Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reflections on Windows

The reflections on windows, captured indoors, offered a medley of images. The first, an indoor sitting area that comprised of a lamp, an old telephone booth and a tree. The second, a view of the building situated across against the bluest sky.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

China Journal Day 12 Shanghai First People's Hospital Day 13 Shanghai Bund

Hello readers! We continue with this week's edition of our China trip to... the Shanghai First People's Hospital. I debated if I should blog about this, but we must be prepared in all our travels no? Let's hear the story.

We were having dinner at the hotel restaurant when David fainted, he awoke a minute later. The hotel manager phoned the ambulance and recommended Shanghai First People's Hospital as it had a foreign wing with English speaking staff. At the hospital the doctor recommended one night stay to keep an eye on him and requested I to remain as well. The next morning, blood tests revealed he was fighting an infection, the doctor ordered an x-ray and EKG. The x-ray showed he had acute bronchitis, antibiotics was prescribed and he was discharged.

Total cost for ambulance and hospital was 2,450 RMB ($350 Canadian), all was reimbursed by our travel insurance. The room alone cost 800 RMB per day ($115 Canadian) and was the most expensive stay in all of our China trip. It was clean and very modern with a flat screen TV. However the wing for the locals was different, a few patients crowded in one room, beds side by side, nowhere near as clean nor as bright. The sight made our hearts sink.

On the other hand I am very grateful towards the hotel and hospital staff. When David fainted 2 staff members helped us back to our room. At the hospital they made sure we were taken care of, toast was delivered hot, we even had a 'personal guide' that took us to the x-ray and EKG department. A diligent fellow, he chose the most efficient route away from the crowds. I also remembered the 4 people that held the suction cups for the EKG as the cups would not stick to David's hairy chest and legs! We still laughed at the fact that the EKG bed was not long enough for him, neither was the ambulance stretcher! We were very lucky to be surrounded by kind and caring souls during this worrisome time.

Back at the hotel we showered and ate dinner at a Hong Kong style cafe nearby. Tummies filled with hot congee and steamed meat buns, we walked along Nanjing Road towards the Shanghai Bund. Pictured below, the group of historical buildings along Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu or East Zhongshan First Road, commonly known as the Bund.
The building with the clock is the Shanghai Customs house, lit up at night it looked grand and elegant. Click here to learn more about all the other buildings on the Bund.
Below the famous Peace Hotel with its emerald green roof. Built in the early 1900s, the landmark's unique interior design has a strong Renaissance influence. We wanted to stay for just one night and dine at one of its 17 restaurants. The Old Jazz Bar would have been a delightful experience too! Imagine having Irish coffee and listening to live entertainment by veteran musicians that had played for an international audience such as former American presidents Carter and Reagan. But alas the hotel was closed for renovation during our visit.
Across the road from the Bund, snack shops lined the street along the Huangpu River, the air was filled with all kinds of aromas. Many locals and tourists were out enjoying the warm Autumn evening.
The view of Pudong district from the Bund, brightly colored lights adorn the buildings by the river. On the left the tall one with the 2 spheres is the Oriental Pearl Tower, the world's third tallest tower at 468 meters. Equipped with an elevator that went to the very top, its contemporary shape somehow reminded me of the Sputnik.
A close up of the lower sphere that housed a futuristic space city and a sightseeing hall. On the bottom left is the Shanghai International Convention Centre. In the foreground a Huangpu River Cruise Ship with blue lights, we thought this would have been a nice way to explore the water front.
To the right of the tower, more high-rise decorated with ever changing LEDs. They displayed mesmerizing advertisements, such as the one on the AURORA structure on the very right.
We stayed a little while longer and enjoyed the light show.
A last look at the Pudong district across the water, a completely different exhibition of colors. I like the pink and green ones on the right.
We could stay for hours but had to leave for an early head start the next day. Too tired to walk, we hired a taxi back to the hotel. Laundry was done quickly and off to bed.

