CHINESE RECOLLECTIONS

CHINESE MEN AND THEIR CAGED COMPANIONS

In the past, raising birds was a hobby of wealthy people and for those who had a lot of free time.  A “bird cage holder” used to be a derogatory term describing a person idling about and doing no decent work. Later, carrying a bird cage and taking a walk gradually became the hobby of some senior citizens and those cultivating a tasteful casual lifestyle.  Owning a bird is a sociable affair that involves walks in the park socialising with friends with a mutual interest or spending time in teahouses. Many take up birds when they retire, claiming that the birds keep them busy and make them feel wanted. They are a comfort companion.

Shanghai bird lovers keep one of four spieces of bird normally: the Chinese hwamei (melodious laughing thrush), the xiuyan (oriental white-eye), the honglandeng (Siberian ruby throat) and the bailing (Eurasian skylark). These are songbirds and are prized for their distinctive vocal talents

Having previously read of this pastime, I left our Shanghai hotel early one morning, before breakfast, and walked in the direction of a small Park which I had seen the day before. As I exited the hotel, I was excited to see a gentleman carrying his bird cage and making his way to the Park – all that I had read was suddenly becoming a reality. The men were greeting each other as each found his spot of choice to hang the little birdcage and the bird song was a real treat as I stood sharing in this morning ritual. What a great thing to do when private gardens in major cities are practically unheard of.

FANTASTIC FLOWER MARKET – KUNMING

Kunming is the capital and largest city in Yunnan Province, South West China. It is world-famous for its flowers and flower growing exports. More than 400 types of flowers are commonly grown in Kunming. The camellia, yulan magnolia, azalea, fairy primrose, lily and orchid are known as the six famous flowers of the city. The camellia was confirmed by the Municipality of Kunming as its city flower in 1983.

Located at an elevation of 1,890 metres (6,200 feet) on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau with low latitude and high elevation, Kunming has one of the mildest climates in China, characterised by short, cool dry winters with mild days and crisp nights, and long, warm and humid summers, but much cooler than the lowlands. The weather never gets very hot in summer, the temperature has exceeded 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) only on a handful of occasions. However, freak snowfalls occur in occasional winters. With its perpetual spring-like weather which provides the ideal climate for plants and flowers, Kunming is known as the “City of Eternal Spring”. The city is covered with blossoms and lush vegetation all year round (Wikipedia)

When on Tour with my granddaughter in 2009, our Guide suggested that, if some of the group were interested, he would arrange for a bus to take us to the Flower Market.  (not part of the itinerary). We loved every minute of this ‘side treat’ and B enjoyed purchasing a bunch of yellow rose buds which she wove into her hairstyle. The surplus blooms adorned our room in the Hotel. I still have great memories of our early morning among the local people and their flowers.

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