Things People Do on the Bund at 6am

With all of the delicious food here in China, I often find myself wondering why no one here is struggling with obesity. It’s hard to find someone who is even just a little overweight. Outdoor exercise seems to be major part of Chinese culture, especially for older people. Whether it be running ten miles or playing a game of chess, many Chinese people know how to spend time outdoors. On any given morning, the public parks are usually full of people engaging in some sort of activity.

To my surprise, the Bund is always bustling with thousands of people on a 6:00am Sunday morning. There are the hundred or so photographers lined up along the railing with their tripods facing the skyline to capture the smoggy sunrise. There are the many old guys filling the sky with their kites. There are the groups of ladies practicing some choreographed dances while competing who can play their music at the highest volume. There are the various people practicing tai chi, the old men yelling at the river as loud as they can, the flamboyantly dressed guy listening to his headphones while screaming the lyrics in falsetto, the walls of people walking backwards shoulder to shoulder as if they were playing some sort of reverse red rover with everyone on the bund, the people clapping their hands with every step, the people both walking backwards and clapping, the people playing badminton, chess, and street tennis, the out of place laowai in their business suits making important phone calls, the group of 50 joggers screaming a countdown from 100 to 0 interrupting the important phone calls, the lines of jogging soldiers in training with the stragglers being dragged by their collar by the higher-ups, the people slapping their forearms until their skin is bright red, the people taking a break from their jog to smoke, and the countless other people doing things I don’t really understand.

This pro was one of the many kite flyers I would see at the bund. Emily and I tried flying a kite at the Bund once. After about 40 minutes, all we had accomplished was tangling 40 feet of the kite string around me and wrapping our kite around a light pole. Apparently it is harder than it looks.

This pro was one of the many kite flyers I would see at the bund. Emily and I tried flying a kite at the Bund once. After about 40 minutes, all we had accomplished was tangling 40 feet of the kite string around me and wrapping our kite around a light pole. Apparently it is harder than it looks.

The cool thing is that everyone is always doing something. Unlike during the afternoon when the Bund is packed with tourists who are just there to block the walkway and take 100 selfies with the Shanghai skyline, the morning is filled with people who have woken up early and travelled all the way to the Bund to engage in some sort of physical activity or hobby. Despite the smog, outdoor activity is still a major part of life for many people here. I like the diversity of activities that I see on the bund, even if a lot of them don’t make sense to me. Diversity of outdoor activities is something I feel is lacking in America. Everyone there is either walking, jogging, or cycling. No one is ever getting together to practice sword dancing or to test out their homemade kites. No one ever takes their bird cages for a walk or goes roller blading in their underwear. It makes me happy to see so many older people meeting up with each other to engage in an activity or hobby they all enjoy. It makes me feel like everyone in Shanghai is friends with each other. Yay!

These ladies were swinging some sort of dragon ribbon around themselves while performing tricks set to music. I really don't know what to call it. It was cool though.

These ladies were swinging some sort of dragon ribbon around themselves while performing tricks set to music. I really don’t know what to call it. It was cool though.

I feel like that back in America, not as many people engage in outdoor activities, especially among older people. Maybe it’s just because I don’t live in a big city or spend my early mornings at the park. It seems most people in America just go for a short stroll around the park and call it good, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not as exciting as the scene here in China, where you’ll find 65-year-old guys having a pull up contest with cinderblocks tied to their feet.

I photographed some of the photographers. This was another popular activity on the Bund. These people looked very professional.

I photographed some of the photographers. This was another popular activity on the Bund. These people looked very professional.

Some older gentlemen warming up and stretching on the Bund. The People's Heroes monument on the north end of the Bund seemed to be a popular warmup/stretch spot.

Some older gentlemen warming up and stretching on the Bund. The People’s Heroes monument on the north end of the Bund seemed to be a popular warmup/stretch spot.

 

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