Thursday, August 25, 2005

our first visit to Fragrant Harbour

Ah... our first visit to Fragrant Harbour, better known, of course, as Hong Kong (香港).  Not out of pleasure, though, but out of necessity. Since marriage equality is non-existent in our dear home-country and my beau is, therefore, a nought when it comes to a too big number of rights, we were forced to make a rush visit to anywhere outside of Mainland China where he could secure a visa to remain with me. Fortunately that was Hong Kong, so even though the trip derived from our status as second class citizens back home, at least we got to see one of the most fascinating cities in the world!

Which didn't mean the weather cooperated much with our impromptu choice of destination, of course. We got all the wind and rain we could have needed. Umbrellas were useless and even a nuisance, as you had to fight to keep them from flipping up while your lower half became completely soaked. A wet, foggy, unwelcoming Hong Kong greeted us, as if to get back at us for travelling there not out of pleasure, but necessity... 




But... us being us, and having seen far worse in our life, and always excited to discover new places no matter the circumstances, made the most out of it, and actually greatly enjoyed the futuristic images of a fog covered sky-scraper-ful futuristic cityscape by the harbour...












And traditional life side by side modern structures, like these people practising Taichi with swords...




But best of all, for me, the Hong Kong Museum of Art (香港藝術館), where I saw one of the more impressive pieces by artist Xu Bing (徐冰): the Book from the Sky (天書). Xu Bing printed page upon page of text which, at first, looks like it's composed from Chinese characters but, upon closer inspection, reveals a totally unintelligible text - the characters are indeed built following the rules of character creation and composition, real character parts are used, but every single character is made up, mixing parts and radicals in a way that had never been done before. I realize it's difficult to understand what I'm writing about if you don't know Chinese or haven't seen this before. But I loved it. I absolutely loved it and thought it was genious. And the fact that the Chinese title means both "A book from heaven" and "gibberish" only added to it. 



So, a first glance at Hong Kong, amazing views of the harbour (I like misty views, sorry!), great art, and a visa to guarantee the beau can stay with me. A success. And an invitation to come back, with more time, with less pressure, and for lots of fun!


Thursday, August 11, 2005

the Panjiayuan Antique Market

Barely a month after arriving in Beijing we visited this amazing place that so didn't exist when I studied here back in the late nineties! The Panjiayuan Antique Market (潘家园)! Sure, you'd have to be pretty naïve to think that everything is an authentic antique. Frankly, I'm not one to fret about that, and I simply enjoyed the views (oh, so different from Lebanon!), particularly this section filled with statues of all sorts, many of them Buddhism-inspired. Crazy! Of course, 

I didn't need to buy any Buddha heads, though. I have my own, super cheap, stone one that was left behind by the previous residents of an apartment I lived in when I was in Shanghai 2000...