Birthday on the Road

Because Joshua’s birthday falls on August, we usually celebrate it in Manila because it’s the summer holiday.  But this year, since we made a major move from Tianjin to Yunnan, our trip to the Philippines was postponed for a month.  I asked Joshua where he would like to hold his seventh birthday and he chose China.  I was a bit worried knowing we would be on the road at that time and won’t be together with other family members and friends unlike his past birthdays.  Even though it was just the four of us, I wanted to make sure it was going to be a fun day doing Joshua’s favorite things like biking and feeding rabbits.

We targeted the Dianchi lake to go biking and found this massive parking lot for tourists. From there, we started walking, both unsure and certain we’ll find what we wanted.   Because somebody needed to go to the bathroom, we were lucky to have ended up at the the Dianchi Garden Resort Hotel and Spa which had an exclusive frontage of the lake that was calm and peaceful.  You can see just over on the other side where the tourists were herded from one pre-ordained spot to another.  Joshua and Jimmy fed rabbits and peacocks with carrots and when the animals got tired of those, the kids substituted leaves from the weeping willow trees.

We found the bikes for rent and at the first rental station, there was none in Joshua’s size so Jason drove a three-seater with the kids.  At the next station, the birthday boy got his fondest wish — a mean looking bike with puffed up off-road wheels like they were on botox.  The bike path is very busy only on one portion and after ten minutes, you reach areas where there are fewer people, you reach areas where the locals fish and then you reach the end where the government is still constructing the remainder of the bike path. Too short especially for Joshua, the route can easily be finished within an hour and the best part goes past hundred-year old eucalyptus trees.

Next is when the birthday turns a little sour.  It rains so we couldn’t go to the water slide park the kids were so excited and eager to enter.  We decide to drive around the lake but the drive is not as interesting as the one we had around Dali’s Erhai Lake.  Eventually, the ride got too long and too uncomfortable.  We were tired, hungry and couldn’t find a hotel.

In the end, everything worked again in favor of the birthday boy because we discovered in one of the big malls, a restaurant which had robot waiters and tons of robot toys to keep children amused and occupied.  A lady robot welcomed you to the restaurant and a robot waiter brought food to each table once but humans still do most of the job.  By the entrance, a giant transformer robot danced, sang and flashed lights when you dropped coins in it. The robot theme is a clever marketing ploy in a highly competitive field but the food was absolutely one of the worst I’ve tasted ever.  However, if it keeps the kids happy especially on a birthday, then I’ve no complaints.

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