China: Land of Dragons, Emperors, and 1.3 Billion People

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After nearly two weeks of braving the rain and snow, feasting on donkey meat and chicken feet, inhaling pea-soup smog, and running through the streets being chased by shopkeepers, we have survived China. (And why does everyone ask if I made it home alive? Do foreigners tend to vanish when they visit China?) The city streets are jam-packed with horn-blaring cars rushing to squeeze into every conceivable gap in the streets. And the pedestrians scramble to dodge them: the vehicle is the king-of-right-of-way here.

Yet despite all the furious-paced craziness of Beijing and Shanghai, China is a country of stunning cultural heritage. The palaces are magnificent down to every detail. Walking the courtyards of the Forbidden City is like taking a majestic journey through a turbulent history. And only by trekking over miles of the Great Wall can you appreciate its magnitude as it snakes over distant hills to a pinpoint on the horizon. Modern Beijing and Shanghai possess ultra-modern architecture and sleek high-speed maglev and bullet trains.

Despite the photo-challenging elements of smog, snow, and rain, I think I managed to pull of a few decent shots of the people, ornate palaces, and ultra-modern architecture of Beijing and Shanghai:

Radiating Shafts of a Passing Day

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars, representing the four seasons, twelve months and twelve traditional Chinese hours.

Some Bright-Eyed and Crazy, Some Frightened and Lost

This green guy adorns one of the structures in the Temple of Heaven complex.

Temple of Heaven

The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor.

Under Tiananmen

Line 1 of the Beijing subway arrives at Tiananmen Square-East station.

As the Years Will Testify

Chinese tourists take a break outside the Forbidden City.

Blending Harmony

The Gate of Blending Harmony from the Inner Golden River Bridges in the Forbidden City.

Gate of Supreme Harmony

One of the massive bronze dragons guarding the Gate of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City.

Fire Extinguisher

Cast in the 1400s, these giant pots held water for firefighting.

But Don't Think Twice

Inside the Forbidden City.

Looks Like I'm Here to Stay

Inside the Forbidden City.

You Shout and No One Seems to Hear

The Temple of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City. This was the center of the universe in old China.

The Sunshine Peaking Through

A bedroom in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

And as the Fear Grows

Police officer, Beijing, China.

Street Eats

A food vendor on the streets of Beijing.

A Place to Call Her Own

On the streets of Beijing.

Street Food #2

Various insects insects as a delicacy on the streets of Beijing.

Street Food #1

A street food chef on Wangfujing Xiaochi Jie (Small Eats Street) in Beijing, China.

At the Center Of the Fury #2

A mall in Beijing.

Basic Beijing Wheels

On the streets of Beijing.

Winter Stroll
A Cuboid of Electric Blues

Inside the Beijing Olympics Water Cube.

I Was Made For Chasing Dreams

Inside the Beijing Olympics Water Cube.

Waiting On Cloud Nine

Inside the Beijing Olympics Water Cube.

Dreams Again I Recall

A waterslide park in the Beijing Olympic Water Cube.

Where Rays Of Liquid Shine

Outside the Beijing Olympics Water Cube.

In the Empty Air

The Beijing Olympics Bird's Next stadium on a quiet Fall night.

Nested Dreams

The Beijing Olympics Bird's Nest with snow on the ground outside the gates.

Unfurled Beneath a Clear Blue Sky

Mutianyu section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs.

Of Fortification and Division

Both the outer and inner parapets of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China are crenelated with merlons, so that shots could be fired at the enemy on both sides - a feature very rare on other parts of the Great Wall.

All Along the Watchtower

One of 22 watchtowers along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China.

Spirit Tower

At the Ming Tombs in Beijing.

Hall of Eminant Favor

At the Ming Tombs in Beijing.

To Dominate the Impossible

A dragon carved into the stairways of the Hall of Eminent Favor in the Ming Tombs.

Long As I Can See the Light

Apartment buildings in Beijing.

