Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The China Chronicles - Ho Hai Lake and Traffic
After our wonderful late lunch, we continued up the shore of Ho Hai lake, and I had a ball just watching all the people.

The Chinese government has installed exercise equipment in every little park or community area. Even in the most remote villages, we saw the same, colorful exercise equipment installed, and almost always there was some elderly person working out.

Ho Hai Lake is a very pretty area. There were a lot of older men swimming in the lake, and then congregating along the shore in their swim trunks for a smoke.

Lots of people playing Chinese checkers.

Playing Checkers

See the guy holding his shirt up? I quickly realized that this is the way Chinese men cool off. No matter where they are or who they are with, they just whip up their shirts.

Ping pong is also a popular activity.

Ping Pong Anyone?

And so is just hanging out and talking to your friends.

Passing time with friends

We ended up at Madame Sun Yat-sen's Palace which is open as a museum. Actually, mausoleum may be a bit more accurate, because aside from the displays of her clothing and photos on the first floor, they sealed it up exactly as it was the day she died in 1981. It was very 1970's. You could almost imagine Nixon visiting. She is a very beloved figure in China. Kind of a cross between Eleanor Roosevelt and Coretta Scott King from what I could gather. She did lead a fascinating life - that's for sure.

The complete lack of curatorship of any kind in most of the Chinese museums I visited was compelling. They have no concept of setting up displays let alone dioramas, and most displays are simply objects in a dusty Plexiglas box with a small, often poorly translated (if at all) piece of typewritten paper to describe it. They also don't seem to have any notion of preservation for fragile objects like clothing or textiles. There were mannequins with Madam Sun Yat-sen's clothing on them hanging in full sunlight or without any protection at all. I saw this repeatedly in other museums. It's very strange.

We were kind of "walked out" after Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Lake and headed back to the apartment on the subway. Later, we made an ill advised attempt to attend the Beijing Jazz Festival at a park all the way across town. We encountered the worst traffic Beijing has ever seen, I got hit with jet lag, and after fighting off sleep in the back of a cab for nearly an hour, and we were only halfway across town, we simply decided to get off the Ring Road and head to a restaurant.

Good choice, because we had an outstanding meal at a Muslim restaurant with a dish of cumin roasted lamb on coriander that was just amazing.

Besides, we were scheduled to get up early the next morning and meet some other hikers to go on a hike through two villages about an hour and a half north of Beijing in the shadow of the Great Wall.

Next: Chinese Hiking......

UPDATE: I forgot to post this photo of a worker taking a smoke break on a construction site near the lake. It was one of the better candid photos I got that day.

Smoke break
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:33 PM  
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