Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A Lotus in a Chinese Desert - The Xiangshawan Resort


In the Xiangshawan Desert, a remote stretch of dunes in Inner Mongolia, about 350 miles west of Beijing, an architectural lotus recently blossomed: the Desert Lotus Hotel. The hotel is part of a new resort built amid a vast sea of sand dunes, increasingly popular with Chinese tourists. The resort hosts Mongolian-themed performances, camel rides, desert surfing, and more. Xiangshawan is also known as the "Resonant Sand Gorge", as the composition of its dunes make them "singing sands", which can produce a roaring or booming sound when disturbed, a natural phenomenon still not fully understood. Getty Images photographer Feng Li spent a few days at the resort last month, returning with the following images from Xiangshawan.

The Desert Lotus Hotel in Xiangshawan Desert, also called Resonant Sand Gorge in Ordos, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, on July 19, 2013. Xiangshawan is in the Kubuqi Desert, a small section of the Gobi Desert about 350 miles (563 km) west of Beijing. Visitors sliding down 110-meter-high, 45-degree sand hills, cause the "singing sands" to produce a roaring or booming sound, a natural phenomenon still not fully understood. The hotel is part of a larger tourist resort built in the desert in recent years. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
The Desert Lotus Hotel, among the dunes of the
Xiangshawan Desert, seen via Google Earth.
The looped lines at left are train tracks
 for a small tourist ride.
Dancers perform yoga in the Xiangshawan Desert,
in Ordos, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,
on July 20, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images) 
A model in Mongolian-themed costume prepares backstage
after a Mongolian ritual ceremony at the Xiangshawan
 Resort, on July 19, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images) 
Tourists ride through the dunes of the Xiangshawan Desert,
on July 18, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
Tourists visit the open space of the Xiangshawan Desert,
                                     on July 21, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
A view of the Xiangshawan Desert,
July 19, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
The hand of a tourist taking an open-top bus tour
 of the Xiangshawan Desert on July 20, 2013
Tourists on a bus tour bus pass resort buildings
                                  in the Xiangshawan Desert, on July 19, 2013
A dancer in traditional costume attends a Mongolian
ritual ceremony in the Xiangshawan Desert,
on July 19, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images) 
A sand frog jumps, a tourist standing behind,
in the Xiangshawan Desert, on July 18, 2013.
Dancers perform yoga on the dunes of the
Xiangshawan Desert, on July 20, 2013
Dancers in traditional costume perform near the
Desert Lotus Hotel in Ordos,
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,
on July 19, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images) 
Camels walk on the dunes of the Xiangshawan Desert, on July 20, 2013.
Models in Mongolian costume prepare for a show,
 backstage at the Xiangshawan Desert resort,
 on July 21, 2013.
Dancers perform on the dunes near the Desert Lotus Hotel
in Ordos, on July 21, 201
Dancers perform near camels, on the dunes near the
Desert Lotus Hotel in Ordos, on July 21, 2013
Boys play in a pool at the Xiangshawan
Desert resort, on July 18, 2013.
Dancers perform yoga near a swimming pool at the
Xiangshawan Desert resort, on July 20, 2013
Tourists play in a pool at the Xiangshawan
                                               Desert resort, on July 20, 2013.
Visitors run on the Xiangshawan Desert dunes,
which can trigger the "singing sands" to produce a roaring
or booming sound, a natural phenomenon still not fully
 understood, on July 21, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
A model in Mongolian-themed costume prepares for a show,
 offstage at the Xiangshawan Desert resort,
on July 18, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
Tourists walk on the dunes, a power plant visible in the distance,
 in Ordos Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,
on July 17, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images) 
Dancers prepare at the Xiangshawan
Desert resort, on July 20, 2013.  
A model performs in Mongolian-themed costume,
near a swimming pool at the Xiangshawan
 Desert resort, on July 18, 2013.
(Feng Li/Getty Images)
Acrobats perform in the Xiangshawan Desert resort,
 on July 21, 2013.
Tourists ride an open-top vehicle past the
Desert Lotus Hotel, on July 17, 2013.
Dancers perform on the dunes of the Xiangshawan Desert,
 on July 20, 2013. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
 
 
All pictures are the work of Getty Images photographer Feng Li
Alan  CY  Kok

Monday, 23 September 2013

World's largest plane

 
 
 
The World's largest plane at Niagara Falls Airport - It was there recently twice to load large transformers to fly directly to Saudi Arabia.
 
