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Old 10-12-2018, 01:07 PM
victornguyen victornguyen is offline
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Default Just some good old post-election fun...

Adventure with my table-tennis coach

Before today, long excursions abroad seemed impractical, because in 1976 a car hit me while I was on my bicycle. Since that time I've been paralyzed below the armpits, so this adventure with my table-tennis coach was like a dream come true.

Although I expected an exciting and cheerful trip, I felt somewhat cheated. During our flight we needed to place our watches ahead 12 hours, so I dropped half my birthday!



I thought a lot on the plane, and many recollections flashed through my head. Ten years ago I started practicing table tennis in the Burke Rehabilitation Center (White Plains, N.Y.), and that I became familiar with Peizhen Shao, our staff coach. Ever since then my abilities and interest in the sport have steadily improved. Zhen, as we call Shao, arrived at Burke from Shanghai, China, and she's been involved in table tennis all her life. She was the Chinese women's champion three years in a row, and she had the chance to play for President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in a banquet in their honour during their visit to Shanghai in 1972. She still treasures this special memory. It's amazing that more than 26 years ago the game helped establish a bridge between the United States and China. Additionally, it served to bring me China with Zhen as my friend and guide. To choose the best ping pong table click best table tennis table reviews article.

After 12 hours, the longest flight I'd ever taken, we landed in Norita, Japan. I had been relaxing at the airport once I heard someone call me by name! I couldn't imagine who it might be. I wheeled around and was amazed to discover it was an IBM executive that I hadn't seen since I retired by the business in 1994, after a 39-year profession. He was headed to Beijing on business and was amazed to discover me in this unlikely place. Following a three-hour wait, Zhen and I continued to Shanghai.

It was past 10:00 p.m. if we arrived at Shanghai's Hong Qiao ("rainbow," at Chinese) airport. Zhen explained that in 1991, when she accompanied the American wheelchair table-tennis team to Shanghai, this airport had been under construction and had no elevator service in the arrival area to ground level. The Shanghai Athletic Sports Commission made two weightlifting athletes to take the American gamers, one by one, in their own wheelchairs, down to floor level. Ever since then, Shanghai airport has been remodeled and has become a lot more contemporary.

Zhen's brother and also sister-in-law were waiting for us with a car, and we moved on into the Olympic Hotel.

The next morning I wandered outside to enjoy my very first day at China. The hotel stands in the middle of a sports village, which will be situated southwest of Shanghai. Indoor and outdoor stadiums accommodating 10,000 and 80,000 individuals, respectively, and a brand new swimming pool are built to international standards. Many excellent athletes build there for a variety of occasions. They get systematic and rigorous training in this center, with its own extensive, modern sports facilities. Each morning this spacious place is full of people of all ages jogging and practicing Tai Ji Quan. This kind of exercise includes a slow movement, continuous rhythm, and relaxed manner that is quite Chinese in character.

At this time, Zhen's brother treated us to dinner in a nearby seafood restaurant. The meal was sumptuous, with about 15 distinct dishes, many that I had never tasted. One of the wonderful joys of Shanghai lies in its own immense range of restaurants specializing in all the significant types of Chinese cuisine. A number of these institutions have tanks of live fish, shellfish, eels, and rodents that you can select for your meal. During my visit we usually needed from 12 to 20 dishes , based on how big our group. We were not served any rice! I guess that was considered a cheap food. Obviously, chopsticks were the sole eating utensils.

Much of Shanghai's older buildings and infrastructure has been constructed after World War I. Thusit resembles a cheerful, bustling European town of the 1920s but is quickly being merged with the latest generation of post-modern constructions and plazas. Many wide, amazing avenues have European-style light-posts supporting hanging flower baskets. Actually, flowers and trees were all over, even on the smallest streets. On each side of the avenues, railings separate bicyclists from autos and trucks.

Bicyclists are everywhere, as it is the city's principal mode of transportation. Frequently I saw young ladies dressed in high heels and matches, riding sidesaddle on the back of bikes! Bikes are modified to be taxicabs or to transport every conceivable object. I saw one biker carrying around 12 live cows in separate baskets! The November weather was balmy, and I was comfortable in my shirt.

