Each day passes quickly and before I know, it’s over and I have to think about the next one. But at the same time, it feels like I was in Jingdezhen for a long, long time, and when I look back on it, an incredible amount has fitted into the last six weeks. This makes it really hard to leave!
We celebrated China’s Golden week, a celebration of the founding of the Peoples Republic. A big deal, people generally take the whole week off and travel or visit family. A group of us went dancing on October 1 at one of the local bars/clubs. The place was decorated with the national flag and the anthem (and happy birthday) were played throughout the night. Things seem to stop during this week but not much changed around the sculpture factory. The worst was that the slip caster took 6 days off to visit Shanghai! An audible gasp went round the room when we heard this – second to the glaze man I think he would be one of the most used craftsmen around!
My cough worsened and I ended up at the hospital to see the doctor. An interesting experience and one I’m not in any hurry to repeat. A chest x-ray (which once taken was printed in black and white on a piece of A4 computer paper) revealed I didn’t have pneumonia and it was recommended that I have IV antibiotics over a course of three days, the standard treatment in China.
This is where I sat for 2 ½ - 3 hours at a time. I was the only westerner I saw there and when I walked in on my second day they knew exactly who I was its Jessica, its Jessica.
I had a few days away in a city called Nanchang, 3.5 hours away from Jingdezhen by bus where I caught up with a friend from Coles who is living/studying there now. All very last minute I was only able to email Sam before I left so when I got off the bus I had no idea if he was able to meet me and no idea what would happen if he didn’t. As the man I sat next to said as we rolled into town you’ve got big dreams friend, big dreams. Although not seeing Sam at first, about 30 seconds up the street on my way to find a hotel, I found him standing on a street corner waiting for me. I stayed in his room at his university which he showed me around. It was massive! Like a city, it had everything – supermarkets, banks, food halls, game rooms, even KTV and bus/buggy type things to drive you round! It seemed rare that a student would make a trip into the city.
Before I left to come here I tried to learn a little Chinese, mostly listening to lessons on my iPod. Designed for travelers they taught really basic phrases and I wondered if they would actually be too basic for those fluent with the language. To my surprise however there were a couple of times where Sam used them and for a few seconds I understood exactly what was being said. Not long after he met me at the bus station we were trying to find the train station where we were meeting one of his friends and stopped to ask for directions. ‘Huoche zhan zai nar?’ he inquired and I immediately repeated to myself ‘train station, where is it?’ A day or two later he introduced himself to someone ‘woa jiao Sam’ – ‘my name is Sam’. I don’t know if anyone noticed but it made me grin from ear to ear!
In Nanchang I discovered that I had no idea how to pronounce Jingdezhen or that the way we say it back ‘home’ is different from that of local Nanchang-ians. Whenever someone asked where I was based there was a couple of minute pause in the conversation while we worked out what it was that I was trying to say! In the end Sam and I referred to it as that place where you are staying. Lessons from a few different people later and I think I’ve got it! Proof that intonations really are important in this language!
Getting back to Jingdezhen I got stuck into making work.