Interesting post about Geography

I was reading the history of human geography today and ran into this interesting post by

It consists of five pieces about geography, and the first one is a story about the closure of Geography Department in Harvard. (Can’t imagine a university without Geography Department!!!!!)

Among those five pieces, Human Geography and An Overview of Cultural Geography are very interesting as well.

Can’t help sharing when I came across something interesting!


Souvenir from Shanghai – Ai Weiwei and his fighting against imprison of art

This weekend for the first time in its history the Royal Academy of Arts is opening their galleries around the clock for the entire final weekend of Ai Weiwei –  56 hours nonstop!!!

screen shot

Screen capture by author, 13 Dec 2015.

Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most influential artists. What makes him so special and famous is his talent – thought-provoking art projects, as well as his struggle against China’s authority.  But interestingly, his exhibition in RA started while China’s chair man Xi Jinping was visiting UK – the authority and the one struggling with the authority visiting London at the same time. It might have some political meaning or it might not…

‘Souvenir from Shanghai, 2012’ (Cat.19 in the exhibition) is a concrete and brick rubble from the Ai Weiwei’s destroyed Shanghai studio, set in a Qing dynasty (1644–1912) rosewood bed frame.


Ai Weiwei’s ‘Souvenir from Shanghai’, photo by author, 25 Oct 2015, in RA.

The story behind this project is though provoking. Approximately two months before the Sichuan earthquake, the city government of Shanghai approached Ai with an invitation to build a studio in the nearby agricultural area of Jiading as part of a new cultural district. Although he initially demurred, the artist changed his mind and designed a building with an undulating roofline and a central courtyard.


A model of Ai Weiwei’s home and studio in front of ‘Souvenir from Shanghai’, photo by author, 25 Oct 2015, in RA.

But by the time the project was realised in 2010, Ai’s relationship with the authorities had soured. He had published his criticism of the Beijing Olympics in such international publications as The Guardian; campaigned vociferously for the rights of the families of  earthquake victims, as well as those affected by the tainted infant formula that caused the deaths of six children and illness in over 300,000 during the summer of 2008; and suffered a beating by the Chengdu police. The Shanghai authorities suddenly notified him in August 2010 that he had failed to apply for the proper building permits and that his studio would be demolished. They razed it on 11 January 2011, yet paid Ai more in compensation than it had cost him to build.

Ai’s art has a clear characteristic which is political-themed.

Everything is art. Everything is politics.

(web resource)

Some opinions collected by myself around me:

  1. The power of decision making in nowadays China is still hold in the hands of a small number of people and others do not have the rights to speak against the decision makers.  Like in the feudal age.
  2. China is making progress on these issues but it takes a long time to finish the transforming and the country is in the middle of it. Just give it time.
  3. Ai Weiwei is a fake-artist who is good at pleasing the western public and politicians with claptrap-themes which are against China so they can put their fingers into China’s internal issues. The western would like to reach the conclusion that communism is not going to work so China would follow the westerns’ guidance.


Did you just ask what’s my opinion? Well, Ai Weiwei’s exhibition is the easiest one for me to understand among all the art exhibitions I have visited  🙂



ps.  13 Dec is a national memorial day for Nanking Massacre (AKA The Rape of Nanking).  May there be peace in the world for good.




Bracker, A. (2015). Ai Weiwei: An Introduction to the Exhibition for Teachers and Students. Available: Last accessed 13/12/2015.

Royal Academy of Arts. (2015). Ai Weiwei. Available: Last accessed 13/12/2015.

Got my first book review out!!!

Got my first book review out!!!  Here is the link:  Ato Quayson 2014, Oxford Street, Accra, reviewed by Zhuyun Amy Zang.


The Isle of Wight Souvenirs

Joined a outdoor group Maji Hiking to Isle of Wight (4 miles from the south coast of England) in August. This was my first hiking and camping trip ever!  We spent 3 days hiking on the island and slept in tents at night. It was an amazing trip: the wild landscape, the beautiful scenery, the calming seaside, the astonishing sunset, the challenging hiking and new-to-me camping were imprinted in my memory since then. I wrapped all the experience and beauty of Isle of Wight home with me by installing them into souvenirs.

