Sunday, February 08, 2009


Last Sunday, our friends (we'll call S and C) wanted to check out the 北大 (Peking University) campus. Unfortunately for M, she was sick at home with the some kind of strange stomach virus, which took her out for a few days, so she couldn't go exploring with us.

We started at the East Gate of the university and worked our way in, stopping only to play a bit of hackey-sack on the steps of a somewhat imposing library facade. As we wandered, we noticed arrows pointing out the way to a lake, and we couldn't resist. We did get lost a few times, but we found it eventually. The lake was (mostly) frozen over, and apparently in China when lakes (mostly) freeze, swarms of industrious businessmen and women flock to peddle their wares. Ice skates, carmelized haw on a sharp stick, books, etc.

But what really got us were these badboys:

Old school (as in kindergarten circa 1985) chairs nailed to planks of wood atop two rusty runners, throw in a couple metal spikes with which to get around, and you've got yourself a winner. Not until after I picked it did I realize that my chair didn't have a back, just two posts of a wood with a couple passes of packing tape across the back.

Next to the icechairs, they had real ice skates for the same price, but ice skating is out, chairs are the new skate.

(I have a sneaking suspicion they were invented for Chinese grandparents who want to keep a watchful eye on their budding ice princesses and ice princes.)

The icechair vendor had a tandem chair set, but he charged extra, so S and I decided to rent our own. C opted to walk out on the ice, although when tempted, he caved and rode a chair for a bit.

10rmb ($1.50) for as long as we wanted out on the ice, which ended up being about 20 minutes. S and I raced a couple times, but my chair was more defective than his, so whoever was in my chair lost. It was pure adrenaline weaving between the bumbling kids on ice skates, fellow icechairers, and the occasional suspicious-looking-burn-marked pothole filled with firework scraps.

We haven't really been keeping up with the Only in China posts, but I'm pretty sure this counts as one.

1 comment: