Friday, 5 July 2019

Final China Trip Post

Judging from the lack of comments on my previous post, people have probably seen enough of my trip to China, but I will persevere and finish it off with a few images from the last couple of days in Shanghai!

Communist flags in  Shanghai - we saw far more of these in this city than anywhere else we visited - perhaps because once upon a time, this was centre of European domination - and the Chinese are just making a nationalistic point about who is running things now?

Some of the impressive early twentieth century European architecture on the Bund - again, an abundance of Chinese flags adorn these buildings

Huangpu River view

Another view of the Huangpu River from the Bund

We were wondering up Nanking Road around 5pm when we noticed a large number of traffic policemen - there are around eight in this one small view of the street - they were deploying to every intersection in preparation for the rush hour....

Later that evening, the group visited the old French Concession area, where we partook of a traditional Chinese meal - Bavarian Paulaner Bier and Pretzels!

Another view of the architecture in the French Concession

Around eight pm, once it was dark, we took a boat trip on the Huangpu River to view the illuminated buildings - very impressive - much more so than the poor quality photos can portray

Next morning, our last full day in China, the first stop was the Maglev Train

The train is driverless and covers the 17km from the city to the airport in  4.5 minutes. Top speed is 440km/h!

Above the internal speed sign in the Maglev train, which runs using magnetic power and "floats" over the rail it runs on - hence the high speed achievable

After the train ride, we visited the Jin Mao Tower which is one of the tallest in the world - I think maybe number six. The fifth and fourth tallest are also in Shanghai - one of the more or less next door

Height sign in stairwell one level down from the observation deck floor

View of the Huangpu River from Jin Mao Tower

A couple more views from over 340m up in the air!

That was about it for tourist photo ops in Shanghai - we had the afternoon and evening still but these were spent visiting shopping opportunities and I did not feel inclined to take pictures of a thousand market stalls selling very good quality knock off Gucci and Dolce and Gabanna bags etc - even though my wife did buy a couple!

Final views as we arrived at Shanghai airport on day 11 of our tour

It was a great trip and I would recommend it to anyone. From this part of the world - NZ/Australia - it was an incredibly low cost holiday and China is not a country I would ever have imagined visiting when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's - it was almost as closed off from the world then as N Korea is today!

A few impressions - 

Beijing was a bit "tired" - they seem to throw up buildings very quickly but then don't maintain them - my wife was reminded of  Russia when she visited there in the 1980's.

The grey skies - everyone knows I expect - but its still strange to be standing on the street in 30+ degrees c heat, with bright sunshine casting shadows, yet when you look up, you cant see any blue sky! I think we saw a small section once in the 11 days we were there!

No sirens - we spent 4 days and nights in a city of 24 million people and 6 million cars - Beijing - and we NEVER ONCE heard any emergency vehicle siren. I live in a small rural town south of Auckland and we would hear police, fire or ambulance sirens at least once or twice every single day!

Lots of uniforms - it was hard to distinguish exactly who was who - some of the guys we thought were policemen may in fact have just been security officers - but there were a lot of them wherever you went - not intimidating but it was just very obvious compared with NZ - a bit like how there a police officers everywhere in central London.

Building works going on everywhere on a huge scale - where we would be putting up one ten story building, they would be doing ten or twenty multi story buildings at a time. 

A lot of trees, shrubs and flower beds - city streets often had trees along both sides of them, all the motorways were flanked by trees baring red and white blossoms - I had not expected so much greenery!

Saturday, 29 June 2019

China Trip - Hangzhou

After Suzhou, the next stop on our itinerary was Hangzhou, described thus on the Web:

Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang province, is the southern terminus of the ancient Grand Canal waterway, which originates in Beijing. Its West Lake, celebrated by poets and artists since the 9th century, encompasses islands (reachable by boat), temples, pavilions, gardens and arched bridges. On its south bank is 5-story Leifeng Pagoda, a modern reconstruction of a structure built in 975 A.D.

Marco Polo also described it as " The most beautiful and magnificent city in the world". 

We arrived in the evening and were allowed loose on the streets for a few hours, visiting another night market where we again purchased local street food. This evening was memorable for a huge storm that broke, hurling monsoon like rain down from the sky for about 90 minutes. This was the only rain we experienced in the whole trip.

View from Hangzhou hotel room
Local delicacies including scorpion - we did not purchase from this particular vendor!
Live goldfish and terrapins in a child's paddling pool - they could be caught using a small plastic fishing rod - not sure what happened to them after that - taken home as pets or tossed on the barbeque??

