Can we get one of Beijing and of Shenzhen? Please?
Same as the first two days - beautiful weather, clear skies, clean streets, polite people, expensive stores, and great pastries. Took the subway to Ginza, walked its streets, and then explored the exterior of the Imperial Palace. See full gallery HERE.
We started the day by walking through Omotesando to the Meiji Shrine, and ended the day with spicy cuttle fish fried chicken curry.
It was another day experiencing utopian, not dystopian, Tokyo; the overly crowded, polluted, nutty, techno-futuristic monstrosity of my imagination failed again to show up. Instead in its place was a beautifully spotless, fluid, blue and green paradise.
Most notable sights of the day were young Japanese waiting in long, all-day-lines for Eggs N' Things of Hawaii and Garrett Popcorn of Chicago, Japanese seniors spending hours sitting on the sidewalks painting the scenes of mid-day Omotesando, and the wedding processions, sake barrels, and perfectly trimmed trees of Meiji Temple.
Some photos below. Full gallery HERE.
Is this Tokyo? Am I really here? The plane ticket says yes. The signs say yes. The hotel attendants say yes. My eyes say no.
I always thought Tokyo was one of those mythically large cities, represented in my imagination by thousands of skyscrapers and millions of residents stacked shoulder to shoulder in suffocating localities.
So I was a little confused and underwhelmed this morning as I left the hotel and was presented not with a Blade Runner-like future metropolis but instead with a clean, comfortable, scenic, and spacious landscape.
I expected this type of serene atmosphere in Nagoya (see my Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 Nagoya posts from last October) but I always thought Tokyo would be much more claustrophobic and gritty. What I have come to find, at least on this first day walking through Midtown and Roppongi, is a city that is way more intimate and unblemished than its size should allow. Maybe my experience will evolve over the next few days as I travel to other places in the city, but for now, color me impressed (and a little confused).
By the way, I found myself subconsciously walking more upright and delicately today. It's as if I'm afraid I'd stick out like a smelly-barbarian in a city of well-mannered nobility if I allow myself to walk around in very relaxed, semi-lackadaisical nature as I normally do in China. Maybe it has something to do with current participation in Kendo classes and how I am now in the habit of moving around in a civil, respectful, deferential manner when I'm in a Japanese state of mind.
Below are a selection of photos from the first day. Go to the gallery for the complete collection of Day 1 photos.
Central, Hong Kong.
... time to sleep, eat (a lot) less, exercise, visit the cats... and keep working hard.
Panda Research Base, Wuhou Temple, and spicy Sichuan hotpot. Chengdu, Sichuan.
The Chinese city of Shenzhen recently commissioned the French firm Vincent Callebaut Architects to come up with an innovative and sustainable building solution for the growing metropolis. The result is this: The Shenzhen Asian Cairn Farmscraper project, an initiative consisting of six mix-used towers structured like a pile of rocks. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the buildings will provide space for residents, offices, shops, recreation — and as the name would imply, its own food.
China is often accused of being environmentally irresponsible, and for good reason. But it's a claim that may not stand the test of time. With an eye firmly planted on the future, the city of Shenzhen is actively responding to the demands of its rising population, unchecked urban sprawl, and rising CO2 emissions.
I would normally equate words like 'vaporware' and 'never-gonna-happen' to a project like this but I've seen too many crazy structures actually go forward and be built in this city, so never say never.
Gizmodo wrote up a list of 18 21st century buildings around the world they thought looked like alien spaceships. My first thought was that at least one of the buildings would be in China, and that building would be The National Theater in Beijing. To my surprise, five out of the 18 buildings listed were in China. Those five were:
The National Theater, Beijing
"Mobile "Art" Exhibition Pavilion, Hong Kong
The Beijing National Stadium ("Bird's Nest"), Beijing
The Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou
Galaxy Soho, Beijing
I then looked through the comments section and found some other Chinese buildings recommended for this list (though some were not from the 21st century), and was surprised to see that some of them were right here in Shenzhen. The readers' choices that included Chinese buildings were:
The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong Kong
Shenzhen Visitor's Center, Shenzhen
Multi-Purpose Cultural Center, Shenzhen
UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo, Shanghai
CCTV Building, Beijing
So what would I add to the above list based on my personal experience here in China? I'd add the following:
Shenzhen Poly Theater, Shenzhen
Zifeng Plaza, Nanjing
Water Cube, Beijing
Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3, Beijing
Beijing South Railway Station, Beijing
Shanghai Tower, Shanghai (still under construction)
Went to my friend's apartment to look after her cat as she is out of town for holiday. Then went to KingKey 100 to drink a White Russia 101 stories up.
Grand Theater, Luohu, Shenzhen.
Below is a selection of photos I took at the 2013 Hong Kong CNY holiday fireworks display. I watched the display from Kowloon and it ran about 20 minutes starting at 8 pm. The display was not as big as the one I viewed in Korea last year but it was still a lot more impressive than I was expecting. Below the following photos is video I took of the display. All photos I took (and at full resolution) can be found in the gallery.
Xixiang, Baoan, Shenzhen.
Diwang and Kingkey, Shenzhen's two tallest buildings. Luohu, Shenzhen.
November 9, 2012. Shenzhen, China.
Hollywood Road, Hong Kong.