Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Everybody Must Get Stoned

Another of Liuzhou’s attractions, for some people, is stones. Fantastic Stones.

For reasons known only to those in the know, some people like to collect stones. It seems to be particularly popular amongst Japanese and Koreans, but spreads out to Europe and The Americas, too. They are either displayed in the nude or are used in bonsai gardens.

Of course, it can’t be any old stone. What seems to be prized is a beautiful shape, fine graining or resemblance to some other object or animal. They are highly polished, but are not carved in any way. They are naturally occuring. Some examples can fetch up to one million of the local beer coupons ($126,750 or £66,830).

For reasons geological (and the only thing I know about geology is how to spell it), Liuzhou is some sort of centre for collectable stones, and so for the last few years has been holding Stone Festivals (1999, 2002, 2004). They have now announced the fourth “Liuzhou International Stone Festival” for November 3rd to 9th, 2006.

At the first festival in ’99, the locals invited a few of the residents foreigners to attend the opening ceremony. They kindly supplied an interpretor so all speeches were given bilingually for the benefit of foreign guests. Unfortunately, whoever did they translation had gone a big berserk with the thesaurus (Roger’s Treasure as someone called it).

The final speech built to a rousing climax and the interpreter did her job and announced that “The First Liuzhou Grotesque Stone Festival is now open in the Grotesque city of Liuzhou and we all hope that by working together we can make Liuzhou more Grotesque in the future!”

The assembled dignitaries (and poor interpretor) were somewhat confused to find that their heartfelt wishes caused the ten or so foreigners to fall off their chairs and roll about the floor holding their sides, in tears of laughter. Not quite the effect they had aimed for.

Three years later, I was taken on as a consultant to get the translations right and the new official name “Fantastic Stone Festival” is more or less my invention.

So, imagine my horror when, today, I receive an email asking for my comments on whether “Fourth Grotesque Stone Festival” is OK?

Grrrrrrrr!

. This entry was posted on Saturday, October 28th, 2006 at 9:46 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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