Category: China

My 7 Links – a retrospective of words and images

What is My 7 Links all about, anyway?

The goal of the project, as outlined by Tripbase, is:

To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

Thanks to photographer Kirsten Alana, I have been nominated to participate by sharing my own 7 links. My blog has been around since March, 2006, but my readership hasn’t. So I’m pleased to present to you now…

My 7 Links

Most Beautiful Post. Namibia – by Dune, Full Moon, and Hot Air Balloon

Most Popular Post. Landslides & Leeches: a Trekking Journal, Nepal
Transcribed from hand-written journal pages, this is my personal experience of a trek where the forces of nature took over and lives were lost. Additionally, this post is popular with Google and any search term involving leeches.

Most Controversial Post. Probably this one. Published in the Rough Guide to India!
None of my posts thus far have resulted in any sort of commentary debate or backlash. I’ve regretted the instances where I’ve participated in some controversial comment strings on other blogs. I really don’t feel good about insulting or offending anyone; when I have, it sits on my conscience like a thorn. Sometimes I’ve hit “send” in the heat of the moment, and have thrown words like daggers. I’m truly sorry to those who were ever at the receiving end of some of my sharper words.
That said, the choice for my most controversial post is purely subjective. It was an issue which wreaked havoc in my mind; so I felt I should try to make right of it in a blog post. Here are the facts:
a) I photographed someone, without their knowledge, in a very personal moment of practicing their faith.
b) 10 years later, I scanned and uploaded the image into an online portfolio at the now defunct Digital Railroad (DRR), ticking the licensing box making it available strictly for editorial use, which means, among other things, that I had no model release (permission).
c) Digital Railroad quite suddenly fell apart and left thousands of photographers high and dry without receiving commissions earned from images licensed through their website, or even knowing which images of theirs had been purchased or downloaded.
d) a former DRR employee and mentor/friend with a good heart helped me out by providing a list of what he knew of my DRR downloads and sales, finalized or not, paid for or not.
e) a record showed this particular image had been licensed, and the payment status was “pending”.
f) I contacted the publisher who eventually replied that they had already paid DRR for the image license, but failed to send me any record for proof. Because they were a big name and reputable, I took them on their word, thanked them, and asked if they would send me a tear sheet or copy of the book. They did neither.
g) So, when the Rough Guide to India was published, I rushed to the bookstore and thumbed through it. I quickly found my image occupying a full color page. My first sigh of relief came upon seeing that the image use was not in any way derogatory; in fact, I couldn’t have asked for more appropriate context for putting this image in a guidebook. I bought the book, brought it home and confirmed that I was properly credited for the image. Indeed I was, a second sigh of relief.
h) Because the image and context touched on the delicate subject of religion and faith, and the person in my image was expressing his own, I felt it only right for me to expose something of my own faith. I did just that in my post (don’t be fooled by the SEO-driven title): Published in the Rough Guide to India! The photo:

Most Helpful Post. Samantha Brown and Rick Steves – the Best in the Field
This post provides helpful insight for anyone in the business, or desiring to be in the business, of travel writing, publishing, and presenting (that includes you, my fellow travel bloggers!). It is especially helpful to anyone aspiring to host their own travel show someday. Apparently, I’m not alone in having that ambition.

A Post Whose Success Surprised Me. Stand Up Paddle Surf Safari…in China?

I penned this humorous little piece because I was fed up with the Hawaiians getting credit for anything and everything to do with surfing. The ocean spans the entire globe, you know, not just the Hawaiian islands! Many forms of surfing have taken place in many different parts of the world throughout history. I really didn’t think people would take this too seriously, but based on traffic and search terms, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find SUP board rentals set up along the banks of the Li River some day.

