September 2012 Archives

Looking Up

Don't always look straight ahead. Interesting things sometimes can be seen if you look up, as in these two photos from the Portland Art Museum.


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Juxtapositions (2)

A couple more juxtapositions from the Modern and Contemporary Art wing of the Portland Art Museum.

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I didn't get the identities of the individual works; the pileup has its own peculiar unity. (click to enlarge)


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The life-like/life-size sculpture of a dishwasher is by Duane Hanson. (click to enlarge)

Juxtapositions

When curators display works in a gallery, the juxtapositions set up interactions - one hopes they're intended - between the works. Here are two examples from the Portland Art Museum.


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Angles

Looking for more similarities in disparate works of art in the Portland Art Museum.


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Detail of sculpture by Kenneth Snelson (click to enlarge)


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Detail of "Saqqarah" by Dorothea Rockburne (click to enlarge)

Fragments

Yesterday we spent several hours in the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Portland Art Museum. It houses an extensive, diverse, and lively collection. I like to take photographs in museums, not of the whole of individual works of art (that's simply copying) but finding ways to transform them by noting juxtapositions or focusing on fragments. Here are two details of paintings, which I view as akin to singling out particularly beautiful melodies from broader symphonic works.


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Detail from Stephen Achimore, "Color in the Creek" (click to enlarge)


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Detail from Judy Cooke, "Celebration After the Fact" (click to enlarge)

Campus Scenes: Bright and Dim

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Bright


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Not so bright


(Click photos to enlarge them.)

Bright Rainbow

A couple of weeks ago I posted a photo of a bright rainbow in Karimabad, Pakistan. I decided to see what a little manipulation in Lightroom would do, so I lowered the blacks to -100 and raised the vibrance to +80. Here's the result, comparable to what another photographer on the trip got using a circular polarizing filter. Even the secondary rainbow shows up clearly.


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Calligraphy in White and Red

We're spending a week in Portland, Oregon after returning from Asia. The entry to the restaurant in our hotel has a striking array of six small trees, all bleached white, against dark red walls. Elegant calligraphy!


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Kashgar: The Last Day on the Silk Road

September 18. Our last day on the old Silk Road. We spent the morning wandering the streets of Kashgar. Then lunch, and off to the airport for our flight via Urumqi to Beijing, a short sleep, then a morning flight with a layover in Toyko (Narita) on our way to Portland.

Click photos to enlarge them.


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Kashgar City Square, with a wooded park behind, after a rainy night.


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Commuters


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Shopping in the Uygher Old Town


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Old doors and windows installed in new walls.


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New man, old walls, middle-aged flag

Silk Road Return: Tashkurgan to Kashgar

September 17. Another long day of travel buy bus, from Tashkurgan to Kashgar, with a stop for lunch and exploration of the Opal market.


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Yak grazing in frost-heaved field.


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Scenes in Opal market


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Chairman Mao and the Great Pumpkin, Kashgar City Square


Click photos to enlarge them.

Silk Road Return: Gilmut to Tashkurgan

September 16. A long day of travel: boat from Gulmit to Passu, then bus on the Karakoram Highway to the Pakistan exit check, continue up through the Khunjerab pass to the Chinese checkpoint, then further to Chinese immigration and our hotel at Tashkurgan. The Chinese checkpoints and immigration are about the most bureaucratic and disrespectful of travelers' time that we have ever encountered; they are clearly hyper-concerned with security and drug smuggling.

On the way up the series of switchbacks just past the Khunjerab National Park, we encountered a rockslide that delayed us for an hour or two. It was man-made: construction engineers on the level above had dynamited rock to prevent accidental slides, used a giant front loader to push the debris down to our level, then finally came down to our level to clear the road. The delay was annoying, but the process was interesting to watch. Here are three photos that give an idea of what went on.

Click the photos to enlarge them.


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Ganish to Gulmit

September 15. Today we began, somewhat wistfully, our exit from the Hunza Valley. With its peace and beauty, no wonder it was the model for Shangri-La.


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Our first stop was Ganish, a village that is one of the oldest settlements in the valley. Though located near the river, it enjoys spectacular views of the high peaks.


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The children of Ganish were friendly but seemed rather somber, at least during our visit.


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There are many petroglyphs on rocks nearby, some depicting ibexes (mountain sheep), and others carved in ancient central Asian languages.


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The river continues its vigorous way at the base of the cliffs.


