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People-peeping in parks

Updated: 2012-12-25 15:40 By CJ Henderson

When you decide to take a stroll in one of China’s many parks, you may feel like a wandering Alice in Wonderland as, around the many hedges, trees and bends in the road you will see all kinds of Chinese people making very good use of limited open space.

These fan dancers, tai-chi teachers, opera enthusiasts and ma-jong masters will make your trip around the maze that is the world of Chinese parks a very interesting fall through the looking glass.

Chinese people use public space in an entirely more “open” way than I am used to. Back home, barbequing at a beachside park is normal, practicing a four-part opera complete with masks and microphones, is not.

This is due partly to cultural differences in regards to what qualifies as publicly-sanctioned leisure activities (fan dancing versus Frisbee throwing), but the plethora of park personalities in cities like Beijing mainly comes down to the fact that there is nowhere else to do these activities. There are no backyards. Instead, public parks fill with elderly swing-dancers, kite flyers congregate on random concrete corners, and even an old alleyway becomes a salsa studio on a cheeky Tuesday evening.

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