I brought my camera with me downtown to language class.
I want to get pix of the colorful street life in the upscale neighborhood. The breakfast cafes and stands are doing brisk business in the early hours. Pancake or Beijing pizza atTu Jia Jiang Xiang Bing. Steamed buns -baozi - come with a variety of fillings -zheshi shenme xianr de baozi? My teacher WuDan Laoshi happens to walk into my picture frame. Her favorite filling isnai huang bao - steamed creamy custard bun.
On the subway I see some young men with these ENORMOUS packs get on in front of me. They pose for this picture. The subway car shakes, sorry about the focus.
Deng Wei writes: 'Thanks for your photo. We enjoyed our trip during the two days (weekend). We went to BAIHE (White River) Gorge to camp and cook barbeque. Fortunately, the day before yesterday was a sunny day. My face was shined and became very black.' Here's a link to a blog posted by a couple of Americans who camped with motorcycles here. Great pix. http://www.mychinamoto.com/forums/showthread.php?390-Beijing-Hebei-Two-days-along-Baihe-%28White-River%29
If you look carefully at the Penjing balcony image you will see a penjing on the right side. Wandering in and out of side streets back to the subway station I see some very exclusive dress shops and interesting people.
http://www.thatsmandarin.com/our-chinese-schools-in-china/beijing-chinese-school-dongzhimen/ The district where my language school is located is around the Dongzhimen subway station and near a lot of embassies. The rents vary from RMB900 ($142) a month for a micro miniature studio to RMB10,000 ($1,577) for a mistress apartment. RMB5,000 ($788) will get you 2 bedrooms and about 200sq m. Check out apartment rentals here http://www.beijingrealestates.com/VirtualEastGatePlaza.htm
The National Holiday - Shi Yi (10/1) - has come and gone since I last wrote, from October 1 to 9. Everyone is going out of town on holiday except Cher, it seems. I'm looking forward to some quiet time I can paint uninterrupted.
One day it's warm and sunny, the next cool and hazy. Casual summer dress and lifestyle is over, fall is blowing bits of yellow leaves onto the green mondo grass by my office. The ginkgos are the first to color. In the warm afternoons I pack up my little folding chair, zipper portfolio, bag of art stuff and pedal around, looking for a nice scene. Lots of trees in rows with road or sidewalk feature. Kind of impressionistic VanGogh-esque, French looking to my eye. I try to improve my Chinese brush technique, adding some color. When the poplars turn gold I'll try some plein air in oils since I shipped my easel, tubes and brushes this summer.
The holiday starts off with a trip to art district 798. This time I go with some young students from Beijing foreign Language University. Two boys and two girls. They all speak good English. The subway ride is long and we have to transfer once. We then take two taxis (Beijing regulations, only 3 people in back seat, they have cameras on the overpasses our taxi driver explains) to the district. Only cost 14K ($2.21). The subway is 1K or less if you have a subway card which I do.
We finally made it and stay all day, have lunch and dinner there, before the long trek home. It is fun, talking art and looking at some 'good,' some not so 'good,' some really 'good' art and then of course the people watching. I like one exhibit so much I bought the book and have been wondering if it's possible to meet the artist. Some little oil sketches from LA area beaches, palm trees, make me a little nostalgic for the old LA art scene.
The next day I am up early. James the cab driver picks me up at 7am. We drive about a half a block to a tiny canteen where he has a quick breakfast. We next drive across campus to pick up Li Zhang - young research assistant - who is my interpreter and photographer at the Beijing Botanical Garden - Da Guan Yin.
Liu Dongyan picks us up at the entrance in a garden minivan. The director Mr Zhao welcomes us at the Penjing nursery. He wears dark blue pen-stripe trousers, blue chambray dress shirt and navy windbreaker. He serves us Kwan Yin tea in tiny glass cups and pours tea over the tea pet, a frog with a coin in its mouth. The interview and tour lasts all morning. The winters are so long in Beijing that they must put ALL the Penjing in green houses for seven months. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing_Botanical_Gardenhttp://www.beijingbg.com/English/v.asp
Li and I had lunch at the garden over-looking the ancient palace lake. Li is an expert at Chinese cuisine. She orders for us mushroom shrimp soup which comes in a hammered brass tureen over a flame, little yeast raised buns with chopped green onion,qieza (eggplant), maopo dofu, and rice.
Tieguanyin tea is an oolong premium tea, produced in Anxi in Fujian province since the 19th century. But it's history is longer than that. Discovered in the 18th century and given to the The Qianlong Emperor as a gift, it is a very delicious tea with a distict and flowery flavor and aroma. Needless to add, it sells for a premium as well. There are numerous steps to its production:
- plucking tea leaves.(cai qing)
- sun withering. (shai qing)
- cooling. (liang qing)
- tossing. (yao qing)
- withering, this includes some oxidation. (wei diao)
- fixation. (sha qing)
- rolling. (rou nian)
- drying. (hong gan)
- After drying some teas go through the added processes of roasting and scenting.
Tieguanyin is one of the names of the adored Chinese Boddhisattva who has been influencing Buddhism in south Asia nations for centuries. The name of the Chinese tea is translated in English as "Iron Guanyin", and sometimes as "Iron Goddess of Mercy."
My deadline for the Golden State Bonsai Federation magazine Golden Statements is on Wednesday, so I only have two days to finish my article. This is my second Penjing article. The first is of the Shanghai Botanical Garden Penjing collection in March. At last I send off the article with several of Li's hi dpi images and am able to think about painting.
They continue to tear up streets around my neighborhood. One day you will leave the house one way only to return to find barricades up and a giant ditch where you used to go! I discover little paths and alleys through the hutong I never would have. When will we get back to normal???
Hou tou jian