Sometimes just walking into the room is outside my comfort zone. I have some sort of social anxiety disorder. Sometimes just going out to walk the dogs feels a bit much.
When one’s comfort zone is small the issue isn’t whether to step out, you have to to function. The issue is how to create the habits and mechanisms to make stepping out as close to the edge of my comfort zone as it can be.
The most recent time I had a dramatic stepping out was my trip to France in September. But it wasn’t getting on the plane during a pandemic. I wore KN95 mask and a face shield. No one really expects you to be outgoing in the airport or on planes. It wasn’t figuring out the logistics of getting around in Paris. It was when I walked up to the boat for my river cruise alone.
As part of my recent trip to France I took a river cruise on the Rhone. When Dean, the agent who helped me arrange the cruise asked me what my favorite part was my answer was quick: Viviers. He seemed a bit surprised, his favorites had been Arles and Lyon with their dramatic Roman ruins.
Viviers doesn’t have, at least that I saw, dramatic Roman ruins. They may be there, possibly in the walls or under the floors of the existing buildings. But Viviers is, in my opinion, charm itself.
I loved the cobblestones. The guide pointed out how they laid the stones differently in the middle and on the sides to make it easier to walk, better traction, or roll carts, less bumpy.
I loved the narrow streets and passage ways. The space is so tight that they use the buildings to support each other by building arches over the streets. In one spot someone when needed more room for his expanding family he bought the house across the street and built a sky bridge between the two places.
I loved the tiled rooftops and lovely views of the surrounding countryside. It was worth the climb through the narrow streets to get there.
There were also some fun quirky details:
I’m sure that my warm buzz about the morning was augmented by the tasty tomato bisque they served up for lunch, perfect after a rainy walk.
But the reason it was my favorite part of the cruise was this: I would never have gone there on my own. Traveling on my own I’d have spent more time in Arles or Avignon and never even known this little gem of a city was there.
This afternoon I had a serendipitous experience. I was doing my coddiwomple thing after having coffee with my son and his girlfriend. They headed off to work and I just headed off. I tend to wander in a spiral, keeping a sense of where my ground zero is, but at the same time getting farther and farther afield. As I was headed back toward the center I spied a fascinating looking lion. Of the mythical type you often see on either side of an entrance in China. The thing that caught was the colors of the lion. It turned out that it was ceramic and the amazing coloration was from a brilliant job of glazing.
The shop appeared open but empty. I first peeked in through, then pressed my nose against the window to get a good view of the lions and other merchandise. From the shop next door a woman came out and said “Welcome to Shouguang” and invited me into her shop. She was happy to have me take pictures and she and her assistant served me tea. I believe, and I may learn more tomorrow when I visit another of her shops with my son, who will be able to understand her, it is a special collector’s type of ceramic. I am certain that it is gorgeous.
Many happiness peach man.
Dragon (my favorite).
Lucky horses, san ma.
This is one of those times when I couldn’t have planned to do something I really enjoyed, because I didn’t know it existed.
Ah yesterday. Last night I tried to write a post about it and fell asleep. Jet lag plus busy day does not equal cogent prose.
Today’s RDP: Color brought a couple of things from yesterday to mind, so here goes again:
The day before yesterday there was rain and that resulted in a clear blue sky. These things don’t last: today is already hazy. Yesterday I rolled off the bed early, intending to enjoy the walk by the Mihe River in clear morning light. It was beautiful.
Walking back along a near-by road I saw this art studio painted in vibrant primary colors:
Later in the day I was walking back to my son’s apartment from his place of work, I had some time to kill so I decided to take a longer path, one that ran along a fun park/trail they had made from an abandoned railroad through town. It starts near where he works with a train station art installation:
As I started to wander up the line a man came over and introduced himself. After a bit of almost communication (I finally called my son and had him talk to the guy and translate back to me), I wound up going with him and another gentleman to a huge rose garden, 250 thousand square meters, along the Mihe, well to the south of the stretch I had wandered in the morning. They worked at this garden on the structures.
They wanted to let me take pictures of their garden. You could tell they were rose buffs and also very proud of the garden as a whole…and rightly so. I’ve been to a few rose gardens here and there in the world, and this one is wonderful by any standard.
Quite a few roses were blooming and the weather was perfect. Sadly my SD card filled up and my extra hadn’t made my backpack.
As we were leaving the man at the gate came out with clippers and went around, in conference with the two I had come with and sent me home with this colorful sampling from their garden.
Welcome to the first post of a new weekly photo challenge. An invitation to take a load off and share a favorite perch by linking your post to this one, either with a comment or pingback. I am new to this, but will do my best to be a good hostess.
Pull Up a Seat is the theme: specifically the places one sits, might sit, or art about seats or sitting.
As I get older I find myself more and more often looking for a place to perch when I am out and about. This might be a chair, a bench, a wall, a pew…maybe even a log or a rock. These spots can be artfully designed, quirky or very plain, sometimes they have a view, sometimes you meet someone else who needs a rest.
Park benches with a butterfly motif in People’s Square, Weifang, Shandong Province, China. This area was a favorite of mine when my son lived in Weifang. After walking kilometers on stone pavement these are a welcome sight. During the week, when I took these photos, it is a quiet place. On the weekends it is pretty busy, especially when the wind is up: it is a popular place to fly kites. The butterfly motif is the symbol of Weifang, it comes from the traditional bamboo butterfly kites popular in this region.
Over to you. Add a link to your post in the comment section.
I just came across these pictures from a couple of years ago. In Wiefang (Shandong Province) while visiting my son I made use of the time while he was working to wander around the city. In several spots they had parks between the streets that made a pleasant way to get around. A little longer but much quieter than walking along the busy streets.
