Xingyi(興義), China

Xingyi, a city southwest of Guizhou, China.  This a modern city of all amenities and exceptionally clean and orderly.  People here are very protective of their environment and happy with their surroundings.  The pictures below is the night life of the city plaza.

city center, the building of our hotel
city center, the building of our hotel
In the plaza are the young, old, and families watching a lzaer light show.
In the plaza where the young, old, and families watching a Lazer light show.

 

Southwest of Guizhou has impressive Natural Wonders.  One of them is the Malinghe Gorge and Ravine.  Along the Gorge were mighty water falls, one more magnificent than the next.

 

With these same landscapes in mind.  We go to our next Scenic Sight, the Wanfeng Lake (萬峰湖)among the peaks.  The lake was the result of a dam that holds back the water into the gorge.  The dam provides much-needed energy for the Southwest of China.  The lake has a surface area of 816  Sq. Kilometer and can stored water of approximately 102 billion cubic meters. The lake is surrounded by peaks and some protruded from the lake surface and formed islands.

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going into the narrow part of the lake
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can you see the cave entrance?

One can take a ferry to go on the lake and have a closer view.  Some ferries offer delicious fresh fish lunch made from the fishes caught from the lake. If you like fish, then you should not miss this lunch.  As it makes its round on the lake we can see a lot of caves on the side of some peaks.

 

The next scenic sight is Wangfenglin (萬峰林), A peak cluster wonder.

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This is a top view of the village of Buyi ethnic minority group of China.  One can see their farms and fields.  Their fields are of different shape and level because each field is centered on the opening of the underground water that erupts from the ground so they may irrigate the field efficiently.

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Among the peaks are the exceptional Twin Breast Peak and the Goddess of Earth.  These are Wonder of Nature and Buyi people worship the Goddess of Earth nurturing them with good climate and good harvest.

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Twin Breast Peak

imag0470Can you see the Goddess of Earth on her back?

Xiaoqikong(小七孔) Scenic Area, Quizhou(貴州), China

Xiaoqikong Scenic Area is located in LiBo county in Southern Guizhou Province of China, neighboring Quangxi Province. The name Xiaoqikong is the name of a bridge build in 1835 to cross the Xiangshui River in order for ease of trade. The name Xiaoqikong means seven little holes, formed by seven arches. (See Pictures below)

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view from the top
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Xiaoqikong Scenic Area is along the Xiangshui River and is where the Miao ethnic minority of China live.  The Yao’s village still maintains their traditional way of life within their autonomous area.  The Southern Karst, a UNESCO world heritage site, the landscape created many scenic sights along the way and also many recreational areas for boating, rafting, and caverns to explore.

The first area is the Crouching Tiger Pond (卧龍潭) formed from water spring up from underground.  The power generating dam that was built formed a pond and the beautiful waterfall.

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Crouching Tiger Pond
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The dam  was build to hold back the water to form the pond
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Then we come to Yuanyan (Mandarin Duck) Lake

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is the only aquatic forest of the Karst landscape at this latitude in the world.  Due to the various minerals in the water gives it special color and often gives off many different colors due to reflecting lights.  One can rent a boat and have a close-up look and personal experience of the aquatic forest.

 

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Next–Laguane Lake Wetland Area-Shooting place of the TV show Survival Games in Sept. 2015

The lake water is clean and lots of algae grow in it to give off a special color.  The reflections from the clear water created colorful picturesque scenes at various angle and lighting.  The lake surrounded by water falls and mountain peaks and wetlands as well as a very comfortable and clean hotel.

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During Sunrise
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Our Hotel
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Dawn Breaking

Next stop Emerald Valley Water Fall

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Emerald Valley Water Fall

Water falls among the lush green trees a rare scene.

From the Emerald Valley Water Fall to Xiaoqikong Bridge is the Water Forest.  Its trail is approximately 2000 meters along the flow of Xiangshui River.  Its water bed flows over rocks as if the rocks grew out from the water just as the trees grow from the rocks with its leaves drape over the water.  This is a cool refreshing walk.  No wonder, legend has it, even the fairies frequently bath in these waters.

