Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Calligraphy. The Chinese art of writing.


I
in the entry foyer of my parent's house in Maryland hung a painting of single Chinese character written in calligraphic style. In my own house, I have several plaques with just one or two Chinese characters displayed - I love the simplistic beauty of the image. Despite the fact that I do not write Chinese, I can still appreciate the artistic strokes that it takes to compose the character.

To the Chinese, calligraphy occupies a distinguished position in the field of traditional art. It is not only a means of communication, but also a means of expressing a person's inner world in an aesthetic sense.

The Four Treasures of The Study
The basis of Chinese calligraphy is embodied in what are know as the "Four Treasures of The Study". Specifically, the four treasures are: a writing brush, paper, an ink stick, and an ink stone.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Zhouzhuang, Zhujiajiao, and Qibao. Ancient water towns.


A
bout a year back, there was a photographic exhibition at the place I work. I can't remember the photographer nor the town that was featured in the photo but I can remember that I was absolutley captivated by the photo....so much so that I *stole* (with permission) it. For now, it's safely tucked away in my bookcase at work but one day, I will get it framed and hung up.

The next time I saw images of a Chinese water town was in the closing sequence of Mission Impossible 3. I couldn't forget the scenes of Tom Cruise strolling under the eaves of an ancient Chinese building that stood alongside a narrow canal.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Buuz, khorkhog, boodog, boortsog, and airag.


W
ell, over my years of travel, I have survived on bat in jungles of Borneo, nibbled on widgety grubs (giant Australian tree maggots) in the Australian outback, dined on cuy (guinea pig) in the Peruvian Andes and had seeminlgy endless meals of yak meat, butter and cheese in towns and villages in Tibet. But I think Mongolia might be the most challenging place of them all!

Mongolian Barbecue and Mongolian hotpot are dishes that those of us who live in the western world associate with Mongolia. Well, I hate to be the one to disappoint you but apparently these were dishes concocted by enterprising Chinese for the American palate.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

The gardens of Suzhou.


H
igh on my list of things to see in China are the gardens of Suzhou ("Sue-joe"). Those of you who know me know my love for gardening. Nothing is more relaxing for me than a beautiful spring day spent grubbing in the dirt that is my own garden. To be able to stroll on the grounds of gardens that date back centuries is a pleasure I am looking forward to.

Suzhou is located in the center of the Yangtze Delta, in the south of Jiangsu Province, and lies a short distance west of Shanghai. Built in 514 BC, it is an ancient city that is world renown for its beautiful gardens. Nine of the gardens of Suzhou are listed on the World Heritage List, including the Humble Administrator's Garden, Master of the Nets Garden and the Lion Forest Garden.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Itinerary.

O
riginally, I had hoped to plan my own trip through China but with a incredibly heavy work load to fully occupy my days and a kitchen expansion/renovation to occupy my nights, there was little time to do focus on travel. So, I decided to take the easy route and go on a tour through China and while I was checking out tours through China, I found one that I liked for Mongolia. The China tour starts in Shanghai and ends in Beijing. I'm adding a few days before Shanghai to see a couple other cities and extending my stay in Beijing by another few days so I can fully see the city plus some surrounding towns. Mongolia will be per the tour itinerary.