Hongkongers who took advantage of the annual open day at the People's Liberation Army garrison yesterday said the tours had stirred feelings of patriotism. About 17,000 people visited the bases at Stanley, Stonecutters Island and Shek Kong during the open day, part of events to mark the 10th anniversary of the handover. 'Honestly, I didn't have much interest in coming here in the beginning with the memory of the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989,' said Alan Chan, 55, who visited the Stanley barracks with 17 members of his family. 'Yet, as 10 years have passed since the handover, more and more Hongkongers have begun accepting themselves as Chinese. I am one of them.' The education consultant said the PLA soldiers were more friendly and disciplined than he had imagined. 'Their performances looked spectacular indeed, and no wonder - they are elite soldiers selected by stringent criteria.' Peter Lau, who is in his 60s, said he felt emotional seeing the national flag-raising ceremony personally for the first time in his life. 'At that moment, there was a warm feeling in my heart. I felt I was Chinese,' he said. The day at the Stanley barracks started with the flag-raising, which was followed by a series of weapons demonstrations and kung fu performances on the parade ground. Children were invited to try out the barrack's training facilities. Ip Chun-shun, eight, received cheers and applause after climbing out of a two-metre-deep trench by himself. 'Maybe one day I will also become a PLA soldier,' he said. The open day was the 14th held by the PLA in the city since the handover. About 240,000 people have visited the bases. Meanwhile, hundreds of tai chi enthusiasts held a mass practice in the name of the handover. The event, at a Wong Tai Sin park, was launched by Zhou Junming , of the central government's liaison office, and Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping.