Archives for posts with tag: shanghai

2016 was a long, withering year. A year that brought the world into new and dangerous directions. I didn’t take as many photos as I had on previous years, perhaps because the year exhausted me. I feel older, and not just in the literal sense. The joy of photography, as with many things, was lessened. I know I left a lot of chances go begging, sometimes because I felt they had nothing new to offer, sometimes because the energy just wasn’t there. But there were a few moments nonetheless. Here are a few photos from this year that gave me some joy. Open them separately for the full effect.

Hammerhead Over Ballycotton

Yes, it’s a panorama shot and yes it’s a landscape shot and yes it features yet more clouds and yes it’s taken from just outside the door, but the whole structure appeals to me. This, almost alien shape rearing over Ballycotton during the month of January. Living where I do, there are endless opportunities to take photos of the sea, the island and the clouds. It can be spectacular at times.


Southern Auroras

We caught some very subtle auroras in Cork on March 6 of last year. They were so indistinct the naked eye could hardly pick them up. An SLR could, though. With a long shutter speed setting, the sky came to life. Witness the reds and greens caused by fast moving particles high above the atmosphere. One day we might witness something even more spectacular. Here’s hoping.


The Iced Cross of Galteemore

On the 25th of March, we took a walk up to the summit of Galteemore in County Tipperary. It was a cold day, with ice and snow on the approaches to the mountain-top. I found this natural effect stunning, the result of driving wind and snow.


Pope’s Quay

One weekend in April, while my younger sons sat entrance exams for secondary school, my daughter and I strolled around Cork, taking photos along the way. I like this shot of Pope’s Quay and the reflections in the River Lee.


Connemara vista

In May, we journeyed to Roscommon to take possession of a new cat – a Maine Coon kitten we subsequently named “Gandalf”. We took the long way round, heading first to Galway city and Connemara before collecting the cat. After visiting Leenane, I took this photo of Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only true fjord, as it opened itself to the Atlantic.


Approaching Storm

A few days later, while Gandalf was making himself at home, I rushed to the crest of the hill above the house to try film an electrical storm before it came too close. I didn’t get any shots of lightning bolts, but I did snap this great array of summer colours. It captured a mood, I think.


Alicante Sunset

In June, we briefly visited Alicante in Spain. It was a work visit for C, with me tagging along as her wheelchair companion (she had broken her leg while running a short time before). I loved it and I was disappointed we could not have stayed a short while longer. This photo was taken as we ate dinner at a restaurant by the marina.


Shanghai Surprises

As soon as I arrived back from Alicante, I was travelling to China for a work trip. This was my third visit to Shanghai in the last few years and my first time there alone, giving me some time to explore. The city gets more fascinating each time I am there. It was swelteringly hot there, but thankfully little smog and it was great to catch up with some good friends. Below are a) the interior of the Jin Mao Tower looking down to the piano bar, b) the Pearl Orient tower at sunset and c) the financial district at night.


The Singapore Merlion

After Shanghai, I flew to Singapore where I had the Sunday to myself. This give me a chance to walk around the tourist district, visiting Raffles, the Merlion and the Singapore River. The heat, as ever, was astonishing. Without a bottle of water, I wouldn’t have made it very far. 2016-fav-14

The Misty Mournes

My work trip to Asia eventually came to a close, and it was now time to start my proper holidays. I went to Northern Ireland with my kids, taking this photo of the Mourne Mountains from Tyrella Bay. It was Ireland’s hottest day that year.

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Kinsale Harbour

In October, I brought the boys on a road trip to Kinsale and the Old Head, stopping off for pizzas on the way. It was an attempt to keep everyone happy, not particularly successful.

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Fota Arboretum in Autumn

In November we visited Fota Arboretum for a short walk. No special reason, just a chance to take advantage of a mild November day.


Wishing you and yours a happy 2017. Go m’beirimíd beo ag an am seo arís.

Shanghai is a city of endless fascinations for me. I was transfixed, even before the plane touched down – staring out at the strange landscape below me.
IMG_8819The only real free time I had was on my first day there. Still exhausted after the long trip, I took a short walk down to the river, taking in the immensely tall skyscrapers, the brown river dividing Pudong from Puxi, the Oriental Pearl Tower and sunset beyond the Bund.IMG_8909 Version 2 IMG_8980

The following picture gives an idea of the immense size of the city. Shanghai is like a forest, except the trees are made of concrete. It’s a city in need of more public parks and open spaces. It seems every spare metre of ground has been developed into a tall building or skyscraper.
IMG_9160On my last day there, as the sun was setting, I took this photo of the Jin Mao Tower.


I’m staying right beside the Shanghai Tower, which is frighteningly high, believe me. It’s 650 metres tall – the second highest skyscraper in the world. You get a crick in your neck just looking up at it.

This video was just posted on the Internet by two Russian guys who climbed to the top. Then, as if that wasn’t terrifying enough, clambered out to the end of the crane at its apex. Health and Safety folks around the world would get sick just thinking about it.

