Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Video Slide Show – Tibet & The Panda Base

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Click here to view video slide show on youtube.

Also check out the galleries with a few more pictures that what I’ve posted on the blog…

http://www.busscher.us/holiday/faces_of_tibet/

http://www.busscher.us/holiday/weekend_in_tibet/

http://www.busscher.us/holiday/panda_base/

Faces of Tibet

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

B&W - Faces of Tibet

Even more Faces of Tibet here.  http://www.busscher.us/holiday/faces_of_tibet/

A long weekend in Tibet

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Sunset on Potala Palace in Tibet

Tibet is a beautiful country that has a had an unfortunate past.  I’m not going to going into details since I’m not an expert on the topic but I would encourage you to learn more about the plite of Tibetan people at http://www.tibet.org/ They are some of the nicest, hardest working people we’ve met in our travels.  The world should know their story.

We only had 4 days in Tibet so we had to restrict our travels to around Lhasa.  The first stop was to the Jokang Temple.  There were thousands of pilgrims from all over Tibet praying, walking around the temple, and standing in line for hours to get inside.

Pano in square in front of Jokang Temple

From the top of the temple you can get a very good view of the market with Potala Palace in the background.

Lhasa Market in front of Potala Palace

We spent a lot of time wandering around the market.  The sights, smells, and colors were all overwhelming.  Miki also enjoyed filling her backpack with various souverniers.

Lhasa Market

Selling spices in Lhasa Market

The faces of the Tibetian people were captivating.  I took hundreds of portraits and could have stayed there for days taking hundreds more.  I’ll do a separate post later just show the Faces of Tibet.

Faces of Tibet

After visiting Jokang Temple we went on to visit the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama.  The Jokang Temple and market were much more interesting but it was a nice afternoon stroll.

Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama

The next day we got up early to go to the main site in Lhasa.  The Potala Palace (also pictured at the top of the post).  It’s a little bit of a hike to get to the top and the altitude makes it even harder but the views from the top are worth it.  You can easily see all of Lhasa.  In the far distance is the least popular monument in Tibet… the monument to commemorate the “Peaceful Liberation of Tibet”.  It’s constantly guarded by Chinese Military to make sure the Tibetans don’t destroy it.

Panoramic view from the top of Potala Palace

We went to the Sera Monastery (the second largest monastery) in the afternoon.  Not a very photogenic place and cameras weren’t allowed in the areas that were.  The next day I came down with food poisoning so I spent most of the time laying in the car while Miki enjoyed the sites of Tibet.

Pano of Gan Dhan Monastery

We went to the Gan Dhan Monastery in the morning.  The monastery is over 4,000 meters above sea level.  (That is higher than the top of Mount Fuji).  The high altitude in combination with my food poisoning wasn’t a pleasant experience.  We didn’t stay there long…

We attempted to go to the Dark Yerpa Meditation Caves but had to turn back after I spent some time curled over a rock getting rid of the last remaining bits of Yak Curry.  (Picture courtesy of my caring wife ;)

Yak Curry + High Altitude + Winding Road= bent over rock next to cow shit

After I was done with that we visited a Tibetian family were Miki was served some home made beer.

Visit to home of Tibet Family. Served home made beer.

The day was topped of by Miki throwing prayer flags into the air at a top of the pass on the way back to Lhasa.

Throwing prayer flags in Tibet

The next day we boarded a plane back to Hong Kong with a short stopover in Chengdu to visit the Panda Base.

St Regis Lhasa – not ready for guests… yet.

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

View from the St Regis Presidential Suite

The St Regis Lhasa just opened in Lhasa, Tibet so I thought we’d use some starwood points to go check it out when we had some time off over chinese new year.  The hotel opened back in November but in my opinion, its still not ready to receive guests.  Construction was still going on, the internet had connection problems, the lights would randomly turn on in the room (usually in the middle of the night), the electrical sockets needed to be fixed to plug my computer in, the elevator bank nearest our room wasn’t working, there was no directory in the room, they only had a trial room service menu, and the pool and spa weren’t open yet.  However, the staff is trying very hard and they will eventually get the hotel up to the St Regis standard… its just not even close to ready yet.  The staff mentioned the hotel was only in the soft opening and the grand opening wasn’t until May.  (Would have been nice for Starwood to mention that on the website before I booked the hotel).

Room tip: there are only 3 rooms in the hotel that have a Potala Palace view.  This is the most disappointing thing about the hotel.  They have designed it for only THREE rooms to have the view that everyone wants.  The presidential suite and the 2 Lhasa suites on either side have the view in the picture above.

