Charles Hecht

China Diary #13

Day 1

The flight over was relatively smooth and on time. I went to sleep almost immediately, but woke up 1½ hours later when they started to serve lunch. That was a mistake as I was never able to get back to sleep. Unfortunately, I realized that I had left the Ambien in China after looking through my medicines. Three and one-half movies later, I still could not sleep.

We arrived in Terminal Number Three, which is brand-new. It is enormous. There are almost 600 gates . Initially you go through immigration and customs. All the airport employees are wearing face masks. I do not know if this is due to the swine flu scare or air pollution . You then take a tram to terminal 1 to pick up your baggage and then go to the taxi stand. When you leave the taxi area there is now a confusing network with two airport expressways. I told the driver to take the one that will get us to the Beigao exit #4. He took Airport Expressway #2. That was a big mistake . This scenery along the road was unfamiliar. We got lost. Almost 2 hours later we were able to find the main street near where I lived.

After my traditional stop at Jenny Lou’s for a few groceries and wine, we arrived at my studio as it started to rain. The front yard was overgrown with tomato plants that had seen better days. Huan, my next door neighbor’s assistant, was leaving on his motorcycle for errands. I started to unpack and went right to sleep after sending e-mails that I had arrived safely. Three hours later there was a knock on my door. Hong Chen invited me to dinner with her parents. They had moved in with her because their downstairs neighbor had started a business assembling plastic parts, and it was so noisy that they couldn’t stand their own apartment. So they decided to move into their daughter’s studio in 318 Art Park. She did not seem too thrilled with that decision. Although I was hungry, I was too tired and grumpy to try to make conversation in Chinese with perfect strangers. 13 hours later, I got up to begin the next day.

Day 2

It started out as a nice fall day with a little morning mist. By 8:30 a.m. the mist had burned off. Alen from the landlord’s office stopped by and wanted to talk about some more money due the landlord. They instinctively know when I arrive. It turned out that the difference was based on some wrong information they had given me about my rent reduction. We agreed it would be added to my next year’s rent, and I would pay that difference as part of the first six months rent for 2010.

It was time to do some errands. My electric bicycle tires lost all their air; I was out of dishwasher detergent, and I was unable to get in touch with Mung, my maid, who obviously had not been in my place for the last two months as there was a layer of dust throughout. I tried to call her husband, Huang. He was not answering his telephone. Her phone was being answered by a strange man who obviously did not know her. My suspicion is that she never returned from visiting her family, and she had abandoned her cell phone. So I will probably have to find a new person to work with me on finishing the glass sculptures and to clean my studio.

My first errand was to drop off the design T-shirts at Shen Jing Dong’s. His assistant was outside feeding just born puppies, and the door was locked. He said that Mr. Shen would return later that afternoon. I then went to New York Arts to use their bicycle pump to get enough air to get the tires blown up to the correct pressure. I also noted that the valve on one tire was way out of line. The main street in Hegezhuang looked like a deserted ghost town. So I had to find another place to fix the tires. Fortunately, where I get the keys duplicated was still in business in the next town, but barely so. It seems that since the villages are close to the new subway station, the government has made a decision to widen all the principal roads around that station. I found out that the buildings on those streets, even though empty, had expanded out to the street, so they could get more compensation from the government. Since I was so near Li Gang’s studio, I decided to visit him. He wasn’t there, but he had rented out the studio that I used to use to an Australian artist, Tony. Tony had a beard that ended in handlebars and large mutton chop side burns. He had rented the studio for one year and had made a number of improvements. But he was resigned to the fact that he would lose much of his rent because the bulldozers were coming shortly to eradicate the Beijing International Arts Camp, commonly referred to as BIAC.

I stopped to visit Lennart at his BIAC studio/gallery. He was trying to sell some interesting antique Chinese woodcuts. Apparently, these are from a series of woodcuts that were the first ones to use color in the 16th century. He also updated me on what was happening. His prior girlfriend, who I thought was very nice, was history as she once yelled at him in public. His new girlfriend is a graduate student. He is going to Brisbane, Australia to lecture in November on Chinese woodcuts. Our paths will not cross, as I will be in Brisbane in December. He has been commuting between Paris, Sweden and Beijing. After a strong cup of coffee, I went off to lunch. I gave a lot of thought to the type of wording to use for “Meng Po Le”. There was enough left over from lunch for me to reheat for dinner.

I then went to the fabricator, Zheng Fan, to go over a new order for the metal inserts that I use to hang the glass sculptures. He looks very busy, and he has made a number of additions to his place. His baby is walking, and he loves being a father. His son looks just like him. Then it was back to the studio so I could take a much needed nap. Not getting a good sleep on the flight over takes its effect for at least two days. Hanging on my door was a T-shirt gift From Jing Dong. So I went over to his place to say thank you and bring my T-shirts. I told him that these were the white T-shirts I printed in the United States, but the black T-shirts, with the “lovers” and Chinese and English captions would hopefully be ready soon.

Tomorrow he is going to drive me to the gallery in 798 that is to show our works as part of the derivative works art show entitled “Lets Have Fun.” He is taking his T-shirts over at the same time. I hope that there is time to produce the black T-shirts to include in the show while it is still on, since I believe that the black cloth shows the images of the two glass sculptures better than the white T-shirt. I had hurt my arm moving my electric bicycle, and Jing Dong suggested that it would be good for my arm if I join him and a friend for a trip to the massage parlor after dinner. Carlos is an artist in residence from northern Spain.

I then received a call from Lou Jai Yu about my woodcuts. He told me that his wife had some type of uterine cancer. She is very young, and the doctors have told him that she needs some type of drastic surgery. I have never met her, but Jai Yu looks like he is in his early 40s. They have one young child. Sometimes the fates are unfair. I know he has been very preoccupied, so I suggested that he call me back when he is ready to deliver the prints. He said he needed a trip away from the hospital and would deliver them Wednesday morning. He thought they came out perfect. I can’t wait to see them. I also told him that I brought over another woodcut to be printed.

Oxy came over to pick up some money and a photo of Peter’s passport so that Peter’s Internet connection could be renewed. I walked Oxy through what had to be done. His English has improved tremendously. When I tried to speak Chinese he corrected both my pronunciation and sentence structure. We spoke about the possibility of him and some of his friends coming in to do the finishing on the glass sculptures that had recently been delivered. We agreed that we would do this on a daily basis since he was receiving a modest salary and living accommodations from Li Gang, who had apparently given him permission to take on per diem work. We also talked about basketball and professional boxing. I look forward to working with Oxy, as he is a real nice guy, who works very hard and is honest.

