Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Leslie Knope Would be Proud

Parks & public spaces here in China are exceptional. When we were in Shanghai a few weekends ago the public parks provided a great refuge from the heat of the day and incredible people watching for us tourists. Maybe a little for the locals too, who seemed excited to see us.

People gathered with friends to play board games, walk the dog, cut through the city, practice the saxophone (poorly), or do tai chi.

In Shenzhen, the largest central park has incredible views of the city, a great statue of Deng Xiaoping, and kids EVERYWHERE flying kites. It's a pretty, pretty pleasant place to spend a Saturday.

Where most parks in the U.S. lock their gates at sundown, this is when the party really starts in China. The activity here at night is hands down my favorite part about China so far. Badminton, 2 types of jazzercise, ball room dancing, rollerblading lessons, electric animals that light up and play music, and just general cavorting. And of course the guy with the yo-yo contraption that can go 60’ in the air. Ali and I joined in on aerobics one night, bringing back memories of an elementary school jazz recital. Nobody laughed at us except Andy & Alex (apparently we were very much out of rhythm and our long pasty arms made it even worse.)

And it’s not just in the plaza near our hotel. Parks across the city have these gatherings every night where entire families, couples, or just individuals come down to escape monotony of "Must See TV" and spend some time with their friends and neighbors outside.

A few weeks ago, closer to the time of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party, there were large gatherings of folks playing instruments and singing songs. Here's a little sampling of what Alex and I came across:

Red Songs in the Park by carokate

If there was one thing I could take back and make happen in the US it would be these free, well attended public activities and great public spaces. It seems to be a lovely way to practice a hobby, stay fit, keep in contact with friends, and spend quality time with family. An all-around fantastic accomplishment for small parks dotted around the city.


Unknown said...

I am so glad to read about the activities. Was always wondering what they do aside from spending their money shopping, computer games and TV. Thanks for that!

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