Adult playgrounds, bicycle rides, and badminton

It’s the start of a new week and it’s already been full of firsts! SV and I finally decided to hit up the adult playground at the bottom of the apartment complex last night and it was a blast. Since the Chinese take on “exercise” is rather different from that in which I’m used to (getting the blood flowing vs. losing fat and bulking up), I wasn’t really able to use any of the machines for a long period of time before being bored or sore from it. I don’t think my explanations will do any of it justice so I will post a picture of the adult playground another day (I forgot to take a picture of it – shame on me). The place has a gazelle machine, an arm bike, pivot machines, walking machines, and even a “treadmill”. And again, the quotations are there since the “treadmill” is basically inoperable because it is constructed from lining tubes side by side so whenever you get on it, you practically slip and fall flat on your face. Good times. All my faux names for these machines are not doing any of it justice so I’m just going to leave it at that and post a picture hopefully tomorrow! I’m glad SV was with me for my first introduction to the adult playground though because I would have been totally lost and confused without her since the machines all look so foreign to me (I like doing stuff outdoors instead of within a gym).

Today was also a day of firsts. It was the first time I rode on the back of a bike and the first time I played badminton in China. So I was terrified to ride on the back of a bike, because well, it doesn’t look safe at all with all the cars zooming about and the whole you’re straddling the back and can’t see where you’re going thing. Well anyway, KM, CL, and FM were all on bikes so in order to get to the nearest badminton spot in the shortest amount of time, everyone encouraged me to try it. I’m glad that they did and even coached me (and FM through it because he’s never had anyone on the back seat before either) because it was so fun! It was nice to get from one place to another in basically no time, all the while just hanging out in the back and chitchatting. So this might have been super obvious to everyone out there reading this but apparently the trick is to ride fast so that the momentum keeps you going instead of giving into gravity and toppling over. And apparently straddling is more dangerous than riding sideways (for the back person) since you can just hop off any time you feel danger encroaching. Well come to think about it, these tips are actually pretty obvious, I was just never put in a position to actually do it.

Well anyway, the four of us arrived at one of the small parks on campus and hit the ground running with the two rackets FM brought over from the States. We took turns playing while a young Chinese boy longingly looked to us. At one point he gravitated so close to where we were playing that we were basically hitting the shuttlecock back and forth right above his head. At this sight, CL decided to ask if the boy wanted to play and he immediately perked up and jumped right in. The little boy turned out to be out for the kill and smashed the shuttlecock every change he got, which in turn almost took some heads. While KM and CL left after about twenty or thirty minutes, the boy never gave up and stuck with us for about forty minutes.

ImageKm playing badminton with the little boy in the park. Woo!

After that FM and I decided to go to a “real” court. And again, quotation marks are necessary here since the outdoor court did have a net and we had to string one up from one tree to another weight machine within the adult playground complex on campus. Good times in Beijing again. FM and I played until the game devolved into us just standing in front of the net slowly hitting the shuttlecock back and forth. I’m so glad I got to pick up a badminton racket and play again – I truly love this sport and wish I had stuck with it through college.

FM and I strolled through parts of the campus I’ve never been to as he introduced me to the little supermarket located near the South Gate of campus and we even splurged as he bought himself a little fan for his bedroom while I bought myself a toothbrush to clean my watch with.