Thursday, August 20, 2009

Listening to the sound of rain

Most Chinese would say that the social atmosphere they most enjoy is rènao 热闹, "bustling with noise and excitement, lively". The first character, rè, can also mean "hot", "feverish" and "restless".

Rènao is the kind of atmosphere you find in a Chinese restaurant when the establishment is fully packed: Every table is seated with ten chattering people, each one happily eating and socializing; waitresses and waiters scurry about, the hostess shouting into a walkie-talkie that "table 9 is ready!" and the loud speakers pumping out shrill pop music. Only then can a Chinese feel relaxed, surrounded by food, people and noise, a comforting mayhem that seemingly creates a sensation of much-needed security and inclusiveness.

But if you look closely you might see that actually not every guest is talking; some people are sitting quietly, letting others do the talking. Amidst the tumultuous hubbub of everyday Chinese life there are actually people who seek quiet and solace, seemingly not needing to constantly fill their existence with noise.

Chán fáng tīng yǔ  雨, "meditation/zen", "chamber", "listen", "rain" is an expression that epitomizes the ideal of quiet and solitude. The quiet that is found when listening to the sound of rain drops falling on the roof of a temple when meditating in a separate space. A Zen monk, of course, should be able to find his or her own "inner chamber", even amidst the nosiest, maddening crowd. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

På kinesiskt vis har blivit talbok

Min bok På kinesiskt vis har blivit talbok. Det är min andra bok som har spelats in (Resa till Kina blev också talbok) så nu kan ni låna ut "boken" på biblioteket och lyssna på den i din MP3 eller CD-spelare. Himla roligt tycker jag!

Kinafestivalen på Sigtunahöjden

Kanske dags för en sammanfattning av årets Kinafestival på Sigtunahöjden. Jag har haft så mycket på gång sedan festivalen slutade att jag inte hunnit riktigt landa än. Och bäst jag skyndar mig innan jag åker in i den kinesiska cyberdimman igen när jag flyger hem till Kina på fredag. 

Festivalen som pågick 29 juli till 2 augusti blev hellyckad må jag tycka själv. 2500 besökare, återseende av gamla vänner och tidigare resenärer, intressanta föreläsare, sagolika omgivningar, god mat, underbar personal på Sigtunahöjden Hotell och Konferens och för min egen del 80 sålda böcker! Jag var inbjuden som gästföreläsare och kände själv att mitt föredrag gick bra. Jag erkänner nu att det var första gången jag pratade om mina nyaste böcker!

Övriga tiden stod jag i "Lotusrummet" hos Lotus Travel i egenskap av reseledare och berättade om resor och specialerbjudande. Det fanns knapp någon tid då det inte fanns besökare, från det att dörrarna öppnades strömmade folk in under hela dagen i dagarna fem. Jag ser redan fram emot nästa år Kinafestival, jag kanske blir inbjudan igen!

Pablo, Françoise, Ingrid and Bengt...and Robert C

Above: ©Robert Capa, Magnum Photos/France. Golfe-Juan. 1951. Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot. In the background is Picasso's nephew, Javier Vilato.
Below: Ingrid, Bengt and Göran, Österlen, Sweden 2009. Photographer ©Julia Nilsson

The picture above is a famous image of Picasso and his wife Françoise Gilot joking on the beach. Ingrid W, a picture researcher colleague of mine had some fun this summer and recreated the scene with friends (with all due respect to the legendary R Capa).  Great success I think!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tagong and Western Sichuan July 2009 Part 3: Prayer flags

All photos July, 2009 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

It has been my dream for many years now to find and lie underneath large prayer flag formations. Until our recent trip in July I hadn't found any that were big enough and in the good condition that I wanted but this trip was an incredible bonanza!

I'll post more in a few minutes!

Tagong and Western Sichuan July 2009 Part 2

Tagong and Western Sichuan July 2009 Part 1

All photos July, 2009 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

I'm taking advantage of being able to upload new photographs from recent trip we made up to Tagong area of Western Sichuan to view the total solar eclipse. The weather was incredible and the sights and experiences as precious as ever. Every time we go up this area there is something and different to explore. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Soluxe Courtyard: Fantastic hotel in Beijing

All photos ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Here are some images of the courtyard of a hotel I stayed at recently in Beijing. An oasis of peace, quiet and beauty. It's built on the grounds of an old temple (two actually Guangji and Jiaci), thus the inscribed Ming and Qing Dynasty inscribed shibei and 500 year old trees. Birdcages are hung out in the corridor each day to the guest's delight (and the birds entertainment) and each room has a door out onto a lovely courtyard. Heaven in the middle of Beijing!

Soluxe Courtyard, Beijing, conveniently located by the subway station Gulou. Address: No 2 Xitao Hutong, JiuGulou Street, Xicheng District, Beijing

Yunfeng Temple, Western Sichuan

All photos ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Yunfeng Si (Cloud Peak Monastery) is a Zen monastery tucked into the mountains of SW Sichuan. The monastery is rebuilt but the temple gardens have trees that are 1,200 years old, monks that are almost as ancient, bamboo groves, medicinal kitchen gardens and supreme tranquility. We visited at the end of June when the weather was lovely and the light absolutely magical. 

Lika som bär/Two peas in a pod

Bodhidharma meditating for nine years, staring into a blank cave wall. (Artist? Can anyone enlighten me?)

Winston Churchill with his dog, Rufus, in the gardens of his Chartwell Estate, 1951. ©Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos

Two of the most interesting people who have ever lived.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Niǎo yǔ huā xiāng: The intoxication of a beautiful spring day

Vikingsberg Park, Helsingborg, Sweden ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

I have not abandoned you!

Sailing across the reservoir at Simatai after hiking 12 km on the Great Wall from Jinshanling. You can have this much fun in China! Photo © Michael Hansson

I'm sure that it seems like I have abandoned this blog but it's not true! It is only China that has abandoned us innocent bloggers. Blogspot (and Facebook) has been blocked now for some time and I can only post this because for a short time I am outside of the Bamboo Iron Curtain and able to access my site without any obstructions. 

When we/I will be able to able to post again is anyone's guess (posting through a backdoor is like eating candy with the wrapper on, just NOT the same sensation). Not being able to blog is actually painful, I miss it and feel like an important part of my life is missing. 

So come on China - grow up and realize that this is not where the battle should be fought!