They do a funny thing on the trains here. There’s a smoking section at the end of each car, but they recirculate the air throughout the train so you end up breathing in the stale smoke anyway. It gives me itchy eyes.
We stopped in Chengdu to take a break from riding these trains. After checking in at a cute hostel on a very touristy pedestrian-only alley, we strolled through the comfortable heat (~28 degrees C) to People’s Park.
Watching a handful of kids play with water guns in a pond was entertaining, but the highlight was a wide-open area hosting some ballroom dancing. A song we couldn’t figure out was playing, so we watched the ten or so couples dancing. That was followed by a waltz, Auld Lang Syne! (They play it on trains too!)
We did a pretty waltz in our sandals and with our bags knocking, and as the song ended, a gum-smacking woman came up and demanded 1 yuan. With a disgruntled, disbelieving look, I held it out. (1 yuan is less than 15 cents, but we’d only danced one song and pretty clearly weren’t there to take advantage of the sound system.) After a second’s hesistation, she indicated it was 1 yuan each.
Suddenly we were swarmed by shouting people waving their finger at her. The next song started and a woman asked me to dance, pulling me out of the commotion. Colin had several people approach him to apologize for the scrooge and welcome us to China. The woman herself apologized to both of us–one of the most aggressive, though not hostile, apologies I’ve ever received.
After my second dance ended, we made a quick and blushing exit.