The Way I See It

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Grand Palace

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Images from the Grand Palace in Phnom Penh, the residence of HM Norodom Sihamoni, the current King of Cambodia. The mercury hit 40C (104F) that day. I’m glad that shorts were allowed on the palace grounds. 😉

Palace Grounds



Written by xinapray

January 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm

The Faces of Litang

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Litang is a rugged high-country town located in the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. Historically, it was part of the ancient Tibetan province of Kham. At 4,100 metres (13,450 feet) above sea level, it is >400 metres higher than Lhasa and one of the highest towns in the world.

These images are of the nomad family that my companions stayed with. We were all scheduled to stay in their tents but I got sick on the drive to Litang and ended up staying at a local guest house (I had it rough, I know).

Tibetan boy, Litang, Sichuan, China.

Tibetan girl, Litang, Sichuan, China.

 Tibetan father and child, Litang, Sichuan, China.


I made these images at the Ganden Thubchen Choekhorling Monastery on the northern end of town. The monastery was founded in 1520 and was home to the 7th and 10th Dalai Lamas, both of whom were born in Litang. One of the temples is being rebuilt and the morning that we visited, the town youth were moving planks and scaffolding into the great hall.

Tibetan youth at Ganden Thubchen Choekhorling Monastery, Litang, Sichuan, China.

Tibetan youth at Ganden Thubchen Choekhorling Monastery, Litang, Sichuan, China.


Written by xinapray

October 31, 2010 at 12:20 am

The Road to Litang

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In the high country, prayer flags regularly adorn the landscape. Amidst the beauty and solitude, it is not hard to imagine the whistling winds carrying devotees’ unspoken hopes, desires and aspirations to the heavens.
Tibetan Prayer Flags, Litang, Sichuan Province, China.


Heading North on the Tibetan Plateau, the landscape quickly changed from the lush greenery of Yunnan to the arid, rocky terrain of the Sichuanese high country. I shot this late in the day. With the sunlight filtered by the billowing clouds, the landscape was painted in a harsh, dramatic light.
Landscape on the Tibetan Plateau, Sichuan, China.


Written by xinapray

October 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Images of Shangrila

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We were out in the late afternoon, driving around on the high-country grassland when our lead vehicle pulled to a quick stop. The plain before us was bathed in beautiful muted glow and in the distance, a storm front was coming This is down from the hills.We were out in the late afternoon, driving around on the high-country grassland when our lead vehicle pulled to a quick stop. The plain before us was bathed in beautiful muted glow and in the distance, a storm front was coming down from the hills.
Storm Front and Shangrila Grasslands

The square in old town Shangri-la. We were there right between the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day/Golden Week. It was thus pretty quiet.
The Square in Old Shangrila

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October 17, 2010 at 12:51 am

On the Road to Shangri-La

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Yi Boy in Traditional Tibetan Coat

While on the road to Shangri-la (formerly called Zhongdian), we came across this young Yi boy, dressed in a traditional embroidered Tibetan coat with fur trim.

Magical Shangrila Landscape

Mist-shrouded peaks, deep, fertile valleys and rich, earthy hillsides. Could this be the place that James Hilton found his Shangri-La?

Written by xinapray

October 15, 2010 at 1:48 am


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Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was the first stop on our road trip through the eastern Tibetan Plateau.

It was sprinkling as we pulled into town but as we finished getting settled in at the inn, things eased up enough so that we could hoof it down to the town square to start exploring. And behold, this is what greeted us.
Lijiang Old Town Square with Rainbow


Narrow cobblestone streets (open to foot traffic only) traverse all of Old Town. Running alongside these footpaths is an amazing network of babbling brooks and waterways. As we wandered around in the cool Fall evening, I was captivated by the fresh alpine air, the rustic architecture, the impeccably clear water and the charming paving-stone walkways.
Old Lijiang Cobblestone Street


Devastated by a 7.0 earthquake in 1996, the town was rebuilt in the original Naxi style, with these amazing classic gray tile roofs that stretch almost as far as the eye can see. I shot this on a crisp morning as the mountain mists rolled through; it was an experience that I will not easily forget.
Old Lijiang Rooftops in the Morning Mist


In the evenings, Old Town springs to life with the gorgeous light cast by these red lanterns (that adorn most of the buildings). I think back on Lijiang most fondly. The word “magical” springs to mind but knowing what I know about myself and my giddiness during those days, I shall leave it as “amazing” for now.
Old Lijiang at Night



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October 14, 2010 at 1:01 am

The Forbidden City

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It was sprinkling the morning that we were to visit the Forbidden City, and the forecast was not encouraging. But because this was my last day in Beijing, we went anyway, arriving to sparser than normal crowds (thank you, rain!). We got our tickets and made our way in. After a few minutes, guess what? It stopped raining!

This pic represents my fascination with the imperial doors, officially known as “gates”. Massive wood structures held together with, and protected by, giant nail heads, each door holds exactly 81 nails – 9 across and 9 down. The number 9, as I was to find out, had a magical significance. In ancient Chinese numerology, odd numbers were regarded as masculine and even numbers as feminine. Nine, the largest single-digit number, was seen as a representation of the Ultimate Masculine and was therefore symbolic of the supreme sovereignty of the emperor.


Old Water Spout at The Forbidden City

A crusty old water spout stands out amidst a row of cleaner reproduction units.


Another thing that fascinated me were the giant imperial lions that stood watch at each gate. The more important the building, the larger and more ferocious the beast, it seemed.


The Sea of Flagstones

While wandering the fringes of the palace buildings looking for the collection of classic art (thanks, Tien Hui, for the heads up!), I spied this young couple, chilling and watching the crowds go by. Before them is the Sea of Flagstones – the main courtyard where large gatherings and ceremonies – up to 100,000 subjects strong – were held. Five h-u-n-d-r-e-d years of history. Wow.


Written by xinapray

October 9, 2010 at 12:48 am

長城 (The Great Wall)

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I guess that no first trip to Beijing would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall. It was a nice autumn day as we left Beijing. When we got to about half way, it started to sprinkle. By the time we got to Badaling (八达岭), it was pouring. We got ponchos from the enterprising vendors at the gate, tromped around a bit at the top, then decided to pack it in. Terrible weather? Yes. But also fortuitous as it allowed me to make this exposure with the rain and mist billowing across the wall. Many thanks to Lu Tao for driving us around, and for seeing to our other activities!

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