Travelling to Jingdezhen encompasses a whole lot of considerations, many of which you will learn along the way but there are other things to consider before you travel.
Photography Do’s and Don’ts
Many shops, markets and other general outlets allow you to photograph artworks. Look around first though as there may well be signs prohibiting photography. You may well find these in galleries and exhibitions, festivals and expos, airports, tourist areas and specialty shops. When you visit markets it’s almost expected that you’ll take photographs. Do the right thing though and ask for permission from the artist first, just to be sure. Some will get pretty annoyed with you if you don’t ask first, even though a no-photography sign is not displayed. If you are showing off any of your own artwork also expect that it will be photographed. I’m not sure what the copyright laws are in Jingdezhen, let alone China, but courtesy never goes astray.
Jingdezhen Ceramic Fair 2015 (© Deanna Roberts 2015)
Also, as a tourist and foreigner in Jingdezhen, chances are that you will also be photographed by the locals. Foreigners are seen as quite a novelty so you may be photographed without even knowing it. Keep a lookout if this bothers you. Also avoid photographing anything military. You may well be asked to leave the area or to show your camera to the authorities. Avoid visiting the Helicopter Factory unless you’re accompanied by a local or guide or someone with the appropriate authority and security to move through that area . It has high security and tourists are not welcome in that area. The best option is to simply stay away.
Jingdezhen ‘Food Street’ (© Deanna Roberts 2015)
Street food is pretty good if it’s fresh. Be careful with food that’s been sitting in the open for a while or is not packaged. I’ve purchased freshly cooked cakes, dumplings and pancakes and also bagged sweet potato chips and tea from street vendors without a problem. Of course that doesn’t mean that you won’t have some sort of reaction. Just be careful. There’s always the supermarket of course and loads of restaurants and they’re usually pretty good. Some are super fancy and very clean and some are just average and some in-between. Shop around and ask for recommendations. Again, I haven’t had any issues but I’ve been in some very classy places and some, well, let’s put it this way…. I would definitely not go back there again. There are lots of cafes and take-away food outlets, fruit and veg shops, supermarkets and street food outlets. Just know what to ask for. Jingdezhen cooks love to add chilli, rather liberally, to almost everything – be careful – it’s hot! Really hot! Learn how to ask for chilli or other ingredients to be excluded from dishes if that’s what you prefer and ask for it up front, even at your artist residency kitchen.
Be prepared for ‘squat’ toilets and not flushing your loo paper – or in fact there being any available – take some hygienic toilet wipes or tissues with you. Many public toilets have bins for disposal of toilet paper and other hygiene products within the cubicle itself and the bins are not always enclosed so be prepared for unpleasant odours. In saying that, there are some public toilets that are monitored and cleaned constantly and some where western toilets are also available, depending on what city you’re in.
When hailing a cab have the addresses of where you’re staying written in Chinese and in English – use something like an online translator before you go (standard Chinese is best) or get someone there to write it down for you in Chinese. Jingdezhen has their own dialect but the locals can usually understand the standard Chinese characters that Google or other app spits out. Buses can also easily get you around town. Again, know where you want to go, how to get there and what it’s likely to cost – have your money ready to give to the driver on embarking. Buses are cheap and cabs are too. Cab drivers do not seem to be afraid of the traffic at all and will weave in and out in order to get to your destination as quickly as possible.
Jingdezhen city 2015 (© Deanna Roberts 2015)
Chances are a motorbike ‘taxi’ will pull up beside you and offer you a lift. Be wary. I’ve known people to utilise this as a service without a problem however it pays to be on your guard. Familiarise yourself with the Chinese words for stop, slow down, turn right or left etc and ask your artist residency for a list of common phrases in order to get yourself around. If you’re really not confident, organise with your residency, hotel or hostel to hire a driver. Rates are very reasonable and you can book them for a few hours while you go shopping, visiting or enjoying other outings.
Jingdezhen supermarket 2015 (© Deanna Roberts 2015)
There is so much more to think about when travelling to Jingdezhen. Tune in to the next blog post for more information and hints and tips. If you have any questions or comments, please make a note below and let me know.