Photos

Japan’s Most Beautiful Villages: Shirakawago

As the title suggests, there should be some beautiful picture of this beautiful village in central Japan in this post: so here it is. Located in the mountainous regions of Gifu Prefecture near Takayama city is the beautiful city of Shirakawago. It’s so beautiful that it’s even listed in one of the 39 Japan’s most beautiful villages alliance(only in Japanese). This post has been long overdue and I apologize for the lack of posting but as my last post suggests, that young people are heading out to Tokyo and the larger cities for better opportunities I still feel that there is so much more that the country side in Japan has to offer. This committee that decides the “beautiful villages” has a nice guideline on how it decides which villages should be on the list. Just because the villages “looks” beautiful doesn’t cut it. For example, the village of Iitate over in Fukushima was chosen for its “madei way” of life which incorporates a self-sufficient life style not relying on technology nor nuclear power(the irony as this village was affected by the recent crisis). But the way people interact and appreciate each other’s presence within the community was also seen as a big part to these guidelines. If you ever get a chance to break away from Tokyo I would highly  recommend hitting up one of the many beautiful villages in Japan.

At the entrance of Ogi Village.

Ogi village. Rice fields and the light green color covers the entire vicinity.

Shirakawago is worldly known for its gasho-zukuri minka homes.

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The narrow road leads you back into the village.

The water is as clear as you can get. You can see all sorts of fish and animals along the water route.

View of Shirakawago from the top of the observatory.

Shirakawago awaits you.


[Photos] Pollution and Phone Lines around Dawanglu

My last couple days in Beijing reminded me of my very first days when I first arrived to this city exactly a year ago. Dry, hot, and polluted summer in Beijing. Driving back from my usual Wangjing Korean Saturday lunch back into Guomao, I couldn’t stop but to notice the low visibility. Sitting next to the cab driver, I took out my camera for some snap shots out of my window as I passed an electric tower and some phone lines (around Dawanglu). I’m currently back in Japan so I’ll be catching up with my photos from Beijing as a I put up more from Japan.


[Photo] Guomao Bridge and CCTV Tower

It’s interesting to see that people here in China have many ways to keep themselves involved. I spotted a man playing with a batton over some fast paced trance music.


[Photos] Construction Fences in Beijing

If you want to visualize just how quickly China is modernizing and rapidly developing walking over to the numerous construction sites around China is the way to go. I wanted to focus on the fences/walls that you would see around Beijing and how it lays out with what’s behind the fences. It’s interesting to see that these fences usually have nature or pro-environmental idealistic messages on them.  Here are some photos for the day.

At Tiananmen Square, National Museum and Mao's Masoleum in the background

At Jintaixizhao, Central Business District in the background

A worker takes a rest in front of a fence with a new development area ad in Wangfujing


[Photo Essay] Intro: Beijing Electronic Music Festival 2011

In its third year, INTRO 2011 is China's largest electronic music festival featuring China's very best electro DJs and international artists. Held at 798 just like last year, this two-day festival with 80 DJs proved to live up to its expectations bringing in over 20,000 Chinese and expatriate music lovers raving all weekend long. I didn't get to capture too much of this event but here are some snapshots that I came out with. Nonetheless. if you're in Beijing during this time of the year, it's a party that you cannot miss. I'll be adding more throughout this week.


[Photo] Basket Kid

I’ve seen all sorts of ways parents carry their children around the city but this one was just too good. Happy Friday from Beijing.


[Photo] Happy Moment at 798

I was originally going to post this yesterday since the air quality in Beijing the past couple days has just been tragic. But what do you know, the wind kicked in over night and Beijing is beautiful today with bright blue skies. Rain and wind are our saviours! But I wanted to post this photo from 798 art district, where will be the place to  be this weekend for the Intro: Electronic Festival in Beijing. I’m really happy that they are holding the event at 798. Hope to see all of you at 798 this weekend.


[Photos] Beijing Capital International Airport

Completed just in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Beijing Capital International Airport is now the most busiest airport in Asia. Living in Beijing makes it simple to travel around Asia and I myself have called Beijing my home for the last year. Coming back to this airport always has a special feel to it, well assuming that it’s not polluted outside, but when I came back from Seoul last month I took my time to snap some photos of the ceilings in Terminal 3. It’s massive and the photos don’t do justice.

At its opening, It was the largest man made structure in the world in terms of area covered, and a major landmark in Beijing representing the growing and developing Chinese city.