After doing some sketching and trying to write out what I needed for Meng Po Le, it was time to reheat lunch for dinner. That, along with a glass of red wine and reading a Beijing art magazine, which had a major story on Shen Ding Jong and one of his works, made for a pleasant dinner. As I was washing the dishes, Shen Jing Dong and Carlos stopped by to pick me up to go to the massage parlor. Carlos is from Rioja, Spain where he met Jing Dong this summer. He then decided to rent Judas Areans’ studio in 318 with a friend, also named Carlos. All I got was a foot massage and a massage for my hurt right arm. The foot massage felt great. My arm feels a little better. Hopefully it will feel better in the morning. Now it’s time to call it a day.

Day 3

After a good night’s sleep, my arm felt better. I was greeted by a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky and the temperature about 60°. I worked for about five hours unpacking the last shipment of my most recent glass sculptures from Aimei and photographed certain sculptures to load in to the computer to help me on my upcoming trip to Aimei. I worked right through lunch. I was on the phone trying to make arrangements for a new driver and to buy a train ticket to Zibo. I still could not get in touch with Huang or Mung, and I assumed that she left Beijing after visiting her family for a month this summer. I had no idea where her husband was. I was upset that the house was dusty as I already paid her in advance to clean the studio two or three times a month. They also left some of their personal belongings on the second floor in the back studio. I was hoping that Oxy would come through on the glass finishing crew. What I basically offered him was to be the middleman. I would pay him so much a day per worker, and whatever he paid each worker was his business. In this way, it would have added benefit of not interfering with his full-time job, which was not really full-time, with Li Gang.

Shen Jing Dong and I went off to Soul Collection Art gallery in 798 to deliver our T- shirts. We had exchanged T-shirts, and I was wearing his, and he was wearing mine.

The owner is Ouli, a very bright woman who speaks fluent English. We worked out the details of the financial arrangement for the printed images with the caption- “Life is Good” - in both English and Chinese. There were some very interesting pieces of derivative art in the show. Some were on brick, some were on plastic, and there were a number of interesting ideas.

We then went to Wang Chang’s performance art show around the corner. He went to Bard College, and after receiving his degree in art, decided to return to Beijing. He had some very interesting ideas.

We then left 798 and Jing Dong said it is now time to play. First, we went to see a friend of his, Tong Zhengang, but he was not there. We then went to the Imagine Gallery, which is right next door. I had a good visit with Laetitia, the owner of the gallery. She was having a one person show for Bard Breivik from Norway. He has his studio right across the street in the Pickled Arts compound. The Pickled Arts Center has been converted to a prep school for students seeking admission to one of the better art acadamies.

We then walked around the corner to meet Jing Dong’s brother, Shen Cen, and his partner in art projects, Cindy. They had some very interesting work; pointilistic Buddhas that were very well done. We then went to some other art studios to visit Jing Dong’s friends, before the four of us went to visit a very large gallery near the old Pickled Arts Center. The space had high ceilings and was very well laid out. Both Jing Dong and Cen, who is called “Sunny,” and his art partner, Cindy, by his English-speaking friends, were well represented in this show . The gallery had planned a dinner for approximately 12 people, and we along with another 20 people were invited to join. There was not that much food, but everyone was happy to share. It was nice to talk with Denise Bereford, an artist from Melbourne who has been coming over here almost as long as I have. Over the years we have met a number of times. She has studio space in BIAC, is very concerned about the intended demolition of the entire area, and has no idea where she is going to find new studio space.

We then walked back to the car and decided to stop in to visit Tong Zhengang. He has a very interesting and unique style. Both Denise and I commented to each other about the enormous amount of artistic talent in China today . Both of us are lucky to be here during this explosive period of time. We dropped Denise off, and Qing and Jing, two neighbors of mine, came back with us. The four of us had tea at my studio. Lu Coral, Jing Dong’s fiance, joined us. Also, Hong, my next-door neighbor, joined us for a few minutes. As usual she just made a brief cameo appearance.

We then went to visit the studios of Jing and Qing. Jing’s significant other was there and she does abstract paintings of what appeared to be small articles in outer space using interesting colors. Qing’s works are large abstract scenes using very dark colors. Since I had to get up early to start training Oxy’s crew to do the cold shop work on my glass sculptures, I excused myself. I spoke to Leslie on Skype and went to bed just before midnight.

Day 4

It was another beautiful day in Beijing but a little warmer. The new crew came at 7:30, and I worked with them for approximately 2 hours. Then Lou Jai Yu came over with woodcut prints, which were all done by hand. It will take me time to get used to them to see if I like any of them. But he did beautiful job in printing on very nice translucent Chinese paper. We also made arrangements for the printing of my T-shirt in black. Because there is printing and images on both sides, the price quoted was now twice as much. For each T-shirt that I sell at the Soul Collection Art Gallery, I will net 2 RMB. But I think I will use these T-shirts as a promotional item in both Beijing and New York City.

I skipped lunch again only to feel very hungry at 2:30 when Molly called and pushed back dinner from 5:00 PM to 8 PM. I decided to buy a sandwich at Jenny Lou’s along with a soup mix. It was essentially a bread sandwich and the soup mix was very salty. Beijing could use a good New York style deli. After this late lunch I needed a nap. The new crew was working away and making a dent in the number of unfinished glass sculptures.

Huang, my old driver, called and said that his phone was not working in Beijing because he didn’t have enough money and was now in Shandong province with his wife, Mung. They were both returning to Beijing shortly, and I told him to call me when they settled in. Almost immediately thereafter, the driver who was supposed to take me to the Pearl Center to buy some electronics called and said he would not be able to make it as he was stuck in traffic. In the meantime one of the new workers called a friend, and he took me to the Pearl Center.

First, I wanted to fix the Sony tape recorder that I needed for my Chinese lessons. Everyone told me that they do not carry this old-style tape recorder. But, then one young person directed me to a stall where they tried to fix my old recorder. They could not, but I bought a new recorder to use on this trip. I also brought speakers for the computer and they were able to change some of my American dollars into Chinese currency. They were able to do so in a large quantity. They were very nice. I then came back to the studio to do some more work on the glass sculptures with the workers.

After a nice nap I did some reading and then went into town to meet Molly for dinner. She wanted to take me to this new area called Soltana, which is supposed to be the new hot area. It has loads of restaurants, and a bar street.

