To start off, here are some of the pictures I took.
Xitang, much like
We also got to take a ride in a small boat up and down the canal and see the city by night. It was quite beautiful, actually, but impossible to capture fully with a camera. Since night shots require that a camera be held completely still to keep from blurring, it was virtually impossible to do so in a rocking boat. I tried as I could, and I also discovered that blurry pictures bear an uncanny resemblance to impressionist paintings. This, of course, can easily be illustrated with the use of some basic Photoshop skills.
The reflections in the water were amazing though. The whole scene was surprisingly calm and pleasant, even if it was a bit crowded. I finished the night in a local bar where I played drinking games with some friendly Chinese locals. They had beear, I had Coke. I obviously did much better since I was able to do statistical analysis in my head, whereas he was probably just doing random guessing. But we got some great shots and discovered, yet again, how amazingly friendly the Chinese people are. We also played some Jenga, and even had those hand-held plastic hand clapper things to try to mess people up. I tell you – the Chinese people are the best kept secret in
When we came back the next morning, it really was hard to believe that it was the same place we had been before. For starters, the buildings were generally pasty white with dark grey, traditional roofs. The bright reds and other colored lights of the night had all vanished. The water, which by night looked so beautiful and reflective, suddenly looked absolutely filthy and stagnant. Its bright reflections were replaced by a homogenous hue of a pale brownish green. It was a wonder that it didn’t fill the air with an undescribable, putrid odor. It didn’t mean the city was not pleasant. In fact, it made it feel even more calm and relaxing than before. We walked around the area, saw an old but very large traditional Chinese home that had been converted into a button museum. They even had what must be the biggest button in the world, considering it was probably 5 feet in diameter.
Along the canal, the tourist trap shops all had their doors open again and were doing business, which was one of the few things that actually remained the same. The bright lights were gone, but seemed to have been replaced by helplessly cute animals. I am not joking. I am quite sure that some of the shop owners would just get tiny kittens or puppies and put them on the ground in front of the store. They always drew the attention of the people walking by, which would allow the store owners to try to lure them in to buy things. I came across one ginger kitten who was so tiny and young that it couldn’t even really move. It just sat there curled up against the step, hoping to not get stepped on or something. Another store owner had a tiny puppy who was trying to stand up, but its legs were so wobbly that it could hardly maintain its position for more than a few seconds before it would collapse against the wall. I saw another puppy, which was at least old enough and strong enough to stand up and wander around a bit.
I saw a few rusty Chinese bikes, which I just had to take pictures of even though they honestly can be found on almost every street in the country.
I guess it’s a token tribute to one of the most overdone subjects in art school, aside from naked people, which – for obvious reasons – were not as readily found. And on the topic of art, there were several shops selling traditional Chinese ink paintings. At one in particular there was a man actually doing one of the paintings at a table in front of the shop. I shot a picture and found that the prices were actually very reasonable, so I bought one. They obviously are not all unique compositions, because the man was sitting there painting a scene of the city without even looking up. But it still had its charm, and I still appreciate it as art, so I bought it. Aside from the art shops, there were also a bunch of art students all along the canal that had setup their easels and were painting the scenes around them.
After exploring for a couple of hours, I found a small staircase leading down to the surface of the canal, and I just sat down. I sat there for one hour and just enjoyed the whole scene. I watched the people walking by – the tourists, the locals, an occasional dog. Shelly, a friend of mine, came along and sat down as well and we just people-watched. People watching is a great pastime, and it is especially enjoyable in
It was honestly one of the best hours I have spent in