2010-01-28

Top 10 attractive scenic spots in China

There're thousands of attractions that you will appreciate and love in China, you don't want to miss them - if you have the time. It will take you years travelling in China to go through these attractions.

We are all short of time nowadays, so here're the Top 10 Attractions in China. By all means, go and visit these places if you have the chance to travel to China, you won't regret.

1. The Great Wall - Beijing Badaling
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2. Forbidden City
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3. The Bund, Shanghai
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4. Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses
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5. Yellow Mountain (Mt. Huangshan)
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6. The Potala Palace
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7. Dian Chi Lake
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8. Lijiang, Yunnan
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9. Mogao Grottos
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10. West Lake
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2010-01-27

Amazing underwater photos show beluga whales meeting divers

They don't get visitors in these parts that often.

That's because these beluga whales live under three feet of ice in the freezing waters of northern Russia's White Sea.

But when some underwater photographers arrived, they certainly weren’t shy - as these stunning images show. The whales are not endangered but under threat from pollution and loss of habitat.

They are thriving, however, at this whale sanctuary, where a natural bay under the ice provides a haven from the strong currents of the wider ocean.

The 'natural farm' acts as a nursery for breeding whales, as well as acting as a rehabilitation centre for former performing animals before they are set into the wild.

The whale sanctuary was designed and built by marine biologists from St Petersburg University.

Occasionally, guests at the local Arctic Circle Dive Centre can swim with the friendly giants, and get close enough to touch.


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Up close: A beluga whale, Delphinapterus leucas, eyes a diver a few feet away as it swims under ice at the Arctic circle Dive Center in the White Sea, Karelia, northern Russia

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Close encounter: A scuba diver braves temperatures of -10C to approach the whale

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Open wide: The whale tries to eat the camera, unsure of what it is

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Safe: The animals in the natural farm are a mix of wild animals and former performing animals, who are allowed to rehabilitate in the safe environment before being released into the ocean

2010-01-27

Astonishing images of Milky Way captured by amateur star-gazer

An amateur star-gazer has stunned astronomers around the world with these amazing photographs of the universe - taken from his garden shed.
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2010-01-14

Taipei Palace Museum

The Taipei Palace Museum and the famous Forbidden City in Beijing are derived from the same institution, which was split into two as a result of the Chinese Civil War. Covering a total area of 1200 mu (about 198 acres), the Palace Museum is located in the outskirts of Taipei City. Construction started in 1962 and the museum was inaugurated on November 12, 1965, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), the great Chinese revolutionary. Thus, the museum is also named as Yat-sen Museum. The splendid architecture of the structure is modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing and incorporates elements of traditional Chinese royal design in feudal society. The museum itself has four floors. The first, second and third floors are used for exhibitions, while the fourth floor is a lounge where visitors can rest.

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The Taipei Palace Museum houses large collection of priceless Chinese artifacts and artwork, including ancient bronze castings, calligraphy, scroll paintings, porcelain, jade, and rare books, many of which were possessions of the former imperial family. The full collection, which consists of some 650,000 pieces, spans many dynasties. Each exhibit, however, puts on display only about 1,700 pieces at a time. At this rate, assuming a duration of three months for each exhibit, it will take 100 years to cycle through the entire collection! Incredible!

On the left side of the museum hall is Chih-shan Garden, which showcases many of the elements of traditional Chinese gardening art. Inside the garden, pavilions, little bridges, flowing water, winding paths and green trees combine to create an atmosphere of simplicity and serenity. On the pillars of the pavilion, verses of well-known calligraphers are carved, increasing the beauty of the area and the pleasure of visitors - even those who cannot read the graceful characters.

On the right side of the museum hall is Chih-te Garden. Strolling through it, you will marvel at the beauty of the pavilions, bridges and ponds that grace this garden, especially in autumn, when the cool wind carries the fragrance of the lotus and sweet-scented osmanthus.

Also part of the Taipei Palace Museum is the Chang Dai-ch'ien Memorial Residence, which was the home of the celebrated painter Chang Dai-ch'ien (1901-1984).

One of the treasures of this museum is a jade cabbage, which was part of the dowry of Concubine Jin in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). What's amazing about this jade cabbage is that it is carved from a single piece of jade that is half grey and half emerald green. The artist carved the leaves from the green part and used the grey part as the outside of the cabbage. Two red katydids posed on the cabbage make this work of art so realistic that if you nipped it with your fingernails you would expect to see juice drip from the wound. When it was carved, cabbage stood for the purity of a family, while the katydids were the symbol of many children-obviously good symbolism for an object that was part of a dowry.

It is said that originally the jade cabbage was the dowry of Concubine Zhen. So why was it found in the room of Concubine Jin? The answer is that Concubine Jin and Concubine Zhen were sisters. When Emperor Guangxu chose them as concubines, their father prepared munificent dowries for them. Concubine Jin loved jewelry, so she was given a huge amount of money and valuables; while her little sister Concubine Zhen was fond of books, so her father gave the priceless jade cabbage to her. When Concubine Jin discovered that there was no jade cabbage in her box, she became angry and cried. In order to comfortable her elder sister, Concubine Zhen gave the treasure to Concubine Jin, thus making it part of her sister's dowry.

2010-01-14

Mazu Pilgrimage, Taiwan

Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, migrated to Taiwan with the people of Fujian Province in the 17th century to become one of the most revered deities on the island, where today about 870 temples are dedicated to her worship. Mazu's birthday falls in the third lunar month; during this time, temples around the island, including Taichung County Dajia Jhenlan Temple, Changhua County Lugang Tianhou Temple, Yunlin County's Chaotian Temple, Tainan City's Grand Tianhou Temple, and Chiayi County's Fongtian Temple, hold ceremonies, with incense burning, tours by the deities around their domains and other festivities. Among these temples, Jhenlan Temple in Dajia, Taichung County has the largest celebration and also the oldest.


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The pilgrimage from Dajia's Jhenlan Temple takes place during the third lunar month. All sorts of festive activities are arranged at this time, including puppets and theater performances, displays of embroidered banners, float parades, dragon and lion dances, and other events as the procession passes through Changhua and Yunlin counties, and proceeds to Fongtian Temple in Singang, Chiayi County. Many devotees walk the whole trip, which lasts eight days and seven nights.

The Mazu image which the pilgrims carry along with them is warmly welcomed at Fongtian Temple. The devotees prepare meat, fruits, and vegetables as offerings; firecrackers are discharged and incense is burned. Another high point of the activities occurs when Mazu returns home to Dajia in her palanquin; along the route, one can see hundreds of thousands of devotees holding parties for friends, relatives, and the returning pilgrims.