Mama Huhu 妈妈虎虎
We might not want to admit it, but when this little-magazine-that-could began, some of us were still backpacking to Yangshuo during Golden Weeks and dancing on tables at Shamrock. Some of us still do that. But some of us have since turned 30 (or more), and a growing number of us have become moms. And so here in honor of Mother's Day is the inaugural installment of "Mama Huhu." Each month, a different Chengdu-based mama will write about a new mom- or family-related topic. Expect how-tos, reflections on mama-hood in the 'Du, family travel advice and info on things specific to kids of a particular age group. Now go call your mama!
Children's Market at Chunxi Lu
Between the Chicony Mall and the Zhengxi International Building is an area of crisscrossing covered alleys with toy stores and children's clothing shops selling modern western, Japanese, and Korean-style garments. Lots of good deals to be had.
Lotus Market Kids' Clothes section
Foreign brands and styles at a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere in the city. Come early; lots of shops close before noon. Some offer wholesale only.
One of the older parks in Chengdu, with a distinctive community atmosphere, Wangjiang Park is centrally located, picturesque and free to enter through the west or south gates. There are the ordinary amusement rides, children's games, and snacks, but I like the covered playground next to the shaded tables where you can enjoy tea while your little ones find new friends.
In contrast to Wangjiang, Donghu is very modern, open, and lacking in noise and excitement. A wonderful oasis on the edge of downtown, this is a good place for a picnic by the lake, a bike ride, or a dig in the big sandbox.
IKEA and Decathlon
Between IKEA and sporting-goods store Decathlon next door, you have the choice of four play areas, lots of interesting things for little ones to look at and try out, kid-friendly dining options, and a bathroom with a changing table. IKEA's also a great place to buy toys.
In addition to all the delectable treats you can get for good behavior, Leanna's has a kids' play area (although admittedly a bit too much on the grotty side recently!), and my favorite, a small, free lending library of great kids' books.
Pretty much any university campus
Quiet, low in traffic, and bursting with green spaces, I love spending time with my little one at university campuses. Sichuan University and Southwest University for Nationalities both have wide open spaces for running around, basketball courts, football pitches, and ponds with fish to feed and lotus flowers to admire.
One of the most shocking things to me about motherhood was my sudden desire to go to a mall. But what else are you gonna do with your little ball of energy on a rainy day? SM is one of the more family-friendly malls with two bouncing castles, inline skating classes, fine-arts and martial-arts schools, a Gymboree wannabe, a big indoor playground, outdoor events when the weather's nice, and a big park with the new Chengdu International Photography Center next door. Oh, and you can get some shopping done too.
I'm not really a fan of the kids'clothes here, and the toys are just so-so. But I do go to Ito Yokado for the supermarket and home wares and because they know how to make shopping easier for those of us with kids. Every Ito has an indoor play area, and most have arcade games and small rides for kids. They also boast sleeping rooms with clean baby cots, microwaves, and secluded sitting areas for breast-feeding. Even the bathrooms have child-sized toilets!
Dinosaur Museum at Chengdu University of Technology
Inside the main campus of the Chengdu University of Technology (理工大学/Ligong Daxue) is a small, dusty, communist-era dinosaur museum that is a charmer for little ones and grownups alike. For 10 kuai apiece for adults (free for kids) you can see a number of full dino skeletons and other natural-history artifacts. The campus grounds are also worth wandering around, and there's no shortage of cheap snacks at the back gate.