A quick picture from our night outing to downtown Lanzhou

29 09 2008

There’s more to write about and tell, but I thought you’d enjoy this picture from our Friday outing to downtown Lanzhou, before our Saturday a.m. departure..

Hot Stuff!

While walking the downtown streets of Lanzhou, China we came across a side street full of food vendors selling all kinds of Chinese delicacies. Many involved oil and the resultant show was very interesting:

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Wet, Rainy Lanzhou

25 09 2008

We had a day off yesterday (Thursday) while waiting for some parts.  We headed downtown and up to “White Pagoda Moutain”.  I think it probably hovered around 13C in the downtown and around 10C up on the mountain.  It was NOT tourism weather.

We made the best of it and had fun just getting to a different part of the city. 

I’ve added a LOT of pictures from the outing to my Lanzhou album on my Fotothing.  Check it out and enjoy the virtual visit.  Remember – the photos start from the beginning of my trip… go to the next page to see more recent shots! http://www.fotothing.com/albums.php?action=viewphotos&albumid=3111

Here’s the Zhongshan Bridge over the Yellow River with downtown Lanzhou in the background

Spending Time in China continued

21 09 2008

After a tortuous night, Monday morning gratefully arrived.  I had woken up at around 0300 and realized that I didn’t feel so great.  Cold sweats, nausea – It seems that something in that curry didn’t agree with me.  The four hours between 0300 and 0700 were punctuated by trying to keep my temperature regulated, trying to make sure I was close enough to the washroom and trying to sleep. In short, I had been to hell. Thankfully by 0800 I was ready to go, albeit a bit weak-legged.  I decided that I desperately needed some breakfast… some congee perhaps.

We went down for breakfast and there wasn’t much being offered.  We chose some beef noodles (Lanzhou is ALL over the beef noodle thing) and some steamed bread twists.  I only ate a bit.

Our colleague came to get us at 0900 and we took a taxi to the office. We got to the office and started unpacking various bits and got to our tasks.  Things looked like they were going to go pretty well.  Lunch was one of the first signs that it could be a long visit.  We had gone to a restaurant near the office and it was PACKED.  There were 3 large ( >10 ) tables and others.  They squeezed us in and my seat was milk crate – Oi Vey!  The smoke was so thick you could taste it in every breath.  I had forgotten that you could smoke anywhere, anytime in China.  They REALLY need to work on that.  We had a meal of fish (with chillis), Potato slices (with chillis), Chinese cabbage (with chillis) and I think something else (with chillis – do you see the trend?)  Way too much food ordered.  We took some back with the idea that we could reheat it at the office if hungry later.

Other than the fact that I basically smoked about a dozen cigarettes sitting in the restaurant, lunch was good (and SPICY).  The rest of the day went pretty unremarkably (wrong outlet for UPS etc, but nothing life shattering)

I took a few pictures on the way home and we went to the Chinese restaurant for dinner this time.  The food was more along the lines of what I am accustomed to in Vancouver. I mean… in the middle of China are you going to go looking for a good hamburger or some serious Chinese food?

That’s all for Monday… perhaps I’ll keep getting caught up as I go along.

Thanks for reading!

Spending time in China

21 09 2008

I’m in China again for work.  I arrived here back on Sunday.  The next few posts will be a bit of a journal.


I flew out on AC029 on Saturday.  I particularly chose that flight as Air Canada has put seat back Video on Demand and seat back power into some of their planes and AC029 was one of those planes.  The plane was about 50% full only so I ended up with an aisle seat next to an empty window seat.  Perfect.  I turned the little area into my own little space.  I had my laptop set up on the tray next to me, while being able to eat and view video on my own tray/seat.  The flight was about 11 hours to get to Beijing.  During that time I watched “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “88 minutes”.  Both movies were quite good.  The earphones I had brought for listening, unfortunately, had one not working.  It turned out alright as I let my head rest on the right side with the earbud in my left ear.  Sort of half listening/half sleeping.

I arrived in Beijing at the International arrivals.  They shuttle you to your luggage via a train.  Once there, I picked up my bags and cleared customs, happy that I had no visa grief.  My next challenge was to find my way to the domestic terminal and get checked into my flight with China East Airlines to Lanzhou.   The airport staff were very helpful and professional, directing me to my shuttle bus.  The bus ride over to the domestic terminal actually took about 10-15 minutes – I’m glad I wasn’t trying to connect to a tight flight connection!  I got to the check in desk for China Eastern and felt a bit comfortable as I recognized it from when we traveled from Beijing to HK a couple of years ago.  Finally, something recognizable.  First roadblock… English at the counter.  I wanted to know if my colleague had checked in yet.  I asked in English and was met with a blank stare and a bunch of Mandarin.  She did, however find a coworker who could help me and we determined that he checked in and that I could get a seat next to him – Good.  I walked down through security and was grilled a bit about my name (go figure) and then let pass. It was weird.  Upon making my way to the lounge, it was pretty obvious who my Australian colleague was…. the BIG white guy.  He stands 6’4” tall.  Hard to miss in a crowd of Asians.

