Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Pair of Parks

After lunch at Mr. Jeung's hotel Saturday, a former student of C***o's — she got her master's in public administration two years ago and now has a good government job — met us there to show us some of Zhuhi. Our first stop was Jin Shan Park, which consists mainly of a small mountain in the heart of the city (sort of like Mount Royal in Montreal).

More rules. In case it's not legible, #6 forbids that dangerous-sounding "bustup," as well as "hitting the pipe and superstition."

Cigarettes kill. . . and vice versa.

I would have preferred to walk to the top of the mountain to enjoy the scenery, but we opted for the cable car (ski lift, actually) instead.

The peak provides a panoramic view of the city, which looks particularly modern and gleaming from this vantage.

You can take the cable car back down, or — if you're in a hurry — ride a toboggan. . .
. . . which takes a winding path all the way down the mountain. The menfolk chose the toboggan, which was definitely high-speed but — since it hugged the ground and didn't have any steep dips — turned out to be a lot less scary than a roller coaster.

At the bottom was a pleasant pond enjoyed mostly by family groups. . .

. . .where you can envelop your children in a large plastic sphere and cast them upon the waters. . .

. . .in what I guess is a kind of Prisoner theme park.

Leaving Jin Shan, we drove to New Yuan Ming Palace, a 1990s reproduction of a palace in Beijing that was destroyed during the Opium Wars. It's actually a bit less kitschy than it sounds, more like the modern reconstructions of palaces in Japan that were destroyed by fires or earthquakes than a theme park.

The park has other period-looking buildings and other attractions set around a large lake.

Costumed performers provide entertainment on boats, but we arrived just as this one was setting off.

The kitsch apparantly comes at a kiddie park, Lost City, off to one corner of the grounds.

Judging from this bizarre-looking character, the theme park didn't license — or appropriate — any existing properties.

After the huge lunch at Mr. Jeung's, tonight we went for a simple meal of soft tofu, dumplings, and buns at an outdoor cafe at the park.

The evening's entertainment was staged at a large outdoor ampitheatre.

The show, which depicted various Chinese dynasties through music and dance, was a cross between a Chinese costume epic and a Las Vegas revue, reminiscent of the fare seen on the television variety shows here. It also featured (in front of and to the side of the stage) warriors on horseback and cannon fire.

The world-famous drum dance.

Off to the side was another stage — more like a movie set — that featured a martial arts performance complete with flying swordsmen on wires.

The program was to be followed by another, competely different show, but we all felt like we'd seen (more than) enough, so we headed back to campus. But the weekend was only half over; Sunday turned out to be even more interesting, as my next entry will reveal.

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