Sunday, January 18, 2009

Xiamen

Da Xiong, the Chow Chow

I arrived in Xiamen yesterday and the weather is perfect, it was 24C (75F), big contrast with the cold wet Shanghai. The sun was very bright, I met up with a photographer friend here and she brought me to visit the Xiamen University first. The university here is probably the best located campus ever in China, it is sort of on a higher hill with a white sandy beach as the backyard, how perfect! I have never seen any school with such a good Feng Shui.

In the last 2 days, all my meals are well under $3 and they are all fresh-made and very good. The city has little soup stands and home restaurants within every 2 steps, my favorite so far is the Tofu Flower (Tofu mixed with veggie, meat and unidentified stuffs).

Last night, I was invited to guest at a photographer's party in 32How, a local non-profit organization in Xiamen. I gave an artist talk following with a great discussion. Most photographers in the event are quite young and the work they showed were almost all related to the city of Xiamen. One thing I noticed in this city is everyone seems to be very very relaxed, people walk very casually on the street even in the early morning not-so-rush hour. See, if I am in a city with a beach in every direction, mountains and parks in the middle and noddle soups deserved to stop in every block, I'd walk like that, too.

The highlight of the night was actually in the coffee shop on the ground floor of 32How. The waitress was extremely sweet and friendly, as she hand picked one type of coffee beans for each of us. She came over to our seat and shaked the coffee beans three times in front us and let us stick our noses into the coffee beans and smells the different layers of the scent from the coffee. She absolutely refused to give me sugar, in the tone like "Please drink your coffee without sugar, it is better that way!" Hmm... It really was true, it was much better! One thing I like to say about the Chinese waitress (not waiter) is they don't really give a damn about what you want, they decide for you. It is same in Shanghai, same in Xiamen and even worse in Pingyao; in Pingyao, the waitress makes you feel very very small if you don't order what they ask.

Last but not least, I have to say something about the coolest dog I saw in Xiamen. While I visited artist Tang Nannan's studio, his overly friendly Tibetan Chow Chow named Da Xiaong (Big bear) was the heart melting fuzzball. Tang Nannan is a painter and photographer, his work is the most memorable at the photography talk last night, striking black and white street photography of the people in the neighborhoods he had lived in, they definitely reminded me Lisette Model's work. I will ask more of his work to post later when we bumping our rice wine bottles tonight. Stay tuned.

2 comments:

Amy Stein said...

What a vividly descriptive post! I almost feel like I'm there with you and I wish I was because Xiamen sounds delightful. Happy travels.

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