Well I made it to China. I am pretty jetlagged but I am hoping it will sort itself out by tomorrow. I’ve done quite a bit since I arrived. May and Ineke have been really helpful. May met me at the airport last night and Ineke was waiting at my apartment. It is very nice. Here is a photo looking left out of my window. I didn’t expect to be in such a good location. Right near the sea!
We went out for a walk pretty much straight away, along the promenade. Xiamen is a holiday destination for Chinese people, so there are all sort of tourist things going on along the beach, including tandems to hire and people selling food and souvenirs and people are enjoying themselves so it has a nice feel to it. Ineke and May met me again this morning to show me round and get a few things sorted out. We went on the bus to the area where CEAC is and we went to see a man who sells phone sims and top up cards on the street. The when I opened my phone we realised that the sim we got was too big (I have a micro sim) so we went to see another phone man who sat at a little table this time, as he does more of the job of fixing phones and other devices size and he had a punch which cut the sim card to the right size. I later realised that is wasn’t working because my phone is locked to Orange, so we ended up going to the phone shop and I bought a standard phone identical to my old work one. They had to give me an extra plastic bit to make the sim big again! So anyway I have a Chinese phone number now.
After the phone fiasco we ate really nice lunch in a restaurant with the other artists who are also doing residencies : Sarah Mei Herman (The Netherlands), Gerald van der Kaap (The Netherlands) and Anne Weshinskey (USA). It will be nice to get to know them all better. Everyone speaks really good English and last night when I asked Ineke if she’d learnt much Mandarin since being here 17 years (Ineke is from the Nethelands) she said that she has not, as it is so difficult to make yourself understood and so many people can speak English. I am a bit discouraged about learning Mandarin now, but I do think I should at least try. Ineke and May also showed me the supermarket which is being renovated so not actually open, but we went in to have a look anyway, and pointed out lots of other cafes and restaurants that look really nice including one selling home made bread and a lot of vegetarian restaurants as there are lots of Monks around that area because there is a Buddhist temple nearby. We also went to the post office and I got a bus card, which you hold up to a device each time you get on, no matter how long you’re on for. The bus is very cheap, I think May said about 10p a journey. I have written down which busses to use to get to various places and I’ll have to see if I can remember which stop to get off at when I am on my own.
Last of all we went to see my studio in a creative complex called MassBox. I like it round there a lot, it is not far from my apartment. You can walk it or take the bus 4 stops and also there is a lecturer at the university called Professor Qin Jian who has a studio next to mine. He is really nice and we went to look at his work because he is going to be included in the next exhibition at CEAC. He has been making some drawings in charcoal and some with acrylic paint. I really like them and took photos (only on my phone) but they have annoyingly disappeared, however I’m sure he’ll let me take some more another time. I like the feel of his studio. Professor Qin Jian seems like a very nice man so I am looking forward to having a studio next to his. Also he has a nice sofa in his studio and he gave us all green tea in tiny cups. I kept drinking mine and he kept filling it up.
This evening I walked along the promenade again but a lot further, until I got pretty much opposite Gulangyu which is another little island opposite Xiamen which doesn’t have any cars on it, but apparently there are lots of tourists. Here is a picture of the view from the beach. It was misty so it looks cold but it is still very warm here. The ships are fantastic. One carrying masses of containers. I am hoping to visit a container port in Xiamen to see more.
I also ventured out along the main road that the apartment complex is on, to see if I could get some food to cook at home. I was fairly pleased with myself for finding eggs, but a bit disappointed when I got home and realised I had no oil and also I can’t get the cooker to work. It is attached to a gas bottle so it probably has something to do with that. I will ask Ineke and May tomorrow.