Drying In the Color Of the Evening Sun

A panda bear sleeps at the Beijing Zoo.

Yearning for This World

The National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing is a titanium accented glass dome that is completely surrounded by a man-made lake.

A Night of Reflection Hits

The National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing is said to look like an egg floating on water, or a water drop.

Shine the Light on Me

The National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing has titanium shell broken by a glass curtain in north-south direction that gradually widens from top to bottom.

Forever Let Them Fall on Me

Yuan Ming Yuan gardens in Beijing.

That Time is Right

On a partially-frozen lake in Yuan Ming Yuan gardens in Beijing.

Fix Your Mind on a Crystal Day

A bridge in the Summer Palace complex in Beijing.

The Unsinkable Unfloatable

The Marble Boat, also known as the Boat of Purity and Ease is a lakeside pavilion on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing, China.

Outside in the Distance

Boats parked on Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace complex, Beijing.

A Vague Haze of Delerium

The Long Corridor is a covered walkway in the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. First erected in the middle of the 18th century, it is famous for its length (728 m) in conjunction with its rich painted decoration of more than 14,000 paintings.

Here Yearning for This World

Snow-covered rooftops in the Summer Palace, Beijing.

Will the Plot Ever Twist?

One of many stairways climbing up Longevity Hill in the Summer Palace in Beijing.

I Felt I Had Used up My Quota of Yearning

A worker rests in the Summer Palace, Beijing.

By Chance Two Separate Glances Meet

A woman roasts yams on the streets of Beijing.

Here Today and Gone

A metro arrives in one of the train terminals in the Beijing Airport.

Flyaway-Bound

Inside the Beijing Airport.

Save Tonight, Forget Tomorrow

The streets of Shanghai, China.

Of Gargantuan Tinyness

The centerpiece of the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum is a huge scale model of the city of Shanghai, showing all existing and approved buildings through 2020.

Trying to Keep Our Feelings Off the Street

A man reads a newspaper on the streets of Shanghai.

So Tell Me That You'll Stay

A bicycle chained to a building on the streets of Shanghai.

In the Empire of the Senses

The futuristic metropolis of Pudong in Shanghai, China.

And Now the Dark Begins

Traveling by cable car through the strange and wild Bund Tunnel under the Huangpu River in Shanghai.

Up and We Stand Above the Crowd

Mega skyscrapers in Shanghai.

Together We Stand

Two window washers work on the side of the World Financial Center, the 4th tallest building in the world

If You Only Knew the Power Of the Dark Side

Looking down the spiraling atrium of the 88-story Jin Mao tower.

The Ground I Rise to Grace

Lights low and high in the Pudong district of Shanghai.

Through the Roof of the Night

Cars pass through a roundabout under the Oriental Pearl TV Tower | Pudong, Shanghai, China

To Realms Beyond the Night

A futuristic bridge overhead in Pudong, Shanghai.

Gliding High Into the Sky

Two new sculptures resembling the Rolls Royce Flying Lady in Lujiazui Central Green Space with the World Financial Center (left) in Pudong, Shanghai, China

All Around Us Can't You See?

The pedestrian mall of Nanjing Road, Shanghai.

Tomorrow is Such a Long Time Away

A couple takes shelter from the rain under a huge sculpture in People's Square, Shanghai.

Give Me Shelter

A man stands in contemplation in Old Town Shanghai.

This Irresistible Grasp

Yuyuan Gardens, Shanghai.

A State Of Bliss

Serene hallways of Yuyuan Gardens in Old Town Shanghai.

By the Morning Light

A peaceful section of the 16th century Yu Yuan garden in Old Town Shanghai

In the Timeless Maze

Yuyuan Gardens, Shanghai.

Rush to Slow Down

Monorail shuttles whisk passengers through the Beijing Airport.

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  • Mike A

    Glad you made it back alive!

  • JH

    I love to visit China and my husband has some very similar shots. Your colors are almost too vibrant though. Special technique?