It had been a long week.
It was the end of my third week of teaching. I was tired and had just spent most of my Saturday afternoon catching up on grading and cleaning my apartment. I never ended up doing my laundry, though–that would have to wait until Sunday.
I was sitting at dinner with some of my fellow teachers. Then, one of them had a fun idea: “Who wants to go for a scooter ride to find this park I found on my map?”
I thought it sounded fun, but ugh — going out after dinner isn’t really my thing. But one person at our table jumped in, then another, then another, and soon our whole table was walking down the street to the scooter rental place.
Before I knew it, we had our group of seven split between the four scooters we rented, and we were on our way to who knows where! Before long, we pulled into a dimly lit parking lot and dismounted. I wasn’t sure where exactly we were, but then the scenery opened up and we walked down to a small lake, to see the city lights reflecting on the water. Then we spent several minutes of some Chinese man’s time trying to ask him to take a picture using the flash.
Soon we were on our way again, zooming through traffic and weaving around people on the sidewalks. Then we arrived at our next stop: another park! There was a light and water show playing to music at a huge fountain, which we stood and gazed at for a while. After the show was over, we migrated to a different part of the park, where there were some other fun activities going on.
In China, walking for exercise is very popular. To get more of a workout, some people do different things with their arms. At the park, there were some ladies leading people in a march around a square, showing what to do with your arms. A few of us decided to join in, and it was so fun! And after going several times around the square, we moved on to our next destination.
And guess what—another park! Wow, there are so many parks in Xinzheng that I never knew about. This one had some street food vendors, which was our first order of business upon arrival (obviously). A couple of teachers got “street sushi” (made on the spot, but don’t worry, Mom– everything was already cooked). I ended up going with fried balls of dough with a piece of squid and some corn on the inside, topped with Mayo and some other sauce, fishy flakes, seaweed, and some other stuff. Very fishy, but also tasty!
After our culinary adventure, we decided to join one of the many groups that were dancing at the park. Some people were doing Salsa, some were ballroom dancing, but we joined a group that was doing what looked like line dancing. The lead ladies were quite excited to have us and made sure that we were catching onto the steps. Afterwards, we took a photo together and they invited us to come back—as it turns out, they dance in the park every night!
What was originally supposed to be an hour-long scooter ride actually turned into two and a half hours of whimsical adventure, taking in some of the local culture and food, learning a new dance, and a very fun time with some wonderful people.
All this to say, some of the best adventures are the ones you don’t plan—just start with a general idea, grab a scooter, and be open to all the things you might discover when you live in China.
Meet the author
Lauren grew up in the state of California, USA. Before coming to China, she attended UCLA to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. After college, she spent 11 months volunteering in 11 countries through a program called the World Race. Then she moved to Montana with her family, where she lived for a year before moving to Xinzheng to work at Sias University. In her free time, she likes to play sports, play games, cook, travel, and read.