Twisting and turning, bothered thoughts at the dawning, I rolled out of bed and put on the rain-pants I had mysteriously brought to China and onto the streets I went, searching for the apparent East Entrance to Xiaogang. The pavement renovation on Changgang East had been completed: I was free to break into a jog at will. Oncoming eyes were no less starey-starry at this time of the morning. I passed through the park gate: Khuuurrrk phut!
In a city of over ten million, the early risers number in the hundreds of thousands. The welcoming cheerleaders were the old and not-so frail, moving in synchronicity. I broke back into a jog and passed a back/front clapwalker. It was the second time I'd been to Xiaogang Park: the first was completely accidental even though the map I always use clearly shows there to be an extensive park barely 200 metres from my school. It is large enough to lose one's self: Khuuuuurk phut!
I walked a bit as I approached a bridge. My hope that that the torrential rain had cleansed, temporarily, the river of its stench was in vain. Above a bird was making a rough morning call. Or was it coughing? Have you ever heard a bird cough? If there should ever be a bird coughing, it'll be in Guangzhou with the air as it is. I charged back into a run and tailed a backward walker. His steady pace backwards meant that he could spend some time scrutinising me as I eventually pulled passed him: Khuuuuurk phut!
I passed the barbeque area and approached the badminton courts when my ears snared the familiar hollow tap-tap-tap of a ping-pong ball. I've been hoping for a ping-pong table for a long time and shot up the stairs for a peek. Passing the tables, there was a man sternly standing straight, sword in hand, ready to swing; Cantonese opera screeched from a 80s tape deck somewhere yonder as his onslaught failed to eventuate. A bare-chested runner bounds past: Khuuuuurk phut!
Those buildings are on my left again. Full circle I must have come! It was not the last time I would see those buildings on my left either that morning: Khuuuuurk. I stopped for a moment. Something wasn't right. I turned around slowly to spot a hunchbacked woman on a park bench. Phut! she spat into the bush. I turned back on my course and ran towards where I hoped the way out would be. The sun had risen and my twilight muddle had nicely brought me to the day.