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Our jeeps (the roads are too winding and narrow for buses) deposited us at the spillway, where we looked down to see boatloads of tires being unloaded. The roads are hard on tires!


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We boarded our boat and chugged down Lake Attabad. I was struck by the rippling reflections of the drowned poplar trunks in the turquoise water.


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We arrived at the village of Gulmit in mid-afternoon, with scenes of colorful flowers and fruits, in the yard of our hotel, set against the distant mountains.


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Our local guide, Mr. Wafi, took us to a carpet-weaving cooperative run by women of the village. They specialize in small carpets and hangings of fine quality, which made it easy for us both to purchase attractive souvenirs and to contribute to a good cause.


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A walk through the village showed us a peaceful stone-walled path


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and an old - but still functional - sawmill.


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As evening came on, brilliant light shone on the "Passu Cathedral" (20,000 foot Tupopdam, one of the most spectacular mountain ramparts in the world).


Sent from Narita Airport in Tokyo, waiting to board the flight to Portland. Very good wi-fi connection! Click photos to enlarge them.


Nagar Valley

September 14. Today we drove from the Hunza Valley to the Nagar Valley, where the people are Shiite Muslims rather than Ismaili. It's a pretty and interesting place.


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Looking down from a cliff-side road, we saw cattle used to thresh grain the traditional way.


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The village is above the terminus of the Hispar Glacier.


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Dirt outlines the jagged shapes of the eroding glacier. This photo was taken with a telephoto lens about 500 feet above the glacier.


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Drying apricots on the flat roof of a stone house, seen on a walk along an irrigation canal above the village.


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Poplars against the clouds and mountains


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Pumpkins hanging over a stone wall


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Small haystacks dot a frost-heaved field.


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The dancing calligraphy of apricot trees in an orchard


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A colorful stone wall


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A cow looks down at us from a field, with mountains in the background. I took a similar photo in the Austrian Alps many years ago.


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Marijuana plants grew vigorously and profusely along the roads, like hedges.


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Back in Karimabad, we did some last-minute shopping. Business was slow for these produce vendors.


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Early evening light on a section of rocky cliff


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Day Two in Karimabad

September 13. Another day in Karimabad

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We started this day in Karimabad with a visit to the Aga Khan Secondary School for Girls, a highly competitive school with an impressive curriculum. The girls here are conducting an experiment in physics lab to measure the refractive index of an oil.


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Physical education in a spectacular environment.


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Carpet weaving in a workshop


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Fibers and a handkerchief drying after a dyeing demonstration


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An old woman with hennaed hair sitting in a courtyard


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Two kids as we ascended to the hills above Karimabad


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Intricate decoration of a column in the Altit Fort, former residence of the rival to the Mir of Hunza


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The Hunza River as it flows way below the fort


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Houses and courtyards clustered below the fort


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Two pretty little girls as we walked near the fort


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The setting sun illuminating the hills, seen from a path near the fort


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Sheaves of hay leaning against one of the many stone fences that wall off cultivated fields


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Harvesting potatoes in a field near a great old walnut tree


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Our local guide, Mr. Wafi, dancing the Eagle Dance to the accompaniment of a group of traditional musicians


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The Hunza Valley: Karimabad

September 12, Part 2. We're in Karimabad in the central Hunza Valley for the next three days. It's a lovely, lively, interesting place.


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People, old and young, seen on the streets.


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The Baltit Fort, the abode and defensive bastion of former rulers of this territory.


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Gourd containers in the kitchen of the Baltit Fort.


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View into the receding distance from the fort.


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A brief rain shower passed over the fort, followed by the brightest rainbow (a double one, at that) that any of us had ever seen.


Click the photos to enlarge them.

Lake Attabad

September 12. Passu to Attabad via Lake Attabad. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Two views of the mountains from the front yard of our hotel. The region of northern Pakistan that we will be in for the next several days is one of the top three in the world for concentration and extent of very high mountains.


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This part of Pakistan grows many apples. Those that aren't eaten fresh are dried.


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The White Glacier, which extends about 25 km back to its mountain source.


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The mountains are steeply vertiginous, but the flat places are fertile and green.


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Lake Attabad was formed by a huge 2010 landslide that buried the road and dammed the river, so we had to transfer from bus to boat for about 20 miles. Here are several of the boatmen.


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Drowned poplars along the shore.


