Tag Archives: Tai’an

Where am I going? Leading Lines

This post is a response to Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge Week 5: Leading Lines.

I am just back from a trip where I was planning to do so many things that I couldn’t manage. One was to keep up with Cee’s Compose Yourself series. This is probably late, I can’t seem to get my dates straight.

I am using this week’s  essay and prompt to look at pictures I took while away instead of trying to take new ones. To try and see the pictures with new eyes.

The above three pictures all have straight leading lines. When I took the pictures part of what I was trying to show was a sense of how big distances were. I think that is why the lines wound up dominating the pictures.

Here are two pictures taken of the same archway, with the leading lines of the wall on the edge of the steps at two different angles. Picture 1, before and after editing:

I cropped it slightly and removed the bit of my son’s head since it seemed a distraction. With his head gone the horizontal line of the wall leads your eye to the stairway.

Picture 2: I left James in since he seemed to be a leading line:

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Curving Lines:

The bent lines of the dead tree draw you into the living one planted in its core:

 

Dai Miao: Tang Pagoda embracing her child.
Tang Pagoda embracing her child.

While this picture is pretty dark, experiments I did with compositions led me to prefer this one, which has a road curving toward the temple gate just slightly visible because it reflected the  lights shining on the gate.

Dai Miao south gate at night.
Dai Miao south gate at night.

in this picture the curved edge of the koi pond leads your eye to the boy and his grandfather.

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Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye-Part 3

Part of a series of posts about my experiences on a trip to China in October 2015. The series of posts related to this can be seen on my page “Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye”.

Continued from Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye Part 2

In the middle of the night I received an email saying “no we really couldn’t get you train tickets.”

These little quests do matter: four and a half hours in a smoky hard sleeper at the beginning of a trip is fun, especially when followed by a night in a comfortable bed. Very different from the same train ride late on a day when one got up to watch the sun rise, then spent the day on one’s feet with a pack on, arriving just a few hours before one has to go to work.

So before we started exploring we found the office that sold train tickets…padlocked.  Inquiring at the tourist information office next door we learned little except that she seemed surprised that it wasn’t open. She kept coaching her son in math during the interaction, which went a bit like this:

“You want train tickets? That is next door. What is three plus four?”

“They aren’t open? They should be. If you think six is the answer to three plus four you will not do well.”

We decided to try a little later since she seemed surprised that it wasn’t open yet. Our planned route changed not a bit:

Tourist map of Taishan.
Tourist map of Taishan.

We used the hour to explore Dai Miao. It is a Taoist temple to the God of Taishan. It is very old and includes a small palace for the emperor to stay at when visiting the mountain to perform key rituals. It is a large area with a lot of interesting things to see. Too many to try an capture in pixels in an hour or so. Here are a few that caught my eye.

From Dai Miao, just like emperors, Confucius, and even Chairman Mao we began our journey up Mount Tai.

First stop: train ticket office.

Buying train tickets. Young woman ogling my son.
Buying train tickets.

With the much desired fast train tickets in our possession, leaving at a very civilized 4:30 pm, which would allow us to both enjoy a leisurely morning on Tai Shan and arrive in Weifang at 6:20 pm, with plenty of time for hot showers, uniform washing, and a good night’s sleep, we approached the mountain with an “it’s all good” attitude. Surely, if we could get train tickets we could do anything?

You guessed it: to be continued.

Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye-Part 4

 

Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye-Part 2

Part of a series of posts about my experiences on a trip to China in October 2015. The series of posts related to this can be seen on my page “Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye”.

Continuation from Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye

If you recall we, my son and I, were on a “hard sleeper” car on a local train bound for Tai Shan from Weifang, both cities in Shandong Province, China.

China has a wonderful train system. They have many clean, ultra-modern bullet trains that whisk you  efficiently around the country. For obvious reasons these trains are very popular and often fully booked well in advance. On one of those trains the trip from Weifang to Tai’an takes about two hours. The train we were on, a K series local train, took about 4.5 hours for the same trip.

We arrived at Tai Shan train station a little before dark. Being the sort that plans ahead I had made us hotel reservations in Tai’an (since we didn’t have train tickets in advance and James had to work that morning, I figured we might be arriving on the late side).

