Moving south, we spent some time in Hangzhou, a pretty city just two hours from Shanghai but without the smog or constant traffic jams. And only Hangzhou can boast that it’s home to Song Dynasty Town! Okay, so it’s not as catchy as Disneyland but it is just as weird.
Song Dynasty Town is a theme park built around the civilization of the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD), a kind of renaissance for Chinese culture. Like in Europe, progress was made in technology, trade, education and governance.
The streets, buildings and displays are designed to look like you just stepped into that era. But that doesn’t explain this weird obstacle course that looks like it came out of MXC, Japan’s Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.
But this was no badly dubbed game show and there were no prizes, yet people kept trying to run across the floating platforms and splashing in.
The park itself is your standard minimum-wage workers trussed up in period costume, hawking souvenirs, photos and roasted chickens.
But the gem of this park is the Vegas-like show offered twice a night in the Vegas-like auditorium. The Romance of the Song Dynasty sounds like a boring historic drama, but what romance do you know opens with high-flying trampoline antics and segues into wire-flying dancers with a full-on laser show?
It was too much — the oh-my-god contortionists, the glow-in-the-dark burlesque, the Japanese geisha number, the flying girls on rollerskates, the moving stage, the two-storey waterfall, the life-sized cannons, the real horses thundering across the stage — so much that I forgot to take any pictures until the very end.
Actually I only took one. And it’s pretty crappy, especially with the crazy audience members who clambered onstage to pose for photos. But go to Song Dynasty Land and see the show! It’s awesome.