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In places the water was a startling turquoise blue. The cliffs were crystalline granite rather than friable sedimentary rock.


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When we reached the landslide dam, we and our luggage transferred back to a bus. Here is a scene of the small but very busy newly-formed port.


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Some of the men overseeing the moving of cargo between ship and shore

China to Pakistan: The Karakoram Highway

September 11. This was a long travel day. We started with an outrageous - though apparently standard - three hour exit inspection by Chinese passport control in Tashkurgan. Then we took a bus from Tashkurgan along the Karakoram Highway (also known as the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) to the top of the Khunjrab Pass at 15,500 feet - the highest paved international border crossing in the world.


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Once we started down on the Pakistan side, the road deteriorated badly, but the scenery became spectacular.


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We encountered a small landslide, which our driver, guide, and several passengers cleared by hand.


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The road continued to be difficult, but the scenery continued to be magnificent, which more than compensated.


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Three closeups of cliffs near the roadside.


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We cleared customs and got our Pakistani visas in Sust, then drove further on to our hotel/guest house in Passu. This was the view from the front yard of the hotel.

Our tour leader said at the beginning of the day that he'd consider today's trip a success if we reached our hotel before dark. We made it by half an hour.

Click the photos to enlarge them.

Kashgar to Tashkurgan

September 10. A long day of driving from Kashgar to Tashkurgan along the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway.


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Stops along the way.


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We stopped for lunch along a stony mountain river, near the compound of a family who raised goats (hence the enclosed pasture) and sold us many trinkets.


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Upstream, the river was partly dammed for hydroelectric power, producing a striking lake edged with sandy mountains.


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As we drove higher, dramatic mountains appeared, two of them over 24,000 feet.


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Marshy grassland and two friendly Tadjik girls in Tashkurgan, the western-most town in China.

A Day in Kashgar

September 9 in Kashgar. We started the day with a walk through the Uighur neighborhood leading to the Id Gah Mosque, reputedly the largest in all of China.

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The streets were just beginning to stir with market activity, people buying, selling, and bringing produce to market.


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We spent some time in a musical instrument store, where they make as well as sell traditional instruments.


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Near the mosque, three women dressed in characteristic colorful fashion for a day on the town


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A tailor with an old Singer treadle-driven sewing machine


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Part of the outdoor prayer hall of the mosque


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On the square near the mosque there was a row of one-room dentist offices, all looking pretty much like this.


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We then drove a little way out of town to the famous Animal Market, where sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, horses, and even a few camels are bought and sold.


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The reason they are called "fat-rumped sheep"


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Horses were galloped back and forth to test their speed and style.


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Not all the animals left the market.


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There weren't many women at the Animal Market, but some were stylishly dressed.


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After lunch at a Uighur restaurant back in Kashgar, we went to the Sunday Market, held in a huge covered bazaar.


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A display of the wildly patterned and colored fabric used in Uighur women's dresses

Click the photos to enlarge them.

(10 September: This morning we're heading up into the Pamir and Karakoram Mountains on our way to the Hunza Valley in Pakistan. Internet connections may not be as good as they have been, so postings to the blog may be sporadic for the next week.)

Traditional Kashgar

September 8. This was a heavy travel day: we drove from Turpan to Urumqi, then flew to Kashgar, a mostly Uighur city at the far west of China. It was about 5 PM before we checked into our hotel, but because all of China is on Beijing time, by the sun it was only about 2 PM in Kashgar. Therefore, we had time to rest and then to wander through one of the few Uighur neighborhoods that hasn't fallen to excessive modernization. (Even this neighborhood is being modernized, but mainly for earthquake proofing and updated utilities; the buildings are being rebuilt in traditional Uighur style.) The streets were lively with scenes from an older world.

As usual, click on the photos to enlarge them.


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Metalworkers make tools for woodworkers.


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Salesmen peddle housewares, shaves and haircuts, spices, iced yoghurt drinks, and naan bread.


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Construction workers renovate buildings with little regard for US-style safety precautions.


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Cute kids walk unconcernedly or stare at the strangers.


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Old men relax on the steps or walk down dimly-lit alleys.


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Doors show the romantic ravages of time.


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Emerging from the traditional neighborhood onto a busy street, however, the modern world - in the guise of silent electric motorbikes - reappears.

In the Tarim Basin

September 7. We visited several interesting sites in the vicinity of Turpan. Click the photos to enlarge them.


