Tuesday, November 26, 2013

China's innovative architecture

The Bird's Nest now seems tame.
The Chinese are becoming known for their innovative architecture. Of 15 buildings around the world singled out for their curvy architecture in a recent CNN article, three were from China. China was the only country to place three buildings on the list.

For many years now, I've thought that Shanghai had innovative architecture, but not one building from China's largest city made the list. The buildings that did were in Beijing, Changsha and Dalian.

In Beijing, Wangjing SOHO office resemble is said to resemble two traditional Chinese fans that are said to represent health, wealth, luck and happiness. Even the parking garage is curvy, as show by the architect's rendering. The building will be completed in 2014.

Just looking at the pedestrian bridge in Changsha can make a person dizzy, but I think it would be cool to walk across it. The bridge across the Meixi Lake (I think it resembles a canal more than a lake) is like a Mobius strip, i.e., never ending with its end connecting to the beginning. Construction on the bridge is expected to start next year.

I'm not sure how to describe the new library in Dalian, other than it's pretty curvaceous with what appears to be a book sitting on top. It sort of reminds me of a very upscale hospital bedpan.

Are you going to China?

If you're planning a trip to the Middle Kingdom, be sure to check out Cheryl's China for recommendations on what to see and how to get around the country. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about traveling in China.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

U.S. ambassador to China leaving

Bad hair day at the Forbidden City
In what is sure to be a loss for both the U.S. and Chinese governments, the word is out that Gary Locke is stepping down as U.S. ambassador to the Middle Kingdom.

Locke, who has been ambassador since 2011, reportedly plans to rejoin his family in Washington State where he served two terms as governor. He also put in a stint as secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Locke is a first-generation American who has close family ties to South China where his father and grandfather were born. His Chinese name is Luo Jia Wei. Because of this heritage he has been immensely popular with the Chinese.

His popularity with the Chinese goes back at least a couple of decades. I remember in 1997, when I was living and working in Beijing, I traveled to South China.

One of my stops was Chengdu in Sichuan Province. When I went to tour the provincial museum, a banner hung across the entrance welcoming then-Gov. Locke to the museum. (He'd come and gone by the time I got there.) The museum was closed because of electrical problems, but when staff found out I also was from Washington State, they immediately allowed me to enter and look over the first floor, which was an exhibit of centuries-old Han sculptures. Unfortunately, there was insufficient light to see the exhibit very well.

From Chengdu, I eventually made my way to Guiyang in Guizhou Province. One morning I decided to visit the zoo to see the pandas. I met a retired man who was on his way to play badminton with his buddies, but opted to show me around the zoo when he found out I worked for China Daily. He grew even more excited when he learned I was from Washington and wanted to know if I knew Gov. Locke. Only by name, I told him.

Are you going to China?

If you're planning a trip to China, please check out Cheryl's China, which has tips and recommendations to help plan a  better trip. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about travel in China.