Day 4

Seal School: Day 4

Friday 4 November 2011

7:00 AM – I start to settle into a daily routine with breakfast again in the dining hall.

8:30 AM – In class I practice seal carving by continuing what I did yesterday but I’m not concerned about learning something new as I’m still having too much fun just being here.

Until now I’ve used bottled water purchased at Carrefour so after class I go to the office to ask them if there’s somewhere I can get hot water for tea. They seem surprised, ask if I have a water dispenser in my room and then, finding that I don’t, have the Shifu bring one for me from the next building. He carries the bulky box over his shoulder while a woman brings the full water bottle to place on top. I offer to carry it for her but she refuses. I pay $1.26 for the large jug of water. Now I happily have both hot and cold water on demand.

12:30 PM – Instead of lunch I go to the Lavazza Coffe shop to use their wifi and send email to my wife and daughter. I order dried squid and “espresso ice” ($7.92). The two go well together though I don’t recommend it on a daily basis (I don’t know how much squid and coffee a guy can take).

I’m told by email there should be no problem with the credit cards so after lunch I walk to the bank around the corner from the campus to withdraw the maximum daily amount. My plan now is to take out as much as I can every day until I have enough to pay for my tuition and dormitory (7,000 RMB). It’s a little unsettling to carry so much cash around with me everywhere I go but I’d be even more uncomfortable leaving it unattended in my room.

Then I go to the Hangzhou Meishujiahualang Art Supply Store, a small shop next door to the bank, to buy the seal ink recommended by Mo. I also get a large tamping brush, a covered porcelain dish (segmented for painting), a small ceramic bowl, two seal rulers, and three small seal stones ($70). After I take these back to my room I set off again to find the Rongbaozhai art book store listed on the map I had been given. Following Nanshan Road south from the campus I turn left on Hefang street. Past Wushan square, from which I can see the Temple of the City God on the hill behind, the historic shopping area begins. There’s a tourist office on one corner so I go in and buy a map of Hangzhou for $1.26—for the rest of my stay I keep this map always with me. I have the address for the book store but discover the street numbers on the sides of the buildings aren’t strictly consecutive. I can’t find any shop with the number for the book store so wander up and down the street a few times looking at the shop fronts, then return frustrated to campus.

In the afternoon I walk from the campus a few blocks south on Nanshan Street to an art bookstore which I had passed earlier in the day, located next to the Pan Tianshou Memorial Hall—dedicated to the famous artist and former University President. They have both used and new books, and I buy eight books on calligraphy and seal carving for $32.18—less than the cost of one good art book back home at Powell’s Bookstore.

Laundry is on my to-do list for today. They only have two small washing machines on the top floor for a whole building full of students so it requires several return trips to find an empty machine. On the roof is a tarp-covered area under which people hang things up to dry but since I have no coat hangers or clothes pins I opt to lay my clothes out to dry on the spare bed in my room. I only brought two pair of pants with me—both black—which turns out to be a big mistake when I am cutting stone every morning; the black really shows up the stone dust. But I’m not too concerned about how I look since I’m not interested in impressing anyone with my fashion sense. My wife had sent some deodorant along with me so at least I shouldn’t smell too bad.

In the evening I return to the Lavazza Coffe shop for dinner ($7.92) and to again use their wifi.

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