Sunday, February 1, 2009
Homage to the Father
There's a park in Xiamen called Zhong Shan Gong Yuan, or Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park.
And being Spring Festival, the place was dolled up with red lanterns around the outer circumference of the park, and at the gate.
Vendors at the entrance sold balloons and popcorn, nuts and raisins.
And inside there's lots of trees and underneath are stone tables and stools for people to play cards. Many elderly gather there and keep their brains sharp by hanging out there for the afternoon with friends, while young families stroll around with kids in tow.
There's also a pond where people can rent paddle boats and refreshment stands for drinks.
And of course a statue of Dr Sun stands in the middle of the park, a stately-looking figure who looks down on us ordinary citizens enjoying this public space.
Apparently many Chinese cities have parks and streets named after him, paying homage to the Father of Modern China.
I'm pleased to say this is one of the few parks that I've seen in China that isn't highly programmed -- people are quite free to use the open space as they wished, particularly the grass areas. Some played badminton, children and babies tumbled around on the grass, and others sat on benches and chatted.
A short walking distance from the park is Zhong Shan Lu, Dr Sun Yat-Sen street. It's very similar to Nanjing Lu in Shanghai, a giant pedestrian-only area filled with shops and food stalls.
Here Chinese boutiques lined the streets and people could get cotton candy, bubble tea, or watch artisans make dough figurines. It's a pity to see them selling ones of the Fuwa or the Beijing Olympics mascots or Doraemon, when Peking opera masks or other traditional Chinese characters would be more interesting.
But this is capitalism with Chinese characteristics.
Luckily Zhong Shan Lu wasn't too crowded. Not too many people were shopping as a way to contribute to the economy, but it was nice to see families out strolling around to catch some of the excitement during the New Year.