The more I learn about Changzhou and its approximately five million inhabitants, the more I love about it. There’s a strong sense of community amongst the locals; here, there is an abundance of excessively cute children and dogs roaming the streets at every daylight hour. They play much more freely than back at home. I’m not particularly much of a dog man, but almost every little fluffy thing here makes me grin like a baby looking at a teat. And yes, I said teat.
This place feels much safer than back home in the UK. There's very little in the way of crime. Just the other night I was walking along next to a main road, a car was parked up with the lights on, engine running, windows down and nobody inside nor anybody within a few hundred yards at least. Presumably they’d left it there while they popped to a shop or something, in most or many parts of the world this car would have been jacked and half way to Outer Mongolia by now.
Most evenings and some mornings, you can find groups of hundreds of people working out to dance routines outside their homes and/or workplaces. While they do their thing in the public squares, children play and more ridiculously cute dogs and puppies run around thier feet.
Just lately I’ve managed to get to a couple of the best parks in the city. My housemate took me on a lovely bromantic walk through Hongmei Park – situated just opposite the tallest pagoda in China (pictured above), and probably the world. It’s beautifully landscaped with rivers and waterways flowing between bundles of different plants and flowers. There’s even an elevated walkway so you can get up into the trees without risking a broken limb.
I was given a guided tour of one of the other parks, courtesy of budding author-in-the-making Tim Crozier, just after I’d sampled my first ever Dairy Queen (DQ) ice-cream thing. For those in or around the Swansea area, it’s a US version of Joe’s Ice-Cream however, when they serve it to you, they tip the whole thing upside down without spilling a drop – proving just how deliciously thick and creamy it is. I was quite impressed.
After a cheeky boys’ day out – where we were invited to partake in a hotdog eating competition, no pun - we also visited a CD/DVD shop and bought my first CDs in possibly the best part of a decade… I got a couple of Hed Kandi gems, the 2009 Serve Chilled America and the World Series Brazil – compiled by some of my old colleagues in London town. I wonder if those guys get any royalties from these or if they are ‘black market’ goods? I suspect the latter.
Unfortunately, my lame old laptop won’t play them at the moment but, fortunately, I’m now on a fairly stable internet connection with a flat monthly charge; so I can now finally listen to music online so utilising my Soundcloud account a lot more these days. Catching up with a ruckload of new tuneage is fantastic after such a long time.