Showing posts with label taiwan_islands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taiwan_islands. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Culture x Water


My last paper of the term is done, and I took the Tomb Sweeping holiday to travel around in southern Taiwan simply enjoying time with Brendan and meeting up with some friends. I read Crystal Boys (review coming soon), didn't write anything, generally relaxed and re-learned what it was like to be able to take a nice short trip without academia weighing on my mind.

I sent in that final paper at 6pm on Wednesday. The next morning, we hopped on the HSR to Zuoying, arranging a pickup from the HSR station to the ferry terminal in Donggang (NT600 for the trip - not bad). Little Liuqiu (小琉球), where we spent two nights and, on account of my being thoroughly exhausted from the previous day's push to get my paper in, still didn't manage to see everything. After this we spent the final two days of the long weekend in Kaohsiung and Tainan.

I enjoyed the island's rural sights and did not feel the crowds visiting them were overwhelming. Baishawei, the island's main town, was a different story. I suspect Baishawei is a fine little town to relax in on a non-holiday weekday; over the long weekend, though, it was horrible. Really horrible! I understand getting on a scooter to go out of town - there is a bus that circles the island and you can ride it fairly easily to get anywhere you might want to go - but to get on a scooter to go around Baishawei, whose streets are narrow and made for pedestrians, and the sights within walking distance of it? Come on. I get that it will be crowded, but if people realized that and used their scooters more judiciously, it wouldn't be so bad.


Beyond that, a thought struck me while navigating around Baishawei, which I shared over drinks with a friend who happened to also be on the island - a thought about water, and our orientation to it, and what that means for Taiwanese identity.

People explain away Taiwan's less-than-ideal beach infrastructure and general lack of well-maintained beaches, and the fact that many Taiwanese don't know how to swim despite living on an island, by pointing out that Chinese culture isn't a water-oriented one (leaving aside the fact that historically, Chinese fishermen, explorers, traders, pirates and seafarers have absolutely been an integral part of Chinese culture.) They point out that China doesn't have great beaches - I've been to the one in Qingdao and yeah...not great, and I haven't heard great things about Hainan. Or they mention that Chinese cities tend to be built "with their back to the sea", or generally thinking of the sea as the end of China and not an integral part of their lives. As that same friend pointed out, for a large portion of not-too-distant Chinese history, access to the coastlines was banned (which of course didn't work at all as intended).


You can see that in Taiwan - for a long time, despite being an island, the coastal waters were off-limits and people "were living more like residents of a landlocked country." In terms of specific beaches, Wai'ao could be a really nice destination, except it's just off a strip of noisy road, backed by ugly buildings and an entertainment complex that is both uninviting and behind a parking area, not actually on the beach. Kenting...I don't like Kenting, let me count the ways. Baishawan allows 10,000 people to churn the water in approximately half a square meter of a long, gorgeous beach. Fulong has that hideous bridge (yes, it needs a bridge, but couldn't it be nicer?) and ugly hotel and is flanked by a lagoon to one side that smells, as one friend who worked in health care put it, "like my sick elderly patients' pee." And that's just to name a few. (Some of the outlying islands fare better.) Taiwan doesn't have a lot of gorgeous, sandy beaches, but what it does have could be better than they are.

I mean, in Taipei we live an MRT ride from the ocean and hardly ever go, because the infrastructure needed to make the beaches really nice places to swim and relax just isn't there. Taiwan's cities do indeed feel as though they are built with their backs to the sea.

But, in Little Liuqiu, I got the sense that it could be different. More kids in the younger generation are learning to swim, Taiwanese Millenials go to the beach and hang out in a way that feels distinctly familiar to me as a coastal American. On Little Liuqiu, I dare say that, while not a "great beach" (too many rocks and coral to cut your feet) Baishawei's beach was a pleasant place to hang out, and other rocky beaches have good snorkeling - and people were taking advantage of that. People were going in the water and enjoying themselves in ways I just didn't see in China (though I haven't been to Hainan).

Note how all of the cultural attitudes towards the sea that I mentioned above are in relation to Chinese culture. But Taiwan is not China - it doesn't have to be this way. Taiwanese history is rooted in Austronesian indigenous culture, and who are seafarers if not Austronesians? Taiwan's deepest history is tied to the sea. It doesn't need to hold to Chinese notions of how the sea fits into their lives, and in fact such an attitude doesn't suit it. Taiwan isn't like China, not least in terms of geography. So why have a Chinese attitude to the ocean?


