Here are a bunch of pictures that I've scanned. Here are the goods, arranged vaguely geographically. Admittedly, I’ve used Photoshop to turn some of the grittier pictures into black and white. I’ve also increased the saturation of some of the more colorful photos (e.g. summer break pics). I know this is cheating but at the time I knew nothing about photography and was taking pictures at 15,000 feet using 400 speed film without a polarizer.
Western Sichuan/Qinghai/Xi'an (Summer break)
Just another day in a Chinese zoo Feeding the bears in Chengdu's zoo. The conditions that animals live in during their unfortunate tenure in a Chinese zoo are despicable.
Emei Shan A stream along the holy mountain.
Great Buddha The big guy in Leshan. He's about 75 m tall.
No carving Only in China… Seen at the Grand Buddha park.
Middle of town This random city in western Sichuan is essentially the border of ethnic (as opposed to what's considered political) Tibet. It was obscenely beautiful, with these huge mountains and flowing streams literally in the middle of town.
Farming Getting his agriculture on in Kangding.
Army drills When you have a town with a lot of Tibetans like Kangding, you don't want them to get too uppity with their ideas regarding independence, so it always helps to run army drills in town square to scare off those counterrevolutionaries.
Grasslands Yaks, yak herders, and plateau scenery at more than 5,000 m. This is all I saw for my 3 day epic Kangding-Shiqu bus ride.
Xiao bian Tibetans aren't the most modest people in the world, at least in terms of taking a piss wherever they feel like it.
Random village This is the sort of place where we would stop for the night during the aforementioned bus ride.
Cai hong Somewhere over the rainbow…
Tibetan people in Shiqu
When I got into Shiqu, I was doing the whole National Geographic thing with my camera. Here are a couple of monks (the guy on the left is actually a member of Tibet's government-in-exile), old woman, herder, some kids, random guys, two guys that I stayed a night with and would refuse to stop offering me boiled yak meat, mom and her kids, another mom and another kid.
Procession of monks All dressed up and nowhere to go.
Some really important monk A mob surrounding some head monk during the opening procession of some 9 day long festival for Shiqu's temple's 300th anniversary.
I had heard that this town in Qinghai province was obscenely beautiful. When I first arrived, I was very disappointed with how ugly the main town was. But the next day I went up to the top of this hill, where there was this temple and some houses overlooking the city, which were indeed obscenely beautiful.
Rapeseed The vast majority of the 36-hour sleeper bus ride from Yushu to Xining was incredibly dull sightwise. Qinghai province is for the most part a vast nothing. However, the last hours leading up to Xining were very pretty with fields of rapeseed and the bluest skies I've ever seen.
Ta'er Si A Muslim guy sitting in the middle the most important Lamaist temple outside of Tibet.
Terracotta Warriors A picture from China's most heavily visited tourist sight.
Divorce lawyer A rather common sight in most Chinese cities is people sitting around with signs of skills they have. These people are generally migrant workers from the countryside and are trying to find work for the day. Usually these people are skilled carpenters, plumbers, etc. This guy is actually a divorce lawyer waiting on the street for people in need of his services.
Back in Beijing
Me and my woman Alicia and I hanging out at the McDonald's on Wangfujing St.
Me and a bell One of my favorite words in Chinese is lihai, which could only be adequately translated as 'badass.' Or just check the picture.
Me and a bike My shiny new red bike and myself in front of some revolutionary statue on Tiananmen Square. (Later, I was told bikes aren't allowed on the square. Tanks rolling over pro-democracy students are acceptable, though.)
Old man napping Random guy seen outside Zhongnanhai
Old summer palace The ruins of the Old Summer Palace. Originally a gigantic, splendid palace, this fine Euro-style piece o' architecture was burned down by the British and the French during the Opium Wars when Chinese officials had the gall to refuse the opium the colonialist pigs were trying to force on them in order to even the trade imbalance. As much as Westerners wank off about how bad the commies are, most don't realize that the history of China from the 17th to early 20th century was one of humiliation at the hands of the British, French, Russians, Japanese, etc. and that this place symbolizes the shame Chinese feel about their pre-commie past.
Forbidden City More of the same. If you ever go to the Forbidden City, make sure that you take the audio cassette guided tour. It's narrated by Roger Moore, who does a wonderful job of laying on this thick ass British accent. Favorite line: "And this room is said to be where one emperor passed away from overindulging in his harem."
Taijiquan My instructor and I showing off our moves. My teacher is a pretty cool guy. English name: Willie Wu. He's been studying martial arts since he could essentially walk.
