Parks in China are different than parks in the United States, mostly because they serve different purposes. While American parks are used primarily by families and children, it seems that Chinese parks are used mostly by the senior citizens who play mah jong, exercise, or shoot the breeze all day. We are always in search of fun, better parks for Landon to play in because all of the play structures and kid’s areas we have found so far are small and do not hold his attention.
We ventured over to Sun Lake Park because it looked large on a map, and was still walking distance from our hotel. We are staying right downtown, and Sun Lake park is still in the city, but more on the eastern side. Surrounded by skyscrapers and huge new apartment buildings, I had no idea what to expect when we arrived, but we were pleasantly surprised by the beauty and peaceful environment of this park. One section is covered by lily ponds, picnic pavilions, and boardwalks. Landon loved racing around these pretending to be a race car. We discovered a sandy swimming beach, and so we had to come back and bring sand toys. The water is shallow enough that Landon can walk and splash around safely, and it is a great place to cool off on a hot day. Other areas include a fish pond and kid’s toy shop, restaurants, and and area to rent boats. Sun lake is actually a dead-end branch of the river that runs past our hotel.
Landon’s favorite part of the park is hands down the sandy beach area. There are tons of kids and grandparents who come there to play in the sand. Landon likes to play with his toys for a few minutes, then he goes and checks out every else’s toys. Some kids are more receptive to this than others, and sometimes we can negotiate a trade. For me, the sandy beach is not fun or restful for long periods of time because I follow Landon around doing damage control and giving toys back to crying kids.
My favorite part of the park is the garden area. There are a series of lily ponds, pavilions and woods in the northern part of the park that are so peaceful and a world away from the bustling city. Landon runs around on the boardwalks, looks for frogs and fish, and enjoys the beautiful lilies and other flowers.
When we visited this last time, we played in the sandy beach area for a few hours, then headed over to the woods and lily ponds for a picnic. Landon thinks the idea of having lunch anywhere except our hotel is a picnic, so it was pretty simple with sandwiches and snacks but he was excited about it. I love coming here and being able to walk around on the boardwalks without having to worry about scooters running me over. Sun lake is quickly becoming my happy place in Ningbo, and I hope that we can visit a few more times to enjoy the serenity, space and nature before heading back to Chicago.