Today was spent with my host, Kerun, and his friend, Daniel, orientating myself in this new city.
After a breakfast of egg pancakes and warm soya bean drink, we walked around the Olympic Park located near my apartment in the area of Jinyang. It was really tranquil with an enormous lake in the middle. There were lots of people out walking with their friends and families. A nice holiday feeling for the labour day weekend.
The park gardeners were out in force, planting up boxes and boxes of marigolds.
Walking through the buildings of the commercial district, Kerun and Daniel explained to me how very recent local development here was- just in the last few years new businesses had sprung up, new apartment blocks, new roads. Big data and eco-technologies are the main emerging industries.
Next we took a taxi into the older part of town, where we spent a few hours drinking tea in Kerun’s beautiful bookshop, Dade. It’s housed in a former turn-of-the century school building and is made of wood with a series of beautiful courtyards. It was a little oasis under the trees and we talked about everything from politics to local crafts, from art-making to audiences, from transhumanist dystopias to varieties of coffee-maker!
It is Kerun’s self-proclaimed quest during this residency to find tasty vegetarian foods for me to try, so for dinner we went to a restaurant to sample some (rather alarmingly-named) Babies in Blankets…
You start with a small stack of rice pancakes and a large tray of shared fillings.
Then each person serves themselves, and adds a delicious sauce with peanuts and spring onions.
I also tried a local speciality- congee with rose jam and assorted seeds. Yum!
Next we walked along the Nanming River to the city’s downtown Jiaxiu Pavillion.
Many photographers had gathered to catch the evening lights…
…which were spectacular!
Tennis balls on strings seem to be the new fad. People of all ages dance with them in the streets, swinging them around for exercise or fun.
There were lots of old teahouses along the river where people go for peace and quiet.
On the way home, we walked passed some ‘plaza-dancers’. These are usually older people- often of the ‘cultural revolution generation’ who gather at nightfall to dance in formation to competing sound systems.
A fantastic first day!