Tag Archives: China


Officially known as the Republic of Kazakhstan.  It borders Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea – phew that’s a lot of borders.  It’s the world’s largest landlocked country.

We fly into Almaty, the former capital.  Expansive and not so easy to navigate all the highlights on foot unless you’re masochists like us. Most people travel to Kazakhstan to play in the mountains.

Almaty is not a picturesque architecture wise but the stunning snow filled Alatau mountains that nearly surround the city are breathtaking.

Our mission was to follow as much of the Silk Road as possible so we headed east toward China.

The Silk Road spread to fundamental products – commerce and religion.

We have followed the road in China to Xi’an and Chengdu, but we are missing the vast west of China which we hope to fill in next year.  The missing portion is replete with ancient Buddhist art.

But lo and behold near the Chinese border we saw a Buddhist temple which is a Mosque.  It was strange to behold.  As we wondered around seeing obvious physical evidence to each religion.  It also included a small museum of Silk Road artifacts.

As we left the border the sky darkened and near the Big Tree called Ulken Agash we were inundated by a beautiful thunder storm with rain and hail rendering us soaked to the bone. This tree was frequented by Silk Road businessmen who believed that walking around it seven times would bring them luck.

We returned west across the Altyn Emel National Park which scenery was spectacular, with wide  lush valleys dotted with Silk Road cemeteries, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys and red poppies.  It reminded us of Northwestern Elko County.

Our walking journey in Almaty took us to the Russian Othrodox Ascension Cathedral where we ran into a Road Scholar tour.  The first Americans we’ve seen since leaving Dubai.

Bill continues to whoop me playing rummy 500.  We’re having a blast exploring with the best of the Silk Road yet to come…


Final Days – Photo Sale to Help Raise Funds for Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Photography sale to kick off my partnership with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

30% discount on photos and keepsakes for the rest of February.  Please head on over to www.paigeshaw.com and use the code ALSF upon checkout.  Make a purchase and help cure childhood cancer at the same time.

If you wish to donate and not make a buy there is also a donation tab on the front page of the website.

Save the date. Stop by our Alex’s Lemonade Stand in Marion Square – Charleston, South Carolina – June 8th. Late morning until early evening.

Let’s raise enough money to fund a month of research.

  • $50 = 1 hour of research
  • $400 = 1 day of research
  • $2,000 = 1 week of research
  • $8,000 = 1 month of research

The mission of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is to change the lives of children with cancer through funding impactful research, raising awareness, supporting families, and empowering everyone to help cure childhood cancer.

Meet the Huang Brothers – Fishermen – Keeping with Tradition

It was my honor to meet and photograph the Haung brothers, both at their home and on the Li River in Guilin, China.In about 1948 the eldest brother Yue Ming (now 86) and following thereafter the youngest brother Yue Chuan (now 79) learned the ways of the Cormorant fisherman.An ancient fishing technique where cormorant birds are trained to dive for fish and return their catch to their master’s raft. If not for the snare tied around the bird’s neck – the cormorant would swallow it’s catch whole.The brothers lived on a houseboat until 1978 at which time the local government gave fishermen land. They built a home on this property and still live in it today. It is modest, reachable only by boat and meals are cooked over campfire.Fishing was a way of life until the late 1990’s. Unfortunately, Cormorant fishing has become a lost source of income but the art form still remains.  River pollution, motorized boats and electric rod fishing have made it hard for the birds to successfully fish.





Meet Mr. Huang – Cormorant Fishing and Casting Nets on the Li River

A little piece of Heaven on Earth is right here in Guilin, China. Unspoiled by development. Peaceful.

Sunrise on the Li River where the karst rock formations rise from the soil like the backs of sleeping dinosaurs.Meet Mr. Haung – 61 years old and considered amongst the youngest to know the ancient ways of the cormorant fishermen. Sadly, these days a mostly extinct fishing method. River pollution, mass fishing with electrical charges and motorized boats have depleted the fish population.

The cormorant bird – trained to dive into the water, capture a fish in its bill and dutifully return it to the raft. If not for the snare tied around the birds neck it would swallow the catch whole.The raft – long and sturdy.  Mr. Haung splashed the water for effect.  The birds accustomed to the rocking commotion on the raft remain unfazed.The art of cast net fishing – the large net is meticulously coiled in his left hand while an edge of the net is secured between his teeth and the remainder grasped in he right hand. Winding up like pro golfer, whilst swinging the net, the net is released high into the air.  The splash – circular in formation – is a testament to his skill.

















Meet Mr Xu and his Water Buffalo

Traveling through picture perfect Guilin in China we met Mr. Xu. In the dark of the morning, he and his water buffalo walked over an hour to get to work – arriving just before sunrise.The role of the water buffalo is rapidly changing with the onset of modern machinery and China approving the use of credit – payments over time. More and more the buffalo is becoming a household pet.

