March 30, 2012

Hong Kong Airport Reflection

Whenever we travel between Manila and Guangdong, we invariable transit through the Hong Kong Airport. It's one of my preferred airports, as I've reported here before. Efficient and aesthetically pleasing; what more can you ask for?

Here you have a good view of the Regal Airport Hotel through the airport window, conveniently located for people with layovers too short to go into town or awkward transit times.

Hong Kong, 2012

Nicely reflected for Weekend Reflections.

March 27, 2012

Graveyard in the Styrian Alps

I'm taking a brief break from my Guangdong series of posts to bring you to Austria for Taphophile Tragics.

It's a mid-winter day in 2006. Somewhere en route to Mariazell from Vienna, high up amid the north Styrian Alps, with the sun already lost beyond the horizon, we were passing through a small charming village when we saw the church.

Austria, 2006

See church; have graveyard. We stopped for a quick look. Another photo opp on the run. So with the blistering cold, diminishing light, and an early model of a digital camera, my photos for you are less than stellar. Still I thought the scene was intriguing and the wrought iron crosses magnificent.

March 26, 2012

Face Cream Ad Mural

Just a couple of months ago on one of our walks around Kaiping, on an otherwise unremarkable back street that would not see much traffic, I spotted this advertising painted on a brick wall. Both the ad mural and the jar of face cream sure have a pleasing vintage feel to it.

Yet I'm not very tempted to go look for this face cream touted as ...(f)ace cream dressing table companion....

The three large Chinese characters translate to snowflake cream, a term my honey figures someone came up with in the 20s or 30s to mean lotion.

Kaiping, 2012
A longer view of the street:

This post is linked to Monday Mural.

March 25, 2012

Kaiping Bridge

For Sunday Bridges I want to give you a better view of the bridge in yesterday's reflection shot.

Kaiping, 2012

Unfortunately, other than its name, I know nothing about Kaiping Bridge except that it spans the Tanjiang River, which you can see here is rather wide.

Oh, I also know that at night the bridge puts on an amazing light show. When we walked past it last night, I could swear they've added even more lights than when I posted it earlier.

I took these three photographs yesterday. It's hard to tell when the sky is still foggy, but it was a balmy, sunny spring day. 

Again, what is interesting about these boats is that they are made of molded concrete.

March 23, 2012

Tanjiang River Houseboats Reflected

These are houseboats anchored on Tanjiang River as it runs through Kaiping. What makes these houseboats different is that they are made of concrete, not wood or steel.

I am back in Kaiping now; however the photo was taken just before Chinese New Year when auspicious red couplets were posted on entryways to homes everywhere (more on that topic a few days ago).

Kaiping, 2012

I'm linking with reflection seekers at Weekend Reflections.

The bridge behind them is the same one I showed at night all lit up here.

March 20, 2012

Another Wuchuan Grave

For Taphophile Tragics today I am showing you another grave located in Wuchuan in southern Guangdong. 

We were walking right in the center of the old part of town along a roadway too narrow for motor vehicles larger than small motorbikes when we stumbled upon this:

 Wuchuan, 2012

Looking slightly more to the left here you can see parts of more recently built six-story apartments (tallest buildings erected without elevators):

Reading the grave marker, again red characters on black stone, we learned that this too was a rebuilt grave. Here's a rough translation of what it says:

Pong Xi County Tung Grave
built in 2007 by grandchildren of grandmother Yee Ran
who was Wife #1 of Tung Pei Gong, 12th generation Tung

There is, unfortunately, no indication of time or place of his first wife's birth or death. The last line on the grave, of course, is a clear sign that Mr Tung had concubines, and that would then reveal that she lived pre-1949, as Mao Zedong tried to eradicate this feudal custom. 

We continued down the street to the right of the grave and within minutes came out to this spot that shows quite well the mix of old, new, urban and rural, all in close proximity.

March 19, 2012

Lucky Entrance

I've shown before on this blog that in the southern Guangdong town of Kaiping you can still find old time Chinese charm and culture, even if you have to hunt for it, like for a treasure in a flea market. And you're more likely to stumble across charm, even if it's faded charm, in the older villages that are simply surrounded by modern urban sprawl (as you can see in my previous post).

It is in one such village that I found these pretty hand-painted ceramic tiles of plants and nature scenes (better viewed enlarged).

 Kaiping, 2012

Since the painting is not done directly on the wall, I hope I'm not stretching the definition of mural too much by offering these tiles to the community at Monday Murals. (Do click the link and go check out other amazing wall paintings from around the globe.)

If these tiles please you, you may also like others I've posted.

The paintings decorate the main entrance to an early 20th century gray-brick home quite typical in the region. The old wood door may be of interest to the folks at Monday Doorways. (If you like doors, head on over.)

Since we were in Kaiping over this past Lunar New Year (a multi-day celebration, much like Christmas in the West), the traditional chunlian - a couplet with an auspicious message for the new year - flanked the entrance. Reading first the right poster from top to bottom, the text on this couplet says:
Coming in and out safely with everything accomplished
Pursuing wealth without obstacles with profit arriving from all directions

Over the door, the large character (fook) means blessing or good fortune.

These new year posters are offered to seekers of signs at Signs, Signs. (You know the drill, right?)

You may also notice the fresh tangerine orange and lettuce hanging on the hook. Such bundles of fruit and/or vegetables too are customary for Cantonese speakers; the food may either have a symbolic meaning, or the spoken character for the food is close to an auspicious word. Here the character for tangerine (gut) is pronounced the same as the character for luck/propitious (gut), and lettuce (sanchoi) sounds like giving birth (in other words, bearing offspring).

Since I was behind The Great Firewall of China late January, I take this moment to wish you a comfortable ride on the tail of the dragon to good health and good fortune this Year of the Dragon!

March 13, 2012

The Rebuilt Cheuk Clan Grave in Wuchuan

In southern China, towns are growing fast and there is often no clear line between urban and rural. One day a few weeks ago, on one of our habitual weekend walks in and around Wuchuan, Guangdong province, my honey and I stumbled on this lone grave, just a few dozen meters from busy city streets.

Wuchuan, Guangdong, 2012

The shape of the grave is rather typical for this area of China, and it's also not at all unusual to see a single grave or a small cluster of graves out in the countryside or mixed in with farm plots, as opposed to a formal cemetery within certain boundaries. 

Below you see a closeup of the burial mound with the black stone marker with red characters of the family name at the back.

As we were photographing whatever we thought interesting, this friendly farmer approached us. He eagerly engaged in conversation with my honey (who is of Chinese origin) and part of what follows is what he told us about the grave.

This farmer is a descendant of the Cheuk Clan. The grave was built in 2010 to commemorate the ancestors of this clan from Wuchuan who died anytime from one to two hundred years ago - he wasn't so sure - up to a few generations ago. 

Inset into the red brick wall behind him (above) is a complete list of living clan members who contributed funds to the project of rebuilding their ancestors' grave to honor them.


The small grave behind the clan grave is for the servants of the clan who were considered part of the family yet were expected to serve beyond their lives on this earth.

Most important to the living descendants is to place their ancestors in an auspicious spot that will enhance their fortune and welfare in all aspects. The farmer specifically asked whether my honey thought the family had picked a good feng shui spot, to which he answered, "yes, the spot is good, facing a fine view; however, unfortunately, the open view is cut by power lines. That must not be very comfortable for them and could diminish the good effect somehow."

I hope to write more about southern Chinese burial culture and the role feng shui plays in future posts.

This post is my participation in today's Taphophile Tragics meme.