Thursday, September 22, 2011

Golden Gate Bridge (The Planet of Apes)

The Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular icon and tourist attraction in San Francisco. It is the entrance to the San Francisco bay area from the Pacific Ocean. It took four years to build and opened to public on 28th May 1937. Most of the Hollywood movies use San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge as the landmark to shoot such as the recent movies in Monsters vs Aliens and Rise of the Planet of the Apes



Full view of San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge




San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge




San Francisco downtown as the background
San Francisco downtown as the background




Closer view of San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge




Diameter of the  Cable of San Francisco Golden Bridge
Diameter size of a cable to connect the Golden Gate Bridge




CLoser look at the pillar of San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
Closer look at the pillar on the road




Picture alike San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
Picture like a painting

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Muir Woods (The Planet of Apes)


For those who had watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes before, you would remember the ending scene where the apes fought with humans and ran towards Muir Woods in order to lead their freedom lives. In this post, I would like to introduce the mature redwood trees, beautiful and scenic trails and natural heritage of Muir Woods National Monument which has been protected and preserved for more than a century ago. Muir Woods is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, north of San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. Muir Woods is always crowded with visitors on weekends and public holidays because it's situated north of the downtown of San Francisco, the distance is estimated about 17 miles (27 km) one way. The parking lots are very limited thus, many visitors, who come during the peak hours, have to park their vehicles by the roadside. Public shuttle service is available and operates on weekends and public holidays during the Summer only. Hence, it is advisable to get there as early in the morning (suggested before 10am) so that, you have more opportunity to find the parking lot before the peak hours begins from noon onwards.

Muir Woods National Monument is one of the last stands of old-growth redwood forest on Earth. Redwood-like trees covered much of the Northern Hemisphere 150 million years ago. This cool, damp, redwood forest and the water of Redwood Creek shelter for an ecological cycles of plants and animals. Muir Woods National Monument offers the visitors with options to choose between easy and moderate walking trails in order to enjoy the nature scenery, fresh air and explore the Redwood Creek Watershed which are part of the "California Floristic Province," one of 25 of the planet's richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life. Since the hiking tour takes at least an hour or more, depending on your choice of the trail(s), it's advisable to put on your comfortable shoes, bring your sweater and some water bottle along. On top of everything, it's crucial that you must abide to the rules and signboards in order to help to preserve the natural area.


Entrance to Muir Woods, San Francisco
Entrance ticket of US$5 per adult and US$1 for a map and a brochure respectively







Poisonous plant at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Avoid touching the poisonous plants and Poison oak





The beginning trail at Bridge 1 at Muir Woods, San Francisco (2)
Get ready with the easy trail from Bridge 1





The beginning trail at Bridge 1 at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Easy and wide path is accessible for wheelchair and stroller





Giant Redwoods along the trails
Giant redwood trees can be seen everywhere along the walking trails





The diameter of the trunk of a redwood tree at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Check out the diameter of the trunk of a redwood tree






The skin of redwood tree at Muir Woods, San Francisco
The outer trunk skin is known as thick bark which is spongy and fibrousness from six to 12 inches thick-insulates the mature redwood against fire damage





Relatives to Redwood trees around the world at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Redwoods and their relatives from Asia-Pacific





Fresh air and enjoy the nature at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Enjoying the nature and fresh air as we hike deeper into the forest





The United Nations at Muir Woods, San Francisco
The United Nations at Muir Woods





Two trunks attached to a Redwood tree at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Extraordinary of twin trunks are joint to a redwood tree





Breezy air along the nature trail at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Enjoying the breeze and nature but do not feel exhausted after walking for more than an hour





Redwood trees at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Seeing different perspective when we look up the sky





Saranghae at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Expressing my love ('saranghae') to Redwoods and the nature





Easy walking trail along Muir Woods, San Francisco
Preparing our next level of hiking trail. Heading to the moderate level while many visitors prefer to stay on easy trails





Easy trail at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Heading to the moderate trail after crossing this wooden bridge





Unpaved trail in the deep forest of Muir Woods, San Francisco
Easy and unpaved trail at the beginning but then, it becomes my obstacle to walk uphill and along the narrow and steep hillside 





Redwood sorrel at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Does it look like Clover? It's called Redwood sorrel





Getting through the trunks of redwood trees at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Getting through the trunks of Redwoods





Unique branches on redwood trees at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Beautifully shaded by Redwood leaves





He tried to do some 'acrobatics' between redwood trees at Muir Woods, San Francisco
A visitor tries to do his acrobatic between these Redwoods





Narrow and unpaved trail at Muir Woods, San Francisco
The trail becomes narrower and steeper as we head back to the visitor center (or the main entrance) after spending three hours of hiking in the forest of Muir Woods





