This morning I set out with Jason, an American friend met in Chiang Mai, to visit quiet, lovely Wat Pha Lat. The trip involved a gentle 45 minute climb up to the temple complex. Wat Pha Lat is in fact on the road up the mountain to the larger, better known and more visited Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which is sort of the center piece of Thailand’s Doi Suthep – Pui National Park in the mountains to the west of Chiang Mai. But it was nice to come at this smaller temple on foot, getting some exercise in the process.
Nanlouguxiang is a street designed for tourists in central Beijing. It features traditional looking buildings, which may or may not look like Beijing buildings used to look, pricey shops, bars, cafes, and a few restaurants, and lots of tourists, mostly Chinese. A local resident does some window shopping on a cold Beijing day that has kept most of the usual throng of visitors at home.
I visited the Forbidden City on this snowy day because I figured that it would not be especially crowded and that the snow would create interesting opportunities to photograph the buildings and interior spaces. I was wrong on both counts. Although it was probably a bit less crowded than usual, there were plenty of people visiting in spite of the snow. As for photo opportunities, by the end of 2006 Beijing’s Olympic facelift was well underway and, disappointingly, I found most of the major buildings within the Forbidden City shrouded in scaffolding for renovations. The day was nonetheless not a loss photographically. Among other subjects, I encountered this tour group of rather disgruntled looking people from somewhere in greater China.
Boston City Hall opened to a lot of fanfare (and controversy) in 1968. A lot of people saw it as a dramatic symbol of a modern, new Boston. As I recall, that is how it looked to me when I moved to Boston in 1970. Almost 50 years later, the building sure has lost its luster. It looks ugly and out of place in Boston’s otherwise people friendly, rather intimate downtown. Brutalist Modern indeed. When I visited recently, a friend told me Boston is thinking about tearing the place down and building a new city hall, something more comfortable and on a more human scale. Good idea.