Friday, December 14, 2007

A lazy Saturday in Shenzhen

Even though my week ends here in Shenzhen aren't so very different from my week days, I love the feeling that steals over the city on Saturday afternoon. Time for "xioxi" (rest). Families go out for morning tea (dim sum) with babies in strollers. Couples stroll along the sidewalks eating ice cream cones. Old men fly kites in the park. School children play badminton in the courtyard. Its all very relaxed and pleasant.

Last weekend we had a perfect Saturday with our neighbors Ying and Peter. First we went to "climb a mountain" as Ying so ominously put it. It turned out to be a mildly exerting climb up a paved hill in a city park. Upon reaching the top we were greeted by a massive statue of Deng Xiaoping, a hero here in Shenzhen. It was under his leadership that the government made Shenzhen a "special economic zone", which also made Shenzhen rich. The smog you can see in the picture of the three of us is the downside of such rapid industrialization.

On the way back down we came upon this little pond and decided to rent a little paddle boat with two giant fiberglass pigeon heads festooning the prow. After ten minutes of paddling in circles we finally came up with a system that worked. The whole procedure was and infinitely amusing to the people on the shore. Eric and I are often a great source of mirth for the locals. Lots of pointing and waving and laughing, all borne of curiosity, nothing ill tempered about it. Usually we can acknowledge that whatever it is we are doing is quite ridiculous and laugh with them. I mean, does anyone go paddle boating without a getting a nice healthy dose of the absurd?

As we left the park we passed by a field where hundreds of people were flying kites. It was so pretty when you looked up, full of hundreds of fluttering kites peacefully drifting and gliding, but the scene on the ground was far from idyllic. There were lots of collisions and tangles and many eyeballs about to be gouged out by someone else's kits crashing and burning. I guess things always look more peaceful from above.

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