Table tennis in China

When I came back from China a few friends asked me: did you play table tennis? How it was?

Well, I think that this was the biggest failure of my trip. I didn’t play! I didn’t see them playing! And I tried, quite hard!

As mentioned, I have a friend in Dalian (north-East China) and she doesn’t play table tennis. This is not a big problem: she has a colleague who plays (I suspect that only socially, not as a sport or at a competitive level). I thought that joining the friend’s colleague I would go to some recreation centre, sport club, etc. in Dalian where I could play with the friend’s colleague and then maybe with some other people as well, since I thought that the Chinese would be excited to show how to play a foreigner. Sadly she had a last minute health problem and couldn’t make it… and she had a backup plan but the backup person couldn’t make it either.

Two weeks before I went to China I posted a message to the CouchSurfing Beijing group. Three people answered:
a) A Canadian guy who plays but we couldn’t meet
b) A German girl who also likes playing (and we couldn’t meet either) (at that time I was thinking… why only non-Chinese!?)
c) A Chinese girl who… DOESN’T PLAY!

I expected more Chinese to answer the message. Maybe CouchSurfing is not that popular in China but it was a bit of a disappointment.

In Beijing I had some more free time and I thought that I would search on my own. I had a few options:
a) Sports street. I found on the Internet that there is a street full of table tennis shops near Heaven’s temple. I went there, saw the shops but didn’t see where to play.
b) “Some vague references” from the Internet. Apparently there is a shopping mall in Wangfujing Dajie and very nearby a table tennis club. I walked the street twice but I didn’t find the mentioned shopping mall (for which I even had the name) and then I ran out of time. I wanted to see the shopping mall and ask where to play.
c) Parks. Internet suggests that many parks (and one in particular) have table tennis tables and Chinese people plays there. Actually the weather was good enough for this. I did walk in many parks, tourist and non-tourist parks. I swear that I didn’t find any table tennis table! I did find people playing cards, Chinese chess, dancing, Tai-Chi, singing opera, etc. but not table tennis.

I was expecting more table tennis tables, perhaps not everywhere but in many places. I understand that I didn’t search for the clubs and recreation places properly, but I didn’t because I thought that it would be easier to play in the parks.

I plan to go to China again – next time I’ll go better prepared, at least with GPS coordinates with tables where to play!

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