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My Top 12 China Photos

December 9th, 2010
Double I heart Shanghai

So I’ve been directing people to some of the photos I posted to this blog back in 2005, most taken while I lived in China. I actually put the best of my China photos in a set on Flickr, after I started to embrace Flickr as a repository of photos online. Flickr was an early advocate of tags and I’ve noticed search engines seem to be particularly interested in my tag pages created by WordPress. Yoast advises not emphasizing them. So since my Flickr account is less popular than Kris Krug’s and I haven’t done a Top 10 list, here you go, ten of the best photos I took while in China which I updated in December 2015 and May 2024 as part of my great blog taxonomy optimization efforts.

Originally I just dug up the little thumbnails I put online in 2005 and 2006 but in 2015 I needed to go full social media integration in order to achieve search engine supremacy. In 2024 I chose to replace all the photos with the new better Flickr include. The blogosphere can thank me later.

This photo of haystacks was pure happenstance. I was in Anhui China, literally in the middle of nowhere and we stopped to see some family shrine or ancestral home. I’d have to consult my journal. Regardless these were just off in the distance when I snapped this photo.

Hay Stacks My Best I Heart Shanghai Photo

While I was in China I did eat one frog but a picture of the frog I ate isn’t that photogenic so I’ll go with this picture I took of Shanghai’s skyline in 2015 which I entered into some official Flickr photo competition.

While in Beijing I lived in Wu Dao Kou. It is the university district. A lot of foreign students live there as well as some foreign scientists and business people. It has a large Korean population and was thus nicknamed Korea Town. It is also known as the Centre of the Universe. There are a few bars there, but more restaurants and cafes. It isn’t a big night time destination. Students with money to burn and many Chinese students don’t have ready spending money, probably go to some other district, though there is some KTV places over by Peiking University I seem to recall. Anyway there were gig posters including Korean hip-hop shows which I never got around to attending, but I did go to one female fronted band night at the metal bar. None of the bands were metal, this band was the most famous, and this picture is of their lead singer. I shot it in color but then converted it to BW to make it cooler.

In 2024 I apparently decided a different picture of the same singer I took that night was cooler. The bar this was at has long closed. While editing old blog posts in 2024 I discovered just how much has changed in Beijing, Shanghai and on the Chinese Internet in the years since I lived there.

Female Chinese Rocker Chick Trippy tourist tunnel in Shanghai

I used my CoolPix 2500 and a slow exposure and a very still hand to take some trippy pictures while on the tourist train in Shanghai. This is perhaps the best of them.

One of the highlights of my trip to China and probably the most picturesque spot we went to in Shanghai, was a Chinese garden called Yu Yuan. Some people who saw these photos thought they were of Dr. Sun Yat Sen garden in Vancouver.

I actually ended up living in Shanghai for four years and never actually paid to go back inside Yu Yuan but I did take people to that district in my unofficial duties as a tour guide. Alas I had to delete on of the Yu Yuan photos to make room for other photogenic places I eventually travelled to in China.

But I didn’t delete all the photos of Yu Yuan. This one reminded me of a Bruce Lee quotation:

Concentrate on the finger and you’ll miss all the heavenly glory.

Chinese garden reflection Emlyn and the big drum

In China they have big drums. They also have big bells.

Emlyn probably still loves this photo so I have to include it for him. A lot of my other MBA classmates liked the next photo. I recall them using it in their blogs posts when we were exchange students together at Tsinghua. The metadata confirms it was taken by me with my Nikon Coolpix 2500. Most of these photos were taken with that camera.

I took the next photo during our trip to Xi’an. It is most likely the Bell Tower as you can see above we visited the Drum Tower during the day. I used a slow exposure at night to get the glowing effect. I took some slow exposure and thus trippy photos with my Panasonic DMC-GM1 while I lived in Shanghai. The best of which are on Flickr but I’ll include one and just change the title of this blog post.

Bell Tower in Xi'an Slow Exposure New Territories

The next photo is one of the most famous I ever posted to the Internet, it eventually became quite popular on Pinterest as well. It is taken inside the Forbidden City and is known as the Nine Dragon Wall. It is very tough to photograph as it is very long and the Forbidden City is almost always crammed with tourists. The best time to go is first thing in the morning, now they even limit how many people can visit the Forbidden City in a single day. Being me I took the photo from both ends, rather than directly from the front.

Nine Dragon Wall

A couple of times I missed out or turned down offers to go see the Great Wall at Badaling which is just outside of Beijing. However even I’m not stupid enough to live in China without getting off my ass and going to see the country’s most famous landmark. I took a tourist bus by myself, the bus was mostly full, but I didn’t know anyone. I don’t think I was the only white person on the bus, but I didn’t follow the crowd. Everyone mostly went right so I went left. Robert Frost and I think similarly apparently.

I walked as fast as I could along the Great Wall for about 45 minutes to get ahead of every other person. Then I took a lot of my photos on my leisurely walk back.

Great Wall through Guard Tower window

And because it is “the end of a new year and the beginning of a new era” to quote the MC5 here is one more of my best photos from living, working, studying and traveling in China. It was taken in the Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou.

Moon Door

Feel free to leave a comment telling me everything I’ve done wrong or which photo is your favourite. I eventually lived in China for several more years, so I’ve taken a fair few photos, the best of which are still on Flickr.

Fourteen years later while sharing a link on Twitter I found it odd I never included a picture of Yangshuo. This is a problem I can solve with WordPress and Flickr.

The Sun, The Sky, and the River

I also never included a photo of Hangzhou, but in fairness I think I only went there once and it wasn’t during the G7 summit so the sky was not blue. There are of course pictures of Hangzhou that made my Top 100 pictures of China on Flickr, but I guess I just prefer Suzhou and Yangshuo. If you have strong opinions on photography or China you can leave a comment below.


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