Zhen's in-laws joined us for supper. Mr. Xia, her sexual, 82-year-old father-in-law, is professor emeritus at Shanghai Medical University, and he continues to keep a busy schedule. In the 1940s he studied at Cornell Medical College of New York, and his English is superb. He told me about Shanghai's impressive development. In recent years the city has constructed the airport, bridges, tunnels, an urban subway system, express highways, and suburban housing, while the whole industrial base was enlarging.

Shanghai, with a population of 12 million, is the largest city in China. It is a financial centre and is known as the ideal city for shopping. Mention shopping to any native, and he or she'll think of Nanjing Road. This busiest of Shanghai's roads stretches for almost six miles. Lined with cinemas, stores, and eating areas, it's continually jammed with pedestrians and crowded buses. Just off busy Nanjing Road West is a Buddhist temple, also known as Jing' An Temple, the"Temple of Tranquillity," that is 1,750 years old. There I met with an 82-year-old monk. He had come to this temple when he was 16 and has been there since. But here I was, a 67-year-old white man in a wheelchair machine he had never seen before. It seemed I was a novelty for him that he had been to me!


I analyzed the ancient sculptures and paintings. People came in by the busy streets to purchase written prayer scrolls and burn them in the incense burners while saying prayers to Buddha. The temple is similar to a museum. It has much original artwork and is an island of peace in a frantically busy city.

From the 1930s and 40s, the rise of Nazism in Germany precipitated a wave of Jewish refugees. Many British and German Jews flocked to Shanghai and other Chinese cities. In Shanghai, Japanese occupiers divides them into the Hong Kou district, where they built a synagogue and established a Jewish neighborhood. The Shanghai government has erected a monument nearby in memory of those people. It's in a community park, also named Ho Shan Park. When I visited it I saw elderly people playing cards and Chinese chess. One of these, who was over 80, told me he remembered these refugees. It had been an animated dialogue (Chinese, of course) using Zhen's brother-in-law because he explained their butcher shop and diet, however, I could grab a couple of recognizable words like pastrami, knockwurst, and wiener schnitzel. We were a curiosity to people close to us. Everyone crowded around to listen to our conversation and watch this odd Caucasian on four wheels.

Throughout the President's trip to China in June, Mrs. Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright paid a visit to the nearby synagogue.



I like playing table tennis, also that I did not overlook it in Shanghai. 1 day we went to a table-tennis club with Zhen and her sister-in-law, who is a senior coach for its Shanghai table-tennis team. Twelve tables at a row inhabited one big fitness center, which was full of children, from about 7 to 16. Certainly, this was serious business, and they were all working unbelievably difficult. Now I understand why China has so many top players. I practiced with a few of them--they had been too great and were so respectful and serious. Their excitement was contagious, and I nearly forgot my era!

After nine days in Shanghai, we headed for Beijing. I was worried because I had heard China has no accommodations for wheelchair users. For instance, usually no curb cuts . That meant I could not go anywhere by myself. How can I mount the Great Wall alone? How could you visit China without including Beijing? Our trip to Beijing took less than two hours on China Eastern Airlines, ranked the best of China's 18 carriers. Our support was outstanding, worthy of its own standing. Read more beginner ping pong paddle guide.

Zhenxu Yao met us at Beijing Airport. Yao, as we called him, is an old table-tennis buddy of Zhen's. He is chairman of this Techniques Committee of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and vice chairman of China's Table Tennis Association (CTTA). We stayed at Beijing's Olympic Hotel.

Then the tragedy --I could not get through my room's steel-framed toilet door! We attempted various rooms, to no avail. Yao proposed I use the men's room off the lobby, but with visions of leaving that place in my birthday suit, I refused to listen to of it. Eventually Yao discovered a solution. We transferred to the Presidential Suite. It had a 35-foot living/dining area and an accessible bathroom! Yao also arranged for his buddy to drive us throughout our stay in Beijing.

This day we visited the Summer Palace, located in the northwest Beijing suburbs. The area involves the big Kunming Lake, surrounded by an enormous assortment of glorious garden architecture with pavilions, terraces, temples, pagodas, waterside gazebos, covered corridors, stone bridges, along with the famous marble boat. There is also Longevity Hill and numerous silent trails and natural streams. Extended Corridor, the world's longest outdoor corridor, runs over 2,400 feet. Each crossbeam is decorated with more than 300 colorful paintings according to Chinese tales. Although I spent the entire day there, I could see just part of these beautiful gardens.

