Thursday, January 27, 2011


Saturday, March 24, 2007 IXAN/CHENGDU

I ended up working on my photos on my computer in the dark (I turned off the overhead light) until 11 pm after getting my scarf out of the bag to keep my shoulders warm in the cold room. We woke up about 6:30 am and went down to breakfast with our hotel mates, Betty and Howard, for a very traditional Chinese breakfast about 7:30 am. Our host was up early and well prepared for us. The main course was congee, slurping with noisy sound effects required when you eat/drink this soup-like breakfast favorite of the Chinese. We also had tea, hard boiled eggs that I managed to take out of the bowl and eat without dropping it with my chopsticks. There were cooked vegetables, tortilla like shells with minced onions, and more. Again….we were stuffed to the gills by the time we finished.

We were all ready for our morning walk thru the old village that is over six hundred years old. It is surrounded by the fields and is slowly being allowed to disintegrate as the villagers are moved into the new homes where we spent the night. The fields are planted with winter wheat and watermelon. We saw two cows and lots of vegetable gardens. So, I guess we really did stay at the farmhouse. There are five of these villages that surround the town that we visited yesterday afternoon and also share the elementary school that we visited.

Then we walked to the Artist Exhibit where we met Cao Quantang, a local artist that specializes in “Farmer’s Art”. He has exhibited nationally and also in foreign countries. He held an exhibit in Los Angeles several years ago. He painted a small picture as we watched and then most of us purchased one of his paintings to take home with us. Farmer paintings generally portray life in China and promote the political issues and beliefs. It was started in 1950’s by peasants who were building a new reservoir and painted the pictures to record the progress on the work with paint made from leaves, bark, roots, soot and other natural ingredients on empty cement bags. The government became aware of the paintings and sent the artists to school where they received a formal education in painting techniques and an art form was born in China.

We said our goodbyes to our host family, picked up our hand luggage and boarded our bus by 11 am for our hour long trip to the Xian airport for our flight to Chengdu this afternoon. Ate our lunch at the airport restaurant; our table ate all of the food on the table for the first time ever… either they were better at judging the amount of food to serve us or we were really hungry.

The airplane left on time and the flight was an uneventful one hour. Our new city tour guide is named Sabrina and the bus driver is named Jack and they met us at the airport. It took about half an hour to drive to our hotel located in the center of the city. It gave Sabrina an opportunity to tell us about her city named Chengdu in the province of Sichuan with about four million in the city proper and eighty-seven million in the province which is about the size of California. This area is surrounded by mountains and is the gateway to Tibet; because of the mountains and the heavy humidity (we’re in the south now) there is smog pollution nearly every day. On a day when you can actually see the sun, Sabrina said that many stop working to enjoy the rays of sunshine on their faces. She said that this is not a lazy city but life is more important than money to most of the population. As we’ve found all over China the men, especially the older ones, love to gamble on either mahjong or checkers. One sees groups everywhere gathered on low stools or squatting around a low table playing their games. One game of checkers was being played with bottle caps and pieces of wood. Nothing here seems to be wasted. Yards are littered with old things that may be recyclable for future use.

Checked into our new hotel and signed on; every room has broadband access but we’re the only one with a computer so we’re sharing with our tour mates but not too many have taken us up on the offer. We have also helped some by putting their digital photos on a CD to clear up the memory cards; so the computer has been put to many uses.

We took the tour bus to the main drag in town for another great Chinese dinner with the lazy susan. Very good food in a non-touristy restaurant; there was a wedding reception in the next room. Walked the street and some found green tea chocolate that we all tasted and some purchased; very good! This city is know for four things: spicy food, spicy girls, teahouses and the panda bears. We experience three of the four tonight.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Another very good blog. Got Phil to read about your painting farmers very interesting how the did the paintings.