Posts/July, 2009/

Jingdezhen Weekend: Sunday

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Note: This is part two of two awesome* posts on my weekend trip to Jingdezhen (Read part 1 here). It contains some photos and writing about pottery. If neither photos nor pottery analogies interest you, you’re fired.

On Sunday, J-Dawg Jammyfresh and I groggily arose and carried our breakfast vouchers to a restaurant connected to the hotel. We had half an hour to spare before the buffet was closed, and the food was already getting a little stale. None of it looked very appealing, so we based our morning meal on delicious watermelon.

After breakfast, we took a cab to the Yu Zhou Ceramics Factory zone. The buildings there were larger than we’d seen before. The largest was a long dilapidated warehouse that housed a clay extruding facility, some potters, and a lot of open grass where the roof collapsed. J. was bolder than I. She wandered into factories and around workers. Despite the language barrier, everyone seemed excited and curious to see two “old foreigners” wandering about. She got a lot of good photos working. I stuck to the shadows with my zoom like a shy paparazzo.

The highlight of the morning was stumbling upon a plate graveyard. Literally thousands of discarded plates had been stacked into piles between two factories. My first thought: “This is a lot of plates.”

For lunch, we accidentally ordered super-sized KFC chicken sandwich meals.
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Old wooden door in the Yu Zhou Ceramics Factory zone.
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J. with umbrella looking at piles of coal.
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Clay and ladies washing dishes.
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Inside a vast clay processing space.
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Extruding porcelain into manageable tubes.
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Finished pottery in baskets.
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Slip casting forms past their prime.
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Old, rusty vents.
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Inside a big dish-ware making factory.
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One of the large kilns.
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Collapsing roof.
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Smokestacks and room with a view.
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The world’s largest ventilation pipe.
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Warehouse.
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Fruit.
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Plate graveyard. I’ve never seen so many plates in one place, much less discarded ones. The unusable ones must have been stacked outside the factory for years. There were literally thousands of them.
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Stack of plates.
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J. walking amongst the plates.
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Ruined building getting reclaimed by plants.
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Pots drying outside.
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Lady bringing a plank of pottery out to dry.
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Man robotically throwing vases.
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A nice, non-threatening mural.

In the afternoon, we took a cab back to Sanbao and wandered around the countryside. It was scorching but beautiful and green. Living in Shanghai, we don’t see much greenery. It was a treat to walk amongst nature again, and I regret that I can’t do this more.

As the afternoon wore on, we took a break from the sun and sat by a creek. We drank tea and water while watching numerous little fish swimming in the shallow water. A friendly farmer with a serious underbite wandered along the riverbank collecting edible greens in a wicker basket. He offered us some, but we declined.
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Vast, abandoned housing development near Sanbao.
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Crops.
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Logging road.
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Dragon fly.
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Caterpillar.
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Clay processing facility near the creek.
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Water pump, silt ponds.
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Clay whacking wooden hammers.
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The rolling log with spokes that launched the hammers.
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Water extraction presses.
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The hammers seen from outside.
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Slanted outhouse with poo level nearly to the top.
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Green, peaceful countryside.
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A stream for sitting next to.

In the early evening, we took a cab back to town, showered, and packed up for the airport. An intense lightning storm was coming in over the mountains, though the rain never hit us. The ominous flashes of light and rumbling over the darkened mountains, flashing thoughts of short-circuiting planes and plasma balls. Luckily, our plane left from the little airport without delay, climbing into the sky with a moment of extra g-force that made both J. and I dizzy.

After two days away, I was glad to come back to Shanghai. As the vast city passed by on the drizzly late night ride from the airport, I dwelled on the craziness of everything. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have expected to be living in China. And even a few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought that a sterile corporate apartment would ever feel like home.

Regardless of my level of happiness here, I’m burning memories into my brain at a fast clip. They aren’t all good or bad. The complicated mixture is as vast and ugly as this Asian megalopolis.

For J.’s account of the trip, as well as some excellent people shots, click here.

*Awesomeness certified by a diverse team of specialists. One of them is named Chad. He’s rad. Copacetic?
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