Archive for May, 2011

Caochangemen Campus

Today was a little more relaxed. I got up at 7:00 am to do a little email and internet activities. As I have mentioned the internet is like a dead turtle except early in the morning. I worked on a Power Point for a lecture later in the day and at 10:00 a student named Wanghad came over and he took me to one of the nearby art supply stores to help me bargain with some prices. I bought 5 bamboo brushes, 10 sheets of paper, a ruler, glue, tape, pencil sharpener, 7 paper masks, and a big bottle of black ink all for 170 Yuan or $27.00. That is a pretty good price I thought.

I then met Guelay and one of her friends for lunch. It is helpful to have someone order what you want in the canteen as the cooks do not speak a lick of English. I came back to the room and decorated some of the paper masks. I want to give them to some Chinese friends before I leave. I then took a short nap before heading over to the art auditorium for a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour question and answer session. I mostly showed images of the ceramic work I have completed in the last 36 years. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I will give another talk next Tuesday same time. Next week they want me to talk about art education in America and Art History in America. Should be fun.

I then asked Guelay if I could take her out to dinner, my treat. She has done everything for me often insisting on buying me a drink and I knew that I would be leaving soon and that this would probably be the only free time to do it. She really did not want me to buy her dinner but I insisted that it was my turn to give back to her. So we went to a pizza place she likes and I even insisted on paying all of her bus fares and cookies for dessert. She was very appreciative. She is one unique person and I wish everyone reading this could meet her. From day one she had been our number one friend here in Nanjing. I know Lydia and Amber agree with this statement. They all cried when they had to say goodbye and Guelay even got up at 5:30 am to help take them to the train station. That is the one of kind Guelay. Good night!

Guelay showing me some of Nanjing at night.

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A Chinese couple wanted their little child's picture to be taken with the two beautiful Americans.

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You see this in every park in China. Birds in cages brought to the park from retired people. This is one of their hobbies.

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This is at a reconstruction of a typical rich person's home from the Ming Dynasty. It had over 300 rooms. Left to right, David, Guelay, Lydia, Amber, and Lisa.

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Ming Wall

Today was another great day in China. When I got up I worked a little on some art and then decided to take Bus #11 to the biggest lake in Nanjing called Xuanwu Lake Park. It is basically one big park and is very beautiful. A big part of the old Ming city wall is there so I decided to walk it. Here is what I wrote.

12:00 noon, right now I am sitting on the Nanjing Great Wall that was built by the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Parts of the wall also date back to the 2nd century AD. A Chinese man in a red shirt just walked up to me and I said, “Knee How”. He replied the same and then offered me a cigarette, that was a little strange. It is a beautiful day out with mostly cloudy skies with a few peaks of sunshine. There is a slight breeze but I am not sure if the clouds are smog or just haze coming from moisture, most likely the latter. There is a huge lake below me called Xuanwu Lake. It has lots of little boats on it somewhat like paddleboats. As I sit on a bench facing the lake I can see Purple Mountain to my right and a large golden metal round building somewhat like the BC dome below it. I have been walking for about an hour and I think I will walk some more.

I ended up walking the entire wall I could walk and then walked down to the lake and spent a little time there. Then I decided to take a bus to the Nanjing Art Museum. I got a little mixed up what road was what so I ended up just walking to the museum. I had a little difficult time finding it and when I finally did I found out they were closed that day but would be open tomorrow. I called Lisa and she said take bus #65 and it would take me back to campus, which it did. When I stepped off the bus I checked my phone for any messages and I had one from Professor Du (she came to BC two years ago). It said, “Are you free now.” I was free so I called her up and she ended up taking me to a tea house for tea and dinner. We talked for about 3 hours and the time flew by. I then got back to campus where I met Lynn to walk to a bamboo flute concert at the Nanjing Art Institute Concert Hall. We had a great time listening to some incredible sounds from a lot of Chinese instruments with the bamboo flute as a soloist. Now I am typing my entry before I go to sleep. I can’t load it tonight as the internet is like a dead turtle.

