Below are some Chinese memories that have been submitted so far… Many thanks to all the contributors!
Prof Simon Emmerson
Sometime after visiting the Yong He Gong teahouse someone sent me the attached image taken from inside the teahouse looking over the road to the old Confucian temple. That’s also the reason I am reminded of its name.
When we (Leigh Landy, Simon Atkinson, myself and others – Ken Fields I remember, but I am not sure which of our Chinese hosts came, too) went there in 2006 it seemed to be in a backwater part of town, away from the manic modernisation of the central area. It was pleasantly old fashioned. I remember seating areas around separate square tables, not exactly isolated in alcoves but for groups to sit together. That said there was a feel of people relaxing and reading newspapers, not too busy and absolutely no bustle.
The tea was served very fresh, poured with panache and some spillage (which I was told was, if not deliberate, then not totally accidental either – just part of the gesture). The tea pot was refreshed on several ocasions – not rushed – but then the atmosphere was one of calm tranquility and relaxation. In fact I remember someone local remarking this was an antidote to our jet lag.
I’d love to go back.
Your question led to the search for this image which I knew was on the computer somewhere – and now we know its name you might search it out.
Our last place visited in Beijing – Simon emailed us his directions to the teahouse as we had failed to find it the first time. It was absolutely as entrancing and relaxing as described. It was a real wrench to leave…
I have been fortunate enough to visit China on two occasions in the past.
Once in 2004 and again, with pupils in tow, in 2005.
On my first visit I was fortunate enough to start in Shanghai (QingPu Town -
pronounced ChingPu – to the West of Shanghai City) before heading off to
Xi’an and thence Beijing before returning once more to QingPu (Shanghai).
In the square outside the QingPu Towers Hotel I was intrigued by the
activity in the early morning and again in the late evening. Clips
QinPuTowersDay and QinPuTowersNight. Both are .AVI clips and I hope you can
open them OK. If not let me know and I’ll try to convert them.
This is a common activity in many squares in and around Shanghai. We were
fortunate on our second visit to be taken to a rather massive evening event
which, unfortunately due to camera battery failure, I didn’t get the chance
to film. However, I’m sure you will be able to attend a similar kind of
event if you try explaining what they are. It’s just communal open air
dancing where many many people travel in from outlying areas, by the coach
load, to meet and dance.
The third clip is from Bejing. I came across this impromptu performance
somewhere in the Temple of Heaven. Unfortunately, again, problems, camera
memory this time, cuts the clip short. It is also a .AVI clip.
As we walked through the park to the Temple of Heaven, we came across several groups of people dancing, from ballroom dancing to Latin American through to more traditional dancing forms. A wide path was almost completely blocked by a group of ladies following the moves of a woman dressed in a traditional outfit.