January 10, 2013
Fiona McCabe, Irish Dance Troupe, China Tour
Lying south on the bank of the fabulous Yellow River, Zhenzhou proudly took on the capital of the Henan Province in the late 14th Century BC. It is one of the Eight Great Ancient Capital Cities of China. It is as vibrant a city as any Beijing or Shanghai. Despite the cold sub zero temperatures I layered on the thermals and did my usual touristy ramble. A bright cold morning of January 4th, I wrapped up and I mean wrapped up. I believe I had on eight items of clothing, (that’s not taking into account sheepskin mittens, a wooly hat, an overcoat that resembles a sleeping bag and a wooly scarf!)
Making my way down Jinglui Lu and Renmin Road, a busy slice of urban life unfolded before my very eyes. I was standing on a pedestrian bridge overlooking Erqi Square and the ever famous Erqi Memorial Tower. We were lucky enough to get chatting to a local student who explained in his very best english the significance of the city and the history of Erqi Square. The square, which stands as the focal point of the city houses the Erqi Memorial Tower, also known as ‘The February 7th Memorial Tower’. It is a huge 14 story tower built in traditional Chinese style that has six clocks on its belfry. The tower commemorates a large rail workers strike launched by Beijing-Wuhan workers in 1923.
After a hot coffee and a cold ice cream fudge from the nearby McCafe, we trudged onward to the People’s Park west of Renmin and Er ‘ Qi Road. Strolling under an enormous sheltered gated-entrance we left behind a noisy heavily populated afternoon in Zhengzhou in exchange for a sample of an hours tranquility in the park.
Evidently it was early January as we trotted over small bridges the pedal boats seemed stagnant and, well, utterly stuck in the frozen surrounding canals! In the distance I spied what appeared to be an avery. To my surprise a whole small animal park appeared on the horizon. After paying a mere 10RMB entry fee, I was handed a cone-shaped packet of bird seed and corn feed wrapped in layers of newspaper. There to greet me as I walked on past the clerk was a beautiful peacock, spanning its teal and turquoise feathers in a territorial manner. I even managed to find myself amidst a turkey run! Crocodiles, camels, puck goats and ostriches were all within this enclosed, wonderful world. I was so happy to have the opportunity to view these rare and exotic creatures but saddened by their captivity.
What topped off the day was the lucky break I got on exiting the public park; bright colorful go-karts! I was transported back to my childhood once again- even if the engine was that from an old lawnmower. Two laps around a makeshift race track and I was in my element: Easily pleased!
The afternoon was complete with a mosey down the maze of small alleyways to the famous eatery spot known as Guangcai Market; a block northeast of Erqi Ta. Don’t get too distracted walking past the unending numbers of stalls of locals selling everything from long johns to pirated CD’s. Continue along the spindly walk ways which eventually leads to an abundance of snack stalls full of skewers, spicy soup, steamed corn-on-the-cob and octopus fish balls. You will not be disappointed.
– Black thermals (Marks & Spencer)
– Black tights (Capezio)
– Grey cashmere sweater dress (Troika Luxury Clothing, Nice, France)
– Brown seude & lambswool slipper (Uggs)
Fiona McCabe, MISCP
Video: Irish dance phenomenon Riverdance tours China - cntv.cn
Pictures from Beijing and Zhengzhou