Went out just after dawn this morning to explore another park up the street from the hotel. Each time I’ve been to this hotel, I have expanded the radius of my morning walks to the point now where the out and back distance is beginning to challenge the amount of time I have to spend on them. But with each expansion, has come another park to visit and each one has been more interesting and beautiful than the last.

In this part of the city some land seems to be set aside at every major intersection. Sometimes it’s just a small amount with a few trees and perhaps a sculpture. Others are far more elaborate. This morning’s desitination – Tianshan Park – was certainly in the latter case. Not only braided with paths, it had many types of tree “gardens” a big lake and a lot of buildings. As the city has developed, these little oases have become hemmed in with tall buildings, creating sort of an artificial canyon amid towering spires.

Like all the others, this park was full of people doing all the regular park things – tai chi, backwards walking, head patting, fan dancing and badminton. Lots of badminton in fact. I did not hear any of the yelling people, perhaps this park has a noice ordinance, but I doubt it, perhaps the yellers simply prefer the more open spaces of New Century Park up the road.

This one had a much stronger Asian aesthetic than the others with more tailored gardens, arched bridges across the narrow parts of the lake, small pagodas tucked away in copses and a scuttled WWII vintage PT boat grounded in a small cove. People were everywhere and yet the place retained that sort of late fall serenity you’d expect from a place desgined to convey it. The paths were slippery depending on what they were made of, bricks being slick, pavement being walkable. Lots of birds here albeit of a small variety, the same Bulbuls, Eurasian Blackbirds and House Sparrows that populate the other groves around town.

We did a couple of circuits and took the pictures you see below. Most noteworthy is a shot of that rarest of avian species, a Least Chinese City Chicken that wandered out of one of the big apartment complexes and onto the sidewalk. Roaming the streets here you often hear roosters which is an odd sound considering the urbanization. But if you look closely through the fences that surround these places you find small rooms crammed with people lying in stark contrast to the modern nature of the buildings. I suspect that many come in from the countryside and live with friends and relatives in an apartment that is designed for only one family. With them comes some of the aspects of home – chickens for example, and so urban life is slightly modified by strongly held customs.