If you have the stomach to watch the video, did you see the skyscraper far below it? The one that looks like a bottle opener? That’s the Shanghai World Financial Centre, “only” the sixth tallest skyscraper in the world. I’m staying on the 83rd floor and as the photos from my window will testify, it’s already pretty high.

IMG_7084 IMG_7085

The trip to Shanghai comes to an end tomorrow. It’s been a wonderful experience and very different to how I expected it might be. I’m craving to see more of the country from this one whistlestop visit.

Don’t worry – there is no “Day 3” post. Yesterday was not eventful for me. Just work, a nondescript meal at a restaurant near the hotel and then bed.

I woke early and made my way across the Huangpu river to The Bund, the old financial area of Shanghai. Barges ploughed their way past the skyscrapers of Pudong as kites floated silently in the air. The morning was misty and dull, but not too cold.

I then walked up to Nanjing Road, one of Shanghai’s biggest shopping areas. From what I hear it’s usually crowded with people, but this morning only a few brave souls walked the street. Having watched some elderly people practice T’ai Chi, I flagged a taxi back to the hotel.

Our meal this evening was hot-pot. Each diner is given a pot of water and vegetables, then presented with small portions of meat, mushrooms, noodles, prawns and fish cakes to cook and eat. It was delicious and a lot of fun. We then walked to a local market with small alleyways and lots of interesting, good quality items on sale. Shanghai is an expensive city, although I suspect some local knowledge would come in handy in this city.


Some other things I took in: taxi passenger doors only open on the right-hand side, so it’s always a case of first-in, last out when getting in the back. The driving isn’t great – we’ve had more than one close shave over the last few days. None of the drivers know English, so a card with the destination address in Chinese is an ideal accessory when travelling.

I’m learning a small amount of Mandarin Chinese. Yes and No sound a bit rude to Anglophones, so I should have no problem remembering them. Other than that, it’s a very difficult language to learn. The way you say something is at least as important as what you say.

And, no, I’m not improving with my chopstick prowess. It gets worse when anyone is looking at me, and worse still if they start commenting about how bad I am.

It snowed today, a rare event for a city that shares the same latitude as Jerusalem and Austin.

I took a short time-lapse video this morning with the sun poking through the clouds; the light playing games with the February dullness.

This evening, we ate in the Langyifang Restaurant. It’s situated in a gigantic modern mall close to the hotels. We sampled a large mix of local foods, mostly similar to what might be found back home.

Foodpic 1

My impression of the city so far is much less of a culture shock than I would have expected. Shanghai is brash, modern and unquestionably upmarket. Most items on display cost the same as what might be paid in Europe. Many of the big brands are here, including Haagen Dazs, KFC and TGI Fridays. Clearly, if we want an authentic Chinese experience, we are in the wrong place.

One of my colleagues, an American, has mastered Mandarin Chinese, both oral and written. My Chinese colleagues tell me it is word perfect without much of a trace of an accent. Knowing how to read the Chinese characters is especially impressive, as this is a much bigger challenge for Chinese children compared to western kids. Mastery involves familiarity with several thousand symbols, many of which vary in meaning depending on the context in which they are written. On top of being masters in Chinese, many of my colleges speak English perfectly. Truly, I feel humbled here.

This morning I arrived in Shanghai – by some reckonings the world’s largest city. My travels began early the previous morning, with dangerous gusts around Cork Airport making hard work of our take-off.  After a short stop-over in Heathrow, a Boeing 777 took us across the Russian Steppes and Mongolia, touching down in Shanghai at 9.30 am Sunday morning. It’s my first time in China and only one of my first times in Asia proper.

Flying in, the area under the flight path reminded me of the Netherlands, with its cloudy weather, reclaimed land, wind turbines and man-made canals. It’s all brand new, with many roads, bridges and buildings under construction. The airport is shiny and enormous – the terminal building itself seems to stretch to infinity in both directions. A motorway brings you straight into the city centre and driving in you get an appreciation of the huge number of people living in Shanghai. Large apartment blocks cover the landscape as far as the eye can see. It’s an impressive sight.

Shanghai Motorway 1

Click photos to enlarge

A number of huge skyscrapers dominate the cityscape, the largest of which, the Shanghai Tower, is being built at the moment. It will top out at 630 metres, making it the second tallest skyscraper in the world. Construction is due to complete in 2015.

After a brief rest in the hotel, we took a taxi to Yuyuan Bazaar and Gardens. The garden itself is delightful – full of nooks and crannies, steps going nowhere and tiny footbridges. The pools are full of colourful koi carp. A pity it’s too early to see the trees in blossom.

The bazaar was a bombardment of sounds, smells and sights. Everywhere there were people – lots of families and children. Despite the fact that we didn’t have a clue where we were or what we were doing, somehow we managed to visit the Temple of the City Gods, do some tea-tasting and see the lanterns light up as the Chinese New Year ceremonies come to a close. We even got our photos taken by some teenagers, clearly impressed to have come across quaint looking foreigners.

Yu Bazaar 1


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