If there is such a place as furniture heaven, I was there yesterday. In my effort to explore this vast country, and more specifically, the region I live in, I accepted an invitation to go to Jiuzhou (pronounced Joo-high). This place is known for it’s cheap, antique Chinese furniture. Well someone there got the memo ‘cause it ain’t so cheap but we did manage to find some relatively good deals.
As I’ve said before, I have zero sense of direction, but luckily I have a compass on my iPhone which I actually used a lot yesterday. However, I soon realized that even though I knew I was heading southwest, I still didn’t know where I was; just that I was heading southwest. Sigh.
As such, I have come up with this neat little trick that has saved the taxi drivers and me tons of frustration. I take photos of the business cards with my handy dandy iPhone and just show that photo to the driver for the next time I go. It also works with directions from the web. It saves paper, having to remember to bring the paper, and it’s cool. Sometimes however, I don’t have the business card so I will call the establishment and have them give directions directly to the driver.
As a quick side note, there have been times when I am sitting there, listening to the driver get directions, I think they could be talking about anything because I don’t speak Chinese. ‘Man, can you believe the cost of rice these days?’ or ‘Did you see the soccer game last night?’ or ‘My wife and I are in such a good place right now. Thank goodness for Oprah.’ These things go through my mind.
So we ended up going to three factories and several small stores. The factories were great because you see the new pieces and also the pieces that are going to be refurbished or restored. There were some beautiful things.
I have to say that I am partial to the antique pieces that are waiting to be fixed up. I imagine that each unique furnishing has a story to tell. I run my hand across the surface, feel the different textures on the tips of my fingers; rough, smooth, small indentations here and there, or the cold metal of a broken handle and I listen for the story. In the quiet of the warehouse, I wondered if it was a treasured piece or neglected. Were the previous owners a happy family that laughed or were the realities of life too difficult and they had to sell everything, including this dresser, to pay for food? I bet the stories would be as varied as the pieces themselves. I want my next place will have a small studio that I can restore old furniture. I think this would be a lovely way to spend time. Listening to a piece of furniture and bringing it back to life with my hands. All that possibility and promise at my fingertips.
In terms of purchases, although I was tempted and went back and forth on a couple of items in particular, I ended up not buying anything except this old, small door that is now hanging as a painting in my home. As far as the furniture, I think it boiled down to a couple of things. I don’t know how long I am going to be here and I like the idea and freedom of not having too much to carry around and worry about. Also, the prices were a bit beyond my budget and I thought; do I want a nice piece of furniture or a plane ticket? At this point in my life, travel won. India has been calling my name lately.
What I didn’t realize was that Jiuzhou is right next to Macau… memories of WWBD and my winnings flooded my mind… I will be in Cali this summer… Vegas baby!
Enjoy the photos below.