I love a day in the park in Shanghai. My trip to Fuxing Park was probably the most enjoyable. Fuxing Park is hailed as one of the top ten spots to visit if you are in Shanghai. It is located in the French concession area and the park is filled with sycamore trees and beautiful flowers of all colors, shapes and sizes.
If you get up early enough on a weekend morning and head to the park, you are sure to spend hours there just walking around enjoying the sights, the culture, and the elderly Chinese folks who spend time together playing one of the most popular games at the park, Mahjong. It is a card game of skill, strategy and played with a certain degree of chance. It can be played in a fun gambling style too. Tables of 3-5 men are seen slamming cards down on the table and chatting about something. I am not sure whether they discuss the card game, their lives, or maybe even talk about the Americans who are standing over their shoulder watching and trying to understand the game. It doesn’t matter, it is still fun to see them enjoying the day.
More often than not, there will be a group of 10-20 ladies dancing with swords or ribbons to the music they have wheeled in. Possibly even some folks singing Chinese opera. Elderly couples may be dancing to a waltz or trying to dance to some country music song.
Older folks may be practicing Tai Chi, or people of all ages may be getting in a popular game of badminton, without the net. All of them seemingly having a great time in the park.
A further stroll might lead you to an open grassy area with many Chinese playing with their Chinese yoyos. The yoyos are disks played on a string between two sticks. If you can get it spinning fast enough it makes an amazing whistling sound. If you stand around long enough someone is sure to let you give it a go. The simplest way to get the yoyo going is to move both sticks up and down. However, I found nothing simple about it. I could not get the yoyo to do much of anything, but It was fun trying.
Many elderly men take their birds for a walk in the park, but always in a cage. When I hear chirping, I immediately start looking for elderly men swinging their bird cages because most often that is where the chirping is coming from, not just random birds sitting in the trees or flying around. The beautiful sounds of chirping birds is a rare experience in Shanghai.
Keep on walking and you may stumble upon a guy writing beautiful Chinese calligraphy on the sidewalk with a liter bottle filled with water and a sponge on the end for writing. And again, if you stand there long enough, he will happily let you enjoy the experience as well.
Most often you will see many elderly people exercising in the park, among other things. You may see them walking backwards, reaching back and slapping their backs, and the most curious sight to me was seeing them rub up against the trees. That one I did not understand. You might even catch an interesting pose on a park bench.
A crowd usually gathers round when a fair skinned person stops and talks to a Chinese person in the park. Then, of course the photos start right after that. That is fine because I will usually take some pics as well. What goes around comes around, right?
If you want a day away from the so-called fast paced Shanghai lifestyle, or simply come to visit a friend in Shanghai, Fuxing Park would be a great place to spend the morning.