Tag Archives: China

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge: The World’s Longest Sea Crossing

The world’s longest sea crossing connecting Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai opened this week in China. The unusual bridge cum tunnel system consist of a series of three cable-stayed bridges and one undersea tunnel, as well as two artificial islands for a total length of 55 km.

The largest part of the crossing is the 30-km-long Main Bridge, which is actually a bridge and a 6.7 km undersea tunnel that dips beneath the Pearl River Estuary and emerges at the other end just before the Hong Kong border. The undersea tunnel was built to avoid disrupting shipping lanes. The route then continues over a 9.4-km-long viaduct and ends at Chek Lap Kok, the island where Hong Kong International Airport is located.

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The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Read the rest

The Ruins of Western Xia’s Imperial Tombs

About 30 kilometers to the west of the modern city of Yinchuan, lies the enormous burial complex of the Western Xia dynasty. Spread over 40 square kilometers on the eastern slope of the Helan mountain range, these tombs are proudly called "the Pyramids of China” by the locals.

As anybody can see, these tombs look nothing like the majestic stone pyramids of Africa. Instead, the Western Xia Tombs are earth and brick structures having the appearance of a giant pile of mud and dirt. But in the heydays, they must have been truly something to behold.

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Photo credit: BabelStone/Wikimedia

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The Rocks That Give Birth

In the Freita mountain range in northern Portugal, close to a village called Castanheira, is a huge block of granite that periodically ejects small pebble-sized stones. This rare geological phenomenon is locally known as Pedras Parideiras, which translates into English as “the rock that gives birth.”

The “mother-rock” is a granitic outcrop measuring roughly 1,000 meters by 600 meters. The rock’s surface is incrusted with small nodules shaped like biconvex discs that are between 2 and 12 cm. Due to thermal weathering or erosion, these nodules become detached from the mother stone, leaving dark reliefs on the surface. These nodules or “baby stone” are made up of the same mineral elements of granite as the mother stone is, but its outer layer is composed of biotite—a … Read the rest

Yaodong: China’s Pit Houses

For more than four thousand years, on the Loess Plateau in northern China, people have been residing in caves known as yaodong, which is Chinese for “house cave”. Some of these cave dwellings are carved out of the hillside, while others are dug vertically down to form a sunken courtyard from which rooms are excavated horizontally. The latter is the most unusual of which few equals exist in this world. The pit houses of Matmata in Tunisia come the closest.

The Loess Plateau, located around the Wei River valley in the provinces of Shaanxi and Shanxi, was enormously important to Chinese history as it formed one of the earliest cradle of Chinese civilization. The plateau was formed by the deposition of very fine particles of soil … Read the rest

Rainbow Colored Mountains

Soil is typically brown, but when mixed with the right minerals in right quantities, it can yield a fascinating range of colors. You can see such coloring in the walls of the Great Canyon in Arizona and the desert in Utah, but in some places the colors are such extreme and varied that it’s almost surreal.

Danxia landform

One of the best examples of colorful landform is on Mount Danxia, in Guangdong Province, in China. The Danxia landforms are made of strips of red sandstone alternating with chalk and other sediments that were deposited over millions of years, like slices of a layered cake. Over 700 individual locations have been identified in China, mostly in southeast and southwest China, where this type of colors and layers … Read the rest

Tianducheng: A Fake Paris in China

These two photographs of the Eiffel Tower look very similar, but they aren’t the same, which you can probably tell from their different surroundings. One of the Eiffel Towers is the original standing in Paris. The other is a replica located in Tianducheng, in the suburbs of Hangzhou in China.

Replicas of famous monuments are common around the world, but there is something pervasive and obsessive about Tianducheng. Spread over 31 square kilometers, this luxurious housing estate, opened in 2007, was modeled after France’s famous “City of Lights” with Parisian-style buildings, fountains, landscaping and even its own Eiffel Tower. The replica Eiffel Tower here is over one hundred meters tall, or one-third the size of the original.

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Which one is in Paris? Photo credit: François ProstRead the rest

Learning to Love Lagos

The Oriental Hotel, a skyscraper with the vague styling of a pagoda on the roof, looms large from the nose-to-bumper traffic on the Island-Lekki expressway, the carotid artery that connects the affluent Victoria Island with the new and rapidly developing free-trade zone of Lekki. An international five-star hotel, with a swimming pool, large conference centers, and a couple of hundred rooms, it is an imposing monument to the Chinese presence in Lagos, Africa’s largest city.

On the ground floor of the hotel is a Hong Kong-style hot pot restaurant, called, imaginatively, HotPot. Fang Kai is a regular. He sits in a seat by the window and orders us individual pots of clear broth and such an impressive spread of meats and vegetables that plates end … Read the rest

The Temple of The Flying Monks

That tiny orange figure levitating above this futuristic structure high on the Songshan mountain in rural Henan, China, is indeed a monk, although he is not flying by the sheer power of meditation. There is a giant fan beneath him, hidden in the interior of the structure. This is a vertical wind tunnel, the kind where skydiving is practiced.

Designed by Latvian architecture studio Mailītis Architects, the recently completed Shaolin Flying Monks Temple is actually a 230-seat amphitheater where Shaolin monks could host weekly shows. I’m not sure where the wind tunnel fits in the scheme of things, but supposedly, in the words of the architects, “the concept is to tell the history of Zen and Kung-Fu through artistic performances and the architectural image of … Read the rest

Chinese Public Health Posters

The U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (N.I.H.) has a collection of interesting public health posters from China during the middle part of the 20th century.

Understanding Human Body (1933-1951)
Hygiene Education for Children (1935, 1950)
Public Health Movement (1950-1974)
Prevention of Diseases (1952-2003)
Pharmaceutical Advertisements (1935-1956)


I cover my mouth when I cough, and I spit into spittoon, ca. 1950.


Public health and germ warfare during the Korean War, ca. 1952.


How the hookworm eggs become little hookworms in the soil, 1957.


Go to the countryside to serve the 500 million peasants, 1965.… Read the rest