We came to Chengdu, China, to see and touch pandas, but a walk in the Renmin Square Park was just as fascinating and really showed us a slice of life.
Drawing with sugar: Candy-makers spoon melted sugar onto a stone surface, making amazing shapes. As it cools, they put a stick in it, and, voila, a sugar lollipop. It is amazing how intricate the designs can be and how they never seem to break as they are lifted off the stone.
Writing with water: We saw an older man in a military uniform writing the name of Chairman Mao and his family in beautiful calligraphy using a large stick with a sponge tip dipped in water. It dries and disappears in about 15 minutes. Others—less party-loyal—were writing poetry.
Playing badminton: There were quite a few older men playing badminton on a court, but one came and challenged Todd to a friendly volley. A small crowd gathered—Todd made a good show.
Dancing: Small dance clubs made up of mostly women danced in special areas of the park. In the background is a decibel gauge so as to keep the noise manageable and not disturb the other dance clubs nearby.
Matchmaking: An analog match.com for parents trying to set up their children. These “ads” are written by parents and placed in the matchmaking area of the park for other parents to peruse. So, everyone with eligible children hangs out together to see who they can set up. Among the most popular things to mention in the post is “works for an international company” which is code for “makes more money.”
We are really enjoying China. It is cold and the sky is rarely blue, but since we are here during their holidays, the streets are vibrant and there is a great energy everywhere. I had been a bit worried about the food, but so far, it has been delicious for the most part. Todd has been the only really adventurous one. He has eaten pig intestines and even a scorpion (see video below). And the girls and I have used local-style toilets now. We are almost pros, although given the choice, we use the western-style ones.