Friday, January 1, 2010

Wang Jiang Lou

On January first we went to Wang Jiang Lou (aka River Viewing Park). The main attraction is that the park apparently has 100+ varieties of bamboo. A co-worker, Echo, volunteered to come with us so we met up with her at the gate to a local university near the park. Another co-worker, Anderson, also appeared. Anderson's first job out of the university we were walking through is Active.  Parts of the university look pretty park-like in their own right.

A short stroll through the university took us to the park. Almost immediately on entry the park fulfilled our expectations by taking us into a series of paths lined with different types of bamboo.

After a very nice stroll through the bamboo we stopped for tea by the river. River viewing park is beside a singularly unimpressive river. The tea was very good, though our hosts (Echo left, Anderson right) refused to let us pay.

While we were sitting sipping our tea and chatting an older gentlemen strolled up and seemed to want to chat. Our experience so far is that it's quite rare for older Chinese to be so forward. We invited him to sit and he started telling us about how he'd learned English by himself and his son lived in Dallas. We talked about North America with him a little, learned that while in Dallas he was in area full of expats, and that traditional Chinese food is apparently available in Dallas. He was even somewhat familiar with the Dallas Cowboys!

After tea-time we went back into the bamboo to see a few more types. Along the way we spotted a whack-a-mole machine and Rod insisted Pavan have a go!

She won a sort of stick with a propeller at one end which you spin between your palms and release so it helicopters around. Sadly the helicopter stick got stuck in bamboo on its maiden voyage, then once shaken down fell into a drain on its next flight.

The bamboo acts as a brilliant sound dampener so even though the park is in the middle of the city it is quite quiet.

At some points the bamboo was quite large and very solid. Solid enough to climb.

After this we strolled through the university in search of lunch. Posted on a large sign by a university bus stop was a list of English idioms and their Chinese equivalents.

Some of the idioms were new to us:
  • Break a butterfly on  the wheel
  • Fish in the air
  • Love me, love my dog
At lunch we surprised our hosts by ordering very traditional Sichuan dishes. This was purely unintentional but they were very good. Many things had the Sichuan Pepper (tongue numbing pepper) in them.

After lunch we went to an alley that was apparently very cool for tourists. It certainly seemed popular with Chinese visitors!

The alley had many over-priced merchants but also a few entertaining bits. A man removing another mans earwax with a vicious looking metal probe was a bit surprising to us. One slip and ruptured eardrums.

There were quite a number of ear-cleaners along the alley; it appears to be quite popular. After roaming about the alley for a bit we stopped for a coffee, bade farewell to our hosts, and then decided to wander a little more. While we were trying to decide where to go we heard the sound of heavy metal! Curious, we strolled up the street to find a Chinese death metal concert in full swing. They were appropriately loud and screamed things hoarsely on a regular basis so as far as we could tell without understanding the words they fulfilled all the requirements to be a legitimate death metal band. Elder Chinese passing by generally looked a bit pained at the noise.

While looking for a street with taxis on it we encountered an add for a miraculous teeter-totter.

And a store down to it's last bird.

After taking a taxi back homeward we wandered out for dinner and managed to order our leftovers "to go" in Mandarin. Another great milestone.

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