Tai’an is the city at the base of Mount Tai/ Tai Shan. The thing you mostly do there is see the Dai Miao (Temple to the God of Mount Tai) and start and end your trip to the top of the mountain.

Since the big thing to do is watch the sunrise at the top of Mount Tai a lot of people, probably most of those who got off the train with us, head straight up to the top, hiking overnight and perhaps renting a thick army type coat to bivouac in, watch the sunrise, then come back down the next day.

I like to take things a little slower, and, in truth, can’t keep up that type of pace even without jet lag, I don’t think I ever could have. Our plan was to spend the night in Tai’an, have all day Sunday to hike up Mount Tai, spend the night at the top in a hotel, see the sunrise, explore a bit then take the cable car and bus down and the fast train back to Weifang so we had time to wash and dry James uniform in time for him to wear it to work on Tuesday morning.

So it is about 6:00 pm on Saturday and we are at theTai Shan train station and need to get to our hotel. Being easily distracted I noticed this sign:

Can't help but wonder: Where do you buy real tickets?
Can’t help but wonder: Where do you buy real tickets?

According to my Lonely Planet guide there is a bus that should take us to the north entrance to Dai Miao, which is right next to our hotel. We walked to the various places where buses came and went near the train station but none of them were interested in telling us which buses stopped where and we never saw bus number 3.

James and I would not stand out in the US or Europe, we are both pretty medium: medium fair (hair is light brown\ash blonde, green eyes) and are mid-range heights (he is just about 6 foot and I am 5′ 6″) and medium build, but in China we stand out. This means that folks notice and approach us. Sometimes they just want to say “hello”, or make their children do so. Some people have wanted us to be in pictures with them. Even though I am an introvert, most of this is fine, and often kind of fun, since I like kids and it gives me a chance to practice my few words of Chinese. The attention that makes me nervous is when we are approached by people who want to drive us somewhere.

Buses go where they go and everyone on the bus is going to the same place. That gives me confidence when I am unfamiliar with a destination. Next, in my book, is the official taxi stand taxi, when I have clearly written in Chinese my intended destination I feel fairly confident, anywhere except Beijing, taking a taxi. Far, far below that is the driver who accosts me while I am trying to get my bearings (in a new city, I like to haul out a compass and map and figure out which way is North and the general lay of the land and the direction I want to go in).

Since we couldn’t find the bus, we were discussing whether to walk or find the official taxi stand, and getting our bearings. We were a bit tired since James had had to be up at 6 to get to work on time and I went along with him, so we were leaning toward taxi.

This is where I wish I was more savvy. We saw an official taxi and were headed toward it when accosted by a driver guy. As we got closer we saw that the taxi had a flat tire. I wonder, and there is part of me that hates being this cynical, whether that taxi was (and may still be) there as a decoy to attract folks who missed the official taxi line to provide easy targets for these drivers. Alone I would have pleaded ignorance and incomprehension, then gone back to the train station entrance. James spoke enough Chinese to cut a deal just slightly more than cab fair should have been to take us to our hotel.

The hotel, called Yu Zuo, was a decent place, beds a bit harder than Weifang, which in turn were a bit harder than at the airport hotel in Beijing. They were softer than the hard sleeper. The hotel was well done architecturally as a match for the Dai Miao next to it.

By the time we arrived, checked in and washed up a bit it was dark. We wandered out to see what we could see

…and find something to eat, which we found in a small noodle shop about a block from the hotel. This guy was amazing, he made noodles by hand from a blob of dough, thin, uniform spaghetti type noodles, no machine. The soup, noodles with beef and tomato, was absolutely delicious.

We went back “home” to our hotel to sleep.

Yu Zuo Hotel entrance.
Yu Zuo Hotel entrance.

Just one more quest: try to get tickets to return to Weifang on a fast train so we wouldn’t have to stay up all night blow drying James uniform. After wrestling with the CTrip website for over an hour (James went out like a light) I fell asleep after receiving an email that all was well with that.

This was my 3rd day in China. I just needed a little sleep.

To be continued…

Sleeping Dragon Slowly Opens One Eye Part 3