Oh yea, one more thing I did today was before climbing the Ming wall I went to the Jiming Temple which has a bunch of Buddha statues and a large pagoda but the pagoda was under scaffolding for repair. Shucks! When you entered the complex they handed you three incense candles for when you get to the top. There were lots of people praying to the many, many gods along the way and when I got to the top I lit the three incense sticks and stuck them where everyone else was sticking theirs. I lit up one for Linda, one for Michael, and one for Forrest, sorry mom, I only had three.

View from the top of the Ming Wall build by the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

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One of the golden statues at the Jiming Temple. Most were a lot bigger than this one.

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At Church

This is the first draft of a poem I started yesterday while waiting for church to start.

Peace and love,
Contentment and pain,
Hard work and respect,
KFC and MacDonald’s,
Capitalism and cars,
Traffic and bicycles,
Mopeds and people,
Dynasties and emperors,
Dragons and phoenixes,
Yellow and blue,
Tombs and rivers,
Walls and kites,
Firecrackers and weddings,

Rice and vegetables,
Fish heads and pork,
Bones and spices,
Old and new,
Tea and coke,
Wine and beer,
Green and red,
Noodles and dumplings,
Fried and boiled,
Bamboo and frogs,
Church and Confucius,
Ming and Qing,
Silk and jade,
Tang and Song,
Yuan and Han,
Sat and Deng,
Mao and War
Communism and billions

I went on a long walk yesterday and found this Walmart.

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Last night I went on a walk to the local park and this is the Ming Wall at night. The park was crowded with people just relaxing.

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China Day 18

Today we had a very busy day touring Nanjing. David Olive (our Bluefield College president) is here along with his daughter. We left the campus at 9:00 and took a van to the Lion Mountain Park. There is a large temple there that sits on a hill overlooking the Yangtze River. It is a very scenic climb to the top and the temple is a typical traditional Chinese building. We then went inside the temple and climbed to the top. The entire temple is highly ornate with bright colors of blue and gold and many other colors. This is a Ming temple and inside had the portraits of all the Ming dynasty emperors. When you get to the top you can walk around the entire perimeter with incredible views of the entire city of Nanjing. It was quite beautiful. When we climbed down we walked to a side flat area (still up high) with several smaller ornate buildings.

After this we drove a short distance to a Chinese Tea House. This was my first experience in a tea house and it was quite an experience. We had all kinds of tea, a demonstration of a traditional tea ceremony, a huge lunch, and then tea made from a flower. Mine was called “Love at first sight.”
We spent over 2 hours there and then we drove to a place called Ganxi Residence. This was a reconstructed area of 300 rooms typical of a wealthy Ming dynasty family. It is hard to describe the complexity of it, all wood with incredible glass doors and garden area.

Then we headed to the Confucius temple area which was nearby. This place not only has a Confucius temple but students take their standardized tests here, plus it is a gigantic market area. This is where you get the best bargains in Nanjing. We walked around for 2 hours shopping and then had another huge dinner at Confucius temple. The amount of food we had again was enormous. Vice President Zhou was at both our lunch and dinner as he was hosting our president and daughter. He has been very generous to all of us. It has been a long day and I am a little tired and it is only 8:30 pm. Life in China is wonderful!

This is the Ming temple on top of Lion Mountain.

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I took this night photo when we came out after dinner at Confucius Temple.

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China Day 17

It is 8:45 am and I just got to talk to my mother on the phone. She is in a convalescence home as she broke her leg the same day I left for China. She sounded in good spirits but was complaining about how the therapy sessions were very painful. I am sitting on the front steps of my apartment. There are 4 levels of steps with about 8-10 steps each. One thing you will notice about China is all the steps have a ramp down the middle of them. This baffled me for the longest time until one day I saw a lady walking up the ramp with her bike. I said, “Oh that is what the ramp is for.” Sometimes I would find myself walking up the ramp just for fun, ha!

