Monday, 23 January 2012

Happy New Year!

So far I've failed miserably to do any posts about Christmas and New year, even though I do have a few in mind. So having missed blogging about New Year, I decided I had to blog about Chinese New Year, especially as I realised that a post I intended to write back when I visited Beijing in 2010 would be perfect response to this blog post from my father-in-law.

After eating Peking Duck we were taken on a short walk around the edges of Tian'an Men Square and down Qian Men Dajie (Emperor's Avenue) which I described as "a soulless shopping street". One shop did, however, attract my interest: Yunhong Chopsticks Shop. I only had time for a quick glance through the window, but I was determined that if I had time then I'd go back and take a proper look. Fortunately on the last day I was in Beijing I had time and was in the area.

My picture doesn't really do a good job of showing you what the inside looked like. The best I can do is suggest you imagine what Ollivander's Wand Shop from Harry Potter would like like if it was modernized and sold chopsticks instead of wands. Every conceivable wall space and counter was covered in small boxes. Every draw or cupboard opened to revel more boxes. The sales assistants were very friendly and would ask if you knew roughly what you were interested in and would then buzz around the shop collecting boxes from which they then suggested you try the feel of a pair of chopsticks. It was a fun experience and I spent about half an hour choosing what I wanted to buy.

By this point you might well be thinking, what does this all have to do with Chinese New Year? The answer; I bought Bryony and I each a set of good luck chopsticks engraved with our Chinese birth sign. I'm a goat/sheep and Bryony is a horse. They are apparently made of ebony and silver with the Chinese birth symbol as part of the engraving on the silver (sorry about the image quality but I was in a bit of a rush to get the post out today and I forgot to take the photos while there was daylight).

As a bonus, because we are now in the year of the dragon, here is another photo I took whilst in Beijng of the Nine Dragon Wall in the Forbidden City. You can zoom right into the image although the quality of the photo isn't great. For once it wasn't a problem with the photographer or camera but the level of air pollution I was shooting through.

23 January 2012 at 18:14 , ADRIAN said...

I love this....pure must be a hundred years old.
A great story and crap pictures. They could be rescued had you got them in focus.
I like your style!

23 January 2012 at 18:22 , Mark said...

That was the second set of chopstick photos, and believe me they are more in focus than the first set. Goodness knows what I was doing when I took them the first time in daylight at lunch time, but when I came to use them they were all out of focus, hence the rush to retake.

23 January 2012 at 19:07 , ADRIAN said...

Ta Mark, it's life.
PS. Where have threads gone?
I like the idea of comments leading to more random meanderings I hadn't thought of.
Good luck and thanks for your help. I'm studying HTML it's easy...where to put it is the problem.

24 January 2012 at 07:02 , Mark said...

I'm not sure where the comment threads have gone. This blog uses the embedded form and publishes a full feed so it should support threads, but they never appeared. I did make a lot of changes to the template (in fact it was built almost from scratch) including in the display of comments so I'm assuming something in there is confusing blogger.

When I have the time I'll see if I can get them to work as I do quite like the way it groups conversations together.

24 January 2012 at 07:15 , Scriptor said...

Great post, thanks. I love the idea of the wand shop.

31 January 2012 at 21:36 , GB said...

I wish when I had been in a similar shop in Hong Kong that I had had the wit to buy chopsticks with birthsigns on - they would have made relevant presents instead of just being chopsticks.

31 January 2012 at 21:39 , Mark said...

I guess I was fortunate in that the assistant suggested them to me. The fact that I wasn't at home on Bryony's birthday because I was in Beijing meant that they seemed a really really good idea!

20 February 2012 at 04:36 , Katherine said...

I love that wall! Each of those dragons is different. The zoomification tool is great! I felt I was really there, strolling along.

20 February 2012 at 10:25 , Mark said...

If you want to use the zoom tool on your own blog then there is a free version (which us what I use) called Zoomify Express. The only problem is finding somewhere to host the image tiles and XML file describing the image.

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