Oriental Land!

A name like that just screams good times, doesn’t it?  When one of Mark’s colleagues suggested a trip to Oriental Land I will admit I was skeptical.  What kind of place lets people call it “oriental land”?  The website promised carnival rides and laser tag, an actual aircraft carrier, and a giant bubble that lets you walk on water.   Hmmm…  so many possibilities.  We started out Sunday morning by heading to Mark’s office.  Chris was spearheading the trip and had generously worked out transportation so that we could all ride together for the hour long trip.  All of Mark’s colleagues came with us—they are only an office of four—and Lilly brought her kids so the van was full.  It was raining, unfortunately, but Oriental Land promised lots of indoor activities.  Rain or no rain we were still going.

Welcome to Oriental Land!

Once inside we rented two of those awesome multi-seater bikes to tool around the park.  The rain had stopped and the day was starting to heat up.  Mark was unlucky and ended up in the bike with all the kids.  This didn’t stop them from racing the bike full of adults, though, and any time we got in the bikes there was mayhem and danger.  At one point Chris was yelling “Make way!  Make way!” in Chinese as we barreled down a hill trying to catch and pass the children.  There was a fair amount of taunting and cheating going on and unsuspecting groups of people along the road kept having to scatter to avoid us.  Mark later commented that in the United States there would have been rules against our bike races in the park.  Thanks, China!  We love how you throw caution to the wind when it comes to bodily harm.

We found the aircraft carrier and the water bubble thing.  The actual bubble wasn’t there, but they had these inflatable tubes instead.  The kids didn’t seem to care that the tubes looked way less exciting than the photos from the website.

We checked out the rides and Henry was devastated to discover that he wasn’t tall enough to ride the giant swings.  The fit abruptly ended when he learned that he was tall enough for many of the other rides—rides that involved shooting.  He shot clowns and penguins and various other defenseless things until we decided to move on.

Henry killed all of these guys.

Probably the highlight of Oriental Land for the kids was laser tag.  Lucas has played laser tag a few times, but my other kids haven’t.  Henry has, of course, been dying to play and was thrilled when we pulled up to the laser tag “training ground” and they said there was no age requirement.  Adults could play on a course with more obstacles, but kids would have to play in a more open area.  Surprisingly this didn’t cause any disappointment and they all gladly suited up to run around and shoot each other.  Mark and Chris bravely agreed to participate while the ladies “supervised”.  Somehow the game became adults against kids and the rule of 3 lives maximum was quickly forgotten as the kids ran to the guy in charge of the equipment and begged for more chances.  They played until they were covered in dirt and completely sweaty.

Chris is forced to surrender!

Along the way I managed to end up in the bike with Mark and the kids.  This made us the blondest, whitest bicycle that Oriental Land had ever seen.  People had been staring the entire time we were at the park, but now they started calling out.  “Hello!” random groups would shout at us as we drove by.  One teenager pointed at us and said, “Cool!” as we passed.  People took photos.  We were one of the best attractions at Oriental Land.  Lilly’s daughter was riding with us and she couldn’t get over the attention we were receiving.  “Who was that?” she would ask when someone called out to us.  She was always surprised that they were complete strangers.  Her mother is Chinese, so she gets less of the staring and pointing.  “I couldn’t live this way!” she eventually blurted out.  She was tired of being part of our rock star celebrity group.

We don’t know this guy.

We ate lunch at a restaurant not far from the park.  It was Chris’ recommendation, and we were able to sit by the water and have some Chinese food.  When we arrived, there was the usual waving, pointing, and staring.  Someone was yelling at us from across the water.  Everyone was convinced that people were saying “Henry”.  No, no, I insisted.  After all, I had just spent a good deal of time explaining about how all those friendly folks were just random people.  Then I looked across the little river and saw the family of one of Henry’s classmates!  We really did know those people!

Shanghai– the world’s largest small town

After buying some fancy lollipops, we all piled back in the van sticky, sweaty, and tired.  The kids had loved the trip even though we really saw only a fraction of what Oriental Land had to offer.  Not sure if we will make it back, but if we ever need a good dose of water sports combined with shooting stuff, now we know where to go.