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Archive for June, 2010

The hills in Gansu Province’s Nantai Village are painted in a myriad of colors. Column of red, orange, yellow, white, pink, and purple lines zigzag across the uneven earth. After rain, the colors would turn more vivid than usual, as if the earth is grateful for the rare shower in this part of China.

For years, local farmer Lei Xingyi thought the colorful hills in his backyard was how all hills should look like. Not until in his mid-thirties, when he was elected a village head that he had a chance to travel outside for study trips and realized the multi-hued rocks were unique.    

When I met Lei, he has already relinquished official post a long time ago. He is now running a guesthouse cum guide service for photography enthusiasts and tourists in awe with the landscape right behind his home.

“I’d rather be a herder than remaining an official,” he told me he quit the village head post before his term was up in 1998. Disillusioned with officialdom – which he said was curry favor for the big shots by exploiting the common people – he resigned and bought 100 sheep to become a shepherd.

He roamed the colorful but barren hills from one end to the other, in search of a small patch of grassland for his herd. It was during those shepherding days that he learned the routes around the hills by heart, and by chance he met a photographer who changed the course of his life. (more…)

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康乐草原上的裕固族集合在鄂博前等待祭山神仪式。

 

太阳升起后,肃南康乐草原上的牧民们开始三五成群地往一个插满旗杆的山头走去,有的牵着或骑着打扮得光鲜漂亮的马儿,有的开着摩托车拖小带老,他们的目标是一年一度的“鄂博”。   

每年农历五月初四,住在康乐乡各个村落的牧民,都会聚集在这个离九排松景点不远的一个山头祭神,祈求山神保佑牲口以及家人平安幸福。   

让我留宿在他家的巴营村牧民妥枭,早晨在家里上香供佛后,就开着摩托车把我拉到山头上去,他说这是我近距离接触裕固族文化的一个好机会。 (more…)

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康乐草原上的天空特别蓝。

 

肃南县的康乐草原是我见过拥有最多围栏篱笆的草原。  

铁丝网像攀岩植物般地在这片绿地起伏的高原上滋长;篱笆将草坪、绿丘、松林等切划成多个形状不一的碎片。从空中俯视也许康乐草原就像一幅大拼图,围栏是每个碎片的衔接处。  (more…)

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覆盖甘肃省临泽县和肃南县的彩色丘陵和丹霞地貌,近年来成了不少电影和电视剧的拍摄地点,其中包括姜文导演的《太阳照样升起》和张艺谋导演的《三枪拍案惊奇》。这些色彩斑斓的山丘,也成了摄影爱好者在丹霞景区流连忘返的原因。这些照片都是在临泽县丹霞地质公园和肃南县冰沟一带拍摄的。

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最贵的“危房”

造价60万元的“麻子面舖”孤零零地站在橘红色的山脚下。

 

甘肃省临泽县南台村庄里,有一座造价60万元的房子,其灰色的砖瓦都是老远从北京运过来,木头柱子还特意烟熏做成仿古效果。这是村子里最贵的房子,但却是一所“危房”,住不得人。 

这所名叫“麻子面舖”的房子建于2009年,一场场的闹剧曾在这所房子里上演,它就是张艺谋导演的《三枪拍案惊奇》电影中,那家坐落在塞外的面馆子。今日,这所位于肃南丹霞地质公园,只有外壳而无法使用的房子,已经成了当地的旅游景点。 

张艺谋的电影不但拉动了票房,也抬高了丹霞旅游景区的门票。自从《三枪拍案惊奇》上映后,打响了彩色丘陵和丹霞面貌的名堂,景区门票也因此翻了一倍,不仅如此,还收起了“双重”门票。 (more…)

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万寿塔是张掖市内的地标之一,也是市民早晨锻炼的好去处。

 

处于河西走廊上的张掖是古丝绸路上的主要城市之一,也是当年佛教盛传时的中心之一,市内有全国最大的睡佛,佛身长35米,肩宽7.5米,耳朵长约4米。离市中心约60公里外的马蹄寺风景区,有西凉时期开凿的石窟佛寺群,散落在山区间100平方公里区域内。这几天我老老实实地当个游客,掏钱买门票看景点,拍了些照片算是对得起花的门票钱吧!    

