22 October, 2006

Beijing Happy Valley

I had heard about some amusement parks in Beijing, but had no idea what to expect. Would it compare to places like Six Flags or Cedar Point? I doubted it...I was right.

A few weeks ago, I told a girl (LinLin) that I would take her to Beijing Happy Valley, an amusement park on the west side of Beijing that just opened this year. So, yesterday afternoon, I picked her up (in a taxi, of course) over at the Drama College of Beijing, where she attends (OK, she's 22 ... it's not that young). She is a phenomenal singer, plays some weird Chinese stringed instrument and is an aspiring actress. Her English is about as good as my Chinese...so, I'm sure you could imagine all of the in depth conversations we had throughout the day. I was quite happy though, because we only had to pull out the electronic Chinese/English dictionary one time. However, the more I have to "dummy up" my English over the next year, the more I worry what I'll sound like when I get back to the US. I can't imagine it will be too much different.

Anyway, we arrived to no lines at the ticket counter and as we walked into the gates, it seemed like we were the only ones there. I'm thinking we'd have the freedom to hit the rides within minutes...rather than hours. Boy was I wrong. As we rounded the corner to the first "ride area," I saw the masses.

I forgot to mention, this was the first time LinLin had ever been to an amusement park. She's from north-east China. All I knew was that she would try all of the rides, and wanted to go fast. First up was a roller coaster. This was one of those coasters that hangs from the track, and you ride belly-down, like you're flying. So, after standing in line for about an hour, and getting stared at every other second by the many young Chinese, we were strapped in & ready for the ride. She loved it, and now wanted to hit faster, more exciting rides (not sure if there would be any more).

We did find one ride that topped the coaster. It resembled a huge pendulum. It swayed back & forth, getting faster and higher each time. At the max height, you were just about upside down, then it would drop and swing you across to the other side. I don't think my hand had ever been gripped so hard before. It was thrilling for her, but she was a little queasy afterwards...there wouldn't be a second ride on this one for her. Like in the US, they snap pictures of the riders. I purchased one for LinLin...it was only then that I realized how bald I'm actually getting.

In all, the rides were OK...the atmosphere was very similar to parks in the US, just not as nice. They had the same cheesy games, that are almost impossible to win. The workers at the rides spoke over a loud speaker, trying to get everyone pumped up (I only knew that because people would cheer & clap). I would actually compare the atmosphere at Happy Valley to a state fair, rather than an amusement park in the US. It was a nice place though, and very clean.

It was a fun day at the park and LinLin definitely enjoyed it. It was cool to provide a new experience for her.

A few pictures from the camera phone...

LinLin amused by the mist...
The huge pendulum

Half way through the line for the coaster


Kristalogy said...

I think they showed this park in the recent Discovery HD Channel 'Atlas' series on China. Your timing is great because the North Carolina state fair is wrapping up today. They did a feature on it on CBS Sunday Morning today, unfortunately showing how overweight we are in this state.(gee thanks CBS)

Thanks for the "window" into China.

So, do we need to plan to be coming to a wedding in Beijing for you or what? Is this serious? ;-)

Dave said...

Story good. Girl nice. Fun, wow.

Is that how you'll sound when you come back?

The best ride, if you want to call it that, in WNY is dodge the falling tree limbs. They seem to be everywhere.

Maybe your next date can be at a Monster Truck Rally (if they have them in China).

manninchina said...

Krista...no wedding, not even a thought in my mind.

Dave, yep...that's pretty much it. On the plus side, my Chinese should be decent.

Funny enough, I have a ride similar to that WNY ride each day...but it's cars & bikes, rather than tree limbs.

Next date is at the hotwheels factory.