Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chinese Acrobats

Jacky Lee was one of the best tour guides I have ever had. He truly LOVED his job and literally did anything to help make my stay more enjoyable. He called the office of an acrobat troupe only a few hours before the show and managed to get me a ticket, even though they were supposedly "sold out". He and the bus driver took me to the theater and Jacky took me inside and arranged for the ticket. He also gave me his business card with his phone number saying that if I needed any help or had communications issues, to call him and he would help me. I was completely overwhelmed by this sense of kindness and fellowship from someone whom I had just met. He very adequately represented his country.

I walked around a bit before the performance in the hutongs, the old courtyards and housing districts of the people. It was a very intricate maze of houses and shops and I only ventured on the outskirts so that I would not get lost. They opened the doors for the show at 5 pm and I happened to be there at the same time as the tour groups. I learned about how the concept of "ques" or "lines" are still not fully part of the culture. I was impressed at most of the places where I went that lines appeared in the subways (only a few people pushed to the front) and other businesses, but this was a total mad house. There were several different tour groups all pushing and fighting to get inside one door at the exact same time. I was caught in the midst of the pushing and just had to laugh because I could not understand a word of what was being said. I did finally make it inside and to my seat where I realized that I was the only non-Asian individual in the whole theater. So that meant it must be a truly authentic Chinese acrobat show. It was very impressive- they had a contortionist who moved her body in frightening ways while not spilling any water. They had these teenage boys jumping all around each other and through various rings. My favorite act were the men who were jumping back and forth on the skinny poles, at times turning upside down and sliding down to stop themselves before hitting the floor. One lady that I was sitting next to kept talking to me in Chinese about just how incredible and unbelievable it was. I just kept smiling and nodding/shaking my head in amazement. I felt so bad that I coudn't talk with her more and she eventually understood that I didn't speak the language and stopped making comments. That was the hardest part of the trip was not being able to communicate.

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