China: Dancing with the Grannies in Jing'an Park 静安公园, Shanghai

A low-key neighbourhood park that is a beehive of geriatric activity early in the morning.

Why visit? 
We've all heard of Tai Chi, right? And what could be more Chinese than a bunch of wizened grannies practicing their slow moves to the sound of meditative music?

If you visit Jing'an Park early in the morning, you'll find just that. As well as grunting grandpas, square-dancing seniors, and songbird competitions.

It's a slice of old-school China amongst the glittering skyscrapers of Jing'an's malls and offices. 

Next to Jing'an Temple and the eponymous metro station, in central Shanghai, a few miles west of the Bund. Map.

WE HAVE BEEN fooled. Twice we got up early and made our way to the Bund, hoping to be treated to crowds of grandmothers practicing Tai Chi on China's most famous street. All in vain. Although we did see a few stray joggers, and it was remarkably peaceful, the Bund had little to offer at 7 am.  Don't believe what the tourist office tells you.

But it's an entirely different story in Jing'an Park.
The main path through the park. 
This fairly uneventful park comes to life between 7 and 8 am, when groups of agile seniors gather here for a variety of activities. True to classical Chinese form, it's peaceful and energetic at the same time, a true balance of Yin and Yang.

It's hard to capture in words, or even pictures, so have a look at the video here:

Mens sana in corpore sano. Senior citizens in China stay healthy through exercise. In Beijing we've found many playgrounds for senor citizens, but in Shanghai, grannies gather in parks like Jing'an to shake their limbs and sway their hips.
Shakin' their booties. 
The coolest granny on the block. 
Flute man. 
Would you like some Tai Chi with that donut? 
There's formal Tai Chi, practiced in slow-motion by pajama-clad devotees. And several grandfathers wield a ceremonial sword, perhaps in a vain attempt to impress the ladies with their macho poses.  But there is also square dancing, of the Chinese kind, countered by a single man with a flute and some beautiful notes. Loud claps emerge from retirees slapping various body parts, as loud as possible.

And finally there's the classic hobby of retired senior citizens: songbirds, locked in a cage, whistling their little hearts out. Various men compete with their hobby birds, trying to outdo each other with the most beautiful twittering. 

Getting there: 
Don't be late. 7 am is a good time to be here, although the action lasts till around 9. Metro line 2 (the green line) will whisk you straight to Jing'an Temple.

If you're in the area, the temple itself and nearby Jing'an Villa offer other Minor Sights to counter Shanghai's overcrowded tourist attractions.