The restaurant selected by Molly was in a new suburban mall that could be anywhere in the United States, absent a parking lot. There were lots of luxury goods at American prices but there were deep discounts on many items, sometimes as much as 80%. She wanted Chinese food and the food was not very good. She was between jobs but had no new job as she wanted to work in broadcasting or for some type of newspaper since she is trained to do that. She also told me that it is very difficult to meet the right kind of man and, since she is in her late 30s, she is very concerned. She’s a nice person, and I felt sorry for her.

I then went back to the studio to sign the wood cuts so that I could get them framed. I was able to speak to Leslie on Skype and do some office work before going to sleep.

Day 5

It was another beautiful day in Beijing. The crew came at 8 o’clock. First we looked at the sculptures they had worked on the previous day so they could see the areas that needed more work. I then worked with them on one very beautiful piece that needed special work. I needed to take a break. I went over to visit with the two Spanish artists, Carlos and Carlos. They are both working on very large acrylic paintings for an upcoming show in their studio. They showed me their work process in developing these large paintings. They were having a tough time meeting some of the local artists. So off we went. First we visited Qing’s studio and then we went to Jing’s studio. Both are painters. We then went to Hong’s studio to look at her sculptures. At the same time Hong introduced me to the new cleaning lady, who she used for her downtown apartment, to take care of my place since Mung was not in Beijing, and I did not know when she was going to return.

I then went to the flower market on my electric bicycle to get my woodcuts framed. But when I got there it was locked up and empty. No one knew where they had moved to. I stopped to purchase some white spray-paint for the inserts to my glass sculptures in an area of small shops serving the construction industry. The Chinese couple who owned the small store where I was able to buy the spray paint were having lunch. The dumplings looked very good to me. They must’ve seen the hunger in my eyes and invited me to join them. I told them I was having a late lunch with friends, but they insisted, and I was very hungry. So I had enough dumplings to satisfy my hunger pangs. They asked questions about America. It was so nice of them to share some of their lunch. Can you imagine such an experience in the U.S.?

Carlos, Carlos and Ainoia, a female artist from Bilbao, Spain, had invited me to join them for a late lunch of potato and chorizo stew. I brought some wine. The stew was great. It was then siesta time for everyone.

However, five minutes after returning to my studio and putting my head down, Hong’s assistant, Huang, stopped in to show me the way to where the new flower market was so that I could get my woodcuts framed. I followed his motorcycle and realized that without him acting as a guide I could never have gotten there by myself. Once I got there, I felt confident I could find my way home alone, and he got back to the studio to do work. The new framing/flower district had been constructed overnight in a Chinese version of the instant building. It was immense. It was in a much better location just off the Jinmi Highway, but the prices seemed about 50% higher. However, compared to New York City their prices were still much lower.

After returning to the studio, I reviewed the work done by the cold shop crew. It was obvious that one of the three women was just not getting it. I spent some time with her to go over the procedures hoping that she would get it. After they left, I did some reading, some posting to this diary and some sketching. A glass of wine and a little cheese were all I needed before going to sleep at 8 PM.

Day 6

Unlike the prior three days, it was cloudy and windy. The finishing crew came before I finished breakfast. I worked with them for a couple of hours on the sculptures that they previously thought had been finished properly, but were not. I spoke to Rose Jie , the owner of Art Channel, about a number of topics. She wanted to see my new work, but couldn’t get to the studio and asked me to bring one example of my new work to her studio. Since that was the meeting place that Alessandro Rolandi and I had agreed to meet this was fine with me.

Victor, her assistant, really likes the new piece. Alessandro started our philosophical discussion at Art Channel, and then we continued talking at a restaurant in Caochangdi Village for almost 3 hours. He has a lot of good ideas and is a free thinker. It was very stimulating, and I came up with some possible new ideas for future projects. We then went to the EGG Gallery where I worked with him and the gallery staff in hanging one of his new sculptures.

I then came back to the studio to work with the cold shop crew on fixing up certain sculptures that they thought had been completely finished. The one who was not getting it had the annoying tactic of wetting down a sculpture to cover-up that she had not completed her cold shop work on that sculpture. I would dry it off, and it was clear that she had not properly finished it.

Some friends stopped by for a drink, and one of them brought a stranger who was really obnoxious. So after 15 minutes I told them I had to leave to go to an opening in Fei Jia Cun near the Imagine Gallery. Laurens Tans, was there with his new assistant, FeBee, and Michael Rolfe, the gallery director of the Hazelhurst Gallery & Arts Centre in Gymea, Australia. Bam, a Chinese visual artist and good friend of Laurens, was also there. So were Brian Wallace and Laetitia Gauden as well as a number of other people that I knew. Five of us then went off to Jin Bin Wei for Beijing duck etc. Since I was meeting Oxy at 7:30 AM to go over the cold shop crew’s work schedule while I was in Boshan creating more sculptures, I was calling it an evening by 10:15 p.m., while the others went downtown to party.

Day 7

What started out as an organized day focusing on completing the glass sculptures turned into a very hectic, but productive day in other areas . Oxy and his crew came at 7:30 a.m. Ten minutes later, I received a call from New York asking if I was interested in furnishing 30 to 40 sculptures to a new restaurant, “New York BJ.” Four e-mails later I was able to coordinate with Peter DuHammel, one of the owners. We were able to work out the economic terms within the next 24 hours, including taking care of the middleman. Downstairs will be a classic New York City delicatessen. On the next two floors will be a full-scale restaurant offering very American cuisine, such as Carolina barbecue, Texas barbecue and gumbo. He is catering to both the affluent Chinese and homesick American expatriates. He told me that the restaurant is done in black and white with very modern furniture. He feels that will work well with my glass sculptures. I plan to visit the restaurant upon my return from Zibo.

Grace Young was supposed to come by between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. and she finally showed up at 11 :15. She was pressed for time, but explained to me that she is the director of both Artzpark and the Beijing Art Development Corporation. The latter was setting up a new showroom, which is part of a massive new development along the Moon River in eastern Beijing. It was only a question of choosing which glass sculptures she wanted for the space. She chose two yellow and orange and two blue and yellow from the second series of the glass spermoids. She liked the sculptures that have thick tails rather then ending in a very thin sculptural arc. She was the director/curator so I was happy with whatever she chose.

She also liked one of the smashed series on board that was hanging in the master bedroom suite.

