“Happy Valley” Daze

A few weeks ago, English First held its annual Beijing summer party. This year it was held at Happy Valley amusement park.┬áThink “Six Flags” theme park with all of the “charm” but none of the English. All Beijing EF branches comprising 940 people showed up. Everyone went around in self-selected small groups. It was amusing and at times fun. Still, when you’ve been to one theme park, you’ve pretty much been to them all. I have the additional “jaded factor” of having been to Disneyland/DisneyWorld, Magic Mountain countless times, over many decades.

The two oddities I noted between this park and those I’ve been to in America are: No where at Happy Valley could you get anything other than a fast food meal. There were simply no options for a nice sit-down, over-priced restaurant to enjoy something other than fast, Chinese food. On the plus side every food venue offered beer and of course, you weren’t confined if you wanted to walk around drinking, not that anyone did that. I will note that drinking in public anywhere (again, no prohibition that I’m aware of) is simply not done. It seems most Chinese aren’t drinkers. Sure, there’s drinking at bars but that doesn’t seem to be the main point. It’s to get together and talk and eat. Imbibing seems, at most, a subsidiary form of entertainment.

The other interesting oddity was the water-ride. Every water ride I’ve been on, regardless of the intensity would not result in being utterly and completely drenched from head to toe. Un-uh, not here. While waiting in line for this ride, everyone, except for yours truly, donned the plastic-bag poncho, including attached hood, we were all handed upon entry. I kept thinking, “this is an overreaction. So we get a little splashed. It’s only water.” I changed my mind when I got into the boat which had about six inches of water at the bottom. Not that the poncho did much good. When we hit the first pool after a long drop, the boat pretty much went under the enormous wave it. Any remaining dryness was erased by people firing water cannons directly at us from above immediately after (see photos). I doubt that happens at any park in America. Can you imagine the lawsuits from aggrieved patrons who were “injured” by being fired upon with water cannons?

All in all, a fun diversion and best of all, it was a work day, so we got paid to attend. I’m happy to be covered from head to toe with water, if you want to pay me for my trouble.



Our office group photo in front of the park entrance. Far left, back row, hat-moi.

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Brian Symonds: “Mouth-breather.”

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Photo-ops before entry. Madison


The pink thing hanging around my neck is my office badge which I inexplicably elected to wear. It was the source of much derision among my co-workers and other EF’ers I ran into at the park.


I’m wearing the hat Andrea bought for me at the Great Wall as I mentioned I was looking for a Chinese flag-pin but couldn’t find one. It’s on the hat along with Mao and Zhou Enlai (Chou En Lai). What? No Deng Xiaoping?




Some birds-eye views of the park and east Beijing.

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This ride is just as much "fun" as it is in America.

This ride is just as much “fun” as it is in America.


“Say what?”: I found this sign many hours after I had been there. Now they tell me! And no, they’re not talking about those who have been to the park many times.


The infamous (as far as I’m concerned) water ride complete with water cannons aimed at our boat. Madison, Beth, Winnie and Sophia, most of the crew I spent the day with, slumming around Happy Valley.



So that explains it! The truth revealed! Mystery resolved! The Source for Chinese driving abilities. We we all wondering, weren’t we?

So that explains it! The truth revealed! Mystery resolved! The Source for Chinese driving abilities. We we all wondering, weren’t we?




Remind me never to get in a car with Madison behind the wheel.


Sophia and Winnie try their hand, so to speak.


The driving in here was far less chaotic than what transpires on the street in front of our office building, every single day.



From the: “So bad that it’s good”, Department. A cheesy version of “It’s a Small World.” Gasp! Is that actually possible? Evidently.

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