As I wrote in a previous post, following our meeting with the whip players from Beijing Lu, I found myself in contact with Mister Liu, the president of the Chinese whip and spinning top Federation who invited us to the competition on 29 and 30 July, advising us to arrive 2 or 3 days before the beginning of the event.
That’s how on July 25th afternoon we took the train to Guiyang. Arriving at 6 a.m. in the capital of Guizhou province, we took another train that dropped us three hours later at Liupanshui. There, a driver was waiting to take us to the scene of the competition, Shuicheng, 30 km away. Despite of finding informations on Google and Baidu, I had no idea where we were going. I imagined a hotel complex in a park, with a large esplanade for the competitions. I was wrong.
After half an hour driving, the driver actually dropped us off at the entrance of Ye Yu Hai International Resort Hotel but this one was located in the middle of a vast tourist complex which looks like a traditional village or a restored historic site as we had seen at Wuzhen. At the village entrance, the driver showed us a building with an ultra-modern design: The International Gyro Museum. A place we’ll have the opportunity to visit later.
At the hotel entrance, Mr. Liu was waiting for us, along with Mister Zhou, a technical adviser who would act as a translator. Time for us to left our luggages at the reception desk and we followed our guests in the hotel restaurant and the discussion immediately focused on the speech I had to make at the inaugural conference.
Yes, we were honored guests but from our earliest exchanges on Wechat, Mister Liu had decided to propel me General Secretary of the International Whip and Gyro Federation. I had to change my speech slightly, which was only good at 99%. Change that I had not had time to do before we left.
After lunch we moved the luggages in the suite that was reserved for us; a living room with a large sofa, coffee table and giant TV screen, a room of the size of a tennis court, with a desk, armchairs and a second giant screen. It was just missing the room service but everything was perfect. I quickly amended my speech that I had written in English and I sent it to Mister Zhou for chinese translation. Then we went to visit the site.
In front of the hotel, there were whip players who did some demonstrations and I immediately saw that the level had nothing to do with that of my friends from BeiQiao Park and as I was the only foreigner, I quickly found myself with a whip in my hands to show what I knew how to do. Polite applause but it just took me half a day to understand that I had everything wrong.
A little farther there was the arena, the open-air stadium in which the competitions were going to unfold; on the right side, a 30-metre-long scene where judges and referees will settle, in the middle a vast esplanade where groups were already repeating the opening ceremony: spinning top plate palyers in folk costumes, whip players who snapped their whip in cadence, and in a corner, a giant spinning top of more than a ton hanging from a gallows.
After discovering the competition place, we left to discover the village: A pedestrian street lined with traditional houses where shops, restaurants and souvenir shops alternated. Which led us to the entrance of the village where we found the building of the International Gyro Museum. This one was still works in progress but walking on the square, we discovered the old museum of the spinning top which was about to move two days later.