Next morning, we headed out into the countryside and visited the Dragon Wall Green Tea Plantation. Again, this was an opportunity to flog us all the product, but the experience was much more pleasant than some of the previous commercial visits, no doubt helped by the softer sales pitch from the young lady doing the presentation, who seemed genuinely interested in the green tea and explaining all the supposed health benefits, rather than just being there to sell it! She did say she had spent four years studying green tea

Entrance of the Dragon Wall Tea Plantation

Inner courtyard and large teapot

Above and below - Green tea demonstration

Above and below - the Dragon Wall Tea Plantation surrounded by fields of tea plants


Back on Hangzhou, a couple of street views. We noticed lots of trees and shrubbery everywhere we went in Chinese cities

Next we visited the Western Lake, spending about an hour peacefully meandering around its many islands on one of the boats below
Above and below - scenes from the Western Lake
Back on dry land, it was time for lunch. In the central courtyard surrounded by various food outlets, we saw this statue of a famous Chinese general, Yue Fei. A quick Google search provides the pen sketch below the picture

Yue Fei (March 24, 1103 – January 28, 1142), was a Han Chinese military general who lived during the Southern Song dynasty. He is best known for leading Southern Song forces in the wars in the 12th century between Southern Song and the Jurchen-ruled Jin dynasty in northern China before being put to death by the Southern Song government in 1142 under a concocted charge. Widely seen as a patriot and national folk hero in China, since his death Yue Fei has evolved into a standard epitome of loyalty in Chinese culture.

Yue Fei had six special methods for deploying an army effectively:
Careful selection
Careful training
Justice in rewards and punishments
Clear orders
Strict discipline
Close fellowship with his men

Above and below - our lunch - three whole deep fried squid each, pasted with thick soy sauce then the secret herbs and spices shaken over it, so they stuck to the soy - very tasty and a snip at 5 yuan - about NZ$1!

On the way back to the bus, we passed this … temple maybe? It looked cool anyway 

And that was us finished in Hangzhou. We spent a couple of hours on the bus travelling to Shanghai, where we would have two more days before the tour came to an end

Views from the bus entering Shanghai

Next China trip post will be the last as I share some images of the two days in Shanghai.

Friday, 28 June 2019

15mm To The Strongest Game

Last night (Thursday), John, Chris and I popped into Julian's after work for a game of TtS using some of his 15mm Dark Ages figures. The scenario was based on a real battle from around 550 AD I believe

I faced Chis on one wing whilst Julian faced John on the other. Julian and I had an army value of 10 coins whilst our opponents had 13 coins.

It was a bit of a see saw game - initially, I had very bad luck with my card turning and by about move three, Chris had charged home and had half of my six heavy cavalry units shaken. However, by around move six, I had destroyed two or three of Chris's units and redressed the situation.

On the other flank, John made a couple of half hearted forays against Julian but did not look like he would be able to make much of an impression, then, just as I seemed to be getting the upper hand on my flank, John delivered one defeat after another to Julian, and our last remaining coins were gone - victory to the Byzantines (I think they were...maybe that was us and they were Seljuks...dunno!)

Nice way to wind down from a shit week at work - and the whole of July is going to be worse until the evening of the 22nd when I head south to Tarawera for our five day wargaming escape - yeeha!

Here are some decidedly average images - 15mm are really too small and as usual the lighting at Julian's is crap for photography!

Our left flank with my six heavy cavalry units confronting Chris

The enemy left flank commanded by John - four units of infantry occupying an imposing ridge

John's light cavalry advance in the centre

Another view of John's advance, which was aimed to catch my exposed right flank to the left of the oasis

Chris advances into contact

View from one of my two commanders positions

John's advance in the centre develops as he swings left and right in an attempt to catch both wings of our army in the flank

The commander of Chris's units opposing me

After a couple of rounds of melee, almost all of my units are shaken - one more hit and they will be gone from the table!

My unit nearest the oasis succumbs to the pressure and quits the field. Chris's successful unit has punched right through my line

But my other "brigade" of three units has been able to recover and reform on the extreme left, ready to crash into Chris's flank

My reformed units charge in from the flank and destroy two of Chris's units

Over on Julian's flank, it looks like our advance is going well, with John losing a couple of light cavalry units and being pushed back towards the infantry on the ridge...

The action continues on my flank as Chris struggles to contain the advance on his flank

But it was all settled on Johns wing - in a series of advances in the last move, his infantry came down of the ridge and destroyed two or three previously shaken units in Julian's command. All our coins were gone and John and Chris still had about six remaining.

Another fun evening using the TtS rules - nothing particularly "realistic" in this rule set - its definitely wargaming with the emphasis in gaming - but that's fine with me!