Wow. Hard to believe it’s already been 3 months and our journey is half way over. The temperature has really cranked up in the last few weeks. I heard it was about 70 degrees this weekend.
Yesterday, we went to Chaoyang Park, which is less than a mile from our home. In general, all the parks we’ve been to have been spectacular. You have to pay to go into them. Anywhere between 50 cents to $1.50, but they have been more than worth the cost. I definitely would not mind paying a few dollars for each visit at home, if our parks could be this nice. Senior Citizens don’t have to pay.
Chaoyang Park is a little longer than a mile tall, and a little less than a mile wide. It is about a third covered in water. It is the Beach Volleyball venue for the Beijing Olympics. There is an amusement park in the middle which reminds me of the Seattle Center Fun Forest and Enchanted Village. You can rent a 4 wheeled pedal bike for the whole family (which I wish we would have rented, because the place was so enormous!) On the water, you can rent a pedal boat, row boat, or a motorized boat and travel to the corners of the park on its waterways. There are huge greens where hundreds of people are picnicking, flying kites, tossing around a frisbee, etc. There’s a square that has a bunch of public art.
We got a kite last week at Dong Jao market. I’ve been thinking about getting one when I’ve seen them at some of the tourist markets… Dong Jao is not a tourist market. We got there about 4:30pm, and it was swamped with mosquitos. Mosquitos in my ears, running against my mouth, buzzing around my nose and eyes. There were animals of all kinds being sold which is what I think was attracting the mosquitos. I think in general, they were being sold as pets. When we got out of the animal section, the mosquito problem subsided.
Before Dong Jao, the last place I priced out a kite, they were asking about $150 for a kite reel… because it was real wood and real metal (of some kind…) I didn’t really care for “real” anything…. nor do I believe that anyone’s selling me anything “real” in China. The first place I asked in Dong Jao, they wanted $15 for the reel. That’s more like it… I found Tenille and told her that I think I’m going to get one. The second store I approached wanted $7.50 for the reel. With very little negotiation, I got a kite, string, and reel for $10.
So, I’ve had this kite that’s been burning a hole in my backpack for a few days…. The conditions at the park were perfect. There was a nice open square where I saw about 20-30 kites flying. Caleb and I excitedly unpacked our kite and started assembling it. It was a hawk, and took a while to get it all assembled and attached to the reel. “OK, Caleb here we go!” Just as I said those words, I noticed all the kites around us were lying on the ground. The air was as still as a picture. We waited around and it reminded me of surfers waiting for some waves. Now and then we get a few puffs and the kite would fly up 20 or 30 feet. After about 30 minutes, we decided to keep exploring the park. My wife seeing my disappointment told me to keep the kite out, in case we got some good wind.
When we got to the amusement park, the wind really started to pick up, so I let the kite loose. It flew spectacularly high… So high in fact, I hardly even noticed that my family had abandoned me. Feeling a twang of guilt, I pulled down the kite and put it away. I found Caleb in a kiddie pool, riding around a motorized mini-boat. There was also a ride where you put your kid in the middle of a big blow up cylinder. The cylinder is floating in the water, so when the kids try to run up the sides of the cylinder it spins in the water. Looked kind of fun to me, but Caleb opted to pass on it.
On the way home, we rode home in a cab. In general, we’ve been getting used to crazy driving and the lack of car seats for the babies. As we were turning into our apartment complex, a lady was crossing the street in front of us without really looking. The cab driver gave a honk to wake her up. Tenille leaned over to the cab driver and remarked, “Ta xue xiao.” I was a bit confused and asked Tenille… “She’s a school?” Apparently, she meant to say, “She’s sleeping… “ We now have quite a collection of these kinds of wack-o blurts. We’ve said, “You’re welcome” when we were supposed to say “Thank you.” That usually gets some weird looks. I like to say “Later” when what I mean is “Wait a moment”. Luckily, we are just ignored in general.
To my defense on the "She\’s a school" comment, "school" and "sleeping" sound a lot alike. School is xue xiao (pronounced shway shao). Sleeping is shui jiao (shway jao). I was laughing so hard that if the "she\’s a school" comment didn\’t confirm to the taxi driver that I was/am a crazy foreigner, my hysterical laughing sealed the deal. I could barely mutter out the final directions to our apartment.