Mount Tai, also known as Mount Taishan (it is called this on the UNESCO World Heritage website, even though it is redundant: Shan means Mountain) or Tai Shan, isn’t high by world mountain standards, at a mere 1545 meters above sea level (5,069 ft) but to ascend is to climb a whole lot of stone steps. Mount Tai is in the Shandong Province. In the fall of 2015 my son got a couple of days off work when I was visiting and we took a quick trip to check it out. In the photos he is the one with the pony tail and grey athletic pants.
The recorded number of steps varies, most sources put it fairly close to 7,000. Some sources attribute the differing numbers to how many of the temples and shrines one visits along the way. I personally believe that when one is ascending it is too easy to loose count, and honestly, how much does it really matter. It felt like a million to this slightly over the hill mama, and I didn’t even go the whole way afoot.
Near the halfway point there is a cable car that takes you to a spot a bit above the famous entrance gate. You then follow a path that takes you down a bit and through the entrance gate.
I felt like it was cheating but my son was obviously relieved when I gave up the idea that I was going to make it all the way. He had been once before [he has also climbed both Mount Olympus (7.980 ft) and Mount Rainier (14,411 ft-although the climb starts at about 5,400 ft)]. He had been trying to figure out how he could carry both of our packs up the steepest part (known as Shiba which means eighteen, a nearly vertical stretch of eighteen steps) and stay behind me to keep me from an unbroken fall. Sometimes he can be very sweet! I am not the best balanced person in the world.
My decision was eased by two things: visibility was low so I wouldn’t get any views to compensate for the labor…and I learned that emperors didn’t climb the whole way themselves, they were carried up in litters to near the gate the walked through the gate themselves. Before that I was being very impressed by the level of fitness expected of an emperor!
Even taking the cable way there were plenty of steps to experience between the station and the top.
This is my last Gorge post, it finishes my little project of trying to organize my photos from two trips through the Three Gorges region in China. Xiling is the easternmost of the gorges and is downstream of the Three Gorges Dam, running from the outskirts of Yichang city up to the base of the dam.
Even with two trips I never got to see much of Xiling Gorge. Because it is downstream from the Three Gorges Dam, and the river cruise boats dock above the Three Gorges Dam at Maoping when they cannot go through the locks we were bused from Yichang in 2014 and to Yichang in 2017.
In 2014 we were able to see a little bit of the area by taking an optional excursion to a scenic area called “Three Gorges Tribe”. This is in the Xiling Gorge and to get to it they bused us to a local ferry that took us to the spot. Here are some pictures from that excursion:
Last spring, April of 2017, we had time between when the buses got us to the dock in Yichang and our flight. I had arranged a guide and we went to a couple of parks that included an overview of the eastern entrance to the Xiling Gorge. The statue overlooks the start of the Three Gorges area.
I learned from our guide that day that there is a tourist ferry from Yichang. It goes up through the concept dam and Xiling Gorge to the base of the Three Gorges dam, you take a tour of the dam from there then a bus back to Yichang.
If I decide to go again I will definitely arrange to spend an extra night in Yichang and take that outing, even though it’s an extra tour of the dam, to make sure I get to see Xiling Gorge. If I had known about it before the last trip we might have been able to do it. China has some lovely scenery, and many very interesting cultural sights, but it can be difficult to find out about things to do that are not specifically aimed at foreign visitors. I often feel like you have to go places at least twice to really get to know them.
This outing, commencing in Badong, is to an area where the streams drop directly into the reservoir formed by the Three Gorges Dam and is touted as an opportunity to see scenery reminiscent of how things were before the dam was built.
The area is very lovely. The outing consists of riding on a tourist ferry then embarking on a sampan to explore a stream that is tributary to the Yangtze.
Bridge over the entrance to the lesser three gorges area.
Scenery along the way.
Looking up to the hanging caskets.
Close up of the hanging caskets.
Sampan of trash pickers.
Tourist sampans heading upstream.
Lesser three gorges scenery.
Lesser three gorges scenery.
Lesser three gorges scenery.
Lesser three gorges scenery.
Lesser three gorges scenery.
A practical note, if you are planning to go: The sampan part was optional and cost a bit more, to stay on the ferry, which I believe travels farther on the more major tributary was included. If you are not fairly spry you might prefer to not go on the sampans.
Entering the Wu Gorge from the east (going up river) during the blue hour.
Goddess Peak in the Wu Gorge
Hillside shrine in the Wu Gorge.
Temple on the mountain in the Wu Gorge.
Side stream entering the Yangtze
Typical scenery along the Wu Gorge.
Sampan collecting trash after flood.
Bridge at the eastern entrance to the Wu Gorge.
Mountain scenery along the Wu Gorge.
Side stream entering the Yangtze.
Shipping traffic in the Wu Gorge.
Creek and mountains along the Wu Gorge.
Peek-a-boo view of the Goddess Peak in the Wu Gorge.
Wu is the middle gorge of the three gorges. It is between Wushan and Badong cities. You can see a larger version of any picture by clicking on it.
On the Yangtze River cruises there is an outing from Badong. I don’t know what the general rule is, or if there is one since we took different cruise lines different years, but going up the outing was to what they called the “lesser-three gorges” (hopefully my next post), going downstream last spring it was to Shennong Stream.
*If you read this post earlier: I made a mistake earlier and the actual name of the outing was “lesser three gorges”, sometimes called “mini-three gorges”, there is a similarly named “three gorges tribes” themed area in the Xiling Gorge.