I’m in London at the moment, far away from all things Asian, especially the ongoing and increasingly violent anti-government protests in Thailand (now including efforts to shut down Thailand’s air and rail links). But that was not the case in June, when I was in Bangkok for ten days and made several visits to the protest site. I don’t pretend to know or understand all of the the factors that are inspiring the unrest in Thailand. But I do recall that in June the situation was peaceful, with a bit of a carnival atmosphere, even. Apparently, patience – on both sides – has worn thin.
In any event, over the last couple of days I’ve had a big visitation spike to my one and only Bangkok protest post, which included a dozen images taken in early June. Find it here.
Regular blogging will resume next week. Alas, it won’t include my long-planned “Pawlenty in China” post, complete with photos of the governor enjoying the hospitality of the Minnesota Club of Shanghai.
[Repeat: Idle until 2 September.]
For years, I’ve been saying that there’s no escaping the Olympics in China, and now – in a cosmic joke of sorts – I’m the living proof: twelve hours after the closing ceremonies, I’m getting ready to board a flight to London. My business is not Olympics-related, but rather a speaking engagement at the Royal Geographic Society, where I’ll be discussing the Globalization of the Asian Waste/Scrap Trade. So, if you’re in London on August 27, and wanting to see slides of giant trash piles – you’ll know where to find them.
A couple of parting items. I planned on writing some kind of Olympic wrap-up, but I’m either lacking inspiration or just tired of writing about the Olympics (which I enjoyed!). Maybe both. In either case, my one and only observation is this: the Olympics are long. Especially when you’re covering them. The third week is really a grind. Anyway, I haven’t done a very good job of posting links to my Olympics-related writing, and it seems too late to do it now. But for posterity’s sake, and if you’re already feeling nostalgic, I’m most pleased with my dispatches for the Atlantic, which covered the co-host cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Qingdao.
And that’s that. It’s possible that I’ll post something related to my RGS speech, and I’ll definitely post any news about whether or not the Vancouver Sun decides to do something about the ethics/religion columnist who stole my photo. But most likely, this blog is idle until September 2.
As always, consider fulfilling your China blog cravings by visiting the superb sites featured in the blogroll to the right. Good writers, all.
Early this morning I was awakened by some pretty spectacular thunder claps (effects of Typhoon Nuri, I learn). Then, I fell back asleep, lulled by a really nice sounding, steady rain. Little did I expect to find the streets of Shanghai (well, my streets) flooded when I made my way out of my building at 8:30 AM. Here’s the scene:
For those who don’t know Shanghai – the intersection of Hengshan, Gao An, and Yongjia roads is one of the busiest in downtown – especially during rush hour. I really don’t want to think about the kind of ricochet effect this is having on traffic throughout the city.
[UPDATE: Shanghai Daily reports that this storm was the largest one-hour rainfall to hit Shanghai in at least 130 years.]
Frankly, after getting drenched in the swirling downpour that followed Thursday’s Olympic sailing in Qingdao, I declared my Olympics to be officially over (still drying out). No more deadlines, no more tickets. I’ll likely have something to say as a wrap-up in the next few days, but otherwise, I’m moving on. And moving onto a favorite topic, at that. Over the last three years I’ve written several articles on the important and ongoing restoration of the stained glass windows in Shanghai’s St. Ignatius Cathedral (an extended treatment, here; the last few paragraphs, here). The originals were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution; the new ones are being designed by Wo Ye, a Beijing-born artist trained in traditional Chinese painting, and at the Vatican’s liturgical art school in Milan. In designing them, Wo Ye is purposely using Chinese motifs and designs in pursuit of a distinctly Chinese version of this most Western of arts. The project is roughly 20% complete, and this afternoon I was given the distinct privilege of seeing what will account for the next 15%. A few images …
For those not familiar with Chinese painting – and watercolor, in particular – this lily (and those flowers which will accompany it) is almost certainly the first expression of that ancient tradition in stained glass. I’ve tried to express before, and will again, that this is not only an important piece of ongoing liturgical art, but an important ongoing project in Chinese art, period. Anyway, the panel measures roughly 1 meter x .3 meter, and will be installed in a frame 20 meters above the cathedral floor, where it will become a part of a series of windows that depict a garden of paradise, with Chinese characteristics (bamboo, lilies, magnolias). More images after the jump … Continue reading
[FINAL UPDATE:Douglas Todd, the Vancouver Sun, and its owners - Canwest - have so far refused to answer my demands for payment. No surprise, and so be it. For now, I think it's worth noting that Douglas Todd's blog continues to post uncredited photos. That is to say - he continues to steal intellectual property from other writers and photographers, apparently with the full consent and support of Canwest and the Vancouver Sun. I guess I wouldn't mind so much if he was something other than a so-called ethics columnist. So what's he thinking? What the Sun thinking? Well, whatever. A more litigious update to be published later this year.] Continue reading
So ends the Olympic sailing competition … and my Atlantic dispatches from the Olympic co-host cities. The last of them, “Of Beer, Algae, and Sailing,” posted from Qingdao, is now up on the Atlantic’s site. Among other challenges, this proved to be the wettest to report.
Just back from a rainy and windy day out of at the Olympic Sailing Center, topped off by a 3 mile walk back to my hotel because – dear me – there were no taxis to be hired in downtown Qingdao (during a rush-hour rainstorm that coincided with the end of Olympic events). I will never be dry, and it’ll be a miracle if I’m not feverish by daybreak. But, despite the drawbacks, a great day and a great event. Below, a photo of the Spanish team as they cheer on their newly victorious gold medalists in the Mixed Tornado – Multihull race (and no, I’m not going to pretend that I know what that means).
On deadline, back with more sailing observations in the morning.