Narrow and unpaved trail between the trunks of redwood trees at Muir Woods, San Francisco
It's crucial to give way to visitors from the opposite direction, along this narrow and steep path





Beautiful leaves with thin branches at Muir Woods, San Francisco
Unique and thin branches of Redwoods which resemble the frame of an umbrella

Monday, September 12, 2011

Travel Tips: Terra-cotta Warriors in Xian, China (Part 2)


The well-known Terra-cotta Museum is located on the east side of the Mausoleum of Emperor QinShihuang, the first emperor in Chinese history. The Museum covers a total area of 20 hectares of Pit 1, Pit 2 and Pit 3. Pit No. 1 is a huge arch-domed steel structure located at the center of the museum with the area of 16,000 square meters. Pit 2 and Pit 3 built in Qin and Han Dynasty tomb mound style cover an area of 17,934 and 1,694 square meters respectively.

On March 29th, 1974, local farmers of XiYang village, LingTong County, were drilling a series of wells in search of water during the drought season. They discovered some pottery fragments and ancient bronze weapons and immediately reported the news to the local government at once. The news aroused much attention from both local Government and National Historical & Cultural Relics Administration. With government approval, an archaeological team from Shaanxi Province arrived at the site on July 17th, 1974 and began their explorations and excavations. On October 1st 1979, Emperor QinShihuang's Terra-cotta Museum was opened to the public. The villagers were moved to a nearby housing area which was developed by the Government.

Emperor QinShihuang is the first emperor in Chinese history who unify the country by standardizing the system of weights and measures as well as the standard form of Chinese language in the country. Emperor Qin died in 210 BC at 50 years old. The tomb was not complete when his body was buried within it. According to a decree of the Second Emperor, those of his father's ladies who had no children were ordered to follow the emperor to the grave. Many of the tomb builders were also buried alive. In the HanShu (Book of Han), the emperor's funeral was described as follows: "thousands of officials were killed and thousands of craftsmen were buried alive in order to keep the tomb secret." Emperor Qin believed that life under the ground after death was a continuation of life on earth. Therefore he constructed a huge mausoleum for himself.


Today, the Terra-cotta Museum has become one of the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and also listed under UNESCO as a world-class cultural heritage site.




Miniature Terra-cotta warrior souvenir
Miniature Terra-cotta Warrior (Middle-Ranking Officer) for souvenir.




This is Pit No. 1, the largest pit in a rectangular shape, is one of the famous attraction site, Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses in Xi'an
This is Pit No. 1, the largest pit in rectangular shape with the terra-cotta warriors and horses




Closer look at the warriors at Pit No. 1 at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses at Xi'an, China
The individualized facial characteristics of the terra-cotta warriors




Closer look at pottery horses at Pit No. 1, Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses at Xi'an, China
Close up look at the pottery horses




Individualized facial characteristics and positions of the terra-cotta warriors at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'an, China
Close up look at the pottery terra-cotta warriors





Pottery of Horses at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses at Xi'an, China
More pottery horses




To restore pottery army of warriors at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'an, China
The restored pottery warriors




Pit No. 3 Terra-Cotta Warriors, Xian China
Excavated site at Pit No. 3




Kneeling Archer  at Pit No. 2 at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'an China
Kneeling Archer: wears green battle robe covered by armor together with shoulder pieces. The hair was plaited on the back of the head and then coiled into a bun tied with vermilion ribbons. He kneels on the right knee with the left knee raised. The right arm is held with his hand open, the left arm rests on the raised left knee and the hand extends across the chest. The head is held firm and the eyes look directly ahead. The straight back emphasizes the impressions of concentration and discipline. 




Middle-ranking Officer at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'an, China
Middle-ranking Officer: wears red trousers and a high-collar robe in green under an armor cape. The collar and cuff were decorated by white and red patterns. Both of his flat hat and square-toed shoes are black. The figure wears chest armor which is fastened by cross-straps on the back over a flared battle robe.




High-ranking Officer (General) at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'an China
High Ranking Officer (General): wears double-layered robes covered by shoulder plates. The figure wears outer robe in dark purple and the robe beneath vermilion. His trousers in green and his square-toed shoes in black. The headgear in brown and the colorful fish-scaled armor protected the chest, back and shoulders. There are 8 knots made of ribbon to decorate the armor, 3 knots on the front plate, 3 on the back and 1 knot on each shoulder.




Cavalryman with his horse at Pit No. 2 at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'an, China
Cavalryman: he's an important element of Emperor Qin's army, providing it with speed and agility. This figure wears the short dark brown tight-fitting armor, green narrow-sleeved knee-length robe with pleats and folds. The small tight-fitting cap fastened under the chin in a reddish brown, suggesting leather.




