Michael Grab(Gravity Glue) Stone Blance in Yangshuo
Rock hunting has a knack for leading me on the strangest paths... inevitably, to the perfect places at the perfect times . . .
Somehow ended up in the Karst Mountains of Southern China
Cool place... eccentric limestone... one hell of a learning curve for a solo foreigner..!
One note of caution with these rocks.. the limestone has some incredibly sharp edges.. that don't look sharp at first glance... but my biggest reluctance to challenge the impossible in this case was the real risk of slipping and hacking off entire fingers.. mission success..!
Li River, Yangshuo, China ~
Stone balance is normally how i connect with the locals wherever i go..despite language or cultural barriers... especially here, is quite a lonely place for the average foreigner... but once i began connecting directly with the spirit of the place (the ROCKS!), it began to feel like "home" . . . in a way, as usual.
At least half of all the bamboo boat captains were giving me thumbs and even shouting compliments (in english!!)... from their boats speeding by after a full day of taking tourists out for rides on the river... it was a special feeling to know they really appreciated my actions... and especially to create in such a gorgeous location... inspiring to say the least.. no pick pockets hang out with the rocks so i really had nothing to worry about... they all stick to the tourists ;)
Rock hunting truly is one of the greatest ways to travel without doing the usual thing... actually it's funny.. usually the rocks become an attraction, especially for locals, because its often something they've never experienced before... and as usual, triggers some kind of universal human condition.. that i still can't explain..
Such a beautiful peaceful afternoon...
chinese tea ceremony, conducted by a master of her art... with stone balance on a karst mountain top, Guilin, China. . . extreme mutual appreciation, respect, and love!
this was a purely spontaneous event..
some other guests at my hotel intended to conduct a traditional tea ceremony on the mountain top... my way of life is balancing chunks of earth... their's is the traditional tea ceremony.. in a culture who more or less is responsible for the presence of tea worldwide...
i was just part of the morning hike up to this mountain top.. . highest in the area... one hell of a hike... i'm absolutely blown away that these people hiked up in this heavy traditional attire... i didn't even expect to balance anything, let alone have a beautiful ritual experience in such a powerful place. . . after the previous night's shenanigans in the hotel bar (involving balanced bottles)...someone handed me a rock up top, and things flowered naturally. .
in a way felt like a blessing from a goddess.. .. i tried hard not to get all teary in the process... never in my wildest imagination did i picture such a beautiful moment . . . that's all for now . . overflowing with love... grateful for my path through this life. .
hopefully these rocks will stay in place for some time -- on the higest peak in area -- watching over the meandering li river below... I balanced them with intended wind resistance.. i can even see them through a telescope from my hotel rooftop way down below.
"Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment."
A perfect moment of natural collapse
4 completely airborne rocks, in perfect focus, with perfect splash... reminding me that death is a beautiful dance too.. and it always happens before we're "ready".... after all, nothing is meant to last. stress comes from trying to prolong the inevitable -- life will always be in constant flux. . and "safety" is merely an illusion.
Now the real question is: what would you really love to do with the gift of NOW? (because "later" may not suffice)
When THE most legendary cormorant fisherman in the world is stoked on your art
This man is 78 years young, THE master cormorant fisherman, and possibly the most sought after photographic subject/persona in Guilin, maybe even all of China. . i was told that normally photographers need to book this man's time 2 months in advance... but some local friends have been posting my photos on wechat, and word travelled fast that gravity glue was building rocks on the Li river... he saw my work from the other day, then somehow, one thing led to another, and he came over for some post sunset photos with his birds... along with the Guilin newspaper, covering culture on the Li river...
Blows my mind how this idea was only a figment of imagination last month, even yesterday while balancing the rocks on the right...
Somehow tapped into some kinda universal flow on this one... one of the most memorable experiences of my life... he even let me hold his birds, and showed me some tricks of the trade. .
I also decided to show him how the balance works... pointing out the tripods, convex/concave surfaces... I thought it was particularly beautiful that he took the rock, looked at the surfaces, and immediately disregarded the balance and showed me the face he saw in the rock...
I think i outdid myself on this one... stone balance truly is a universal language.
Different view with the fisherman
I caught a bit of a head cold the last couple days, prolly from playing in the rainy river too much..
So here's a bit different view from the other day with the fisherman.. earlier in the day, when he was just chillin... also a bit closer view of the balance... i didn't quite plan the balance this way.. it began as an arch from the day before... but somehow, ended up for me as stone version of the fisherman himself.. sitting in the middle of his boat with a bird on each side... i didn't really like the balance at first... i wanted to make it better... according to my standards.. but by the time the fisherman arrived, it would've been a waste of energy to rebuild.. as this one was already quite difficult.. according to the nature of these rocks.. (mainly lack of friction).. anyway.. it's tough to confine the experience to a single image... for me, the experience surrounding this balance turned it from sub par in my mind, to legendary - - absolute perfection when considered with the context... anyway.. enjoy.
Balancing inside a karst mountain... this was at the far end of the cave, on the other side of the mountain from where we started... quite difficult to get to this point with camera gear.. but we (a small group) made it with only a few minor scratches.. the hike required steep climbing, crawling and squeezing our way THROUGH the entire mountain, relying on one another for support in a couple quite dangerous sections.. not sure how long these rocks will stay balanced, but the air inside is dead still... the opening behind the balance is a steep 200-ish meter drop into the Li river.. after this was done, we had to climb all the way back through the way we came.. one hell of a mini adventure, pleasure to be a part of the crew!
We debated knocking it over, but for some reason we all came close and then just couldn't push ourselves to tip the balance.... not to worry, we left a note on the limestone walls in chinese, warning that the stones are balanced and dangerous, and to be careful, just in case someone else happens to discover this hard-to-reach cavern.
Literally overnight, an empty branch of riverbed sprang to life... . . my previous reflective rock spots are now at least 1 meter under flowing water... pretty damn amazing how powerful water can be collectively. it didn't even seem like so much rain, but when funneled down from all the surrounding karst mountains... it only took a 24 hour delay before a slow trickling Li river turned into full blown flow.. welcome Spring!
The two top rocks here were from a previous day's attempt, Since I knew the riverbed terrain well at this point, I took the chance and waded out into the river blindly, to find them at my previous spot.. i have no idea how i managed to impossibly triangulate the two rocks, especially the smaller one... but mission success! i guess they really wanted to be balanced. . . I improvised the rest...
Full Moon creation, Guilin, China
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” ~ Confucius
Too cloudy to see the full moon, but the clouds and rain demonstrated why this area of China is at the heart of many traditional Chinese landscape paintings. . . luckily found the best rock possible to make my own moon... or i should say the rock found me...? actually i found a snake, which altered my path, leading me to literally stumble over the rock on a steep mountain side... precisely where i needed to be.
New location. start simple.. especially on a windy day, it's good to go BIG.
I think some of my favorite rock spots on earth are where granite steps into the ocean.. it's been quite a few months since i've smelled salt water, and i almost forgot how wild and free this kind of environment feels..... great for finding lovely rocks... i could collect pocket rocks on this tiny beach for hours in the rain.. only sunset could stop me yesterday.. the variety of colors and grains is remarkably beautiful... the granite beach here reminds me of Cornwall, UK, as well as Costa Brava, Spain.. rock family is most similar to Costa Brava..
"When you think you know the whole, you don't even know the half -- "
Hong Kong, post sunset meditation. . .