Wednesday, April 11, 2007

YUE XIU PARK - Guangzhou

Last Saturday I decided to take a walk after lunch down to YUE XIU Park in Guangzhou. It was my cousin’s birthday and he had come in from HK to spend it with me. So rather then kill the afternoon spread out on my couch, I decided to show him around GZ a little bit. Actually it was more like I dragged him out on a bit of an adventure. I had wandered into the park once before but I did not try out any of the amusement activities they had in store. It is located not too far from the China Hotel. The entrance fee into the park is only 5 RMB and they have special rates for the elderly. Apart form having some wonderful gardens and paths to jog or walk along, they also have a large lake right by the entrance.

The lake is filed with small boats of all different sorts. Most of them have kids in them peddling or rowing around the lake having a good laugh or couples being cozy and romantic. I was feeling very hung over so I decided a bit of a peddle around the pond might bring me back to life. They had about 6 different types of boats which ranged in price from about $3 - $6 for 30 minutes. I did not really look at the list and just took what they gave me.

My cousin being a bit more reserved than me was not so keen and was afraid we might look silly, but that was the least of my concerns. I was more worried that after I got out to the middle of the lake I would get too tired to peddle back in. Or that the flimsy plastic boats would not be able to handle my hefty man size. What we ended up with was one of these car/boat things.

You ever have those days where the smallest things just make your day? Well this was one of those days and I was having a blast. The weather was perfect for tomfoolery. It had actually been quite a while since I had spent an afternoon outdoors.

I was totally prepared to peddle my boat but to my most pleasant surprise the little red demon actually had a battery powered motor! That really made my day. It sounded like a freaky UFO with a high pitched humming sound and it veered to the side of the boat that I was sitting on.

Here is a little video tour of the lake. I hate hearing my voice recorded. Is that what I really sound like? But I swear to you the excitement is 100% genuine. Had I found the same thing in London or New York I would just be like, okay. But being in GZ and stumbling upon random automatic boat in a lake on a cool day with not too many people around just blew my mind.

The YUE XIU Park in Guangzhou is actually quite huge. Once you go past the lake and the attractions they have for young kids like merry go rounds and small bumper cars, the paths open up to more adventure. My battery died on me so I could not take all the pictures I want but on of the more interesting options was the pottery barn. There was an area where you could buy clay and they had automatic spinners where you can create your own pots, with the help of some assistants. Then there were paints and other little fittings you could use to decorate your creation before having it baked. For these who do not want to make a pot you can by a fresh made one and just decorate it with your own creations. It looked like a lot of fun.

To one side we also found the DONG XIU JIA RO Spa. It was a very attractive building with the most spectacular garden in front of it that had a splendid variety of flowers and plants.

In the spa you can treat yourself to a variety of different massages at very reasonable prices. Personally I am not really into massages, especially foot massages. I love giving them but I can’t stand getting them. They hurt way too much.

We continued walking further into the park and came across a full on amusement park. By this time my Sony Cybershot was totally dying on me. This is another reason why I prefer using my Canon PowerShot, because it does not need to be recharged and I can by new batteries any time they die out. So there were all these different rides to try out like the grown up bumper car, the haunted house, speed slide, amusing car, and loads of other stuff. I went straight to the haunted house. It was dark and pretty silly. I held on to my pockets most of the time thinking one of the ghosts might be some Chinese dude trying to rip me off. I will admit though that there was one moment when some latex glove stroked my face and I shrieked. Like a little girl, I shrieked.

This ride looked really cool. It was like a large yellow unicycle that went around in a large loop track. The track is pretty high off the ground so I can imagine it might be pretty scary sitting up there. It holds 2 riders and they hang off either side. But the equipment on that ride looked pretty up to date. There was also a real army tank and fighter jet parked there for kids to play on. Fun stuff that rust is. It reminded me of Aburi Gardens in Ghana.

Then I had to try the roller coaster. Oh god, why did I have to try the roller coaster. You know when you get that feeling right after you know you have done something really stupid and you wonder, why the fuck did I do this? Well that is how I felt right after I got on this ride. First off I was sitting in this small ass Mickey Mouse made of metal and it felt like welded joints holding it together were on their last legs of life. I was okay as the cart rolled up to the climb then as it got hitched on the track that would pull me up, the jerk was so hard it threw my back into a fucking spasm. And the cart began to rattle. Right then I felt I weighed too much for this ride and I know I was screwed, big time. This is a kid’s ride! But there was no way out. And it was not even as if I had any control of anything that was about to happen. I was completely at the mercy of this god forsaken Mickey Mouse contraption! When I hit the lip of the drop I freaked, it was only a 6 foot drop but there was a hard left curve straight ahead of me, and my mind was telling me that the law of physics would not allow this cart with my body weight attached, swing around that bend and stay on the tracks. The emotions I went through while strapped into this rodent travelling at ridiculous speeds on a roller coaster that should have been put out of commission after the First World War were horrendous. I have never screamed so much in my life. There is no explanation in my mind why I ever got off that ride in one piece.

But I did and I am still here to tell you about it. Would I do it again? Hell no mutha fucka!! That was genuine fear I felt there. Being strapped to a bungee cord and jumping off a building is not frightening when you know there is a reputable Australian adrenaline junkie on the other side of it who’s well paying job is counting on your safe landing, nor is plummeting towards earth with a Japanese dude strapped to your back ready to pull the chute. But riding the rat coffin being operated by a 16 year old who does not understand a word you are saying is terrifying. I could smell blood I tell you. I could just imagine my mother getting the news that I fell off a roller coaster and died. She would think I was drunk or high on some shit for sure. But I am fine. And you know what, if you are looking for an experience that will cause your balls to shrink 5 times their normal size, this is it. If not, YUE XIU Park is just a cool place to spend a cool after noon is GZ.

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