Audacious Topiary, Sinuous Vistas, Luscious Cuisine, and a Divergent Populace.
Allow me to unravel these bundles of descriptors and explain how they became part of my perceptions and experiences on a recent trip to China.
I had never encountered such defiant trees as I did in Hong Kong. They flourished in places they shouldn’t by any manner they wished!
Banyan tree growing from a corner building
The Banyan Trees were the worst offenders. They grew like weeds on the sides of buildings, through walls, and in the middle of city squares. They were dense, twisted, and thrust their branches out towards the sun in whichever position pleased them. Often a thick root would shoot from one of their upper branches into the ground- as if their portly trunk wasn’t enough!
Banyan Tree thriving on the side of the railroad tracks
But I developed a soft spot for these trees and have a sense that somehow they’ll be creeping into my future paintings!
When I looked out along the busy streets of Hong Kong, up the steep paths leading to the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery, and over the continuous
mountain ranges of the Great Wall, I saw the beautiful chaos that is China. Roads that were veering, toppling, and lopsided. Paths were
zigzagging over and around each other.
Massive landscape painting by Xiangguo Jia.
The landscape paintings by Xiangguo Jia takes these impressions to a whole other level. I stumbled upon his work while touring the Arts District
in Beijing and was drawn into their jagged rock formations and perilous passageways. The artist spent 10 years alone in the remote Taihang
Mountains of China to contemplate the landscape and create his own versions of them.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I was fully inspired!!
Eating family style in Beijing
Food, glorious food!
We ate extremely well in China. Most of our meals were done family style, seated at large tables where often there was a spacious Lazy Susan
(platform that rotates) in the middle with platters of food arranged along it. Using chopsticks, we’d choose what we wanted and go back for
seconds (or thirds or fourths) once discovering our favorites.
I was happy to see my kids become adventurous eaters. They’d try anything in the form of a dumpling or a noodle (including squid noodles!). I
was partial to the fish and seafood dishes.
But my utmost favorite were the mushrooms. I’m not privy to the varieties they were or seasonings they used, but I have been dreaming of them
When I approached this rickshaw driver I indicated I’d like to take his picture by holding up my camera and nodding my head. He nodded back. I took the picture and nodded my head again to indicate thanks. He nodded back. A myriad of words can be conveyed in a nod!
There are a few encounters that I’ll never forget. The little old man in the crowded Hong Kong subway who made room for us to sit and offered
us a Chinese Magazine to read. The friendly hotel maid who “conversed” (pointed and pantomimed) with me for 20 min. about how I wanted our
laundry done. The woman who approached my daughter at the Beijing Aquarium, said “Nee-how” (hello), and laughed gleefully when she said it
Statue of Chinese Military Heroes
In the short span of time that I was in China I began to see and understand how vast the country and it’s regions really were. It’s a country larger then the United States, the 4th largest in the world! Yet how easy it was for me to lump the Chinese together, blind to their differences and individuality.
Experiencing China changed my conception of what and who the Chinese are. I’m very thankful for that opportunity! Many thanks for indulging me as I dissected our journey to China and told my stories, showing off pictures like a proud papa! I would love your feedback and promise to stay close to home for awhile and continue forward, sharing my own creative quest.
Have A Wonderful Week!