Sunday, August 19, 2012

Museum, garden & ballet….all in one day

To start this post, check out these beautiful flowers in our hotel lobby.  Xiu-Jun commented that the probably came from Kunming which is known as the flower city of China…..

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This morning (Saturday) we were met at the hotel by Liu Juan (a PhD student) and Wu Wei (a Post-Doctoral fellow).  Both work in Xue-jun’s lab.  They were given the dubious task of taking us around for the day.

We took a taxi to the downtown area of Guangzou and were enthralled with the architecture of the surrounding buildings.

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The landscape is dominated by the Canton Tower which is a telecom tower and the highest structure in all of China……

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Our destination for the morning was the Guangdong Museum.  It has only been open for 3 years and is a beautiful and well-done facility…..

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The first exhibit that we visited was a display of Duan Inkstones.   Chinese ink can be found in a solid stick to which you add small amounts of water to reconstitute.  The small well on the stone is used to hold the water which is brushed onto the ink stick.  The ink stick is then scrapped on the flat portion of the pad and then further mixed together with a calligraphy brush.

The Duan stone is dark purple in color (although it looks black in these photos) and is considered to be the best in China because of the smooth texture.  These stones are also carved and are incredibly beautiful.  This one was housed in a gorgeous pearl in-lay case……

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….and this one is a parrot and a pear……

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The next exhibit was of Chaozhou Woodcarving which is part of a famous school of folk woodcarving in China.   It was a diverse exhibit ranging from simple wood to ornate lacquered pieces.

I love this piece and labeled it “Happy Crabs”…..I love the looks on their faces….

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I thought that these two designs were great…..

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….and Michael wanted to bring this chest home with us……

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We then moved into the Exhibition of Guangdong History and Culture (Guangdong is the Provence  that we are in).    This was the beautiful entrance to the exhibit…..

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As usual, I was drawn to the shapes of the wonderful pottery……

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This one was very interesting……

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Through out the exhibit, there were bronze statues depicting every day occurrences, from the tradition tea ceremony……

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…… leading the young…..

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…and this was my favorite, partly because of the way it was displayed with the mural background…..

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I, of course, found a sewing machine but laughed at the description…. Hand cranked sewing machine and “refueling box”…….

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I wanted this clock for our mantle, but Michael said no……

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There were many magnificent jade carvings, but this was my favorite…..DSC05768

We entered an area that gave information about traditional Chinese herbal medicines.  There was a photo of each plant, information about its uses, and a display of the plant leaves. DSC05775

Although I enjoyed reading about the plants, I was more enamored with the shapes of the leaves….

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After leaving the museum we walked to the “most famous restaurant in Guangzhou”.  Liu and Wu spent a long time looking at the menu, trying to pick the best selection of dishes for us to try.  They started with a little (4 page) menu, then moved to the larger (8 page) menu and then asked for the full menu which was a book of 30+ pages!!!

Here is a photo of our wonderful hosts,  Wu is on the left and Liu on the right…DSC05797

I have now learned that you are not supposed to place purses or bags on the floor in restaurants.  Instead, you put them behind you on the chair.  In this restaurant, they came along and placed a cover over your bag and the back of the chair as well, so everything was secure.

Wu brought out a copy of one of Michael’s books and hinted that he would like Michael to sign it.  We had a good laugh later as we realized that it was a pirated copy of the book and not one purchased thru Oxford University Press.

The food started to arrive, beginning with fried goose.  It was fairly nice but then came the tofu with beef and corn….

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Although it looks beautiful, it was not our favorite, mostly because of the texture.  It was similar to an undercooked flan….it just melted in your mouth!!!  Also it is fairly taste-less.

Next came a wonderful broccoli.  The white pieces in this photo are pieces of carved ginger…..

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Next was a plate with two pork dishes.  One was fried with a slightly spicy coating and the other was cooked in a sweet soy sauce.  Both were WONDERFUL!!!!!  