We also discussed Meng Po Le and she really liked the idea. She would rearrange the space so that I could install that piece. We packed up everything to go to the museum annex. We got there after 1:00 p.m., since it is almost an hour away from 318 Art Park. She wanted to go to a fancy Beijing duck restaurant but there were so many official cars there that she was afraid we would not get service. We then went to a small local restaurant that was still packed at 1:30 p.m. Everything was exceptionally good, and the noise was incredibly loud. One of her assistants, Candy, joined us as we were finishing lunch, and she took the left-overs for her dinner.

I then installed the show. However, the tool area was locked and the person who had the key could not be located. It was Sunday, so we had to scrounge for some equipment such as a ladder. Fortunately, I had brought with me the kinds of hooks to be used to hang the glass sculptures. We had to look for nails to hang the board mixed media piece. The layout of Meng Po Le took some time, since I had limited space. I am also going to bring back more loose colored glass shards from Aimei to redesign it when I get back.

I also want them to buy some inexpensive traditional Chinese folding stools to use in place of the existing seat/storage chest. The driver who was supposed to take me back had left to run some errands. We finally located him, and 30 minutes later he showed up. In the interim, to calm me down, Candy took me on a tour of the new outdoor sculpture park. This is a massive development catering to the wealthy Chinese and Westerners. It features a full 18 hole golf course and emphasizes extensive cultural benefits, including the Museum and the Annex run by the Beijing Art Development Corporation. There are also public walking parks, restaurants located on the river, etc. What took an hour with Grace driving with my glass sculptures packed in a box tied into the backseat, took only 25 minutes with her driver assistant who took some back roads that saved lots of time. He also drove like a race car driver weaving in and out of traffic at 80 miles an hour.

At home, I met Wang Pei and her daughter Wang Xiaou Wu. Prof. Wang had to go out of town. First, we went to an opening at the AFA Gallery in 318. There were some very interesting pieces. We were invited by them to join the artists for dinner at Jin Bei Wei. But the Wang’s elected for a quiet dinner for the three of us at the same restaurant in a non-smoking area. Xiao Wu had just started her new job as an attorney with the state-run nuclear authority. She was the only attorney in the finance department. She was really excited about her new job. Wang Pei has been working very hard on some major licenses for energy related technology and was extremely tired. She was looking forward to a day of pure relaxation on Sunday.

When I got back to the studio I started to do some work, but realized that I was extremely tired and elected to go to bed early.

Day 8

This is a travel day. But I wanted to do some work before leaving by epoxying some of the metal backings into the glass sculptures. I used all the remaining metal inserts. Zheng Fan is to deliver 160 more inserts by the end of the week. Huang’s older brother was to drive me to the railroad station. Knowing how crazy he is I checked to see if he had enough gas. Sure enough the yellow light was on. He said don’t worry. I said pull over and get gas now or I will drive. The railroad station is over 20 miles away and almost all of it is freeway with no gas stations. We got more gas and the rest of the trip was without incident. Either I am getting older or the bags I take to Zibo are getting heavier. The older railroad stations, such as the one in Zibo, are not designed for suitcases on rollers.

The train ride was relaxing and we arrived in Zibo on time. I made it to the hotel in Boshan and settled in. Since I did not have any lunch, I opted for an early dinner. After dinner, I spent some time preparing copy for the Beijing Art Development Corporation exhibit and the upcoming show at New York BJ. They have excellent tea in the hotel room.

Day 9

It was a beautiful, bright sunny day and you could actually see a blue sky without any pollution. The glass foundry portion of the factory had been dramatically reorganized. The fuel for all of the glass furnaces was now generated by electricity through a computerized network. The part of the factory that we formerly used was now a storage facility, and there was a wall sealing it off from the new work area. It was strange, and I walked around the entire new work area as everything had been reorganized. They were also doing extensive work expanding a headquarters building, which housed the cold shop, the lamp working facility, packing and storage, showroom, bookkeeping and the offices for the Sun family.

It took a while for Chen to get my materials out of storage and set them up. Initially, Soya was not there, but I saw him at about 8:30a.m. and we said hello. He was not working in the foundry. We started working on one of the larger molds using a white base over clear glass with dark blue frits, as I like the way this combination worked on a smaller mold in series 4. We did six of these. I next wanted to do a series of five with the same combination of clear and white glass block with blue and red frits. This was to be called an “American Baby.” We did one, and the person who was substituting for Soya told me that he had to wash up and leave. The two of us, without Chen, had done the last three sculptures. I decided it was time to study some Chinese while my co-workers did what they had to do.

At lunch time Sun Jie Jie, the father, invited me to join him. On the way to the restaurant he told me that there was a shortage of available glass that afternoon, and there would be no work at the foundry that afternoon. But the foundry would have plenty of glass tomorrow. I was not happy, but there was nothing I could do about the situation. We had a simple lunch. I then took a taxi back to the hotel. I was exhausted, and three hours later I awoke from my nap. I decided to take a walk around town after talking with Snow Cao where we confirmed dinner for tonight with his daughter and his wife. The downtown shopping mall does not permit cars, but does allow motorcycles, electric bicycles and regular bicycles. It is incredibly noisy and somewhat crowded. The first time I saw this “mall” I thought it was almost all clothing stores. But on closer inspection there were a number of small stores next to the fancy clothing stores that offered other goods and services, shoe repair, making keys, a barbershop, a few beauty shops, an art supply store, which also had business stationery supplies, a tea store and many other interesting small shops. If the factory still closes at 3:00 PM , I will return to get some extra keys made, maybe get a haircut and possibly presents for the grandchildren tomorrow.

It was good to see Snow and his family again. This is the first time that I had met his daughter. Both she and her fiance were working in the family business and living in their house. To start them off, Snow wanted them to learn the business from the ground up by coordinating and inspecting what was being manufactured for distribution in the United States. But he did take her to the major Hong Kong fair. He is extremely enlightened about what is going on in the United States and has some very definite views. We also discussed business. His business has improved dramatically in the last few months, and he was hoping that the United States economy would continue to rebound. His business now had to feed four mouths rather than two mouths. It is always good to talk to them. We then went back to his office to look at pictures of my new works on my computer.

When he saw the T shirt with the images of my glass sculptures with the caption “Life is Good,” he thought that this would make an excellent Valentines Day gift. He asked me to send him some computer images, so he could take those images to his computer graphics people to see how they would look on a coffee mug. If it works, I will work out a licensing deal with him where I get a percentage, but he will do the necessary work to find the buyers and get the cups properly designed and manufactured.

