We wandered around the large park for a couple of hours, taking in the open spaces and walking beneath the just blossoming cherry orchards. Small Chinese families were pitching their tents to get ready for a warm nights sleep under the smoggy sky. Picnic rugs were scattered along the waters edge and in between the bamboo forests. It was a side of China that I had not yet experienced.
Reaching the pier we sat down on the edge of the path, dangling our feet just a meter above the still water. Boats ferrying excited tourists moved slowly across the horizon as the sun turned the sky a burnt orange. We lay our heads on our bags and looked up at the empty sky. This was peace, this was the antithesis of the city, this was calm and I realised how much I had craved this. Without it I might have fallen deeper into chaos, simply accepting that this was life. But the escape, however brief, reminded me of another world where the tofu doesn’t smell, the people aren’t living through their phones and everyone speaks rather than yells.
If I close my eyes I can still take myself back there.