17 June 2008

Throwing Pottery and the Taipei Zoo

Lately, I've been busy. Schoolwork, studying for a standardized chinese test called the TOP test, and trying to stay social have been consuming my time. However, I've made some time now to get this posted.

Encouraging mascot at the
pottery cultural center

A couple of days ago, let's say Friday, my group from Grand Valley went to Yingge (鶯歌), a town south of Taipei famous for its pottery. We first had the opportunity to try our own hands at making some earthenware.

"...as easy as that!"

Our tutor was very helpful, but it was baffling how effortlessly he moved the clay into a spinning symmetrical work of art. Everyone had a go at throwing on the potter's wheel. We didn't have time to wait the day or so that it takes to fire the pots, so we chose our glaze and are waiting on our finished pots presently.... more to come!

Pure confidence

Afterward, we had some time to look in the shops at Yingge. (Here's a link to another blog that has some good pics of the shops there.) They all had pottery of some type, from large jugs to tiny little tea pots perfect for my BaoChong Tea, to elaborate, wildly glazed vases. I found a couple of things that I liked, but ended up running out of time and losing the stories to which I hoped to return. I'll either have to go back to Yingge or find the stuff elsewhere.

My rommate, however found some amazing Celadon Glaze Song Dynasty reproductions - a tea set fit for serving our delicious tea. I'm jealous.

Saturday, I was feeling under the weather. I had planned on going to a temple to snap some pics, learn some Chinese, and assimilate some culture, but instead I rested all day. On Sunday, however, some classmates and I went to the Taipei Zoo, which is allegedly the largest zoo in Asia.

Unknown Macaque

I don't know what it is about zoos, but I always feel a bit awkward ogling these animals. I understand that they're representing their species and all, and soliciting money for research and lodging, but something inside me protests their being put into a concentrated area and fed dead things. Nonetheless, they seem to be having fun (at least some of them) especially one of the first creatures that we saw:

These little monkees were all over the place, wrestling, climbing, backflipping. I was lucky enough to have my zoom lens to catch this one, as the fences were quite a distance from the action.

This little monkey looked so concerned at something; someone needs a hug. Or at least some social grooming.

P. abelii, male

One of the last exhibits we saw was of the Orangutan. This guy seemed eager to show off his flexibility. They say that in some ways, humans are most closely related to orangutans, although I can't remember how. 

I mostly took pictures of the primates. It's amazing how much emotion they show - especially the orangutan, though, perhaps because of their very large faces. Somehow, one felt connected with this one, those piercing eyes reaching beyond her confinement.

The zoo had a really neat insectarium, too, with a butterfly area. 

As amazing as these animals are, I still think this is my last trip to a zoo.

Right now, I'm resting following the TOP Test. It's raining again. Every afternoon, it gets unbearably hot, and then the clouds burst open and cool whole city off. It's glorious. The trade off is that not much sun gets through. Rainy season.

I'm content. The abstract provides for my needs.

Until next time.


Britney said...

Patrick's tea set is beautiful, I am jealous as well.

Also, I love zoos. I would rather see animals in the wild, but I think people need to see animals and most people won't go to the jungle to see the monkeys because you are right - they need public sympathy and interaction to get funding for research and protection.

I am starting your letter now, by the way. :]

TongueTied said...