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Kayaking gains popularity in northwest China

(Xinhua)    10:00, September 11, 2020

YINCHUAN, China, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Kayaking through the bushy reed marshes that have turned into golden yellow in the Diannong River, 57-year-old Xu Huiping takes a deep breath to enjoy the beauty of early autumn in north China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

"I used to take a walk here for sightseeing, but now I really enjoy doing it on the kayak. It's fashionable and also much closer to nature," said Xu.

Xu learned to kayak three years ago, which lifted her out of the sadness of losing her parents. "The broad and calm surface of the lake relaxes me with precious inner peace," said Xu.

The Yellow River, China's second-longest river, flows through Ningxia, and Yinchuan is famous for its many natural lakes and wetlands.

However, when it comes to northwest regions in China, "draught" usually comes first in people's minds, not water sports like kayaking.

To meet people's sporting needs, China, in its latest five-year national fitness program in 2016, advocated making full use of lakes, rivers and other natural water resources and to further fuel the water sports and outdoor entertainment industries.

In 2017, the Yinchuan Xianglong kayaking association, the first and only one in Ningxia, was founded and Xu joined soon after.

"We always kayak from early spring, by breaking the ice, to late autumn," Xu said. During this period, she goes kayaking at least three times a week and one hour each time.

"Very interesting! I once went more than 10km," Xu said. "It's not that tiring if you do some stretches before and after the kayaking."

According to Wang Dong, the association initiator, there are over 250 regular members, with teenagers and retirees as a majority, ranging from five to 60.

However, office workers are also a large group. 40-year-old Lin Jicheng is one of them, and kayaking became another hobby of the basketball-lover about two months ago.

Lin travels a lot, which leaves very little time for him to spend with his family. But kayaking is a good way for him to enjoy family time. Now, his mother and two sons have become frequenters of the kayaking base near the Diannong River.

"My mother loves to be next to nature, so she comes here to kayak at least one hour when she has time," Lin said.

Lin enrolled his two sons in swimming classes quite early, and now he wants to train their physical strength through kayaking. "I hardly had the chance to play in water when I was young, so I hope they can enjoy water sports during their childhood," Lin said.

In fact, many members including Lin have never learned to swim, so they are required to acquire some emergency rescue skills and wear life vests when starting the journey on the water.

"We also offer free training to the others, so that more lives will be saved in case of an emergency," said Wang.

55-year-old teacher Ai Fuying can't swim either, but she spends almost her whole summer holiday kayaking on the river with her safety ensured by a life vest.

"It's quite safe and fun, and my family always comes with me too," Ai said. "Anyway, it's much better than staying at home and watching TV or playing on mobile phones."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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