2007 Year-End Letter From Kit Keung

December 17, 2007

Dear Friends,

How are you all?

This spring, Kit-Keung was invited by our Alma Mater, Chung Chi College, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, to be an artist in residence for three months. We went to Hong Kong at the end of February and lived at the school, renewing the memories of our campus lives there more than forty years ago. Kit-Keung had an art exhibition and conducted two workshops there. In the calligraphy workshop, most of the participants were students of the college and they were quite new to traditional Chinese calligraphy. It was fun to see them grasping the brush techniques and learning the compositional aspects of Chinese characters in those short sessions.

The painting workshop was held after the academic semester ended. As a result, not many students at the college participated, but the workshop attracted quite a few members from the faculty and staff. Some people also came from outside the University. Kit-Keung selected a hand scroll from the Ching dynasty and demonstrated the landscape techniques by copying it in full. At the end of the workshop, each of the participants also completed their own copy. He hopes that this exercise can be a starting point for their further pursuit in Chinese painting.

March 4th was the day for the Hong Kong marathon. Our stay in Hong Kong was also timed to include this event so that Kit-Keung could participate in it. On that day, the temperature was cool but the humidity was quite high. When Kit-Keung reached the Ching-Ma suspension bridge (at around mile 10), there was a drizzle keeping the runners cool. When he passed the East Tunnel (at around mile 23), the temperature had climbed over 80˘X F. There were a few highway overpasses to climb after the tunnel. He was tired and had to put in a considerable amount of walking. He finished in 5 hours and 1 minute. Fortunately, the race organization raised the finish time limit to 5.5 hours this year. Otherwise, he would be considered a non-finisher. Later in April, he also followed his running friends in Hong Kong and went to Nagano, Japan to run. That race had a time limit of 5 hours. He finished in 4 hours and 55 minutes, with only five minutes left before the closing time.

In the period we were in Hong Kong, we also took some short trips to Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Shantou and Chaozhou. They were our first trips to those cities. The air was very dirty in Beijing and Shanghai. In Beijing, construction was in full swing for the preparation of the Olympic Games next year. Machines used in polishing the stone road surfaces made the most dust. One afternoon when we were touring the Temple of Heaven, a drizzle started. We suddenly discovered that our arms and clothing were covered with yellow specks of mud. It was our first experience of a mud rain!

In October, we joined a tour to South Korea and Taiwan sponsored by the Asian Art Center, Towson State University in Maryland. We visited several palaces and museums in Seoul. We also traveled south to Suwon, Andong and Chongju. In Suwon, we toured the Hwaseong Fortress that recently became very famous because it is the filming site of the popular drama Daejanggeum. Our overall impression of the Korean palaces and temples is that their architectural style is somewhat austere, but with a stately atmosphere and down to earth taste. Their style was undoubtedly originated from ancient China, but their pale green and muted reddish colors are in stark contrast with the purple and gold Forbidden City. Traditional Koreans value calligraphy. No matter whether it is a palace, a temple, or a common personˇ¦s residence, you can easily find couplets executed with fine calligraphy decorating the doorways and columns.

In Taiwan, we visited several art centers and museums. We also toured Taroko in the middle of the island. A torrential river runs at the bottom of the Taroko Gorge. The water is almost as black as Chinese ink. This rare black whitewater is caused by the carving of the violent water on the marble riverbed, producing a heavy load of marble silt that is carried by the river. A section of an old highway is closed to automobile traffic because the road is too winding and part of the surface was damaged by fallen rocks. It is now a mile-long pedestrian sightseeing corridor. In this section, the gorge is very narrow. Cliffs rise vertically on both sides. Waterfalls race down the cliffs here and there. It was truly a spectacular scene.

Our Taiwan tour guide is a Taiwan separatist, who expressed his longing to re-live the days when Taiwan was under the Japanese occupation. From his talking we could sense that the sentiment for Taiwan independence is not a trivial matter. Only a few days back when we visited Chongju in Korea, we saw a giant bronze Unity Bell on top of a mountain. The engravings on the bell show longing for unification with North Korea. What a big difference in peopleˇ¦s feelings towards their country in these two places!

Our son Min-Yen is in his sixth year in Singapore starting this December. He visited us in Hong Kong with his wife Alicia, his mother-in-law, a sister-in-law and a cousin of Alicia. Min-Yen and Alicia also visited Korea, Prague, New Delhi and Hanoi this year. Our daughter Min-Ying started working in the New York City Department of Environmental Protection in the spring. She works as an environmental educator teaching kindergarten through 12th grade students by visiting their classes. She also leads them on field trips to reservoirs, filtration plants and mountain streams. She likes her job very much. She and her husband Matthew are going to Tokyo to visit their friend in Japan during the Christmas and New Year period.

Yuen-Han feels days are going by too fast, with a little bit of slowing down in her pace of working in the garden or taking care of chores at home. We continue to exercise. We play badminton three or four times a week. Yuen-Han continues to walk with friends on Saturdays. Besides the two marathons mentioned above, Kit-Keung ran two more in the autumn: one in Hartford and the other in Huntsville.

We wish you a joyful holiday season and a very happy and prosperous New Year!

Yours sincerely,

Yuen-Han and Kit-Keung

6809 Tammy Court, Bethesda, Maryland 20817, USA / 301-365-3728

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