Chris and I started the May 1 holiday weekend off (after a Friday night filled with sake and KTV) with a stroll through Renmin Park. It was interesting to say the least. We wandered through a kiddie amusement park, past several monuments, stalls upon stalls of snack food and even wandered across one “Goldfish” Island-all within just a few square kilometers. It was crowded with holiday revelers, enjoying the May holiday but still peaceful. Lots of cute kids eating hot dogs and playing with wind-up plastic toys in the open spaces around the monuments. There were families playing majhong together and couples holding hands on benches.
Of course some couples in the park weren’t there just to play around. They had serious business to attend to: wedding photos.
You can’t tell from this distance but that bride’s new husband is wearing a white, sequined suit.
As we walked around, we saw all sorts of kids licking these intricate honey-colored figures of birds and butterflies. Finally we found the source, along with a young customer.
After some time spent walking around we stopped for some chrysanthemum tea. At 10kuai each, a cup it is not cheap, but it does come with a massive 3L thermos of hot water and the privilege of a table and comfortable chairs until the thermos runs out or you’re forced to make a dash for the public restrooms on the other side of the park–whichever comes first.
After the park we headed over to Chun Xi Lu, the pedestrian shopping area across the town center. To put it mildly, it was crowded. You may be wondering why I have no photos of the crowed. The reason is that it was so crowded I wasn’t even able to pull my camera out of my bag. We moved a few feet at a time, everyone did. People held up skewers of grilled meat (because food on a stick is a way of life here), their cigarettes and their backpacks on high like flag-touting tour group leaders. We shuffled, we jostled, we crammed into the street with everyone else and finally we reached something like an oasis of calm: a basement food court.
3 floors underground we found fairly authentic Korean bibimbop and bizarre but tasty “vegetarian sushi” made with little bits of Chinese hot dog (all eaten too quickly for photos). It was just what we needed after hours of wading through crowds. We were no longer fighting the tide of shopping bags and misplaced elbows and electric scooters. We could hear each other speaking again.
And then, inspired by our good fortune and to honor my quest for bizarre Chinese desserts made with green food coloring, we tried the doughnuts:
The chocolate one was obviously chocolate but we never did figure out what tropical fruit flavored the green glaze. They weren’t real Americana style doughnuts but they were tasty and the splendid mix of superfine sugar and grease was enough to get us through the rest of the crowds until, at last, there were no more stores and no more crowds. We miraculously flagged down a cab and made it home to our couch and a 5kuai copy of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. We didn’t move for the rest of the night.