Hanoi’s Lenin Park for kids

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Thinking about rust!

Lenin Park 5-12-2010

By Katrina Griffiths

One of the issues with a lot of big cities is the crowded streets, pollution and chaotic traffic. Hanoi is no exception and this can be a real headache when you are dragging four little girls around. After spending our first day exploring the area, we thought it would be a good idea to take Abie to Lenin Park where we could let them run free. It turned out to be a lot of fun!

We got there early, but it was already busy… and full of dirt; massive big piles of dirt, which the girls made an immediate beeline for. Fortunately, Magic Baby decided not to eat any for a change.

I’m guessing that the park is undergoing some kind of renovations, as there were workers everywhere… gardeners planting grass, and piles of bricks and rubble. Generally, the park is looks run down but it’s still worth a visit.

We came across some kids playing football and our baby, who loves kicking a ball around, joined right in… much to the annoyance of the players (a pack of serious 3-year-olds who were determined not to let her get the ball), and much to the entertainment of the parents watching the game and taking about a million photos. Actually, a lot of people took a lot of photos of us. I told the girls that they must be like Justin Beiber.

The park was alive with people of all ages doing ballroom dancing, playing games, exercising, and generally mooching about. There was also a “fun fair” with REALLY old rides.

The first ride we went on was the dragon roller coaster, which had tracks on a frame about 10 feet high. It was only tiny, but I think it was the most terrifying roller coaster I have ever been on. I was convinced the whole rusty lot was going to collapse with us on it… but the kids loved it and since it was only 8000 dong (25C) per ride, we couldn’t resist!

There’s a massive lake in the middle of the park where you can hire pedal boats for 30,000 dong (about $1.50) per hour—bargain! They look like big floating swans, which as you can imagine is very appealing to children. I don’t like pedal boats—not sure why but as soon as I get on I cant wait to get off and go to sleep. Instead, I used the excuse that the baby needed to go to sleep, and ran off. The older girls thought the floating swans were marvellous, especially since their dad did all the pedalling.

Next we braved the Flying Chairs. (No idea what they’re really called…) Once again 8000 Dong, such great value that we let the children have five turns each. On the last ride they convinced me to join them and once again I was completely terrified, flying around and around, imagining all the rusty screws coming loose and catapulting my young family out. Not that I let on! I still went “wheeeeee this is fuuuuun!” and the children were thrilled. One of the curses of motherhood—I’ve turned into such a scaredy cat when I used to be so brave.

With whoops of joy the girls made for the Singing Horses (they renamed the Merry-Go-Round a few years back) and since Magic Baby had just woken up, I thought I’d take her on it for her first ride ever. We were really excited and she looked so cute sitting on the horse grinning, but once the thing started she completely freaked out. Did she spot the rust? I wonder…

We had a lot of fun in Lenin Park. Even I did once I stopped imagining danger at every turn. Abie actually thought the park was beautiful, even the dirt!!! Oh, to see the world through the eyes of a child. So, the verdict is unanimous, we give Lenin Park a resounding THUMBS UP.