Dream of Christmas shipping

Last week I sold a painting to a buyer through Artfinder . I sent it out using Xpresspost from Canada post and it turned out the expected arrival date was December 24. Usually I insurance my painting for the full … Continue reading

Having my photo taken with a Chinese Policeman

photo with the policeman

After staying two days in my noisy hotel, Michael has returned from his business trip from Saipan Island. Sunday morning, I returned from my morning walk he was standing in front of the hotel waiting for me.
His home just a short walk away but before I got a chance to unpack my bags we needed to pay a visit to the local police station.
Few tourists know about this: as a visitor not staying in a hotel, I have to report to the police and let them know where I will be staying.
On the back on the entry card to China, under important notice:
“Alien who do not lode at hotels, guesthouses or inns shall, within 24 hours (72 hours in rural areas) of entry, go through accommodation registration at local station”.
We had done this the last three times when I visit Michael so we knew what to prepare:
We brought our passports, his work permit, house lease and photocopies of our passports and my entry visa. I learn from past, police station do not equips with photocopier and often it is not easy to find a photocopy place near by so I had brought copies with me from Canada.
We also knew the police station closed during lunch time so we make sure to arrive afterward.
Luckily, there were only two people ahead of us, in on time I was registered and I can officially stay in Beijing!
As we were leaving the station, I stopped and ask Michael to take a photo of me in front of the station but before he could a uniform policeman was returning from his lunch break.
He looked at us, I explain to him we are Canadian and I just registered for my stay in Beijing. Without thinking, I asked if I could have a photo with him. A man nearby has been watching us, he good naturally push the surprised policeman next to me. We were all smiles and I had my photos with the policeman
I thanked and shake hand with him we happily went home.


Cathedral Church in Beijing

st joseph church 1

Beijing is full of surprises: Early in the morning, I left the hotel in search for my morning coffee. No sooner after I turned the corner I was face to face to an old Catholic church! Western churches are not a common sight in China, especially not a historical one.
The St Joseph Church is commonly known as Wangfujing Church or Dongtang (the east Cathedral) is one of the four historic Catholic Churches in Beijing.
The original Church was finished in 1655 (At the time, the Jesuits were the only group of people from Europe given permission to reside in the capital city, on account of their insight into astronomy.) but was destroyed first by earthquake in 1720 then by fire about 90 years later.. The current church date back to 1904 now stands as the second oldest Cathedral church in Beijing.
The building is in the style of Romanesque revival architecture. The church was closed down during the Cultural Revolution and suffered damages until the end of the revolution in 1976.

st joseph church 2
Although it was still early in the morning when I walk by, still a few tourists were there taking photos already.
Later, I discovered during the day the church can be enter through a side door. One time, there was even a service going with a handful of followers however with my limited Mandarin I couldn’t make out the sermon.


My beautiful “Moon Cake” box

Today is the autumn moon festival which is a important festival in Chinese culture which not unlike the Thanksgiving in North America.
One of the traditions is friends and families would give gift of the moon cakes. The traditional moon cakes are made with lotus seed paste, brown sugar and with the salted duck egg yolk. When I was a kid I always look forward for this festival and the opportunity of tasting the moon cakes. Since the cakes are use as gift they usually come in fancy boxes and the more expensive one are even more impressive.
A couple years ago, I was in China just after the autumn moon festival. One morning, I discovered a very beautiful moon cake box been discarded near my friend’s apartment. The box was like nothing I ever seen; the outside was made with silk fabric with flowers and birds pattern and a gold silk cord as handle. Once untied, there are there compartment with silk linings. It came from the Shanghai Marriott hotel. I couldn’t resist picking it up and took the exquisite box back to Toronto with me.
moon cake box 1moon boxmoon cake box

moon cake boxmoon cake boxmoon cake box

The accidental tour guide

henricks streetcar

Early Saturday afternoon, I was on my way to downtown, my plan was to pick up a couple of frames for my latest commissioned paintings. While waiting for the subway trains, a young man approached me asked me. He wanted to know the transit pass in his hand allow him to ride the subway all day. It was a day pass which allows him to use all public buses, streetcars and subway for the day. “Yes”, I told him, he sat next to me and explained it was his first day in Toronto; he arrived from India last night!
After we boarded the trains we continue our conversation, he came to Toronto to study engineering and he planned to go downtown to have a look of the city.

Without much thought, I invited him to come along and offered to give him a tour of the city if you like. He eagerly took up my offer.
For the next four hours, I showed him the different parts of the downtown, from the high end shopping area, to low end open market, big shopping center to underground mall. I took him for his first ride on the streetcar. Along the way we talked and I pointed out the historical buildings and took photos. We even made it to the busker festival, watched and enjoyed some of the acts.
Finally, after tea and desert in a small café in Chinatown we exchanged phone numbers and end our tour of Toronto.

buskers 2.

How Tomato arrived in China


watercolor with paper cut

watercolor with paper cut

 Last year, I was having lunch in a local restaurant in Qingdao China. In front of me was a streaming hot bowl of tomato and egg soup. Somehow my mind was thinking what I read of how tomato came to China.

Now a day, tomato is commonly uses in Chinese cooking but few knew how arrived in China. The Chinese character of tomato (蕃茄) means foreign vegetable which indicated it is not native in China. .

A few years ago I picked up a self published book at a church book sale it called “bamboo sprouts and maple buds” by Martin W. Johns it is a account of life if a missionary family growing up in western china from 1913 to 1925. .His parents were Canadian born in Ontario, Canada.. In one of the chapters, He mentioned his parents brought tomato seeds with them to China and it flourished in their garden. Tomato was foreign to the Chinese and the taste had not caught on among the Chinese until they had left china.

One time they were having a picnic and their tomatoes caused of great deal of curiosity to the crowds of onlookers. His Mother would hand one over to be sample and were entertained by watching the grimaces as one after another tasted the acid fruit and spat it out on the ground

Interesting how almost 100 years later, tomato has became so much the common vegetable in China but few know about the Canadian connection.