Thursday, April 23, 2009

Statue of Mao Zedong in the Heart of Shenyang

Statue of Mao Zedong still stands firm in Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Square, the heart of Shenyang, China:

video

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shenyang, China ... continued
















Old and New - the Poor and the Rich


















The Old and Half-Forgotten


















An Old Woman Stretching Herself on a Tender Branch

















Fanciful Old Style Costume


















A Rather Polite Policeman


















At a Crossroad

















Bride and Groom

















Restaurant Ready for the Wedding Party


















Such Residential Highrises Are Being Built Everywhere


















A Giant Shopping Center Under Construction


















Level 8 Strong Wind Hit Shenyang - Temperature Dropped to Below Frozen Point


















Colonial Style Buildings


















Old and New - Good Taste and None


















KFC


















Liaoning Hotel in Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Square


















Mao Zedong's Statue in the Center of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Square


















Almost All the Flats Were Sold Unfinished - One Could Find Tiles, Wallpapers, Lighting, Kitchen and Bathroom Fixtures Here

















Showroom Inside a Furniture Store


video
In Front of the Furniture Store


video
In Front of the Furniture Store

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More pictures from Shenyang, China

Architecture:
















North Tomb (Qing Dynasty)


















Liaoning Province Exhibition Hall and Fine Arts Museum























Fine Arts Museum


















Backyard of an Art Gallery


















Olympic Stadium in Shenyang


















Sport Complex


















Office Tower or Residence Highrise


















Residence Highrise


















Bus Stop and Residence Highrise

















Sales Room and Future Club House of New Residence Highrise



Shops:
















Grain basins at Carrefour



Street Scenes:





























































Friday, April 17, 2009

Bus Rides in Shenyang, China and Chiglish Signs

Bicycles are disappearing alarmingly fast in China, replaced by increasingly popular cars ans SUVs, to my great upset. Due to the dangerous road conditions, I would not even try to ride bicycles in China - as a matter of fact, none of my extended family members has bicycles now. Cars, taxis, and buses are commuting tools.

I took a few bus rides in the last few days and they were experiences of great revelations.

The buses are usually very crowded; however, the atypical pictures below helped me to show the interior of a relatively more upscale No. 225 bus:


































It was also a great fun to read signage in English or Chiglish. The No. 238 bus, a less posh one had signs read like these:

















Watch Out for Pickpockets Vigilantly and Careful Not to Let Your Feet Get Caught by the Door

















Please Do Not Lean Against the Door


However, the posher bus (No. 225) got them right:
















Monday, April 13, 2009

Monstrous Beijing Capital International Airport

Transferring in the newly built (for the Olympic Game) Beijing Capital International Airport in the early hour of the day was like walking in a dreamland.

Our airplane arrived from Los Angeles shortly after 5:00 am local time (Beijing Time for the entire span of China, as a matter of fact). The plane was only half full - I don't know if it was because of the economic downturn or because we were in the air during the entire Easter. We got off the airplane and descended onto the foggy tarmac, and was transferred by a bus to a far away Passport Control.

All the halls were hugely impressive - immense space with echoing whirring buzz, a few decorative, unthreatening uniformed figurines scattered here and there, adding the only human touches in the steel trussed industrial futuristic thing.

The wait was short and we were led to the downstair train station - without knowing which train to take, we waited for the incoming train. Train came and only after we got on the train, we were able to see the directions and it turned out there was only one destination - luggage claim, custom, and transfer area. After a short wait to get my luggage, I started to look around in the area for an ATM machine. I saw two Currency Exchange but no ATM. I went to a Duty Free shop for advice and was told that there was an ATM outside that Luggage Claim zone. Why didn't the Duty Free shop carry one was beyond my understanding.

I joined the jumbled line (if there was any line in China) for Custom. Two lanes - Red for Something to Declare and Green for Nothing to Declare. At 5:45 am, the lanes were still closed. No sign and no person to help the insomniac bunch. Finally, one of us grew nervous and waved down one of the uniformed figurines and was told that the Custom would be open at 6:00 am. If there were only a sign! Then the country would be too visitor friendly. Keeping people uninformed and confused was the best way to exert one's authority.