The paper souvenirs of Isle of Wight

The paper souvenirs of Isle of Wight

I have an free Isle of Wight  Attraction Map taken from a bus stand in Ryde, where we got off the boat from Southampton. This map gave us a general idea of the island and the hiking route we were going to take in the following days. I remember when the hiking leader showed me the hiking route on this map, I took a very deep breath!

We took a bus from Ryde to Newport, and on the bus I got a free Isle of Wight Activity Pack, which has a thoroughly introduction to Isle of Wight, from history to geography, from economy to tourism, from activity to birds found on the island.

After arriving Newport, we got some food and drinks and started walking towards our camping site in the southwest.  We passed the Carisbrook Castle, and arrived at Freshwater camping site. The first tent made by us (below, left):

Camping on Isle of Wight

Camping on Isle of Wight

Sunset on Isle of Wight

Sunset on Isle of Wight

Finished making our temporary home, we went to the Needles to admire sunset (above, right) and then walked back to camping site in darkness…….    I was afraid we might get lost in the darkness, but it still fell safe with so many hikers around. We arrived at camping site at 9.10 pm.  After taking a shower, I fell asleep immediately,  too tired to join the star watching which was happening outside the tent.  T.T

The next day, waking up at 7, can’t feel my eyes and my legs…     After breakfast, we walked to Alum Bay to see the Needles from east side (yesterday we were above the Needles on the chalky soils) and enjoyed the rocky seaside (a friend took one rock with him as souvenir).  Had a great time in the Needles Park and got a souvenir: the Isle of Wight fridge magnet mug in the Needles gift shop.

 Isle of Wight map fridge magnet mug

Isle of Wight map fridge magnet mug

After lunch we took bus ride (can’t remember how long it was but pretty sure it was very long!) to Feeth Bay in the southeast, and then started walking again. It was 1 o’clock. Half an hour later, we arrived at St Catherine’s Lighthouse, which was hiding in some woods near seaside. I got my their souvenir here: the St Catherine’s Lighthouse compass.   Had an interesting conversation with the shop keeper from  St Catherine’s Lighthouse gift shop.

Me: Oh, they are nice postcards.

Shopkeeper: Indeed!  Very beautiful.

Me (looking at the compass): You have compass here!  Were looking for one.

Shopkeeper: Yes we do, there are many hikers here and they like outdoor products as souvenirs. And they are not expensive. Just one pound.

Me: Right, of course.

Shopkeeper:  Where are you from?

Me: China.

Shopkeeper: Ha, then it probably will go back to China with you.

Me: Is it made in China? It has got the name St Catherine’s Lighthouse printed on its back.

Shopkeeper: Yes it is, and what else isn’t?  You know China have produced most of the products for the world. But this is a very good compass. It is oil filled which makes it move freely.

Me: And it has the place’s name. Ok, I will take it.

Then I paid one pound for this compass:

St Catherine's lighthouse Compass

St Catherine’s lighthouse Compass

St Catherine's lighthouse Compass

St Catherine’s lighthouse Compass

we spent 10 hours on the way and arrived at camping site at 11 pm.  10 hours walking and sightseeing, I fell in love with this beautiful, lovely little island. At 8 pm, after 7 hours of walking, we were hungry and nearly gave up. The idea of catching a bus or calling a taxi came up and then finally killed by our spirits.  23-25 August on the island was a great time.  I have the magnet mug stick on the fridge in our flat among with other magnets from other places.

One month passed, whenever I looked at these souvenirs, I remember the great times on Isle of Wight and want to go hiking again!

