On Saturday in Shenzhen, after breakfast, we artists headed back to the exhibition hall and took down our quilts, packed them up, and with final hugs and farewells said, I was whisked to the airport to begin the next stage of my Chinese adventure.
I was met at the airport by my son, Matt, who is here on a three-year posting with the Canadian embassy. We took the rapid subway to the apartment where he and his girlfriend, Ching, have been living since last September. It is spacious and light and has all the amenities they could ask for, and with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, I don't feel like I'm in the way.
And what a pleasure it is to explore the city with two such knowledgeable guides who speak Chinese! Hailing a cab or ordering a meal is so much easier when you speak the language or can read the menu.
The next day was Sunday, Mother's Day, and they treated me to an amazing brunch: Eggs Benedict, with homemade hollandaise, served on delectable crab cakes, served with a Valencia salad and followed by a cheesecake with a speculoos crust and pomegranate coulis. Amazing!
Then we jumped in a cab and headed to one of my favourite parts of Beijing: the 798 Art District. We spent the day touring galleries and studios and taking in all the sights of this very cool neighbourhood. I commented on the clarity of the air and Matt explained that there was a big summit with world leaders - the Belt and Road Forum, fondly referred to as BARF - and the government had literally shut down all the pollution-spewing factories for a few days, to clear the air, so to speak. Amazing. And why doesn't the populace rise up and demand this happen every day? It is a trade-off: clean air or electricity ... which do they want? Anyway, it is proof that government officials are well aware of the damage these industrial plants are causing, and while they are trying to modernize Beijing's sources of energy, it is a huge country and these things aren't done overnight.
But before I leave that topic, it is interesting to note that Beijing is not even in the top 10 or 20 of the world's most polluted cities. It's 57th on the list. Cities in Iran, India, and Saudi Arabia beat out China by a long shot.