Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Hidden Garden

If you're brave enough to pass this Foo Dog you can come along with me into a charming garden hidden away in the heart of Vancouver's Chinatown.  This leonine creature is also known as the Celestial Dog and the Happiness Dog and serves as a guard against evil spirits, as well as being a symbol of energy and value. They're usually seen in pairs: this fine specimen is a male.  How do I know this?  Because the female lions hold a cub in their paws while the males play with their balls (see under his right foot).  Oh--now what did you think I meant?!

This is the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden and it's the first time I've been here.   Even though the sky was bereft of colour and many leaves fallen, I still found some charming scenes to gaze upon.

That lady in the blue jacket and red tam has just finished doing a round of Tai Chi all by herself.  I should have joined her to get my chi flowing and my blood warmed up as it's a rather chilly day, even by my hard-earned eastern Canadian winter standards.

The ducks have the right idea, tucking their heads under their wings and staying clear of the water. 

One view takes in the ever growing urban backdrop of skyscrapers, juxtaposed with the garden's Asian-style architecture and landscape.  Note the modern-day versions of cranes against the skyline rather than the traditional feathered ones often seen in Chinese paintings.  The crane is the ancient symbol for longevity, and the modern one for urban blight.

A weeping willow admires its own reflection in the still pond where leaves coyly imitate fish.  The koi fish is a symbol of perseverance, but is a Japanese rather than Chinese symbol, so the leaves will have to do.

To see a more poetic rendering of this photo, walk across the bridge to my studio blog.  I have a little cup of hot jasmine tea or sake waiting for you there to warm us up and give us the strength to continue on with our tour.

Oh my goodness...are you starting to see double? 

Are colours getting a bit too bright with a halo around them?
Maybe you had a tad too much sake!

Well never mind, there's the exit over there.  The round doorway or portal is often referred to as a moongate and is representative of the full moon.  It's also associated with happiness. 

And speaking of happiness, for those of you who haven't overdone the sake, why don't we meet up in that pub that I see off in the distance, peeking over the moongate's roof?


  1. Just hopped over to see the original weeping willow and I'm so glad I did! I really love the way you are pushing and exploring photoshop. I have not seen much of this elsewhere. Also, I love the 4th photo down with the gray cloudy skies, the tranquil eastern scene with the modern towers in the background. It's scary how those monoliths have no soul. What a great image!

  2. After viewing your delight
    ful Chinese-themed tidbits, had an irresistible yen to open my frozen Oriental Party Pak and chow down. Now an hour has passed and I'm hungry again.

  3. Hi Stickup,
    Thanks for hopping over. I thought it would be interesting to contrast the photoshopped version with the regular picture to show just far I did push it's little digital envelope. I'm trying to make a sort of hybrid art...something that combines painterly aspects with photographic ones, but doesn't look like either form; something new.
    The contrast of the peaceful Asian oasis with the grit and, as you say, monolithic presence of the big city was really striking. I think you would have made some great pictures there. I did what I could with my little point-and-shoot but was a bit frustrated. I think I made up for it in Photoshop, though.
    {:-) (that's me wearing my artist's beret)

  4. Shirl,
    Well, party on, dude! Crack open another party pack and go for it. They're small portions, after all...unless you ate the whole boxful already?
    (If so, that'll do, Pig!)

  5. I've always wanted a moongate - will join at the pub in ten..

  6. I don't know what was in that jazzed up jasmine tea, but now I'm seeing triple or quadruple, the leaves in the water are multiplying like rabbits, the happiness dogs dropped playing with his balls to chase the rabbits, and the shadows and reflections on the water are undulating like water snakes on amphetamines... better stick my head in that cold water to cool things down !

    Then we can head for the pub, with pleasure...

    Thanks for the guided tour... a good long stroll on a crisp cool afternoon is the best thing to help digest heavy meals...

  7. magic !

    Please have a wonderful start into the new week.

    daily athens

  8. something about willow trees has always fascinated me - thank you for this photo, too, i loved to see the yellowing willow over the tranquil lake.

  9. So charming, Lynne. And metaphors everywhere one looks. Like walking into a children's fairy tale.

  10. Wonderful photos, I visited ChinaTown in New York but this one is much better!
    Moongates - lovely idea, I wonder if I can get a good seat at the bar while Owen gets the drinks in? It's his shout surely??

  11. Yup, and I'm shouting alright, but no one's answering....

    Heylllooooooo ! Anybody in there ??? Drinks are up on the bar ! Maybe she's still getting chased by the Happy Dog around the park down there... do you think we should go see if she's ok ?

  12. Lulu,
    Surely the boys could rig up a moongate for you somewhere in the new offices! Main entrance, perhaps? Tell them it's a Mooning Gate and they might be more motivated.

  13. BrOwen,
    Undulating like water snakes on amphetamines?! You should sell that one to Tom Robbins. It would fit in with his metaphors as smoothly as a lady's toes into snakeskin sandals.

    I fear you mistook the sake for the jasmine tea.

  14. Robert,
    Abracadabra is my middle name!

  15. Manuela,
    Thanks for stopping by to linger under the willow and gaze into the reflecting water. Willows whisper of secrets and dreaming, don't you think? I've always been fascinated by the secret shadowy world they hold behind/below their drooping branches.

  16. Saj,
    I love that red silk dress with the mandarin collar and slit up to yesterday on you! So much easier to clamber up onto a bar stool with that side opening in one's skirt, don't you find? Sorry I'm late getting in, after inviting everyone here, but I see you and our BrOwen have started a shouting match already. Looks like I've got some catching up to do. Cheers!

  17. Margaret,
    A children's fairy tale, yes...full of colours and magic and imagined monsters round every corner or lurking behind a moongate! Really an enchanting little corner.

  18. BrOwen,
    You can stop hollering now, I'm here! Sorry to arrive late to the party but I started tossing the ball for the Foo Dog and you know how it goes when you start playing fetch with a dog. Then while I was running through the bamboo grove on my way out of the gardens to the pub, I fell down one of those rabbit holes and ended up in this very dark and smoky place and everything went all liquidy and woozy and dreamy. I believe I fell into the underground of opium dens that were once hidden below Vancouver streets. Luckily I didn't accept that long-stemmed pipe that someone proferred or I might never have made it out. The sound of your "Heyloooing" guided me out! Jeez but I'm thirsty now. Any cold ones left?

  19. It is marvellous to see Vancouver through your eyes. Most enlightening.

  20. Madame DeFarge,
    Perhaps I should produce an illustrated guide book! I am one of those rare creatures who were actually born in Vancouver. Though having been away so long, I must admit there are areas I barely recognize now. Perhaps I should buy myself an illustrated guide book!

  21. Sajschj...
    Youje got crushed candy cane all over your kisher!

  22. and a partridge in my pear tree too, how DO these things happen to me? And is that Owen jingling his bells??

  23. Jingle bells jingle bellshhhh
    Jiinnnggglllle aaaouuullll the way ! (Hic!)

  24. what a truly beautiful little corner - love those reflections of the weeping willows...

  25. Well, ring-a-ding-ding, Owen!

  26. Catherine,
    I'm happy to be able to offer up something perhaps as enticing, in its own way, as the many beautiful corners you've shared from Mexico.

  27. always wanted to go there

  28. Anonymous,
    So what's stopping you?