I then returned to the hotel to do some office work and speak to Leslie. Even though I had a three hour nap, I was still very tired, so I went to bed fairly early.

Day 10

It was another bright sunny day, but the pollution was much worse so everything appeared to be very hazy. Sun Yun Hao’s wife picked me up at the hotel. We went directly to the factory. She had purchased some cooked thin bread and gave me four slices for my breakfast. One of the glassblowers offered me a bun in the shape of the large pancake that was stuffed with cooked onion. I was hungrier than I thought.

Soya had been reassigned to help in renovating the main building. One of the other master glass blowers, who is extremely strong, took over the gathering process. We experimented with some small pieces to redesign some of the tails. We did five more sculptures of “American Baby” and then switched to doing some sculptures with a gray base over clear glass. I had never worked with that color before. I decided to combine it with blue frits, and it appears from the hot stage that these could really come out well. We did six large ones and then switched to do four small ones. However, on the first one there was a problem with the tail so that sculpture was worthless. The second one damaged the mold. So, I decided to switch to another mold, the Chinese Dragon, and use black on clear with yellow frits. We would repair the other mold before lunch. We were able to do three more of the Chinese Dragon series before lunch.

I noticed everyone cleaning up and changing to street clothes at the beginning of the lunch break. They were not coming back to work that afternoon. I asked Chen if he was going to have any dark red glass for tomorrow. He said no. I asked him what color he planned to use the next day, and he had not yet decided. You have to look at the orders and priorities given to him by the boss. Sun Jie Jie and I went to lunch at the same restaurant. I brought along my computer to show him an image of Meng Po Le at the Moon River Museum and told him that I needed more shattered glass to take back with me to Beijing. He seemed to understand. He told me that the next day would be a full day of work. He had no idea of what colors were going to be available tomorrow ... “ask Chen.”

After lunch I returned to the hotel and promptly went to sleep. Two and half hours later I decided to wander around town and run some errands. Luckily, I was able to find a key maker who could duplicate the keys for my electric bicycle. I had been unable to find such a person in Beijing, and the only key I had was badly bent. I hope the new keys for the bicycle work. I was also going to get a haircut, but I initially could not locate the barber shop I saw yesterday. When I did, I changed my mind. Everyone was extremely friendly. I decided to wander down some of the side streets. They were bustling. There were little nooks and crannies filled with interesting places such as an alleyway under a large government building. It was filled with Internet cafés. They were almost 100% full with young man playing computer games. There also looked to be some small, but interesting, restaurants. I do not know if I read Chinese well enough to order off their menus. After an hour and one half, I came back to the hotel room and had a Skype chat with Martin Weiss, which turned into a direct conversation. His idea of travel is to avoid the tourist attractions and mingle with the people. He was also very upset that he could not easily find Boshan using Google. Eventually, with a lot of guidance, he was able to locate Boshan and was no longer as angry with Google.

To eat or not to eat is now the question so I am taking a break. I was not really hungry, but I decided to see if there was anything on display in the hotel restaurant that looked appetizing. There was only one light on in the main dining room, and it was depressing, so I went back to my room and put on my jacket to go for a walk. I found a local and clean restaurant to have some dumplings. My Chinese textbook drew a crowd. I was hungrier than I thought. I then went back to my room and, after several Skype calls, I called it a day.

Day 11

Another sunny day in Boshan. Mrs. Sun and I stopped for breakfast at the street restaurant which we visited on my last visits to Boshan. I had a beef soup with dumplings and two large dumplings for breakfast. We then went to the factory. Today it’s supposed to be a full day. I was also very happy with changes to my sculptures. I changed the composition of the glass coloring and modified the way we did the tails. Instead of focusing on creating a very thin delicate and elegant form, I made the new tails thicker by changing the way we drew the glass over the form. We did 14 sculptures in the morning, but one of them was broken when it went into the annealing oven and another did not look right from the get go. Four of us went to lunch at the same local restaurant. Chen and Soya joined Mr. Sun and me. Since Soya was not working in the foundry, it was good to have a chance to talk to him. He is supervising the renovation of the building that houses every thing but the foundry and is building a new glory hole for the foundry.

Everything was really going well in the afternoon, when I was told that we were out of clear glass. The whole foundry came to a halt. Apparently they have not worked out all of the kinks with the new electric fired kilns used to create the molten glass. The element that holds the molten glass keeps cracking. The four sculptures that I did each looked very good. I also felt badly for the workers since they get paid by the piece. Three out of the ten kilns producing molten glass are not functioning. Everyone realizes that converting from coal to electric is very good for the environment, but it is obviously posing production problems to Aimei. The Sun family is very optimistic about the future. The yard area, which was formerly a pigsty, is now being landscaped, and the broken glass and glass remnants are way in the back of the property, which is over two acres. The other tenants who formerly occupied part of the first floor have been evicted, and they are completely redoing the building, with a new enlarged lamp working area on the fist floor.

I went to a hotel and took a nap. I decided to go to a new restaurant further away from the hotel. I had a chicken stew. It was flavored with anise and cloves and tasted strangely. You really have to work to get the meat off the chicken. I did some more Chinese before going to sleep fairly early.

Day 12

It was another nice day in Boshan. Yao Sun’s wife came 20 minutes early. We stopped for some type of stuffed bread for breakfast. It’s an acquired taste. The work went smoothly as I did a number of sculptures with a white base, with blue and then red frits on one of the small molds. And then we did a few sculptures with a light green base and black frits on the crocodile fish mold. Right before lunch, I did one sculpture with a white base and blue frits on the crocodile mold, and it looked really good in the formation. My right forearm was acting up again. Combined with a headache and backache, I was not a happy camper. But I was still able to focus on creating the sculptures. A number of workers came up to me and complimented me on “Sheng Hou Shi Hao” T-shirt I had worn the previous two days.

We had lunch with four of the supervisors of the landscaping crew. There were about 25 workers, and they were having a good time saying hello to me, the “waigoren.” None of them spoke English, but the seven of us, including Soya and Chen were able to carry on a conversation covering many topics: the quality and cost of beer around the world, our families, where each of us came from originally, the types of cars or motorcycles we drove, the quality of roads in China etc. They spoke slowly, and this was a big help to me. Before resuming work, they described the landscaping plan to me.

