* Random images of ... the Terracotta Warriors April 08 2015
I knew this was going to be a high-point of my travels. Nevertheless, I was stunned by the scale of the Terracotta Army. Discovered in 1974 (I'll never forget seeing those early images on our TV at home), I'd long wanted to see the real deal. Situated near Xi`an, & only part-excavated, the reality of the exhibit was something else. Some 600 pits have been discovered, in an area of about 22 square miles. 3 Pits only have been opened for Tourism. My only sadness is that I was shooting hand-held, without a Tripod, in jpeg at that stage, & I was part of a Trekking group which had it's inevitable time constraints. I'd love to shoot this properly, in RAW.
It was, for a long time, thought that the extent of the replica army was purely army-based. Recently, it's been discovered that the Terracotta exhibit forms an apparently fully-fledged record of the Court at the time of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi's rule.
For those interested in far more detailed examinations of the life of the 1st Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, follow the Hyperlinks below to articles by the Smithsonian Institute & National Geographic.
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* Random images of ... Ganden Monastery April 01 2015
Ganden Monastery lies about 50kms outside Lhasa, in Tibet. Founded in 1409, it was heavily bombed by the Red Guards in the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, following China's Cultural Revolution. With a stunning view over the surrounding valley, it's a terrific place for a day-trip from Lhasa, whilst you acclimatise to the altitude. Tibet at-large is worlds-apart from Western society (which is why you'd see it ..), & a walk-thru the Chapels takes the comparison to another place entirely. Visitors have often just arrived the previous evening in Lhasa, off the Train across the Tibetan Plateau (another mind-widening experience !).
Ganden is a big Monastery, with numerous Chapels, in various stages of rebuild. There are about 200 monks working there now, after having about 2,000 at the time of the 1959 Uprising. The displays within the Chapels are spectacular, demonstrating the reverence the Tibetans have for their Buddhist faith. The rooms within the Chapels are packed with artifacts, as well as the beautiful banked displays of Yak-Butter Candles, fluttering away. The smell is of incense & an earthy mix of burning Yak Butter, wax & dust, which under-emphasises the impressive nature of what you're seeing, as well as the obvious wealth in the room. 1-Yuan notes are stuffed in every crevice as offerings, & White & Gold silk scarves are twisted around all the Goblets & Bells. The background hum of Tibetan Monks chanting may well have been taped (I don't recall seeing them performing here - that's impressive ..!). It's fair to make the point, here. The Monks are oppressed; struggling under the authoritarian rule of the Chinese superpower situated right-next-door. Everything in Tibetan life is a struggle; particularly the existence of the Monks & the Monasteries. Dissent is dealt with in the traditions of old-world China - harshly.
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* Random images of ... the Great Wall of China December 07 2014
I'd originally named this Blog `Randon images - the Great Wall', because there's only 1. The Great Wall section featured here is close by Beijing. Extensive reclamation work has been done, & it's a must-see. There are options for Tourists, including a multi-Day `Walk the Wall' trek, which accesses remote parts of the Wall, & which would likely be quite strenuous. For sure, you'd get to see how life is in the more remote areas of China, which would be an eye-opener, guaranteed. The country-side in China is really challenging, especially for Australians, used to flat landscapes. Once again, these images are re-processed jpegs, so don't expect hi-res ...