Century Park

Mark’s parents are visiting this week and now that the kids are out for spring break we are filling the days with some exploring.  Today my mother-in-law and I took the kids for a stroll through Century Park while Mark and his dad took care of some work things.  Century Park is walking distance from our house, but I will admit that I have never even gotten close to the gates until today.  When the weather is pitiful, the last thing on my mind is walking through a park especially when it only means coming home with wet shoes.  But today the weather was gorgeous so grandmom scored some free tickets from the hotel (thanks again, Kerry Pudong!) and we went for a walk.  From the beginning Lucas had only one singular purpose and that was to find and commandeer a paddle boat.  I had heard that the park had paddle boats, but I wasn’t all that interested in putting all three children on a boat in the middle of the meandering river.  Still, Lucas was determined.  He started his nagging from the moment we entered the gate and was relentless until the very end.  We didn’t ride the paddle boats, mainly because there weren’t any to be found, but we did manage to walk around a small section of the park and for once I remembered to bring the nice camera! 

Century Park is one of the largest in Shanghai and it was a big draw for us when we decided to move to this side of the river.  Unfortunately, we had thought we could bring the dog into the park and that it would be a great place for running her off the leash.  Alas, it is not that kind of park.  I think dogs are not even allowed in despite the fact that one of our neighbors allegedly marches in with his dog all the time.  His dog is small, and I think he has been lucky so far.  Maggie would most certainly cause a commotion if we tried to sneak her in. 

Henry was angling for a playground, but there wasn’t one in the area we explored today.  The park is massive and I am sure on future trips we will discover that there is much more to see and do.  Later in the day one of Ava’s friends told us that there is most certainly a playground in Century Park.  I swear I wasn’t trying to trick my children when I told them there wasn’t one!

We were there during some sort of school trip because there were tons of school kids in their uniforms.  Those kids were keen to practice their English with us through the age old art of yelling random phrases at unsuspecting people.  We were greeted with not only “hello” today, but also with “good afternoon” and “nice to meet you”.  All of these required the same amount of interaction.  My mother-in-law was sure they were a sports team, but there were way too many of them for that.  Do Chinese kids have school on Saturday?  Would they have a school trip right before the upcoming holiday?  Not sure.  So many things to check on in the next few days!  We did see plenty of people renting bicycles built for two (and three, apparently, often filled with careening members of the previously mentioned school group), and lots of these crazy pedal contraptions that look like rickshaws.  Check out this kid riding in the back with his bubble gun. 

The weather also brought out a few groups for wedding photos.  We saw these two couples in multiple places in the park.  Today wasn’t the wedding, but just a photo day for these guys, apparently. 

We managed to trick grandmom into buying bubbles AND ice cream.  The initial plan was to browse, but once I wavered a bit the kids smelled opportunity.  It didn’t take long to have them all covered in chocolate and attacking unsuspecting people with their bubble arsenal.  You know that if there is ice cream then we will be back.