While on my way to Fuxing Park, I somehow envision it to be a huge park (it used to be the largest park of Shanghai), and wonder if I can still make it to explore it properly: I still have some 5 hours before sunset. But as soon as I enter the park, I realize it is not that big at all, and at once, I feel inner peace. There is no reason at all to rush, I can just take things as they come. Almost inevitably, the first thing I notice is a group of older people performing tai-chi: such a common sight in China. I also notice a man walking backwards, without looking over his shoulder. Then, I come to a circle of people with an older man with grey hair in the middle, skilfully playing a trumpet, and making a show out of it. Sometimes, another guy joins him, but he is best when just performing by himself.
From here, I walk along the open space which is still protected for the young grass to grow, and watch boys and men play with drones over the park. Adjacent to it, I find probably the wildest area of Fuxing Park, with small ponds, man-made hills with stairs, small reclusive circular pavilions, flower beds, bridges over streams. Also: a young boy playing guitar with two girls singing an English song, secretly looking at me to see if their English is good enough. One Chinese painter continues to try to sell me one of his paintings. When I reach the top of one of the hills, a couple is making out, a quite rare sight here - when they finally notice my stare, they quickly pretend as if nothing happened. I walk down to the bigger pond with rockeries reflected in its tranquil waters. But it is a little boring to be here: I feel there is more going on at the other side of the park. Indeed, after passing numerous benches at which Chinese men are playing go or cards, I reach an open space where dressed-up couples are dancing to ballroom music, their long shadows trailing behind them. I lean against a tree and watch the scene for a long time, the effort the dancers put in their performance, as if it were a competition.
There is a lot going on around here: kids playing, groups of people chatting on a bench, enjoying the early spring sunshine, walking around, or watching others, just like I am doing. Here again it is clear that Fuxing Park, designed by the French in 1909, is well maintained. There are lanes with arches on which flowers will soon grow, flower beds, statues and sculptures, with symmetry and aesthetics in mind. At the far side of the park, I find a sculpture of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and wonder how many people around here actually notice them at all. Another corner, with trees and newspapers in glass cases, sees groups of Chinese men (hardly any woman to be seen) passionately discussing - what, I unfortunately cannot understand. One of them comes up to me and lectures me about the religious war about to start in Europe between christians and muslims, and I wonder what news he hears or reads; his English is not sufficient to really talk to him about serious matters. I walk back to where the blossoms are starting to come out, sit on a bench, and watch life go by until darkness sets in. My afternoon in Fuxing Park could not have been more relaxing.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Fuxing Park (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Fuxing Park.
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