My 5: 798 Art District, Beijing.


1. 798 Art District, March 2010. Only in a city as wondrously contradictory and confusing as Beijing could a place like 798 Art District exist! Formerly a huge network of factories built by the East Germans in the 1950s, by the mid 1990s the entire area had fallen into a state of abandoned disrepair. It was around this time that The Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts setup shop here to take advantage of the cheap rent and vast working space. Soon after independent artists began trickling in and the community grew and grew…

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My 5: Zhujiayu, China.

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1. Village Stroll, July 2009. I’ve seen a fair bit of China over the years. Over three separate bouts of travelling totalling ten weeks, I can’t think of a more raw and authentic destination than the time machine village of Zhujiayu (pronounced zoo-gee-aye-oo). Located in Shandong province, some 80km outside the concrete jungle of Jinan, arriving here literally feels like landing in the past. With barely three hundred residents, one school, a lone shop and two guesthouses, I found myself instantly charmed. That’s all very well you may say, but what is there to do? In all honesty the answer is not much. People come here to unwind, so the local entertainment scene consists of a stroll around the village and its surrounds. And with crumbling walls, historical buildings, Ming dynasty bridges and lush countryside, the chilling out process is rapid.

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