East Meets West – Day 5

Today we would conquer another mountain together. Ok, maybe it was more like a series of rolling hills intermingled with lakes and forested areas. Essentially, it was a hilly park. But it was called Da Fu Shan.

When we arrived at Da Fu Shan, we looked for a tandem bike to take around the park. There seemed to be nearly a hundred different bike shops and thousands of bikes. Capitalism at its best.

We found a decent one and began our adventure. Usually 桂兰 says she just bikes around a small part of the park, but I wanted to explore the whole thing, which is basically what we did.

It was a pleasant day to bike around the park. Not too many people. Weather was in the 70s with intermittent light rain. We found a pleasant spot to eat lunch. There was a stone bench underneath a tree near a stream that wound its way through the land like an unnaturally large, sinuous snake. With good food, a pleasant place, and a beautiful girlfriend, I couldn’t have asked for much more.

After lunch, we continued biking around the park. I think we explored nearly every path the park had. Actually, there were a few paths that were too narrow for the bike. If not, I would have tried those too. I may or may not have gotten lost a few times, but eventually we found our way back to the main entrance. Perhaps I could call it a purposeful meandering. At any rate, it was an enjoyable ride together.

That evening we went to the Chimelong Circus. When I heard the word circus, I thought Barnum and Bailey with a Chinese twist. Maybe watch some clowns, see some elephants walking in a ring, and gape at the trapeze artists. But this was no ordinary circus.

It was a 2-hour theatrical performance that immediately drew me in and left me as entranced as a child watching a magician pull a rabbit from his hat. There were so many death-defying acts and comedic parts. I could blabber on about it for a while, but let me break down into three parts: the beautiful, the dangerous, and the comedic.

The most beautiful performance was when women descended from the ceiling in long, white dresses and were continuously twirling as they came down. Almost like a fluttering leaf but with control. Other gracefully spun around in transparent plastic globes that dangled from the ceiling.

The most dangerous performance was what I would call the Spinning Wheel of Death. Imagine this metallic hub with 5 spokes. At the hub, a person is walking inside this open circular metal wheel. On the end of each spoke is another metal wheel. There is a person in each of them. Now imagine it is spinning around rapidly. This is not a small metallic device. From top to bottom, it is at least 30-40′ high.

These performers weren’t content to just walk inside their metal wheels. They decided to climb out of the wheel and walk on top of their wheels. Then they began jumping rope on top of the metal wheel as it spun around. Next they decided to walk it blindfolded. One of the guys acted like a drunken person, stumbling along and almost falling off the wheel a few times. Needless to say, probably one of the most terrifying acts I’ve ever seen.

The most comedic performance had to be the bears. Most of them were walking on their hindlegs. Some jumped through hula hoops. One drove a children’s bike around the stage. Another drove a Harley Davidson on the stage. It was highly entertaining. But PETA probably wouldn’t approve.

For me, this was one of the best performances I have ever seen anywhere. 300 RMB ($50) well spent.

This entry was posted in Travel.

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