Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tianjin - Part Two

Our Beijing friend Jin Yi who is from Tianjin joined us for a day of sightseeing.

Our first stop was the Tianjin Museum which was well worth a visit. The section on the history of the city of Tianjin was extensive, informative, and with good English signage. Other exhibits like the Gems of the Silk Road (below) lacked English signage.
Tianjin, China

The docents giving free tours were enthusiastic.
Tianjin, China

After the museum we headed to the Five Roads area. Being the May 1st holidays there were lots of tourists.
Tianjin, China

We were kinda worn out and stopped at the newly refurbished Minyuan Stadium for some cold drinks...
Tianjin, China

...and some fun with a hologram exhibit in their small museum.
Tianjin, China

Lots of folks had been enjoying a free concert inside the stadium.
Tianjin, China

During the Colonial Era there were many Modernist villas built in the Five Roads area.
Tianjin, China

We stopped in a mall food court for dinner. The sushi restaurant was hopping.
Tianjin, China

Check out these super-sized one liter Mingle Sweet cold drinks.
Tianjin, China

On the way back to our hotel we walked along the river via Tianjin Railway Station to check out the lights.
Tianjin, China

Tianjin, China

Tianjin, China

Before catching our 1PM train to Shanghai we headed over to visit the house, a rather luxurious Spanish-style villa, where Pu Yi, the Last Emperor of China, lived from 1927 to 1931.
Tianjin, China

Mobile bicycle repair shop on the corner near our hotel.
Corner Bicycle Repair - Tianjin, China

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tianjin - Part One

Tianjin is the fourth largest city in China population wise (about 15 million people) and has been on our "must visit" list for 5 years or so. It's about 130 kms south of Beijing thus a good place to stop for a few days on our way back to Shanghai. As our visit coincided with the 3 day May 1st holiday weekend, we booked our train tickets and hotel in advance. The trains were excellent but the Ibis Tianjin Railway Station Hotel failed deliver room air conditioning (cooling) as advertised on its website. That turned out to be only slightly uncomfortable as the daily highs were in the low 80's F (high 20's C). However, it's discouraging when an international hotel chain that could turn its AC on during a busy holiday weekend when prices are doubled and all hotels are full, does not.

Tainjin is a beautiful city with a lively waterfront that stretches for miles, a fine collection of historic buildings from the Colonial Era, and a good transportation system. Definitely a place worth visiting.

In addition Sun-Ling's Aunt (one of her father's older sisters) lives almost exactly midway between Beijing and Tainjin so we stopped in for a short visit on the way. Here's Sun-Ling sharing family photos via her Nexus 7 tablet.
Tianjin, China

We rolled into Tianjin Station at dusk and walked along the Haihe River to our hotel. The futuristic train station clock tower is at the right in this photo.
Tianjin, China

The area around the hotel is a favorite for construction workers to eat and we had a late dinner at a noodle place.
Tianjin, China

Tianjin, China

Although we had no AC cooling in our room, we did have a great view towards city center and the firehouse below. Again the futuristic clock of Tianjin Station is visible.
Tianjin, China

Our room.
Tianjin, China

Our first afternoon, while in search of a cup of iced coffee we stumble into a high-end mall where folks were queueing a free gift. How about all those smartphones?
The Queue - Tianjin, China

Tianjin has more than few beautiful Art Deco buildings like Kiessling Cafe circa 1940.
Kiessling's (起士林) - Tianjin, China

This Synagogue.
Tianjin, China

This apartment building.
Tianjin, China

And the Bo Hai building.
Tianjin, China

Walking along the Haihe River was pleasant and fun. Folks were fishing.
Tianjin, China

Tianjin, China

Working out.
Tianjin, China

And taking boat cruises.
Tianjin, China

Not to mention the bridges.
Tianjin, China

Tianjin, China

Tianjin, China

There are a few reminders of Tianjin's Old City; that is, the Drum Tower and surrounding markets.
Tianjin, China

The markets are busy but old and dusty like these mannequins.
Tianjin, China

We did spot this Church with 20th Century Modern architectural elements.
Tianjin, China

Tianjin has several historic churches of note. The beautiful Wanghailou (Our Lady of Victory) Catholic Church.
Tianjin, China

And the striking green-domed St Joseph's Cathedral, located at the western end of the Binjiang Avenue shopping street.
Tianjin, China

Tianjin, China

To be continued....

Monday, May 25, 2015

Beijing - Clear Skies UPDATE

More than several people have commented that judging from our photos the skies in Beijing were unusually clear when we were there a few weeks ago. Yes we say, it's much more clear than when we were there in 1991. Really? is the usual response. Everyone rode bicycles back then but the pollution was worse?

You be the judge. Compare these two images I shot from Jingshan Park towards the Forbidden City. One from May 1991 (top) and one from April 2015 (bottom).

View of Forbidden City form from Jingshan  Park - May 1991 - Beijing, China

Beijing, China


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Beijing - Part Two

We found Beijing transportation to be much improved. Here's a portion of the 2nd Ring Road with bus stops on both sides. Also, Metro Line 2 circles around underneath the 2nd Ring Road. Lots of options.
2nd Ring Road - Beijing, China

Metro Line 2 quickly became a favorite.
Beijing, China

Not to mention the bike lanes. ;-)
Beijing, China

We met up twice with our friend Jin Yi to visit the trendy revitalized warehouses of the 798 Art Zone, and then the Capital Museum.
This space was once a factory. Check out the Maoist slogans on the ceiling.
Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Capital Museum.
Beijing, China

Lunch at Jin Yi's fav baozi (steamed bun) restaurant.
Beijing, China

As our hotel was in the old hutongs (alleys) we were able to enjoy some local color like this state-of-the-art dog proof tire protection system.
Beijing, China

And touring tourists.
Beijing, China

Beijing, China

And become regulars at Hangzhou Stuffed Bun House, the corner restaurant.
Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Many Beijing BBQ joints sport distinctive neon signs in the shape of meat on a skewer. This one is just down the street from Hangzhou House.
Beijing, China

The 2008 Olympic Park was impressive even though Olympics are long over. National Stadium (Bird's Nest).
Beijing, China

The Water Cube from 2008 will host ice skating if Beijing snags the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Beijing, China

These older guys are using part of the Olympic Park to keep fit.
Beijing, China

The circa 2008 National Theatre is adjacent to Tiananmen Square.
National Theater - Beijing, China

Two views of Tiananmen. Towards Chairman Mao and the Forbidden City, and towards Sun Yat Sen with the Monument to the People's Heroes and Mausoleum of Mao Zedong behind.
Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Last but not least, Beibingyang Soda, a local lemony favorite.
Beijing, China