Making a New Friend in China

Today’s Post by Ken MacAdams

It’s been seventeen years since I first visited China and Xi’an was one of the stops. Western tourism was just in its infancy but since then, there has been an incredible transformation within this nation, as China races to embrace modernity.

Chinese students, as far back as the Y2K era, realized that to excel in business and compete in world economics, English was a necessity. Foreign teachers with English backgrounds were in great demand. I still keep in touch with some that I met on that first visit.

It was through one of these teachers that I came into contact with Lena. As she furthers her education, she wanted to practice English and enhance her speaking skills. We arranged to meet at the Big Goose Pagoda, which is a historic landmark. We spent an enjoyable afternoon conversing, and practicing English. Lena showed me her favorite place where she likes to come to read as well as to find solitude! It was in a park-like setting, nestled close to a traditional arched bridge crossing a small stream. As I photographed the pagoda, the flower gardens, the winding paths, I noticed both young and old walking these paths, embracing the quiet and beauty.

The towering Tang-style pagoda, some 150 ft tall, is a significant landmark in Xi’an’s history. Back in 600 AD, a monk named Xuan Zang brought Buddhism to China from India, via the Silk Road. Construction was completed in 652 AD. Other structures on the grounds were built to house the Buddhist sutras brought back from India. With Xuan, they spent the next 20 years translating the scriptures into Chinese. It’s said some of these translations are still in use today.

As I boarded a bus to return homeward, I valued making a new friend and contact, and an opportunity to re-visit this outstanding monument. I should also add that today, I walked over eight miles, so I get some exercise on my outward forays!

The weather conditions, consisting of high hazy clouds, was conducive to wonderful daylight photography. With no harsh sunlight shadows to contend with, it was still necessary to be mindful to keep the diffused sunlight behind me. Today’s shooting was with the Panasonic Lumix G85, and mix 12–60mm Image stabilized lens. Settings were AWB, and let the camera select the ISO, which ranged from ISO 200 through ISO 800. I shot in Aperture Priority at f8. All shots were hand held.