Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not Quite Xanadu

You really never know what you’re going to encounter when you go to a park in Beijing. Of course, the government probably pays these folks to put on folk costumes and sing and dance to entertain visitors, but that’s okay. It’s still entertainment.  

Today the International Newcomers Network had an outing to Behai Park, which is one of the prettier parks in the city, set on a spot where Kublai Khan apparently met Marco Polo (insert jokes about noodles, Xanadu, and East-meets-West here).   It was a lovely day to walk around, with “good” air quality, which was nice even with a slightly metallic taste to the air. Just inside the south gate, we encountered an “ethnic” group, men and women dancing in colorful costumes – with belly dancing hip scarves on the women and men wearing ridiculous fake mustaches and Uighar caps. Somehow we got pulled into the dancing, with Rita (who is from India) doing a sort of Bollywood shimmy, and others of us doing some kind of odd mixture of rhumba/disco/wedding-reception-freestyle dancing that would have made our offspring want to jump in the nearest lake.

The Chinese people visiting the park were delighted to see the crazy foreigners whooping it up with the fake Uighars.   Here's another one of our group dancing with a fake Uighar:

A few steps later we entered a group of men and women dressed in Cultural Revolution-style army uniforms singing Red songs surrounded by a group of very enthusiastic park-goers. The revolutionary fervor made me nervous; I was waiting for someone in the group to pull something out of the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and scream and point to the foreigners.   Instead, we ambled around for a while longer, found a decent restaurant to serve us a good lunch (48 RMB each -- $7.57), and made our way back home, some of us for a nap and some of us to flail around helplessly in Chinese class.    

1 comment:

  1. At one end of Beihai Park is the Chinese kindergarten that Kabir went to as a three year old. It was the only one that admitted foreign students at the time. The school still exists.