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Getting Old

While in Kai Feng for the weekend, The General and I decided to visit a historical amusement park (random, huh?). From our cozy rickshaw I did a double-take after spotting a bunch of nearly naked old guys getting ready to dive into the chilly Dragon Pavilion Lake.

I myself dove out of the rickshaw and started making photos.

I think I need some serious help, because I can wander all over the world and see some cool-ass things, things which I’m not always motivated to photograph. But if I come across a bunch of old-timers in swim trunks, I go crazy! (Maybe this is normal…?)

When we arrived at the Millennium City Park to survey the scene, we noticed on the tour map that unbeknownst to us, they recreated a few sporting activities for the tour groups. Those included “Traditional Chinese Football,” women’s polo and cock fighting. One problemo: my time photographing the swimmers meant we had just missed the final “games” of the day.

Only one solution: Gotta go back again the next day.

Now while I was curious about the recreations, I had no allusions these would be spectacular images. And sure enough, each “event” lasts about 10 minutes. “Players” aren’t really playing, just going through the motions. But it was worth an hour or so of our day.

The soccer court was similar to volleyball, with a dividing goal separating the two squads. The really unique thing about this version of soccer is that it involves kicking the ball into a square hole about 10 feet high.

After that, there was women’s polo. Guess there weren’t enough women, because there were some men as well. Anyway, think polo in really nice Chinese sweatsuits.

Mind you, all these events are choreographed to lead you from one area of the park to the next. So right next to the polo grounds is the cock fighting arena, where we spent 10 minutes listening to the announcer’s voice screaming out from a crappy speaker system. I kept waiting to hear the Chinese equivalent of “Let’s get ready to ruuuuuuuuumble!” – as if I’d know it if I heard it.

But again, the streets of Kai Feng gave the best photo ops. I had a fun time hanging with a bunch of old geezers playing Chinese Chess. One of them said to us, “Put our picture on the Internet and tell all of America that there’s a bunch of unemployed guys in China spending their time playing chess.”

I now consider my task completed.

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