Zen and the Lotus Flower

DSC_0589B” From within the lotus flower grows, up through the mud and the muck bypassing all that threatens to taint its emerging beauty and glory. Then it springs forth without spot or stain opening to the world around it to become a new light. This is the lotus flower and it comes from within you, it is the flower of the Buddha, your inner Buddha.”

Venerable Retsuzen Shikata 2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes (2)

I know showing three images of Trakai Castle for this week’s challenge Threes is not enough, so here is another one:

We waited in the steppes of Inner Mongolia, China.

The scene was unmistakably Inner Mongolia – we have a line of yurts, some horsemen, a couple of horses and also a couple of motorcycles.DSCF2192

The modern age nomads seem to have taken a liking to motor cycles than horses.

We were waiting for the arrival of the wrestlers who would give us a brief performance of wrestling.

Several wrestlers came on to the scene and two of them started wrestling.DSCF2195

While this was a show, they were quite serious about it too.

At first, it was quite difficult to figure out who was going to win the match.DSCF2196

After several minutes of wrestling, we realize the big fellow was winning.

The performance came to an end with the thinner wrestler thrown onto the ground.

What a match!

The Golden Temple at Mount Emei, China

We were high up on one of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains  – Mount Emei (峨眉山) which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

It  is located in Sichuan Basin (四川盆地), to the west of Emeishan City (峨眉山市) and Leshan City (乐山市).

Mount Emei gets the name because its curvy mountain profile which resembles a girl’s curvy eyebrow; although some said this is unrelated.

The highest peak is approximately 3,099 meters above the sea level. The patron bodhisattva of Emei is Samantabhadra, also known as Puxian (普贤大佛) in Chinese.

Here up in the mountain, we were surrounded by a heavy mist.009

The mist was so heavy that I could only see, maybe, twenty feet in front of me.

Among the mist, I could see part of the Jinding Temple ( golden temple), but the roof just disappeared into the mist.

Obviously, I didn’t take many photos as the mist meant that many  features could not be seen.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

This week’s photo challenge is Threes.

The Challenger wants us to tell a story with a series of three pictures.

I don’t have a story to tell.

I am going to tell you three fairy tales:Baltic Capitals  15-Aug-09 051

The first tale in true colors. . . . . . . . . .Baltic Capitals  15-Aug-09 051E

Then the fairy tale is repeated  as if it were a painting . . . . . Baltic Capitals  15-Aug-09 051C

Last of all, the fairy tale is retold in black and white, making it more surreal.

You may say that I am cheating as I am just showing the same image of Trakai castle in the Baltics over and over.

Please forgive this blogger, as he is running out of stories 🙂

The Flowers, Stream and Animals Outside My Mongolian Yurt

Woke up early with the anticipation of seeing the sunrise.

There was no sunrise, so slipped out of the yurt for an early morning walk.DSCF2222

I was delighted by the flowers just outside the yurt. Not sure what those flowers were but they look photogenic.DSCF2225

Further along, there are also some white flowers and plant which captured my eye.DSCF2213

Wandering further out to the steppes, I was surprised to see a stream babbling along at this time of the year – everything looks so tranquil.DSCF2207

Then some camels came along. I guess we were doing the same thing – having an early morning walk.DSCF2210

I walked quietly towards them and took some photos.DSCF2216

Then came the Mongolian horses. . . . . . . . . .  and more horses.DSCF2217

By now, the stream seem to be getting busier.

I knew I had a perfect morning and I should be on my way back to the yurt and have a hearty breakfast!

Inner Mongolia and ShanXi- Steppes, Desert, Grottoes and Hanging Temple

On China’s northern edge there is a territory that combines the wonder of the desert and the beauty of the grasslands for an experience that will take your breath away; this autonomous region is known as Inner Mongolia. Inner Mongolia’s vastness maintains a feeling of timeless tranquility unlike anywhere experienced in China.

As a city boy, I have never visited any grassland or desert; have seen some small grottoes but never visited any major one or any temple like the Hanging Temple. June and July are the best time visiting  the steppes of Inner Mongolia when the grass is green; but it may be too hot in the desert.  As a compromise, we started our trip end August 2012 and found ourselves in the grassland in the early part of September.

I was always fascinated with the story of Genghis Khan; how, in 25 years, he had conquered an area even larger than the Romans were able to conquer in 400 years. This is the land where he once roamed and lived. He was good in strategies, did not have a hugh army (maybe only around 100,000 soldiers) but his speed of moving his army around in Mongul horses, his tatics and his well planned sieges allowed him to conquer a large part of Asia and even part of Europe.

In our last trip, we were able to fulfill our dreams by combining all these into one trip which included:

Horse riding in the steppes in Gegent Tala of Inner Mongolia.

Camel riding in the Resonant Sand Desert near Baotao.

Wandering aimlessly in the desert.

Sleeping in a Mongolia yurt.

Visiting the Masouleum of Genghis Khan.

On our way back from Inner Mongolia, we also stopped by the Yungang Grottoes.

Travelling further along, we were awed by the Hanging Temple in Da Tong, Shanxi which is south of the Great Wall of China.

Our trip started with first flying to Beijing where we changed plane to Hohhot of Inner Mongolia. Using Hohhot as a base, we visited the Steppes in Gegent Tala, the Resonant Sand desert near Baotao. From there we travelled 8 hours on a coach to DaTong, Shanxi where we had a good look of the Yungang Grottoes and the Hanging Temple which was part of the Hen Mountains in China. From Da Tong, we flew to Beijing to complete our journey.

We learned more about Genghis Kahn and started digging deeper into his history and as to where his burial place is (still unknown and being investigated by National Geographic and other bodies).

It was indeed an eye opening journey. We were totally impressed by what we saw .

Colorful Umbrellas in the Desert

The line of white umbrellas leading to the sand carvings in the Resonant Sand Desert, Inner Mongolia in my previous post is surreal.

There were also some colored ones, located here and there in the desert.

I suppose they are more of an artistic installation.DSCF2247

A blue one standing on the top of a sand dune.DSCF2246

A yellow one almost lost among the similar color sand dune.

Sometimes, you can find them in pairs.CIMG2085

A red one together with a yellow one. Here, you can also find a few tourists wandering around in the desert. This give you some idea as to the scale of the thing.CIMG2072

In the last image, there is a line of umbrellas of different colors.

The color of the sand can become quite mundane, but I like the clouds as well as the colors of the umbrellas!

Umbrellas in the Desert

How to get away from the scorching heat in the desert? We saw this line of umbrellas in Resonant Sand desert, Inner Mongolia, China.DSCF2264 These umbrellas, which provided shades,  lead us to the top of sand dunes where they have sand carvings. The umbrellas offer a spectacular sight, especially in B&W! They make the setting somewhat surreal.