Spring at West Lake, Hangzhou, China

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Children and adults play in a park by West Lake

I went to West Lake in Hangzhou, China in May and saw so many colorful flowers and people.  Walk with me by the lake, on paths across stone bridges, through parks, temples, pavilions, and historic buildings with statues.  West Lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province.  For 2000 years it has been the source of inspiration for poets, artists, photographers, and even filmmakers.  My students told me the romantic story of the immortal White Snake who became a woman and fell in love with a mortal man.  The turtle god of the lake was jealous, so he imprisoned her under a pagoda.  However, the man still loved the White Snake Woman, and they were eventually reunited and had a son.  This story has been made into television series and films.  Emperors from many Chinese Dynasties visited West Lake and inscribed its famous “Ten Scenes” with poetic names like “Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds,” “Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon, and “Orioles Singing in the Willows.”  As far back as the 14th Century, Europeans visited West Lake, including Italian explorer Marco Polo, who wrote that Hangzhou “is the most splendid heavenly city in the world.”  Spring and romance are here in China!

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Easter in China

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES People of many countries, colors, and cultures celebrated Easter together at Hangzhou International Christian Fellowship in eastern China on April 5, 2015.  The church was packed, and many people stood or sat at the sides and sang joyfully together to celebrate that God loved the whole world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for sins of everyone and then rise again with a promise of eternal life.  The Nigerian pastor spoke about Christ’s resurrection and message of love, hope, and unity.   Continue reading

Unexpected China

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China always surprises me.  I find the most unexpected things in the country where I’ve been teaching English for the past 9 months.  My life often feels surreal, like I’ve wondered into another universe.  When I was walking by the Songhua River in Jilin Province (northeast), I spotted these giant fake flowers that were left over from the Dragon Festival.  They were near the entrance to the dragon boats.  See more photos and enjoy the serendipity of China with me.

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China’s Valentine’s Day

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This year, Valentine’s Day in China was on the same day as the Lantern Festival which marks the last day of Lunar New Year’s celebrations, so everywhere there were fireworks, red lanterns, and big bouquets of flowers.  Read more about how the Chinese celebrated on Digital Journal.  I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  Even if there was no romance in your life, perhaps you experienced true love!  See how I did in my newest book, Fire and Ice.

In the Background

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Notice the customers in the back of this dress shop, watching me take a photo

Sometimes we take photos of objects close to us and don’t even notice things (or people) in the background.  Here in Turkey, I am shy about taking photos of strangers because they may object.  But they can show up in unexpected places in the background!

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The florist, almost hidden in the back of his shop, also watches me

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My Turkish husband stands next to me as I take a photo of this Istanbul glass gallery

Spring in Turkey

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A family strolls along a hill by tulips in Seka Park, Izmit, Kocaeli

Spring has finally come to Turkey, and people enjoy walking outside in the sunshine, strolling through parks, planning weddings, and admiring tulips, an important flower for Turkey that can be found in tourism symbols, hand-made lace, and jewelry. Grown natively in Anatolia for centuries, tulips were first introduced to Europe by a German ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th Century. Tulips were the symbol of the Ottoman Empire, courtly romance, and love. Only the rich and refined could truly grow tulips, display them in their homes, draw paintings of them, and write them into poetry. The golden age of the Ottoman Empire, in the 18th Century, was called the Tulip Era (“Lale Devri” in Turkish).

 After a long, cold winter in northwest Turkey, spring finally arrived this April. Tulips of all colors graced parks and hillsides. People planned weddings, relaxed at open-air cafes, and gave each other bouquets of Turkish “lale.”  A duck bathed in a fountain.  I enjoyed all this with my Turkish husband as sunlight shone on his amazing country.  After two years of living inside the Turkish culture, I am hopeful for new beginnings.  I’m writing a new book about it!

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My Turkish husband Ömer and I in the park

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A duck enjoys the spring sunlight and a bath in a fountain

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Turkish tulips shine in the sunlight

Life is a Contrast

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Daffodils grow by a burnt wall after a wildfire destroyed my hometown in California

Life is full of contrasts:  good and evil, sunlight and darkness, growth and destruction.  This week from Turkey, I have watched sad news from America.  Terrorists exploded bombs in Boston, killing a little boy, a university student, and a young woman.  While the bombers fled the scene of mangled bodies and splattered blood that they left behind them, police officers, doctors, and bystanders ran to help the injured.  It seems that we all have a choice to hurt or to heal.  Like Fire and Ice, contrasts lurk everywhere around us.  It takes years to grow a child, a family home, or a forest tree.  It takes only seconds to destroy one.  May we have the courage to choose the slower path of life instead of the instant flash of destruction.

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A field fire in Waimate, New Zealand, where I used to live

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Contrasting twins from a “Nutcracker” ballet show colorful reasons to choose life

Lights behind Glass

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A woman sits beside the glass walls of Marina Cafe in Izmit, Kocaeli

Hello, everyone!  Happy New Year.  After a period of holiday blues because I could not go home for Christmas to visit my two teenagers in California whom I haven’t seen in over two years, I’m back to my Blog.  I’m still in Turkey, looking for a new teaching job near Istanbul or somewhere in the world.

Sadly, my job at Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University in Antalya didn’t work out because they couldn’t get my contract as promised, so I came back to Kocaeli.  I didn’t spend all my time during Christmas sulking, however.  I wrote news articles and photo essays for the online newspaper, Digital Journal.  Here is one of my favorites, “Places in Turkey”:

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/339986

For my first post of 2013, I decided to post images of lights behind glass in places I found around Kocaeli, Turkey.  These photos were taken at twilight or evening.  I hope you enjoy them.  I am resolved to see my two children soon in this new year, and I hope you experience great moments, too!  Oh, and please do check out my 5 books on Amazon.  Your support could help me go home to see my children this year.

http://www.amazon.com/Lonna-Lisa-Williams/e/B006ZISIFU

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A ferry sails outside the glass walls of Marina Cafe

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Gowns behind the glass of a dress shop

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The florist shop and its Turkish owner

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Entrance to a glass gallery in Istanbul

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A colorful lamp shop in Istanbul

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Outside in the snow, a white-laden tree frames the window of a hospital cafe