Liza Maksymchuk (Ukraine) and her husband Chris Solomon (Australia) have been living in Beijing for ten years. They have a 5-year-old daughter called Nadiya who attends Beijing City International School (BCIS). One of the family’s regular haunts is Ritan Park, which they visit nearly every weekend. Maksymchuk says she discovered the park through beijingkids magazine. “I loved the English name, which sounded magical – ‘Park of the Temple of the Sun,’” she says. Recently, we had the opportunity to take photos of the family with some very special guests: grandparents Sue and Brian Solomon, who were visiting from Australia.
Right next to the lake, there is a structure of rocks with secret caves and narrow paths – perfect for little explorers. If you climb on top, you will be rewarded with a great view on the park.
There is also a tango corner with immaculately-dressed local men and women who come here for social dancing. They take it quite seriously and there is enough professionalism and passion to compete with Argentinians. We love watching them, and occasionally attempt a dance or two.
Then there is the local orchestra and choir. Expect to hear all-time favorite communist songs and old Soviet hits, such as “Moscow Nights.”
Ritan Park has everything one needs for a full afternoon: a beautiful lake with a cafe, a children’s playground that is never crowded, a craft corner with pottery-making and decorating activities, and a rock climbing wall for different skill levels. There are quite a few toilets throughout the park and they are relatively clean.
Nadia loves the children’s playground the most. She also likes to have a little exercise at the local workout station with the very fit nainai and yeye [grandmas and grandpas].
Recommended Restaurants and Cafes
- Xiao Wang Fu, which has great Chinese food. During the warm seasons, we recommend sitting on their terrace.
- Stone Boat Cafe on the lake. It is only open during warm seasons.
Nadiya’s third birthday fell on a weekday, so both Chris and I took a day off work and took her to Ritan. We all put on funny clown wigs and oversized glasses; it was amusing to watch the locals’ reaction to our little circus troupe having fun on the playground.
This is part one of a three part series.
This article originally appeared on page 45 of the 2016 June-July Issue of beijingkids magazine. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact email@example.com.