We’ve been pretty slack. Living in Hong Kong three years, and we had yet to take the kids into China. We’d been intending to take them since we first got here, but time, money and scheduling had always been against us. It’s silly really. China is only 45 minutes away – we shouldn’t have an excuse.
We don’t want to be one of these expat families who live in such a central location in Asia and don’t take advantage of it. To go back to Oz without seeing some of these wonderfully diverse countries would be a sin. The kids have been to Singapore, South Korea and Malasyia – all around 3 hours away by plane, so really it was about time we took a stroll across the border to see the real China.
Fortunately some of Bethany’s classmates organised a weekend trip to a resort in the Panyu district of Guangdong called Chime Long (長隆). There are several ways to get there, but our group took the option of catching a ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui. It is about a 2 and 1/2 hour trip up the coast of China and then inland down a river. The change of scenery was amazing and I have to say I never thought I would see the day I would be on a “quick cat” ferry buzzing inland on a river. Once we cleared customs we hopped on a bus that took us directly to the door of the Chime-Long resort hotel.
In the bus on the way to the resort, the chinese landscape was startling. It was stunning, medieval and modern all at once. It is hard to explain, but hopefully the photo above gives you a little insight. In the foreground is a small rural pig farm on the side of a river. Behind it is a brand new modern high speed rail link. Behind that is an elevated motorway. All these little farms – pigs, ducks, fish were dotted on the landscape with the modern transportation links hovering over the top of them. The farms were shrouded in rich tropical greens – particularly banana trees, with muddy brown waterways and the white-grey modern structures carving a path overhead. It was amazing.
The Chime-Long resort is huge. It has something like 1500 guest rooms in the hotel alone. As such, it was also busy. Crazy busy. The lobby was bustling with activity and there was a queue of around 15 to 20 people waiting to check in. The resort cleverly had one of their characters on hand to amuse the children, and a clown handing out stickers.
The rooms were surprisingly modern. I don’t know what the hotels rating is, but I would rate the rooms as a strong 3.5 stars to 4 stars. The rooms were a good size, with modern fixtures. Only downside – the lingering cigarette smoke in the hallways – it is still legal to smoke indoors in China. Despite that, I was pleasantly surprised and so were the kids. Once we dropped our gear in the room we headed out to the water park situated right next to the hotel – literally. It took all of 2 to 5 minutes to walk there.
I don’t think this resort knows how to do things small. The water park was huge and packed with people. In fact I would hazard to say it is so huge it was somewhat overwhelming. There was so much to do potentially with a large variety of water slides, pools, wave pools and animals (macaws and penguins). We eventually found a kids area which was amazing. Lots of slides, water splashing everywhere, boat slides, etc. Mitchell hated it. He doesn’t like crowds and he didn’t like having the constant ‘rain’ from all the spray towers on his face. He enjoyed the boat slides though – going on those 2 or 3 times with daddy. Bethany was delighted. She took on all the kids slides and the boat slides. She loved being splashed by the giant water-filled buckets that periodically dumped their load on the kids below.
Downside was a cultural thing. Some people thought it entirely ok to let their kids pee on the concrete walkways. Same went for spitting and smoking. You can’t avoid it in China, and on the plus side, I suppose you have to consider at least the child isn’t peeing in the pools. Overall it was a lot of fun, but I could have done without the crowds. I would like to go back when it is slightly cooler and there are (hopefully) less people there. There is a slow river boat ride the kids really wanted to go on but we simply didn’t have the time as we had tickets to a circus that night. So we definitely want to go back and try that sometime.
The convenience of being so close to the hotel was a huge bonus as it meant we could walk out of the water park and back to our room to shower and freshen up before headed off to the circus!