This post is a continuation of my journal entries from our six-week expedition to China this summer. If you didn’t read the introduction to this series, you can read it here.

Date: Day 5 | 7/2

Location: Xiangshuihu (响水湖), a village outside Beijing and beside the Great Wall

I sat in the park with my journal for one morning of our village orientation and wrote the following piece.

The park is a centerpiece of the village of Xiangshuihu (响水湖). In a way, it is the “cultural center” — a place where villagers can gather and enjoy each other’s company while keeping their bodies (and minds) moving. A row of exercise equipment makes up one size of the park, while most of the remaining space is open. It can be used for dancing (a “troupe” of older women practices every night, and we joined in once), playing basketball, or just sitting around the set of stone tables playing cards. The park is used at many times during the day, but the evening is when the Lao Bai Xing (老百姓; a term for common people which literally translates to “old hundred names”) finish their daily duties and have time to relax and enjoy themselves.

Going to the park is an important leisure activity in China, and it’s heavily imbedded in the culture. Whether used as a gym, dance studio or place to enjoy their surroundings, the people of Xiangshuihu use their park to its fullest.


Stay tuned for more journal entries! Please also check out the photos and videos from the park below.

Here is the location of Xiangshuihu, in case you’re wondering where it is:

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Here’s a video of our group dancing with locals in the park.