Vibrant: A Reflection on China

02. China

I remember when fashion in America was all about the darker shades of color. They made you look slim and added an aura of mystery around you. While my mom indulged in the black and white styles, she always had a soft spot for vibrant colors – outrageous colors – that added a whole new perspective to the picture. She remembers how everything in Asia was always lit up by turquoise, magenta, pale green, light orange, and so many shades of the color wheel. The Asians still indulge in the rainbow. And now, while America is catching up on the trend of bright colors, Asia still prospers in making beautiful, traditional clothing lined with beads and jewels, shining in every color you can imagine.

One of my favorite things to do while taking pictures is try to find a startling contrast of colors. With a great deal of happiness, I found that this striking vibrancy I was searching for was not that scarce in the old architecture of China. With the country’s prominent red color and the rich green leaves and brown rooftops, the colors were strong in every aspect of the culture. The view was lovely and enriching.

My most favorite part of China that held the vibrancy of colors came to me in a place I least expected…

After a tiring flight from Xian to Nanjing and a very hot and humid-to-the-extreme afternoon of visiting the Yangtze River Bridge and climbing the many steps to the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, I was drenched in sweat while wearing a navy dress and hair tied messily into a ponytail. Not to mention, my body would not leave the “airplane-gross” feeling despite the flight only being two hours. Needless to say, I desperately just wanted a very cold drink and a refreshing shower.

I wasn’t expecting to be awed by anything else the rest of the day. The scorching sun was starting to set, finally deciding to pass some relief on China’s burning grounds, my energy level was already drained by the climb to the mausoleum, and my enthusiasm was dwindling at a rapid rate.

But as we turned the corner filled with bikes, we came upon a bridge right outside the vicinity of the Confucius Temple Bazaar in Nanjing. I couldn’t help but blink a couple times as we slowly walked onto the bridge. Without our tour guide even stopping us, our group came to a slow stop, as though we were in a trance as we glanced over, looking out at the small river.

After being so used to the grey colors that dominated Beijing and Xian, it was a breath of fresh air to walk upon COLORS. Crimson rectangular lanterns floated gently amongst tiny, evergreen, nimble leaves clustered together bringing shadows of cool relief on the nearby homes. The river, the darkest shade of green, moved beautifully with the pastel green shades of the leaves timidly skimming the liquid’s surface. Minuscule white flowers speckled the foliage, sprinkling delicacy and complementing the picture.

But beyond this quaint spot, there were glimpses of these clashes of color wheels all over the country, giving me small pocketfuls of delight. Anywhere you go in China, there are round lanterns hanging and dancing next to brown, chocolate textured roofs or a wall conquered by greenery. The sight of floating lily pads and lotus flowers illuminating the white surfaces of young bridges was another view that never failed to draw a smile from me. And sometimes, finding colors becomes a search, especially when you’re in the midst of the heavy, gray fog Beijing and Xian are reigned by. Colors are discreet in those locations – hiding in places one would never look, like wrapped around a bar or coating the very top wood of an entrance into a sacred building. Burgundy ribbons of luck and fortune swaying to the music of the Earth, holding onto dark green and alabaster leaves. Reflections of city lights onto a gentle river. Delicious, mouth-water fruit ready to be bought, rumbling in a cart.

Nature created colors.

Black is the absence of color.

Colors really do make the world go round.

[[All photography are mine]]

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