One thing I have mentioned before is they have a lot of green spaces that are overgrown. In some of the areas they plant some type of garden plant. I have noticed that these are watered daily. One area I am looking now has 3-4 foot tall grass and it has not been cut this summer. That could make a nice garden if groomed a little. That might be determined by squatter’s rights.

There are also a few stray cats around and one of them is meowing me now. Meowwwww… I see them digging in the garbage all the time. Disposing of trash can be strange here. They have this small stainless steel trash receptacle like you would see outside and the residents just throw their trash in small plastic bags beside the can. I can see 3 bags by one right now. I have seen a man pick these up daily and he also sweeps the stairs and ramp. There is a long two-tiered ramp here so motorbikes can be parked at a higher level than the road and closer to the apartments. I think the Chinese when they first built a building they were very concerned about aesthetics. There are some beautiful lamp posts here also, but it seems that gets overlooked later.

Our Calligraphy class teacher showing us the eight strokes of the Chinese language.

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This is a picture of me an Daisy on the bus coming back from the Pukou campus. She takes care of me when I teach on that campus.

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Mochou Lake

This is what I wrote in my journal yesterday. This morning I took a trip by bus to Mochou Lake about 15 minutes from my apartment. It is a large lake in the city with a lot of history. There are lots of people here mostly older people playing games and walking their grandchildren. It is quite beautiful. Everyone seems to be just relaxing and enjoying the day. It is cloudy out with a slight breeze so it is not to hot. I am sitting on a rock about 10 feet from the lake with a couple of small islands in front of me. I am not sure how to judge the distance across the lake, 1 mile or 1/2 mile. The shoreline is lined with buildings, walkways, willow trees and flowers. I hear a distant drum beat of a dragon boat on the lake. There is a festival coming soon on my birthday June 6th, a dragon boat festival on the river. I can hear lots of birds singing their hearts out and a few honks of traffic nearby. The sun is now trying to peak through the clouds. I have on my rain jacket and I am quite hot. Just enjoying my short time in China.

Dragon boat on Mochou Lake

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Models of the emperor playing a board game. This was in one of the historic buildings at the lake.

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Xiaohang Campus

Yesterday I gave a lecture at the “Shaw Hong” campus. That I believe is how you would pronounce it, the correct spelling is the title of this blog. There was a good crowd and thankfully they had the stage set up with chairs as I needed to sit down because of my head cold. In the morning I stayed in my apartment working on some art, getting more stamps glued to the colored paper I had done. I made a quick bus run to the pharmacy and a BIG MAC and that wore me out so I was a little concerned about how I would feel during the lecture. I took two Tylenol Cold tablets and they kicked in just in time for the lecture. The lecture was for two hours and then afterwards I went to an English Corner Club where students like to practice their English. I stayed there about an hour and then I was taken to this giant shopping mall called XINJIEKOU for dinner. Amber and Lydia were with me during this trip also.
Two Chinese girls (Lisa and Linda) took care of us getting on the subway, paying for our dinner, and helping Amber find some shoes she had seen on a previous trip. I had a good talk with Linda. She spoke English well and has her student teaching next year. We had a lot of commonalities. This summer she is going to work in deep south China in the country. She said she wants to be independent. That reminded me of when I was 19 and went for the summer in Arkansas. She said her parents said, “stay at home, don’t go so far.” I told her that is exactly what my mom said when I went to Arkansas. She also said she does not like shopping, I said me too. She said she gets teased from her friends; you must be a boy then. By then we were walking in this maze of shops that was about 8 feet wide and seemed to go on for eternity trying to find where Amber had seen these shoes. Lights were flashing everywhere, music everywhere, and it was just a hip place. It reminded me of an Andy Warhol painting. After this I said I needed to get back to rest so they went out of their way and got us back to our campus. They live on the Shawhong campus many miles away. I was very appreciative of their kindness.

Xian Mosque

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This is a photo of where our car was parked in downtown Xian. I took this picture because the restaurant manager has all of his employees out telling them what to do for that nights dinner.