Then a hot pot that contained chunks of pumpkin, lotus stem and lotus seeds arrived.   We have now eaten lotus root, stem and seeds.  Apparently the leaves are used in many traditional medicines…..

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And just when we thought that we were finished, out came the fish……

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Finally, we had dessert.  Now our luck with Chinese desserts, especially steam buns, has not been good.  So, as the waitress was pushing the buns, we found a picture of a tart-like object and insisted suggested it instead.  Fortunately  they were very good…..

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There was quite a bit of food left so Liu asked for a “doggie box” and proceeded to stuff it with the fish and leftover goose, and then placed the tarts on top of it all.  I am afraid that everything will taste like fish when she gets home!!!

We continued to walk thru the city area……DSC05806

….and ended up at the river and this stadium that was built for the Asian Games two years ago.  I thought that it was a cool looking stadium…..

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We caught another taxi and headed to the South China Botanic Garden.  As we were driving we commented that traffic was not bad.   They told us that cars were limited in the downtown area and that motorcycles and scooters were forbidden in the most of the city as well.  This drastically changes the traffic patterns!!!

Once we arrived at the Botanic Garden, the conversation immediately turned to genetics and research…..

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I didn’t mind as it gave me more to time to look around and observe the comings and goings.

One of the things that I enjoyed watching were the various brides and grooms who were taking photos.  Liu told me that these photos were taken prior to the wedding, with the bride wearing a Western style dress.  However, she will often wear a traditional Chinese wedding dress on the big day.

The photo shoots were elaborate and the photographer’s assistants worked hard to set up the shot.  Here is a video of one of the shots…..

Wedding Photography in Botanic Garden

Since this area is part of a Sub-Tropic, the plants are lush and magnificent.  The garden also boasts the biggest public greenhouse in China…..

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It even has it’s own water fall……

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The plants were beautiful…..

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DSC05863And of course I had to take a photo of a “Bird of Paradise” type of flower…I think that I have one of these from almost every country we have ever visited…..

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Interestingly, this garden had a “Polar House” that contained plants found at the North and South Poles.  It was wonderfully cold in the building and these kids were enjoying playing in the “snow”……

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Once again, it was well constructed and the displays were well done.  Who knew that I would come to China to see Polar plants…….

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The last house that we visited was the “Arid” house and this reminded us of life in West Texas…DSC05885

Several of the cacti  were in bloom, proving that they are doing a great job of taking care of them…..

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We returned to the hotel for a much needed shower and change of clothes and then met  back downstairs to have dinner at our hotel.  Michael opted for an Indian curry…..

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while I had Indonesian rice (with a delicious, but still unknown meat skewer)……

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The funny thing about ordering this was that the waiter asked if I wanted one side or two.  I looked at him puzzled and he expanded the question to let me know that there was an egg on top and did I want it cooked on one side (sunny side up) or two!!!

Now, we caught another taxi to go to a Ballet Performance.  Xia-Jun’s wife is the accountant for a Ballet company and invited us to attend the performance.  Neither Michael or I had ever been to a ballet so we were anxious to see what it would be.

We arrived early to the theater and sat and watched as dozens of people set up tripods and cameras.  The back of the ticket explicitly said “no photography”, but this did not deter them at all.  As the night progressed, you could always hear the clicking and whirring of cameras around us.  Not to be outdone, I whipped out my camera and took a few surreptitious photos too.

The other interesting thing is that people talked thru the entire performance, even loudly on cell phones!!!!

There were 7 dances, with a good mixture of classical ballet and modern dance numbers.  They were all wonderfully executed……

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We returned thankfully back to our hotel and fell into bed…having nightmares about Tofu and pleasant dreams of pliés, arabesques and twirls!!!

2 comments:

Maggi said...

What an amazing place. The flowers in the first photo are so beautiful.

Linda said...

wow! You've seen some gorgeous things!
I wondered if the Chinese ballet would be what we consider a "ballet" or a more traditional Chinese theater. I can't imagine people talking all through it! That would be very irritating, I'm afraid!
A pirated book? Wow!

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