Posted August 2021
At first I had two invitations to go to China. Xiaobo (Bob) Wang invited me during his year-long visit to San Diego in 2016. Then I met Hongjun Yu at the American College of Sports Medicine conference, and he invited me to visit Tsinghua University in Beijing. I asked both of them to coordinate plans for my visit, which they started doing. However, in mid-2017, I learned that Bob Wang had died unexpectedly at age 38 while playing basketball. See my blog in memory of Bob Wang (https://drjamessallis.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/in-memoriam-xiaobo-bob-wang/). The nature of the planned visit changed. The main purpose would be to lecture and consult at Tsinghua University, but I would also visit Bob’s wife and son in Zengzhou and present a lecture in Bob’s honor to his colleagues at the University. I want to thank Hongjun and Bob’s wife Lily (her American name) for working together to plan the visit.
This blog includes photos of colleagues, students, and the many places I visited. The notations are often vague, because I did not take good notes about the names of all the people I met and places I went. But the photos tell most of the story, especially about the beautiful places I saw.
At the end of this file are links to several Active Living Clips I took on this trip.
Hongjun and I take advice from Confucius.
Tsinghua University is part of an old Royal Palace, and there are extensive parklands and a water system.
This lake and pavilion are on the Tsinghua campus.
In the grocery store in the faculty village shopping area.
Some days were very smoggy like this one. Then the winds would blow the smog away for a few days until it built up again.
We went to a fantastic outdoor market.
My favorite places were the hutongs, a few traditional streets that have been preserved. They were among the few pedestrian zones, and they were all popular, especially with the locals.
Hutongs now have a mix of old and new.
Beautiful carvings on an old building.
Students toured me around the Olympic area. This is the famed Water Cube where swimming and diving events were held. It is now called the Ice Cube, in preparation for 2022 winter Olympics.
Jiali, another student, and I pose in front of a mural.
Part of the VIP area inside the “Bird’s Nest” stadium. Obviously inspired by MC Escher.
The VIP area has paintings of Chinese athletes.
From the top of the Bird’s Nest stadium you can see the Dragon building, an old temple complex that was preserved, and a piece of modern Beijing.
Jiali and Key toured me around this massive Royal Palace.
This is part of the entrance to the complex.
The buildings seem to climb the hill.
The lake is part of the complex.
The walkways were designed to make walking a joy. But not everyone is paying attention to the landscaping.
A detail of a model of the palace complex that included the grounds of the current Tsinghua University.
Bicycling is the best way to get around on the huge campus.
Stitchwork in the University Museum.
Hongjun tours me around a Buddhist temple complex.
This is a vending machine inside a University classroom building that squeezes fresh orange juice!
Every university needs a sculpture like this.
We arrive at a Royal Park on the edge of the city.
From this mountain we can see the center of Beijing. But in the foreground we can see the new growth. These are blocks of apartment buildings, with no amenities and no rapid transit. Billie Giles-Corti refers to this pattern as “vertical sprawl”, and it is even more automobile-dependent than the rest of Beijing.
I lectured to this class.
One night we went to a night club and saw this pop band. See the social media scrolling in real time on the big screen.
With Shelby, Jiali, and Key at a very nice restaurant, famous for duck. She the chopsticks holders.
At the Imperial Palace, in the Forbidden City.
Dragons are incorporated everywhere. Only the Emperor could use dragon imagery.
This is a clock in the Emperor’s collection.
Details of a very large jade carving.
Celebrating manual labor.
The Great Wall is indeed a wonder of the world, but I didn’t realize that walking it was a major workout, due to the steep climbs.
If you climb the wall, you can get a Certificate saying you are a Hero.
I understand bicycling has declined dramatically in most Chinese cities. Here is one reason why. These painted bicycle lanes on a busy road are no more effective in China than they are in the USA. They do not protect bicyclists from being hit by cars.
This type of protected bikeway is much better.
A royal park with a Buddhist school, during a lantern festival.
A view of buildings with nearby mountains.
A shrine inside a small cave.
Inside one of the many Buddhist temples I visited.