The flight from Beijing to Lanzhou was VERY bumpy.  I think we had turbulence for about 90% of the trip.  This compounded the fact that China Eastern doesn’t exactly have much leg room – nothing like being strapped in and not able to stretch out.  We arrived a bit early (perhaps it was a tail wind that made it so bumpy?) at 1930 and our Lanzhou colleague was there to meet us.  We grabbed a cab and headed into the hotel on a ride that would take about an hour and take us through mountains, along deserted expressways and onto bumpy roads under construction that made you long for the turbulence of the plane.   

Upon arrival at the hotel, we got our rooms and settled the deposit.  They wanted a small fortune for a deposit.  Almost CAD1000 preauth on a credit card.  We settled into our rooms and went down to the Chinese restaurant for dinner.  No love.  It was closed already.  We headed down to the cafe and had a very tasty curried beef… We were tired… Off to bed.

The Poker Game

20 09 2008

A common sidewalk activity for the senior men is playing poker using a chinese domino deck of cards.  While it may be a bit intense, it certainly becomes a group affair pretty quickly with everyone pitching in ideas as to what the players should have done.

Here’s a game that I felt had some real characters playing

Lanzhou Market Photos

20 09 2008

My apologies to those of you with a slow link, but there’s not to much to write about day to day (I’ll probably come up with some sort of summary though)  I carry my camera around whenever I go walking with the hope that I’ll keep catching the day to day life in Lanzhou.

Chestnuts roasting at the market

An old lady selling apples along the road – she gratefully posed for me

Sidewalk poker game (you can see the curiosity of the two guys in the very back – wondering why two white guys would be photographing a card game)

Squash vendor picking a good one for his client

After seeing me shoot the squash vendor, this watermelon vendor was more than happy to pose with his wares

This tofu vendor was encouraged to smile by the other vendors around him.  He was shy at first but then opened up with a big bright smile

Farmer negotiating prices with a prospective client


My entire Lanzhou photo album can be seen at: http://www.fotothing.com/albums.php?action=viewphotos&albumid=3111


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Some more photos from Lanzhou

19 09 2008

Well, I managed to get out and shoot a few more scenes…

Seeds for sale at the market tonight

All the tea in China?

These trucks are near our office.  One of them isn’t likely to be travelling any time soon 🙂

A canal in Lanzhou.  It hasn’t seen water for a years. I’m guessing it’s because they’ve been drawing water from the yellow river for agriculture to the point where the water levels are too low to flow in the canals anymore 😦

Open air night eateries are common around the area.   I’m not quite brave enough to try the food, but it is interesting.  EVERYTHING is cooked over coal bricks, adding to the haze and smog of the city.. Yuck.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to wander the market during the day. Hopefully I’ll get better crowd action scenes (if someone doesn’t chase me out of there 😉 )

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Pop Quiz

19 09 2008

What country has 2 bills with the same number on them that have different values?




Give up?  China! 


I went to one of the local bakery stands tonight to buy some buns for tomorrow.  The four buns came to 4RMB, so I took out a 5 and  handed it to the girl.  She wouldn’t take it.  I pushed it forward again… still no action.  Then I turn to my colleague who is with me and he says,

“You are offering her 50 cents.”

Ouch!!! I turn red and apologize profusely while fumbling for my 5RMB note.

The 50 cent bill and the 5 RMB bill both have 5 as the number on them.  The 50 cent one is smaller. 

Hopefully this will help someone out there avoid the embarrassment I just had .

You may continue with your regular scheduled programming….  😉


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Some Pictures from Lanzhou

16 09 2008

I’m in Lanzhou China for work for a couple of weeks.  It’s a very interesting city.


Here are some pics from my first couple of days in town:

The view from my hotel room

Chilies drying on the line near where I work

I’m always fascinated by the creative ways people find to transport things here

Some delicious sichuan style pork ribs that we had for lunch at a local restaurant

My colleague, me and the restaurant owner

The last picture has an interesting story…  We came into the restaurant to eat lunch and since the owner saw me with my camera, he wanted a picture with us… what the heck…sure.  We took the picture and then continued with lunch.  After lunch I went to pay the bill and he indicates that there is no charge…  So, I guess my photography skills are paying off finally 🙂

Cheers from Lanzhou!

Stein Valley photos – Alpine

2 09 2008

Due to weather issues, my camera and lens got absolutely soaked during the Stein hike.  On day 2, going from Caltha Lake to Tundra Lake via Figure 8 lake, mother nature decided to unleash her fury upon us.  It wasn’t pretty.  Rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog and 60kph winds.  The sheer battering of water was too much for my camera.  It didn’t dry out again until the 3rd day down in Lytton after we had left the valley.

The pictures were taken with a Canon 40D and a (definitely not waterproof) Canon 17-85IS USM lens.

Here are some of the pics I took on the first 2 days until then though.

The full collection of photos can be found at my photo blog:


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