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Sunday, October 28, 2012

So Many Mountains! (Video)

So, I think this once a week(ish) blog post thing is going well -- what do you think? Should I post more? What should I talk about? It gets hard to think of video and blog post ideas after a while....I want to keep this fresh, and I want more and more people to come and check out the site.

Anyway, I have another video for you guys that I want to show. It's of me going to some mountains behind the school (Lanzhou Jiaotong University) and just hanging out. I went back again today, but there was a lot of people, and I was too sore from playing Ultimate Frisbee to finish climbing.

I hope you enjoy! The YouTube version is kind of crappy, but the Youku one is HD -- I include both because some websites are banned in some countries. I want everyone to have the chance to watch them.

Like I said in the video, there's just something about climbing just makes you feel more alive. This is true everywhere, of course, and not just in China. But for me, there's an added level of intrigue and mystery to these mountains --- for a number of reasons, and not just because there seem to be a number of people buried on them. I asked a friend if people really were buried there or if they were just commemorative markers, and he said that 99% of the time in China, they're actually buried there. What a beautiful place to be buried!

I seriously need to get out and do more stuff. I've been so lazy lately....I'm always telling people to get out and get around, but I haven't left the Jiao Da area in the past two or three weeks. A little sad, really.....but I'll try to do that more. Now I'm a little busy with classes and learning Chinese from a friend. Luckily, he's doing it for free --- great!!!

(Lanzhou University of Technology's 2011 Music Competition)

I'm going to be performing a Chinese song with a friend on November 11th at a Welcome to the University Party for the friend says there'll be around 2,000 people there.

Damn, that's a lot of people. I have to teach him how to play guitar AND play this song within two weeks. I don't know if that'll be possible, but we'll see.

Well.......that about wraps up this little blog post. I think that's all I have to say at the moment, but I'd really like to get away from the more personal stuff and back to the bigger picture. It seems like this blog is becoming more and more personal/narcissistic/whatever word you want to call it, and I really want to ask you what you think. Comments, please!

Is there something about China or Chinese culture that you'd like me to talk about? Do you like my normal posts, or should I do something special? I feel like doing something special soon!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wuquan Mountain and National Day Video

All right! I finally put together my Wuquan (5 Springs) Mountain video! I have just been lazy, so I hadn't done it till a couple of days ago.....but here it is! Sorry for the nearly two week-long delay!

If you're having problems with the embedded video, click here to go to the original video page. There shouldn't be a problem on that page

Unfortunately, I've lost my USB Drive, so I can't transfer any more pictures of the place to this computer, sorry about that. I hope I can upload them soon!

The video will just have to do for now. But, luckily, this is in HD - I took the pictures and the raw footage with my iPhone, which, although is a little unsteady, does a pretty decent job in the HD department!

Anyway, yeah, Wuquan was a fun way to spend a morning, as well as Lan Mountain. What, mountains AND hotpot???!!! Fantastic!!! That's a recipe for win.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bai Ta Shan and Guo Xue Guan Videos!

(Before I start this post, I just want to apologize...I've been the perfect combination of busy and lazy these past couple of weeks, so I haven't done anything. My bad. I'll try to catch up on my posts and updates.)

October 1st was the Chinese National Day - the day China celebrates its being a country. As I'm writing this post right now, I'm surprised that there really hasn't been much celebration.....this is supposed to be a really important holiday, right? How come there's no fireworks, no celebration, and all that? In America, we go nuts during that holiday. I don't want to speculate about China's population's feelings towards their government, but it might have something to do with it.

As you (might) know, a couple of weeks ago, I went to Lanzhou's Bai Ta Shan (White Tower Pagoda) for an afternoon. Here is the video for that afternoon. I'll also add it to my post, which you can read here.

A couple of days ago, I went to another place in Lanzhou called 九州台山 (Jiu Zhou Tai Mountain), which is located in the northern part of the city. On the mountain, there's a Confucian-style temple called the 国学馆 (Guo Xue Guan). Here's the video for that one:

Well, this was a very interesting place - distinctly Chinese, which is what I like. There are lots of different places on the top of this mountain, but the place I was headed to was the "Guo Xue Guan," a Confucian-style temple dedicated to thinkers and writers of Chinese history.

It's in a classic place for a temple - on top of a mountain!

Like I've said in the videos, I like going to mountains for a number of reasons. My hometown doesn't have any mountains, so it's still a new experience to live in a place full of them.

I also love getting above the noise and craziness of the city and see just how big the city is. I'm not Chinese, so I think this is a big city....they keep insisting this city of 4 million people is a small town. Crazy Chinese people.

Going to temples is a serious thing for me - it's a place to pay respect to those who have gone before me and to learn about what they did during their lifetime and how they contributed to this place that I'm living in.

These places are always very interesting for me - it just highlights the differences between America and China. America just doesn't have this kind of history and culture. It's not America's fault or anything - it just hasn't been around for long enough.

I don't really get into the offering of incense and ritual worship and stuff like that, but I definitely understand the respect that's behind it. The temple centers around Confucius, who you see right here. In front of him, you can see where they light the incense and make donations to the temple.

While I understand the respect being paid to Confucius, I have to say, I am always pretty confused about the offering of incense to him. He always said that he was just a teacher and just a man. When did he become somebody to be worshiped?  I get confused about that with Buddha too.....but anyway, the place is still very interesting!

(This is the Dao de Jing by Lao Zi written out in its entirety. The whole other side of the stone is filled up as well.)

As you can see, getting to this place is no easy task. The stairs are really steep, and this is a real mountain....not just a hill.

Me and my friends Nick and Xia Fei took a cab to the top of the mountain to see everything on top of the mountains, but we climbed down on our way back home.

It's insanity - all we did was climb down, and we still all had shaking and sore legs by the time we got the street at the bottom. Man, it was crazy.

But again, the location adds to the mystique and mystery of the place - mountaintops are classic places to put temples in China. It seems like almost every mountain here in China has a temple dedicated to someone.

All in all, it was a good day with some friends - I got to learn about some traditional Chinese culture and history, see the city, and hang out with some people I hadn't seen in a long time.


A few days after that, I went with some other friends to climb a couple of mountains. I have lots of pictures and a few videos from that day, so I'm gonna be posting that when I can. This week is a bit crazy because it's the first week back from vacation, so I can't promise anything, but I will really try to do another post in the next 7 days.

Until next time,

Austin Guidry
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