tian ah! san xia: a day of dying and midday molding

(my god if those title puns aren’t gold! you shall soon see why 😉 )

My Chinese has been progressing slowly since starting classes about a month ago. An excerpt from my latest essay about out recent trip to Sanxia:

我不太喜歡旅行, 不過我喜歡走路, 喜歡吃東西, 因此, 聽到我們要去三峽的時候, 我覺得 去是想去, 可是周末得做功課. 我想辦法讓自己不去, 甚至連 [故意]睡過頭都考慮到了, 這樣就可以在家做功課. 後來我覺得與其花這麼多時間想辦法不去,不如去三峽玩玩吧. 我回來以後,我覺得很好玩, 很值得去.


But, in all honesty (a phrase I’ve learned to say in Chinese: 不瞞你說)–I was crazy tired when it was announced that there was a mandatory field trip to San Xia and the infamous Ceramics street on Saturday.

A week at ICLP wipes me out.

And yes, I did seriously consider “accidentally on purpose” oversleeping so I could miss the trip and do homework–I know what a lame person I am!

But I’m really glad I didn’t, because San Xia [ 三峽 ] was a blast!

We set out in another bus–similar to the one we took to Jiu Fen–and headed out to San Xia Lao Jie [三峽老街].

We walked through the streets packed with people, cars and scooters radiating heat … until we reach the relatively calmer streets of the lao jie…

And oh how the tables had turned in terms of my excitement!

IMG_2175First on the field trip itinerary — what San Xia is known for — indigo dying!

I watched a small documentary about the Indigo dying culture of San Xia before I came to Taiwan. I never imagined in my lifetime that I’d actually get to do it!

IMG_2176We waited outside for a little bit before being whisked inside to start, and were promptly given a demonstration and instructions in Chinese about how to do the dying.

Aiyo, was it hard to keep up!

I managed to understand enough to do the following:

IMG_2181Prep my cloth for the dying process — I was told the little chopsticks at the ends would make a ripple effect, and the tightly balled circles would make…well circles.

IMG_2183I also pinned this clothespin on my cloth it, so I’d know which was mine:

I know, what a capable woman.

Then it was time to suit up!

IMG_2184And get my plastic gloves a little bit dirty…



and create (hopefully) a wonderful piece of art!


wait for it



As you can see, I am quite proud of my cloth (the one I’m holding!) — turned lovely handkerchief/bandana/flag (it is very versatile!)

We match!

IMG_2190I honestly wasn’t expecting much from my first go at dying–but I loved it!

For an amateur, I really love how my cloth turned out:  it reminds me of jellyfish floating on the waves at the sea.

Which I promptly learned how to write in Chinese for my latest essay : “我覺得我做的方布看起來像水母在海上漂著.”

IMG_2185After the day of dying (puntastic–I know!) we took a break and stretched are legs along the lovely lao jie..

I, however, did not stroll. I was on a mission.

A very important tasting mission!

IMG_2204(isn’t her backpack cute! but I digress)

Like any place of travel–there is often a local delicacy to sample. For San Xia — one of such delicacies are these lovely bullhorn ice cream cones, or niu jiao mian bao bing qi lin [牛角麵包冰淇淋]. I bought mine at the lovely [ 康喜軒金牛角 ] or kang xi xuan jin niu jiao, “Kangxi Xuan Golden Horn.”

I ordered a grape and vanilla flavored ice cream on top a milk cone.


¡Ay, caramba!

It was huge — and entirely delicious. Despite me being so far away from home, the flavor had a certain nostalgic taste to it. I mulled it over in my mind before I realized that the taste was similar to the Flintstones push-pops my mom use to buy at the corner-store for me and my brother when we were little. . . .

In typical fashion, I took a photo with my ice cream:

IMG_2212…and my gorgeous umbrella.

A rather dapper young lass if I do say so myself.

I gulped down the ice cream rather quickly, seeing as how it was melting rapidly in the heat, but also because we were speeding away to the next destination:

IMG_2226[ 鶯歌陶瓷老街 ] or ying ge tao ci lao jie –Yinge Ceramics Old Street. Almost every shop on this street is devoted to pottery.

IMG_2222And we were scheduled to contribute to that art form: thus began the midday molding! (see! punny!)

I haven’t done pottery since I was in high school…almost five years ago.

We were given a demonstration on how to throw pots– again all in Chinese. Though, I’ve thrown in high school, I’m more into sculpting. I remember practically living in my ceramics class room in my last year of high school, building up sad human figures from nothing — it helped me deal with my depression…

But, it was wonderful to get my hands wet in the clay again. Calming.

Luckily for us–the studio provided us with semi-pre thrown cylinders to tweak.

IMG_2224I tweaked mine very little and made a bowl…

I can’t take full credit for my baby, but I did carve some nice flowers and tree like structures into it:

P2060713.JPG.phpI look all cross eyed — photo courtesy of ICLP!

10411774_914679005225897_5445485613938552531_nAnd the above one, from one of my classmates!

Almost a month later, and the final product turned out like this:




IMG_2844[1]Looks like blue was the color of the day!

Now that I’m back home in America I use it to eat cereal…

It’s funny though–there’s a story behind that bowl that now sits in my cabinet, amongst all my other bowls…

…same with the jellyfish cloth I gave to my mom as a headscarf. She loves headscarves.

I made these things…

…I literally made these memories….

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