June 26, 2012
It is an early October morning and our tour bus takes us to the Temple of Heaven, another UNESCO site. We see buses with people on their way to work, like these women catching a cat nap. Vicki, our guide, tells us Chinese laborers put in long hours for low pay.
This orange hooded stand is a telephone booth, simple, protected from the weather, low-cost. You have to respect the design. Although, like the US, cell phones are seen all over China, more than in my neighborhood. (Remember this is 2006.) The street scenes are so interesting here but I was using a new digital and still taking pictures as though each picture would be developed and being very conservative, not knowing how many pictures would fit on the sandisk. At that time I hadn’t heard of a cyber album where I now keep my pictures.
We entered the complex through a park with many squares. Our first encounter was a group of people doing ball room dancing. We watched for a while. A single man asked me and another woman from our group to dance. This is very common in China, morning exercise with a huge group.
The next square held a group of people line dancing. Wanning Determan, in red and my partner Michal joined them. What an enjoyable way to start the day.
This group was performing a kind of fast clapping exercise designed for mental alertness. In between the clapping they make foot figures and turn around and start again, sometimes hands raised above their heads. Quite tricky and challenging. Like line dancing, they follow a leader in this exercise that also has music to it.
This group, at a distant square, practices a graceful flag dance.
This group is doing Tai Chi. I’ve tried it since my China visit, and it is harder than it looks. Great for balance and coordination.
This group was doing a type of Tai Chi with paddles and balls, very difficult Vicki informed us. I was quite taken by the vast amount of people who exercise. It is easy to see why you rarely encounter an overweight person in China.
We finally arrive at the entrance gate to the Temple of Heaven.
Before passing through the gate, I grabbed a picture of the ornate decoration under the eaves and you can see the parade of protective lions on the roof.
The Temple sits on vast square all the way around it. It is the tallest round building in the world. At one time animal sacrifices were done here and the meat cooked and eaten in a great kitchen/dining room.
You enter by way of this huge marble staircase.
Each newel post is carved, each one different. The rails have decorative carvings. This stairway was meant to last forever.
The unique building is highly decorated with the typical colors of the day. The Chinese people love the color red and you see it in their special places.
Inside, the building is held up by a series of beautifully decorated columns. They all have gold leaf. Magnificent and irreplaceable.
A close-up of the dragon on the roof. It is no surprise the temple is a UNESCO treasure.
On the way out we passed through the Long Hall which is really long. Without the measurements, I would guess it is the length of a city block.
It is kind of fun to observe the Chinese people. We are curious about them and they are open and friendly and curious about us, as well though we can’t speak their language, this mother was obviously enjoying all the fuss over her cute little girl. The wooden stroller is unique.
Instead of a cloth sling, this woman carries her baby in a bamboo slat basket.
As we left, a lone woman was practicing her banner exercise.
As we left the temple, we passed the last remaining gate from Mongolian times hovering above the Ring Road that replaced the feudal walls and surrounds the city. Mau was smart enough to preserve it for posterity. It was through this gate the people, dignitaries, and the privileged few passed to have access to their leaders and protection from enemies.
February 7, 2012
There is no reason not to find the fountain of youth if exercise has anything to do with it-and, in my opinion, it does. The so called “snowbird” resorts of warm winter climates like Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida and Southern, California attract thousands of Northerners from the U.S and Canada of retirement age. Drive the streets of Apache Junction, Yuma, Mesa, Maricopa or any number of other places and row upon row of gated communities are filled to the gills with retirees. Activities vary but most have swimming pools, a club house, spa, scheduled and special events. What’s not to like? The sounds of friendly gatherings, music, barbeques, people chatting with their neighbors, catching up with “the news” or having visiting grandchildren or friends in for a day is testimony to the homey, feeling of snowbird resorts like Country Side, (where we stayed last year), and Golden Sun where we are now.
Yesterday morning, I passed by the pool exercise group and attended a stretch exercise group for an hour.
I snapped this picture just as everyone was getting ready to leave. Provided is a wooden bar and weights of differing size. The stretches cover every muscle group from your toes to eyes. Invigorating.
I returned to the motor home for 45 minutes and then attended a yoga class. The instructor was humorous and had all of us laughing and sending bad vibes away. The one hour session ran over by 15 minutes and was so much fun, I would like it if I had access to a class like this every day. She teaches a morning and afternoon class.
The schedule here is Tai Chi, Lap swimming, Floor exercises, Stretch exercises, Water exercises, Sweating to the oldies and Yoga, everyday or set days of the week.
The rest of the activity schedule varies. For instance, Monday: Women’s Pool (billiards), Shuffle Board, Round Dancing, Men’s B Leage Pool, Line Dancing, Craft Class, Potluck Social & Dinner, Texas Hold’Em, Ceramics.
Tuesday: Smell The Roses Hiking, Charity Quilters, Bridge, WWarII Vets Meet.
Wednesday: Shuffleboard, Quilting, Golf, Mens Senior Pool League, Ceramics, Games.
Thursday: Women’s Pool, Women’s Pool League Bridge, Line Dancing, Cribbage, Texas Hold’em.
Friday: Hiking With Rex, Shuffle Board, Men’s A Legue Pool, WWII, Dance.
Saturday: Nickel Bingo, Games
Sunday: Couples Pool.
Those are regular activites with special events added in. The Dance on Friday nights is always live music.
A constant round of activities from which you can partake or ignore. The resort at Country Side, as I remember, had more golf aficionados with there own, home-made golf course on vacant land across from the resort. Snake Hole Golf Course was blogged here January 13, 2011, if you wish to see it.
In 2008, we rented a less fancy place for $250 a month in Yuma to have my dental work done. For us, we move in for a week or two, partake and leave. But, for those who like a permanent address for six months of the year for good weather and fun? The choices are endless, and golden agers have found the fountain of youth. Exercise, friends, social contacts, sunshine, economy and bring your pet if you have one.
January 11, 2011
Yesterday, we went to Greenfield Village in Mesa to watch Jim’s pal, Aaron Canvasser, dance. This is considered round dancing and ball room dancing, waltz, in fact. But, its nothing like the waltz our parents used to do. The moves are graceful and intricate and the dancers use a caller to call out the moves, as in round dancing. I guess one would have to say its a combination of ball room and round dancing. The levels begin at one and end at six. This is round dancing at the highest level.
The instructor demonstrates the new steps for this particular waltz from the floor. Then the dancers get up and learn the steps.
The moves are open and close, twirls, and weight shifts. Hand positions are also taught. The dancers concentrate fully on the technicality of the moves, first without the music and then with the music.
Aaron’s partner is Judy Priest whose husband is recovering from surgery. Aaron’s wife is unable to attend this season and has had to stay at home. It kind of reminds me of old square dancing days. It was always said, you drag your husband to the dance, then, when he realizes how much fun it is, he will attend even if you stay home.
And like square dancers everywhere, this group was friendly and open. Many came by to ask us if we wanted to dance, where we were from and so on. Made me wish I was still in a square dance club.
Many people in this group have danced together for 15-20 years, I was told. Longevity is a hallmark of this type of communal dancing. They help each other, change partners when one is tired or temporarily or permanently incapacitated, they share, they learn with and from each other. A wholesome activity for all ages, though this is a senior group of retirees. Several women danced solo along with the couples to keep their skills up to date.
The music plays, the dancers practice their new skills so they can flow gracefully about the floor at the next dance, on Friday night.