Day By Day

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

China Diary -- Part 5 Afternoon Delights

After lunch we continued our journey. This time to a local clinic where we were to get a lecture on Chinese medicine and a massage. After trekking through the Forbidden City the idea of sitting in an air-conditioned room and being massaged sounded pretty good. Unfortunately the lecture began with a slam at Western medicine which, the speaker assured us, focused only on the symptoms of disease and not the root causes. I happened to be sitting between two Western physicians who were more than a little put off by the remarks. After the lecture Chinese "doctors", each accompanied by a beautiful young assistant, fanned out through the room promising to diagnose our ills and prescribe appropriate treatment. The two physicians and I absented ourselves as did several others of the group. The point of the whole exercise seemed to be [as so much we encountered in China was] more than anything an attempt to sell us stuff. There were few purchases here, but that would change later in the trip.

Then it was on the road again. This time to the Temple of Heaven, a gorgeous structure once the site of sacrificial offering to the gods to ensure good harvests. Today young couples, like the ones pictured below, favor it as a site for weddings.

There was also a photo-shoot going on. Here a model is having her makeup checked before going in front of the camera.

As we trudged back to the buses we came upon a fascinating sight. Chinese women and senior citizens of both sexes often gather in parks and other public places to dance or do exercises. Here, a dance was being led by some Indian women and the locals were trying with various degrees of success to mimic their graceful motions. It seems like a comfortable and joyous way to spend a late afternoon. Not far away an independent minded couple set up a boom-box and started jitterbugging. Several of us from the group hung around for a while, enjoying the shade and watching the dancers, but none of us got up to join them. It had been a long day and it still was not over.

Then we loaded ourselves on the buses again and were transported to our final destination for the day -- a teahouse for dinner and a show.

I took this shot of the interior of the teahouse just after we arrived and before the evening crowd assembled. Soon the place was filled and the evening's entertainment began. There were dancers, musicians, comedians, etc., something like the old-time British music hall fare. I didn't speak the language, but that wasn't much of a hinderance. I missed the jokes, but much of the show was in song and sound effects, pantomine and dance and it was pretty easy to catch the drift of what was happening. I don't have any pictures because they were prohibited.

Finally the show was over and we trooped back to the buses to be transported back to our hotel. It had been a long day. We all were tired, but excited by what we had seen. I entered our room, stretched out on the bed, closed my eyes, and suddenly it was 6:30 am. time to start another day.