10 Kid-Unfriendly Places in China

China is a wonderful country to visit with kids under five because actually, it’s incredibly child friendly. You’ll find that the locals won’t whisper “Why can’t you control  your child?” and might even lend a helping hand if your child is unhappy. To top that off, there are decked out playgrounds everywhere, though there is a fee, but some free playgrounds can be found in almost every city.

That doesn’t mean, though, that everywhere in China is kid friendly. In planning your trip, we definitely recommend you steer clear of these places:

1. The Forbidden Palace, Beijing
To enjoy this you’d need to understand a bit of the history of China or listen along to the tapped tours. Otherwise to the eyes and imaginations of a young child, it’s just a bunch of walking around and staring at walls. Oh look! Another crack.

2. Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Again, not fun for little eyes, especially if they’ve just walked through The Forbidden Palace and are getting tired of taking pictures of this structure and that. You’ll be hearing cries meaning “break free, break free” at this point.

3. Tiananmen Square, Beijing
The wait to get into this square is sometimes unbearable, even though, to a child’s mind, it’s just a big square with people snapping pictures next to the square’s obelisk and a very large picture of Mao (across the street above the Mausoleum and at the entrance of The Forbidden Palace). You’ll have to bribe your child with something fun before or after if going here means a lot to you.

Since the above 3 places are right next to each other, if you’ve come with another family and can swap babysitting, then no fear, just visit all of these places on one day without the young ones.

4. Pearl Market, Beijing
Shopping can already be boring enough for littles, but the Pearl Market is even worse. It’s three massive floors of shopping, and you’ll always want to barter prices. That means lots of talking equating to lots of crying for your littles. And cries kill bartering every single time. Shop owners know they’ve got the leg up if you won’t give in on price but the cries continue.

5. The Eye Library, Tianjin
As much as these beautiful pictures will allure you to visit this library, formerly known as Binhai Library, don’t go with a child under five years old. Queues for entrances are LONG. Imagine Black Friday lines when Xbox 3 was released. Now triple that. That’s what you’ve got when we say China long lines. And once you get in…. it’s just a library. What’s worse, most likely it won’t have a copy of “Guess How Much I Love You?” Ok. Maybe that’s not actually such a bad thing.

6. Shidu
This is a tourist trap town in China that many locals might suggest you go to, but truth be told, it’s average and not worth the travel. Some of the facilities are dirty and broken down, the horses offering rides are sad looking and clearly not treated well, and the lift is expensive with a long line. The sight at the top isn’t worth the pain of bumping bodies.

7. Badaling, Beijing
Now, we’re all for the Great Wall, and we highly recommend visiting a hotel that has wild wall access for intimate experience, but Badaling is a no-no for little kids. First, many Chinese tourists will visit this area. Many Chinese tourists from outside of Tier 1 cities have never seen foreigners in person. That means your child will become a walking billboard. If you’re uncomfortable with being a celebrity, or if your child is shy, we advise you to check out resort-style hotels in the area instead. Not all are pricey, but they do book fast.

8. Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an
This would be much more interesting of a stop if children could see and feel the weight and magnitude of the army, but the current structure of the building has tourists looking down into the army. Children, then, are just looking at statues from their heads down. What’s interesting about that for kids under 5? Riding here from downtown can also be a long taxi trip for young kids. Translation: potty breaks mean potty on the side of the road. Hey, when in Rome, right?

9. The Bund, Shanghai
Now, this is a must-do for many who visit Shanghai, and there are things to do around The Bund for kids, but after all, it’s just a boardwalk. (What do you mean we can’t get into the water?) If it’s a particularly windy day, your children might not enjoy this stop. Secondly, Chinese tourists may give your kids more attention than what they wanted.

10. Harbin Ice Festival, Harbin
Just like The Bund, we put this as a possible fun-killer but not necessarily. If you’re taking your child under five to the Harbin Ice Festival, make sure they are very, very warmly dressed. The winters here are incredibly cold, otherwise the structures would certainly melt. We heard especially small children screaming from the cold, and that’s never fun for anyone.

Is there someplace in your city you wouldn’t recommend for parents of children under 5?

