Humen China: Flickering devotions on once-seized land

Humen China Temple Candles
Humen China Temple Candles

Candles at Humen China’s Yuxu Ancient Temple, part of the Lin Zexu Memorial Park, in Humen, Guangdong Province, China. Yuxu is the place in Chinese mythology, where the immortals live. Authorities are unsure when the temple was built.  A stone marker in the temple explains it was repaired in 1800.

Humen was the town where Lin Zexu seized and destroyed opium imported by British traders, and the first town attacked in Britain’s subsequent retaliation: The Opium War.

Humen China: Opium Sky

Opium Sky
Opium Sky

The sky in the opium ponds in Humen, China

The January sky, reflected in one of the ponds in Humen China where Lin Zexu, a Chinese official, destroyed more than 2 million pounds of opium in 1839. British traders sold the drug to Chinese citizens. After the confiscation, the traders convinced the British government to authorize a war of retribution against China.

Guangzhou China: Artisan

Carving jewelery outside of Chen Jia Si, Guangzhou, China.
Carving jewelery outside of Chen Jia Si, Guangzhou, China.

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In Guangzhou China, the artist carves jewelery out of animal bone: Pendants for necklaces, charms for bracelets and anklets.  He offered me a discount on a necklace bearing the carved likeness of an Olympic mascot. I have seen enough of the Beijing Olympic Fuwa(s), thank you very much.

I settled on a break-apart medallion, reminiscent of an ancient Chinese royal seal. One half shows a carved dragon, the symbol of the emperor, the other a phoenix, the symbol of the empress.

Thailand: Boy monks

Boy monks in Thailand

You could call this “Caught in the Act.”  I was roaming through Chiang Mai, Thailand, on a cloudy morning when the boy monks at one of the city’s numerous wats were called to prayer.  As I started snapping through the carved archway this lad turned around.

I seem to have an affinity for urban monks. Maybe it’s how out of place, yet not out of place,  they seem.

Nathan Road Hustle and Bustle

Nathan Road is a busy place at noon. Actually, Nathan Road is a busy place 24 hours a day. Tourists, business people, Indians hawking copy watches and suits, rather swarthy middle-eastern types offering hashish on the sly – this is Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR.

Hong Kong Mongkok mornings

Argyle Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China - One of the most densely populated areas of the world.
Argyle Street, Mongkok, Hong Kong, China – One of the most densely populated areas of the world.

The streets of Hong Kong Mongkok are a little slow as the sun rises on the east, from the east. Mongkok, the area of Kowloon known for retail deals and entertainment, rise as late as it stays up. The backpackers, huddled in cheap guest houses, get a late start on the day, the karaoke bars and lounges the main culprits. Street cleaners banish the mess left by the merrymakers while newsstands and hole-in-the-wall restaurants wait for the rush that will come as the district wakes.

Mongkok is listed by the Guiness Book of World Records as having the highest population density in the world: An estimated 130,000 people per square kilometer. A walk down Argyle Street or Nathan Road on a balmy summer evening is testament to the record. The streets are a seething sea of bodies, returning home, shopping, or out for a stroll. It’s an experience, one many people, even big city veterans, don’t try twice.

The Mongkok area is home to numerous markets, slaking the commerical thirst of travelers and tourists. The Temple Street Night Market, the Goldfish Market, the Flower Market, and Fa Yuen Street (translated: Sport Shoes Street) all do brisk trade – when they eventually open.

 

Guangzhou China: Bridge over once troubled waters

The bridge in front of the historic Guangdong Revolutionary History Museum.
The bridge in front of the Guangdong Revolutionary History Museum.

Guangzhou China, formerly known as Canton, the capital of Guangdong province, China, was once a hotbed of revolution.  Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, considered the father of modern China, led an uprising in 1911 that became the beginning of the end of the Qing Dynasty.

The Chinese Communist Party captured Guangzhou briefly from the KMT Government (Kuomingtang) during a 1927 revolt. This uprising resulted in the slaughter of 5,000 Communist soldiers and peasants at the hands of the KMT and the disappearance of an estimated 5000 more.

The above bridge sit in front of the Guangdong Revolutionary History Museum, in Guangzhou. This building witnessed the 1911 revolutionaries claim independence, and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen sworn in as the first president of China in 1921. It is part of Martyrs Park, the burial ground of the 5000 killed in the 1927 revolt.

Given the bloodshed it is a peaceful place, massive trees covering the bridge and water.

Guangzhou China at dawn

Guangzhou, China, at dawn

Guangzhou China, Guangdong Province: One of the largest cities in China, and home to kings, rebellion, and martyrs. The city traces its beginnings to 214 BCE, and has been constantly inhabited.

The Pearl River, (Zhu Jiang, 珠江), the runs through Guangzhou, and has brought explorers, traders, and pirates. After the first opium war, Guangzhou was made a treaty port, allowing French and British traders to set up shop.


Hong Kong: Resting places

The Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Chai Wan, Hong Hong

Below Pottinger Peak, with misty Mount Parker in the distance, is The Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, on Hong Kong Island. Cape Collision Road, near Chai Wan, is home to seven cemeteries: Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, Sihks, fallen soldiers, and those not buried on consecrated ground, rest within walking distance of each other. Cape Collision Road is also home to two correction institutions.

Heng Fa Chuen, next to Chai Wan on Hong Kong Island’s northeast shore is home to Lei Yun Mun Fort and the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence. It was this fort that valiantly tried to stop the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong Island in December 1941. The fort fell on December 19. Many of its defenders are buried at the nearby Sai Wan War Cemetery.