When I was 18 or 19 I went on a road trip through Ireland with my family. It was cloudy and raining most of the time, as it is usual there, but one day the sun started shining in Dublin. We were visiting a college or some place with a garden, and many people went to that garden and lied in the sun, wearing shorts and tank tops. I am from southern Spain and we have sunny days almost always, so I thought it was very funny that these people were so happy to see the sun that they would leave everything they were doing aside and go outside to enjoy the day.
Then I came to China and I experienced something similar.
I live in the Yangtze delta area, a place that is not exactly famous for its nice weather: winters are long, cold and humid and summers are long, hot and humid. Spring and autumn are almost non existent. You will probably be wearing long underwear and down jacket one week, and be sweating in short sleeves the next.
When it is warm, but not too hot, and it is not raining, Suzhounese people will flock to the green areas around the city for one of their favourite activities: 烧烤 shaokao or barbecue. Last Friday was one of those days and we went to lake Yangcheng with C.’s colleagues. One of them is almost a professional “barbecuer” and doesn’t miss an opportunity to show his skills.
I had been outside “barbecueing” before but I had never seen so many people as last Friday. Maybe it was because of the holiday, but the place was packed! Luckily our friend arrived first and secured a spot under a tree.
What kind of things can you eat in a Chinese homemade bbq? Well, Chinese people love meat, so you will get a lot of meat for sure. This time we had beef with pepper and onions, sausages, mushrooms, chicken wings and even a whole chicken! Our friend’s grill even has a rotating pole to roast a chicken! All the passersby were very impressed.
When Chinese people go to the park to spend the day they do something that I think it is very weird: they bring a tent. I can’t understand why someone would go outside to enjoy a beautiful day and then spend it melting inside a tent but hey, it’s a free country (at least regarding tents). It must have to do with the fact that Chinese people don’t like being in the sun because they hate getting tanned (it makes you look like a peasant).
This time our relaxing day was kind of “spoiled” by a family located four or five trees to the left, who decided that it was a great idea to bring a portable karaoke machine. The daughter, who must have been 10 or 11, was singing the whole time. And no, she couldn’t sing at all. And yes, she sang “Little Apple”. I thought about recording a video but I didn’t want to torture you.
A day barbecueing outside cannot be complete without a kite. In Spain, kites are something kids play with when they are in the beach, but they are not very popular. In China, kites are a serious matter and more for adults than for kids. Me? I have never flown a kite. It is like fishing, I just don’t get it.