The factory ran out of glass at 1:15. I left Chen there to try to fix the 3 kilns that were not working. One of the landscapers drove me back to the hotel. He had a copy of the landscaping plan on the front seat. They were going to be done tomorrow. Although the plan called for a purchase price of 9675RMB, the final price was between 6,000 and 7,000 RMB. For that, you got a crew of 40 to dig up approximately 4000 square feet, 50 15-20' trees, 25 large shrubs and 100s of small plants, with the labor to install all of the plantings. After a nap, I did some office work and coordinated with Snow Cao on the redesign of the coffee mugs using Sheng Hou Shi Hao, rather than his change of Mei Hao Sheng Hou, which he felt was more native Chinese. The change was because he believed the Chinese had gone through so many tough times and this was too happy a message. I asked him to review the two captions with his daughter and her fiancee, and they agreed with my language. It made me realize that the United States is such a young country which has avoided the types of suffering endured by the Chinese over many centuries. As Cao put it, pure happiness is not a Chinese concept.

Since neither Sun Jie Jie nor his son were in town, the usual last night banquet never occurred. With a ripping headache, a quiet dinner is probably much better for me. So it is time to take a break, especially since my dictation program is having a very bad day, and the typing is hurting my arm tendon.

Day 13

It was another sunny day in Boshan. But either the dust or the pollution made the air look and feel awful. This morning Soya decided to take a break from building a new glory hole to work with me. He was rusty and out of sync for doing the type of work needed for my glass sculptures, so the first three sculptures were not good. The substitute, whose name I could never pronounce, was reassigned to making the long colored rods. But I asked him to work with us on one sculpture so Soya, who clearly outranked him, would get back in sync. It worked..

Again, according to Chen we had the same 3 colors, white, black and a pale blue, which I did not really like. I was also getting bored with working with the black and white. But I noticed that one of the workers was pulling out long strands of pink and then found out that there was pink glass available. So I used a number of different frits colors with the pink as a base color. The landscaping project was almost completed. The five landscape supervisors, Chen, Soya and I went to the usual restaurant for lunch. The head supervisor offered to drive me to the Zibo train station. I thanked him but felt that he should be around for the completion of the landscaping job. I worked until 2:00 p.m. and then went back to the hotel for a quick shower.

Normally, the train station is only 45 minutes away, but I allotted over 1 ½ hours. I used a licensed taxi because I assumed that the driver would knew how to get to the major railroad station in the area. I told him when I had to be at the Zibo station. He said no problem, and we would get there with plenty of time to spare. Never assume!

He drove very slowly. He then stopped for gas. They use a special high pressure hose connected to a gizmo under the hood, and which requires you to open the trunk and be at least 15 feet from the car.

When we got near the outskirts of Zibo, we were cutting the time too closely for my comfort. I asked him to speed up the car. Apparently he was lost and was calling his buddy in Boshan to get directions. He made a turn which was obviously wrong and after 2 or 3 minutes I got him to stop and ask directions. I went along with him to make sure that he did not misunderstand. I recognized a large building near the railroad station. A stranger told us that it was on Railroad Street. So he told us how to get there and we should make a right turn when we arrived at the main road in front of the building. We made the station 7 minutes before departure. But, you must go through a metal detector. Then at the top of the escalator, the strap on the person’s bag in front of me broke. I had to jump over this large bag and ran to the entrance gate which was about to close. I made the train with a minute to spare. Trying to find a hotel in Zibo and rebooking a train was something that I wanted to avoid.

Someone was in my seat, and reluctantly agreed to move when I showed my ticket and insisted on using that seat. There was a young girl next to me, who obviously had some major issues. She talked so loud that everyone in the train heard her. She thought that my seat was also her seat, even though I kept pushing her away. She and her father got into a number of shouting matches. My Ipod could not drown them out. She was constantly eating in a very gross manner and then often spitting the food out because she did not like the taste. I love children but this young girl was difficult to tolerate. She finally fell asleep 5 minutes before we arrived in Beijing.

There must have been over 500 people lined up at this taxi station. But the Beijingers have a way of working through this efficiently so I was in a cab in less than 15 minutes. A nice long taxi drive home with a cab driver who knew where he was going was the nicest thing to happen to me in the last 6 hours. Then I visited the two Spanish artists, Carlos and Carlos, who were preparing for a show at their studio on Sunday. We had a glass of wine and then I watched one of the Carloses do some painting on an unfinished area before ending a very long day.

Day 14

First, I went to the fabricator because he had not delivered the inserts. His excuse was he did not know where to buy the hanging component to the insert. So we made a deal. He would drive me to the plant/framing market, which as I previously pointed out had moved, and we would get the parts ASAP as I needed to finish this group of sculptures before leaving Beijing. I also picked up 4 out of 5 of my framed woodcuts. But, on leaving the framing market, Zheng Fan’s van would not start. So he went inside and one of the picture framers drove as we pushed the car to get it jump started. An audience was watching Zheng and a foreigner pushing this old Chinese van and when it started, they clapped. We got back to my studio where Lou Jai Yu was waiting for me with the prints of a woodcut I brought with me on this trip

We also made arrangements for the delivery of the black T shirts to his studio. I then did some epoxy work on the inserts for those glass sculptures that I had the metal inserts from a prior trip. I needed a quiet lunch... so off to the new small resteraunt next to Jin Ban Wei with a book of Rumy poetry. There was a young lady there who was bored as she was visiting the owner, but he was too busy with the kitchen. She sat down and talked with me while I was waiting for the food to come. She worked for a Saudi company that had just purchased GE Plastics and she felt that she was a small cog on the wheel trying to integrate that company with a similar Chinese company already owned by her employer. Also, the Saudi prince who owned the company was coming to Beijing in two weeks, so they were busy making everything look pretty and were preparing lots of presentations. It reminded me of preparing for a pre-announced general’s inspection when I was in the U.S. Army in Germany.

I then ran some errands before coming back and arranging some of the the sculpures for the inserts to be delivered tomorrow. After doing that, I went to the fabricator to see if I could get a partial delivery. No such luck. After a brief nap Shen Jing Dong came over, and there was a Taiwanese artist, Peter, who somehow again ended up joining us seemingly out of nowhere. Lu Coral arrived as we were finishing, so we ordered more food for her. I then came back to the studio, where I met Hong to go over how we were to handle the coal with Lau Shan this winter. Then I posted the diary without the aid of Dragon since its bad day was continuing.

Day 15

I knew this would be a very busy day. It was cooler than yesterday and slightly overcast. Since the driver was coming at 9, I got up early to pack the sculptures to take to New York BJ, a new restaurant in Beijing. I packed six sculptures and two woodcuts. Huang’s brother came on time, and we were able to find the restaurant easily.

