As the title suggests, I am leaving for China tomorrow, for a whopping 3 weeks. It’s for the Study China Programme and will see me and about a hundred other students attempt to learn Chinese as well as caligraphy (yay!), tai chi, and explore various culturally significant places and landmarks. I’ll be staying in Hangzhou, and a quick Google image search will show it’s a pretty beautiful place, so expect alot of posts about this when I get back.

In preparing over the last few days I’ve found a couple of nifty things I thought I’d share. The first is a childrens book I found when I was getting my suitcase out of my attic. Continuing my love affair with books, this is ‘The Ghost on Saturday Night‘ by Sid Fleischman.

The story itself is kinda cool, it involves a kid named Opie who lives in a western-style old America, and a pair of mysterious ‘ghost-raising’ magicians. For a childrens book I thought the story was very macabre and enjoyable. But what I really like, is the illustration. If it wasn’t published in 1974, this could well have been written and illustrated by Tim Burton, the dark yet quirky tone is that Burton-esque. In reality, the awesome water-colour artwork is by Eric Von Schmidt, who captures the atmosphere of the book perfectly with those fantastically realised characters. I have no recollection of having this book as a kid, but it’s worth checking out if you get the chance (which, unless you borrow it off me, you probably never will).

While sorting out stuff to take to China, my lovely Mother dug out two packs of playing cards for me. Always handy to have on trips, especially now that I know how to play and quite enjoy poker. What struck me, was just how nice the boxes were.

Obviously I only need one, but I scanned them both in, because… Well, just look at them. It almost seems like a forgotten art. Nowadays you probably get High School Musical or Legends of Hollyoaks playing cards, certainly nothing with as much as class and quality as these two. Then again, I’m not exactly a playing card affectionado, so I’m basing that on pretty much nothing. I just dig the intricate artwork on these things, and there’s no telling who’s behind them. Which is a shame, as they’re really nice pieces of old-school design.

Well, thanks for reading. It means a lot that there are a few annonymous people that look at this thing, and I’ll be back in 3 weeks with lots of neat Chinese things to share with y’all. Have a good one!