Timeless images of Asia wouldn’t be the same if a farmer posed with his tractor…







Meet Mrs. Zhang, 93 Years Young – An Independent Woman Living in China

Mrs. Zhang

We visited Mrs. Zhang in Longtan Ancient Village in Yangshuo County, Guilin, China. A retired farmer, now widowed (approx. 8 years) and childless.

She lives independently, cooking and caring for her home with her niece and nephew providing groceries. It’s not an easy life with modern day conveniences. Cooking requires a wood fire and the bathroom has no running water.

A church pew type wooden bench that sits perpendicular to her front door and she and her two lady friends pass the day visiting – as they were upon our arrival.  Watching others playing cards is enjoyable as well.

A proud woman, she insisted on sitting tall with a pensive look and I found her most adorable when I could get her to smile – capturing her youthful past in her twinkling eyes.

A large bag of recently made dried persimmons and sweet potatoes rested on the long wooden farm table. Upon leaving, with her infectious girlish smile, she filled bags for us to share.




Yao Women and the Longest Hair in the World

Meet Mrs. Pan – she is 56 years old, lives with her parents in their ancestral family home along with her son and grandson in Dazhai Village – in the foothills of the Longji Rice Terraces in Guilin, China.

Normally when a daughter marries she moves into her husband’s family home. Since Mrs. Pan is an only child she lives with her parents so that she may help care for them.

Mrs. Pan is a Yao ethnic minority – famous for having the longest hair in the world.  Women only cut their hair once in a lifetime – when they are 18.  The cut hair is kept and made into a hair extension – perhaps saved for when they marry.  As years pass the women also collect their hair that falls out during combing and washing to make an additional extension. These two hair extensions are added to the hair on her head to create cultural and symbolic hair style.

They hair is worn in two different ways. If a women has been married it is worn in a bun in the front of her head.  If she is single there is no bun.

I tried to learn what Mrs. Pan’s feelings were about cutting her hair at 18.  It was something that was normal and feelings are not something that is talked about or shared within their culture.

Since we left Guilin I was about to google more information about their hair growing tradition.  It seems that they wash their hair with the left over rice water.

In the first couple of photos you can see her extension hanging on the fence.

Click to enlarge photos.




Portrait of Great Grandma Pan – A Yao minority

Meet great grand mother Pan – a Yao.  Yao people are an ethnic minority group that live in the mountainous terrain in Southern China.  The Pan family lives in Dazhai, a village in the foothills of the Longji RiceTerraces.

Mrs. Pan is in her 80’s, married to a man 4 years her junior.  She has a daughter, grandson and great grandson.  They are farmers and help out in their daughter’s restaurant.

Their house is simple.  The living area has a table, a few chairs, a wash basin, bags of rice, corn, peppers and supplies for their animals which live under their floor boards.

We were treated to a home cooked meal prepared on an open flame on the kitchen floor.  An experience to behold – so far removed from our modern kitchens at home.

Portrait of a Great Grandfather

Dazhai Village, Guilin, China

I had the honor of photographing the Pan family, Yao people, in their traditional home where four generations live together.

The home is wooden.The ground floor houses their livestock – a horse and 3 pigs. The floorboards of the 2nd level living quarters are removable in two different locations and allows access  to feed them.  Meet Mr. Pan, great grandfather and farmer.  He is in his 80’s.


He tried to look formal which only caused us to crack each other up. Especially when he smoked his pipe.

Apparently his wife is not crazy about the smoke but posing for portraits allows him the opportunity.




Neither of us could speak the other’s language. However, we got along famously laughing.

Fascinated with Tibetan Buddhism

Our guide is somewhat of a Tibetan Buddhism scholar; knowledgable, curious and practicing.

We have learned about Songtsan Gampo, The Lord Buddha, Compassion Buddha, Longevity Buddha, Horse Buddha (helps you sleep), Protector Buddha, Wisdom Buddha, 1st thru 14th Dalai Lamas, the Panchen Lama, Mandalas, etc. – ours heads spin with a plethora of information.

The architecture of the Potala Palace, Jokhang and Deprung Monastery rank the highest of all of our travels to monasteries, pagodas and temples. However, the most exciting part to see is every day life taking place.

Monks are in every room going about their daily business – filling candle drums with wax (not so much Yak butter used any more), sorting through the scarves, collecting and sorting the copious amount of yuan left by the followers, chanting, singing…..

Pilgrims walk the Kora with prayer wheels and beads in hand saying the mantra over and over. A handful of pilgrims prostate themselves for days, weeks or even months.

Their faces are worn by the harsh cold and sun of the Himalayan Mountains. Every person wears a hat, from toddlers to the old. Most are dressed in Indigenous clothing, colorful and worn – showers or baths not high on the priority list. The old or not so old’s faces tell a story of a hard life – skin leathered and wrinkled, teeth missing or blackened.

Tahshi Delek is shared when our eyes contact theirs. They take a swift moment to pass us good fortune but resume their kora as if time is running out.

Lhasa is hot, cold, wet and dry all in the same day.

Photo opportunities abound.