The restaurant had not yet opened, but was going to have a pre-opening in a few days. The first floor was a New York style delicatessen. The second floor looked like a New York restaurant with booths and tables. The third floor had private dining rooms. After surveying the three floors, I advised Peter that there was no way that the restaurant could support 25 to 30 sculptures. I ended up installing four glass sculptures on the second floor. He was extremely happy with the way they looked and was very enthusiastic.

Upstairs I installed one yellow glass sculpture in the largest of the private dining rooms.

I also installed two framed woodcuts in the smaller private rooms.

It took me about two and one-half hours to complete the installation. We had one remaining glass sculpture that did not seem to fit properly in the restaurant. It just did not go with the color scheme.

We tried to call Grace at the Moon River Museum installation, but there was no answer. I knew the museum was fairly close. We were able to borrow a map from the person who was setting up the delicatessen portion of the restaurant. From the map I was able to figure out how to get to the general area of the Moon River Museum. Once I got into the area, I was confident that I could find the museum. Rather than following the pre-planned route, which was very easy, Huang’s older brother decided to take a short cut. After twenty minutes we ended up exactly where we started, so we decided to follow my suggestion to just go down Chang Ang Avenue until it intersected with the freeway that went near the Moon River project. In route I was able to get in touch with Grace, and she said she would meet me at the museum. When we got to the museum, Grace and her staff were not there and the museum annex was locked. They were preparing for a large outdoor sculpture show, so I decided to look at the sculptures until she arrived.

When Grace finally arrived, it was after 1:00 p.m. I had not eaten lunch and was getting hungry, but I wanted to reinstall Meng Po Le, which in English is “Shattered Dreams.” The reason Grace and her crew were late was that they were out looking for appropriate Chinese stools for Meng Po Le, which I felt went much better with the sculpture than the chest which doubled as a seat. She was able to buy four Chinese stools. She was unable to find the type of stools used by local workers, which are wood with cloth, but she did find some new versions which use metal in place of the wood. Also, she advised me that the original installation was in an area where people were inadvertently stepping on or near the glass. She had packaged the glass pieces for the installation in a box.

I could reinstall it easily in the area where my glass sculptures were hanging on the wall. I had much more space to work with and reinstalled the piece. However, Grace’s staff had not typed the explanation of the installation so that the viewer would understand how to participate in the sculpture. Basically, the viewer is to sit on the stool and use the blank space in the center of Meng Po Le to fill it in with each person’s own shattered dream.

We were not finished until 3:00 p.m. I asked Huang’s brother if he wanted to stop and eat. He said no and we decided to go back to my studio. On the way back we stopped at the picture frame/fabricator area to pick up the woodcuts I had previously dropped off.

When we got back to 318 Art Park, I had time to briefly wash up, put on a fresh shirt and go to the Carlos and Carlos opening at Judas Arenas’ studio. The same group of Spanish friends at Judas’ happening were also at this opening. Judas knows how to throw a great party.

There was lots of good food, wine and beer. Since Judas knew I was back in town, he made some Russian salad, which he knew I liked from the prior opening at his studio last summer. It is a combination egg, potato, tuna, celery, onions, mayonnaise plus seasonings. It is served on pieces of country style bread.

Both of the Carloses had extremely large oil paintings. One was approximately 12 feet tall by 40 feet wide. To me it was a mural, and he had worked on it for two months. The other Carlos did an interesting triptych, with each part about 12 feet by 12 feet.

I stayed for about three hours. Everyone went to dinner, but I had made previous arrangements to receive delivery of the inserts I needed to hang the glass sculptures. The inserts were delivered and, after some tea, I spent some time reading and signing woodcut prints.

I then decided to set up most of the sculpture inserts for epoxying the next day, but I was getting very tired after an extremely full day. I spoke to Leslie on Skype and then went to sleep at 11:30 p.m.

Day 16

I followed my regimen of getting up at 7:00 a.m. After a shower and breakfast, I checked the internet for my messages. By 8:15 a.m. I was at work epoxying inserts into the bottom of the “spermoids” which I decided as to certain shapes to give a more precise name, such as Chinese Dragon Series, Nudibranch, Crocodile Fish, but leaving the generic spermoid title with respect to two other shapes. I worked for almost four hours without a break. Lu Coral stopped by and invited me to join them for lunch at Sheng Jing Dong’s studio. They were very happy with the derivative art show and told me that the gallery owner was very pleased with how my T-shirts were selling and they believed that even though my T-shirts were only there for three days before the show closed, all of them had been sold.

On my way back to my studio, I said hello to Jing, as well as her boyfriend and her next door neighbor, Qing. As we were talking one of the Carloses and Anoia stopped by. Outside of Jing’s studio the five of us peeled some very large Chinese oranges, which were the size of grapefruits. Although they were quite stringy, they were also quite tasty. I went back to Carlos’s studio where the other Carlos was cleaning up and packing up his works to return to Spain. They needed a third hand to help roll up the extremely large canvas. We decided to take a wine break, and they went for a siesta at their studio, and I went back to my studio, where after 15 minutes of reading, I also took a siesta.

I got up at 4:00 p.m. to apply another layer of epoxy to the inserts. Although it is somewhat tedious and repetitious, there is a certain Zen quality in doing this type of work. You must do it carefully because the last thing you want is for one of the sculptures to be improperly epoxied and fall and break.

Carlos and Carlos stopped by and asked me to come to their place to coordinate with the crew from Spanish public television about an interview in my studio. After we spent about 20 minutes planning the interview, the three of us returned to my studio with the crew. One of the crew asked questions and I answered the questions, often bringing each of the Carloses into the conversation. They promised me a tape of the interview, which they said would appear on Spanish television in approximately two weeks. It was to be part of a program featuring foreign artists working in Beijing. The interviewer was excellent and the three of us ended up in a very animated conversation.

They all went back to the studio which was being used by the two Carloses and I had dinner alone at Jin Ban Wei. I wanted to focus on designing some additional text for Meng Po Le to give to Grace, as I was not 100% satisfied with the original text. I specifically went to Jin Ban Wei to order the duck stew. Unfortunately, it was no longer on the menu.

I returned to the studio and read some more. It was so nice to have the peace and quiet to read with some classical music in the background and be uninterrupted for over an hour. Other than the music playing in the background, everything was perfectly still. I then went outside and meditated looking at the illuminated Long and Slender in my front yard. By then it was after 10:00 p.m., so I spoke to Leslie on Skype and was able to go to sleep by 11:00 p.m.

