Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sunday in the Park with Sun Yat-Sen

It was another warm day in Xiamen, with sunshine aplenty. And after unseasonably cold weather, and with a forecast for more rainy and cold weather later this week, the sunshine brought out throngs of people this weekend. We joined the crowds at Zhongshan Park, definitely a kid-friendly place. In addition to traditional gardens, fountains and gazebos, the park has amusement rides and paddle boats.

Zhongshan Park is on Zhongshan Lu (Lu = Street). They are named for Sun Yat-Sen, also spelled Sun Zhongshan, known as the Father of the Chinese Revolution, who accomplished the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911. I've always found Sun Yat-Sen's position in China a little curious. He's definitely venerated, with monuments and even a university named after him. But he's also the founder of the Kuomintang, the political party that fought the Communists for twenty years before being driven into exile in Taiwan. Since coming to China I've learned, however, that under Sun Yat-Sen's leadership the Kuomintang cooperated with the Communist Party in order to get arms and money from Russia to fight the Qing. It wasn't until after his death that Chang Kai-shek, his protege, kicked the Communists out of the Kuomintang, leading to the civil war. I am told that every city in China has a Zhongshan Lu and a Zhongshan Park. This Zhongshan Park has a statue of Sun Yat-Sen in the center.

We wandered around the park, following the water, looking for the paddle boat concession. We found a topiary dragon instead!

Yes, those are growing plants inside the dragon’s body. . .

. . . and the traditional pearl inside the dragon’s mouth.

Just past the dragon we found the paddle boats. Well, for Mama it was a paddle boat. For the girls, it was a loll-about-and-be-paddled boat! Every once in a while, Zoe would decide to paddle – but she couldn’t reach the pedals sitting down, so she pedaled standing up, just like standing up on a bike! But soon she’d claim exhaustion, and leave me to it. Maya, as usual, didn’t see any reason to expend energy when there were others willing to do so!

I definitely worked up a sweat paddling away, and we played “bumper boats” a few times as the girls “helped” me to steer. (You can see the steering lever between them, marked it Chinese, of course. It took a few tries before we figured out that back was left, front was right, and middle was straight ahead!) The little river through the park was quite picturesque, with ducks and lagoons and bridges to pass under. The girls enjoyed waving to passing boats and shouting, “Ni hao!” (That’s hello in Chinese.)

After successfully docking the boat, we headed to the amusement park. First stop, the carousel, of course!
I had to laugh at the number of kids who categorically REFUSED to ride the carousel. There would be mom, carrying a child between 2 and 4, trying to get him or her to mount a horse. And there would be the child, clinging to mom in stubborn refusal. But mom, having expended 5 yuan on a ticket, would be yelling and yanking and swatting at that child, trying to get him/her on that @#$@# horse! And the child won every time, with mom walking away mumbling to herself, or meekly sitting with the little darling in the carriage on the carousel! No such problem with my two -- they are seasoned carousel riders who mounted up with great eagerness.
Next up, the bounce house – or more appropriately the bounce place, since no roof was involved! The place was decorated with Disney characters, but I’m pretty sure it was a knock-off – Disney was spelled DINSEY!
And then in a fit of insanity, I suggested we ride the elevated dragon train – which turned out to be a roller coaster! I loathe and detest roller coasters. My stomach especially loathes and detests roller coasters. And in China, I fear roller coasters. But it turned out to be a pretty mild one. There was only one turn where I had visions of the car jumping the tracks and hurtling us to our deaths. Zoe loved it, and wanted to go again. But Maya and I are both wimps, and said, “No WAY!”
A few more rides, a bit more wandering, and it was time for the most challenging ride of all – the bus home!

We’re lucky that the bus stop near our house is an actual bus station. That means every bus we get on is empty. But not for long! Heading toward the park, the bus picked up far more people than it let off, so soon we were packed in like the proverbial sardines. But at least we had seats, having gotten on at the terminal. (I put Maya on my lap and gave up one of our three seats to an ancient Chinese lady when no one else seemed willing to give up a seat to her. Most of the time people readily get up for the old folks).

I knew that we wouldn’t have it so lucky when we picked up Bus 21 in front of the park. Sure enough, the bus was crammed with hot, sweaty people. A young man gave us his seat, so I put Zoe and Maya in the seat and stood near them, hanging on to the pole above their heads. All was going swimmingly until the bus came to a SUDDEN stop in the midst of squealing brakes and honking horns. I went FLYING! I staggered ungracefully backwards, and hit the money box with a crunch. All I could think of was my camera in my backpack. Luckily, it was our empty water bottle that went crunch, and my camera was just fine.
It’s amazing how making a spectacle of yourself on a bus clears a seat for you! Three people near us jumped out of their seats to make way for me. I gratefully accepted, not wanting to make a fool of myself again.
We made it home without further incident, and so ends another beautiful day in Xiamen. Bye-bye! Kiss, kiss!


Anonymous said...

I love your description of the park and the photos....And your ride home. It looks like you had a fun Sunday. Thank you for posting so often. We eagerly check several times a day to see if you have a new entry and we are so excited when we see a new one. Daddy even reads each one several times. We both miss our 3 girls! Bises

weissman said...

My wife and I have been in that park quite a few times. When we were in Xiamen last year I needed a root canal (I know ouch). My wife brought me to the dental hospital located near the park and I got the procedure done there. When I got home and had our family dentist check it out she said the dentist in china did an excellent job, as good as anywhere in the US, and it only cost me $80.

My wifes brother also lives near that park. He works for Chinese customes and his wife works for Dragon Air. They have a son who is 10 now.


LisaandSyd said...

We love your blog! So glad we got it! Sydney says "I LOVE YOU ZOE !!"
We'll be checking every day now.
Keep in touch.