Sunday Morning at Xin Hui Tea House

A couple of weeks ago on a hot, humid Sunday morning in Nanning, I met my friends Anissa, Vern, and Suri at The Xin Hui Tea House. Groups of retirees get together there and perform a variety of traditional music throughout the week. They are all past their prime, most with weak voices supported by frail bodies. Doesn’t matter, they are undeterred. I’ve seen this all across the country, where aging Chinese assemble local performance troupes solely out of their love for the arts and to do what they can to keep those traditional arts alive for future generations. Almost none of these folks were ever professionals, it’s just an elaborate hobby. They make their own costumes, some strictly apply make-up, they practice almost as much as they perform and have detailed post-performance meetings to discuss how to make the show better next time around. It’s inspiring. These folks would rather be doing this than whiling away their years playing mahjong or banal card games. As one of the make-up artists put it, it keeps both the mind and body fit. There are no couch potatos in this group. The oldest performer on this day was a 93 year old singer named Ms. Wei.

Here’s a collection from that hot Sunday morning in July…

Ms. Wei



I got no wide angle shots of the stage or performers because Anissa absconded with my other camera and wide angle lens. The proof can be seen in shot number 7 above. She still owes me a rental fee. I got no shots of Vern because Vern is not as pretty as Suri and Anissa. It was a great morning and a nice way to cap off three fun days of shooting with three talented young photographers. All the shots above were taken with a Canon 5D MarkII and an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens.

We are busy here in Liuzhou trying to finish the interior design of the new apartment. Walls have been knocked down and they are currently running wiring and water throughout. The kitchen cabinet guy came today to measure everything there. If all goes according to plan we should be in the place by the end of October. Few things here go according to plan because there usually is no plan. I have a plan mind you… but it is usually just that, my plan. I have been thinking about chronicling the process here on the blog but I’m not convinced anyone other than me would find it interesting.

Still trying to close out a few other things but never seem to manage the time to get it all done. I am puttering along toward “something”.


9 Responses to “Sunday Morning at Xin Hui Tea House”

  1. Vern says:

    Wow, we didn’t notice that you were so efficient, lots of great photography here.

    Love the one with Ms. Wei holding the lyrics.

  2. Valary says:

    Please feel free to chronicle the renovations for us, Mike. I find that everything you share is of interest. It’s as though we’re catching a glimpse of Middle Earth when we see your world through the lens you so graciously share with us.

    Blessings to you and Lily!

  3. Petra Postma says:

    Agree with Valary, please share. It’s always interesting to see how day to day stuff goes in other places than the ones you are used to.

    Loved the pictures as usual. Find it amazing to see how active these people stay and at the same time they pass on a good part of their culture to younger people.

  4. Fabrizio says:

    Great Photos as always. I’m back in China (after much ado), and find myself often thinking about your style of shooting while I am out drifting the streets. I watched a similar such seen a few days back, and have been very interested as to how you go about reading that particular style of sheet music that is seen in one of your shots above.

  5. Bernard says:

    Great series here!

  6. This is a beautiful set Michael!

Leave a Reply