Profiles of Peace

Traveblogue post... So this post is about.... 8 months late... c'est la vie.

Last summer I was a counselor at a peace education camp that convened in Pittsburgh, PA. I took it upon myself to be camp photographer and eventually became wholly preoccupied with trying to get a great profile photo of everyone there. Even the camera-shy! While I didn't get everyone, I did get some great shots of many. I call them my "Profiles of Peace."

Some are candid shots

some are not.

sometimes my photograph taking made people grumpy

other times they were elated

usually we were all just happy to be at camp!


So, that was camp. Those are the photos from my traveblogue for now, will soon be posting photos from my recent "travels" aka relocation up to gorgeous Traverse City, MI.


Ze shoo ma weh sah?

I'm no expert in translating Chinese phonetically, but I did learn the phrase from my pals. I wanted to know how to say "what does it mean?" I felt silly asking, in English, the meaning or sound of a thing or character. I was told "what does it mean" in Chinese sounds like "ze shoo ma weh suh." Mumble (or transliterate) the phrase as poorly as I did and good luck being understood. Just once did a kindly stranger "understand" my jibberish. He knew no English, but nicely picked up on what I was trying to say and in turn pronounced for me the Chinese names for the symbols I was pointing to on a prayer bowl. He demonstrated to me with his hands that they were the four cardinal directions. I was glad to attempt Chinese, but never bold enough to really get a grasp on its structure.

But I did take more pics!
Tuesday April 27

I had worked on my computer from the hotel room for most of the morning. Then, I had gone shopping around town and didn't bring a camera. I spent a long time in the afternoon at Carrefours, which is a one-stop-shop with shopping cart escalator ramps, fresh produce, and a wide range of durable goods. I didn't think it was good form to be a solo photographer in the grocery store, as pictures of obscure foodstuffs only exaggerates the cultural lens I'm writing from as a Westerner.

Wednesday April 28

I didn't travel far from my area in the Pudong because I was leaving for Beijing in the evening. I visited the Shanghai World Financial Center again, this time to redeem a coupon to get my fingernails done. While a mani-pedi is completely out of character for me, it was really cheap with the coupon! And, I wanted to have low-maintenance hygiene for traveling. Painted fingernails hide the dirt that was to accumulated beneath the nail bed when I biked through Beijing, climbed its great wall, and danced a festival in dusty suburban fields.

The Shanghai airport in Pudong (I took the MagLev superduper fast train again to get there).

Line symmetry!

My pal Dave met me at the Beijing Airport where we took a subway to a bicycle rickshaw (in the rain!) to his apartment. Dave's job puts him up in a swank-tastic serviced apartment. It was a late arrival, so the desk attendant doesn't bother me as a guest. Dave had to work in the morning, so we had a night in catching up on the time that had passed between us since he moved to Beijing two years prior.

Thursday April 29

I snatched up a folding bike (for about $30) and started to cruise around. I found stuff like this ornate archway, but not one that spans a road. Out of the picture to the right is a Sinopec gas station, but I don't think the gas station put the archway up, though it does lead to their business lot.

Air quality = !!!

Referred to as "the pants," the building is home to the #1 TV network in Beijing.

Defunct amusement park. If I was more adventurous I would have broken into the park land and taken more creepy cool photos of rickety rides, but alas, I am not more adventurous.

A lot of ticket windows... this place used to be popular! I never found out the story as to why it's closed.

How does one get to the pay phone if the sidewalk is a long heap of garbage and dirt??

Fancy new construction. Found this cool architecture following a river trail, just past a section of town full of street vendors selling the same stuff I realized all street vendors sell everywhere.

This is the building next to the previous new constructions. I thought it had an interesting fusion of old-style trim with a modern functionality.

Once it got to be late afternoon, I decided to bicycle back to Dave's sumptuous place. The only problem was that I wandered around all day, sans a map in English or a specific destination. I don't have photographic memory. But I had the photos on my camera. So I trusted my gut and meandered the Beijing streets by bike, battling the after work traffic. After an hour guessing that I was headed in the general correct direction, I started to doubt myself. I stopped, pulled out my camera, brought up the picture of the pants building (very distinct) and non-verbally asked a stranger to direct me towards it. My luck was ripe, and I was already headed in the right direction according to the kind newspaper sales woman. In fact, had I continued on my route for another two blocks I wouldn't have needed directions, as "the pants" were just a few blocks further. I made it to Dave's no problem and just in time to go out and get dinner.

Friday April 30

First we took a taxi ride out to the town where Dave works. I never saw it written down but it sounded like "Pengu" so that's where he works as far as I know. This is the view from his apartment (he has two, one on-site and one in Beijing city).

Dave works at a golf course development, and these are the new condos for the (very wealthy) guests to buy/lease/whatever.

These are some of the houses of the small village community that are/will be(ing) displaced by the golf development project.

So, we moved on from that sad fact (but cool place) and went to...

The entrance wasn't far from Dave's golf course, and was in a small town outside Pengu where Chinese go for traditional vacation stays. Dave and I were the only white people at the Great Wall site here. That was refreshing, and only tolerable because I don't speak or understand Chinese. I had no reaction when Chinese visitors verbalized how they thought I was "odd" (among other adjectives I'm sure).

Dave got stuck!

It was all reeeeeally steep.

Fruit/nut vendors were stationed at the exits, of course we had to have a nibble of everything.

Shot at a newspaper stand on the walk home from the bus station.

Saturday May 1

Dave took me and his friends Chris and Summer out to see the MIDI music festival, held in a field bounded by elevated highways. We took the subway to the last stop on the line and then hired a taxi from there to get us to the festival. The parking lot was filled with tents and the festivities went on for the whole holiday weekend.

Chris is posing with the reason why I didn't take more pictures at the festival... booze!

Enjoying ourselves.

This was one of the highways surrounding the festival area. Glowing.

Dave and I went to an after-party at this club.

This is what the car ride home felt like.

Sunday May 2

Dave took me on a "bus tour" of his neighborhood. We got hot pot - a traditional Chinese style of serving food, but I didn't bring my camera. I didn't know how well it would be received if I was shooting pictures of my food in a restaurant, so I refrained. After our meal we were really stuffed, so we just stayed at Dave's place lolling around. We took a night walk (again, why not bring my camera?!?!) and I saw a giant football-field-long television. Really.

Monday May 3

Dave had to go back to work, so I adventured around the city alone by bicycle. I got lost in this labyrinth neighborhood that was blocked by a major highway so I couldn't take its streets toward my destination - the Forbidden City. I walked around in circles, as it was too crowded to bike through the narrow alleys.

Finally, I ditched the bike and took the subway to the Forbidden City, the ultimate tourist (trap) experience.

My imagination ran wild at the Forbidden City, to think of all that had gone on in these palace walls!

After an exciting debacle trying to find a bag that would fit my folding bicycle and failing (miserably), I made it to the Beijing Airport in time to find out what exactly an airport smoking room is. It's a closed glass room with station that have car lighters like these above.

Also you can buy and drink booze at the airport. Someone was too lazy to toss their empty, so I thought this was an interesting photo to snag at an airport, of all places.

Thanks Dave for your great hospitality!