Taiwan can - and I'd argue should - grow its existing beach/sea/ocean culture as a way to not only acknowledge that it is not only a subtropical/tropical set of islands and it makes sense for warm-water island nations to be sea-oriented, but also as a way to differentiate Taiwanese culture from Chinese culture. China can turn its back to the sea - we can turn to face it. It can be a barrier for them, the "end of civilization". On our beautiful ball of mud, we can do things differently.

Taiwan doesn't need to be defined by ideas central to Chinese culture. It has its own culture and can define itself accordingly. Just because something is culturally Chinese doesn't mean it needs to be applied to Taiwan.

And that will be one small, but notable, nail in the coffin of this "Taiwanese and Chinese culture are exactly the same! They have the same history and think and act in the same way!" nonsense bandied about by people who don't know what they're talking about. It's not true, but it's hard to see that if you're just passing through (or are just some Internet bloviator). We need it to be more demonstrably untrue, and a country where the beaches are both lovely and popular would help in its own small way.

This isn't a crazy outsider idea. I'm not trying to push my foreigner thoughts on a local culture - Taiwan is already going down this path and already has more of a historical and current orientation to the ocean than China. So there is no reason why Taiwan can't [continue to] cultivate a sea-facing, sea-loving, ocean-integrated culture that is well-suited to its geography and actual non-Chinese history. Improvements need to be made, but it would be unfair to say we're not on our way.

Anyway, enjoy a few more shots of Little Liuqiu:







If you are wondering whether my feet are dirty or just dyed by my sandals, the answer is...they were really cheap sandals.





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Sri Lanka Test, China's Crap-in-a-Box and Other Gentle Tearings Apart

This article appeared in The Guardian today:

China threatens to 'take off the gloves' if Trump rips up the status quo on Taiwan

It's not awful. Seriously, it's okay. But I want to make a point about the form pro-China (or anti-Taiwan) bias takes in the media, so I'm going to tear it apart for you. That, and it is purely entertaining for me.

Let's start with the title.

Forget that it's not made clear whether China is threatening the US or Taiwan; China itself hasn't made this clear. What bugs me is the implication that the status quo in Taiwan is entirely up to the US, that it is the US who decides whether Taiwan will adhere to it or not. Not a lick of agency afforded to Taiwan?

China has stepped up its rhetoric against Donald Trump, with a Communist party-controlled newspaper declaring Beijing will have no choice but to “take off the gloves” if the incoming president insists on tearing open a Pandora’s box over Taiwan

Isn't a Pandora's Box something that you open without thinking your action will cause far-reaching catastrophic consequences (because perhaps you do not know entirely what is inside), but does? Is it really a Pandora's Box if China shits in a box and then hands it to us? Like, we all know what's inside and who put it there. China shat in it; that's what's inside. Now China is threatening that we shouldn't open the box they shat in? That's just China being a jerk, it's not a Pandora's Box. In fact, I'd argue it's something like the opposite of a Pandora's Box because you know what's inside as the giver has taken great pains to tell you that it's full of their stinky turds. If you invent the consequences, that's not the same thing. Calling it anything else than China shitting in a box is removing the active agency of China in handing the US and Taiwan a box full of shit. Like, how about instead of "don't open this box, you have no idea what unnamed entity placed far-reaching consequences inside", let's be all "China, why the fuck did you shit in a box? Not cool."

Side note: "a Communist Party-controlled newspaper" makes it sound like there is a non-government-controlled media source in China. There isn't. Why make it sound as though this particular newspaper can be compared to a freer press that exists in China? As far as I am aware whatever freer press existed no longer does. Best to acknowledge that. 

An editorial said Trump’s repeated threats to abandon the “one China” policy could no longer be dismissed as “bluster or miscalculation” but instead appeared to be a deliberate and intolerable ploy designed to extract concessions from Beijing.

