Thursday, August 28, 2008

befriending a rooster...

... somewhere in the ancient city of  Pingyao
Although back home for 2 weeks now, I am still thinking and dreaming about the days in China. I am looking through the pictures and it all seems so surreal, almost as if I flip through a book of fairy tales, as if I watch a historical movie...
Well, in a way Pingyao comes as close as it can be to just that: a place that is still the way it was one hundred + years ago, completely untouched by modern times. The city of Pingyao is the only Chinese city with an intact city wall hundreds of years old, with over 3,000 courtyard houses, numerous Buddhist temples miraculously saved from the red army's vandalism attacks, and also the birthplace of a national draft banking system formed in the 19th century. Pingyao is where the home of the Qiao family is, the only "common" people who's life style was as close to Chinese royalty's as it can get! The Qiao's Compound is the location where Jhang Yamou's Raise the Red Lanterns was filmed. We spent a good day walking through its ancient streets, the wall, the temples, the markets. We met some very friendly locals and one not so keen to form a friendship rooster!
 Well, knowing my interest in roosters or at least in their form, shape and ego(!) (as subjects for my paintings), you will understand why I insisted in following him around his courtyard's favorite spots; although not welcomed by him -there were times I felt threatened...-, I did manage to photograph him in different poses of interest, annoyance, persuasion and attack: what a success!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

encounter with an ancient army!

stepping on China's ancient pavements...
Xian, July 22 (from my traveling journal)
weather: cool,  rain,  fog
Morning: bus ride to the Terracota Warriors site: incredible, enormous in size, proportions, effect. Michelle-our local guide- is very good; she told us more aspects of the Chinese cruelty through the ages...
Afternoon: back to the hotel- a couple of hours free time; walked on the streets surrounding the Hotel and saw the locals, their incredible poverty, filth and despair. ..
After dinner: took a walk on the Muslim street: very colorful, I wish we had more time...

at the Muslim street - night market

Friday, August 22, 2008

goods for sale!

How could I resist?
(photographed somewhere in China)

sweeping China!

(discovering, photographing while in China)

I fell in love with these brooms, made by hand, following centuries old tradition... Everywhere we went, from the big cities (32 mill. population), not so big (16 million), small (4-6 million), to rural and ancient sites, for sure there was one of these on the side, ready for action!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Couldn't help being mesmerized by the numbers, shapes, colors, dimensions, intensity of the signs everywhere we went! Couldn't tell what they were screaming about, I just know they were extremely inviting!
(photographing while walking the streets in China)

Beijing: the classics!

July 19 (from my traveling journal)
Visit to the Forbidden City! We drove to Tiananmen Square and then walked the whole width of it through crowds of tourists - mostly Chinese from the country side - army guards marching, peddlers, locals wanting to take their photograph with us, endless umbrellas, kids, thousands of Chinese families visiting and us westerners getting our first encounter with Chinese pride China!  Mao's mausoleum on one side, Mao's picture by the front gate on the other.
The front gate: the entrance to the Forbidden City!!! Hot, hot, HOT!!! Sweat dripping and exhilarating! In the heart of Beijing, stepping so close to the cruel past of China.
Afternoon: Summer Palace - summer retreat of the imperial family during Qing Dynasty. Amazing landscape. The mile long painted corridor waiving along the lake shore with the most magnificent views, the lotus in bloom, the buddhist temple on the hill, the empress' CiXi marble boat... The heat still in unbearable levels but we survived!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beijing: out and about!

July 16-17 (from my traveling journal)
Breakfast at the Hotel, then taxi to Qianhai Lake to visit the old Beijing's Houtongs: tiny narrow alleys, smelly shops, street sellers with the most amazing fresh vegetables, outdoor barbers, tiny and not so tiny streets bursting with everyday local life; connecting lakes with side parks their benches filled with locals seeking breathing space and cool air. Ancient men and women, old people sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by grand kids, young people, busy people, people resting or just waiting for the day to go by..., some practicing Tai Ci, others giving music lessons, staring at the beautiful lake, the lotus in bloom, the tourists passing by on super loud and super "speedy" rickshaws. Hot, noisy, smelly, incredibly old in the shadow of the ancient Bell and Drum Towers, in  the center of a city growing modern, bigger, flashier by the second! 

QianHai at the heart of central Beijing's houtong.
afternoon: taxi to the Museum where we first saw a so-so modern paintings exhibit with a general "Olympics" theme and then spent time immersed into THE most amazing classic Chinese Brush painting exhibit from the Palace Museum collections: fantastic!!! 
Later we walked down Wangfunjing, stopped by the mega department stores, haute couture designer "temples" and Malls, street food market - the street later turning pedestrian only with the buildings covered with Olympic Games logos, promotional photos and of course a super giant Yao Min!!! Then we finally reached the old Beijing Hotel and had magnificent tea at Raffles Hotel; such old world elegance, so very close to Tiananmen Square!
-------------------------------------Raffles Hotel Beijing

July 18 - Space 798: Thanks to Weihong's "must seen" list, Friday evening we did make it to the magical super charged in creative energy, super cultural modern art paradise of Beijing's Dashanzi Art District. Walked through the gallery packed streets and although late we did manage to visit the Ullens Center where the very best of Chinese art is showcased: the most thrilling contemporary art place in China!!!
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