Ah yes, I was going to write one last post about Andrew’s visit and put it to bed. It was only a few weeks ago yet I feel like it was months ago. Where does the time go? I told my Chinese teacher this morning that time flies when you’re having fun and when you’re old!
We visited the Chen Clan Academy. It is a complex that was built in the late 1800’s as a temple and school for boys taking exams. It has since evolved into the Guangdong Folk Art Museum. The buildings themselves are part of the exhibit. Everywhere you look there are wood, plaster, and brick carvings, pottery on the rooftop ridges, and etchings. Again, I stood too many times with my mouth agape. There was a special exhibit in honor of the upcoming year of the dragon. On display were pottery, porcelain, wood, and bronze dragons. Some were ancient and some were modern but all were impressive.
On our way into and upon exiting the academy, women were practicing a ribbon dance for the upcoming New Year’s celebration. I don’t know how else to explain it other than to say it was so Chinese. The music and drums, the dance steps, and the atmosphere were exactly what you would picture in your mind. Andrew very smartly captured video on his phone. I’m not that smart.
We also saw quite a few older people playing badminton in the plaza. I guess they had seen the dancing and heard the drums one time too many. They weren’t playing in the traditional sense where there is a net and you play to win by smashing the shuttlecock in someone’s face (at least that’s the way I play) but it was like a dance. They held a racquet in each hand! and very gracefully hit the birdie back and forth to whomever was standing in the circle. It looked like they were playing in slow motion. It was so rhythmic and calm and peaceful. It’s a way to keep playing the game when one gets older but without the stress and strain on the body.
Ben suggested we visit a park that is located along a canal in the middle of an older section of GZ. Part of it has original buildings and others have been renovated in the original style. It’s GZ’s version of Venice in a smaller and more Asian way;-) There were a few vendors along the sidewalks selling baked goods. Of course I bought some cookies and I had a nice exchange with the salesman. Like the temples in the same area, you would never know that you’re in the middle of a very large and highly populated city. It was a so charming.
Shamian Island was the first place we went to, way back when. It’s an island in the middle of the Pearl River that originally housed foreigners and Chinese were forbidden. It’s tiny and I could easily run the perimeter. It’s very old-world European in feel and because of this it’s like nothing you’ll see in GZ. The American consulate is located here and this is where Americans come to finalize adoptions of Chinese girls. It’s very common to see Americans pushing strollers with their newly adopted bundles of joy. The stores also cater to them as there are a lot of clothing shops that sell only girls clothing.
Shamian is also a VERY POPULAR place to have wedding photos taken. They have this done long before the ceremony, I mean days and weeks in advance. The brides and grooms are wearing Western wedding clothes too. I have never been to the island that I haven’t seen a half a dozen or more couples on a photo shoot.
That about finishes up Andrew’s visit. Between Andrew and Ben I did not plan one outing but now know where to take all of our visitors. I believe that I’m ready to host guests and not have them be bored. Guangzhou has a lot more to offer than the guidebooks would lead you to believe.
PS – It is so good to be back writing my blog. I missed it.
2PM – 61°