Wangjing International Commercial Center mall isn’t exactly a magnet for discerning shoppers. Besides restaurants on the ground floor and a movie theater on top, most of the shops are more akin to what you would find in Yashow rather than Solana. Still, in the basement there is a large bookstore with loads of kids’ books (mostly in Chinese) and the mall does boast a few good places to eat, including Hai Di Lau for hotpot. None of this really draws the kids though.
To captivate the neighborhood children, management stocks the courtyard during the warmer months with what amounts to a collection of worn carnival rides. There is a merry-go-round, a car ride, fishing ponds, and a few others that I failed to notice this time because of something new. Lined up in front of three large gravel boxes sat three shiny yellow diggers.
When I saw the mechanical beasts, I figured I had stumbled upon my childhood dream sandbox. As a kid I had Tonka trucks that I would play with for hours in the sandbox, but I couldn’t even sit on my digger, let alone in it. Here, awaiting my three children were three half-sized fully functional diggers (tracks excluded), each with it’s own mini box of aggregate to scope, lift, move, and dump. Genius! Short of walking onto a construction site, this is as close as my kids will likely get to experiencing the real thing.
The only drawback was the price of RMB 20 per use. We were so busy having fun, we didn’t notice the time, but it was at least for 5 minutes. No surprise, the kids wanted another go, but the foreman said it would have to wait for another day and we headed home for dinner.
Wangjing International Commercial Center is located one block off Jingmi Road on Wangjing Jie, across the street from Focus Mall, which is cattycorner to the Daimler/Caterpillar/Microsoft complex, which is across the street from Wangjing SOHO, which is located in Wangjing. Wangjing is that neighborhood in the northeast of Beijing that most people avoid as they drive by on Jingmi Road because our streets curve. But we have diggers.
Photos: Christopher Lay