Tag Archives: park

Guangzhou day 9 later

The li wan hu park. I’m feeling existential.
Little girl peeing in the bushes. Lily pond pavilion closed almost derelict. Man takes off shirt paces up the gangplank swinging and clapping his hands. He does this warm up several times then proceeds to place his stretched leg on the 1.5m high rail and then bend from the waist so god head meets his foot. Impressive. Flanked by tower blocks but neighboured by pitiful almost slums. Chicken cages and suspicious locals sitting on their steps. Leading up to the park I’ve encountered much more friendly locals who wave as I take their pics. Clusters of men playing cards, smoking, laughter and noisy banter, seated on sheets of newspaper. Old men reading, yes reading. A small boy on a skateboard that had single wheels. Some kind of youth volunteer group cheering and doing a photo call. Cantonese music coming from somewhere. The drone of the traffic. Sulphurous smelling lake. Banyan trees with dangling roots. Some kind of colourful diarama floating in the middle of the lake. A man in a conical hat on a canoe frisking out weed with a net on a pole. A jogger bare chested, green shorts, bouncing rather than running. An dropped black and white baseball cap with roxy in blue and red letters. A father kicks it, his 3 year old son stamps on it. Passers by regard it, walk deliberately step over it but avoid picking it up, as if it is a dead pigeon or something one cannot engage with. Touching it means having to decide what to do with it. It’s someone else’s property. Maybe picking it up is the beginning of theft. Kids on bikes with stabilisers. Middle aged women with Chinese style permed hair. Bright patterned smock like blouses which neither flatter nor provoke. Couples who do not hold hands. Dusk and the twittering of hidden birds. Finally a 2 year old picks up the cap, but when admonished by his 14 year old brother tosses it high over his head and runs after him. This cap fascinates me. Scores of people have passed it by. I have decided to at least give the cap dignity by setting it on the bin. Perhaps the owner will find it again. Red traditional lanterns are lit up on the brown wooden restaurant pavilions by the water. Some kind of squelchy squwak from the bushes. A duck? Fish and lily light sculptures on the water. Tiny yellow leaves are falling on my head. Airliners, car horns, sounds of a train perhaps. The smell of the water, or is it the air is noxious.

 
A sign reads “love flowers, do not pull down”.

Two rather sad robotic claw machines branded with Mickey Mouse but the toys imprisoned in the glass box are minions rip ifs and Paddington bear type things. The music is quite haunting. The 3 toy story machines next door ate battered, empty of toys, and just contain pieces of polystyrene. The lights are off. Maybe these once gave children joy. A woman on a baseball hat branded with the word black sits nearby reading her phone. She has been here for a while. She must dream this music. There is a whiff of melancholy here. The gangplank to the sedentary pleasure boats with their plastic flower covered roofs is made of old finger signs to locations around the park.

Three girls and 2 boys are attracted to the machines and jiggle the joysticks. The one in the stripes feeds in a coin but drops it under the machine. He goes off to get his mums handbag and rummages for some coins in vain. He asks me for some change, but I can’t help. They are excitable and friendly. He playfully kicks the machine. The mothers come along and chorus hello then bye bye. They don’t manage to work the machine and drift off.

  
In a pleasant square in the fading light under some shady trees groups of young adults play badminton and hacky sack. Men with small dogs sit in the approaching gloom.

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Day 02 – Singapore

It’s not as hot as expected. Permanently overcast and a bit sticky, but nothing unbearable at all.Today I went out to the Botanic Gardens (not Botanical) with a girl and guy I met at the hotel (Sophie from Holland and Valeria from Italy). Travelled by super-clean and super efficient MRT (subway).

The paths were lined with Christmas trees decorated by local kids in rather off-the-wall and recycle-friendly ways. I particularly like the one by the Russian church (I think) which was hung with baubles with the face of Yuri Gugarin stuck on, and rockets made out of silver-painted water bottles. We spent most of the time in the Evolution Garden which told the history of plant life, but overdid it a bit with concrete replicas of primordial trees and dinosaur footprints on the concrete path.

After those 2 left for lunch I wandered through the rain forest area then headed down to the bus stop. But had no idea where to go next.

The bus took me to where I wasn’t expecting, and a Chinese guy, whose help I didn’t want, insisted on showing me where I could go. Trouble was he couldn’t read the map. Ive found that a lot in Asia, that people cannot read maps. I found myself heading past some tower blocks and into China town.

Pausing at a food court to get a bargain plateful of vege Chinese food, some of which I have no idea of its name or components. Yum.

Over the road was the 5-storey Chinese Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. No teeth in sight but quite a lot of Buddhas.

Actually, it was spectacular. More or less next door was the  Sri Mariamman Krsna Temple, equally amazing, ornately painted Vishnu, and cows, resplendent against the backdrop of high-rise hotels and financial offices.

Smith Street was the centre for prostitutes and opium dens in the 1920’s, but now its pretty painted shuttered Chinese houses are hidden by a street-long canopy¬† built to protect the open-air Chinese market, where I bought nothing. It’s all very similar to Malaysia, so i have to say, so far nothing new, but nevertheless, very pleasant. Reassuringly alien, yet familiar.

I bussed it back to Victoria Road, near the hotel, and found myself looking over a low wall into a rambling graveyard (the religion is not clear, but certainly not Christian). My photographic curiosity got the better of me and drew me into the scrubby garden lined with almost identical and un-inscribed grave markers. As I went deeper I found a ruined building, open to the sky with trees and creepers wrapped around it. I suddenly looked right and there appearing from some trees and eyeing me was a big tan skinny dog. A stray. To my relief he was alone and, probably surprised to see anyone on his patch, he trotted away. It was then I realized my legs were being bitten. Bugs, or worse in the prickly tough tropical grass. Time to shower and put on some cream.

This led to a tropical collapse and sleep for several hours.

In the evening I wanted to catch some of the crazy modern towers at dusk by the harbour. Distance and sheer number of amazing views delayed my progress. In fact i didn’t really know where I was heading. Just guided by the space occupied by malls, hotels, offices, main roads and over-passes. Rain fell lightly and I found my route coming to an end, so I strode through a fashion mall where the shops were just closing. If it was KL or BKK I think they would have been hectically crowded at that time.

Headed to Little India by underground, changing at a fabulous multi-layered spartan clean chrome open-plan interchange with a constant soundtrack of multi-lingual reminders about rubbish, drinking and eating on the network.

Tonight India was different. Shops were open, the gatherings of moustachioed men weren’t there, I had chappatis and curry then visited the Sri Veeramakaliallam Temple, where blessings, offerings and prostrations were in full swing. Food was being sold and Brahmans were collecting limes from devotees and marking their foreheads with ash. A bell was rung and 2 musicians began to play, one a handheld drum with 2 tones, the other an Indian pipe of some kind, the length of an oboe, and looking perfect for charming snakes. i sat and watched, the only white face there, knowing from experience not even to try to take pictures. Committing it all to memory instead.

After hunting down a samosa, ambled back to the hotel for rest and to consider my moves for tomorrow.

Hope I can upload some photos soon.