Saturday and Sunday were spent like every weekend should be…relaxing in the park, strolling down the streets, wandering through shopping malls and visiting national monuments.
Saturday morning we departed pretty early and took the subway to Tianten Park, which is more commonly known for the Temple of Heaven that sits in its’ midst. We came for the park, not the temple so as soon as we walked in the gates, we veered left away from the crowd towards the kite fliers. Along the way, we passed ribbon twirlers, feather hackysack kickers, weight lifters, Thai Qi practicers and finally…Kite fliers. We watched as men young and old hoisted their paper birds into the air and ate our morning pastries while drinking hot coffee. It was a beautiful way to start the day!!
We continued our journey through the park along its perimeter on wide pathways that wound in and out of huge fields of trees laid out in a perfect grid. Some grids were made up of Ginkgo trees, some of evergreens…some of both. In their midst were large circular concrete paths with benches where groups would congregate to partake in their chosen activity. The park is not that different than American parks, but there is something about it that seems more active and comfortable. Perhaps it is because all of the activities are low impact and suitable for all ages. Whereas American parks either cater to young children on playgrounds or active young people playing high-impact sports such as basketball, football or soccer. I suppose we do play catch and throw frisbees, but there is still something different about Chinese parks.
We eventually decided we should partake, so we purchased a feathered toy that is kicked around like a hackysack for 5RMB from the small shop near the temple, and found a spot away from everyone else. We practiced volleying the toy back and forth and eventually got okay! We envy the natural motions that the Chinese have mastered, but were unsuccessful in making them ourselves. Instead we probably appeared to be flailing fish out of water to any passersby!
After a couple hours, we were tired and hungry so we packed up and left in search of food. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything for quite some time and ended up just going back to our neighborhood, eating at the mall then calling it a day.
On Sunday, we packed up our room and headed to Tienanmen Square. Believe it or not, we stayed just two blocks from the Forbidden City, but never went in. We know that it is one of the things you must do in China, but we never had a strong desire to go, and we did want to go other places. We also never made it to the Olympic Park. We kept saying we would go tomorrow, but tomorrows came and went. Oh well….I guess we’ll have to go back!