Dupont Circle, Real World DC, The Features, Tourism

Laogai Museum – A Dupont Detour

Photo courtesy of
‘Laogai Museum 4′
courtesy of ‘jcm_DC’

The Laogai Museum may be small, but it packs a punch. Tucked away in the old Real World DC house off Dupont Circle, its one-floor exhibit explores the dark underbelly of Chinese labor camps and human rights policies.

“Laogai” means “reform through labor” and refers to oppressive tactics the museum claims China has used to punish political prisoners since 1949. Harry Wu, a survivor of the Laogai camps, founded the museum in 2008 as part of the larger Laogai Research Foundation. The museum moved into its current location last April, where they now offer free admission and guided tours.

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The Daily Feed

How badly do you miss Tai Shan?

Photo courtesy of
‘Treats You Have Treats For Me? (2 of 3)’
courtesy of ‘Daniel.Techie{TaiShan~4Ever} @′

Enough to pay $5,000 plus airfare to go visit him? That well-known panda-lobbying organization The Friends of the National Zoo is organizing a 10-day trip this fall to China, one that will include a stop at the Bifengxia Wildlife Preserve, home to our beloved Tai Shan. Sure, there’s lots of culture and dining and education and blah blah blah mixed in, but we know what it’s really all about: checking up on Butterstick to make sure he hasn’t been brainwashed by the communists.

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Special Events, The Daily Feed

“Peace out, District. What up, China?” Bye-Bye, Tai Shan.

Giant Panda

The end draws near on Tai Shan’s time in our fair District.

Zoo goers and panda enthusiasts will forever remember his tenure as one that brought joy to the eyes of children and adults alike. What better way to say “Peace out, District. What up, China?” than a giant party being thrown in your honor?

The Friends of the National Zoo is hosting the official “Farewell to Tai Shan” party at the National Zoo. The event is scheduled for January 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Activities include: talks with panda experts, goodbye card writing, and sweet-sweet panda lovin’ (aka oooo-ing and ahhh-ing at how gosh darn cute that lil’ panda is).

The Features, Tourism

Ice Ice Baby

IMG_1498ICE! penguins by Corinne Whiting

I’ll be the first to admit that planned communities and “town center” mini-metropolises aren’t really my thing. I find them rather soulless and frankly a little creepy, so I tend to steer clear. But on a recent snowy Saturday, I was lured over to Maryland’s National Harbor—that relatively new complex of colossal convention centers and hotels, shops, eateries and a man-made “beach,” site of the relocated Awakening sculpture that I loved to crawl atop as a kid (at its former Hains Point home).

The draw this past visit? A mini-city of ice created by forty Chinese artisans flown over to sculpt 5,000 blocks that cumulatively weigh two million pounds. I was intrigued. Despite fears of rambunctious tots dominating this surreal ice world, the experience was a pleasant one. Visitors purchase timed tickets to enter Gaylord National’s ICE!, housed in a tent on the resort’s property that contains a 15,000-square-foot “cold room.” To combat the nine degree inside temps, guests borrow XXL blue parkas before entering, turning the masses into a sea of super-size Smurfs (wee ones shriek in horror as they attempt to wiggle free; adults belly laugh, delighted by the silly scene). Groups then get their photo snapped by staff as if about to board a cruise ship, before slipping beyond the warmth into the winter wonderland. The vibe’s a bit cheesy, but charming all the same.

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Downtown, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

First Look: the Terra Cotta Warrior Invasion


Yesterday was the opening of “Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor” at the National Geographic Museum. A rare treat, the exhibit is on the final stop of a four-city US tour and closes on March 31, 2010.

Promotion for this visit has been going on since spring of this year. The hype is justifiable, however. This particular exhibit features the largest number of terra cotta figures to ever visit the US. Fifteen figures from the tomb of China’s First Emperor Qin Shihuangdi (221 B.C. – 210 B.C.) are in a magnificent display that spans two galleries ans 12,000 square feet.

I only had an hour this past Wednesday to visit – SmithGifford and NatGeo had a special invitation-only event for local bloggers and photographers. I was too busy shooting photographs to really absorb the whole experience, but I definitely will be heading back to soak it all in. It’s well worth the cost. And there’s a special offer for WeLoveDC readers as well – I’ll spill the beans after you browse some photos from that evening; you can decide for yourself if you want to go. Continue reading