The following day we drove to the part of the Great Wall at Badaling Pass--the most popular Great Wall tourist destination. Yao asked among his friends, a table-tennis athlete, to join us. So, including Zhen and our driver, I had four companions. Afterwards I knew why!

A museum at the base of the mountain supplied us with a scenic movie as a debut. Then the four individuals lifted my wheelchair and hauled me up, step by step, which makes me look just like an ancient Chinese emperor. From the platform, I found a chain of mountains stretching into the horizon and a single narrow passage leading through themBadaling Pass.

The Great Wall winds for approximately 1,000 miles through the hills' ridges and valleys. It is the planet's only man-made object which may be seen in the moon. According to legend, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty, Qin Shi Huang (221-210 B.C.), originally started this fantastic project. Since then emperors improved and prolonged it. In recent years the Chinese government has completed restoration work on many departments to accommodate the increasing amount of domestic and foreign visitors.

I received a certificate commemorating my Great Wall ascension. On it, this well-known Chinese expression reads,"One who fails to achieve the Great Wall isn't a hero." I was proud of myself. We were all tired, hungry, and cold. Nearby was a little town with a commercial place, and we found a restaurant that was well-known. The sign said, "Kentucky Fried Chicken." The food was superb!

That evening, after we returned to Beijing, Yinsheng Xu, WTTA chairman, hosted a banquet at the Olympic Hotel in my honour. In truth, my four companions, using their aching backs, needed to be respected! I really appreciated everyone's hospitality.

We spent our final full day in Beijing visiting the Museum Museum. This really is the former palace of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties and is known as the Forbidden City. Our trip began at its southern main entry. To enter the Palace here, first we needed to pass through Tiananmen Gate. We noticed the walls' extraordinary depth and the elevation of this Palace's imposing tower. You will find many distinctive Chinese types of decoration: decorative columns, stone lions, and white marble bridges.

Tiananmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace) has been the primary gate of the Imperial Palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Outdoor this gate is the huge Tiananmen Square, the largest plaza in the world. It has grown into a controversial symbol of China's contemporary politics.

The Palace Museum needed more halls and gates than I could remember. All have fine names with the characteristic Chinese boon: peace, stability, prosperity, longevity, and so on. The museum is the largest and best-preserved group of ancient buildings in China now, with about 10,000 rooms within the walls! It was really a miniature city in a series of concentric walls. Each inner wall reaches a higher level and encircled many buildings. At length, in the very heart of this Palace sat the arrangement where the empress lived and where she held court on her throne.

Yet again, my friends raised my wheelchair and helped me pass gates and enter hallways, one after another. Since the capital of China for over nine centuries, Beijing today is a living museum of China's cultural heritage. The most complete ancient imperial architecture in the world is preserved in this city, such as the Imperial Palace and its affiliated buildings; the royal tombs; and the imperial gardens. Beijing is the soul of China's ancient culture.

We made a special trip to visit the Children's Palace and visit Zedong Zhuang. Zhen's old friend, Zhuang, had become the world table-tennis champion for three consecutive years in the 1960s. At that time he had been a pioneer in arranging visits between the American and Chinese table-tennis teams. A legendary sports figure in China, Zhuang now coaches youngsters in the Children's Palace. With every one of these impressive memories, he wrote an autobiography that's replete with photos of athletes and leaders he's worked with. We were happy to be given a copy as a memento.

Later, after returning to New York, we obtained Zhuang's letter. He composed,"Marty, you have indomitable willpower, refusing to yield to disability. You proved yourself by coming to China to see an age-old tradition and also to ascend the renowned Great Wall. I cherish a profound respect for you, my friend."

Boarding the plane, Zhen and I headed home. We had traveled immensely. I saw more than I could absorb, and I made a lot of friends. China has a historical and colorful culture. Today its cities are rapidly becoming contemporary, industrial, and more sophisticated. Click table tennis shooting machine help full if you interested in table tennis.

Last edited by victornguyen; Yesterday at 11:31 AM.
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