We had a deluxe suite which was fantastic but we only had a view of someones laundry drying next door.  Here are pics of our suite.

with a number 5 sticker (that was peeling off).  The number 4 in chinese means death so most hotels label their 4th floors and as the 5th and count up from there.  The St Regis Lhasa uses a sticker to replace the 4th floor and then creates two 5th floors.  You would think they would be able to afford another sticker to cover the second 5th floor with the number 6 :)

A perfect example of the St Regis Lhasa not being ready for guests.  The “4th” floor button was covered over

and some pictures from around the hotel.

I asked the chief butler if I could check out the presidential suite to take some shots of the potala palace at sunset and he was more than happy to help out.  The presidential suite is huge…. I mean really huge.  He wasn’t sure of the exact price but said it would be over 5,000 USD per night.  It only has two bedrooms so technically it could only sleep 4 but you could have 50 friends over for a party and have room to spare.

pics of the presidential suite.

Panda Base – Chengdu, China

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Taking a brief break from the Antarctica posts to share our trip to Tibet and Chengdu, China over Chinese New Year last weekend.  I’ll finish up the Antartica posts after I finish this brief trip review from Tibet and Chengdu.

Panda Base

Through a comical series of flight cancelations by Air China (an unbelievably disorganized airline) we had an unexpected free afternoon in Chengdu.  A quick google search turned up the Panda Base.  We’ve never seen Panda’s before so I figured it was worth a visit.  I also found that you could get your picture taken with a Panda which I thought would be very unique experience.

Baby Panda at the Chengdu Panda Base

Once we arrived at the Panda Base we quickly went to the Nursery where they kept the baby Pandas.  This was also the location where you could take photos with the baby pandas.  I knew you had to pay extra to take a picture with them but was a little surprised when they asked for a $150 USD “donation”.   I thought that was pretty steep… especially for China.  I knew Miki would like it so I went ahead and paid the donation fee.

Our time soon came up to take a photo with the baby Panda but I got stopped at the door and they said you only paid for one.  I explained that I didn’t want to hold the Panda.  I just wanted to take the pictures of Miki holding it.  My negotiation skills failed.  I had to hand over my camera to one of the staff so he could take the pictures.  I would have gone in with Miki but I was out of money and the nearest ATM was a 30 minute drive away.  I didn’t care much about holding a Panda but I didn’t want to hand over my Canon 5d Mark II with 24-105 L lens.  I’m pretty controlling over who touches my camera… basically nobody ;)

I did eventually hand over the camera and the pictures were very funny.  The baby Panda was a girl named Ya Yun.  She was born on September 9th, 2010.

Baby Panda "Ya Yun" at the Chengdu Panda Base

The Panda seemed to be pretty hungry because it kept trying to take a bite out of Miki.

The first attack…

Panda nibble #1

The staff had to step in to help remove the panda from her cheek.

Panda nursery staff saving Miki from a panda attack

Maybe Miki didn’t learn to keep her face away from the Panda’s mouth?  Maybe the Panda was very hungry?  Maybe Miki smelled like Bamboo?  I don’t know but the Panda went in for another nibble and had to be removed again.  She got a good hold of Miki this time.

Panda nursery staff saving Miki from a panda attack... again.

Obviously the panda couldn’t fit Miki’s whole cheek in her mouth so next she went after something a little more bit sized… her nose.

Baby panda taking a bit of Miki's nose

and she had to be rescued again.

Panda nursery staff saving Miki from a Panda attack... AGAIN

The Panda wanted to show Miki there were no hard feelings so she gave Miki a nice goodbye kiss.  A kiss from a panda with some crazy little beady eyes and a few teeth are showing too… we can just say it was a nice goodbye kiss ;)

Ya Yun's goodbye kiss

The “attacks” look worse than they were.  The panda was only playing and none of the bites were hard.  Even though the main destination of our weekend away was Tibet, this was the highlight of the trip.  The Panda Base is a nice little zoo (if you can even call it a zoo since they only have pandas).  If you happen to be in Chengdu you should definitely visit.

On the way out of the Panda Base there was a very pathetic looking man selling Panda junk souvenirs.  I really hope he lost a bet with his friends or he’s on some candid camera show.  Really… what grown man would even wear that stuff.

A very pathetic looking guy selling panda stuff. I bet his parents are proud.

Here are a few more pics from around the Chengdu Panda Base.

http://www.busscher.us/holiday/panda_base/