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Xian – May 25, 2011

I just got back from a short trip to Xian where the 7000 terra cotta soldiers were found in 1974. I took a train from Nanjing at 4:00 pm and slept overnight arriving in Xian at 9:20 am. I had a soft sleeper which is a room with 4 beds and a private door. For the first 5 hours of the trip there was a lung doctor in my room who spoke English quite well and we had a nice talk. We he got off I got three more roomies none of whom spoke English. We just waved and said “Knee How.” I was on the lower bunk and the guy above me snored like a cannon. I put in my earplugs. This part of the train was quite noisy also. My other two roomies were two girls. A quite beautiful young girl was across from me and she seemed very comfortable and confident. The other girl was a little older and looked like she was a nervous wreck. I am not sure if it was the train, strangers in the room or the big tall white guy. She sat in the hall until we all went to bed and then she seemed fine.
When I walked out of the train station at 9:20 am in Xian there was a tall handsome man holding a sign with my name on it. Wow, what a great feeling that was to see. His name was Raphael and he would be my tour guide for the day and he said he was there to take me see the 8th wonder of the world, the Terra Cotta warrior site about an hour outside the city. As we got closer he pointed out a small hill where the first emperor of Qin dynasty was buried. He said they think the entire area could be surrounded by clay soldiers build to protect him in his afterlife. Little did Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi know “Walter” and 5000 other people were coming today. We entered Site 1 which is this gigantic building that houses over 7000 clay warriors. It is hard to explain how big it is. I think it overwhelms you and you don’t know how to react. You don’t even know where to begin to take a picture so you just take them from everywhere. I felt like I was disappointed in some way but I could not pinpoint why. At first I was thinking I was so excited about seeing them that when I saw them there was a little bit of a letdown. You are not right next to them but above them looking down. You are fairly close but I wanted to be closer. That might be the tactile clay artist in me; either that or the head cold was keeping me in a fog. I don’t want to sound disappointed because it was incredible to see. Afterwards Raphael knowing I was a ceramic artist asked if I wanted to visit a clay factory that was making life-size statures today. We went there and it was if I enjoyed that more than seeing the actual 2200 year old statues. Go figure? That was really special and they even invited me to some fresh local tea and before I left gave me a 12 inch tall clay warrior as a gift. I had just bought one at the historical site for $20.00 from an illegal scalper. Now I have two? Anybody needs small clay general for $20.00 bucks?
After this we went back to Xian, a town of 11 million people, and I walked the fortress wall for an hour. The tall fortress wall makes a complete square 10 kilometers long. You can ride a bike all the way around it or take a rickshaw. If Linda was here I thought we could take the rickshaw so I decided to just walk some of it. I wish I would have had the time to walk the entire way around. That is the hiker, adventurer, and goal oriented person I am, wanting to say, “I did it.” Next we drove a short distance to a large mosque. Our driver just drove right up on the sidewalk like it was his parking place. They park anywhere and everywhere in China. If this was Bluefield College I could give out 3000 illegal parking tickets today.
Muslims have been in Xian for 1200 years. The mosque was pretty cool to see and right outside it was what Lynn said “is the largest outdoor market she has ever seen.” It was quite large and had all kinds of tourist gifts with every attendant saying in English, “I give you best price”, “You want polo shirt”, “Casio (seeing my watch), I have Casio watch for you”. I finally broke down and bought 3 packs of ten postcards for 15 Yuan. The asking price for 1 pack initially was 20 Yuan until I waved goodbye. To be honest I hate this because when you really want something you don’t even know what a fair price is. You either got a great deal or just got swindled.
There was also a food market there with all kinds of exotic food. My guide said they even had goat penis, I said yuck! I did buy some bread, dates, Muslin candy, and 2 fried persimmon wads. I call them wads because I don’t know what else to call them. Basically it looked like a small round salmon patty but orange. Next was back to the train station to catch the 9:00 pm train back to Nanjing. The train trip back in the hard sleeper was another unique experience that I will have to tell you about some other time. In China, Walterrrr.

