April 16, 2013

HvA Student Laszlo on Exchange: Guangzhou and the Chinese Feather Ball

Week 5 in Guangzhou, China

by Laszlo Schenkhuysen

Guangzhou becomes home:

This week my roommates and I decided to stay at home. Last week we traveled a lot. That week consumed a lot of energy and made me wish for my bed a lot. It was that week in which I experienced for the first time that I missed Guangzhou and I missed my bed, it finally felt like I missed home. It was the first indication for me that our house in Guangzhou started to feel like coming home and that my bed actually was my bed instead of just a bed to sleep in. Because of that I have been spending a lot of time at home as well as enjoying the Guangzhou kitchen in the city as well. Since Guangzhou has the most restaurants in China we were very spoiled and picky about our food. It was amazing going back to the restaurants we were used to.

Since we have arrived in Guangzhou we had some nice weather. An average temperature of 24 degrees, a cool breeze from time to time but lately the rain season has started and we have experienced a lot of rain. This weekend however we had a clear blue sky with 27 degrees temperatures and decided to sit at the river with some drinks, music and a Chinese feather ball. 

Chinese feather ball:

The purpose of this game is to form a group and kick the ball into the air as many times as 
you can without getting it to drop on the floor. We were playing for two hours and a lot of Chinese people stopped their walk and started to look at us. This is where I have experienced another likable aspect of the Chinese culture which was very different from the habits that I am used to in Europe. While we were playing a, ''and I am sure he was of this age'', 70+ old grandfather stepped in and joined us in playing this game. He was great in playing this game, jumping around, running and moving his legs in difficult ways. I was so surprised when this happened because all the people I know back in the Netherlands of this age won’t even think about trying to play this game because it is too intensive and maybe even dangerous. We had a lot of fun and several more Chinese guys started to join us in this game.

Older people work out in China!

After this occurred I started to look around and noticed that all elderly get out of their house as much as possible. There is a square between the river and the north gate of our university.
Every morning when I pass this square I always see around 50 elderly practicing Tai-chi, stretching their legs by putting it on a bar that is at the same height as their shoulder. Every night when I leave class around 21:00 / 22:00 the square is filled with maybe 200 people with 8 different types of music where the elderly as well as the younger people dance for several hours.
The difference with the Netherlands is that the elderly on average are so much more active  in China and with that are capable to do so much more at a higher age than the elderly on average in the Netherlands can do. I even saw one old guy having a match against two teenagers. The game was about hanging upside down by only using your arms and who could hold it the longest. To my surprise the 70+ old man managed to win from the two teenagers easily.
Something that might provide aid to this is the fact that all playgrounds are filled with colorful exercise instruments that you normally would find in gyms, and all elderly practice on these things in the morning as well. It was so surprising to me and the concept of it really caught my attention.

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