Sunday, 30 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!

Monday, 24 June 2019

RCW Vehicles 

As a break from endless pictures of our China trip, here are the three Matchbox Yesteryear models I converted to Bolshevik use back at the beginning of June.

I have experimented with using my Sony Camcorder on photo mode, rather than the camera in my Samsung phone. They certainly are much clearer images - but perhaps TOO clear - no hiding any of the faults with this level of detail - ah well!

One armoured car and two trucks completed. I have two more open backed trucks, both based on Ford Model T chassis, ready for a spray undercoat, plus the staff car

Above and below, the two turreted Armoured Car, based on the Talbot truck chassis

Below, Model T Ford truck exactly as manufactured, just with a new paint job

Above and below, the Crossley coal truck with sacks and cab roof removed.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

China Visit - Phase Two

After three days in Beijing, we spent most of the next day travelling from there to Wuxi, arriving mid afternoon. We had the night in this smallish (by Chinese standards) city, visiting a shopping area and grabbing some dinner in the evening, before visiting the second largest fresh water lake in China next morning. We were then subjected to another hard sell visit to a pearl factory before making the one hour bus trip to our next stop, Suzhou

Wuxi, pop 6 million, a city near Shanghai in eastern China, sits on the banks of Taihu, one of China's largest freshwater lakes. Surrounding Taihu are walking trails, a 115m-tall Ferris wheel and parks such as Yuantouzhu (Turtle Head Isle). Another major park is Lingshan, whose notable Buddhist sites include the bronze Grand Buddha statue, which is more than 80m high

Taihu Lake, Wuxi - allegedly if you hold hands with your partner as you walk over this bridge, you will spend all this life with them PLUS your next two reincarnated lives....

Park on the banks of Taihu Lake, Wuxi

Old shopping area at dusk, Wuxi

There were 29 fresh water pearls in this one shell. Anything under 8mm diameter, they grind up and use in medicines or cosmetics. Pearl factory, Wuxi.

Street views in Wuxi. There were a lot of trees and also shrubbery etc everywhere we went, even along the motorway verges. The tress are painted at the bottom to prevent wood boring insects getting into them

Suzhou, pop 5 million, a city west of Shanghai, is known for its canals, bridges and classical gardens. The Humble Administrator’s Garden, dating to 1513, contains zigzag bridges over connected pools and islands. The Lingering Garden features ornate viewing pavilions and the Crown of Clouds Peak, a striking limestone rockery. Tiger Hill is home to the 7-story, leaning Cloud Rock Pagoda at its summit.

The above and following images are of the Lingering Garden, where we spent about two hours. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and very impressive. Fun fact - the entrance gate in the surrounding wall is quite small and unprepossessing - because if it was too showy and attracted attention, the emperor might realise how grand the garden was and be jealous of or annoyed at its owner!

Suzhou is also known as the Venice of the East although it is not sinking, as all the canals here are man made and fed by fresh water as it is an inland city, unlike its counterpart in Italy.

Bridges over canal, Suzhou

The next several photos are of the canal trip we did, which lasted about an hour

After the cruise, we had about ninety minutes to find lunch in the adjacent historical streets - below

I am sure that is enough photos for today - loading them via the blog site I use takes AGES! This post has probably taken me over an hour to create, so I hope its of interest :)