Archive for April, 2011

National Palace Museum Taiwan

Well, I closed out the museum yesterday. I believe I was the last actual tourist in the whole place and they finally politely requested that I leave the premises ;).

I had my reasons for staying far beyond my welcome. The collection of art was ridiculously amazing, and my opportunity to soak it in was ridiculously short. Porcelain, ceramics, pottery, jade, calligraphy, bronze, steles, paintings, drawings, buddhavistas, ivory carvings, jadeite bok choy, sculpture – it was too much to take in, but I did my best.

I decided to take one of my favorite paintings home with me, and here it is!

Waiting for a Ferry in Autumn

Waiting for a Ferry in Autumn by Chou Ying. He was one of the four master painters of the Ming Dynasty, and a native of Jiangsu province, where we live. I didn’t know that when I bought the print, but it makes sense given that the painting evokes some of the beautiful rolling landscapes in our area.

Being at the museum made me want to drop everything and run off to study art history and start painting. As it happened, though, I did get kicked out, and returned to my normal life this morning. The world will be spared my paintings! Whew!


Taipei! First impressions…

I (Liz) landed in Taipei yesterday, after a whirlwind week before of prepping for this trip along with plenty of other work, supporting JM’s intense rehearsal schedule with the Jiangsu Orchestra (here’s to JM for great concert played last Friday night!), and in the middle of that – attempting to celebrate Easter. Whew! Needless to say, I landed in Taipei a bit fried, and actually thought I’d crash for the night before my real business starts today (I’m here to recruit students for the school I work for). I rallied though and went to a night market and for a long walk, and wow, is Taiwan beautiful! I was awarded for my efforts with an up-close view of a traditional parade in celebration of someone’s birthday… (Still trying to figure out just whose birthday :)).

For starters: It’s cleaner, more organized, more developed, more colorful, and more open than mainland China, from what I can see in only a few hours. The taxis are plusher and the drivers don’t smoke!!! There are few bicycles and many motorcycles and everyone wears helmets! I visited a Buddhist temple and the I can only describe the religious devotions I saw being practiced as really alive and enthusiastic in comparison to the temples in China… I’ll have to think more about how to describe the difference, but it is quite evident. Perhaps it’s that the people here have had a continuity of spirituality and the traditions aren’t being dug up and re-invented as they are in mainland China now. So the religious devotion seems more natural and unaffected than it does in China.

I also am a bit sheepish to admit it – but I basked in the consumeristic joy of seeing many more familiar brands in the stores – Singer Sewing Machines! Oral-B Floss! Burt’s Bees Chapstick! And more, oh my! It’s evident that people are better off here on the whole – they are dressed better, have better teeth, many fewer rugged faces revealing lives of hard labor. I’m told the gap between the haves and the have-nots is much less wide here than in the mainland, and I believe it.

It definitely more closely resembles, say, Chinatown, in New York way more than any place in mainland China. And that makes perfect sense.

I’m off now to visit the National Palace Museum – where many of China’s precious cultural things were whisked off to in the KMT’s move to Taiwan during the Communist revolution. I am sure I will be dazzled.

All that to say, it is definitely still so very China, the language, the cultural reserve and conservatism, the traditions, the Confucianism, and so much more…

Fall in line

Here’s a helpful tip when traveling through China’s densely packed pedestrian crossings. Whenever oncoming foot traffic, bicycles, scooters, and automobiles are keeping you at bay, fall in behind the nearest propane tank delivery moped.

With his four large tanks of propane gas propped on the back of his rickety scooter, even the oncoming road traffic swerves out of his way! 🙂

Only 2 hours

At JM’s school, there are a lot of students who come for remedial English help before going to study abroad. As part of their entrance to the program, they are given a speaking exam.

"Hi, how are you?" "Fine, thank you. And you?"

After a few pleasantries, JM surveys a range of topics from family to hobbies to studies.

"How much homework do you get?" "Not much."
"How many hours a day?" "Two hours."

It still surprises us how our standards are so different! An American high schooler would feel oppressed by a regular two hours of homework a day, whereas in China that’s incredibly low intensity.

At any rate, it seems the student was right in this case- their English speaking score turned out quite low!

Alley Wars

Please take the time to read an interesting post written by a student who attends the Hopkins Nanjing Center. It’s about an alleyway where we live, and the rapid, and difficult change that’s currently underway. A Mom and Pop store we all loved and frequented has fallen axe to unstoppable and unforgiving development.

Got to love them

After all, who doesn’t love kids?

Rosie is getting bigger and sweeter every day.


Leo loves his new bicycle!

We’ll pass

Hello to all our faithful followers!  We can’t believe our blog still gets traffic, at least a few views each day. Thank you whoever still finds our occasional postings interesting!

It’s been a busy past month with family staying with us- a great time but pretty consuming. Now we’re back to our normal work and childrearing routine.

But what passes for normal?  The latest was another timely text message from Leo’s kindergarten, informing us that the following day he would be required by the kindergarten governing board to attend a school physical checkup, staffed by their doctors, with a full health check including a blood test.  And even though he had had the required health check to get into the school to begin with in September, this one was also mandatory.

And we would have to pay for it.

So.. we get to pay to have a compulsory health re-exam that includes drawing blood from our 3 year old, all without our personal supervision.  Um.. no thanks.

Luckily, today we informed the teachers of our reservation when dropping Leo off, and they were surprisingly accommodating. Thank goodness! He was able to play individually while the class left for their checkup.  It’s most likely because we’re foreign, and they do in fact make efforts to comply with our seemingly particular wishes. It’s just easier for all parties that way.

Let’s hope the checkup isn’t always going to be a biennial event.  But we can be sure to get more last minute text messages!

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April 2011
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