Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Water color paper with India Ink and Micron Pens

I will get back to photography shortly, I have a new shoot in the works. But I had some time over the weekend to draw. I forgot how much I love to draw.

...the subject matter?.... well duh it's a lady who's being seduced by an octopus. Or perhaps she's just dreaming, fantasizing about being devoured by an octopus.. hell you decide. I have my own story (which I shall not share).... you go make up your own.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shaolin Temple

This is my last post on my China trip. I actually saw a few other things that were fascinating like the "temple of the white horse" supposedly the first Buddhist temple in China and the Longmen Grottoes (which are amazing! Thousands of Buddha carvings). But I decided to just finish up with my trip to the Shaolin Temple since for me that was the highlight.

The Shaolin temple is situated in the Henan Providence in Dengfeng. For most westerners the Shaolin Temple is best known for its association with Kung Fu. And a lot of Kung Fu is what you get to see should you have the pleasure to visit. The with the temple associated Kung Fu school is of an impressive size. The dormitories equal those of a university. It looked to me like most students were in their early teens. Their training is hard core, they train pretty much all day no matter what. Did I mention it was 100 degrees out? Most of these students do not go on to become Shaolin Monks, most will join the military, law enforcement or will start their own martial arts school. When I asked one of the students if he wanted to become a monk, he just shook his head quickly saying it was far too difficult. Which would explain why there are only 300 Shaolin Monks practicing in the temple. For the monks the martial arts training is for spiritual goals but it comes with other practical benefits such as better physical condition and self-defense. Shaolin is the most well-known Ch'an (Zen) school that incorporates martial training into its meditative regimen. I got to see a performance by the Shaolin monks and it was INSANE. Honestly it was unreal, it felt like they were ghosts, they moved so quickly and it looked like they were weightless. The Pagoda Forest was the other thing I enjoyed experiencing. It's where all the established Buddhist masters were buried. I was quite humbled walking through the resting place of these great masters.

There is so much awesome history surrounding the Shaolin monks. I loved hearing some of the stories and it gave me a whole new appreciation for meditation, something I've been trying to incorporate more into my daily life..... but damn, these guys meditated for hours at a time. Anyway I could talk about the Shaolin for hours... I will leave it with some images. I don't have a lot of pictures from inside the temple since you weren't allowed to photograph inside the buildings.

This statue greets you as you enter the Shaolin property.

Entrance to the actual Shaolin Temple.

Here you can read the history of the Shaolin... well if you speak chinese then you could read the history.

The Pagoda Forest, this is where all prominent monks are buried. The more stories the tomb has the more established the monk was, 7 is the highest a monk can achieve.

Dharma Hall of the Shaolin Kung Fu School.

Students beginning their afternoon outdoor training sessions.

shaolin students training

I just remembered something amusing and rather odd. As I was watching the students train a chinese family came up to me. The father asked me if I would hold their little girl (I'm guessing she was about 7 months old). I was at first totally confused. He then further exlained that he wanted to take a picture of me holding his baby!!! I was like WHAT? But then was kinda flattered and so I held this strangers baby while he and his wife took pictures (grandparents were simling in the background). Judging from the babies look, she was just as confused as I was. I wonder where that picture will end up. I'm still not totally sure why they wanted to do that LOL.

Actually, this was a different Kung Fu school. If you walk around that area you will see Kung Fu everywhere and no I'm not exaggerating. Besides the Shaolin school there are about 50 Kung Fu schools in that same area.

Shaolin monk meditating.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, situated in the heart of Beijing, was the home to 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There is much to see and you can spend days walking through this imperial city imagining what life might have been like when the emperor still walked the courtyards. But what I most enjoyed were all the details and of course the mythical creatures. Because of all the grandeur it's easy to overlook the crazy ceilings of the palace interiors. I can't fathom how long it must have taken to carve and paint some of them. Anyway, here are a few things you'll see while strolling.

Detail from large water containers which were there in case of a fire.

The ceiling in the palace of Heavenly Purity

In each of the four corners of the garden there is a pavilion, symbolizing the four seasons. This is part of the ceiling of the pavilion of Myriad Spring

You will find this motive on a bunch of doors and walls.

Decorative glazed ceramic details

Easy to miss but if you look closely you'll find these small engravings with different motives on several walls.

A gilded lion in front of the palace of Tranquil Longevity

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beijing 2009

It was insanely hot in Beijing, everyday was around 100 degrees. The pollution didn't help either, nevertheless I did love Beijing. I was there once before, in 1984, I was just a teenager. The main thing I remember was that everybody was on bicycles. There were hardly any cars at all. A lot has changed. It is now a major city and everybody drives a car, although I'd like to point out there were no ridiculous SUVs.

If you're interested in seeing the hot spots of Beijing then you might as well just surf the Internet. Everything has been already photographed a million times. So I'm just going to post a few pictures of things I liked and then in another post put up some details and patterns of things I saw in the Forbidden City. I really enjoyed the decorative aspect of the palaces.

This is the view from the apartment. Direct view on the Bird's Nest stadium. Pictures can't do this structure justice. It is an amazing piece of architecture.

The Dragon Building.

The National Grand Opera House in Beijing. What an impressive site. The contrast to the surrounding buildings was stark. If you turned your head just a bit to the right you saw what's in the next picture. A simple residential area.

A guard in Tiananmen Square. To enter the huge square you have to pass a security check similar to that of an airport. The same type of guard you will find placed all over Beijing.

Anybody who knows me knows I'm a huge fan of theater and opera so when I had a chance to go see the traditional Beijing opera I was quite excited. This is a shot I took in the Beijing opera (or Peking opera). The Beijing opera is a form of traditional Chinese theater which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. The performances are usually based on Chinese folklore. The character above is Sun Wukong also known as the Monkey King. He is the main character in the epic novel Journey to the West. Check out the make up job, very inspiring.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm back

I just returned from my trip to China. It was one of the most amazing trips that I have ever taken.......... fascinating and inspiring.