I am very curious what their definition of "One China" policy is or how they understand it vis-a-vis American policy on Taiwan. Because as far as I am aware the US at no point has said that they definitely think Taiwan is a part of China. Everything is very vaguely written (deliberately so), but the "One China" policy has allowed for stopovers before, there is nothing in it that specifically says the US President cannot talk to Taiwan's President, and not even anything in there that says Taiwan is definitely a part of China. US policy on Taiwan-China leaves room for an independent Taiwan. So what are we tearing up exactly? 

Under a nearly four-decade old policy, the United States has acknowledged Beijing’s position that there is only one China. The US has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day.

This is actually pretty good! Most media outlets get this wrong, writing that the US believes there is only on China, and that Taiwan is a part of it, when the truth is that they only go so far as to acknowledge that this is China's stance. So...good job, actually. 


"island of Taiwan": I know not every pro-Taiwan voice agrees with me on this, but I really would like to call for an end to consistently calling Taiwan an "island" rather than a "country" or "nation". It skirts the issue, and skirting the issue is a form of pro-China bias.

Brendan likes to talk about something he calls the "Sri Lanka test", and I tend to agree with him. If you replace "Taiwan" with "Sri Lanka" in any given sentence, and it still feels like you're not stretching yourself around the truth by calling it an "island" - if you'd refer to Sri Lanka the same way in the same context - you are okay. If it seems weird to constantly call Sri Lanka an island rather than a country, you've got a problem. 

"...which Beijing sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day": 
This only eschews China bias if you put "breakaway province", "reunified" and "mainland" in scare quotes. 

First, I get that there is emphasis on what China says, as this is an article about something China said. Sure. Often there is a problem with writing lots about what China says on articles focused on Taiwan, and comparatively little on what Taiwan says. I can forgive it this time, but remember, my lovelies: be ever vigilant.

That said, this article would have been more accurate, more objective and stronger if they'd added two sentences about how the Taiwanese identify as Taiwanese, are generally against any sort of unification with China ever, and generally favor independence - in fact, most see themselves as independent already.

This is how insidious pro-China bias is in the media: the verb "reunify" (as opposed to "unify" or "be annexed by") is not called out for its obvious nonsense usage. You cannot reunify what was never unified to begin with, and the ROC and the PRC were never unified. (We can get into the details of the Qing Dynasty, or 1945-1949, what it means to control a country or territory or what all those crazy treaties meant, but I'm not sure any of it matters). Yet "reunify" is used without any sort of pretense or sarcasm. It's just taken as word. Does that not invite in the mind of the reader, who likely styles themselves something of an educated person, the idea that it would, in fact, be reunification if The Guardian called it that, and that reunification doesn't sound so bad?

And what is the "mainland" to an island nation that has no territory on the continent? To assume there even is a "mainland" is a form of bias. There is China, and there is Taiwan. Taiwan has no mainland, unless you mean how, say, the Orchid Islanders see Taiwan proper.

However, I do want to say one good thing here. No "split in 1949" nonsense. Yay! We are working tirelessly to get that nonsense phrase banished - not censored, more seen as embarrassingly incorrect - from media around the world. So I'm happy to see it didn't make it in here. 

On Sunday, Tsai was making no apologies as she returned to Taiwan from her trip to the Americas, which included US meetings with Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and state governor Greg Abbott, as well as a visit to the headquarters of Twitter in San Francisco.
Why should Tsai apologize for doing what the leaders of sovereign states do all the time with their allies, and for doing what previous presidents of Taiwan have done (if I am correct - correct me if I'm not - meeting with American government officials who are not the US president is not exactly a new thing for Taiwanese presidents even post-1979)? Why on earth would you even imply she needed to do such a thing? Would you write "Chancellor Merkel was making no apologies as she met with British members of Parliament?" No? So why the fuck are you writing this?

Tsai said the trip, which took her on to Central America, elevated the island’s international profile.

Does this pass the Sri Lanka test?

I'd say no.

US officials had said Tsai’s transit stops were based on longstanding US practice and Tsai’s office had characterised her meetings there as private and unofficial.

Again this is pretty good. True, accurate as far as I'm aware. Why, however, is it at the very end after a very lengthy explanation of China's side of things (and quite little in the way of Taiwan's other than a few remarks by Tsai?). Why is it saved for the very end when plenty of readers have stopped reading, and given so little space?

