When I look at the calendar I have been back from China longer than I realized. I got wrapped upon re-entry and updating my XO, Monica Lee website to put my paintings up for sale. (yay!) I have small works and large works for AVAILABLE FOR SALE! This took more contemplation and time than I was prepared for while dealing with jet lag, haha! I am reaching out to galleries soon and I am open to suggestions of particular ones you like and can recommend. If there was one take away from traveling to China is that it is a small world after all. I think I was unnecessarily nervous about this trip, which often happens when I take a particularly long flight (and omigosh was it long) to get somewhere. Adding to the fact that I was checking 7 large paintings packed carefully in a large golf bag on the airplane to assemble in a setting I knew very little about beforehand. I was prepared to adapt and to not get too wigged about things I couldn’t control like:
*no normal internet connection ( especially as we navigated our way throughout the city)
* eating (I have a gluten issue, was I going to have to eat rice for 7 days straight?!)
*driving my BFF who came along, absolutely nuts and obliterating a long standing friendship (serious jet lag and close quarters made this a possibility, haha!)
Turns out the signs on all the street corners are in English as well as Chinese in Shanghai and even though the cab drivers don’t speak English as a general rule, the subway is clean, easy to understand and completely marked in English as well Chinese. It was easier for us to get around on public transportation, we felt quite savvy by the end of the trip.
Staying at a GOOD hotel, the JW Marriott, was the best decision I made. I was pleasantly surprised that I had complete access to the world wide web while I was on the hotel wifi AND by adding access to the Executive Lounge to the room bill, we ate very well before we headed out for the day and when we returned. TOTALLY WORTH IT. I even wrote Trip Advisor review!
We had our share of feeling foreign, just try being the only two blondes in a sea of people on a crowded tourist area on a Saturday! We got really good at saying NO to sales people (which is kind of amazing for me since they all wanted to sell me handbags!) Which on a side note, there is not one woman from teenager to grandmother, who carries an ugly beat up purse. Seriously, NOT ONE! And to add to that noticeable oddity, if your husband or boyfriend is with you, they carry your bag for you! What?? Hmmm, let me just throw that extra water bottle in my bag since you are doing the heavy lifting.
We also had a “Hey, wait? Did that just happen?” moment when my dinner was served to me and we couldn’t figure out what it was. “Did I actually order this, because I think it is moving like a bunch of underwater sea coral?!!” My trained eye realized it was not sitting on gluten free noodles but just WHAT WAS THAT MOVING on top of those glutenous noodles? Our experienced dinner partner quickly asked the waiter, “Is that LIVE?” about the same time I asked about the noodles and the dish was whisked away before I got a video of it, shoot!
It is hard to tell you everything and I thought of you while I was gone, really! I thought of things like the advice I got when I said that a workman in China would be making some of the stretchers for the canvases I was bringing. The pre-trip advice being, don’t count on that going exactly right. It didn’t, which was fine because we arrived a day early and I am fast on my feet. Wood working is not quite a Chinese thing, I quickly deducted. In fact, I met a family in the Executive Lounge who was exporting wood from Kentucky to China. I met THE most interesting people, who traveled way more than I do and it just makes me want to get out in the small/big world more! But we came for art, fashion and sights and shopping so here are some pics! (err, I am not showing pictures on all my handbag purchases because my husband on occasion reads my blog and didn’t I actually HAVE a handbag business at one point?) I may need an intervention.
I did end up sketching a live runway show, which again, I absolutely love doing. Positioning where I sit is key, I realized, and this is something I am not always in control of, but my note to self is to ask to be right next to the photographers! I also must keep drawing people so I don’t lose my hand, since it is really fun. You can see more under the illustration menu over on my portfolio site, XO, Monica Lee.
Drying tea leaves the old fashioned way…or at least I think that is what he was doing. He might have just been getting some exercise.
The top right shot is what happens when you ask a Chinese waiter to take your photo, I couldn’t understand why he was holding the camera crooked :0! And Yes, my BFF still loves me, you do Susan, right?
I THINK I mastered the art of bartering by this end of the trip. Naturally, wish I would have had a better handle on it on the first day, but my Chinese visa is good for 10 years, if anyone needs me to shop for them!