Thursday, October 28, 2010

The right Commune

After not making it to the Commune of the Great Wall on a previous trip, Wayne and I were adamant (or at least I) to go there before the weather turned too cold, and so we brought our girl on a journey to celebrate her birthday weekend. On Saturday October 23rd, we set out close to 11am as Rosabelle had a late night on Friday, refusing to go to sleep until I was forced to go to the living room and sleep (and leave her with Wayne, crying on the bed as she wanted me to go in). When I went back in, it did not take her long to settle down and sleep, probably tired out from all the sobbing.

And so we made our way there as she sat (thankfully) in her car seat, and we reached about an hour and a half later. I’d received word (obviously from unreliable sources) that it would be raining and blowing cold winds over the weekend, so I (and had our girl) dressed up in my winter down jacket, but when we got down the car, it was apparently warmer than I thought, so just as well, I just donned another hooded short-sleeve for her, whilst I kept warm with just a sports jacket and scarf.

We were there past one, so we headed to lunch first at the Terrace Café (alternative was the Chinese restaurant, which was booked for a private function), and I felt rather inadequately dressed for a Kempinski Hotel lunch. In any case, thank goodness we managed to get a seat immediately even though we did not have a booking, and got one near the entrance. As I sat down to order when Wayne took Rosabelle out for a walk first, I was telling myself that my girl had better not spit out/throw her lunch onto the floor – not because of etiquette reasons, but because a normal main costs RMB100+ (before 15% service charge…).

I ordered a Mongolian Beef Burger and a Shitake Mushroom Risotto, as well as a pumpkin soup and an apple tart. The mains were quite good – that’s us tucking in…
But the soup was rather watery, and the tart was bleah (so not worth the RMB48 charge). Think our girl most enjoyed the tomato sauce treat that she licked up with a single cold fry, haha…
After lunch, we headed out to explore the place, and was greeted by nice, cool weather, and best of all, good, unpolluted air since we were in the suburbs. I swear even the grass looks greener and the flowers look more vibrant, as we respectively made our ‘2’ signs in the photos…
Rosabelle loves to walk/balance on ledges now, and had fun running alongside the flowers, stopping to admire (and get precariously near to) bees flying from stalk to stalk of flower.
We then walked down and towards Commune of the Children, a double-storey terrace that had play facilities for children (and they also conduct cooking/baking classes at times for older children in a kitchen there). Our girl had fun posing as cartoon characters, though Wayne was trying hard (albeit unfruitfully) to hide himself behind her since he had to carry her to reach the head area.
We then headed in and upstairs, where kids can draw/colour on a variety of canvases like paper/blackboard, and I penned a personal note for our girl that may very well still be there the next time we go!
There was also a TV room (with sinful kids’ DVDs!) and a rack of dress-up cupboards – the costumes representing different nationalities looked interesting but way too big and complicated for our girl, so she was content to be a ‘Yeehah!’ cowgirl for a day…
It was after 4pm by the time we started on our journey around to explore the different blocks with their unique architecture, and we made a slight mistake of walking the opposite direction to see the buildings. See, we were around the main lobby area, and we should have just ventured out to see the few buildings around us first, as they were the unique ones, and the rest are just replicates of a few of them, so we had to spend quite a lot of time on foot looking at basically the same buildings (Wayne drove half-way up and we started from there). Our girl was quite a sport and walked around a fair bit on her own before clamouring to Daddy to carry her at times – that’s her at the Bamboo House.
This time round, as opposed to our visit eons ago, we could not go into the houses to view the amenities/furnishings (they are all very nicely designer-made, in case you are wondering why would we want to see normal hotel fixture and fittings…), since a lot of them are being rented out. We could at most look around the house (and risk looking like burglars), and did not venture in even though most of the houses were strangely unlocked.

However, we DID go into one of the houses, due to an unfortunate turn of events. We were basically lying outside the balcony on the deck chairs (like below), and pretty much were ready to go when I made a silly suggestion of asking if Rosabelle wanted to walk on the ledge to head outwards. Bad move. It was a broad ledge, looked clean and dry, and had a railing next to it. We were also walking next to her, so she could not fall off it, right?
Right. Except she fell backwards onto it, and when I carried her up, I saw paint all over her back – she had stepped on wet paint and gotten it all over her hair, clothes and shoes – oh dear!

Thank goodness it wasn’t a bad fall and she did not cry, but kept asking ‘玥玥干什么呢?' as Wayne and I used wet wipes to clean her up as much as we could. However, there was still paint on her hair and scalp, and we wanted to head back to the main lobby area to see if we could get some warm water to rinse the paint out – can’t imagine having such chemicals bleaching her scalp and hair for such a long period!

Wayne then decided to try his luck as he saw some service staff inside the house, and asked if we could borrow their bathroom to rinse her hair out. Luckily, it was just a showroom, and there were no guests – the service staff were really professional and most warm and helpful. They tried out the water in the kitchen sink and made sure it was warm before Wayne carried Rosabelle over the sink as I tried to rinse the paint out with a clean face towel they had nicely found for us. They even prepared a hair dryer ready as we dried her hair up. Throughout all this, our girl did not cry/resist at all – such a good girl she is, even thanking the service staff who were very nice, even when we got water all over the floor as one of the pipes was apparently leaking. Thankfully they told us it was just some plaster, and not paint, so there was no foul smell, but I was sure glad to get it out of the way as I used the wet towel to also clean her clothes up better.

After this ordeal, we went on our way, and saw a group of 4 young folks who asked us to take their photo in front of the Bamboo House, and they returned us the favour. We even went into the house to look at the common areas – the living room and kitchen – all very nice and swanky…
After that, I let Rosabelle eat some biscuits as we waited for Wayne to fetch the car to drive us back down to the main area, where we ‘toured’ the rest of the nice houses from the comfort of our car, getting down only if we spotted anything interesting. We went into the Airport house, and found out it costs RMB15,000 to block-book the house, or RMB2,000 per room. Ok… we need to get some special offers or pull some strings to be able to afford such swankinesss…

I think our girl wasn’t keen on seeing house after house, and was content to sit in the car and nibble, no, gorge, on her biscuits…
It was a tiring day for her as she skipped her afternoon nap, so after I nursed her as we headed back (and she surprisingly did not sleep), I let her sit in the car seat. Within 3 minutes, after some ramblings, she fell asleep on her own accord close to 6pm, for about an hour and a half, interrupted only by loud horns or sounds (but very soon going back to sleep on her own). It was a late dinner that night at home, but no doubt fun and memorable (at least for us adults?) to celebrate the eve of her coming of age!

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