This is my last entry on this most fascinating trip to China. It was a real eye opener and I’m happy to say that it has made me more aware of the world, more tolerant of other cultures, more open to different ways of doing things. Sylvia, you need no guidance in life, you already know where you stand, but Kingsley and Ashley, you guys just have to travel. The more you see, the more you interact, the mor rounded you’ll become.
Here’s some stories that slipped through the cracks.
These are wooden carvings in Chengdu that sell on the north side of RMB 1m. They are made from petrified hardwoods that may be thousands of years old. This is wood that gets covered underground (ancient timber structure, perhaps?) and lays in an ideal environment which makes it dense and black. To find pieces this size (these are man size) is extremely rare and to carve one up must take huge balls. Apparently is is worth more than gold in its raw state and they occasionally get unearthed by peasant farmers.
This is Nancy showing me how to write the traditional way. She is an arts graduate, couldn’t find a job so went into sales. When you use the traditional brushes the heal of your palm mustn’t touch the surface – the movement comes from your arm. I asked her how children learn to write in China. I explained that in the western world you start with shapes (circles, lines) which combine to form letters. Then the children learn letters and then simple words (cat,dog). I couldn’t see how you could just jump straight in with an entire word – each symbol in Chinese is a whole word. She understood what I was saying and said that firstly children start school at 3 and then for the first year they basically just scribble to build up the muscles in their arms and hands. Then they also have very simplex character-words that they start with. For example the number 1 is just one horizantol line. A 2 is two horizantol lines.
The older buildings have lips on the bottoms of doors, originally to keep out external elements (rats, flooods) but they grew into status symbols. The ones in the palaces were often the size of trees.
This is just a funny picture. This dude was trimming a 10m wide hedge and there were no pathfinderhs into the centre of the hedge.
And that’s it. Back home tomorrow afternoon. Cheers.