Contrasts 3

This is my Beijing… the community square where Chong Chong plays and learns, the trees and shrubs, the apartment complex where we live, all under the beautiful skies we often have.

The contrast here is between my Beijing and the Beijing that is most often portrayed in Western media.

Chong Chong at 17 Months

Or, as I also like to call it… “All Day. Every Day.”

I’m the foley artist in this video. Finally putting some of my military training to work with trying to keep in step. Biggest success was not running into him.

He knows the names of things in both English and Mandarin. I mostly speak English to him, Shanshan is about half and half, and Lao Lao and Lao Ye mostly use Mandarin.

The video was taken with the back camera of my iPhone 6, and processed with Movie Maker.

Beijing Chaoyang International Spring Festival

I took over a hundred pictures with my DMC-GX7 at the fair. Over the past few days, I whittled them down to 35, which I then developed using Photoshop Lightroom. (The entire album is available here.)

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about what drives me as a photographer. Besides capturing images that interest me, I think most of my “work” falls into one or more of three categories:

  • Images of my family
  • Images that are meant to relate something to foreigners about this city I so love
  • Images that are meant for a local audience

And, with that said, here are three photographs from my birthday trek through the festival that I just like. 🙂

Beautiful two-story merry-go-round adorned with red lanterns for Spring Festival.

I’m calling this one “the brakeman”. I’ll let you figure-out why.

Shanshan, Chong Chong, and Lao Lao with piglets.

Bubble in Chaoyang Park

Well, I turned 32 (hex) yesterday. Was an absolutely great day. Started with talking with my mom (via Skype), then a red envelope from the wife’s mom, followed by an iPhone 6 from the wife. Also, had some great birthday wishes on Facebook.

After breakfast, we bundled up the gang and headed out to Chaoyang Park. Strolled around most of the morning, including a trip to the petting zoo, and then headed over to the Paulaner Bräuhaus for a great meal with fantastic beer.

I’ll post more pictures of the day tomorrow.

I took the above picture soon after we arrived at the park. I saw some folks blowing big bubbles (in an effort to sell the bubble makers), and thought it might be interesting if I could catch a reflection in one. Took a few shots in quick succession, and here’s the best.


Yesterday, we circulated back to Lao Lao’s side of the family. This time, meeting with her and her two younger sisters just inside of the South Fifth Ring Road. We had a great time at San Yi Lao Lao’s house, and then headed off to an absolutely huge restaurant for lunch.

One of the main dishes was doufu (mostly known in the West by the Japanese name of tofu). When the waitress brought the doufu out, it was covered in four flaps of cloth. She gingerly pealed back each flap, scooped out a small piece with a spoon, and laid it on top of the dish.

btw, San Yi Lao Lao means the third daughter born to Shanshan’s maternal great-grandmother. Which is to say, the youngest of Shanshan’s maternal grandmother’s two sisters. Yep, this time of year also means trying to keep the names in the family hierarchy straight.

To make things more fun, in relation to Chong Chong, she’d be San Yi Lao Zu. Enough.

Brunch in the Square

We went to the neighborhood square yesterday. It was emptier than usual, but still had a fair amount of people there doing the customary activities: dancing, playing cards, romping around with their children and grandchildren, and just enjoying a wonderful blue-sky day.

Part of the culture in the square is that the children share toys. Balls, tricycles, carts on strings, etc, are just left around the area. There are definitely times that a child will get territorial, but the adults will work with them on changing this behavior.

Chong Chong has been favoring sweet bread lately. So, when a family took a break to eat some pastries, he decided to join them. (We were a bit embarrassed, but they were extremely nice about it.)