Here we go. Highlights of December 23, 06 – January 1, 07.
Arrived in Hong Kong. Bought stuff, ate good food. As usual.
Went to church. Then went to Victoria’s Peak. Found the answer to the question “What would you do if you had a million dollars?” I’d buy this baby here. It just so happens it costs more than a million dollars.
Rode the bus to Shenzhen, crossed the border, arrived in the afternoon. Checked in the hotel, had lunch, and got to our rooms. This was the view outside my window.
Seriously. It’s the Windows of the World theme park.
We went to the Folk Minorities park afterwards, looked at some exhibits and shows.
Went to the Dafen Art Village. Little introduction here. It’s a village where most (if not all) families make a living by selling their oil paintings. Painting are of all sorts: original concepts, references from art magazines, reproductions of known Western masterpieces, etc. and etc. The whole place smells like turpentine. And the paintings are (dirt) cheap and very well-done. I bought two oils of the Parisian cityscape and some paintings on wood. It’s a whole town of paintings. And mind, they’re not fakes. Each oil is hand-painted.
That’s the first street we got to. And it’s the picture I used for the header for the blog.
The most familiar face in the village (second is Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon). And of numerous interpretations. Geez, I got a better picture of her in Dafen than when I went to the Louvre.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Chinese name, by the way, is Dafenqi. This is a bust of him in a plaza in town.
Went to downtown Shenzhen. My mom went shopping and I went walking around. I bumped into beggars almost every five minutes, young and old. I saw a sister and a brother around ten years old, dressed in rags. The little girl was doing acrobatic tricks and the brother was collecting alms. They had something that looked like a very rusty car part, a tripod with a bearing in the middle that allowed the upper part to swivel. The upper part was covered with a dirty rag. What the girl did was she balanced her entire body atop the tripod by gripping the upper part with her teeth while she contorted herself like a pretzel. Contortions, tough and marvelous as they are, are a common trick in Chinese acrobatics; I’ve seen too much of them to be wowed like the first time I saw it done. But seeing it done on the roadside by a child begging for money is something else. I wanted to take a picture but I didn’t.
After lunch, we went back to the hotel and went on a monorail ride around a few theme parks.
Returned to Hong Kong by shuttle, flew to Xiamen. For those aware of the geographical irony…it was my dad’s idea. We were saving on plane tickets.
Arrived in Xiamen in the afternoon. Took the ferry to Gulangyu, famous island of culture in Xiamen. Along the way, I saw a huge sign advertising an extremely well-known Philippine brand of junk food.
Many of the Chinese-Filipinos came from Fujian, where Xiamen is, and for those who became business tycoons, they brought their brands back to Fujian. Jollibee. Bench. And I saw a man jogging who was wearing an SM employee shirt.
Moving on. Gulangyu carries the legend that every single house in the island has a piano (whether or not the residents of the house can play is non sequitur). Gulangyu used to be the place where the European embassies in China found their home, which explains the European architecture. We took a short sightseeing ride around the island and went to the piano museum.
Went to the University of Xiamen, one of the wealthiest universities in China. Visited the library, the bookstore…it is a very pretty campus indeed, with lots of man-made lakes. We crossed a footbridge over to a little island over one. There was a girl looking very depressed seated on one of the stones, her face in her hands. When she saw us (the nosy tourists), she scuttled away and hid behind a large rock. Actually we didn’t see her move away, and thought that she had (creepily) disappeared (or jumped into the lake). My brother found her behind the rock.
We went to the Lu Xun museum in campus (Wikipedia him if you don’t know the fellow), and watched a bit of a basketball game between University of Xiamen and Guangdong Technical School.
In the afternoon, I took the ferry myself again to Gulangyu and walked across its hilly streets for more than four hours straight, which is not advisable to everyone because I was exhausted afterwards, but I had loads and loads of fun (and pictures). I followed a little boy home (because I didn’t know where else to go), accompanied an old lady in looking for the entrance to a Catholic church (we didn’t in the end; the church was closed), discovered a graveyard by accident, among other things.
A plaza where some old men were playing xiangqi.
Antiques for sale.
I don’t think we’re in China anymore. It’s a wonderful relief from the functional white-and-blue tiles.
Kids out from school on the way home.
A tomb I was not expecting.
Flew back to Hong Kong at early afternoon. Still exhausted. But went to watch Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Flower in the cinema at night.
Went to church. Went to the book fair at Wan Chai, bought a Moleskine notebook at Times Square (HK, not NY), braving the sea of people and the fences as is customary on the night before New Year’s. Had New Year’s Eve dinner with family. Then I went walking around afterwards among the crowds of Hong Kong until I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Flew back to the Philippines at late afternoon.