Posts Tagged 'China'

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!

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True or not?

We get a lot of hearsay from the foreign community. We band together, after a fashion, united by the common purpose of navigating a strange and sometimes unintelligible society. Sometimes the rumors are baseless, others turn out to be true.

For example: Shakira will play a New Year’s Eve concert in Nanjing. That one turned out to be true! Wish we had heard in time.

But a disturbing new rumor, substantiated with online news reports: Skype may be banned in China!

If this one turns out to be true, we’re going to meet a whole new level of hassle trying to stay connected with family and friends back home. Or at least, a whole new level of expense. China wants to protect its own telecom business, and with the authority of the government behind all business regulations, there can be an executive decision to shut down a global website like Skype if they feel it will benefit their interests.

Skype was working fine today. It may not be tomorrow! If we don’t answer, don’t take it personally.

It’s who you know

One of JM’s students has an older brother. This is quite uncommon, and usually entails an extremely large fee paid to the government for the second child, something akin to a year’s salary from what we’ve been told.

Usually.

"Did your parents have to pay the fine?"

"They did, but only a little one."

"Why?"

"They know someone in the government."

And that’s how it works.

The mystery guest

I (JM) have been playing my violin a bit more since our return, having purchased a new violin bow over the visit back home. Lately, one of the spare bows in my violin case seemed to be losing some of its hairs: after opening the case, some of its strands would be dangling away from the stick. I examined it on a few occasions, and thought perhaps it was catching on some edge inside the case, snapping a few of the hairs in the process.

Today I again noticed this problem, and it became obvious that these latest hairs were snapped a few inches down from the edge of the bow stick. I looked again, and there on the underside of the bow hair was a small larvae, complacently grazing on my horse hair!

This is the first time something like this has ever happened to my instrument, so of course I thought “Only in China.” Somehow the little critter worked its way inside my case, perhaps while it was open during my practicing, and found its way to an unlikely feast. It had been shearing the strands of hair for the last week at least, getting nice and plump in the process.

My immediate concern was that he might have found his way inside the wood of my violin- worm holes are an unlucky and expensive repair to need on an instrument. But so far no other signs of damage.

So I’m reminded once again that our life here in China is much more in tandem with the flora and fauna around us, welcome or unwelcome. At least the fall will bring lots of great produce at the markets, and a break in the summer’s heat. I don’t look forward to the chill of winter coming ahead, but we’ll enjoy this cool weather while it lasts, along with whatever critters it brings along with it.

But other would be bow-munchers beware, lest ye suffer the same fate as poor little Wormy!

All hail!

Hmm…

You know something is a little strange when your two year old’s first choice for a bedtime story is Mao Tsedong’s Little Red Book of sayings.

Better have that chat with his nanny again.

We’re back

Yes, we made it. We’re back in our home in Nanjing. How do we know we’re really here?

1) Within 3 hours of landing, four people asked to take Leo’s photo.

2) The unmistakable aroma of China air.

3) Having to figure out how to break the Great Chinese Firewall again to surf our blogs and Facebook.

4) Personal space? Is there even a word for that in Chinese?

5) Dumplings, and more dumplings, yum!

6) Jet lag has us awake at 3am every night.

7) Within 3 days of arrival, having the first bout of stomach.. discomfort.

8 ) Squat pots, no Western toilets in public spaces (and no hot water or soap!).

9) Cheerios are $10 a box again.

10) We can’t read the news anymore!

Shanghai excursion

The other week we made a brief trip to Shanghai at the invitation of a good friend who was traveling through on a concert tour. He let all three of us spend the night in his 5-star hotel room. Wow. We never knew a bed could be that soft!

Shanghai is a lot bigger than Nanjing. A LOT bigger. And we thought Nanjing had a lot of people! By the time we came back, we were happy to be in a city without heavy traffic jams. People in Nanjing walk a lot slower too. Shanghai is nice to visit, but here is where we’re happy to live!