Our latest visit to China for sourcing more Chinese Furniture and other unique oriental interior design goodies has been a great success. Our itinerary was jam packed with exciting cities and excursions and we had a very tight schedule which seemed to go too smoothly. Chinese transport is so reliable and affordable, unlike the UK ?
We flew into Shanghai on May 18th and stayed at this wonderful boutique art hotel for the first week. We visited some of our contacts and found some very interesting established and authentic antique shops among the clutter, where we sourced some smaller ornamental antique pieces for our shop. We also visited some of Xiuli’s old friends who treated us to some fine dining in some of the top restaurants in Shanghai. And I must say at this point, the wine choices in some of the restaurants in Shanghai just get better and better. It was great to mix a bit of pleasure with work and all of Xiuli’s friends were very friendly and welcoming.
After our rewarding visit to Shanghai, we took time out to visit Huangshan in Anhui province to climb the Great Yellow Mountain. This is highly recommended if you are ever visiting China. The views were limited due to the cloud cover, but all the same they were overwhelming. Some of the tracks were a bit precarious as there were no safety railings on some parts and the drop was thousands of feet down a sheer rock face in parts. The beauty of the scenery took away the fear somewhat. We stayed in a hotel right on the peak of the mountain which was a once in a lifetime experience. The following morning, we hiked down the other side of the Yellow Mountain to meet our taxi and catch our Bullet Train to Jingdezhen to find some ceramics and other antiques for the shop. Jingdezhen is famous for it’s kilns and ceramics and still produces pottery in the old traditional ways from many of the ancient lost kilns throughout China, but you must know where to look. There was so much to explore in Jingdezhen, we just didn’t have enough time. We will be back for another visit maybe next year. We were still able to find a few beautiful pieces for our shop in the short time we were there.
The following day we flew up to Beijing to meet a few of our restored furniture suppliers and antique dealers. We also visited one of the top Chinese antique auction houses to have a few personal pieces valued and were pleasantly surprised. When we choose some of our older pieces, it helps that Xiuli’s brother in law has been dealing with Chinese antiques all of his life, so his advice is invaluable, and he is always at hand to help us with our acquisitions. The following day we travelled with one of our suppliers to Shandong province by bullet train to their restoration workshops and warehouses. This was an exciting stage of our visit, because we get to see the furniture before it is restored and at this point we will choose which pieces we would like them to restore for us. So, we actually do have an input all along the way. We can even choose the colour and finish if we wish. We did find some stunning pieces with a lot of character on this visit. It pays to come to China to hand pick each individual piece. This way we can stand out from other suppliers in the UK as we know what the UK customer has in way of artistic values and interior design ideas.
After a long trip back from Shandong province by car we ate street food and went to bed, to get up bright and early for our visit to one of our favourite artists who paints some of our zen ink art for the shop, Lao Yu. He welcomed us into his studio and we spent a while looking through some of his astounding art collection. We chose quite a few of them for the shop. He then enthusiastically showed us his process and painted us two personal gifts as a thank you present. It was delightful to watch and an honour for such a welcome. It was a shame to have to leave because Lao Yu and his daughter were such wonderful people, we could have talked for hours.
So, we returned to Beijing and took time to walk around the hidden antique areas with Xiuli’s Brother and Brother-in-Law, whose knowledge and negotiating skills were invaluable. Without them, my western face would have demanded 10x the price that they actually negotiated for us.
In between all of our travelling and work duties we did allow plenty of time to eat traditional Chinese Cuisine. Some which was a desired taste, but mostly world quality scrumptious flavoursome food. Stinky Tofu is the one I wanted to try most, but I won’t be trying it again ?
A very productive and enjoyable visit this Spring and some extraordinary experiences. We have arranged our new shipment, and everything will arrive in the UK late August – mid September dependent on shipping conditions and weather. You will not be disappointed.