A 98.3-meter monitoring tower stands at the southern end of T3

The expansion was largely funded by a 30 billion yen loan from Japan and 500-million-euro (USD 625 million) loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).


[Photos] Wudaoying Hutong: The Next Nanluoguxiang

With all the construction taking place around the Gulou area in Dongcheng District, Beijing and  with the new  subway line planned to run through the old city, I can’t help but to notice all the changes being made all around this area. Wudaoying hutong, located right by Lama Temple Subway station is another project; similar to the Nanluoguxiang hutong, this hutong is slowly transforming into a much more commercial themed hutong. If you walk along the street, the exterior is accompanied by  hutong style architecture but the interior is occupied by trendy boutiques and cafes serving up western food. I walked by Wudaoying two weeks ago and it already looked a lot different from what I could remember from last year.  The entrance to the hutong from the Lama Temple side looked as if it was almost complete. Here are some photos I snapped from Wudaoying hutong entrance.


[Photos] Green Forbidden City

One of the most recognized monuments in the world, the entrance to the Forbidden City shows up in countless articles and photo blogs when talking about Chinese politics and Beijing. I wanted to take a fresh perspective by focusing more on the nature that surrounds this monument. Enjoy.


[Photos] Beijing Railway Station at Sunset

Upon leaving for my latest thirteen hour train ride over to Dalian in Liaoning Province, I took some time to snap away some scenes from Beijing railway station: the oldest station in Beijing that’s been around for almost sixty years. Since my train was to leave at night and it was during China’s labor day three-day weekend, you could see a lot of people rushing in to catch their trains.  Beijing railway station to me is a special place since my first trip to Beijing couple years back started from this station. I had no idea I would be back working here but it was nice to look around and take some photos here during sunset. I think the photos can do most of the talking but I wanted to show some movement in these photos.


[Photo] Beijing Apple Store Scuffle Aftermath

Last Saturday afternoon turned out to be an interesting one for me at Sanlitun Village, one of the premier shopping malls in Beijing. A group of people wanting to purchase the brand new white iPhone 4 and iPad 2 clashed with Apple Store employees in a fight that caused the store to close down for several hours. Sources like gizmodo and WSJ have a pretty good coverage on what went down but it was interesting enough for me to observe the aftermath as this all folded as if nothing ever happened.

I first noticed the crowd getting larger and larger around the apple store, and so like most curious people I decided to check it out. Throughout this week with the release of iPad 2, you could feel in Beijing the tensions and pressures of people wanting to get one for themselves. Beyond the hundreds of observers, I noticed the large amount of security guards lined up in front of the store along with one side of the glass door to the apple store being completely shattered and gone (see photo below). You could see that the venue didn’t want any more attention and chaos as I witnessed a number of  people yelling for them to open the store since they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to get their apple products today. Then a man came around and started sprinkling water on the clean pavement to stir the crowd away. His action inspired me to take out my camera and snap this photo. This water method worked so well that he alone cleared out almost half of the hundreds of people in a couple of minutes. 30minutes later the store was still closed but it was really as if nothing happened at all.  But nonetheless the demand for apple products here is growing substantially.


[Photo Essay] Beijing Snap Shots: One Week of Spring

If you've lived long enough in Beijing, there's one season that we all look forward to and that is Spring. Beijing in my opinion only has two seasons: Summer and Winter. Spring and fall add up to a minimal 2-3 weeks out of the year. So when Spring arrives this city becomes much more active and people enjoy this season as much as they can. This photo essay was my attempt to capture as much as the city as I could during different times of the day. From the central business district to the hutongs in Gulou: I hope that you can feel the energy level of this city in one of the best times of the year.

1. A group of men pass by a public art at the Art District in Pinguo near Shuangjing. You can see Guomao, the central business district of Beijing, in the back ground to the north-west.

2. Heading north towards Guomao is Jianwai SOHO. The white buildings are noticeable from the south end of Guomao. Jianwai SOHO has commercial, residential, and office spaces along its 18 towers and is a popular destination for workers in the area for lunch and dinner.

3. Going west from Guomao is Qianmen, one of the major shopping areas in Beijing. This photo was taken at Qianmen Street: one of Beijing's oldest commercial area that has recently been renovated.

4. A woman walks by a group of pots at one of the side streets from Qianmen Shopping Street. QIanmen is home to some of the oldest restaurants in Beijing and serves a collection of famous Chinese dishes from all over China.

