Red Sandalwood

Nicholas Quirke was looking at a busy day ahead of him when he woke on 26 March 2021 which was very different to the day before, 25 March 2021 when there was only teaching and nothing else to entertain himself. He said have a mound of ironing to do, managed to catch up on some paperwork that had been hanging around and made a lunch of marinated tempeh before taking advantage of the relatively pleasant weather to cycle to Galaxy mall for tea at TaeTea before his last lesson of the week commenced. He had discovered that it took him just over 30 minutes to cycle there and 45 minutes approximately to go by subway. Now that the weather was vastly improving biking would be his preferred mode of transport once more. He took a slightly different route to the one he normally followed and also guessed that by taking an early turning and not going past the school he could go through the Hutong and cut a couple of minutes off his ride. The trees were looking beautiful with the blossom on them and he saw that the workmen were still perilously cleaning the buildings of the mall. He drank Pu’er tea and consumed a dish of nuts and sunflower seeds that were presented to him. His class that evening were the industrious Harry and the cheeky, lazy Willis who was clearly bright but had not done his homework and seemed reluctant to apply himself in the lesson. When he was back at home though he got a Message from Lily saying that Willi’s mum had sent her a text saying the work he’d given them had already been done. Clearly he had made some impact. They had already seen a few of the movies vying for the best film Oscar and in an attempt to see all watched ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ , a miscarriage of justice so immense it is incomprehensible. A stellar cast and script and a fine contender for the Oscar and  a fine testament to the anti-war movement. Roused by the political protest he found it difficult to stop talking and it was some time before he was ready to sleep. The contrast with the day before was stark. Peng was going to the old office to oversee its final closure and Nicholas had agreed to travel with him and take advantage of the location to go to the Red Sandalwood museum which was conveniently situated about about 2 km from the subway. With the blue fences and that have surrounded many neighbourhoods since he had been in China finally having been removed new streets and short cuts had been opened up and their walk to Changchunjie was through a neighbouring Hutong and apartments and proved to be very interesting though it was much the same as the neighbourhood he was used to,It took 2 lines and nearly an hour of travel to get across the City and the heavy pollution meant they had to wear stronger masks. He had planned to cycle from the station but when he emerged there were no bikes and he ended up walking the whole way. There was plenty to see along the walk including a riverside and some interesting buildings. He found the museum built in the Ming and Qing style easily and once inside he could see that it richly deserved its 4 star tourist attraction rating. The museum, owned and established one of the Nations richest women, Madame Chan Laiwa, specialises in research and collection of Red Sandalwood sculptures and classic furniture. The exhibits of Ming and Qing style furniture, Buddhist culture artworks, and models of ancient architectures such as the corner tower in the Palace Museum, the traditional Siheyuan in old Beijing and the Feiyun Pavilion. Many of the items are replicas and are works of art in themselves but there are also actual antiques. Its a remarkably beautiful collection and the craft, the carvings themselves are astonishingly magnificent. The entrance was free which, was an added bonus and made the museum a true gift to the nation. The time past quickly and he was surprised to get a message from Peng to say he was through and would meet him at Joy City to get lunch. It had started to rain but fortunately it was only drizzle and after 10 minutes walking he was lucky enough to find a bike. Lunch to his relief was traditional Chinese and was filling though he still found space for an Oatly Vegan Ice cream and he had their glove style coconut ant Matcha flavour. Naturally they found a tea house in the large and extraordinarily internationally themed Joy Place before making the long journey home. Having been intellectually stimulated by their movie the previous night they made a return a return to the horror genre and ‘The Toll’ created an atmosphere of fear from its start which lingered throughout the film and made him jump and feel uneasy, which to him was a good sign that the story was doing its job. He was still able sleep despite the shocks.

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