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Four photos of women and children in Sanju, a village on the way to the ancient city of Gaochang


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Herbs and spices in the Sanju market


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Ruins in Gaochang


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Mosque and other buildings in the typical Uighur village of Tuyoq


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Mother and child in Tuyoq


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Boys in Tuyoq


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Colorful doorwqy in Tuyoq


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The building with the green dome is the Tomb of the Seven Sleepers, an important Moslem shrine in the Tarim Basin.


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Pilgrims from Hotan, making a semi-hajj to Tuyoq


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An old musician at the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves


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A portion of the Flaming Mountains, edging the north of the Tarim Basin

Silk Road: Urumqi to Turpan

Click photos to enlarge them.

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Thursday, September 6. At a lively morning market across the square from our hotel in Urumqi, food was sold and prepared.


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After breakfast, we drove south to Turpan. On the drive, we passed the largest wind farm in China. This is just a small fraction of the turbine field, which extended for miles.


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The Turpan basin is the lowest and hottest region of China. Therefore, water is crucial. A well-conceived museum shows how the karez system was used to bring water in underground tunnels from the run-off of the Tian Shan mountains to the fields and homes.


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The area around Turpan produces the great majority of the grapes and raisins in China. This is an exhibit of how the grapes are hung and dried in open air brick structures.


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An old grandfather at a farm where we had lunch.


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Different kinds of raisins laid out for tasting.


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The interior of the Imin Mosque near Turpan.


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Tombs of the descendants of the builders of the mosque.


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The ancient city of Jiaohe was destroyed many centuries ago. The remaining ruins are romantic in the evening light.


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Jiaohe had been a Buddhist settlement. When Islam became the dominant religion, iconoclasts defaced the human images.


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In the evening we dined at a family farm, and were entertained after with traditional Uighur dancing and music.

Day 2 in Xinjiang

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September 5: A flock of sheep engulfed our bus as we drove in the morning to the Nanshan Grasslands in the foothills of the Tian Shan Mountains.


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A pretty waterfall in the mountains


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A goat and kid on a rocky slope. From their coats, they look as if they might be angora or cashmere goats.


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A woman preparing part of our lunch at the Nanshan yurt camp.


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The ceiling of the dining yurt.


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In the afternoon we drove back to Urumqui and visited the Xinjiang Museum, one of the biggest and most important in China. The star attractions are the Tarim mummies: perfectly preserved, 3000-4000 years old, and mainly Caucasian in appearance and genetics. Here is the head and clothing of a woman.


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When you enter the Xinjiang Museum, the first thing you see is an excellent map of the province, here viewed from the second floor.


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One of the four major exhibit halls features the major ethnic groups of Xinjiang province. The dioramas are a bit hokey, none more so than this scene of Mongolian wrestlers.


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After dinner in Urumqi we walked across the street from our hotel to the city square, which was teeming with activity, including children learning to skate,


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tai chi,


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calligraphy with water,


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and line dancing.

Uighur Market in Urumqi

Yesterday we flew from Beijing to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region. Although Uighurs are by far the predominant ethnic group in the region, in Urumqi they are substantially outnumbered by recent influxes of Han Chinese, who have transformed the city into a standard hypermodern metropolis. Nevertheless, a small area of Uighur life and customs remains - at least for now - and we walked through the market in the late afternoon to get a sense of the culture. It is a Turkic culture, and we were reminded more of Istanbul than of China. Here are a baker's dozen of photos.

Click the photos to enlarge them.

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Beijing near Tianamen Square

Yesterday (September 4) we were in Beijing, on our way to the Silk Road. Here are a few photos from the vicinity of Tianamen Square. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Entrance to the Forbidden City, viewed from Tianamen Square


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Lamp post, flags, and surveillance cameras in Tianamen Square


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National Center for the Performing Arts, "The Egg"


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Main corridor, National Center for the Performing Arts

Today we flew from Beijing to Urumqi, a flight of 2800 km and nearly four hours. Urumqi, a city of 3.2 million people, is the capital of the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, the largest of the Chinese provinces (about the size of France, Germany, Spain, and Great Britain put together). This begins our tour of important parts of the Silk Road in China and Pakistan. More to come.

Far and Near

Photos near Coffman Union.

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We will be out of the country for the next two weeks, with uncertain internet connections, so postings may be sporadic for a while.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2012 is the previous archive.

October 2012 is the next archive.

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