Despite how polluted and urban China is, it still has lots of parks in it’s big cities. Today was 初一, the first day of the Year of the Monkey, and I decided to spend the afternoon in one of Chongqing’s parks, I settled for 花卉园 (Chongqing Flower Park). I was originally planning to go to 鸿恩寺公园 (Hongen temple park), as it looked bigger on the map, but as I was ill, I didn’t want to have to talk to a taxi driver too much, so just stayed at the flower park because it was right next to the metro station.
I first had a walk around, and I felt tired, so looked for a place to sit, most of the tables were full of people playing mahjong.
So I found a seat in a quiet pavillion where there were some old men sitting quietly, at first they just stared at me in silence, then one started to talk about my shoes. He was talking in Chongqing dialect, but from what I understood, he said that young people like me like wearing flat shoes, but older people, aged 30-40 wear high heels, or maybe it was the other way round?
More men came along, one by one and they all greeted each other with a closed fist 拜年 action. One talked to me in normal Mandarin, asked what I was doing here etc, then they all started discussing those semi politically incorrect questions you’re not supposed to ask Brits between themselves – was Thatcher good or bad for the UK?; are the Falkland islands are British or Argentinian? I let them discuss it by themselves and continued writing my diary.
Then one of the old men started talking about good luck, and how luck varies for each person, depending on where and when you were born, so no two people in the world have the same luck. One wise guy was like ‘what about twins?’ but he was quickly shut down. He told them how to read their hands to find out something, so they all held their hands up to their faces. It was really interesting sitting with them, but after a while I left to explore more of the park.
I heard the familiar sound of a corny square dance song 广场舞 so followed it. To my surprise there were loads of people there, dancing all different kinds of styles, I couldn’t keep up and stayed watching for a while. A man much older than me asked me to dance with him, I politely declined. It was a bit school disco-ish in the way that people sitting around were waiting to go dance with someone or be chosen, I just wanted to people watch. Each song lasted about 10 minutes, then people changed partners or sat down to rest.
I also came across a group who had a little KTV karaoke session set up, with a prop-up TV with the lyrics and songs on, an amp and a mike.
After an awfully scarring toilet break, which I may or may not share on this blog, I went to the ‘good view platform’, but the view wasn’t all that good at all before going back to the square with all the dancing. This time I was a little bombarded by the guy in the stripey top, as you can see below towards the end of the video. He told me he was a professional dance teacher and he would teach me for free. I kept telling him I didn’t want to and eventually ran away when he turned his back, because he came and whispered “你们英国人很美” in my ear.
I had a great afternoon in the park, chilling with the locals, listening to Chongqing dialect and taking lots of pictures too.
If you’re in Chongqing and want to visit the Flower Garden, take the metro line 6 (the pink one) to 花卉园 Huahuiyuan, leave the subway at exit 2 and the park is right there.