Cultural invasion I was biking through some random alleyways, trying to get some artsy-fartsy pictures of Beijing. I turned one corner and it hit me. When I see this picture, all I can think of is that scene in Apocalypse Now with helicopters swooping in and Wagner in the background.
Tianjin (late Sept)
Fish Sure, some might criticize American supermarkets as cold, sterile, and slightly hypnotic with the elevator music and visual barrage of 'buy me!' Clearly these critics haven't bought fish being sold in the middle of the street.
National Day Holiday (Taishan)
Sunrise at the top of Tai Shan I endured a 7 hour hike straight up the side of a mountain in the rain, on a stone staircase covered with wet litter, with literally thousands of Chinese tourists dressed in business suits spitting, smoking, and yelling 'Hello!' at me in order to see this. It was almost worth it.
Mid-December break (Yunnan province)
Hour one of a 14 hour journey Spirits were high as we embarked on our first ever sleeper bus from Panzhihua to Lijiang. The weather was almost tropical, we pleasantly chewed on some sugar cane. By hour three, nausea set in from the bumpiness of the ride. By hour seven, the temperature was below freezing as we were going over mountain passes at night without the headlights on. We arrived at 3:30 AM without a minute of sleep and desperate for a hotel room with heat.
Tiger Leaping Gorge Taken from my three day trek through a place that involves natural scenic beauty. Until then, I was thoroughly convinced that such a place could not exist in China. It involved hiking up a mountain, hiking down, ferrying across the Yangzi River in an inflatable raft, and hiking up another hill. Unfortunately, they are in the process of constructing a road through the place so the place will soon be overrun with your average Joe Q. Wang mucking about.
A canal in Lijiang With lost of canals running though the city, Lijiang, Yunnan is like Venice without the Italians.
Market madness Some Dai people at a farmer's market in Yunnan.
Lake Erhai Outside of Dali, Yunnan. It's so satisfying walking down to the lake and bargaining on your own for a boat, while all of those non-Chinese speaking, LP-reading hippies pay four times as much when they book through their hostel.
Old man China estimates that there's more than 100 million seniors in the country. This is one of them.
A bunch of random Buddhist kids Seen at a temple outside of Ruili. It was weird seeing a bunch of kids doing the saffron robe thing and lounging around playing with Gameboys and listening to Chinese pop music.
Winter Break (Guangxi, Guangdong, Macau, Hong Kong, Guizhou)
Chinese Chess The master at play. Chinese Chess is actually a lot more fun than regular chess since the setup is more open, so you don't have to spend the first ten moves getting your pawns out of the way. Taken at Nanning. A crowd of at least 40 soon appeared to watch.
Despair in a random industrial town Josh, Anton, and Ailsa feeling existential despair as we wonder whether a bus heading for Wuzhou will ever depart from the bus station.
Dog Did someone say dinner?
Cats Seen at Guangzhou. The Cantonese like their dinner fresh.
China...or Portugal? Typical Euro setting in Macau. The road sign that the guy is blocking is written in Portuguese.
From the top of Victoria Peak Perhaps the only redeeming quality about Hong Kong is the view at night of the city.
Karst formations Random rock formations in the Guilin area.
Yunche Another common sight. Chinese people are pretty prone to carsickness.
Yao woman's hair An ethnic minority-type person showing off her hair.
New Year's Dance Getting all traditional at a village gathering for New Year's.
People carrying rice I was sitting at an intersection of two roads waiting for a bus in Eastbumfuck, Guizhou. The only thing around was a noodle stand. Suddenly, about fifty people went walking by in full costume, carrying their harvest. It was like I was in a National Geographic article.
Zhaoxing One of a billion farming villages in rural China. In the US, the area would be picturesque, with streams flowing through gently rolling hills and forests. Meanwhile in overpopulated China, they're trying to farm the land for all it's worth. Since it's so hilly, the terraces are too small to be farmed with machinery (not like anyone could afford any.) It will inevitably lead to massive erosion and environmental disaster. My pet theory is that when China enters the WTO, China will have to cut their agricultural tariffs, and these farmers won't be able to compete with the much more efficiently produced American food products. In that vague, economic long-term scenario, that's good since the farmers will take more efficient jobs; this is the only viable path for them out of extreme poverty. The problem is (and what most economists ignore) is that the short-term (i.e. when they're all out of their jobs) could be very long, and 800 million unemployed people can lead to what might euphemistically be termed as 'social unrest'.