Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

Before the trip, which is my first visit to a National Park in US, I always thought we were going to have a trip in North Carolina. It turned out that I was completely wrong — the Great Smoky Mountain sits on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, and we actually drove for almost five hours from Charlotte to Gatlinburg, a resort city in Tennessee with the nickname “gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain”.  The night was falling when we arrived there, but Gatlinburg surely surprised us. With all kinds of candy stores, chocolate factories, restaurants, cinema and theaters along the parkway as well as all the bright lights and logos shining,  this lively small town looked just like a paradise for kids, families and all the visitors.

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Couple, Boston, MA

On my way back from Newbury Street, I noticed this couple in the Public Garden. In the sunny afternoon, they quietly sat on the bench, each reading a book. The lady wore a white dress, simple and elegant, but also looked just like a teenager girl. Maybe this is his favorite? Not too far away, two young artists were happily playing violin and cello and they were rewarded by rounds of applause by the audience.  This is just the moment you will realize how wonderful it is to be with someone important to you, to do something interests you, and to appreciate the beauty of a simple life.

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Tulips, Boston, MA

Spring is always quite short in Boston and everything seems to happen overnight — All of a sudden, we welcome the season of tulips! There are a few different types of tulips in the public garden, the classical yellow tulips, the red and purple ones, and even the black tulips (which look great!). All-together, the public garden has turned into a sea of tulips.

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Back Bay Fens, Boston, MA

This spring comes a bit late — though it is mid-April now, flowers are not quite ready to bloom and trees are not prepared to wearing on the green “clothes” yet. But there are always early birds. Right in the Back Bay Fens, the only tree with lovely small red flowers attracted not only me, but also a couple of American Robin.

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Lotus, Changsha, Hunan

Different from the Western arts, which emphasize on delivering a picture of the reality, Chinese arts are more likely to pass a mood. When I took this picture, I didn’t feel like I was taking a picture of lotus — It simply reminded me a poem by the poet Shangyin Li (李商隱) from Tang Dynasty, and I sensed what he might have felt thousands of years ago: a combination of the pleasure to see the beautiful scenes and a little bit sadness of missing friends who were thousands of miles away.

宿駱氏亭寄懷崔雍崔袞 (唐 · 李商隱)

竹塢無塵水檻清,相思迢遞隔重城。

秋陰不散霜飛晚,留得枯荷聽雨聲。

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Orange Continent Head, Changsha, Hunan

As the capital of a province, Changsha is among one of a few cities which enjoy abundant tourist resources — it’s probably the only one which has a mountain (山), a river (水) and an island (洲) in the city (城) at the same time. With the mountain refers to Mt. Yuelu (嶽麓山) and the river refers to River Xiang (湘江), “island” here refers to the Orange Continent Head (橘子洲), which lies in River Xiang. The Orange Continent Head is known by Chinese people pretty much because of the poem “Chin Yuan Chun, Changsha” (《沁園春.長沙》) from Mao Zedong. Nowadays, the Orange Continent Head has become a city park where several pavilions and terraces have been restored or refurbished. Because of the popularity of a recent reality TV show “Where are we going? Dad”, when we are there in a weekend, almost all the visitors we see are families with young kids…So maybe this is the “positive energy” brought up by the media?

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Bulrush marsh, Yuanjiang, Hunan

A new year visit to Yuanjiang, a small city sitting on the tip of south Lake Dongting (洞庭湖).  Lake Dongting is among the largest lakes in China. With Lake Poyang (鄱陽湖), Lake Tai (太湖) and Lake Hongze (洪澤湖), they are called the four largest freshwater lakes in China. Interestingly, Lake Dongting is also the natural border of two provinces in China: Hunan and Hubei, with “Hunan” means “south of the Lake” while “Hubei” means “north of the Lake”. As a city sitting so close to Lake Dongting, Yuanjiang enjoys really rich natural resources and scenes, such as the large bulrush marsh. It’s almost the sunset time when we came to the marsh. Though we were told that winter is not the best season to visit the marsh and lake, it’s still quite amazing to see the bulrush swaying gentlely in the dusk.

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Sunrise Park, Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs is said to be “the best vacation destination” in California, but for me, the most impressive things about Palm Springs are the ever-lasting sunshine and the amazing landscape of this small town. Looking from the air, this city is really “growing” out of the desert: it is surrounded by rocky mountains and even just a few miles from the downtown, what you will see is simply desert. Yet there are still fancy things going on here: golf courses,  swimming pool, luxury hotels…And by the way, Palm Springs is sunny more than 300 days a year!

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