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Niagara Falls, Canada

Between the border of Canada and the United States is Niagara Falls on the Niagara River that flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.  The Canadians build a 56km long trail along the banks of Niagara River to form the area of  Niagara  Park.   The Park consists of 3 trails, the Heritage Trail, the Garden Trail, and the Nature Trail for you to explore.  There are other attractions as well in the area to keep you busy such as a golf course, casinos, various amusement parks. But the main attraction is the Niagara Falls which is one of the 7 natural wonders of Canada.  You will be in awe,  which ever way you look at it.  Whether it is from the foot looking upwards or behind the fall, or from the top looking down or along side, Niagara Falls demonstrates the power of nature and humbles its spectators.  It’s morning mist from the falls refresh and exuberate all living things in its surroundings. The evening illumination on the falls mystifies the night.P_20160709_081037falls6

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Bike Trail of Northeast Taiwan Coastline

There is a wonderful bike trail along the Northeast and Yilan (宜蘭) coastline.  One can take the train to Shihcheng(石城) Train Station or Fulong(副隆) Train Station.  We took the train to Fulong Station where there were many bike rental shops.  They have regular bikes, mountain bikes, for adults and children.  They also have bicycles for two or with infant seats, and one may be able to get them in battery-powered as well.  In order to rent a bike, one must leave an ID.

We started the trail southward through the 2.16km long Old Caoling Tunnel Bikeway.  The tunnel was cool with the air brushing against the face, but the best was coming out of the tunnel and greeted by the welcoming sight of bright daylight and the feeling of the open ocean breeze.  There are many rest areas along the trail and the coastline scenery is very special.Lailai Marine TerraceLailai Marine Terrace

This marine terrace will be under ocean water at high tide.  One can see many fishermen out deep-sea fishing during low tide and others exploring what the sea left behind.  Coming up is the Four Square Sightseeing Area where we can see the Turtle Island.

Turtle Island
Turtle Island on the horizon

Turtle Island is a volcanic islet off the east coast of Yilan County.  Its name is due to its shape similar to a giant turtle.  It is an island park open to the public from March to November.  It is about 3 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide.  It has a 3,000 sq. feet of seafood market where one can enjoy fresh seafood.  Bottle nose dolphins and tiger whales appear off its coast frequently.  One can experience warm spring water bath as well as water sports including surfing, water skiing, and gliding can be found here.

Going further north on the bike trail we come to the most eastern coast of Taiwan, Cape San Diego (三貂角)and the San Diego Cape lighthouse.  It’s been said that when the Spanish first came by in 1626, they named it Cape San Diego because it reminded them of San Diego.  Hence the present name is San Diego in Taiwanese phonetics.  The San Diego lighthouse is 16.8 feet tall and has a 270-degree view of the ocean.  On a good day, one can see Turtle Island.  Surrounding the Lighthouse is a nice rest area for visitors to relax.

San Diego Lighthouse
San Diego Lighthouse

 

An outlook post
An outlook post
rough sea below
the rough sea below
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rest area
The lighthouse scenic area
The lighthouse scenic area
another view of the area
another view of the area

There is a foot path going down from this rest area to Maoao Fishery Village known for its hundred years stone dwellings, but we cycled back down to the coastline bike path.walking trail to Maoao Village

walking trail to Maoao Village

We stopped for lunch at Fulian Elementary School’s footsteps sitting and watching the ocean waves while we hungrily wolfing down our lunch which was the famous railroad lunch box that we bought at the  Fulong Railroad Station.

famous railroad lunchbox
famous railroad lunch box

Continuing along the bike way, took us back to return the bike, along the way we passed Dongxin Temple and Fulong Coastal Park.   Last and final destination, the Fulong Beach.

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The beach from our room, a view of the rainbow bridge
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up the Double Creek River
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sailing lesson
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up the river to Longman Suspension bridge
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The mouth of the Double Creek River
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beach between the river and the sea
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rough sea versus peaceful river
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the sea meet up with the river

There will be many water activities in the summer as well as open air concerts.  In May, there will be Sand Sculpturing Art Festival here.

A Nature Reserve for Red Crowned Crane

Twenty-six kilometer away from Qiqihaer is Zhalong Nature Reserve, an approximately 810 square miles of wetland in Heilongjiang, China.  This marshland is a major breeding ground for more than 300 species of birds including the Marsh Grassbird as well as a major migratory route for  birds such as the storks, swans, herons, and grebes in the Far East

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cranes collage

Zhalong  Nature Reserve is protected by the Chinese government.  It breeds red crowned crane which is endangered.  However the bred cranes will not migrate any more.  The easy life kept them in one place.  They are well fed and become bigger than the wild crane which still migrate to burn up the stored fat.  Everyday the crane keeper let them out to fly before feeding them, so they would get their exercise.  The wild crane do not like the fed food, so they would stay wild.  This marshland is a very important breeding place for not just the various types of cranes, but also for water fowls, different species of fish, and other marsh dependent animals.  This is a terrific place for bird watching, but be sure to put on a lot of mosquito repellent.

