YuYuan Garden Building


I have sat in this spot twice now. The first time, I was watching a cat. We had a wonderful chat, though we didn’t seem to speak the same language. The second time my furry friend was sadly absent, but I again sat, this time waiting for Pamela, who was I think a bit awed by her first visit to Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai. There is a tendency to rush when on vacation, but I think all this travel has started to teach me to find a good spot…there are SO many around. Sit, feel your surroundings, watch, smell, listen. Have a chat with the locals, even if it is a cat. You never know what you might learn.

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Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney Australia

Unexpected Gardens

The last thing I thought I would find in the heart of Sydney, Australia was a Chinese Garden! Sure enough there it was. Given the close proximity to China, I guess I shouldn’t be suprised to find a thriving Chinese community in Sydney, but often the things I think I am going to find turn out to be completely wrong! The Chinese Garden of Friendship was not as fantastic as Yuyun Gardens in Shanghai, but it is a wonderful calm place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city!

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Early Spring Flower at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Japan

Gardens of the Imperial Palace

I had not visited the grounds of the Imperial Palace on my previous trips to Tokyo. The Palace is not a site you can just visit. There are a limited number of tickets and you have to plan in advance which is not exactly my strong suit. I tend to like to go with the flow on trips and when you have an appointment for a site at 10am, you HAVE to be somewhere despite what wonders you find along the way. The East Garden is completely open to the public, but given that I couldn’t see the palace, I never bothered. After my visit, I am sorry this was only my first visit to the gardens. The site is a huge green-space and though I was too early for the cherry blossoms, other flowers were blooming. This flower was perhaps a bee’s paradise!

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Yuyuan Garden

Yu Garden

This is just one of the endless scenic little areas in Yuyuan Garden. Don’t get me wrong this place is a tourist trap! It’s not so much that it is expensive or people are trying to sell you something (well there is the tea house), but it’s the throngs of tourists. SO MANY TOURISTS. I luckily got there very early in the day and they were really starting to arrive just as I was preparing to leave.

It Confuses Ghosts

In ancient Chinese mythology, evil spirits can only travel in a straight line. As such much of the design of this Ming Dynasty era temple winds around in some crazy ways. I literally got lost multiple times trying to find one of the more popular areas! I walked by the Grand Rockery with the intent to come back, but after wandering around for 40 minutes I was never able to find it again. I briefly considered I might be myself an evil spirit, but then discounted that notion since I am so sweet!

A Mansion in Park Guell

Nice Digs

I kept thinking to myself…this isn’t bad place to live if you could stand the tourists. Park Güell in Barcelona is one of those amazing places that had a bad time getting its start. Built by master architect Antoni Gaudi (he fast became one of my favorite historical architects) … it was a flop. No one wanted to live there it seems. I don’t understand why really as the views are spectacular. Gaudi purchased the site and lived there from 1906 to 1926. A number of homes have been built on the site since its founding (today’s photo being one), but the Park was converted into a municipal garden, leaving an odd mix of fabulous mansions surrounded by the best views in Barcelona, wholly occupied by throngs of sunbathers and tourists.

The Fountain of Saturn

Speaking of Versailles

On Monday I posted a photo of Salon Dorado and said how much it reminded me of Versailles. I was working on some photos this weekend and one of them happened to be of the one of the many fountains in the gardens at Versailles…The Fountain of Saturn. It was out of commission while we were there, but I was still intrigued by the slightly grotesque nature of the work.

The Mughal Garden of Shangri La

Old Mansions

There is, for me, something fascinating about touring old mansions. In part it is the history of the place. Fantastic stories of visitors and deals made under a roof as powerful men and women visit a person’s home. I also love old building techniques. There is an impersonal nature to sheetrock and modern building techniques. I simply love seeing the works of master craftsmen and artists. Then a good portion I think has to do with all the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous I saw as a kid. Who doesn’t like to think of actually living in one of these palaces.

On my most recent trip to Hawaii I visited Doris Duke’s Shangri La. I was on the regular tour as sadly the person who helps with special access was away. There is little you are allowed to photograph, but I was allowed to handhold a shot in the fantastic Mugal Garden. The cypress tress are a sort of oddity for Hawaii, but they somehow seem to thrive here. If you happen to be on Oahu, definitely put this on your list. They have one of the finest Islamic Art collections in the western world! On my next trip, I hope to get to photograph inside the estate as well as bring my tripod!

A Planter at Versailles

Angels and Demons

I am not sure what this guy (woman?) is supposed to be honestly. I used to be decent at various myths, but I am at a loss with this one. Somehow he was important enough to display in the gardens surrounding the palace at Versailles. I still don’t know what it is about this planter that caught my interest. Perhaps its the way he is perched like a handle on this pot atop the head of some other mythological creature that caught my eye. Regardless, he (or she) is forever captured for all to see.