of them these days, but human nature (such as it is) causes many to take a quick look around, and then proceed to “walk ….”. That’s what made this sign so interesting. The Otago Settlers Museum is currently undergoing a major renovation and management clearly understands human nature. Characters depicted in the sign reflect the changing face of Dunedin, and its Scottish heritage.
The museum is housed in an Art Deco era building, formerly the Dunedin terminus for NZR Road Services buses which used to connect main city railway stations to the scattered small towns and settlements throughout the region. There was also an inter-city service that could be used as an alternative to travel by train. As passenger train services became less frequent, the bus services became more important. The terminal building was built in 1939 at the height of the period when NZRRS provided a vital link to small town and rural New Zealand. At that time car ownership was limited and roads were more primitive than they are today. That was the world of my childhood.
Today NZRRS has morphed into Intercity Coachlines which still continues some of the original services, as well as newer ones designed to meet modern requirements.
That’s what I thought too, until I re-read the sign! This rather alternative shop is at the northern or university end of George Street, the main shopping street in Dunedin. It’s here that the cheap eating restaurants are found. On Friday and Saturday nights you have to be in early at some of the more popular places before the student crowds hit town for a night out.
Settled by Scottish people, Dunedin is often referred to as the “Edinburgh of the South”. It gets pretty cold here in winter and students at Otago University wrap up in woolen scarfs, usually in the colours of the local provincial rugby team or their favourite beer brand. Whenever the Otago team plays at home the “scarfies” turn out in force to support them and make their presence known.
If there is one place that is inextricably linked to nearly every baby born in New Zealand, it is Karitane. In this small seaside settlement some 40 km north of Dunedin a pioneering pediatrician and psychiatrist named Sir Truby King, who worked at the nearby Seacliff Asylum, founded of the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society in 1907. This organisation established numerous neonatal institutes known throughout the country as Karitane Hospitals. Starting in Dunedin, Plunket (as the society is affectionately known) has been a positive and supporting network for generations of New Zealand parents. The ubiquitous “Plunket Book” that was (and still is) issued to new mothers provides a record of the early development of their newborn children. Various metrics are recorded and charted in these books to provide new mothers with an assurance that their babies are within the “normal” range of growth and development.
On a hill slightly to the south of the village of Karitane, above the Huirapa Marae (meeting place) at Puketeraki, stands the old wooden Huiterangiora Church and graveyard, with a view back over the beach and the small peninsula now known as the Huriwa Historic Reserve.
Ask any Kiwi (New Zealander) of a certain age about Aramoana and a veil of sadness will descend across their faces as they remember the tragic day in 1990 when a lone gunman shot dead 13 local people, then himself at this small fishing and holiday settlement. Memory of the tragedy will forever be part of the history of this place on a lovely sandy spit at the entrance to the Otago Harbour.
Aramoana is the home of some 26o permanent residents and is 27 km from the centre of the City of Dunedin, past Port Chalmers on the northern side of the harbour. At weekends and holiday times Dunedin people escape from the city to the quiet of the seaside where they can relax, fish, or walk on the sandy beaches, or on the 1,200 m sand control Mole opposite Taiaroa Head at the harbour entrance. It was here that I traveled one morning for a few hours of respite when my wife was receiving treatment for a serious fracture in Dunedin Hospital before her transfer to Auckland.
This post has more than the usual number of images as I wanted to give a feeling for what Aramoana is about. Click on the images for a larger view. This post replaces one that was accidentally deleted earlier today.
3455 – Vanishing Point
A view taken from the railway over-bridge that featured in one of my posts yesterday. All lines lead to a vanishing point at the foot of the distant hills. Like the large 3455 stenciled on the deck of the nearby freight wagon, the vanishing lines reflect how the use of rail has changed since the days of steam when the Victorian era railway station was built. Along-side the platform are Taieri Gorge Railway carriages wailing for the next excursion group to arrive.
Dunedin was linked to Christchurch in the north by rail in 1878, with a link south to Invercargill completed the following year. Designed by George Troup and opened in 1906, the station pictured above is the fourth building to have served as Dunedin’s railway station, and replaced a simple weatherboard “temporary” structure that was built next to the present site in 1884. At that time the city of Dunedin was an important commercial and industrial centre close to still-active gold and coalfields, and was surrounded by a hinterland that was dependent on both livestock and forestry for its economy. For a time this was New Zealand’s busiest railway station, handling up to 100 trains per day.
Improved road transport lead to a decline in the use of rail and the only regular train service that uses the station today is the Otago Excursion Train Trust’s Taieri Gorge Railway tourist train that runs to Middlemarch in Central Otago. The station is now owned by Dunedin City Council and houses a restaurant, the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and the Otago Art Society.
The Dunedin Railway station is a must-see place to visit to gain a glimpse of a time when rail was king and an essential part of the economic infrastructure of the country. The attention to detail that was a feature of government and civil architecture at the time provides quite a contrast to modern architectural styles.
Three Birds on a Bridge
While my wife was in hospital in Dunedin having her leg mended I had plenty of time on my hands between visits. Dunedin is a fascinating city to visit to get a glimpse of late nineteenth and early twentieth architecture when it was in its heyday. One of the city’s most iconic buildings is the railway station, and it was there that I ventured on one of my exploratory visits. Beside the station is an iron pedestrian bridge over the railway lines. At the top of the steps leading to the crossing this view caught my fancy and I just had to capture it.
Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
Bad things don’t stay bad forever. After twelve days in hospital, that included surgery to “repair” her leg that was fractured in a skiing accident, my wife was transferred to another hospital in Auckland for continued monitoring and treatment. As she was “well enough” to fly on a commercial flight she was sent on her way with an escort (me). The ninety minute flight from Dunedin travels north along the eastern side of the Southern Alps, giving views of Aoraki (Mt Cook – 3,754 m) and other significant peaks, before crossing Cook Strait to the North Island and passing east of Taranaki (Mt Egmont) to Auckland. The above image of snow-capped Taranaki (2,518 m) through a hole in the clouds was a real bonus. Had we returned to Auckland as originally planned this view would have been obscured by bad weather.
On our return journey from Tarris to Wanaka in Central Otago the light faded quickly but as the sun sank in the west we were presented with this lovely orange sunset over the Harris Mountains and the Southern Alps. This type of occasion keeps us coming back to Central Otago, with its snow-capped mountains in the winter and vast dry open plains in the summer. The dark form on the left of the image is the Pisa Range. Click on the image for a larger view.
Country Road – Tarris
One of the small villages we had always wanted to visit when in Central Otago on our annual skiing holiday was Tarris. This little settlement has become quite well known in recent times as a food and art and crafts centre. We visited Tarris late in the afternoon just as the shops were closing for the day so had little time to browse. About 1 km north of the village we detoured onto a smaller country road and were presented with this lovely view of the Hawkdun Range, known locally as “the Hawkduns”. The foreground is tinged yellow by the late afternoon sun. Sheep are an important part of the Central Otago economy.
Nurturing Young Talent
One of the great things about the international Rotary movement is a goal of nurturing young talented people and helping them develop and grow.
For the past six years the Rotary Club of Milford on Auckland’s North Shore has organised a Musical Showcase at Westlake Boys High School that allows young North Shore musicians, who have won secondary schools competitions, to demonstrate their prowess in a public performance and hone their skills before year-end examinations. The Sunday afternoon concert is always well patronised and any profits made are distributed to the music departments of the participating schools.
If any readers live on the North Shore of Auckland, or know someone who does, I would recommend that you attend the concert to support the young players and their schools, and have a thoroughly entertaining afternoon as well.