A Post I Feel Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved. Chile: Spirit Dreams

If you read only one link from this post, please make it this one. This was my debut blog post back in March, 2006. I didn’t know where to start, but I knew that every picture has a story, right? So I picked a random photo taken on my travels and then opened up my journal from that trip. Turns out I have some pretty cool travel stories tucked away in these journals, and it was time to bring them out. This is one of my favorites, which I think only my web-designer-mentor/friend has ever read.

The Post I am Most Proud of. Listening With the Lens – Filming a Documentary

It’s not so much the post itself, it’s finally being able see my work come to fruition (thanks to incredible editors) in my first foray into documentary film-making, so that I could share this inspiring story with others. For me, this was a profound experience, a chance to use my talent to give something back. It is a beautiful story of inspiration, which I am both proud and humbled to share with you.

Thank you for visiting, and if you were even moved to follow some of the links, I am especially grateful. Please comment so I know you’ve visited!

Now here’s the tricky part – nominating 5 more bloggers. My first choices had been previously nominated, so I had to reach beyond the obvious….in fact, why not reach for the stars!

Here are my 5 nominations for the next participants in the My 7 Links project. They are all great sources of inspiration, and whether or not they have or take the time to participate, they are definitely worth your time to check out:

Robert Reid
Andrew Evans
Pauline Frommer

Art Wolfe
Gavin Gough

Enjoy the journey!

Back to School (around the world!)

It’s Back to School time!

Which means I finally have some time to share a few back to school photos and stories. So in sticking with the theme, here are some of my favorite images of kids and schools I’ve had the pleasure to meet and visit during my travels.

Let’s start in NEPAL:

When I think of the stories parents tell kids, of how they used to walk miles to school, in the snow and rain, uphill, BOTH ways(!), I can’t help but reflect upon these children heading off to school near Ghandruk in Nepal. I was on the descent of my 6th day of trekking in the Himalayas, having survived 86 hours of monsoon rains and traversed mudslides in action, when taking an early morning start I met these lovely children walking to school – uphill, up a very steep mountain actually, in their tidy uniforms with not a single complaint.

And speaking of high elevations, the Andean town of Cusco, PERU forms a quaint backdrop for these girls walking home from school arm in arm.

As for the classrooms I’ve visited, what fun it is to find them outdoors as weather permits!

From this very crowded kindergarten class in the Hutongs of Beijing, CHINA….

to not just a class, but the entire school’s student body enjoying lessons outside in the remote Osa Peninsula of COSTA RICA….

And speaking of remote, in BRAZIL‘s Pantanal region, where it is far too hot to have class outside, I visited this classroom (with the entire student body of 6).

Back in CHINA, there are small classes to be found, like this one at the Children’s Palace in Shanghai, a school devoted to Chinese traditional and cultural arts.

Regardless of class size, country, or culture, children everywhere appreciate school and learning, and it shows!

Peruvian school girls in uniform

Brazilian school girls proudly showing off their English notebooks

Chinese first graders on a field trip in Kunming

While I believe there is no greater education than travel, circumstances don’t permit such a life experience for most kids. There are many children around the world for whom a school and an education of any kind would be a treasured gift. That’s why, last year, I helped to build a school in Cambodia through a program called Passports with Purpose. This year, they will be raising money to build not just a school, but an entire village in Southern India. More details are forthcoming, and you will soon see the widget here on my blog so that you can donate and participate. Meanwhile, you can get the latest details on the Passports With Purpose facebook page.

Finally, if you are a parent like me, I hope you are sending your child(ren) back to school with a great big smile and thumbs up! Have a great school year!!

Be sure to visit Delicious Baby every Photo Friday for more fun blogs and travel photos!

Textiles for Textbooks (part I): Sericulture – Silk Farming and Manufacturing

The following series of images represent the process of sericulture and silk manufacturing in China.

Sericulture begins with the feeding of mulberry leaves to the caterpillars of domesticated Silkmoths (Bombyx mori).

When the silkworms are ready, after about 25 days, they are placed among twigs and begin producing silk in a continuous-filament fiber to form a cocoon.