Day 17

My computer was making all sorts of noises. It was Leslie calling on Skype. She was with the twins, and they wanted to talk. Although I was half asleep, it was good to talk to the twins. They were getting ready for bed, and they were telling me what stories Grandma was going to read to them. After a good breakfast, I met Alen from the landlord’s office. We had previously made arrangements to do the paperwork for government approval to hang my large flags in public places at two of the real estate developments managed by the company he works for. He introduced me to a police sergeant, who he told me was his friend, and who would expedite the Culture Department approval for hanging these two large sculptures in a pubic space outside of the projects managed by the real estate company, my landlord. One of them had been hanging at the Pickled Arts Center for almost five years in full view, but that was not on the main road, and you had to go into the Shangri-la complex to see the sculpture.

Alen asked me if it was OK if we took some time out because he had to get his boss’s car washed. The Chinese car wash was outside. They had a special hose set up to dispense the soap. They then washed it manually and cleaned it with rags. Because it was crowded, the staff decided to move certain of the cars around, but they weren’t very good at it and they caused an accident. The owner of the damaged car was extremely unhappy. Fortunately, the car that Alen was driving was almost done by that time and did not have to be moved. I looked at him and suggested that perhaps it would be a good time to leave.

Back at the studio I did some additional finishing work on the glass sculptures. I wanted to go over those sculptures that had not been finished quite right by the crew. I then went to the fabricator to discuss refurbishing the two large Chinese-American flag sculptures in my absence if government approval was obtained. Zhang Fen came to the studio. We went over what had to be done, and he quoted me a fair price. Right after he left, Li Gang stopped by with a friend. Then off we went to a barbeque party at an artist’s studio fairly near our area. It was a much different layout than anything I had previously seen. It had a large covered court yard with living quarters at the end and on one side a large studio. The courtyard was huge with 3 coy ponds and some interesting landscaping under a large curved plastic roof. There was interesting food and drinks: hot red bean soup, hot yellow bean soup, a soy milk based drink and wine. Also, there were small interesting bits of food supplemented by Mongolian shrimp, smoked turkey drumsticks and beef barbeque. It was a very quiet and interesting crowd.

Li Gang’s friend had an appointment so we had to leave. But the last person to come parked his car in such a way that none of the earlier arrivals could leave. Twenty minutes later we were on our way, but Li’s friend was upset because he was going to be late for an appointment. So I got off at the entrance to 318 Art Park.

I did some more work and started organizing my studio to get new works that were not at the Moon River Museum or New York BJ restaurant off the floor so that the Chin’s, who were arriving just after I left, would not be inconvenienced with half of the floor in the main living area covered with glass sculptures. My T-shirts in black finally arrived.

The Soul Collection gallery told me that all of my white T-shirts had sold, and the exhibit was ending at the end of the month. It was too late to bring the black T-shirts, so I will bring a bunch back to New York to be packed in with the sculptures

There was a mix up on seeing Laurens, which is normal, and then I went off to dinner with Shen Jing Dong, Lu Coral, Sunny and his working partner, Cindy, whose Chinese name is Chang Le. Sunny and I discussed the various types of colored sand and texture available, and although he forgot the name of the store, he drew out directions which I could follow to locate the store in the industrial area where I bought the spray paint.

Hardly anyone spoke English, but they all spoke slowly and did not talk over each other so I was able to understand a lot. Chang Le asked me if I had a Chinese or American girlfriend. I said the latter, and the guys were saying I should have both. My answer was threefold; Leslie is terrific, Leslie comes to Beijing to join me on some of my trips, and this kind of relationship would cause big problems. So when one of the women asked how old was my girlfriend, I gave them an honest answer and added that she still looks great in a bikini. My grammar may not have been perfect, but they all got a good laugh and asked what kind of medicine she takes to look so young. I told them that she would not tell me. Then back to the studio for more packing up the sculptures, speaking with Leslie on Skype and then off to bed.

Day 18

A call from Leslie as I was doing the laundry was a nice start to the day. I had conflicted feelings about leaving. It is a big job to get 80 sculptures off the floor, inspecting them for those that needed more work and to go over each sculpture to check for major flaws and then packing and organizing them. There were a few sculptures that had major flaws that could not be repaired. The packers finally came and first packed up the two large boxes for my luggage. The place is not very clean for the Chins because of the packing.

I had lunch with Shen Jing Dong and his assistant. It was simple, but very tasty as I was hungry. Jing Dong wanted to speak some English as he and Lu Coral are planning to come to America next year. I then cleaned up for the trip home and did my final packing

Mung and the younger brother Huang returned to Beijing and showed up unannounced at my studio as I was leaving for the airport. We were all happy to see each other. We went over the work that was paid for in advance and not done when she was in the country with her family. She agreed to work on the sculptures that had been set aside for more work and started to sweep the floor ,which was a mess from the packing and storage of the glass. The place is now much cleaner for the Chins, and they now have two maids to choose from.

The trip to the airport was harrowing since I was not sure which terminal Continental left from. Since we arrived at Terminal 3 on this trip. I assumed it was Terminal 3 that would have the departure since it is almost 6 miles from Terminals 1 and 2. The traffic by the Terminal 3 was awful. Inside I could not find Continental as it had no signs. I went to information and they told me I had to take the shuttle to terminal 2. I was running out of time. On the terminal shuttle I was the only foreigner and an airport employee asked me why I was going to Terminal 2. When I told him, he said Continental is in the back part of Concourse D in Terminal 3. Trying to get your baggage off a crowded bus, getting ready to leave is not easy.

I finally found the Continental ticketing area in the back of Concourse D in Terminal 3. It was getting very close to flight time, and I was sweating up a storm as I was very nervous. Security was painfully slow, and you had to wait for the shuttle train. I was finally cleared to go to the gate 15 minutes before departure. Fortunately a Chinese student I had befriended while we were waiting in line at security was trying to get the same flight. After clearing security, she commandeered a vehicle for a “fee” to take us to the gate, which was at the far end of the terminal. We were the last two people on the plane. If she had not commandeered that vehicle for people who could not walk, we would never have made the flight.

Everything is changing so fast in China. New cities transplanting existing villages. People moving as if they have no fixed base. Businesses closing. New businesses opening. Existing businesses expanding. It is like the rest of us are standing still.


Copyright 2008
Charles Hecht