Greetings from Hong Kong, readers.
I have a lot to write about, and I’m very behind. First, the end of Chongqing.
On our free day, we started the day with Tai Chi. It was a volunteer activity, so I think about half of us opted for it. Mr. Fu, our guide in Chongqing (and one of our favorites, I think), had practiced with this master for many years. He is one of the most famous masters in Chongqing. First we did all of the slow movement stuff, like we’d seen from Beijing to Xi'an. Then we watched two of the guys do some cool stuff with swords (yes, that’s the technical term, “cool stuff with swords”). Then we watched the “pushing hands.” Then they gave us a chance to practice the pushing hands.
If you’ve never seen this done, it honestly doesn’t look that impressive, until you realize that they are fighting tooth and nail to block the other person. So some of the people from the tai chi group came over and partnered with us to show us how to do it. Keep in mind that most of these people did not speak any English, especially the older ones. Also, I am not the best with movement (I’m a terrible dancer and have a really hard time memorizing movement. I’m also a terrible conductor). So these two guys took it nice and easy with me and were just slowly practicing the movement. They progressively increased their pressure. Then the master came over.
And he flung me across the square.
I’m not kidding–I flew into Harold, our American guide. And they all laughed at me, being flung about like a rag doll. Which is fine, I wasn’t embarrassed. Obviously the master should have been stronger than me, but because I didn’t really understand the point, it was very unexpected. I kept on trying, to my credit, but I’d need someone who speaks English to really explain this to me.
We did make it to one of the residences of Zhou Enlai, the Premiere of China during Mao’s “reign” as Chairman. None of it was in English, so it was a short trip. The other place we visited that morning was the site of a meeting between the Communists and the Nationalists, when they were trying to make peace between the two parties to avoid Civil War. Many of the things in the museum were in English, but it had some interesting perspective. Obviously everything is slanted. Here’s an example of an interestingly phrased sign in the museum.
That afternoon we did manage to make it to the water park. It was actually really fun, and very similar to an American water park. A few key observations:
1. Chinese women favor the skirted swimsuit over the bikini.
2. Chinese women refuse to be in the sun, and as such, will not go forward in the line if they are currently under the umbrella that is protecting them from that menace, the sun.
3. We saw that people were wearing their shoes around and we had put ours in the locker. We soon realized why. The pavement seriously gave us 10th degree burns on our feet. They don’t call Chongqing one of the “three furnaces” for nothing!
4. As we were arriving, we really thought that this place was abandoned. There were so few people around when we arrived about 2:00. As we were leaving, we noticed how many more people were coming into the park. And then we walked through the valet parking lot, (yes, valet, for the water park) full of Mercedes, Audis, Beamers, etc. The term “conspicuous consumption” could not have applied more.
Because it was a free day, we had dinner on our own. Lindsay and I opted for the free noodles in the hotel room. Our last night in Chongqing, we frequented our favorite massage place one last time. When you wear a skirt, they give you these super styling shorts to put on underneath.
We said goodbye to Chongqing and the next morning left for Shanghai. When we arrived, we had a visit to the Children’s palace that afternoon. Here’s some of the artwork that was on display.
We also got to experience a choir rehearsing, which was SO GREAT! The Children’s Palace is such a silly name for this place, but it was actually like a really great community art center. There are tons of after school classes for kids and they have a performing troupe that goes all over the world. The artwork was great, the rehearsal spaces were quite nice, and the instruction seemed top notch.
After the Children’s Palace we had a harbour cruise, which was a great way for us to see the city for the first time and get oriented. Great pictures!
l will write more about Shanghai later :) We are now in Hong Kong. Our flight was delayed a lot today and so we actually missed our meeting at the Consulate this afternoon. We checked into our hotel and had dinner at an English pub. For now, that is all friends.
China - Second to last post!
Enjoy it while it lasts. :)