Monday, July 30, 2018

Ni Hao Part 13 Shanghai By Night

Shanghai Skyline Financial District At Night View from the River  Watercolor&Ink by Meera Rao  

Bund Old Shanghai Skyline Night view from River  Watercolor and Ink by Meera Rao

The 2-page spread of Night View 

The Night River Cruise was a wonderful light show! Our guide informed us that all the buildings are required to participate and show their loyalty. It is a big tourist draw and thousands fill hundreds of  lavishly decorated cruise boats.  The ride started at dusk and lasted close to two hours. We oohed and ahed at the magic of millions of colored blinking and dancing lights that changed and morphed every other second ! 

Buddhist monks checking their  phones at the Financial district  Sketch by Meera Rao 

Earlier in the evening we walked around the area where I saw many buddhist monks enjoying the city lights and scenes just like us.  A couple of chefs taking a break down an alley near the Food Mall caught my eye as we were searching for a place to eat. 

Pause In The Day #DirectWatercolor #nosketching by Meera Rao 

Below is a straggler sketch of an Incense burner from Imperial city at Beijing- one of our very first stops during this china trip. I painted it much later as a part of the #30x30directwatercolor challenge and therefore got left out of the earlier post on Beijing. I decided to include it in this last post on my  travel sketchbook.  

Incense Burner At The Imperial city, Beijing #30x30directwatercolor #nosketching By Meera Rao 

I had a couple of really beautiful ticket stubs that I decided were the just the right thing to grace the front and back covers of my sketchbook.  The front cover is the part of the ticket to the silk museum in Shanghai.  I used gold gel pen to write the title. 

Cover of China Travel Sketchbook Journal By Meera Rao 

The outside back cover is the ticket stub from the Sun Moon Temple at Guillin. 

Back Cover of China Travel Sketchbook Journal  by Meera Rao 

I decorated the back  inside cover with the business card for the resturant where we enjoyed delicious fresh hot Dim sums and a couple of beautiful wrappers from some chocolates I bought and enjoyed :)  

Inside Back Cover of Sketchbook Journal.  By Meera Rao 

Thats the end of my journal sketches but I hope to paint a few more full scale paintings in the next few months :) 

再見中國  Zaijian zhongguo- bye bye China  for now!!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Ni Hao Part 12 Shanghai Yu Yuan Gardens and Zhujiajio Water Town

3 Toed Dragon on Garden Wall , YuYuan Garden Shanghai watercolor b  Meera Rao 

YuYuan gardens in Shanghai is over 400 years old. It is located near the Tourist mart and City God Temple in Old Shanghai.  The Breath taking gardens, elegant buildings,  koi ponds etc are an oasis of beauty and calm ! It took Pan Yunduan, a minister in Ming Dynasty 18 odd years to build and he designed it as a place for his parents to enjoy in their retirement.  The legend goes that the Emperor was jealous of the beauty of the gardens, and especially of the dragons that graced the walls since dragons were the symbols exclusively belonging to Royalty.  He sent an agent to check it out and may be confiscate the garden but Pan Yunduan managed to convince him that the garden dragons had only 3 toes and were not the perfect four toed royal dragons. He apparently broke the fourth toes on the garden dragons just before the agent's arrival ! 

Moon Gate, YuYuan Gardens, Shanghai Ink and watercolor by Meera Rao 

Jade Rock Natural Sculptures, Yuyuan Gardens, Shanghai #directwatercolor #nosketching by Meera Rao 

Fengsheng Bridge Zhujiajio Watertown  Watercolor (2 page spread) by Meera Rao

Zhujiajiao, Water Town situated about 50 kilometers away from Shanghai is worth the drive. 1700 years old Watertown in Qingpu District, south of the Yangtze River, Zhujiajiao,  is known as “The Venice of China” It features lovely waterways, curved rock bridges, old streets paved with stone, and over 10,000 buildings dating back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties (1644-1911).  We took a leisurely ride in one of the old style boats with a boatman with a old fashioned cone hat :) Look for a proper painting of the boatman in a future post. It just was juried into the Virginia Artists show at Hampton VA!

Fengsheng Bridge Zhujiajiao Watertown  Watercolor by Meera Rao 

Fengsheng Bridge Zhujiajiao Watertown  Watercolor by Meera Rao

Yuanjin Buddhist Shrine  #directwatercolor, #nosketching by Meera Rao 

We walked the old city streets, and checked out the Chinese medicine shops, ate freshly cooked dumplings.  The old city is still a charming and 'living' city even though it now caters to hordes and hordes of tourists!!! The Watertown is very picturesque and I hope to paint a few more paintings from the hundreds of photos I clicked :) 

Entrance to Shanghai Zhujiajio International watercolor Biennial Exhibition gallery and Office 

Plaque Explaining the Exhibition

Painting by Nicholas Simmons at the Gallery 

As we were walking around, I suddenly noticed that one of the buildings was the Shanghai Zhujiajio International Watercolor Biennial  Exhibition office and Gallery ! I was very excited to go in and check it out. There were still a few paintings from the last Biennial show that I recognized right away - by the wonderfully talented Nicholas Simmons,  Alvaro Castagnet, and a few others as well as their current show with 35 paintings by Herman Pekel.  This was the icing on the cake of this trip :) 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ni Hao Part 11 Some Everyday Scenes

Rental Bike with a solar panel ink and watercolor by Meera Rao

I noticed little things affected welfare of mind, body and daily living. There were dozens of bikes or some places just a solitary one with QR codes on the handles parked on the sidewalks. They are easy to rent  with just an app on the smart phone. People ride them to their destination and leave them by the sidewalks when they are done. The bikes are then ready for the next person (with an App on the phone) ! 

