Growing up we loved going to the park. In the summer it was the slides, swings and little stream that entertained us. We had to go higher and higher on the swings and we thought we could touch the sky. Then we would have to have ‘under doggies’. In the spring we would look for tadpoles in the stream. Each June our town would host the event “Happening in the Park” where everyone would come to listen to music, watch local dance companies perform and then close out the night with fireworks. It was a chance to see old friends and be with family and new friends. The winter was just as fun at the park. With a large hill for sledding on the slippery slope and ‘just one more’ before heading home for hot chocolate. I grew up in this park and it holds many good memories.
In Shanghai families, friends and couples also visit the park and make memories. Century Park is a short walk from us and one spring Sunday my husband and I decided to visit. Things were very different and you noticed right away as you approached the gates and there was an admission booth. Each visitor has to pay to enter. Only 10 RMB (about $1.50). Once inside we explored this very large park which spans many blocks. You can rent bicycles and we quickly did to explore more ground in a shorter time. Our bike was one built for 2 and the family version for 4 was also available. Another small rental fee was paid and we took to the path. That was no easy task since so many people filled the paths and signs to keep off the grass were displayed in most locations. A small lake or wider part of the small river had paddle boats, a large band stand and play area were permanent structures. A Japanese rock garden with some bonsai was in another corner. The blossoms were in bloom and the pink Japanese Cherry and White Cherry looked like snow from the distance. It is well designed with a variety of sights from a quiet stream, to busy paddle boats and the various tress in bloom.
In one area the grass was free game. Small tents dotted every available space as families gathered with picnic lunches and children laughed and played. The tents however were not for camping out, but something that is a necessity. Many people here avoid the sun, since tanned skin is a sign of lower class. On sunny days umbrellas are still used to block the rays. I have even seen umbrellas sporting labels with UV protection! The tent is a warmer, drier and shaded location for the family to enjoy the outdoors. Seems a little odd to us westerners (especially us Canadians come mid February when we had enough cold) who crave the sun and pay big money to have sunny vacations.
Not two of my best photos, but you try to take pictures while on a bumpy bike built for two 😉
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