Next week our China adventure continues... with a different venue!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lilies from July

At Beaver Lake, the lilies were a pleasant surprise. These were from July but passers by mentioned they were much more exuberant in June. Note to self: must visit them in June next year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Park Reflection

It did cool off late in the week, mornings started off with a light drizzle, a welcome change to the exhausting heat. Yesterday was sunny, this morning more clouds and slight wind, I hope the weather is fine where you are.

Two shots from Stanley Park, I love the protective big trees, clouds reflected on Beaver Lake.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

China Diary Day 12 The Shanghai Museum Part 2 of 2

Welcome to this week's edition of China escapade where we continue with our visit at the Shanghai Museum! In addition to last week's pottery finds, I share with you today some works from other galleries.

From the Paintings gallery, a Chinese painting of a landscape scene in brush and ink on paper, its gentle colors and shapes reminded me of our Yangtze River cruise.
Another painting, one in a series, of a village hut amongst hillsides of empty rice fields, it looked like an illustration that told a tale.
I like the picture below, a peaceful river setting, a man on his boat as he rowed up to his farmland, a fond memory of Shen Nong Stream.
A most beautiful depiction of a branch bearing fruit, possibly cherries. Sophisticated colors and very fine brushstrokes on silk, I stood in amazement.Two items from the seals gallery, the one below was carved on all 6 sides. As shown on the piece of paper, a most interesting seal sign. A landscape scenery covered the top part, a poem span over 4 side parts and the bottom bore the name of the seal bearer, stamped here in red ink or cinnabar paste.
Not all seals are square or rectangular, some are round. The one on the very left is the shape of a calabash or bottle gourd, in Mandarin it is called hulu. The one on the very right is of a bell form and at the very bottom, the thin long profile spelled out a list of characters.I wandered through the Minority Nationalities gallery, one of my favorite spots. I wished I had more time, there was too much to see. Pictured below a most exquisitely embroidered purse by the Yao Nationality. I would have liked to hold this in my hands and feel the richness of the silk stitches and fabric.
A delightful woven bag! At about halfway down, a row of double happiness characters paraded over the light blue area. Straps missing, it seemed incomplete, was this bag created for the festive occasion? Its colors so joyful and sweet I must say this was made for the bride.
A handsome grouping of artifacts, I do not know nor could I make out from the tiny labels which minority nationality made them. Such festive designs, so visually enticing, I love the bright colors.
A shot of the wall display filled with finely woven fabrics and rugs. I stood there, my heart filled with joy, I felt so lucky to have set eyes on these. They are so interesting to look at closely and admire from afar.Another gallery I enjoyed was the Coins gallery, I would have like to stay there longer too! The ancient Chinese coins I was familiar with were round shaped with a square hole in the middle. I found out they were cast with a metal mould pictured below. The mould itself is an interesting form, it looked like an upside down money tree.
Some ancient cast coins shaped as square foot or pointed foot spades, I have never seen coins like these before, a new discovery!Another new find, sword coins that were circulated mainly in the Yan State. Why would anyone want money to be shaped like a weapon?
The last gallery I explored was filled with furniture, the photo below showed a living room setting. Guests would sit on opposite sides while the head of the house sat in the middle. Simple decorations adorned the room, the color of the wood emanated a warm and sincere atmosphere.
Some examples of chair designs, each one a more innovative solution for armrests than the next.A scholar's room with a shelf full of books, a table covered with scrolls of paper and calligraphy materials such as brush and ink. A peaceful setting for contemplating state matters or exploring the creative realm.
Below a fine example of Chinese carved lacquerware, I think this is a decorative stool. The entire specimen was carved so intricately I fear the damage if it was a functional piece. A sophisticated sight, the ceiling light brought out its beautiful crimson color.
Below the last shot captured on camera looking down at the museum foyer. My 5 hours at the world class museum was unbearably rushed! I remembered dashing around madly from one item to the next, gallery to gallery, especially during the last hour. There was no time to find out who or when the item was made. To make matters worse, I had grabbed only one camera battery and one memory card that held only 144 pictures! An action I regretted very much.