 

Tibetan Buddhist Ceremony at Taipei Liberty Square, Taiwan

Liberty Square also name Freedom Square is visited by locals as well as tourists.  For it is situated in a park with the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall on the far side facing the Liberty Square Gate and the National Concert Hall and the National Theater on either side. This is a popular site for big gatherings.  When the square is not booked for any out door events, one can see gatherings of students for marching band practice or athletes and dancers working on their routines.

One of the outdoor activity which is rarely found was the Blessing Ceremony for Taiwan by the True Buddha School.  It is a localized practice of Tibetan Buddhism founded by a Living Buddha Sheng-yen Lu.  Many people gathered.  It was said he has disciples all over the world.

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The ceremony started with two dancing dragons leading the Living Buddha into the event.  Then started the Dragon dance to welcome the Living Buddha and add auspiciousness to this ceremony

 

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There were many people chanting and walking around the Pagoda of Buddhas which would be there for 3 days.  It is said that by encircling the Buddha Pagoda and seeing it will ensure one does not go to hell after death.

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Wuling Farm, Taiwan

Wuling Farm is located in the mountain within the Shei-Pa National Park in central Taiwan.  Its current mission is the study of Eco-farming without endangering the natural species of plants, animals, and the environment.  The farm provides education on ecology and preservation of the environment along with providing nature’s  relaxation and enjoyment to visitors.  Visitors have a choice of staying at resorts, lodge cabins, or camping sites.  Bikes and electric scooters may be rented.  Besides plenty of hiking trails, beautiful scenic sights, it also provides water spa treatment and star gazing at night.

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Hiking trails
Hiking Trails
Hiking Trails
cherry blossoms along the trail
cherry blossoms along the trail
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It is open to visitors all season long, for never a day goes by without its own remarkable beauty.   In the spring the season starts off with attractions of plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, pear and peach blossoms as well as apple blossoms.  The farm harvest these fruits except for peaches for it is now claimed by the monkeys which are indigenous to this area and is under protection.

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Wuling Farm also plants tea.  Due to its growth environment, it has a special aroma which is favored as indicated by its price.  The beauty of the tea garden is also a welcome attraction as you can see below.

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The creeks are off-limits to visitors, due to a rare species of salmon that is only found and live in these waters.  They are under protection as well.

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Wuling Salmon
Wuling Salmon

There are plenty of Nature trail tours to introduce you to the different trees, plants, and flowers of Wuling.  Then again, you might find a quiet place and fresh air is all you need, just like the black swans.

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Wudalianchi, Helongjiang, China

Wudalianchi (五大連池) Global Geopark situated in Helonjiang Province of Northeast, China. This area was formed by volcano  eruptions that happened 60,000 years ago.  The park has 14 volcanoes with 2 of them still active but not erupted yet.  The solidified lava formed the five interconnected lakes and this topographical miracle of exotic stone landscapes.

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It also formed springs of sparkling cold mineral water with healing powers.  Many visitors come for the mineral water recuperation.  The springs’ water is naturally maintained around 3-5degree Celsius.  The North Spring is said to have a diuretic effect and the South Spring is for insomnia.

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Be sure to bring with you empty water bottles and be like the locals, fill it up with spring water to go.

Harbin, China

Harbin (a Manchu word for “a place for drying fishing nets”) was an old fishing village by Songhua River, in the Northeast of China.  It is the largest city in the Northeast China and also the capital of Heilongjiang Province.  It urbanized to a big city in  1898 when the Chinese Eastern Railway brought an influx of Russian immigrants.  Hence the city unlike other major cities in China has a strong Russian and European influence demonstrated by the city’s architecture.  Today, it is a major commerce and port city of Northeast China.

The St. Sofia Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox church, build in 1907.  It was closed during the Period of “Great Leap Forward” and the “Cultural Revolution”.  Now it is designated as National Heritage Cultural site and serve as a museum for the history of the city.  Outside has been restored to its original beauty of Byzantine style architecture.

St. Sophia Cathedral
St. Sophia Cathedral
Inside St. Sophia Cathedral
Inside St. Sophia Cathedral

Stalin Park runs along the Songhua River Bank.  In Stalin Park, one can find artists perform or show off their works.  Along the Songhua River are fisherman and ferry boats.

