OCDF Culture Camp
At the Great Wall, we visited the section at Badaling. The wall at Badaling is visited primarily by foreign tourists. On our previous two visits to the Great Wall, we toured the Water Canyon section.
Badaling is close to Water Canyon but is an entirely different experience. The wall here is much more crowded and has a lot more vendors selling mostly ordinary souvenirs. The wall itself is a wonder as it ascends the ridge line of the surrounding steep hills. At Badaling, there are very few steps and you walk on a smooth stone surface. From anywhere on the wall, you can see a huge sign reading "Beijing 2008." It reminded us of the famous Hollywood sign in L.A.
The Water Canyon location is, we are told, intended to be more for native Chinese. We think that most people would like it better because it is less crowded and the views tend to be more authentic (no signs and less commercialization). There are still shops at Water Canyon. When we were there in 2002, a group of what looked to be ancient guard houses had been restored an turned into a collection of very nice shops. The wall at Water Canyon is, however, steeper and has lots of steps. It would be a more difficult to climb for some people.
On Thursday morning we had a art lesson from Chen Zhonghua at her Beijing studio. Madam Chen is an excellent teacher, as well as an accomplished artist in her own right, in the art of Cloisonné. If you are like us, you probably associate cloisonné with the beautiful vases that are sold throughout China - and even on eBay. Madam Chen has applied that same art form to two dimensional painting. In the photo above, you can see some of her paintings on the wall behind us.
We really enjoyed our time with Madam Chen. All four of us, with considerable assistance, completed our own small, floral, cloisonné paintings. These paintings are now displayed proudly in our living room. We purchased two of her original paintings and they continue to remind us daily of what a wonderful time we had learning about this ancient Chinese art.
In cloisonné painting, an intricate gold frame outline of the final painting is mounted on a piece of wood and filled with different paint colors. The artist must be able to envision and create the metal outline as well as choose and select colors that enhance the image. It is delicate work that requires patience, great skill, and knowledge.
On Thursday afternoon, we visited Beijing's Minority Culture Park. China recognizes some 55 minority people groups among their majority Han Chinese population. Many of these groups are represented by exhibits and buildings in this park. Most of the exhibits include performances by students from the minority populations who spend a semester or two sharing their heritage with others.
After touring the park we saw hand-sewn carpets being made in a factory workshop and toured the company's product showroom.
Finally, we gathered with Tony and the other families participating in the culture and arts camps for a Peking Duck dinner at a local restaurant. The duck and the company were most enjoyable!