* * *

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my little practice exercise, my expression of a part-time hobby. I deliberately chose this article as it's not that bad, and on the surface even seems pretty good. It's easy to tear apart a mishmash of half-baked piss-and-corn-nugget chowder written by a sadfaced hack who just looked up Taiwan and now knows it's not Thailand yet somehow managed to get his sticky inappropriately-used sweatsock of an article published, somehow, by an editor stupid enough to buy it, slap "CHINA!" on it and then write something about 1949 in there.

It's harder to pinpoint pro-China bias in an otherwise okay article, at least one that kinda-sorta stands up to some scrutiny and at least gets a few key facts right (and thankfully leaves the fictitious "facts" out), but we need to keep doing this if we don't want to let merely okay be good enough when it comes to reporting on Taiwan. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chasing the Wind Lions

...such a sappy title but I couldn't help myself!


Anyway, as I've mentioned several times but haven't yet posted, over the summer Brendan and I went to Jinmen (Kinmen, Quemoy, whatever) just before I left for yet another trip to the US for yet another family issue (this one less serious). I decided I'd better post about it before I forget all of the particulars!

Two notable things about flying to Jinmen from Taipei: the first is that you pass right over Penghu, so you get a bird's eye few of Magong Island. It's quite something, and is a good reminder of how small Magong really is. Secondly, I didn't think anything of it when I took a few photos of the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan from the airplane as we flew down the coast - only to find it's actually illegal, at least according to Taiwanese law, to take photos of Taiwan from airplanes! Obviously it's a national defense thing, I just hadn't heard of such a law before.


We stayed at ㄚ樂的家, a small "foreign style house" (洋樓) a short drive from Jincheng city - you definitely need to rent a car on Jinmen, though buses do exist - to stay here a car is crucial as it's down several country roads at a tiny hamlet on the waterfront. Worth it! IMG_7215

The inside is also preserved in a traditional look, and there is a kitchen and dining area for your use (breakfast is provided - generous portions and very local-style).

A couple of things struck me about Jinmen - not just the sheer number of old houses and traditional architecture, but also the number of abandoned buildings, most of them old, some of them not. Some of these were foreign-style houses, others were more traditionally Chinese buildings, still others seemed to be from the 20th century.






Second, how many buildings still in use retained their traditional flavor:


Third, the extent to which a lot of iconography - old, but also at times new - conflates the KMT with the Republic of China, in a way you just don't often see in Taiwan proper these days (I'm not sure I've ever seen it).


Rui You School (not functional as far as I know) on the eastern side of the island

Check out the top of that building's arch - it's hard to see in the photo, but it's a KMT flag crossed with an ROC flag. Not something I can recall seeing in on the Taiwan mainland, although I am sure it must have at one time been quite common.

On our first day in Jinmen, we took a nap (our flight left at some crazy early time) before driving first into Jincheng city and then over to Shuitou as the sun set. I won't bore you with too many details, as Jinmen is a well-documented destination, and I primarily want to show off photos! We walked down Mofan Street, passed the maternal chastity arch, and checked out the Qing dynasty military headquarters before heading a bit downwind to the Kui pavilion - interesting in its own right but we had more fun wandering the narrow alleys and warrens between mostly abandoned buildings, which were alive with lots of scurrying cats - some well-fed, others not so much.

One quick thing worth noting before we get into photos - the Qing military headquarters' side rooms are used for storage for much of the year, leading to peeks in windows that reveal scenes such as this:


I was so intrigued by this creepy room of bridal mannequins in retro dresses that I went to some effort to ask about it - not really sure how Qing dynasty military operations and mid-century Western brides were related. Turns out they're not, this room is just given over to a local business for storage.

Ruined buildings around Kui pavilion

Mofan street - nice to walk down but not a lot going on

Another interesting old building near the Qing military headquarters

The largest surviving memorial arch in Taiwan (Qiu Liang-gong's maternal chastity arch)
Just a pretty window casement

Creepy, cool Frankensteiny abandoned "Western style house" near Kui pavilion

By the way, the Rough Guide recommended oyster thin noodle place near the arch, and the scallion-oyster bun place just under it? Both excellent. Worth it, even though they're in a guidebook. On Minzu Road just near the turn-off to the memorial arch are a few shaved ice places. The one we went to was also excellent, and I have it on good authority the others are too.

For those who need a place to relax, get some air conditioned cooling-off time or just have a decent cup of coffee, near the end of Mofan Street there are two cafes, and the one we went to was pretty good.

