Thinking of travel.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

China 2012 Tour
I am back from the mysterious land of China.   My group of twelve travelers and myself made good use of the twenty-one days that we travelled about the Chinese country side.

I left for China on 4 September, arriving in Shanghai ready for two days discussion with an architect who had asked me to look at producing some porcelain work for one of his projects.   I was very excited about the prospects of creating art in China.  I have been told that it is better to work on a project in the country rather than bringing the work into China.  It appears that the duty and taxes are extremely high. Also, while I was in Shanghai I managed to visit the Shanghai Art Museum and saw some great paintings.
The Shanghai Art Museum has a great collection of Chinese painting styles. 
Once I was sure about what was required of me I flew out of Shanghai to Jingedzhen where I would take up a residency position and try to execute the art pieces.   This may sound easy but is not.  When working in China there is a lot lost time due to communication, amassing the necessary materials, setting up a work space and finding out where one can elicit resource personnel.  There is also a lot of lost time due to being hosted by the many local artists, who want to take you out to dinner and to karaoke afterwards.  I managed to get a few prototype objects created before I had to fly to Beijing to meet the first travelers in my group.  I did however have time to study the art of China Painting on porcelain.  I had a very talented teacher.  Her name was Li hua  which means Flower.
The View of the Sanbao International Ceramic Institute workshops one gets when walking to work in the morning.

"Flower"  My China Painting Teacher.

My tour was to start on the 29th of September but the first travelers arrived on evening of the 25th .The reason for the early arrival was due to the low cost of air-fair.  They believed that it would be better to spend the savings on hotels rather than purchasing a higher priced air flight ticket closer to the tour date.  Their early arrival gave them to opportunity to visit the ceramic gallery located in the Forbidden City on the following morning. This was a good opportunity because there would not be sufficient time to do this when the tour group would visit to the historical site.  The museum has one of the best collections of Chinese pottery and ceramic works.  The exhibition begins with early works all the way up to today’s contemporary ceramic art. If you are interested in pottery, be sure to ask the information kiosk where to find the museum.   Also allow at least three hours for the visit.
It has been nine years since my last visit.  It is something to see that cars have replaced bycicles.  The traffic is gridlock most of the time.
Beijing is starting to show some real talent when it comes to Archeticture.

We left the Forbidden City by the west gate and took a meal in a small restaurant on one of the side streets.  I always enjoy eating in small eateries as the food is hot and the beer is cold.   After the meal we walked along the Changpu River Park, stopping to visit the Imperial City Art Museum.  We came out on Yichang’an jie and visited the five-star Raffles Beijing Hotel that adorns this street.  The hotel hosts numerous high end boutiques and also had a great selection of art adorning its walls. We exited the hotel at Wangfujinn Street. This was truly a shop till you drop street.  Of course this led us to the famous Donghumen Night Market where one can buy live scorpions and slugs to eat as a snack.  We did not stay here long because there were too many people, and the market became suffocating so we decided to go back to our hotel, The Beijing Laure and to take our evening meal in one of the local restaurants located across the street from the hotel.  It was a worker’s restaurant and must say the meal was great.  We dined on little fish and great noodles and vegetables.
One must go to the Forbidden City when you visit Beijing.  There were large crowds this day because it was the day before the National Holiday.
This is a bronze sculpture of a tortus.  I posted it here to show what the next few days would be like.   SLOW.

An old tree found in the Emperor's Garden in the Forbidden City.
The Chinese like to do thing big.   This basket of artificial flowers adorned Tienamen Square.
 The next day I let the first two travelers choose their destinations in Beijing as I had to return to the airport to meet three more travelers were arriving within 30 minutes of each other.  I was lucky as I had my I-Pad with a GPS app. That allowed me to follow the route of the taxi. I had read a great deal about a rash of Black Taxies,(Illegal black marked taxies that do not have a meter and who charge enormous prices for their services,)  operating out of the Beijing Airport and I wanted to be sure that the taxi drivers could not pull the wool over my eyes.  My first traveler arrived on time, although they were a bit shook up because there was bad weather during their landing.  That is when I saw that my third member’s flight had been diverted to another airport and that I would be around the airport for quite a while.    So I sent the first to arrive couple to the hotel and waited. I really got to know the Beijing International Airport.  I was lucky because I could get on the internet.  All I had to do was to go to the information booth and get an access code.  They take your passport and scan it prior to giving you a code.  I think this is some form of control.   It was about three hours later my party arrived.   I was happy that the wait was over.   We took a taxi to the hotel where we joined the others for dinner.   They had visited the Heavenly Temple Park and they went looking for the Beijing Botanical Gardens.  
The Cermaic Collection of the Forbidden City has one of the largest groupings of Ceramics in China.  This is an example of the Tang era horses.

Another example of Tang era ceramic sculpture celebrating the Silk Highway. 

The next day was the when the main party would be arriving.   So once again I left the hotel and went to the airport to meet the seven new arrivals.  The main difference this day was that I meet our Beijing Guide, and she had a bus waiting for my travelers.   Our group was now complete and the next day we would begin the formal part of the tour.