Visits To The Changchun Parks

Posted by on Aug 10, 2011 in China, My Blog | No Comments

Aragorn inside the Great Fire Ball Sculpture of ChinaChangchun is famed for it’s parks.  Being pretty much a totally post World War 2  city, the concept of the garden city was obviously part of the equation.  Generous allowance for parks, lakes and open air recreational civic space was factored in to the plan. Great, you might think, fresh air…..well forget that bit, but one has to credit planners, their heart was in the right place.  There are a good amount of green areas in between the now heavily congested avenues and boulevards.  However, the sprawl has set in and now the original utopian dream has burst it banks and the decay spawned, spreading as fast as the growth.

I had hoped to buy a bicycle early on in my in my visit…originally with the idea to skip the coach rides, get some exercise, and do some early morning exploring.  However the work commitment…which is pretty intense … kept me back from going out and buying one….then, on re-consideration, the distance to work and the intensity of the traffic called for a plan revision.  Instead I go jogging …not every day, don’t worry, but every other or so. It has been a real pleasure exploring different reachable quadrants of the compass from the hotel, over the different mornings covering different zones. After a mega adrenaline buzz from my first sortie in the Air force Academy, I have held off the wall jumping and try to stick to the public spaces.  After some street running I invariably end up in a park of some sort.

Last week I had a great early morning in the main central lake park…that was where I saw the elders doing their calligraphy on the paths.  Aside from the aesthetic and poetical exercising there are lots of  groups of Ti Chi gatherings….seemingly different paces of music for different age groups.   I was invited to join one group for a while on a morning run down by the river, (don’t fantasize on the idyllic calm flowing river….industrial stagnation has set in! ) It was fun to try and follow the leader, but difficult to flow from one move to the next without the real teaching. It is definitely considered an activity for old people…the young interpreters laugh at the thought of doing it.

There is another group of middle age to elderly ladies who gather in one of the smaller parks and do a fan Ti Chi and a sword one. They are great to watch, creating wonderful noise and drama when they all flick out their fans at the same time.

The other park encounter is a little gang of diabolo practitioners, all following a master, who is a delight to watch.  He is the find of my Estonian friend Touii, who is having lessons with him. In Chinese it is called Kong Zhu, it means hollow bamboo, because in the old days they used to be made from bamboo.  The plug is a-symmetrical, and spins beautifully making an eerie whining noise as it goes faster.  Talking of making noise, I have also encountered groups in the park voice exercising…. ie. shouting long blood- curdling shouts….to let it all out I guess. Not a bad idea, I could recommend it to a few.

I am going to blog out there for today… The Great Fire Ball of China is in the finishing stages…but finishing does take a long time.  I spent the day grinding with my crew today…4 grinders all buzzing at once and a plasma cutter.  We are marking a relief line in between each person…as well as preparing the people to be welded on the top….bursting out of the sunflower.  There is still lots to do, but at least we can burn it by Saturday night.  Whatever is left to do can be done next week when I am in Beijing!