Monday, January 5, 2009

Earthquake charity photo sale update

Once more I want to say thank-you to all who bought my photographs at the CIWC Christmas Bazaar - we sold a lot of prints! The money from the proceeds has been given to the two quake relief organizations: Ecologia and Sichuan Quake Relief. We do however still have prints for sale and I made up another batch of the most popular ones. These have been deposited at The Bookworm in Chengdu (# 2-7 Yujie East Street, just by Sunjoy Hotel and Renmin Nanlu) where anyone can now buy them. The money from the Bookworm sales will also go to the charities.
Sichuan Quake Relief

Read an article today (posted Dec 28, 2008) with a sour-sweet slant from The New York Times (link here). It's titled Romance and Recovery in Quake Area, and tells of people who lost their spouses getting together and starting life anew. Even though a little happiness might have crept into some of their lives most of them still need our help to keep them going through the long, cold winter. 

Catherine Sampson: The Slaughter Pavilion

I am an avid mystery, crime and detective novel reader and I love it when they take place in China. My long time favorite has been Chinese writer Qiu Xiaolong. Last year I discovered a new author: Catherine Sampson. Her first crime novel was Falling Off Air, then came Out of Mind, The Pool of Unease and now The Slaughter Pavilion. The books feature journalist Robin Ballantyne and private investigator Song Ren. The last two books take place in Beijing in a gritty world of corruption, murder, grime and deception. 

Here's the website blurb on the latest book, The Slaugter Pavilion:

"In Beijing, a man throws himself off the top of a building. Behind him, tied to an advertising hoarding, is a dead and frozen child.

Having earlier rejected the man's plea for help, Beijing private investigator Song (last seen in The Pool of Unease) has enough to deal with – Song's own father-in-law, soon to be tried on corruption charges, is found dead. Did he kill himself or was someone else involved?

But Song cannot forget the man and his frozen child. When he starts to investigate, he finds himself drawn into a web of evil that pits him against the corrupt and powerful. And in a country where justice is often for sale, can Song discover the truth before it is buried for good?

Read more about Catherine Sampson and her books on her website, blog and a recent interview. Catherine is a British journalist (formerly the Beijing correspondent for the Times) that lives in China. She has a sharp eye and lot's of interesting, insightful opinions about life and society in China. All of which makes her blog a very good read.

Hangzhou culinary experience: Dragon Well Manor

Timeless Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province Photo ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Cookbook author Fushcia Dunlop, specializing in Chinese cookery has written an article in The New Yorker about a special restaurant in Hangzhou, the Dragon Well Manor. (Read it online.) She begins the article with an interesting earful about the Chinese food industry and the art of food-foraging (sounds ominous but means everyday berry, mushroom-picking etc but in China more likely bamboo-shoot hunting). Her food guide in Hangzhou is Dai Jianjun, owner of the said Dragon Well Manor, committed to serving his guests only "natural ingredients, untainted by pesticides or melamine, and with no added MSG". This means buying only the best ingredients out in the countryside, handpicked and closely inspected.  Along the way we get a discourse on Hangzhou and Zhejiang cuisine, seasoning, MSG, food-safety, green food and much else. Just like when you read between the recipes in Fushcia's excellent cookbooks.

Dragon Well Manor, address:

Taichi resa med Lotustravel

Beihai Park, Beijing Photo©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
Ofta efterlyser mina resenärer nyheter och tips om specialresor jag ska leda. Jag har en ny spännande rundresa på gång 15 - 30 maj 2009 . Resans tema är taichi/qigong och vacker natur. Lotus Travel är som vanligt researrangör och vi har en alldeles egen taichi/qigong instruktör till vårt förfogande under hela vår rundresa - Marianne Telford, bosatt i Skåne med över 20 års erfarenhet som instruktör.
Vi börjar i Beijing med givna trotjänare som Förbjudna staden, Kinesiska muren och Sommarpalatset men tittar på dessa välkända sevärdheter med nya ögon och upptäcker delar som vanliga grupper inte besöker. Vi går utanför det vanliga turistspåret och vandrar en mil på muren, besöker ett daoisttempel och tittar på nya saker som Beijing har att erbjuda så här efter OS 2008.
Efter Beijing bär det av till Chengdu, Kinas "pandahuvudstad". Här bor vi i de tibetanska kvarteren och upplever både Chengdus berömda tehuskultur, pandor och kattbjörn, Sichuan opera, tibetanskt smörte och jakgryta och kryddstark sichuanmat.
Vi fortsätter i den sichuanesiska världen bort till Leshan där vi beskådar världens största Buddha. Därefter bär det av till det heliga buddhistberget Emei där vi tillsammans med andra besökare och pilgrimer går på stigar mellan bambudunge, paviljong och tempel och övernattar i enkla tempelhärbärgen. Vi tillbringar cirka tre dagar på berget och avslutar med att ta oss upp på toppen där vi får se om vi kan skåda enda bort till dem tibetanska bergen i västra Sichuan.
Efter dessa enkla dagar i buddhisms värld och tempelprakt flyger vi till Guilin där vi åker flodbåt på det sagolika Lifloden och sedan bor ett par nätter i mysiga Yangshuo. På dagen cyklar vi bland risfält och sockerstoppsberg och besöker små byar och bondefamiljer.
Efter Yangshuo bär det av igen tillbaka till Beijing för en sista dag som brukar ägnas åt shopping!
Och självklart, varje dag har vi gedigen undervisning i taichi och qigong, nivå nybörjare, så alla är välkomna. De som inte vill delta i undervisningen kan erbjudas annat under tiden. Då vi kommer att gå väldigt mycket under resan förutsätts god kondition av alla deltagare. 
Ni som är intresserade, kika gärna på programmet på Lotus Travels hemsida. Resan är framtagen enbart för Lotuskunder. Man kan boka direkt på hemsidan eller via telefonen. Tipsa gärna en vän/väninna som ni vet har längtat efter lite äventyr i Mittens rike!

Bookworm Literary Festival 2009

Just found out that the Bookworm's 2009 Literary Festival is on track for March. Last year was a ripping success and really livened up the cold winter here in Chengdu. We all felt that a little bit of the "World" came to Chengdu and it was all very exciting. At the same time the authors seemed to think that Chengdu was exotic and interesting too!
Don't know all the details yet but I do know that some of my  favorite authors are coming: cookbook author extraordinaire Fuschia Dunlop (Sichuan Cookery, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook), Ian Buruma (The China Lover), Blake Morrison (When Did You Last See Your Father?, Things My Mother Never Told Me). The Bookworm is located in three Chinese cities: Beijing, Suzhou and of course Chengdu so if you are in any of these locales at the time you have the opportunity to partake in any number of exciting events. I'm already saving up money to buy Fuschia's latest book Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, a sweet-sour memoir of eating in China. She is not only one of the world's experts on Chinese cooking but also a great artist, look at her fantastic China journal drawings on her website.
Last year I mediated for Qiu Xiaolong, author of the award-winning Inspector Chen series of mystery novels. More about him in a later blog (his sixth book is already out in French, La Danseuse de Mao. It is coming out in English in March with the title The Mao Case, supposed to be his best book yet.)