Monday, April 2, 2012

Part 4: Shanghai Diary -- Zhujiajiao

Since Sunday was a day off, our host, David Gran, brought us to the water village of Zhujiajiao, on the outskirts of Shanghai. It’s a 1700-year-old village built along a system of canals, sort of an Asian Venice. 

The whole town opens to the alleys in open-fronted shops, with dark wood interiors. The houses are so small that they cook out in the street. 

We were joined by animation professor and publisher Mr and Mrs Wang Wei from Peking University, along with nine of his animation students. I gave Mr. Wang a portrait I drew of him as he sketched with a fountain pen, and he generously gave me his drawing. 

Mr. Wang and his wife Ying Zhang publish “Fantasy Art” magazine, which has featured a global selection of artists to a Chinese audience. He is currently writing a book on sketching for animation, which I'm excited to participate in.

We sketched the first picture from aboard a fishing boat that Mr. Wang arranged impromptu, by paying the fisherman to let us sit on his docked skiff. This is the Fangsheng bridge, the largest and tallest stone bridge in the region. 

The village is all stone and wood, with tile roofs. You can either get around by boat, or press through the crowds along the narrow alleyways. 

For lunch, a friend of Mr. Wang, Mr Liang Gang, of DigiBook treated us all to a local feast. They just kept on bringing dishes, one more interesting than the next. I ate the snails, full-body frogs, shrimps, and little whole fish. One of the students brought a live fish and the restaurant cooked it. There were vegetables we had never tried before, like stuffed lotus roots.


Tom Hart said...

James, this is such a treat to read and see. You're very generous (as always) to "bring us along". Thanks so much!

Did you notice any surprising differences in the way your Chinese colleague(s) worked, or the materials they chose to use?

P.T. Waugh said...

I think the most adventurous thing about your trip was that meal, James. Frogs and snails? I stick with lo mein, thanks.

T. Arispe said...

Wow, what an amazing trip. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Joanne Roberts said...

Thank-you for keeping us tuned in to a sketching way of life - so essential.
I'm sorry we didn't get an April Fool's post this year, but I'd rather see Shanghai.
I wish the Sundblom redo was a joke.
See Bookish-Ambition.blogspot , Apr 1st.

Christian Schlierkamp said...

My Chinese mother in law is staying with us at the moment. We lately had soup with original rock worms from China that she prepared in a traditional meal from Guangxi province.
I was a bit afraid to eat them in the first place but they are absolutely yummy!! :-D

Warren. said...

Not to sound overly cynical or pretentious, but this is the kind of trip I'd like to take some day: taking in the real world, not the tourist traps.

Marvellous series. Thanks for sharing!

ghulam sarwar said...

thank you for sharing

sarwar said...

nice work keep it up

Meera Rao said...

What a treat ! -- thanks for sharing the tour that is different from the tourist track! great great sketches :)