Standing Archer at Terra-cotta Warriors, Xian China
Standing Archer: wears in an unarmored red robe fastened around the waist with a belt, short green trousers, white shin guards and short boots. His hair was coiled into a neat bun on the right top of his head. His feet stand apart with the right foot turned outwards and the left foot forward. His body is tilted to the left with his pendant left arm and raised right arm in front of the chest to hold a crossbow.




Pit No. 2 Terra-cotta Warrior, Xian China
Excavated site at Pit No. 2




The restored No. 1 Chariot at Pit No. 2 at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'an, China
The restored No. 1 Chariot




The restored No. 2 Chariot at Pit No. 2 at Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'an, China
The restored No. 2 Chariot




Unique weapons in Terra-cotta pits, Xian China
Unique weapons in Terra-cotta pits





Updated: Chocolate replica of Terra-cotta warriors displayed in Taipei, Taiwan 
(source: International Herald Tribune)

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Travel Tips: Xi'an day trip in China (Part 1)


In my previous post, I talked about my traveling experience from Beijing to Xi'an by train. After 11 hours of an overnight train ride, we arrived at Xi'an. Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, which is one of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history. Xi'an is the only city in China which still maintain and preserve the original city wall. The city wall was built during the first emperor of Ming dynasty, to prevent the outside intruders from attacking Xi'an city. Majority of the city walls in big cities  such as Beijing and Shanghai have been demolished for the purpose of development. The length of the Xi'an city wall is 13.7km (8.5miles) which was built to protect the surrounding of the city. On top of that, the height of the wall is 12 meters (40 feet) which was so high that the intruders had difficulty to climb over.

xian,
Xi'an city wall


There are two popular attraction sites to look for while traveling in Xi'an. Xi'an Muslim Food Street is a popular landmark and located in the city center. You can find variety of Muslim food and souvenirs along this street. All of the food vendors and shops are operated by Chinese Muslims. They have Chinese names and also speak Chinese but they are Muslims. Xi'an Muslim Food Street was served as the starting point of Silk Road since Han dynasty. While you are visiting Xi'an Muslim Food Street, you should take the opportunity to visit the oldest mosque, Great Mosque of Xi'an which is constructed in a uniquely architectural design of Chinese and Arabic style.

Another major attraction to Xi'an is the Museum of Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Army and Horses which is located about an hour drive from the city center. I will share more pictures about the terra-cotta warriors in my next post.



Pomegranate flower is the mascot for Xi'an Expo 2011 in China
Pomegranate flower is the mascot for Xi'an Expo 2011




Xi'an city in China
Welcome to Xi'an City.




Xi'an Drum Tower and its surrounding walls around Xi'an city, China
Xi'an Drum Tower and its surrounding wall around the city




Xi'an wall covers 13.7km in length with 12 meters tall in China
Xi'an wall covers 13.7km (8.5 miles) and 12 meters (40 feet) in height, to prevent the enemy from climbing into and attacking Xi'an city from outside since the first emperor of Ming dynasty.




Sighseeing bus takes you around Xi'an wall in China
Tourists can travel around Xi'an city wall by taking a sightseeing bus (which costs 50 yuan per person) or rent a single bicycle for yourself (costs 200 yuan / 100minutes)




Sightseeing bus can be seen on Xi'an wall, China
This is the sightseeing bus which takes you an hour ride around Xi'an city wall.




Performers in warrior suits at Xi'an City Wall, China
Performers in warrior suits were on formation performance at Xi'an city wall




Performers in warrior suits at Xi'an City Wall, China
The Warrior formation performance at the entrance of Xi'an city wall




Welcome to Muslim Cultural Streat in Xi'an, China
The entrance to Muslim Street at Xi'an city




Xi'an Muslim Street in China




Xi'an Muslim Street in China
All the food vendors and shops are operated by Chinese Muslims along the Muslim Street.




Great Mosque of Xi'an in China
Welcome to Great Mosque of Xi'an which is listed by UNESCO as an important international Islamic cultural relic. It was built during the 14th century and highly maintained until now.




Great Mosque of Xi'an in China
Great Mosque of Xi'an is completely Chinese in its construction and architectural style except for some Arabic lettering and decorations





The entrance of Arch at Great Mosque of Xi'an in China
The Arabic lettering on the arch of Great Mosque of Xi'an




The prayer hall of Great Mosque of Xi'an in China
The prayer hall of Great Mosque of Xi'an. The Chinese Muslims pray 5 times a day.




The entrance to the prayer hall of Great Mosque of Xi'an in China
The entrance of prayer hall of Great Mosque of Xi'an. The Chinese Muslims will clean themselves and remove their shoes before entering the prayer hall.




Xi'an Chinese Muslim Mosque in China
A combination of Chinese and Arabic architectural design can be found on this monument at Great Mosque of Xi'an



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