Back home in Scotland I was surrounded by nature and in Chengdu I was having serious withdrawal symptoms. The sight of a bird would lift my spirits, I would seek out the friendlier cleaner looking dogs to pat and I must admit to ‘touching’ trees as I walked past them just to get that sense that I was connected to nature. I was desperate for a fix.
Well into my first few weeks I knew enough was enough, I needed a more substantial dose of nature and I needed it desperately. So one fine Sunday I headed out with some other TEFL teachers and went in search of a park and I was more than rewarded for my troubles.
I now know that there are numerous public parks in and around Chengdu, the one that we explored turned out to be a short 15 minute jog from my flat. Throughout the park there was a diverse mixture of plants, trees, people and things to do. In many secluded areas of the park there were people taking part in solo and group activities (see the picture and video below).
After covering most of the park in an hour we decided to have a rest in one of the many tea houses and whilst we were there learn Majaing. On most back streets at lunchtimes older men and woman stop work and spend an hour playing in Maijing Houses. It would seem it was equally as popular in parks on Sunday afternoons.
The only way I can describe the game itself is that it is a complex mixture of poker and dominoes. Luckily we had a couple of expert teachers and by the end of the afternoon we had all learnt the basics. Sitting in the park drinking tea and playing board games seems to be a favourite past time for many Chinese and I can’t blame them! This is one part of Chinese culture I think would do very well back in the UK (weather permitting).
After my first park encounter I have now become a bit of a collector, heading out most weekends in search of a new green space. But I must admit that none of the free public parks have so far compared to my first.
Majiang and Tea Photos