Singing in the Park

Last weekend a friend and I grabbed our brand new cameras and headed off to wander through the neighborhoods between her house and mine.  We ended up in a quiet park here on the west side of Beijing.   The park’s main claim to fame is a giant pagoda, dating back to the 1300’s.  But like all parks in China, there are always lots of interesting things going on.

Near a small lake in the park, we stumbled across a group of retirees gathered in a small gazebo, singing at the tops of their lungs.  There were instrumentalists, with their accordians, violins, and assortment of traditional  Chinese instruments.  Altogether there must have been a couple dozen people standing around on this sultry Saturday morning singing their hearts out.

For a westerner, that in itself was a curious sight, but what made it even more interesting was that they were singing revolutionary songs in praise of Mao.  And while it’s a little bit jarring in 2005 to hear songs being sung in praise of the chairman, one has to remember that for the people singing, these were the only songs they knew growing up.  There were no other songs allowed to be sung here.  If they want to sing songs from their childhood, these are them.

Even though I wasn’t a fan of their choice of music, I was reminded that it’s one of the things I love about China — that friends and neighbors gather in parks to sing and dance.  I wonder if our society might be better off if we gathered more often in our parks to sing and dance together.


Behind the Great Firewall

I’ve moved!  Not by choice, mind you, but because I now find myself behind the Great Firewall of China.  The blog-hosting company that I’d been using (blog-city) has been blocked here in China.  Which means that I can’t access it to put up any new posts.  After much research and poking around, I’ve decided to land here. 

For those if you outside of China, you can still access my blog at the other site to read my past postings. The address is  Anything that I write from now on will be posted at this site.

It’s been a most frustrating experience.  So many serious concerns here, and they throw their resources into blocking websites!

Yesterday I took some visiting friends to the Great Wall at Mutianyu.  Despite the fog, I was able to get this good shot.