Chaoyang Birthday

Look at that haze: Air Quality Index: 200+

Super-hot bad air day for the rescheduled 9th birthday party. Thunder storm with lightning held off until an hour after. Chaoyang Park, ‘Beijing’s Central Park,’ has forest trails, boat rentals, sand beach, science museum…and amusement park. We had a suitcase of food, & donuts because anything frosted would melt.

Meeting place: Mod weird south gate

The adorable boys are from England, China, Australia, and Mexico. Some don’t like the feeling of g-force, some aren’t tall enough for the big rides. We tried to compromise to do most rides together.

…like a smaller roller coaster…

Everyone likes bumper cars…

Rides are embossed prominently, “Made in China.”

The Classic Flying Swing

Bless Andy’s mom Sai for coming, she made runs for bottled water, we went through more than 30; herded them from behind, and got group discounts by bargaining in Chinese at the ticket booths. They’re adorable and Ethan’s going to miss them. Stay in touch, please, Rowan, Riley, Max, and Andy, wherever in the world your families go!

Third grade buddies, Chaoyang Park, Beijing.

Ethan will miss you guys.

Wedding Photo Shoots

As we passed these shoots in a Beijing park, one after another, kids seemed surprised they weren’t traditional Chinese weddings.

They’re surprised mainstream Western things (McDonald’s, poufy white dresses) are fashionable, though they seem mundane or trite to us.

Cultural imperialism — & China’s century of cataclysmic breaks from its past — aside (if that aside makes any sense), Chinese things seem much more interesting & precious than they’re treated.  We’d have expected more overt appreciation.

Ethan’s Latest News

Today I went to a go-kart place called USpeed. In USPeed you get to do 6 minutes of racing around a track. You first go around a small curve, then you do a complete U-turn, then you go another U-turn the other way and then you do a zig-zag kind of thing. Then there’s a straightaway. Either you go racing around the track again, or if your time’s up you go back where you started. I went around 6 times.

There were some people who’d been driving maybe 10 years and they, for one thing, got a head start. And then they were really quick so at times, when they were coming up behind me, I would really do a strategy my mom told me, to slow down on the curves and then speed up while you’re going through. It worked to keep them away, for maybe a minute. Then they got past me.

There was one lady who got in front of me on a straightaway and made me do a 360 in my car and bang into the wall.

The next day, on this ride you got hooked up and it starts spinning around. At times you’re facing down, at times you’re acing up towards the sky. This was in a park called Chaoyang Park. There’s a peony garden there, and lots of children’s activities.

This is a Lego Great Wall of China.

Also in Chaoyang Park, it has a ropes course. First they teach you how to do it. You get 3 different hooks. There are colored cables where you hook your own carabiners. The guy spoke a little bit of English. There were 2 different ziplines – first you did your ropes course and then you’d climb to the top and take a zipline to the bottom. Then you did more course to the top and take a zipline again to the very bottom.

In other news, my dad left this Saturday.