Songhua River Bridge
Songhua River Bridge connects to Sun Island
Along the banks of Songhua River
Along the banks of Songhua River
At the entrance of Stalin Park
At one of  the entrances of Stalin  Park facing the Songhua River Bridge
The other end of Stalin Park
The other end of Stalin Park near the flood control monument
Stalin Park
Stalin Park lined with tall trees
flood control Monument
flood control Monument to commemorate the victory of two floods by the Harbin People.  It marks the level of both floods
Flood control monument
Flood control monument plaza
One of the western European style building
One of the western European style building

Harbin is known for its yearly Ice Festival in the winter.  The whole city becomes an ice city.  Ice and snow sculptures everywhere, but mostly concentrated on Sun Island and the Ice and snow amusement world after dark on the north river bank of Songhai River. If you like winter sports, then winter is a good time to visit Harbin.

It is also well known for its Zhongyang Pedestrian Street (中央大街) where you can shop and find many Russian made goods or enjoy local culinary delights influenced by Russian, Japanese, and Mongolian.

Songjian River Fish dish
Stewed Songjian River Fish dish

Siberian Tiger Park is situated north of the Sun Island Park.  It houses and breeds the near extinct Siberian Tigers.  The shuttle vans bring you through the fields to see the Tigers up close.  Then there is a walk area, which let you see the enclosed area where they keep Tigers for breeding or nursing sick tigers.  Besides tigers, they also have lions and other big endangered cats.

Entrace to the Siberian Tiger Park
Entrance to the Siberian Tiger Park
Siberian Tigers Relaxing in the shade
Siberian Tigers Relaxing in the shade
Even White Siberian Tiger
Even White Siberian Tiger
Also Lions
Also Lions
and lioness
and lioness

This park houses around 800 Siberian Tigers and several Lions, as well as Bengal tigers, leopards, pumas.  The facility, perform DNA testing to prevent inbreeding and perform selective breeding.  It also have few Ligers which is a cross between a lion and a tiger.

 

Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

Sapporo, the largest city on Hokkaido and also its capital.  The uniqueness and convenience of its underground shopping center connected with its rail system are both clean and bright.  People rarely need to go out doors unless the weather is good.  We stayed at the Sapporo Park Hotel next to the Nakajima Park 中島.

Nakajima Park from my room
Nakajima Park from my room
Nakajima Prak
Nakajima Prak
Nakajima Park
Nakajima Park
Nakajima Park
Nakajima Park

Jozankei Onsen (定山溪溫泉) known for its hot spring.  It is located about an hour from Sapporo by bus, in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park.  There are many hotels with variations of indoor and outdoor baths.  The hotels can charge admission or rooms for overnight stay.  They are mostly located between the high cliffs of Toyohira River.   The Park has many hiking trails and a lot of free foot baths.  In autumn, the foliage sets the pace.

foot bath
foot bath
upstream of the Toyohira River
upstream of the Toyohira River
what a place to enjoy the water!!!!
what a place to enjoy the water!!!!

About 30 minutes away from Sapporo is Otaru(小樽市).  It is a port city of Ishikari Bay.  Its characteristic canal lined with Victorian style street lamps mystify the night.  The town is well-known for fresh sushi as well as the different style of fish balls and other seafood products.  It is also known for its music box museum.  Besides a music box store, it also has a beautiful glass art-work store and other arts and crafts stores.  There is plenty to look and purchase as the time flies by.

The Canal at dusk
The Canal at dusk
The old clock in front of the music box museum
The old clock in front of the music box museum
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look at these music boxes!
music boxes of fortune kitties
music boxes of fortune kitties
night view of Otaru
night view of Otaru
A small cluster of eatery for its famous fish balls
A small cluster of eatery for its famous fish balls
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Even Colonel Sanders put on a Salmon Hat in Otaru!!!!

The neighboring town of Otaru is Yoichi.  It is the home of Nikka Whiskey.  The distillery was founded by Taketsuru Masataka who was the first Japanese to bring Scottish whiskey distillery technique to Japan.  It is open for visitors and free tasting is available.

sample whiskey
sample whiskey

The new Chitose Airport is the most fun airport I have been.  It has a movie theater, a place for a hot spring bath, a fun place for children and a restaurant cater only to children and best of all a chocolate making factory.  Parents, be careful, your children might not want to leave when it is time to board the plane.