We have this new friend, Scott and Yin introduced us last summer. A woman from Hong Kong who we have been hanging with here. She invited us over for dinner last night.
She is a window, who is wealthy, Hong Kong wealthy. That is another category altogether. Her condo was sumptuous. There was a Picasso etching on one wall, and a Pissaro on the other wall, and a beautiful Chinese painters work on this other wall, who sells his work through Christies in New York, his last one went for 5 million. She likes to buy and sell art, understands the art market, and knows Christies, and the New York and Hong Kong galleries and knows this new market for Chinese painters that are selling for 5 to 20 million dollar. It was all surreal evening, we accepted her wild and wonderful art stories, saw some of her art collection, enjoyed her feast, her hospitality. It is traditional here to bring a gift, not actually knowing what we were getting into, we brought a bar of soap from Thymes and a bag of wild rice, now it seems kind of paltry.
She has a cook, who made a 10 course dinner for us, (ok, I exaggerate sometimes, not this time), this went on for three hours, enjoyable repartee, extremely tasty home cooked Chinese food, and ended with several unusual fruits from China that I had never tasted before, then a final dessert of a sweet pudding made from fungus. We don’t always get the exact translations, but she brought out the bag of white and black dried somethings to show us, we shook our head and said “oh, this kind of fungus.” Its some kind of mushroom when cooked get sweet and gooey, hmmm. The Woolly brothers would have fit right in.
We were full, up past our ears, and took a taxi from one end of new Shanghai downtown (all built in the last 5 years) to our district, through what I can only describe as what artists in 1920 thought what the future would look like. The architecture here is stunning, the best architects in the world design here and have great clients who want to out do each other with extravagances and style, and money is no problem, Shanghai is booooommming.
I saw Donkey on the menu the other day, nothing is too weird here, its all edible.
Its been a rainy week, and school has its ups and downs. I have been visualizing this new move to Thailand, and doing some research on exhibits. Its been a few years since I have designed exhibits, so I have to get up to speed. The weeks go fast, teaching takes all my energy. I am glad its the weekend. I will get some new photos ready, and check out CBE new look. As much as we love it here, and are fascinated with China, the big city gets to us sometimes, especially in the rain.
A small history lesson. That is what makes being here so cool, it all comes together, Marco Polo, Genghis Kahn, the Ming Dynasty, me, I will explain the connections. We just spent a three days in Hangzhou, about 2 hours from here on a 100mph high speed train. It’s a lot like Lake of the Isles, but this has mountains down to the lake, pagodas, water gardens, and misty islands.
Hangzhou’s history starts between 50,000 years to the Upper Paleolithic. By 1100AD, there were over a million people living here.
The Grand Canal was built (581-618 A.D., today still operating and the longest hand built canal on the planet) between Beijing and Hangzhou.
Hangzhou is famous for its silk production, unusual colored pearls and the gateway to the farm land of China.
The Mongols from the north led by Genghis Kahn and later his grand son Kublai Khan successfully “unified” China and he became Emperor of China. In 1279, The national capital of China was moved to Beijing.
Marco Polo arrived in Hangzhou shortly thereafter. Marco Polo saw Hangzhou and called it “..heaven on earth, there is not a city on earth to compare”.
A peasant rose up and raised an army and with his son finally defeated the Mogul’s, around 1297, and started the Ming Dynasty and built the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Sometime thereafter I, the great Mario and Elizabeth the Queen arrive and begin to teach English in Shanghai. This story will continue.
Some recent photography from Hangzhou. Bridge in Hangzhou
We took off for the country side for a 3-4 days, actually to a city that is considered one of the most beautiful cities in China, Marco Polo was here, and said it is one of the most beautiful cities he had ever seen. We did not try the internet there. The place reminds me of Minneapolis a little, lakes and gardens, but the lakes have these beautiful misty hills surrounding them, with large pagodas on the mountains, they ring bells at night, that carries thru the mist, large Buddhist temples and complexs, as big as a college campus, with dormitories for the monks, and 1000′s of visitors a day come to see the Buddhas, and pray, and be tourists. We hardly ever see a Western tourist. Water gardens with many small shrines, this place is an artist paradise. We took the train there, that got up to 170km/h, I have to look that up, but it seemed fast.
So Bill, we are back to our apartment, and our computer, and I took some awesome photos and did some magical drawings, that I have to refine and get ready to post on the new web.
Thanks again for setting this up. I am currious how the WM are doing?
Tell everyone, I miss them, and wish they were all here to take some of this in. I still get excited everyday being here, it hasn’t got old yet, and the beer is good.