A pencil case full of souvenirs: biography of my overseas student life

I came to UK on 23 Sep 2010, to my first destination: a little city called Wrexham in Walse.  It was the very first time that I crossed the boarder of China, and set a foot in a foreign country. I took the flight in Guangzhou, stopped in Singapore, and finally after 23 hours, I arrived in Manchester. The sky is blue outside, and there were cows separating across the bright green fields when university bus carried me on the high way to my new university: Glyndwr.

I spent 2 years there, and got a BA of Broadcasting, Journalism and Screen Study. I met a lot of awesome friends and had amazing experience with my tutors and co-workers. Finally, for my last project, I decided to shot a short video for Glyndwr University (available here: International Experience at Glyndwr ). We also created a video introducing Wales’ National Day: St. David Day (available here:  St. David’s Day). During the shooting of ‘St. David’s Day’, each of our team member had a yellow daffodil brooch pinned in front of our chest. I saved this yellow daffodil brooch as a souvenir of my two years study in Wales (Picture 1).


Picture 1: A Welsh  daffodil on the pencil case. The daffodil is the national flower of Wales, and is worn on St David's Day each 1 March.

Picture 1: A Welsh daffodil on the pencil case. The daffodil is the national flower of Wales, and is worn on St David’s Day each 1 March.


During my two years in Wales, I have visited many places in Wales: Cardiff, Capital of Wales, Llandudno and Llangollen, Colwyn Bay, Barmouth, Lyme Park (the shooting set of Price and Prejudiced), Bala Lake, Errdig Park and Holywell, etc.. All these Welsh memories can be represented by this lovely little yellow daffodil. Whenever and wherever I see this flower, the bell of Wales is rang.

I also visited other British cities other than those in Wales.   Edinburgh is an amazing city full of mysterious stories.  It was shocking for me that a tomb ground / grave yard which is hunted can also be a tourist attraction. I joined the night tour, following the route which many ghosts (of human and animals ) were seen by people and animals…  What a interesting and chilling tour! Each of the tourist has a torch light to make oneself feel a little safer in the trip to see ghosts.


Picture 2:  A torch light from a night walk in Edinburgh and the ball-pen from Youth Hostel in Edinburgh.

Picture 2: A torch light from a night walk in Edinburgh and the ball-pen from Youth Hostel in Edinburgh.


Apart from UK, I visited some cities in West Europe.  The most amazing experience in Glyndwr was that I had lots of international friends, to whom I can pay a visit. Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, they consisted lots of good memories.

Picture 3: Souvenir pen from La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí, in Barcelona

Picture 3: Souvenir pen from La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí, in Barcelona


During the study of media in Glyndwr, I became interested in geographical magazines, which directed me to the MA of Cultural Geography. So I took a master course in Cultural Geography in Royal Holloway, University of London. It was an amazing experience as well. I learnt a lot, and everyone, especially staffs in the Geography Department are extremely nice.

But being a post-graduate student, apart from studying hard and travelling around, I started to have part-time jobs to support myself. Name badge from the stores I have worked in are in my collection of souvenirs in my pencil case.


Picture 4: 2012-2013 Part-time job name badge

Picture 4: 2012-2013 Part-time job name badge


I put all these souvenirs in my pencil case which I got when staying in Berlin. Actually I got a special cup in Potsdamer Platz, but I lost it during one of the process of home moving. Only this pencil case which I carried with me everyday stayed alive these years.


Picture 5: the pencil case and the souvenirs inside

Picture 5: the pencil case and the souvenirs inside


I feel different after visiting each place and having new experience and thus I feel the desire to take away some token of the place, as a memento, to remember my visit and to evidence my experience. These souvenirs made my visiting and experience material. I seek ‘a sign of our experienced reality made material’ (Price, 2013:116), and these souvenirs ‘help(s) convert given reality in to experienced reality’ (Carpenter, quoted in Price, 2013:116). These souvenirs make me feel like I can touch the past, and their existing (can be seen visually and can be touched and used daily) in my pencil case present the fourth dimension of my overseas student life. Even though they are mass-produced and might be manufactured in China, they are still a materiel touch of the experience I had outside of China.