Qing Ming Jie
In April, people go to visit the graves of their relatives and leave fruit, buns, lit cigarettes and flowers on the gravestone for them, as well as fake (death) money, chopsticks, incense and small cups of alcohol.
Then they take half of it home with them to eat themselves, and tell themselves it gives them long life. And fair enough. I don't think the dead are interested in keeping any of it, thanks anyway.
Still, it is sad to see people missing their dead relatives. I don't think its fear of death that drives such activities as much as just missing someone you were close to.
In recent years people have also been bringing cardboard effigies of fridges and cars etc. to give to their loved ones.
Small children and babies are not brought to the cemetary for fear that in their innocence they may be able to see the dead.
It's a hole in the ground.
"The taste of Fushun"
Resident off & on since Sep 2002.
Fushun is like eating seaweed for the first time. Strange and almost unpallitable, but with something about it that is fascinating, so one keeps trying it until it is an acquired taste one cannot do without.
"The feel of Fushun"
You will quickly learn the words
"waiguoren" and "laowai".
"Foreigner" and "outsider". You will hear these words every day, nomatter how long you have been here. The chinese haven't been allowed out much in the last 50 years and are still not familiar with the idea of people other than themselves.
"The sound of Fushun"
I have never heard so many car horns! There are no discernable roadrules and drivers let each other know they are coming by using their horns. They don't wear seatbelts either.
treasure beside a huge mine
"blood spirit of the industral city"
amber, most time i visit fushun aim to find it. the city of fushun is just built at the eage of the largest coal mine in china. with the coal, the amber found. the most beautiful amber here is blood amber, or xuepo. it's the blood spirit of the heavy, dark and smoke city.
Up against the Wall
"Up the Wall"
The first two days I spent in bed with a migraine and nausea from the flight in, and missed seeing more of Beijing than the one example of it's bathroom sinks and its hotel pillows.
But soon I was out and about, struggling up the Great Wall looking for any graffiti left by Marina Abromovic or Ulay; wandering dazedly across Tiananman square in a tank top; and illegally taking snaps inside Buddhist temples, regardless of signs saying "don't burn incense & film in the hall".
We went to the Dalai Lama's appropriated temple and saw appropriated lamas trying to smoke us out with incense and freak us out with lots of humming. A waiguoren magnet, the place was full of Westerners suddenly overcome with a need to kneel and bow reverently at the foot of the world's biggest Buddha, while secretly taking pictures of it.
Then we took a stroll through some local hutongs, ending up at a laundromat before realising we'd gone down the wrong hutong. We hurried across the road to the more picturesque tourist-friendly hutong with a temple in it (and also a vegetarian restaurant). Several new houses were being built in the old style, to create even more "rusticity" amongst an otherwise modern slum area. I guess it is the IDEA of old architecture that is important here, rather than the existence of actual old objects. After all, so the theory goes, eventually any old building that still exists will have been repaired to the point where no original parts are still there.
The past crumbles to dust, leaving behind myths built of new stone, brick, wood, parchment, stories, tunes, rhymes sayings, jokes, photos and computer games. Nowhere is this more obvious than in China (well, OK, I haven't been anywhere else to compare), reconstituted after the Cultural Revolution pushed everything over and burnt it. Even Mao's decayed corpse has had to be replaced by a wax replica. It's the only way to defeat entrophy, as our bodies themselves know, replacing all of our cells every seven years.
I had some of my old hair removed today, to make room for more. A young slip of a fellow with a shock of wild poofy hair bent busilly over me and snipped at me with a pouch full of sharp metal implements, while I tried vainly to look, in the mirror, as much unlike a fat old fuddy duddy as I could. I don't like going to hairdressers, they make me look 50 years old instead of the with-it happening twenty year old I always promised myself I would be at my age.
But what amazed me was that when it was all finished I didn't have any annoying bristles down my neck! And all for 8 yuan (less than $2)!
"minus 10 degrees C"
The air here is freeze-dried; 30% humidity or thereabouts today. Consequently we dry out quickly and become dehydrated without even realising it. We have to remember to drink more water, though the water here has to be boiled first and then cooled, so forethought is essential.
Small flurries of snow carry on outside and the ice patterns on the windows only melt because of the 25 deg C heat inside. Dirty old concrete buildings everywhere, and in them live people who seem bored out of their brains. I stare across from our window to the windows across the street and see women pottering around making themselves noodles or making a production out of hanging one pair of underpants up to dry and staring out at the street below.
North facing windows that never see the sun. Kitchen windows, lined with dehydrated brown cabbages; stairwells blocked with rusty dustcovered bicycles; streets full of shops and billboards covered in pictures of western women.
"plus 4 degrees C"
The days have warmed up again and Winter has melted. Jing and Eli and I went off to see the local buddhist temple, perched on a hill overlooking Fushun prison. The irony of a prison full of falungong devotees only one block away from a hill full of incense peddling buddhists was not lost on me. Jing purchased two packets of incense and we began our spiritual journey up the stairs while I pondered the importance of practising the correct clockwize form of tai chi and not the evil counterclockwize variety!
Eli led us up the stairs to the left (thankfully), and enthusiastically contributed to the task of lighting the incense in the small furnace provided. I think he is a secret devotee of the fire god.
As a devotee of the tourist god, I stood to the side and took photos. Just as I got brazen enough to illegally photograph the golden statue inside the temple my camera stopped working! It had run out of batteries!
The buddha statue looked just like a cyberman from Dr Who, with squinty oblong eyes and a malevolent lack of emotion. I had chest pains on the way back down and I'm sure that had Eli not been so devoted and willing to bow at appropriate times I would probably be dead by now. Don't mess with the buddha and NEVER photograph inside a temple when the sign says not to!