Team 2 in Shanghai

Marijke and Harry have established a tradition of packing their table tennis gear when going abroad and playing wherever they can. In October 2016 they were on holiday in Shanghai.

The hotel concierge had arranged a meeting with an English-speaking coach for us. The taxi driver dropped us off at the address written down for him in Chinese. Upon entering the tall building we found the reception of a small hotel. The girl behind the desk didn’t speak any English, but through her smart phone’s translator app we found out that the hotel was not allowed to take foreign guests, just Chinese travellers. Somehow, we got the message across that we were looking for a gym, rather than for a hotel. Fortunately, someone with some command of spoken English appeared and offered help. This very friendly guy took us across the street, asking several of the neighbours, but no one seemed to know where the gym was, until he found a leisure centre tucked away in an apartment block around the corner, past a cast-iron gate with a real guard. Up a few flights of stairs, we found an empty room with two tables of dubious quality and partly torn nets. Looking at one another, we started to play.

View on the Huangpu River and the Pearl Tower from our hotel room (28th floor)

Harry, Kai, Xia, Marijke in the leisure centre

Not long after, two students arrived and introduced themselves as coaches. Kai Jie Zhu and his friend Zhengxuan Xia were very nice and started to play with us. Obviously, they had had no idea of what to expect from two total strangers, but it seemed our level of play was not too disappointing. So both of us played with a private coach for almost two hours, we took some pictures, and a video in which they demonstrated a combination of backhand and forehand topspin. When the session was over, they kindly invited us to their own club for the following day. Of course, we accepted their kind offer.

Kai and Xia study the TTV Amstelveen brochure

The sports centre near Nanpu Bridge

The next day, we had to go to an entirely different part of town, very close to Nanpu Bridge. Once more, a taxi driver dropped us off and disappeared. Again we had to ask several times, but this time the building was huge and housed three large halls for table tennis, billiards and bowling, though the entrance was hidden in the back. Interestingly, members could play 24/7 on one of the 18 or 20 tables.

The Pingpangqqiu sign inside (note the reflection of our images)

The table tennis hall

We played at least a dozen people, who they were all very good and very kind. We are very grateful to Kai and Xia for their hospitality and their excellent coaching. We will never forget our wonderful experience in Shanghai and hope that they may visit our club in Amstelveen one day!

Kai and Xia demonstrate FH/BH topspin

China.... in our new outfit