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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 53 – People’s Park

Tom described this place [People’s Park] as something out of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. To say his description was apt is something of an understatement. It’s mad as a barrel full of monkeys. We’ve located a tea-house – a pocket of, well, calm isn’t accurate, but relative calm. The Maofang tastes good. Shit – I haven’t been able to say that very often here. I’m actually shocked.

We’ve seen several drop-in ballroom dance classes swelling with the most unlikely characters, a hyper-nationalist show of marching ladies and gents, a surreal catwalk event – the highlight of which was an elderly chap dressed like an 80’s Rap artist wandering out from the crowd, over to me and scribbling “FUN ->” in the direction of the show. He was even kind enough to pose – several times in fact. The whole thing – as Fi acutely observed – had an air of comedic narcissism.

Countless Karaoke set-ups litter every available inch of sheltered space with a few feet between each 3-minute-wonder making for an unintelligible cacophony.

The madness does, however, serve up a wealth of smiles, joy and a feeling of harmony that’s seemed absent in a lot of my previous attempts to immerse myself in China. I guess the fella with the chalk scribble was right.