Country is Home ink and watercolor by Meera Rao

There are panels with cute illustrations and sayings on walls along the sidewalks all around the cities. I wondered if they were advertisements. We were told that they are government sponspored and convey pride for the nation and civic duties of the citizens. Once again I used my translation app to read this panel.   

Buddhist Lamas at Temple Gate  #directwatercolor #nosketching by Meera Rao

Buddhist temples are oasis of beauty, calm and quiet in the middle of the buzzing cities.  We saw groups of monks, visitors and devotees paying respects, praying or just enjoying the premises.  

Daily Tai Chi Practice #directwatercolor #nosketching by Meera Rao

Daily Tai Chi Practice #directwatercolor #nosketching by Meera Rao

The parks and gardens are lush and lovely. In all the parks in every city, many people - mostly retirees, get-together in groups or singly to practice Tai Chi or other martial arts, exercise to music,  give mini concerts, enjoy ballroom dancing,  take care of babies and children, play board games, walk and talk or meditate!  

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ni Hao Part 10 Guillin

Li River Cruise watercolor 2 page spread by Meera Rao

Mountain Peaks by Li River  Left page watercolor By Meera Rao

Mountain Peaks by Li River  Right page watercolor By Meera Rao

We reached Guillin in the late afternoon as the flight was delayed by a couple of hours. The guide in Xian joked that they say CAAC - 'China airlines always cancel' - but at least we were only delayed;). Beautiful Guillin apparently was China's first city to develop tourism after 1949. 

It was raining when we landed and the route to town was amazingly picturesque with lush green covered mountain peaks shrouded in fog all around. After  checking  into the hotel we went to explore the city by walking around.  There was a beautiful little Buddhist temple not too far and as we entered the premises they started their evening chanting and prayers. We watched and waited till the rituals were done - this was our first time watching and participating in Chinese Buddhist prayers and rituals. We then went over to the canteen next door - but unfortunately they were cleaning after the lunch session and would open only at 6 for dinner - an hour away. 

We decided to buy some bananas to snack on ( my google translator came in really handy! ) and find a bank ATM. The lonely planet guide book had high recommendations (one of two places mentioned in the book for places to eat!) for an Indian restaurant started by a man from Darjaleeng, India : Kali Mirch in the town square tucked behind Sheraton Hotel. With that as our guide we went searching and finally found it after someone recognized it as ‘indo canteen’  in an alley that was all colorful and lit up with festive lights  and lined with many many tiny restaurants.  The interesting thing in China we  have discovered is that everything and everyone has a English and a Chinese name - most locals know only the Chinese names - even English is ‘yīngyǔ’ in Chinese.  Btw- The food at Kali Mirch was excellent :) 

Cliffs by Li River  watercolor by Meera Rao

The next day our guide drove us to a wharf an hour away and we took a river cruise down a very tranquil Li river to see the mountains all around - it is a very beautiful and serene journey - even with a looong line of small cruise boats  filled with tourists making their way down the river! The hotel had packed us boxed lunches and there was plenty of tea served throughout the journey as it was a four hour ride.  Every inch of the journey was a digital moment - everyone was oohing and clicking away - I realized very quickly that photos just couldn't capture the awesome peaks all around - growing more mysterious by the minute with fog and drizzle. The twenty Yuan bill of Chinese currency showcases a painting of these mountains.  We passed  high cliffs,  rice paddies, quaint little villages, fishermen on bamboo rafts, water buffaloes and horses grazing by the banks. 

We got off at Younshu and again elbowed our way thru a narrow passageway packed with vendors shouting and hawking off the goods while thousands of tourists from the cruise boats tried to make their way to buses and cars and other means of transportation back to their hotels ! We tried our bargaining skills and did a little bit of shopping ! “You shop like Chinese ladies’ we were told by a vendor ;) 

Entrance to Guillin Tea Research Center watercolor by Meera Rao 

Hat Rack in the Walkway watercolor by Meera Rao 

We toured an organic tea plantation on our way back, saw demonstrations of Chinese tea fermentation of green, white, black teas. We tried out the huge stone grinder/rollers used in crushing and oxidizing  the tea. We posed for photos wearing the classic cone shaped hats as we watched ladies carefully picking tea leaves in surrounding tea plantation.   Of course, we were treated to another session  of tea ceremony - this time we tasted Osmanthus, white and Pu'er teas unique to that area. 

Evening we were on our own and this time we went back to the temple canteen ( again lonely planet recommendation) and had the best Chinese vegan buffet- tried all kinds of noodles, dumplings , steamed buns, vegetables , pickles and many varieties of fruits!! Two days in a row dinner was excellent for us us vegetarians and vegans!  We ventured out for more little shopping for Chinese-English children's books for grandkids at street side stores. Thanks again to the google translate app we were able to find what we wanted in a small stationary store:)

The sun and Moon Twin pagodas  

Last day in Guillin,  we had till noon  to ourselves - so armed with a map we went to see Sun and Moon Pagodas in the Shan Lake that could be reached by a scenic winding path from the hotel. The two pagodas are connected by a beautiful underwater tunnel. We climbed 8-9 floors up each pagoda  for gorgeous views from above.  We even managed to visit The South Sea Pearl Museum and Showroom before heading to the airport for our flight to Shanghai. 

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