The last couple of days I spent in Shanghai went smoothly; I continued my tourism as well as met up with some NBA China staff for both an office tour and a Western lunch. We talked about a number of things, including the impact, both positive and negative, of the One-Child Policy here in China. It was interesting to hear one of the staff members link the policy back to basketball (naturally), and claim that it had mostly negative effects on the Chinese players. In fact, he argued that it had made them less “tough,” and quoted stories about mothers hovering over their only child during water breaks. I also hypothesized that the lack of siblings could contribute to this, since I know that sibling rivalry helped some, including myself, develop tougher skin. Of course, this is a generalization, while it is certainly food for thought. The more I find out about basketball, and sport in general, in China, the more intrigued I become. I will be meeting with the CEO of NBA China in a few days, as well as speaking with different government sport officials – all meetings that promise to be very interesting.
I returned to Shanghai on Friday and have since been doing as much visiting as possible. In just 48 hours, I’ve managed to see the beautiful Jing’an Temple, stroll through Century Park, and wander around both the Marriage Market and AP Plaza, one of the biggest fake markets in the city. To top it all off, I decided that I would once again employ my legs as my main method of transportation, as long as the distances could be travelled in less than two hours. I was quick to regret that decision when it started pouring on me halfway through my long walk home yesterday. Summer is known as a rainy season in China, and I have witnessed it first-hand. The weather was supposed to clear up today, but I’m lucky I still carried my umbrella with me because it started drizzling soon after I started my day, and it quickly turned into an absolute downpour.
Camp has unfortunately come to an end here in Hangzhou. Australia was the last team to leave this afternoon, so I’m officially the only foreigner (that I know of) on campus. I decided to stay an extra day, and I’ve certainly made the most of it so far. I just got back from touring the famous West Lake and while the weather wasn’t perfect, the view was still breathtaking, as you can see from the pictures below. The smog around Hangzhou has actually been quite heavy this week, and a camper even mentioned that he hadn’t seen the sun at all since he’d been here!
I can’t even begin to put into words how awesome these first three days of camp have been. For starters, I was shooting around during lunch time yesterday when a NBA coach came up to me and casually started showing me some of his go-to post moves. I later found out that not only did those post-moves serve him well for six years in the NBA, but also that he’s a legend in the basketball world. Today, most camp coaches played against each other instead of heading to lunch, while some of the NBA players worked out with their respective league coaches. I’ve therefore certainly witnessed some great basketball in the first days of camp, even at lunch time.
I am happy to report that I can officially start incorporating sports into my blog posts, since I’ve been at the NBA’s Asia Pacific Team Camp for two days now! I got to Hangzhou, where the camp is being held, on Friday following my first trip on a Chinese bullet train. I’d like to say that the ride went smoothly, but I’ll admit that I got slightly lost, as well as bothered a lot of people with my cumbersome suitcase. I’ll also be the first to say that the train’s speed upwards of 300 km/h wasn’t very relaxing. I therefore have a tip to anyone that will be going to the Shanghai Hongqiao train station in the near future: if your ticket tells you to arrive 1h30 ahead of the scheduled train departure time, follow those instructions. Not only is it the biggest train station I’ve ever seen, but the lines are also extremely long to pick up a ticket without a Chinese ID.
I arrived in Shanghai on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, after an uneventful 13-hour flight. I had previously looked up the word “tall” in Mandarin, because I figured it would be useful for me to recognize. Sure enough, the first mention of my height came within ten minutes of me stepping foot on Chinese soil, and have since been quite frequent.