Although China doesn’t have one actual national bird, the red-crowned crane is often one that is recognized for its importance in Chinese culture.  However, there is a joke you hear often in China about the “construction” crane being the national bird of China! I found references to it all the way back to 1993! It seems that wherever you go… other than true rural areas, you find some kind of construction happening! Shenzhen, the nearby city where we lived for 4 years, had a population of 30,000 in 1980. That year, the government decided to make it a “Special economic zone” and by 2014, the city’s population had grown to over 10 million! The population of the entire metropolitan area was over 18 million! Growth is moving outward, and currently they are working on connecting public transportation routes for the entire Pearl River Delta area. I’m sure the next five years are going to bring dramatic changes to the area we are now in. The top picture shows our view across Songshan Lake (taken today after the rain), and the other shows the growth happening south of us along the lake. The real red-crowned crane is from Safari Park, the Shenzhen Zoo :-)

Zigzag Bridges

Often when there are footbridges across ponds or lakes in China, they aren’t straight, but have many turns or bends, therefore the name “Zigzag” bridge is used most often in English. The bridge pictured is at a park we visited today. It is called a “jiuqu qiao,” meaning the “nine-bend bridge.” When we first came to China and visited the famous nine-bend bridge at the Yu Gardens in Shanghai, I was told that the bridges are made this way because the belief is that evil spirits can only go in straight lines, thus they are stopped on these bridges. Now, as I’m reading online, other possibilities are that it is because of Zen philosophy and the idea of mindfulness, to get you to slow down, pay closer attention and concentrate on the present moment. Also, according to Feng Shui, the energy moves too quickly when it goes in straight lines, so paths and bridges are made with bends to make the energy flow smoother. So, three possibilities…maybe a combination of all? I don’t have a definite answer! The aerial picture is a screenshot from Google Earth to show all the turns on the bridge, and you can see the pavilion is also in the middle of the bridge. We stopped and ate our lunch there today…very peaceful :-)

Life in China: A Picture A Day, March 16, 2016

 Today we visited the Nantou Ancient Village in Shenzhen. People tend to think of Shenzhen as just a modern city because 30 years ago it was just a fishing village, not a known city. But…people did live there, and there is history to be learned! Shenzhen grew up rapidly around the villages. Unfortunately, these old villages continue to be torn down to make room for high rises. Nantou is one old town that some effort has been made to preserve. The preserved South Gate dates back to 1394, when it was built as part of the wall around the town. It is a place where you can see the contrast of old and new. One feature I enjoy of old (and reproduction) Chinese architecture is the eaves tiles, called wadang. Their purpose was to protect the wooden rafters by blocking the rain and wind as well as being decorative. The first ones known date back to about 1000BC. The close-up picture is from the old bank building and the other shows the old Government offices. You can see the roofs with eaves tiles in the center and on both sides.

Old and New Architecture

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 10 - I’ve always enjoyed seeing the contrast of old and new architecture in China. I didn’t think we had any right here in Songshan Lake, as it’s a fairly newly developed area, but we found this building yesterday. We rode our bikes down this new road it’s on, which I guess was always a road of sorts since this house is here! We live in the housing in the background, which is across a small inlet from the lake, and there is new housing going up on the other side of the road. I really like that this old house is all decorated for Chinese New Year. They also had a big garden and a horse across the street. If these people own the land this old house is on, they are going to be quite wealthy when they decide to sell it!