32 wheels! - it costs more than my house to change a tyre!
The world's biggest plane, the Russian Antonov 225.
Attached pictures here are of the Russian behemoth when it landed. While they were loading the compressors,
the Russian pilots (2 crews) went into town to
buy cigarettes by the case and Levi Jeans.
 
It is amazing something this huge could stay in the air. The Wright Brothers would never dreamed of it.
 
 




















Many thanks to Ron Lim for sharing.

Alan CY Kok

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Brazilian prisoners spend time knitting to gain some freedom


Knitting their way to freedom, the maximum security prisoners will get a day off their sentence for every three days they work for a luxury fashion label. Poring over their fine-quality crochet, the prisoners of Brazil's Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary are a model of concentration. And it's no wonder, when you consider what's at stake. Thanks to a collaboration with Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes, the inmates have one day off their sentence for every three days of knitting they perform.
 
 

A stitch in time: Prisoners knit clothing for Brazilian fashion fashion
designer Raquel Guimaraes in the Arisvaldo
de Campo Pires maximum security jail.
A face of concentration: They are dead serious in carrying out their chores. The designer turned to the prison for help in 2009 when she had trouble finding knitters for her Doiselles label, which specialises in beautiful knitting and crochet work. She trained 18 prisoners sentenced for crimes ranging from robbery to murder. The end result of their toil is now exported globally, including to the USA, France and Japan. The hand-made pieces which are strictly quality-checked, are also sold in 70 stores in Brazil.
Bleak: At first glance, Arisvaldo de Campos Pires
looks like an unlikely setting for a high fashion project.
Maximum security: Jail breaks are common in Brazil.
Guards are armed to the teeth when they escort popular fashion
designer Raquel into the Arisvaldo de Campo Pires penitentiary.
Design for lifters: The woollens expert passes on her trade secrets as part of the Flor de Lotus projects with the initiative of a chance for prisoners to earn money while serving their time. Participating inmates are paid a starting salary of 75 per cent of Brazil's minimum wage.
A quarter of what they earn is put aside and will to be paid on their release. Former inmate Ceilo Tavares who was jailed for armed robbery, said the project boots prisoners' chances of finding a job when their sentence is up.
                                                                                                   
Hard at work: The knitting team get down to business
 while the designer keeps an advisory eye on proceedings.
High-end: The inmates' hand-made work is sold in 70 stores in Brazil,
as well as being exported to America and Japan.
Mora than a hobby: Former prison inmate Ceilo Tavares said
that the project gives prisoners confidence,
and skill that they could use in the outside world.
Guidance: Raquel has trained around 100 inmates
to knit and crochet since the initiative started in 2009.
Time well spent: The work gives the inmates something
to focus their energies on;
as well as netting them a day off
their sentence for every three days
they spend knitting.
New tricks: The prisoners involved have been jailed for crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder. The program gives inmates skills and confidence they can use when they return to life on the outside.  This raises the self-esteem of the prisoners and open the door to work and employment for everyone else. The prison is located in Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, about 100 miles  north of Rio de Janeiro.
Unearthing new talents: A prisoner draws a
fashion model from a photograph. 
Teamwork: Raquel says that the inmates have proven
 their worth as knitters and able to do any work.
Ms Guimaraes, who works nearby, says around 100 inmates have taken up the knitting challenge since she started training them four years ago. She sees the project as a way for prisoners to be viewed as something more than criminals; she explains:
The remission of the sentence gives them the value of redeeming freedom,
integrity and confidence. They are able to do any work
 and churn out excellent products.
Hope for the future: As well as learning a marketable skill,
 the inmates earn wages which will ease their release into society.
 
 
Many thanks to Ron Lim for sharing.
 
Alan CY Kok