Special water glasses are designed to sit at an angle at this cafe, which also serves coffee grown in Taiwan among other things.

In Shuitou, which is very popular with tourists (and justifiably so), we wandered a bit until it got dark. There is a pretty good restaurant here that serves "Jinmen local food" at a set price per person - no menu, they just bring you a set number of dishes according to the size of your party. It's set in an old foreign-style house (just ask around). The inside looks like this:


One of the more ostentatious old houses is also a cafe, which is worth a stop (just to get the chance to go in), and is open until 5pm. They don't have food per se, except cafe style snacks like waffles, which are okay but nothing to write home about. Chinese tour groups sometimes come here, which may account for the Mao signs.


The next day, I realized that I had not seen any wind lion statues at all - and with wind lions being, well, THE famous thing from Jinmen (other than that historic battle, and Kaoliang liquor), so rather than hit sights in the guidebook, we just circled wind lions on a local map (they are all labeled) and took off driving to see how many we could find, with the idea that we'd see interesting stuff along the way. This is where the whole "chasing the wind lions" title comes from - we literally did that, basically for an entire day!

We drove out to the far east of the island, passing through Jinsha, Shamei, Shanwai and Shanhou. Here's the thing about posting in December about a trip you took over the summer, for which the map you'd used, on which you'd circled your various planned destinations, was so tattered by the end of the trip that you threw it out: we stopped in a whole bunch of interesting places not in any guidebook (well, not in our edition of Rough Guide anyhow), but I can't remember exactly where those places are.

I'll do my best - here are some of the wind lions we found, and things we saw along the way. First stop, Huishan Temple (會山寺), just off Huandao E. Road.



These two lions are a short walk behind (the former) and just out front (the latter) of the temple.

This is not the temple, this is an example of an old house in this area, which is well worth stopping and walking around in despite a few angry dogs, that is still very much in use and beautifully preserved.





A short drive - also walking distance - from here is a small village, notable (and most easily found) for its old movie theater (closed), which was spruced up and used as the set for the movie Paradise in Service, which I have never seen (but would like to). You can wander in and out of the old shops, which are outfitted with period furniture and even products, at least insofar as they needed to be to function as a movie set. The whole thing is now maintained as a tourist attraction and is genuinely worth a stop, even if none of the old shopfronts are authentic (and I'm not sure they are).

There's a decent cafe here called 心情咖啡 that has good stuff and is a nice place to take a break.




The old movie theater was almost certainly a part of the movie set, and features a few old-style hand-painted movie posters (which are probably too good quality to have just been the background for a movie shoot).



A big, muscled ROC soldier takes out a Voldemort-like Communist

A little further along Yangsha Road, where it meets Dashan Road, you'll come to another set of long-neglected foreign-style houses (at least one has a population of geese in its front yard) and the Rui You school, pictured near the top of this post. There are a few more wind lions around there (I think I've got the correct wind lions matched to their locations:


After the "Paradise in Service" movie set, I have to say, I was more intrigued by old-style buildings with old-style signs that are still in use, and not refurbished for a movie.










At some point we passed through Shamei and got some of the famous shaobing there (tasty - worth it - check your guidebook) though my favorite part of this section of the drive was stopping to wander some of the quiet backstreets. It is easy to get very hot and very tired in Jinmen, so we took a rest on a stoop in one of the older, more shambling back lanes and chatted with locals while local cats lazed about.







I'm not sure when this happened, though, because after we left the neighborhood with the Rui You School, we followed the road out of town right to the coast (past some interesting-ish views of windfarms), turning at a small reservoir-like lake that is either man-made or man-contained, before heading up a road that led to a turn-off (forgive my vagueness, I really don't remember well) where, completely by accident we came across a tiny little parking area with a stone staircase leading up a hill, which looked like it'd have an ocean view. Why not, right?

Turns out at the top there was some old gate - I actually don't know how old although we checked at the time, but old (like 14th century) and fairly recently restored. Checking the name online after a deft Street View search, it was 觀日門, near Tianpu (田浦) village. Of course then I upload my photo and realize the name is right there. Doof.


