Tuanjiehu Park, Beijing

Last week we went to Beijing on the National Day holiday week. I liken this
to our July 4th Independence Day because a new government was formally
established. On October 1, 1949, before an audience of 300,000 in Tian’anmen
Square, Chairman Mao declared the People’s Central Government the only legal
government representing the people of China.

This holiday lasts seven days so that people would have time to travel – so
what were we thinking when we decided to take our family to Tian’anmen Square
and the Forbidden City?! I will save the details for someone else to write.
I’ll just say that I had little comfort except for the two hours of peace at
Tuanjiehu Park.

On Saturday morning, I got up early while everyone else slumbered, and
decided to take a walk around the neighborhood where our hostel was located. A
few blocks down a side street I noticed garden walls with trees hanging over the
sidewalk then was suddenly at the gate of a park. Just five paces past the
gate, I felt like I left city and entered an oasis.

It was quiet – no street noise – except for birds singing. I hadn’t heard
the beautiful sound of birds for weeks it seems! And another sound – a Chinese
flute being played by a man on the shore of the lake. Weeping willow trees
gracefully lined the banks. There were several interesting bridges, traditional
buildings, and benches that seemed to invite to stay a while.

I was surprised by how well kept the grounds were – no trash to be seen, the
grass, shrubs and tress were well manicured – everything well taken care of. I
prayed for the people as I followed the path around the ring lake. It was
peaceful, yet there were people everywhere, mostly age 50s and up. (Knowing
their age, I wondered how many of them experienced trouble during the cultural
revolution, and how their lives had been impacted by the People’s Government.)
They strolled or jogged along the walkways, many working-out on stationary bars
and equipment, and many others involved in Tai Chi group exercises, sword
movements, traditional dances (with music), and there was even ballroom dancing
at the bandstand!

I’m wondering if this is different from a typical US-city-park, do American’s
interact as much with their neighbors at parks? At Tuanjiehu, these Chinese
people seemed to be involved in some sort of group activity or discussion.
Hmmm… a “cultural data point.”