Each cocoon contains about a thousand yards of silk filament!

The cocoons are sorted by hand on a conveyer, and then immersed in hot water to free the silk thread for reeling. The hot water immersion also kills the larvae, by the way. (Thus strict vegans should not wear silk!)

Single filaments are combined to form yarns and are wound on to reels.

The silk is dried and collected in bolts for various forms of manufacturing.

Various plants and substances are sources for natural dyes used to color silk.

Silk Embroidery is a traditional art in China, and requires excellent eyesight!

The same may be said for Silk Carpet weaving, as demonstrated in this video:

For more images, please visit the Silk Gallery at Mira Terra Images. Additional video clips are available for licensing, please contact me if interested.

This is the first part of a series of photo essays presenting textiles from around the world. Textiles for Textbooks (part II) will take a look at Llamas, Wool, and Weavers in the Andes. Stay tuned!

Stand Up Paddle Surf Safari in…China?

For those unfamiliar with the term SUP, Stand Up Paddling is an evolved form of surfing (and a growing trend in the waters of southern California), where one stands up on a thicker wider version of a surfboard with a paddle to ride the waves (or simply to hang out and get in the way of surfers, who refer to them as “sweepers”).
Stand Up Paddling is really a renewal of an ancient form of water transportation, which is most commonly credited to the Polynesians (who get credit for just about everything surf-related by those who surf), or less commonly to the indigenous peoples of Lake Titicaca in Peru/Bolivia (for those who travel beyond white sandy beaches and the tip of their surfboards). Obviously, in Polynesia they took to the ocean, and in Bolivia/Peru they took to a lake. But what about ancient river civilizations? Would you ever imagine a form of stand up paddling in…Asia?
Now, I’m not one to argue the age of civilizations, but last I heard, the “ancient secret” is Chinese, not Polynesian or Bolivian. Perhaps the ancient Chinese secret is not just a laundry detergent; perhaps there are many ancient Chinese secrets yet to surface…
Guilin, China, boasts an amazing landscape of limestone formations, which – get ready for the anthropological, geological, and historical link – once formed the terrain of the ocean floor. Now a landlocked pocket in southern China due to a series of plate tectonic events, there was a time when Guilin rested at the bottom of the sea. It’s one of those facts that just puts me in awe of our planet, and to visit Guilin today, I really feel as if I am exploring the ocean floor.
The Li River flows through Guilin, and a scenic cruise on the Li River is the biggest draw in the province. Most people come for the scenery, but for me, I felt like I was a special envoy from southern California on assignment to search for the roots of Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and I was about to break the code that would turn the surfing world upside down.
Since I’m not an anthropologist, but a photographer, I really do better arguing my point with photos rather than words. So following I present my “photo thesis” as documented evidence that stand up paddling began, and continues to this day, in Guilin, China.
“In 314 BC, a small settlement was established along the banks of the Li River.” (source: Wiki)
“In 313.99 BC, the first stand up paddle board was crafted from bamboo by some dude who took to the water with a broom in hand.”(source: Kymri)

Exhibit A – The early morning line up:

Exhibit B – The sunset line up:

Exhibit C – Catching a right:

Exhibit D – The “Green Room”:

Exhibit E – “Roxy Girl” female paddle boarder:

Exhibit F – Tandem surfing (or, trandem sit-down paddle boarding?):

Exhibit G – The local marine mammal sightings:

Exhibit H – The local “paddle-thru” fast food joint:

Exhibit I – The catch of the day:

Exhibit J – Dude, got a cerveza for a bro?

Oh, and just one more historical reference:
In 2006 AD, a Hawaiian named Gary Young started shaping bamboo surf and stand up paddle boards. Considered a “pioneer” of shaping bamboo boards, clearly, he wasn’t the first. I don’t know Gary, but I do like what he’s doing and hope to someday get a board from him. And if it has a “Made in China” stamp on it, all the better.

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