Then we drove along Buhua Road, which is not that interesting in and of itself but is dotted with a fairly high density of wind lions. Here are just a few:



...before heading into the Lake Tai recreation area looking for more wind lions. We missed the museum as it was getting late, but managed to get this lovely picture of the sign for the "amusement zone":



...and we only found one fairly unimpressive wind lion, but it was cool to ride around the back roads.

We finished off with dinner in Shanwai, after finding a few lions there, too - including this sad-looking colorful one at the edge of a parking lot who is very definitely male:


Throughout Shanwai we kept seeing these flags, and although I am fairly knowledgeable about Taiwanese folk religion and culture, I have to admit I don't know what they signify:


If anybody does know, I'm all ears. I rather hope I didn't take a disrespectful picture (though that's pretty rare in Taiwan, other than perhaps funerals you can photograph nearly everything).

Jinmen is a KMT stronghold, which means that a lot of old statues of Generalissimo and general Mass-Murdering Jerkwad Chiang Kai-shek (ptooey!) are still kicking around, where they might've been taken down in other parts of Taiwan. However, both Brendan and I appreciated the context of the statue in this circle, flanked as he is by a massive election poster - for the DPP! Ha haaaaaa, sucks to be you, Chiang. I hope you choke on it in the afterlife.


We hiked up a hill past more friendly cats - Jinmen has a lot of cats - to a few more wind lions before having dinner and driving back to our hotel. Wind lions in older sections of towns, usually far from the modern center, tend to be older:


And we also passed this dalmatian-themed hotel with a pet dalmatian:


And found parts of Shanwai to be fairly attractive:


Another good thing about our hotel is you can hang out outside at night and drink Taiwan Beer (or whatever you like), and you can even have free Kaoliang, though I only had a tiny thimbleful. I'm not afraid of strong spirits - my whiskey of choice is Laphroaig after all - but I just don't care for Kaoliang.


But wait, there's more!

I also can't remember when we did this, but at some point we stopped at Shanhou culture village. Historically the home of the Wang family and their many, many, many extended cousins and various relatives, now it's mainly a tourist attraction, but worth a visit. The oyster omelets are actually delicious, and there's a wind lion not far away. You can buy Kinmen Wang Da-fu balm here - a green herbal balm not unlike Tiger Balm but milder and more vegetal - the third-most popular Kinmen export after knives made out of bomb casings and Kaoliang, possibly fourth after those cookies you see everywhere. I bought some because I love balms, and we already have a bomb knife (thanks Joseph!), and I don't like Kaoliang.

Anyway, some photos from Shanhou:






...and while we didn't make it to Maestro Wu's bomb knife shop (because we already have a bomb knife), or the Kaoliang distillery (because neither of us really likes Kaoliang), we did go to the Guningtou battle museum, with it's wonderfully/horribly propagandistic oil paintings of the ROC forces defeating the PRC on the nearby beach. Not a lot of photos from that, but here are some photos from the nearby town, with the famous bullet-ridden yanglou (foreign style house), after which we visited a temple erected for an ROC general, Li Guang-qian (李光前將軍廟), who died in the battle on Guningtou, which is a short drive south on Huandao Road:




We had no particular reason to visit the temple other than that we drove by it and it looked interestingly militaristic in a way that most temples, uh, don't. That's the great thing about just tooling around and not worrying if you hit every sight in the book.


Another benefit of tooling about is that you find things you didn't even think existed. Rough Guide mentions one old granite tower (also 14th century), but if you wander enough and stop where you see interesting signs, you'll come to a few more (no idea if they are authentic vintage or were built/rebuilt some time later).

This is the one in the guidebook.

And this is one of the random ones we found:

...and we found at least one more besides these two. They all look about the same though.

We also hiked up Taiwushan, which sounds impressive except it's not particularly high. Before going up we explored the old military cemetery near the car park. There are some nice views, and notably, more of Jinmen's many cats.


We stopped at the old inscribed stone (my photo wasn't very good) and Haiyin temple, which was a pretty good place to take a rest before heading back down (somewhere along the road up Taiwushan we found a pathway to another one of those granite towers).


On our last day we drove around a bit more and found a few more wind lion gods, including some way out in the countryside by the airport. These lions, it seems, are undeniably gendered:


Well hello there. Aren't you just a happy little fella?

...and a few photos that didn't really fit anywhere else but I basically just liked: