It’s taken me a while to post this, but it’s never to late to share the family tradition of year-in-review cards. A tradition begun in the year of my birth, I hope you enjoy the 2019 edition.
The Chinese New Year this year, welcoming the year of the Sheep, was a great opportunity to get out of the capital city, Beijing, and see the holiday from a very different perspective. Not only is the Province of Sichuan ethnically different, with many more ethnic minorities, including a very large Tibetan population, but the practice of religion is much more widespread, the history is quite distinct from that of Beijing, the landscape and climate are incredibly different, and, perhaps above all else, it is simply not as urban and the attitude of most of the people I encountered reflected that.
Everyone was so busy either being a tourist or doing their own holiday thing, that it was a great opportunity for me to watch people, and simply be a more or less ignored observer.
The New Year events, such as the light and lantern festival, and the traditional performances, attract people from all walks of life. The festivals seem to be held in parks, temples, or other such public spaces.
Biking is, indeed, a fairly common form of transportation in dense urban areas, such as downtown Chengdu, the provincial capital.
OK, so the pictures uploaded in reverse order… but you get the idea. The temple at the “Golden Peak” sits at over 3,000 meters. The map said I hiked over 15 kilometers from the base to the top… my legs sure felt like it. I stayed at a hotel near the summit and hiked up the next morning for the sunrise.
The church on the cliff in Amasra, Turkey, on the Black Sea coast, was built in the early AD’s, then destroyed, rebuilt, then turned into a mosque, then back into a church, saw medieval castle walls rise around it and crumble away, and then turned into a mosque again.
Turkey’s Black Sea coast has patiently waited out the rise and fall of empires and civilizations, tribes and armies and kings and generals slaughtering and assimilating each other for control of heaven on earth ports, Amasra chief among them.
The Amazons, Phoenicians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have all come and gone.
Today, for the few months of summer anyway, Amasra is a coveted refuge away from the realities of Turkish life (few foreigners seem to holiday here), with a thriving industry of fish restaurants and beach chair renters, and UNESCO World Heritage medieval ruins.
If only I had more than two days.
That is Ted. That is not a Turk. But it is in Turkey. Istanbul.
The cliche “east meets west” romanticization is in fact quite accurate, Persian rugs draped across Byzantine era stone rooms that now house Italian cafes.
Istanbul isn’t all Byzantine churches and ottoman mosques, though there’s plenty of that.
There’s also classy restaurants on the Bosporus or in Nevizade, modern art museums and hipster bars.
I love museums. History museums, art museums, (in China) Revolution museums. And in a country very concerned about writing the past in order to explain the present, museums are in abundance in China. I have been especially struck, impressed, by the art museums I have found. Beijing is full of all sorts, traditional, modern, imperial, minority.