We are now back in Chengdu, where we will stay until we leave for Beijing a few days from now.
On the way back, we stopped to see an irrigation system built during the Qin dynasty. It is still used today, with technological updates of course.
We also saw a garden of ancient trees, including Gingko, Banzai, and Crape-Myrtle, to mention a few. They were quite spectacular to see.
Then we went to Ni Ma Ze Ren’s house. He was out of the country, so we were hosted by his wife, Liu Min. His paintings are very good, and he lives in a large three-story house. [He pays for this with his government job; he is a Communist Party member and is something like a Congressman.]
We just left a museum of ancient bronze, San Xing Dui. It had very, very old bronze sculptures. The museum was one of the best we have been to so far: the layout was good and the guide spoke very good English.
We are now on the way to a Tibetan market. Several are interested in jewelry.
This morning, there was another lecture, this time on Tibetan art. Once again we language students skipped. We finished the class after today’s lessons.
After my lesson, I took a bicycle taxi with Yu Liping. It was really cool! We went shopping a bit. Since she is a woman, it took too long. J
The Chinese mark discounts differently than Americans. Whereas we will say “20% off,” here they say “pay 80%.”
At Chinese airports, they don’t ask those silly questions about your luggage that they do in the U.S. I have noticed this before, but forgotten to write it down.
Some streetlights here and other places have a counter, counting down to let you know when the light will change.
We did not have enough time to go to the jewelry place, so we went to an art place instead. The artists went crazy with buying. I got a nice scroll painting of a plum blossom. I had originally wanted bamboo, but for 60 yuan I couldn’t pass it up. (Most tourist places sell these for around 600 yuan.)
Our dinner was unusual. We ate at a place where we had a pot of broth in the center of the table over a burner. On the table were raw to semi-cooked veggies, meat, seafood, etc. We threw in what we wanted. It was an interesting experience. Also, there were dancing girls in bikinis and the occasional singer.
We have had excellent luck with the weather this entire trip thus far. The only times we have encountered heavy rains, we were on a bus or plane or indoors.
This morning our lecture was on Chinese literature. It sucked pretty bad. These lectures are just too long, and having to wait on the translation sucks.
I think maybe none of my e-mails I sent home arrived. Argh… [verified]
In the afternoon we went back to Ni Ma Ze Ren’s house. He explained his paintings in a very interesting manner. He also demonstrated Chinese painting by painting a horse on rice paper.
Also we discussed politics a lot. In the West, media leads us to believe that Tibet is being mistreated by China, but after hearing Ni Ma speak, I’m not so sure. We talked a lot about Tibetan independence and he seems convinced that Tibet would not survive without the aid of China. His position is that the Westerners are trying to weaken China by breaking it up into smaller pieces. [This position is quite understandable if you know a little Chinese history. China has nearly always been under occupation or threat of invasion.]
I skipped our last lecture so I could sleep late, until 11:00 AM.
We went to a temple in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Later, we had a big dinner because it was our last night in Chengdu. Present were Ni Ma Ze Ren and his wife, and Qiao Lan and the bus driver. We had another 12 bottles of wine; many people drank too much. Lee threw up. Later, some of the group went on to see a real Living Buddha at Ni Ma’s house. I didn’t go.