Who wudda thunk it… my first real golf resort experience in China! That’s right. The province of Tianjin, where I live, was host to the Volvo China Open, a major international golf tournament that brought world-class players to the Tianjin Binhai Lake Golf Club. Thanks to some of my students (who are golf majors by the way), I got tickets to this sought after event that took place in May.
It was a hot sunny day… yes indeed, we have gone from winter straight into summer… perfect for sipping cocktails at a green-side cafe under the shade of lawn umbrellas. Yuh waah sih wi, like tappanaris wid nuff money and time fi spend enjoying leisure activities of the rich!
My friends, Latoya and Kerry-Ann and I took in the sights… not just the wonderfully landscaped greens and rolling hills, but some a dih man dem weh did deddeh fi play golf. Standing at the practice green, we watched as Paul Casey from England and Spain’s Alvaro Quiros practiced their strokes. Nice! And later watched them at the last hole as some of my golf students held up signs to be quiet. Afterall, golfers need calm and quiet to get that little white ball into the hole, nuh soh?
Although golf is still a relatively young sport in China, it is growing in popularity and indeed there are now some young Chinese superstars on the horizon. In fact, the talents of 12 year-old Ye Wo-Cheng and 15 year-old Andy Zhang was definitely on display at this Open. I am sure some of you have heard of young (14-year-old) Guan Tian-lang who competed admirably in the Masters in April along with Tiger Woods and other big name golfers. So, get familiar with these names, you will be hearing more and more about them as they rise in the sport.
Hey, not only were we having a fab day at the golf course, we were also celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of our dear friends Norma and Percival Darby. Can you imagine that… 50 years!!! Talk about commitment… this couple is the true definition of marriage and sticktoitivness. Mr. Darby is well known for his stage career in Jamaica while Mrs. Darby is noted for founding the Jamaica Folk Revue that continues to keep the island’s folk culture alive and thriving in Florida and beyond. Perfect mates to hang out with, they willingly share history, proverbs, and stories of the Jamaica we all wish we still had. Hey, for more on the island nation’s history, beauty, and traditions check out Kerry-Ann’s blog at http://jamaicanechoes.com/.
Speaking of marriage, I also attended my first Chinese wedding. And although it had western style elements, the bride (Shen Meng) and groom (Chen Yi) held on to some of the Chinese traditions. Most notable is the fact that the ceremony started at 4:18. The number 8 (‘ba’ in Chinese) is an auspicious number in China. It sounds similar to the word ‘fa’ which means prosper or wealth, thus making 8 a positive number. Following the tradition, there were 18 different dishes at the post-ceremony feast.
The bride wore a western style white gown, but as the Chinese tradition dictates, she changed into different coloured gowns three times during the celebration. Her hair was combed in a specific knot, a style worn by married women. Symbolizing longevity, candles and incense burned at an alter-like table where the couple repeated their promise to each other. Lovely!
Well, with all these celebrations and leisure activities on my plate, I decided I needed a massage… and boy did I find a fabulous therapist! Actually, Mr. Darby was the one who introduced me to her, he experienced her powerful hands first. Not far from where I live, about a 30-minute walk, is this nondescript house on a lovely tree-lined street that you would ordinarily pass by without a second glance. But, inside is an army of women who work your muscles based on precise accupressure points. When you enter you are treated to Chinese traditional tea and given a bucket of warm water to soak your feet.
My favourite is Xiaoqing, a little woman with strong hands. She starts with your feet, which lasts for about half hour, then she moves to your head, face, nose, shoulders, arms, legs, back, shoulders kneading out any and every knot you know or don’t know you have. Mek a tell yuh, after every massage I feel like a new woman. Guess what, mi a goh every month… it is now part of my healthy lifestyle regimen. So, when you come to visit Xiaoqing’s massage will be your first experience… welcome to China!