If you are looking for places to go for children, check our city-specific magazines like beijingkids or Shanghai Family

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Photo: Akkupa John Wigham (Flickr)

Angry Shanghai Moms Arrested for Vandalizing Ride Sharing Bikes

Just remember this section of our site is satire.

If you’ve heard that Shanghai women have a certain sass, you’re right. Whether expat or local, the fiercest of these Shanghai women happen to also be the most hormonal.

One group of Shanghai new moms got together and devised plans to seek revenge on lazy consumers of ride sharing companies.

They called the campaign “Block Us, Block You.”

The mothers made a QR code sticker to go over the bike codes that would lead to a video with proper etiquette in parking the bikes. The tutorial reminded riders that other people use sidewalks. Primarily their point was that mothers with strollers and the elderly cannot navigate the sidewalks due to their failure to park.

The campaign was launched last week, and within the course of a few days, the entire downtown area of Shanghai’s ride sharing bikes were completely code blocked. It was an amazing feat leaving many angry, but even more happy that someone finally taught their countrymen some manners.

Though the issue of ethics is up for debate, property vandalization and inciting a public crisis are cause for arrest.

Authorities were able to track down the ring leaders of the group through WeChat, where most of the vandalizing was organized.

Zhang Lixia, China, 33, mother of two, and Alexandra Marchino, Italy, 29, mother of one, led the group. Both have been taken into custody for further questioning. The group revealed that approximately thirty other mothers were involved, enough to track down the craziest of trash-piled spots in Shanghai.

Officials in Tier 1 cities all over the country have been mulling over legislation to curb the nasty effects of this new social tech craze, and certainly talks with the companies have gone underway. But these Shanghai mothers decided “too little, too late.”

The group chat history revealed largely these mothers blame the ride sharing companies for irresponsible terms of usage.

Questions remain, though, like how so many bikes were covered in such a short amount of time. Clearly these mothers nursing newborns and chasing toddlers had help. But who?

None of the ride sharing bike companies responded with comments.

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Vanessa Jencks founded China Moms Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and poorly-written satire news. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She writes about relationships and faith at vanessajencks.com.

WeChat: vanessajencks
Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

Date Night Desperation: Dancin’ with Grannies

In my home, we have something called “fake dates.” These are dates where we take our children someplace they can run around free without our attention while we sit and talk about life over coffee.

This is also known as “go and get some fresh air” or “don’t come back inside until the sun comes down” from generations before us.

Parents who are completely, unashamedly honest would even call this “getting the kids out of my hair” or “ignoring the kids.”

Straight up.

You know, we do this because of the normal problems with finding the right ayi who will tell my bossiest child what’s up and what’s down and that she will so tell me if that child doesn’t straighten up. Thus far all we can find is house help that gets bullied by that child. Sad but true.

One evening we took our kids to a local playground with tons of other children with full intentions to sit down and chat. Unfortunately, my husband has a neon sign on his forehead that says, “I love cute, cuddly children. Please play with me.”

As soon as my kids asked for him to come play and he gave in for that instant, other children joined in as he played tag, hide and seek, and tickle monster. He had a train of kids following him and of course he ate it all up. Makes sense why he’s a great teacher, right? Kids adore him!

It got dark that day before he realized he had totally messed up our fake date.

But no fear. I had an idea.

Let’s join the grannies on the corner for a night of dancing.

We have a few roommates in our house who we don’t like asking to babysit too much, but when the kiddos are in bed asleep, that’s not a big deal. Then it’s just making sure that if one nosey child gets up the nerve to meander out of bed and investigate why the house is so quiet, that child is promptly told to get back in bed by one of the adult figures in the home.

With kids in bed, we dressed up like we were going to a gala.

Uhm, ok.

A really mismatched gala with my husband wearing business casual and me in a knock-off Taobao gown just in case I was given tickets to an event at the last minute.


We arrived at this massive square just a few blocks down from us. The area is big, about half the size of the CGNT pants courtyard.  There were two groups of dancers, one was on the side with ethnic music blaring from a carry-around speaker, while the other group had a bit of polka/swing style music, if you can imagine that mix. We began dancing to the swing-type music in awkward swing, because it’s been years since we went dancing.

