What makes your holiday an unforgettable experience?
Sure enough: Beautiful landscapes, nice roads to cycle on, great weather conditions and stunning cultural heritage sights to explore are important factors.
But what will really stick in your mind? Yes! It’s the encounters with people you meet during your journey. The situations which you experience together with your guide and your fellow travellers or the spontaneous interactions with the locals. The feeling of mutual astonishment or the shared laugh with a strange person will remain as precious memories once you are back home.
In this new series of blog posts, we will share some of our favourite roadside encounters with you.
Today: “Exercise in Tiantan Park”
Both our tours “All Around China” and “The Three Gorges of the Yangzi“, start with a visit to Beijing, the big old capital of China. Beijing is world famous for its imperial and architechture such as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Ming And Qing Tombs and the Great Wall. Of course, we will go and see all of these interesting places during our stay in Beijing. One more place which we always include on our list of things to see in Beijing is the Tiantan, the Temple of Heaven. Here, the Emperor used to pray for a good harvest every year. Most outstanding in this complex is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a round and colorful Temple built in the traditional chinese carpentry style without using a single nail. But these fascinating buildings are not the only reason for us to visit the temple of heaven.
We are here to stroll through the spacious park around the temple, where hundreds of Beijing’s retirees spend their morning. In China, one can get the impressions that the people relive their youth once they have retired from work. They love to hang out in the streets and parks, do all kinds of sports and excercises, play cards or chess, play in bands or little orchestras, smoke and chat, dance to loud music in public and even organise their own live dating portals to find new partners. It’s a lively scene, and most lively it is in the park around the Temple of Heaven.
One of our favourite spots to spend some time there is the sports gymnastics area. The government has built an outside fitness and gymnastics studio here. There are parrallel bars, horizontal bars and many more devices for stretching and exercise. Most astonishing is that all of these devices are in use! There is a big hustle and bustle, noise and people everywhere. Men and women, athletes and spectators and even a queue at the two high horizontal bars which attract the most attention from the spectators. We join the fun, try out some of the devices and walk over to watch the show at the horizontal bars. There is a man with long white hair swinging skillfully around the bar. His routine is filmed by many pensioneers withe their smart phones and awarded with cheers and generous applause.
We engage in a little conversation with the people around and are told that the man is in his late 70s and had only started to do gymnastics after suffering from a stroke at the age of 66. We are impressed! The old guy, after finishing his exercise, comes over and tells us his story a second time. He seems to enjoy being the center of attention and is very proud of his achievements. In a hearty way, he welcomes us and we start the inavitable picture taking ceremony. We all pose with the white haired local celebrity who smiles and wishes us a safe journey as we trod on towards the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in the center of the park.