Here’s the latest from the China Daily:
I’m surprised about the banks. They seem to have enough people for all the other tiny little bits of bureaucracy. I’m sure they could spare a few thousand people to count some tiny coins.
Following my reading of the China Daily and general admin stuff (while Mirinda put in a few hours work), I headed up to Wangfujing Street. Mirinda and Sarah were off with some English chap who knows Ben, to look at a college or something following a Vietnamese lunch, so I decided to go shopping for a few final things. Naturally, my first stop was Starbucks.
The pollution is back to being horrid. It stings my eyes after a while and I need to find somewhere comfortably air conditioned to recover. I have no idea how people do it every day. I guess they have to. I think I’d rather be dead.
I spent my time in Starbucks trying to write my name in Chinese characters. This is the best I could manage.
The secret, apparently, is for it to flow from the pen like confident brush strokes. I can see why people use it as a meditation tool. It certainly kept me quiet for a bit.
Then, in the National Art Gallery of China, I was surrounded by Chinese calligraphy. The whole ground floor is devoted to an exhibition of it. Now, art has an amazing ability to transcend language but I’m not convinced by endless black Chinese characters on white backgrounds. They stop looking good after the first few hundred.
By the way, the woman with the pram in that photo seemed to be following me. Whenever I turned around, no matter where I was, she’d be there. It was very weird. I guess she was seeing things at the same rate as I was.
The problem with this calligraphy is it’s only clever on one level when you can’t read it. It basically just becomes a load of squiggles. I have no idea if it says anything clever, witty or just plain stupid, because I can’t read it. It’s a shame but, there you go.
Unfortunately, there’s no permanent collection at the art gallery so they display collections of different artists or a certain style. At the moment, on the top floor there is a collection of water colours, some of which are fantastic but, everything’s in Chinese so I have no idea who’s work I was looking at. But at least I was…looking at it, I mean.
There appeared to be a big group of teenage school kids visiting at the same time as me. Rather than stand in front of each painting and admire or dissect each according to some art theory, they just took photos of every painting. Seriously. Every single painting is now digitised on over 30 camera cards. Clearly they have no concept of image rights.
The main problem, though, is that not one of the kids actually stood and looked at any of the paintings. Such a shame because some of them were stunningly beautiful. They nearly all depicted calmness and peace in beautiful light strokes.
I ended up agreeing with an older Chinese chap who seemed to be saying how much he liked a particular one depicting a fishing village just off the coast with two men casting nets into the sea. At least I think he was saying he liked it. Anyway, whatever, I agreed with him.
The Art Museum building, itself, is built in a sort of pseudo pavilion style over four floors. It looks impressive enough from the outside but nice and comfortably small once you’re inside. A big difference to the Chinese museum the other day!
Outside, the street is lined with art supplies shops with remarkably ugly statues of Michael Jackson and the Marilyn skirt blowing up photo, both larger than life and twice as ugly.
Basically, it wasn’t a very satisfying visit but, I liked a lot of what I did see.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant that Sarah was taken to on her first night here. It’s just around the corner and the food was lovely.
Mirinda managed to order a litre of pear juice…which she almost drank. I mean the waiter was pretty clear about how it was the big one she was ordering. It looked freshly squeezed so I feel a bit sorry for the poor person squeezing them all.
And, speaking of food, I bought these at our local (Backyard) store today, for lunch.
They really do taste like cucumber. Not so sure about the refreshing bit, though.