I don’t mean to fulfill an Australian stereotype, but I’m a beach kid. I grew up by the beach, my summers were spent at the beach, and when my family moved to the city, we simply migrated to the local pool instead.
My father taught me how to swim the old-fashioned way: by throwing me into a pool at the age of one. Thankfully, I floated. With time and practice I was able to maneuver my way through the rough surf of Victoria’s coastline. Now, I must interject that not all of Australia’s beaches are of the tropical kind. Where I grew up, we were lucky if the waves were less than a meter high and the water didn’t turn your toes blue. But I loved it nonetheless.
When I moved to Beijing, my bathers (that means swimsuit to everyone not from Melbourne) came with me. But alas, no water was to be found. No more sandy coastlines. No backyard sprinklers to run under. Not even a baby pool to sit in. I was gobsmacked. How could a city that hovers at 35 degrees Celsius for six months out of the year not be brimming with pools?
After years of sitting in the heat, sulking about Beijing’s lack of water recreation, I’ve decided to make this summer an Australian one. Thongs will be worn (that’s flip-flops, by the way), hats will be selected and new sunglasses will be purchased. I’d love to splash about at Crab Island, but I’m car-less and not keen enough to brave public transport there, so I’ll be heading off to Tuanjiehu Park instead – a little oasis of water and sand in the middle of Beijing (p30).
For those of you who want to join my Australian summer, this feature is for you. We’ve scoured the city for the best water parks (p70), the most convenient inner-city pools (p58), as well as every single air-conditioned (and un-air-conditioned) activity we could think of (p76). If adventure is your game, then check out our overseas trips (p68), China getaways (p62) or Beijing excursions (p57).
And if all that isn’t enough to please your sweaty clan of little ones – draw a cool bath, turn off the air-con and pretend you’re on an Australian beach. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past three years.