Yesterday we buckled the kids into the minivan and found our way to Chaoyang Park, just off the Fourth Ring Road in northeastern Beijing. The kids whined the whole way there – at least, they did until Aidan fell asleep, which, predictably, happened just minutes before we arrived at the park.
It was long-underwear cold, and we were all slightly underdressed for the weather. In fact, Shay was only wearing a t-shirt and a sweatshirt. He was shivering, but it was his fault – he’d been in a bad mood when we left, and he refused to put on a jacket or a hat. I had to restrain myself from saying “I told you so,” but I couldn’t resist a couple of well-placed “Gee, I sure am cold… I’m glad I have this warm jacket and scarf on.”
Chaoyang Park is huge, and we only saw the tiniest portion of it. We wandered in near the kite-flying arena, where lots of grown-ups were hanging around, holding on to kites that drifted so high you could barely make them out. Not a sight you see too often in stateside parks. From there, we passed the boat pavilion – deserted on such a cold day – and found ourselves smack in the middle of the amusement park section.
The kids forgot the cold and started bouncing with joy. Shay tried his hand at the dart toss, managing to pop enough balloons to win a car for himself and another for his brother. Next, he crawled into a big clear balloon, which the workers filled with air and shoved out onto a lake. He spent the next 15 minutes out there on the water like a hamster in a habitrail, bobbing and spinning and trying to stand, until they finally reeled him in. “That was SWEET!!!” he kept yelling. Aidan had a blast watching him, but refused to go in a bubble himself. Kyra just stared, open-mouthed and drippy-nosed.
We went on a couple of rides, watched some others and then decided it was too darn cold to stay another minute. So we headed for the exit, but not before trying the balloon pop dart game one last time. This time, Aidan wanted to try it out, so the rest of us scattered while he wildly tossed metal-tipped darts in every direction. I had visions of another round of stitches, for Aidan or an innocent bystander, but all went well enough for the boys to win two toy guns.
On the way home, we stopped at an Italian restaurant and plied the kids with pizza. Then home for ice cream sundaes. The entire way home, Shay kept asking if we could go back to Chaoyang Park tomorrow, puhleaaaase. We’ll go back again, I’m sure, to visit the park’s science center or fly kites – but maybe we’ll wait for warmer weather.