By Fiona McCabe, Irish Dance Troupe
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“Ouch!” I say aloud to the nurse as she retracts the syringe from my poor arm. “All done”. That was jab number there’s-too-many-to-remember! Injections;check. China lonely planet;check. A dozen (not enough) mince pies;check.
So we decided yet again to dust off the dance shoes once more and hop aboard operation Moy in China to give you a slice of life on the Chinese road. Not only is this my third tour out here but my second Christmas and I intend to make it good.
A flight from Dublin to Paris AND a twelve hour flight to Guangzhou AND a 45 minute bus trip to our final destination- The Ocean Hotel, proved more jet lag than I was able to handle. Two sleepless nights and zombified mornings was not the ideal set up to kickstart this tour. I however battled on and after having fueled myself with a western breakfast at the top floor restaurant was ready to take on a day of rehearsals. It was worth the 8 am bus call for the crew, it was worth the 9 am call for the band and it most certainly was worth the seven hour prep for the cast! Although our search for food prior to show time wasn’t so successful, we did manage to put together our breakfast leftovers, candy and other such snacks people had on them. We saw no body go hungry. Here team spirit runs on tap.Opening night’s show at The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Auditorium for the people of Guangzhou went down a treat.
Day two I enjoyed a stroll around Tianhe Park which features beautiful, award-winning landscaped gardens known as Yuehui and Yuexiu. I enter the huge iron gates and enter a world of green. Nothing is left to the imagination. Elderly men enjoy games of chess, grandmothers sit around old tree stumps and chat heartily over a game of playing cards. What struck me the most was the serenity and tranquility of the park. Noise level was so reduced that one would almost forget they were right in the heart of the second biggest city in the world.
I had some time to spare after a lunch of stir- fried beef and noodles so I was easily lured under the large red iron gates into the Mausoleum of the 72 Martyrs at the south foot of the Baiyun Mountain. The Mausoleum was erected in honor of the martyrs who risked and gave their lives for the Revolution of the Guangzhou Uprising, United League in 1911. It was listed by the State Council as an important relic in the state in 1961.
You’re probably wondering what the food has been like so far here. Well, spoiled for choice is putting it lightly. As it happened, the Ocean Hotel was situated in front of an Irish bar; The Paddy Feld. So nothing unusual was ate by the majority of the cast. However some of us decided to hit the local food kiosks. Steamed frogs in lotus leaves, Jew’s-ear (an edible mushroom-like fungus) and black sesame paste (desert pudding) is as adventurous as it gets this week but we are slowly easing ourselves into it. Fried fish lips “the ancient way” and fish head clay pot style sounded a little too exotic and somewhat challenging for week one
So, I am happy to report so far that our happy crew of 15, 27 dancers and 4 musicians have slipped very nicely into life in south China. We are not quite eating like the locals yet but we shall bide our time. After all ten weeks is a long time. On next week’s agenda: We will be getting into the festive spirit and begin our secret santa craze. It’s room decorating, mistletoe scented candles and jingle bells ,em, Chinese- style!