This is the first photo I took when I entered Site 1 of the Terra Cotta Soldiers.

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This is a picture of the clay factory making warriors today. You can see a man in the background putting clay in a mold. These and the original were made in three sections, body, feet, and head.

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Purple Mountain

Yesterday morning we met Luo Lidong at the front gate of the college along with Harry and Lisa (American names), two Chinese students. Harry is an art major in photograph and Lisa is a preliminary education major. Both students are in the running for coming to Bluefield College next fall as non-English majors. Someone drove us in a minivan to the Purple Mountain where we saw Dr. Sun YatSen’s mausoleum set high upon the mountain. He started a revolution on 1911 that overthrew the 2000 year reign of emperors that moved China into the modern age. Unfortunately he died of cancer 14 years later. It was very crowded but we did get there right when they opened the gates. Afterwards we walked to the first Ming emperor’s tomb and museum. They had many artifacts from the site there and that was fascinating. We then took a leisurely stroll down the mountain out of the park and ate at a KFC. Yes KFC, fried chicken and French fries just like home, ha!

After lunch we took a short bus trip to the Nanjing Museum . We saw jade work over 4500 years ago, silk work from the Ming dynasty, ceramics from the Ming and Qing dynasties, bronze work, and three exhibits with modern Chinese art. One man’s work was a slight modernization of traditional Chinese painting, another was more traditional Chinese painting, and another was something you will most likely never see. It was paintings created with thread, very similar to embroidery but a much finer thread. It was amazing. One piece that took three years to complete was at least 20 feet long and 5 feet high of a traditional Chinese landscape. By then we were pretty tired and took two buses back to campus arriving around 3:30.

At 5:00 some of our new Chinese friends came over to my apartment to cook the three of us a traditional Chinese dinner. We had a blast. The food was great and afterwards they started Karaoke from their IPods. We laughed until we cried.

Mousoleum for Dr. Sun Yatsen high on the Purple Mountain.

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Ming Dynasty chair at the Ming Tomb museum.

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Nanjing, China

Yesterday was another great day in China, maybe be the best so far. We started with a Chinese painting class where we were given a demonstration painting a lotus flower. Then we all attempted to paint one ourselves. It was a lot of fun. Afterwards I came back to my room and prepared for my 1:30 class to English education majors. I had about 50 students in today’s class and they seemed to enjoy seeing UGA and the Nittany Lion mascots. They also thought Linda’s art work was very beautiful. Afterwards a student took me on a tour of the Pukou campus. She said it was purchased from another college recently. It has a couple of ponds, a large soccer field, seven dorms, library and a dining hall but I believe only one classroom building. We saw some wildlife birds and walked onto this one little island with a small pagoda on it.
In the evening Professor Du (she came to Bluefield 2 years ago) took all of us out to dinner. It was one of the best dinners I have ever eaten, certainly the best I have had in China so far. It seemed like all the food complemented each other. Like other times it was served on a large lazy susan and we snatched food from the bowls each time a dish came to us. I ate a lot of everything and so did everyone else. They had this fish with its head and tail sticking straight up on the plate and it was cut from the center bone looking like a blooming onion. I swear that is what it looked like. It was covered in a sweet and sour sauce and you could grab a ball of it, about the size of a tennis ball and eat each of the 20 strands of meat. It was also deep fried like a blooming onion. Simply an amazing dish. I could go on and on what each dish was like but I would bore you and it would remind me how full I got.

Today I also was able to start on some of the 24 sheets of watercolor paper I brought with me. I painted twelve sheets with a few colors and randomly dropped (then glued) about 3-5 American stamps on another twelve sheets. Today is another adventure, it is 6:41 am.

A picture of my class on Friday. I had just given them all a gift from the development office of Bluefield College.

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An advanced student in painting finishing up his lotus flower painting.

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