On my first trip to Xi'An (西安), I became enthralled by the Muslim Quarter. The blaring music, blinking lights and steaming food were all intoxicating. On my second trip, there was no way I would miss it.
I recently had the opportunity to photograph the Beijing Bowl Ultimate Frisbee tournament. It was an exciting weekend, with many good teams vying for the coveted championship trophy. Though I haven't played Ultimate in many years, I was still happy to live my past glories by taking pictures of hucks, D's and layouts.
For this episode, I talked with Jeroen from the Netherlands and Linda from Germany. They started hitchhiking from their home in Berlin several months ago, and plan to make a giant loop around Asia. I met them in my apartment in Beijing, when they were about halfway through their trip. Hitching has given them a unique perspective on the world, in which they place their complete trust in other people. During the show, we talked about their amazing journey, and told many stories along the way.
The area around Shanghai and Suzhou, China is famous for its water towns. There are at least eight different villages within a few hours of the cities, each with its own special character. These villages are perhaps the best way to get a glimpse of the old way of life in central China.
Shanghai, population 24 million, is the biggest city in China. By some measurements, it's the biggest city in the world. I've visited Shanghai three times since moving to China, two years ago. The city is all business. The Pudong district, on the far side of the Huangpu River, is full of skyscrapers, including the Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world. The French Concession has beautiful broad avenues and boutique shops. Even in “old” places such as the Yuyuan gardens, shopping is the name of the game.
The world-famous Great Wall of China sees millions of visitors every year. The vast majority of tourists visit the restored sections, such as Badaling and Mutianyu. However, there are also many long stretches of the Great Wall that receive almost no visitors. During winter, it would be a rare occasion indeed to see another living soul in these parts.
My guest this week is Ryan Campeau. We sat on my balcony in Beijing for a lengthy discussion about travel, specifically in China, Europe, and the good old US of A. Along the way, we did quite a bit of story-telling.
For many visitors, the Forbidden City (紫禁城) is the highlight of China. It was the Imperial Palace of the Chinese emperor from 1420 until 1912. Today, it's known as the “Palace Musuem” (故宫博物院) because it houses a large number of ancient Chinese artifacts. It has 980 rooms, and the buildings exemplify China's ancient architecture. The compound was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. With 14 million annual visitors, it is the most visited museum in the world. Will you be among them?
Beijing's Yong He Lama Temple (雍和宫) is constantly beckoning. We live a short bike ride from it, and it's visible from our apartment's balcony. Whenever we have guests, we take them to the Lama Temple. They're never disappointed. The compound has over 300 years of history, with many prayer halls and works of art to enjoy. The highlight of the Temple is the giant Buddha statue, carved from a single piece of sandalwood.
My guest for this episode is Honey Sherma, from Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. He has traveled to every continent except Antarctica on cargo vessels. We discussed his life, both on the high seas, and in small towns in India. A large part of our conversation was focused on dhabas, those wonderful shops/guesthouses that always seem to pop up in the middle of nowhere in India. I like the concept of the dhaba, and the conversations that take place in them, so much that I even considered changing the name of this podcast to “Chai and Chat with Dan”.