5. Families enjoy a nice weekend on Qianmen shopping street.

6. The National Museum. Photo taken from the Tiananmen Square. The museum was recently re-opened after its long renovation was completed.

7. Visitors exit the forbidden city and head south towards Tiananmen Square.

8. This Underground pass connects the Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden City entrance.

9. Chinese tourists take a rest together besides the Forbidden City.

10. Chinese tourists are easy to spot with their identical caps.

11. Visitors enjoy the nice weather at the Forbidden City.

12. At the north end of the Forbidden City is the flower garden blooming with colorful flowers as you exit out.

13. Visitors glance over the Forbidden City from the top of Jingshan Park, located directly north of the Forbidden City. You can overlook most of the city of Beijing from this park.

14. Crowds gather at a local music performance at Tiantan Park, near the Temple of Heaven.

15. An Old man teaches how to dance with sticks to anyone who is interested at Tiantan Park.

16. As the weather gets warmer, more and more people can be seen at the park dancing and singing. I met people who were over ninety years old who wanted to exercise and keep healthy.

17. At Beihai Park, one of the largest imperial gardens in China on a sunny afternoon.

18. Taijiquan sessions take place daily from early morning to dawn at Beihai Park.

19. Students are walking home at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

20. A group of local high school students eat Stinky tofu together near the Drum Tower in Dongcheng District.

21. A vendor prepares pineapples to be sold by Drum Tower. You can find all sorts of fruits and small snacks in this area around the Drum Tower.

22. A hot pot restaurant attempts to attract customers as they sing songs and welcome people walking by.

23. A vendor takes a break from work. Photo taken near Nanluoguxiang.

24. Workers along Gulou Da Jie.

25. A family takes a rest in front of the Bell Tower.

26. Pedestrians make room for a car driving through the narrow commercial hutong of Nanluoguxiang.

27. Bikers and pedestrians await the green light at an intersection in Wangjing, the Korean Town of Beijing.

28. Residents of Dongcheng district enjoy a game of ping-pong. They are always looking for new contenders and they practice every day.

29. A mountain besides the Jingshanling Great Wall(located in the outskirts of Beijing) reads "Praise Chairman Mao" in white characters.

30. People rush out of Beijing heading east at Sihui during sunset. Guomao is in the background.

31. People crossing the overpass bridge at Shuangjing during sunset.

32. The dancing continues at night-time at Shuangjing bridge.


[Photos] Wangjing, the Korean Town of Beijing

One of the hidden gems of Beijing in my opinion is Wangjing (望京), which translates to ” the view of Beijing”. I doubt that this part of the city located in the north-east corner of Beijing is listed on any of the guidebooks. But my love for Korean food goes to an extent where I will be looking for the best Korean food in any foreign country I visit. In Beijing there are Korean chain restaurants like HanNaShan who serve you Korean BBQ but they don’t even have Korean beer or have no idea what Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine) is. So very quickly I discovered Wangjing, the K-Town of Beijing. It is said that there are approximately 120,000 South Koreans in Beijing but 70,000 reside in this area. I personally would recommend the Korean food court area by the newly completed  Line 15 Wangjing Subway Station where there are buildings full of just Korean restaurants. If you reside in Chaoyang district and think that Wudaokou has the best Korean food I think you should give Wangjing a try. Here are some snap shots I came away from Wangjing the other day.

Since 1999, Koreans began to flock here in Wangjing fleeing escalating housing costs in downtown Beijing.

20 years ago the area was a plain old suburb where ox carts and bicycles plodded along dusty roads.

Signs are all in Korean, making it easy for Koreans who do not speak Chinese to reside.

A vendor sells Korean ginseng, a medical plant that helps develop human brain efficiency, in front of a Korean food court.


[Photo] View from Jingshan Park, Beijing

It’s been an interesting year as many of my friends from Japan and the US has visited me thus far. I think I was slowly getting used to the same old routine of sleep, eat, and work and I rarely had a chance to get out and see Beijing these days. Here is a photo that I took from the top of Jingshan Park, located directly north of the forbidden city.


[Photos] Beijing Jungle, Behind the Scenes of Pets Conspiracy

I’ve been posting and tweeting a lot about Japan these days, for obvious reasons, and I didn’t get a chance to post photos from the beginning of the month when I was an honorable extra for a China based band, Pets Conspiracy‘s music video shoot.  When people ask me what Beijing is like compared to other cities around the world, I can’t come up with a better analogy than saying that “It’s like a jungle”. There’s so much going on in Beijing  and I believe this energy level I can feel from this amazing city and its people is what attracts so many people to come here. Survival of the fittest might even fit in this analogy with Beijing. But what happens when you actually have animals taking over Beijing? This is what happens: Beijing Jungle. Enjoy the photos from the shoot and I will update my site when the actual music video comes out. Also, see if you can find me.


