24 Aug Photo Essay: Everyday scenes from Chengdu, China
Meghan Judge is a Joburg-based multi-media artist who can often be seen traversing the city by bicycle. Below is an excerpt from her travel diary.
Recently I went to China to do some work in Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province Sichuan. I was there doing paper workshops with kids and making live animated light drawings (otherwise known as projections) for the public in a mall called Joy City where cats and dogs were welcome and families could hang out in a cool environment in the 23 degree humidity. Although this took up a lot of my time there, I managed to escape and explore the backroads of the ‘relaxed city’ where men pulled their shirts up to reveal their bellies as they walked around looking very satisfied and women zipped by on scooters dressed in clothes that matched it with big visors on to protect themselves from the sun. The sound of street opera could be heard at 2am from my hotel window on hot sticky nights, presumably a continuation from the afternoon when the elderly gather in popular areas on the side of the road to keep healthy by doing activities such as dancing and playing games. People’s Park is one such example of a popular urban hangout, where, on any given day, an abundance of people from the city gather to perform, write poetry, watch open air concerts and practice traditional arts.
Even though I was there to work, I had some research of my own going on that lead me to the exquisite Mount Quingcheng, a famous Taoist mountain and supposed birthplace of the religion. Many of the teachings from nature that the first monks experienced there have been captured in myths and stories that have been shared through generations. These have been carved into the rocks by the temples and shrines. I roamed around looking for heightened energy points where the lessons could have come from in the hopes that I might learn something too, but I was always confronted by a tourist trick or an actual tourist, as if to remind me that there are no easy shortcuts.
On one of my last days I found myself and a colleague being driven to the Giant Panda research base and breeding grounds where we shuffled along with all the other visitors in the rain, straining to catch a glimpse at the lazy cute fluffy creatures through bobbing umbrellas as they dangled from trees, ignoring the whistles and general chaos below.