This artist is a master of Tibetan Buddhist painting. He had a show in a gallery in a Beijing art district.
Hongjun graciously gifted me this pendant made by the artist.
Visit to Lily and Prince Wang in Zengzhou.
(Bob Wang’s wife and 7-year-old son, with the English names Bob liked to use)
Lily and Prince meet us at the Zengzhou train station.
I was introduced for my lecture, and Hongjun translated.
Bob Wang’s students and colleagues at the lecture at Zengzhou University of Light Industry.
A post-lecture photo with the attendees.
We had a feast with Bob’s colleagues.
Bob’s department chair and colleague in front of the Kinesiology Department.
We enjoyed a visit to a museum.
The tea ceremony was fascinating. See a few of the different forms of tea.
We took a day trip to Shaolin, birthplace of martial arts.
With Hongjun and Prince in Shaolin.
I was intimidated.
Prince rides an amazing turtle.
There are reminders everywhere about the purpose of this complex.
These are monuments to revered teachers.
It was a wonderful visit, and I appreciate Hongjun Yu’s hospitality.
Active Living Clips from China
82. Outdoor group physical activity in Beijing, China. March 2018.
In many parts of the world, outdoor group activities are common, including here at the Summer Palace in Beijing. This looks like an informal class that anyone could join.
Tags: exercise, physical activity, dance, parks, outdoor activities,
Link to the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1BoJ2GXcwM
83. A royal promenade at the Summer Palace. Part 1. Beijing, China. March 2018.
If you were an emperor or empress, how would you design a promenade along your lakeshore? This video answers that question. You would start with lots of trees. Then you would add art. That would give you a place so beautiful it would lift your spirits to walk there.
Tags: pedestrian zone, walking, trail, promenade, art walk
Link to the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQWOgf9RMRY
84. A royal promenade at the Summer Palace. Part 2. Beijing, China. March 2018.
More lessons on designing places to walk fit for an emperor or empress. This video shows close-ups of art on the promenade that celebrates nature. And if the trees do not provide enough shelter from the elements, you could build a covered walkway. Then you could walk comfortably in all weather. Tsinghua University students give you a special welcome.
Tags: pedestrian zone, walking, trail, promenade, art walk
Link to the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBjS_3o5-JY
85. Introduction to hutongs in Beijing, China. March 2018.
A hutong is a traditional street, and they are all pedestrian zones. Although there are not many hutongs left, they are very popular, and you can see the number of people walking there. Professor Hongjun Yu from Tsinghua University gives an introduction to hutongs.
Tags. Hutong, pedestrian street, walking, walkability, active design
Link to the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKI5jDXKWlE
86. Walking tour of a hutong (traditional street) in Beijing, China. March 2018.
After the introduction of hutongs, we take a walking tour, along with many other pedestrians. There are many shops, especially places to eat. It is colorful, lively, and enjoyable.
Tags: Hutong, pedestrian street, walking, walkability, active design
Link to the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkQlpZs8RB4
87. A food court on a hutong street in Beijing, China. March 2018.
The hutong I visited had an extensive food court that had a wide variety of food styles. This food court attracted many customers.
Tags: food court, Chinese cuisine, hutong, pedestrian street
Link to the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vpYgamriVA
88. Dance class in a park. Beijing, China. March 2018.
Physical activity in public places in common in many parts of the world. It is certainly true in China, as I witnessed several instances in Beijing. This leisurely dance class is in a park-like setting on the Tsinghua University campus. Maybe it is not a class; it’s just a chance to dance.
Tags: outdoor physical activity, dance, parks
Link to the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsBVqD-JQpA
89. Outdoor dance class in the USA. San Diego, CA. September 2018.
As a follow-up to clip #88 of dancing in China, I am pleased to show an outdoor dance class in Balboa Park in San Diego. It is part of a festival. The dance class attracted a whole rainbow of people, from small children to older adults. Many dressed wildly for the occasion. This is not about expert performance; it’s just about having a fun time moving.
Tags: outdoor physical activity, dance, parks, Balboa Park
Link to the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY0LopB3IY0