[Photos] 798 Art District: Fat Man

It’s always a good idea to visit the 798 Art District in Beijing if you are ever in town. I made my way over to this location to hear New Yorker’s Beijing correspondent, Evan Osnos speak about journalism and ethical dilemma(expect a post on this event over the weekend). Walking through, I ran into this sculpture of a fat man and could not help but to snap a couple photos. It’s supposed to be gorgeous in Beijing this weekend. Spring is finally here.


[Photo] Beijing Dungeon

Once in a while I like taking photos of random things and make it look cool. During Spring Festival, I wanted to take a panorama photo of the fireworks all over Beijing by going to the top floor of my office building. But the door was locked to the balcony and I wasn’t able to do so. I came up with this photo instead. I’ve been lazy with posting photos this week and I plan to do a much better job next week.


[Photo] View from the Highest bar in Beijing

From the top floor of the China World Tower 3 is Beijing’s highest bar and skydeck. This breathtaking location gives you one of the best views of Beijing. With over 20million people in this city, where you could be on the subway for almost 2 hours from the north end to the south end of the city, Beijing could be felt as a big city. But from the 80th floor, Beijing doesn’t feel as big. Drinks and food at the lounge is overpriced as expected but considering the panorama view of the city it is well worth the visit. This photo is looking out towards the east side of the city from Guomao.


[Photos] The National Mosque (Masjid Negara) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

What I find most interesting about Malaysia is the diverse background of its people. I witnessed a  buddhist temple on one block and then a mosque on the other side of the street. The Masjid Negara is the National Mosque of Malaysia and is a site that must be seen if you are in Kuala Lumpur. This uniquely designed mosque embodies a contemporary expression of traditional Islamic art and ornamentation. Standing prominently against the skyline is the sleek and stylish 73m high minaret. Enjoy the photos.


[Photos] Hat Yai, Thailand

From our journey back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Koh Lipe, Thailand we took a bus from Hat Yai, Thailand. Located in southern Thailand near the boundary of Malaysia, you can see some Chinese influences within the city. My Chinese abilities were quite useful in Hat Yai as I tried convincing my foot massage therapist to press lighter. I had no idea what this place was until I arrived but Hat Yai was an interesting place for photography. Enjoy the photos below.

Mangos were sold everywhere in Hat Yai

The Taxi Bus, picks up everyone and re-routes as they go

Random disco ball in the middle of the street


[Photos] Koh Lipe, Thailand

Approximately 2 hour away from Langkawi, Malaysia is a castaway island so rich with untouched nature. This is Koh Lipe. I have had the opportunity to see some of the islands off of southern Thailand but Koh Lipe was by far the most beautiful island. Koh Phi Phi and Phuket were overly touristy and it was hard to get away from the crowd and be lazy on the beach. But Koh Lipe is exactly that kind of place. If you are backpacking from Thailand to Malaysia or vice versa, I would recommend staying at Koh Lipe. The only problem was finding a lodge. During high-season we witnessed backpacker’s walking around for hours on this tiny island looking for a place to stay and some resort to sleeping on the beach. But of course, prices in Koh Lipe are higher than Thailand mainland so expect to spend 100-200 bahts per meal. Here are some photos I took in Koh Lipe.


[Photos] Where the Hell is Matt? in Beijing

This past weekend, youtube phenomenon and world traveler known as “Matt” was in town to shoot scenes for his newest video. He said his journey across 100+ countries started in 2003 when he was backpacking in Vietnam and his friends thought that it would be interesting to take videos of him dancing badly all around the world. Eight years later he has a sponsor endorsing his travels around the world, has his own t-shirt and is living a Forrest Gump-like life. He was nice enough to take some videos with us as well(youtube/tudou). It was interesting to see Beijing expats and local Chinese come out and dance together with Matt. It seems like everyone in China is dancing these days.


[Photos] China World Trade Center Tower 3 at Night

Beijing’s tallest building. The view from the top floor gives you a great view of the entire city of Beijing. Often times I feel Beijing is such a large city but when you’re up there looking out in the distance, Beijing doesn’t feel as big. Hard to imagine that this building didn’t exist 5 years ago.