It was a brilliantly sunny day, perfect for random exploration. The adage of “It’s not the destination but the journey” rang bold and true.
Driving along the entire stretch of Yangshupu Lu (扬树浦路) in Hongkou on my way to Fuxing Island (复兴岛), a miserable looking islet, I chanced upon a small group of men who flew kites on a grassy plain.
Located admist an abandoned water works factory (dated back to 1933 that had rotting vines draped all over), a huge incinerator, a shipping dock and a scrap collection centre, the men were oblivious to it all. They later told me that it used to be a rice production factory.
They were retired and young men, all flying kites with great concentration and skill. Like many hobbies that people adopt in China, it was healthy and relatively inexpensive with a huge element of DIY.
This man told me that kite flying was good for healing spine problems and exercising the whole body if you did it right. The wheel, which to control the kite, is vital in handling the contraption. Tugging, not yanking, will help send your kite soaring a bit higher and more smoothly. It was simply made and greatly cared for.
“I work during the week, and come out to kite fly on the weekend,” he said, explaining his paraphernalia, “It’s part of my exercise regime.”