December 20, 2010
The final three days of our trip were spent in Beijing. As we also took a day trip to the Great Wall, it was altogether too short of a time to se much in Beijing, especially since Day 1 was partially spent in recovery from the overnight train ride from Xi’an. Still, I managed to see the Imperial Palace (aka Forbidden City), and the 798 District, which is an enormous area of galleries, museums and shops.
The Forbidden City was much larger than I had ever imagined it to be. I particularly enjoyed seeing all the glazed tiles which comprise many of the roofs and walls in the city.
Around sunset, they started to really look like gold.
The Great Wall was a great excursion. The part that we reached first had been restored fairly recently. However, about half a mile, and many, many stairs to the west, I reached an unrestored portion.
Beijing also meant repacking bags, confirming flights, last meals of Chinese food, and trying to comprehend what it would be like to return to the United States. Certainly the first few days felt very odd, but I think I am readjusting pretty well.
I still have a number of photographs that I would like to post here. In the near future you can anticipate the following categories: storefronts, food, favorite street scenes, construction/workers and a portfolio of my work from the fall.
This is my last dinner in China: noodles, eggplant, greens, chicken.
December 17, 2010
We left Jingdezhen on December 6, and headed to Xi’an via a bus and then plane. It was a rather hectic and tearful departure from JCI; I’ll fill in some of those holes soon, along with photos of my work. We were in Xi’an for four days and did a lot of sight seeing, including the Terracotta Warriors, Han Tombs, Chenlu (an old pottery village), Xi’an Provincial Museum, Big Goose Pagoda (an historic Buddhist sight), the Forest of Steles (old stone tablets). As well, there was Starbucks (I admit it was great), the International Youth Hostel, which featured silverware, and more foreigners and English speakers than I knew what do to do with. Xi’an is the ancient capital of China, and the start of the Silk Road. Our hotel was near the Muslim street market, which featured some delicious food, dried fruit and nuts, and a lot of silk or silk-like products. I seem to have taken over 1,000 photos in Xi’an alone; here are a few favorites.
Dates – I love these baskets.
From the Han Tombs.
These are from the Terracotta Warriors Museum – they were in the ‘Acrobat Pit’. The scale of the Terracotta Warriors is completely astounding – both as individual objects and as an entity. In fact, the true scale is currently unknown as many of them are still underground.
The museum in Xi’an had an outstanding collection of ceramics; this is my favorite piece.
December 15, 2010
Well, here I am, sheepishly updating my blog from the United States. In my defense, the past month has not only been very busy but my internet connection was extremely sporadic.
I’ve been back in the US since yesterday; I am enjoying the luxuries of potable tap water, flannel sheets and clothes driers. Silverware seems like an abomination. The sudden reversal of the language barrier is very disconcerting; suddenly I can understand everything that everyone is saying around me. Language overload. That said, I am happy to be safely back. I am currently in Boston, and will be on the east coast visiting family and friends until Jan 5, when I return to Utah.
I was in Jingdezhen until December 6; from there we traveled to Xian and then Beijing. I am planning to keep updating this blog over the next week or so to fill in some holes. First, I need to sort through my photos. More soon…..
November 14, 2010
A Chinese student asked me recently what my first impression of China was. I paused for a long moment as I ruled out the inappropriate responses that were my first impressions: “It’s hot, it’s smelly, the food is greasy, the men aren’t wearing shirts, the buildings are drab….” and finally settled on: “The countryside is very beautiful.”
Today, my impression was that I am a giant in China. I went shopping for a coat, because it has cooled down and will only get colder. The first challenge was finding a coat that I liked, but an even greater challenge was finding one that fit. Finally I settled for a bright green puffy jacket that is size XXL!
We have three weeks left in Jingdezhen, followed by a little over a week of traveling, so it is crunch time in the studio. Last week, Mr. Jin, a coil builder, worked in the studio. He has been coil building pots for over 40 years and his skill is amazing. This was especially obvious when we tried our hand at coil building!
November 2, 2010
The past few days have been eventful around here. Since Saturday, we have said goodbye to visiting artist Jason Walker, celebrated the birthday of one of the West Virginia students, welcomed visiting artists Dan Murphy and Paul Dresang, and, of course, did our best to maintain Halloween traditions.
The birthday cakes here are pretty fantastic as far as presentation goes, though they fall short on flavor. Yes, this one does feature Santa Claus.
Dan Murphy is one of my professors at Utah State University, and all of us Utah Staters are thrilled to have him here. I am also vicariously reliving the joys of jetlag, the bewildering feeling of arriving in Jingdezhen, and being unsure if I could find my way back to the dormitories from the studio. His arrival has reminded me of how settled in I have become.
Language has been coming along a little bit, which also helps me feel more comfortable. My grasp of Chinese is still minimal – but even something as simple as asking for a price at a store AND understanding the response (without the assistance of pen and paper) is extremely gratifying.
Last night, we had a Halloween party at the studio which featured pizza from the wood fired pizza oven, sweet potato chips, sunflower seeds…ok, so not very traditional. We did have some candy from the US, thanks to our recent arrivals, and it tasted almost too sweet.
Tomorrow morning, we are off to the new campus for the opening ceremonies for sporting day. Apparently our Chinese teacher is competing in the hula hoop contest, which makes the whole thing slightly more palatable. And then – back to work!