Children’s park in Zibo is located on the west side of Zibo, but is actually a little closer to our hotel than the People’s park in downtown Zibo. Despite its name, it wasn’t quite as child-friendly as the People’s park, with only a few pieces of play equipment and a basketball court. As is requisite in most large Chinese parks, a man-made lake provided the centerpiece with a boardwalk around it. In the shade of large trees, there is a sand digging area that doubles as the place that the ballroom dancers congregate. The entrance to the park is marked with many painted knock-off Disney characters on the gate, and a very grand sculpture. Landon’s favorite activity at this park was digging in the dirt. Depending on the direction we entered the park (usually at the end of a run for me) he would find a digging spot and make all sorts of things. If he got lucky, he would find an area that had just been watered and get super muddy. On one particular day, he decided to make clay bricks out of the mud, and build the “Great Wall of Zibo.” He actually wanted to bring a brick back to the hotel with him, but I shot down that idea pretty quickly. So, he set it out on the existing low wall around the park to dry, so that he could build with it. Well, a few days later, it was all baked in the sun, and Landon was so excited that his plan had worked! My favorite part of the Children’s park, but an aspect that also makes it more annoying, is that all of the entrances have cement pillars spaced just close enough that our stroller, or scooters, can’t fit inside the park. It makes it safe for the boys to run around without worrying about getting run over, but it also means I have to heave the stroller over the 1.5 foot cement pillars to get into the park.
At the children’s park, I got chastised a lot. I have a problem, because Landon is at the age that he wants to remain stationary and build his imaginary world, and Owen is at the age where he is constantly on the move. I had many people tell me I needed to watch my children better. Typically, I follow Owen because he is more likely to inflict bodily harm on himself accidentally, and I keep Landon in my sights and earshot. I also had people tell me to get them to wear hats. One particular day in the park, we came in by the south entrance where some security guards were camped out with their makeshift table, cord and wood stools, tea and cigarettes. Owen decided to join them on a stool, and sat there/climbed on the stool over and over for quite awhile. The security guards really got a kick out of him!
It was also at this park that I realized how cheap toys are in China. There are kid toy traps everywhere, but thankfully at the children’s park, the main one is tucked to the side of the main entrance. One day, Landon asked really nicely for a shovel. I had just learned we would be staying for awhile longer, so I allowed it. We ended up with a shovel and a bottle of bubbles for Owen for 50 cents!
Although not as busy as People’s Park, Children’s park has some great shaded areas, exercise areas for adults, a few children’s play structures, and the small lake in the middle. It served as a great place to go for the boys to get some energy out as they ran around the many paths. There were lots of places to dig as well!Although I would not go out of my way to go there as a tourist, as a short-term resident with kids, Zibo Children’s park was great!