Nevertheless I enjoyed the museum visit tremendously. I saw many wonderful things that day, I was and still am very inspired by the creations. The small collection shared here and the last post were of no comparison to the magnificent showcase at the Shanghai Museum. At only 20 RMB ($3 Canadian) entrance fee, this was the lowest priced ticket throughout our entire trip. I highly recommend visiting this venue.

Next week the China trip continues!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Openings to the Light

Shots of people biking walking through the openings under the bridge. The weather is too warm for comfort at the moment, I stayed protected under the shade. The forecast promised cooler temperatures and some rain for the weekend, please let it be true!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

China Journal Day 11 & 12 The Shanghai Museum

We continue with our China journey today! Click here to see all posts.

The flight from Yichang to Shanghai was short but interesting. Everyone was liberal with the number and size of their carry-ons, ours ended up at the back of the plane! Airline food was awful, our first class seats turned economy when they brought in a bigger plane and no refund was issued. China Eastern Airlines fared poorly in our report card.

The trip to our hotel took almost 2 hours. A Shanghai airport a security guard said to travel to Renmim Square (People's Square) then take a second bus to our hotel. We got lost finding the second one as it got dark and kind strangers offered conflicting directions. We then decided to take a cab, many were full but we finally got one for 11 RMB ($1.60 Canadian). It was close to 10 PM when we checked in so dinner was at the hotel restaurant, beef noodle soup for 20 RMB each and off to bed.

Morning came with excellent complimentary buffet breakfasts, eggs made to your desire as you wait! After a short nap, our destination for the day was the Shanghai Museum pictured below, about 15 minutes walk away. It is shaped like an ancient cooking vessel called a ding, to me it looked like a giant wok!
David felt ill and stayed behind to rest, I had less than 5 hours to explore 3 stories of galleries so I wandered swiftly. I share with you my small collection of finds here. First a delightful statue from the ceramic gallery playing a pipa, also known as a Chinese lute. Her face a peaceful expression as she performed with ease.
Nearby a single audience sat, a man with a joyful smile. Both figurines are simple in shape, there was no color, only adequate details told their story, fine examples of craftsmanship.
A lidded container with flowers on a green glaze, perhaps a lady's item? I must admit in my haste I did not take note of specimen date or purpose, I simply picked out the ones I like and captured them on camera.
Below a round shaped vessel propped on 4 legs, from this view it looked like there was only 3. Only a couple of inches wide it looked as if it could walk away, full of life and very charming.
A conical vessel in an elegant shade of pale green, its 3 handles were possibly decorated with Chinese knotting.I was absolutely fascinated by the contemporary flair of the vase below. The simple lines in 8 configurations are Taoist symbols known as the Ba Gua.
A vase in subtle crackle glaze with dark highlights on corners and raised details, an ingenious treatment on this otherwise plain looking piece.
An unassuming pottery jar that seemed to be made of metal, its handles of seashell forms captured my attention. If you look closely, you can see my hand wrapped around the camera.
Pictured below one of my favorite museum pieces, an octagon shaped vessel, its opening the shape of a 5 petal flower. This somehow has a timeless flair about it, the glaze a rich turquoise, I felt lost in its mysterious depth.
A teapot with a modern feel, I could not believe it was built many years ago. I like its enamel style glaze and could not stop starring at the handsome form.The pot below left me standing in awe. Repetitive folds covered the entire circumference, covered in the palest shade of blue, it is elegance in simplicity.
Three hand painted china stood out at the museum. This one depicted a garden setting, a scholar readied his ink for calligraphy on a table made of stone. On the right 2 young assistants carried a teapot and a tray with teacups, on the left an admirer looked on.
Two popular subjects decorated this china plate, peaches which symbolized longevity and bats that represented happiness.
A final dish covered with painted flowers, peonies in the middle surrounded with plum blossoms and butterflies. I do not know the meaning but the exquisite work blew me away.
As I looked at these shots, it occurred to me things are not made the same today, people have little patience to create such marvelous work.

Join me next week for another episode of our China trip as we continue the walk at the Shanghai Museum!