This firewall is seriously cramping my blogging style!
Fake Xia bronze, which both delighted me and made me roll my eyes. I delayed everyone (including the minister) to snap this picture, because I am fond of Xia bronzes and this facsimile with its cheap plastic gems and broken off rivets was endearingly cheap and corny.
The table setting was… unusual!
Someone important must be sitting here:
I love the sauce-art on the dishes…
After dinner we went for a stroll through the sports park nearby. I know that sounds thrilling but it was actually a really pleasant walk (remember we have spent most of the last 48 hours on planes or in airports (Colombo – Bangkok – Beijing – Urumqi – Karamay… all to be done in reverse order next week). It was particularly nice for me, firstly as I haven’t been in a cold climate (apart from 4 days in Seoul in January) for a couple of years at least — all this continent-hopping back and forth between Australia, Taiwan, Europe and Sri Lanka has meant I’ve carefully dodged winters all year round. But really what I liked about this park is it was of the exact sort my old company used to design. Only when I was rendering these gigantic sports complexes in PhotoShop, they seemed really dull and empty and a waste of space. But this funny city, 80% designed and built by China Petroleum, was crawling with people. The basketball court, with its dozens of courts, was packed, as were the soccer fields, and they were all having so much fun!
Even the professional rollerblading rink (the type of construction I would have snorted at with derision when seeing it on one of designs) counted several enthusiast, zooming along on their blades:
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Chinese park without…
Zombies? Flashmob? No… just the usual group dance exercise. Only this one was on a mon-u-MENTAL scale… there were easily over a hundred people, dance-walking silently round and round in a circle, carefully lined up like soldiers, whilst a single speaker blasted eery pop-songs. Nobody smiled or seemed to enjoy it, but it was fascinating and hypnotic to watch…
This jolly little idiot had to join in, but by the time my camera took a picture everyone had changed pose behind me…
We all joined in for a quarter-turn around the park, then controversially broke free and made for the ever-entertaining gym-equipment:
Final detail: the entire park is not only lit at night, but is populated by musical koalas who play a tinny stream of pop music to help you pace your sporting endeavours… how cute is he!