One thing I have noticed my first day in Beijing: these people love their parks! Every park we went to was overflowing with people of all ages gathered to go for walks, practice their instruments, play games, visit the sites, join running clubs, play badminton, and enjoy the new warmth of spring. The parks aren’t free either. People are paying 10-15 yuan (about $2) to be out in the beautiful weather and escape the bustle of the smoggy city and get back to nature.
One park we went to today was the Temple of Heaven. Located in south central Beijing, this park is filled with many pathways through thickets of trees, bushes, and wild flowers, leading to one of 3 temples. Of course the temples bring many tourists from all over China and the world, as well as the religious, but the atmosphere of the park brings out everyone else. From the eastern entrance of the park, leading to the main temple on the hill, their is a patio leading the way. On the benches of the patio, hundreds of old folks are lining the way throwing cards on the table in the gambling and old men strategically play a game resembling checkers. And thats where we met this man:
Sitting against a pillar this man held one of the most peculiar instruments I have ever seen, and an interesting enough beard to match. Upon asking if I could take his photo, he suddenly jumped to life playing a fancy tune on his tiny wind instrument. Whether he made the instrument himself, or if its an old chinese classic, he played a piece that got the whole nation looking his way. After seeing the delight he had brought to many onlookers, he drew a breath of air releasing this smile of joy at the atmosphere he had just created.
Enjoying these little moments of culture and unique encounters is one of the many reasons I love to travel and explore new places! And it s only day 1.