Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Day 7 – Friday, March 12th

This morning was spent at the science institute with Michael but I had the afternoon free to walk around Kunming by myself for a bit.

Last night I had met A-Ling who is the native Chinese woman married to Colin. She is a fiber artist and she and Colin had invited me to come to their house to see some of her work. Colin is part owner of “Salvador’s” which was only a few blocks from the hotel, and he suggested that I walk to the shop and he would take me to their house. A-Ling doesn’t speak a lot of English so it was important to have a 3rd person there to translate.

I went downstairs and asked the hotel Concierge for a map of the city and also for directions to the restaurant. He had the map on the counter in front of me and I was trying to lean over the upper counter so that I could see what he was saying. Another of the uniformed Concierge workers said something to him in Chinese and he picked up the map and came around the counter so that I could see it better!!! He also handed me a card that had the name of the Hotel, directions for a taxi driver and a phone number that I could call if I needed further help!! That is just one example of how pleasant and helpful the Chinese people have been.

The first obstacle of the trip was to make my way across Green Lake Park. On the map it looked as if there were just one or two paths winding thru the park, but in reality there were TONS of them. I tried to keep as straight as possible, but when I ended up on the street, I wasn’t sure where I was on the map. The roads aren’t particularly well marked and after wandering around for a few minutes, I approached a beautifully dressed woman and asked for her help. She started to tell me in words, saw the puzzled expression on my face, and finally grabbed my arm and told me to follow her. At the top of the street, she pointed me in one direction and then headed off in the other. I continued along the street, but wasn’t feeling comfortable that I was still going the right way, so I asked a Police officer and he gave me the final directions. As I was approaching my last turn, I saw A-Ling coming towards me and waving and smiling, so we walked the last block together.

Colin arrived at the cafe and walked with the two of us back to their apartment which is only about 2 blocks away. A-Ling has done some wonderful work, especially making bags…check out her blog here. She has recently started making what I call snippet paintings where she cuts small pieces of fabric and attaches them to canvas using a rice flour paste. The snippets are tiny and she does an amazing job of using the fabrics to create shadings within the pieces. Here are a few of her wonderful works……

This is my favorite, and I think they said that this was the first one that she did in this new style…….
This is the start of her newest piece…..look at the wonderful shading that she is achieving with the snippets…….
She said that the rice flour paste holds the pieces in place very well and doesn’t make the piece stiff…..I might try it instead of “wonder under”!!!

The walk back to the hotel was a lot of fun, with getting lost once on the way to the park (mind you, it was only a few blocks away) and then a whole bunch of times while I was in the park!!!
As I walked in the park, I was bombarded by a cacophony of sounds as different groups of people were singing, dancing and playing instruments. There was one particularly large group of people sitting around and singing. They all had notebooks with music in them and it was lovely to hear that many voices lifted in song. There was one group playing rock music with drums and an electric guitar and another group of brass instruments. Most of these appeared to be informal groups and all seem to be having a lot of fun. There was a large group around two Latin style dancers and I had a good laugh when they started dancing to “The Macarena”…..
There were people flying kites in the park. I was interested in the HUGE wheels that they used to control the string on the kite. There were two already up in the sky and I saw several other people heading over to join them.

I noticed that the volume of park walkers had grown significantly since my first trip earlier in the day. I assume that was because people were getting off of work and families were heading to the park for some entertainment.

I found a row of vendors and spent a happy 30 minutes shopping for “stuff”. It is hard to bargain when you cant speak the language at all, so I finally resorted to writing down the number that I THINK that they were saying.

I loved this display of sugared fruit sticks……
I finally pulled myself away and found my way back to the hotel. I gave up on trying to find my way THRU the park and found an outside exit and walking AROUND the park until I ran into the hotel.

Michael and I had dinner at the hotel and then went for another walk in the park after it had gotten dark. It was interesting because there weren’t lots of lights in the park itself, but the buildings and streets around the park were lit up with neon and twinkle lights. It was a beautiful sight. We also got lost at the end and had to walk quite away around the park before we found our hotel again.

All in all, it was once again a fun day!!!!

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