Finally, the lanes were open and we were all waved pass, without having to fill out any paperwork. Another short lines to re-check in my luggage followed - Economy, Business and First Classes. One person came first to serve the Business class which had three people in line, and then another person came for Economic class, which had about 25-35 people waiting, yet no one was serving the lone First Class flyer. After the three Business Class flyer were dispatched, Economy class flyers were beckoned onto the the Business Class lane and the poor First Class flyer was left out unattended and he finally moved over to wait in the Business Class lane and was duly served.

Once re-checked my luggage, I went to the third floor and went through another round of security screening and again, no ATM was in sight. I found Information desk and was told that there is one near Gate C11. I walked a fairly long distance and found a Bank of China ATM near Gate C11. It gave me options of Inquiry and Taking my card. I was utterly defeated in trying to taking money out of my banking account.

Turning around, I had to walk through another vast span to Gate C55 for Shenyang. Found it but saw no gate leading to the airplane. Confusion kicked in. I went to Second floor and saw nothing and went to First and was reassured by the typical Boarding Pass dispenser near the gate. There were very limited seating on the first floor so I went back up to the second. Found a seat but had to move away, in order to stay away from several large tour groups, mainly consisted of loud talking Chinese. They were so loud that I thought they were doing political rally at an Obama event. My boarding time was 7:05 am. Near 6:55 am, I heard the call for boarding through my ear plugs. I went to the gate and was greeted by another bus. After another dream sequence, my fellow passengers and I arrived on tarmac again and climbed onto the plane destined for Manchurian Shenyang in northeast China.

The new Beijing Capital International Airport was the most inhumane large structure I ever encountered, for the purpose of swallowing and spitting out as many people as one could imagined.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Special Hungarian Treat from Crixa Cakes, Berkeley

Even though my blog is focusing on culture, I think I can talk about food as well - culinary is a form of art and definitely part of culture. I sure will savor some special food in my upcoming trip to China. In exchange, I'm bring some special Hungarian treat from Crixa Cakes in Berkeley - the unbelievably delicious pasties they offer will sure to make my family happy - how I wish they will open one in Shenyang, China!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Going to Shenyang, China

I'm going to fly to my home city Shenyang (沈阳; pinyin: Shěnyáng), China tomorrow. Alas, it would not be a sight-seeing tour. Shenyang, for all its long history, boasts neither historical or artistic importance, nor natural wonders or beauty. For all its bleakness and ugliness, it was the place I was born and where I grew up, therefore, I inherited a certain toughness and unsentimentality, plus decidedly lacking of sense of humor, something native Americans hold dear.

That said, Shenyang does have an early Qing dynasty palace listed as World Cultural Heritage and a neolithic relic site - Xinle Relic Museum (新乐遗址博物馆), which perhaps I should have visited before - maybe I will this time, if my family and dear aunts could spare my time.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Myths in My paintings

I'm consistently interested in mythologies of different cultures. Naturally, I'm most familiar with Chinese culture, but China does not have well-developed mythology. A few well known, though sketchy, stories were passed on to my generation, however, and I was able to created a few works out of these.

After Chinese myth, Greek mythology is most familiar to me, and a few works of mine on themes from Greek mythology would be more familiar to the viewers of my work. Therefore I'll skip the explanations of the first three works.

Greek:

Sisyphus



















Daphne (unfinished)














Minotaur
















I also made a few paintings based on Christian themes:

Adam and Eve














Annunciation















The Triumph of Saint George




















Chinese:

Nüwa Creating Human Beings - as in most pagan culture, the creator of human beings was a female. Nüwa is a goddess who out of boredom, played with clay dough and generated human figurines. By breathing on them, she gave them life.


Nüwa Patching Up the Sky - a terrible war between two powerful gods resulted in the collapse of the pillar holding up the sky. Sky was broken and the rain poured down (deluge) and humans suffered. Nüwa took pity on her creations and fixed the pillar, then melted many five-colored stones to patch the sky. The vapors from the heat amused the people therefore Nüwa allowed them to stay, hence the clouds.


Kuafu Chasing the Sun (unfinished) - Kuafu was a giant who wanted to communicate with the Sun. In order to catch up with the sun, he ran from sunrise to sunset. Just when he was reaching the sun, he was exhausted and fell to ground to die - his giant muscles became mountains and hills while his blood was transformed into the rivers and creeks.








Jingwei Filling Up the Sea - Jingwei was a lovely boy who drowned in the sea. From the place he drowned flew out a small bird, who took on a task worthy of Sisyphus: carrying tiny stones in his beak and dropping them into the sea, in order to fill it up, some day.