张掖市大佛寺的入口处。

 

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和老居士对话

78岁的老居士每年夏天都到千佛洞寺院长住修行。

 

“你太适合了,一个人无牵无挂,出家的条件好。”一名78岁的老居士,坐在千佛洞寺院里和我聊天时如是说。她是我这路上遇到唯一的,就我不婚不要孩子的人生选择,表示热烈赞同的老太太。 

她是等到老伴过世了,6个儿女和3个孙子们都长大自立成家后,才选择到寺院里长住的。每年夏天,来自张掖的她,都会到60公里外的马蹄寺景区内的千佛洞住上半年,在寺院里修行和做点义务工作,她的职责安排是打扫寺院卫生和向游客售卖佛教用品和佛学书籍。 

她皈依佛教也是近十几年的事。年少时,宗教是一个飘渺虚无甚至禁忌的东西;年老时,生活条件宽裕了,把孩子孙子们都拉扯大了后,开始想为自己而活。 

“现在我不再操心孩子们了,我就操心我自己,修身养性,积点功德。”她这样解释自己脱离儿孙们,独自到寺院生活的选择。即便到了冬天,当马蹄乡变得寒风刺骨,她也只是回到张掖人去楼空的老家,单独生活修佛,不想麻烦儿孙们。她说:“还我自由。” (more…)

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Near the city center of Zhangye – located along the ancient Silk Road – stands a white statue wearing a Roman robe, and underneath it spells the name “Ma Ke Bo Luo”. Next to it is a road named the European-Style Street.          

The Roman characters inscribed underneath the statue are: "Ma Ke Bo Luo", which is Marco Polo's name in Chinese pinyin.

 

Both the statue and the street are in honor of the famed Italian traveler Marco Polo, who had visited Zhangye over 700 years ago; and the Italian mentioned at length in his travelogue about the City’s main attraction – a giant reclining Buddha measuring 35 meters.          

But the European-Style Street is perhaps the tackiest part of the otherwise lovely City. There’s nothing Europe about the street except the endless Roman pillars supporting the shop houses lining the street, all adorn with huge Chinese signboards.          

The street, however, has turned into a happening spot for the slow-pace City well known for its ancient wooden pagoda and giant Buddha temple. Cafes, bars and pubs, and swanky eateries flourished, and the clientele are mostly the yuppies in town.          

Buildings with Roman pillars lined the European-Style Street.

 

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离开民勤

 

今天我告别民勤。

二十天前,我沿着一条土路走进陌生的国栋村;今天大清晨告别时,村庄的路口多了一个熟悉的身影相送。

在路上的日子,最让我欣慰和珍惜的,是在沿途中捡来的朋友,但不断在移动的我,却不得不一次次地和朋友告别。离开,成了上路的主旋律,每到一个地方的前提都是我即将会离开。 (more…)

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Dear friends,
I am writing to you from a tiny village named Guodong, in the Minqin County of Gansu Province in Northwest China. This is the first stop of my four-month Silk Road trip.    

The Minqin County of China is battling against desertification.

Like most parts in Minqin County – a shrinking oasis sandwiched by two advancing deserts – Guodong Village is dry and sandy. On a windy day, which most days are, sands would sweep in from the nearby Tengger Desert, coating everything with dust.    

And if what the locals called “black wind” hit the County, the ferocity of the wind would trigger massive sandstorm, reducing visibility to zero, turning daylight to darkness, and destroying crops and homes. Such a storm had wrecked havoc in the County just a month before I arrived.    

The villagers are puzzled by my choice of travel destination. To them, to say that I am here for a leisure trip would sound like a mockery.    

Am I here to enjoy the regular dust storm? Or am I here to taste the bitter underground water due to over exploitation of aquifers? Or am I here to admire the sight of a village being swallowed up by the desert?    

This has become an unlikely tour in the trail of desertification…… (more…)

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