I felt awkward because he seemed to feel awkward. You know how that goes right?

“Are you OK?”

“Are you having fun?”

I imagined him thinking, “Will you please stop asking me that? Just dance, woman!”

The awkwardness increased as I looked around the square. We stuck out like a man wearing a Beijing bikini being foreigners (well I was wearing a sparkly blue dress without sleeves!) and because we were so out of our league in dancing.

These grannies are not just toddler-watching family members. They can step and swing better than most white, uncultured Americans that I’ve ever seen.

Skip, sway, turn. Skip, sway, turn.

As the night wore on suddenly the DJ broke out with much more hip music. I’m almost certain the song was by same band that performs 小苹果. Pretty much everyone with class cleared out, but we stayed to gawk.

Suddenly women and men old enough to by my parents crowded around in a circle and danced like they were younger than me. A woman in the center was wearing a white pants dress suit and clearly knew that she was ruling the dance ring. You know the yells you hear early in the morning at parks in the city? Kind of like a karate yell after you’ve just broken a board in two? The men were yelling like that.

The DJ yelled 再来一次!再来一次! three more times until finally the rest of the group was too tired and sweaty and annoyed by the same song to dance in the group anymore.

We haven’t been back since due to the cold and awkwardness, but maybe we’ll finish some free dancing lessons with a friend and go back with heads held high.

Do you have fake dates? Where’s your favorite spot in your city?

And yeah, if you have a Beijing  ayi who’s like a stone wall, please share. My bossy child won’t thank you but I certainly will!

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Join the group on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning below.

Vanessa Jencks founded China Moms Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and poorly-written satire news. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She writes about relationships and faith at vanessajencks.com and runs a faith e-zine at LetMeNotWander

WeChat: vanessajencks
Email: chinamomsblog@gmail.com

Photos: Vanessa Jencks, Patrick Denker and Michael Coghlan

American Trump Supporter Shocked to Discover He is an Illegal in China

Just remember this section of our site is satire.

Reese Barber came to Beijing with high hopes of a great paying job with full benefits and an easy load as an ESL teacher. The school that hired him, Jelly Belly Bean English, promised a work visa upon arrival and told him that his visa was official. Barber innocently trusted the tutoring center and has been working for them for six months.

Then during a scheduled audit by district officials, Jelly Belly Bean English asked Barber to simply not show up to work that week. When Barber pushed for the reason, his teacher assistant broke under pressure and blurted, “You’re an illegal alien!”

Barber was shocked.

“I was worried that this audit was some sort of prejudice, but in fact, I’ve been swindled. I am an illegal alien.”

Barber is facing an extreme moral dilemma and personal crisis.

“This is against everything I stand for. I voted for Trump to build a wall and keep illegals out of the US. I voted for him to keep dangerous terrorists out of the country. Yet here I am on the other side of the world, muddying his squeaky-clean reputation. I am not worthy to be an American.”

What’s worse is that the tutoring center has steeped to new lows of coercion. After the audit was over, they demanded Barber keep working to the end of his contract.

“They’re holding my passport and saying that they’ll turn me into the authorities if I don’t keep working,” Barber said, running his hands through unwashed hair.

“I have a dog to worry about. I can’t just turn them in and face the possibility of deportation. Where would my furry friend go?”

When asked why he doesn’t pursue the steps of the work visa on his own, he responded, “I can’t understand the language and can’t do that on my own. This is their job, not mine. I’m not at fault here.”

Barber sat for a few moments, fuming in silence.

“I will say this, I’m ruined for being nice and trusting these schools. No more of that. If they don’t have a work visa for me before I start working, I’m not going to work.”

Jelly Belly Bean English couldn’t be reached for comment, though upon research, we were unable to find an education license assigned to their name. The reality may be they could not have provided a work visa in the first place.

Illegal workers are as prominent as black taxis in China. Some teachers genuinely unknowingly work as illegal aliens, while others boldly work and receive pay under the table. Regardless of your situation, Chinese law does not allow work unless conducted on a work visa acquired before entrance into the country.