My husband, daughter, and I moved to Xi’an China a little over a year ago. Anyone that knows us knows we love to travel and we love to go to off the beaten path attractions. Oh boy! Did we find one in China!
When we arrived here we started doing online research trying to decide where to go on holidays. We found this article in The Atlantic and we knew we had to go. It’s an article about a theme park all about China and Japan during World War II. They even have laser tag where you get to dress up like Chinese or Japanese soldiers and pretend to be at war.
We were so excited! We arrived at the park and it was pretty much empty. We stayed in a hotel room inside the park and it was way nicer than we had expected and came with breakfast. For $30USD a night to be inside the park was a pretty sweet deal.
In China WWII is known as The Anti-Japanese War. Today anti-Japanese sentiments are really high. There are more anti-Japanese movies made in China every year than there are days. According to Chinese history the Chinese single handedly defeated Japan and they have more than one national holiday celebrating it.
We host on Couch Surfing and I’ve had several guests ask me why so many hosts in China say they don’t accept Japanese people so I went in and edited our profile to say we accept everyone even Japanese. My Chinese teacher refuses to teach or even speak to anyone from Japan. Polls show that anti-Japanese sentiment is higher in China for the younger generation of today than it even is of their grandparents that lived through the war.
The park is amazingly racist! Every bathroom stall has a cartoon picture of some anti-Japanese scene. In the gift shop, and I’m mad at myself for not buying one of these, they have little toys that allow you to slap a Japanese soldier either in the face or the ass anytime you want.
We walked around a bit the first day but mostly we rested and went to bed early. The next day we were ready to fight! We couldn’t find the laser tag. I don’t know how to say laser tag and it wasn’t in my translator so we resorted to hand signals. We would say in Chinese “We want to play” and then act with play guns in our hands. Most people just looked at us like we were insane but finally we met an actor that understood. He told us it was far away. Huh? Far away… the Atlantic says it’s here. Were we at the wrong place?
We went to a play that was about Chinese villagers playing mean tricks on the evil, evil Japanese soldiers. The villagers gave the soldiers lots of alcohol but then it turned out it was poisoned and the soldiers all got diarrhea. Then our “favorite” part was when a Chinese woman was brought out dressed in a beautiful red dress with her head covered and a Japanese soldier tried to grab her but she ran away. He chased her for an hour trying to rape her but never caught her. In the end the joke was on him because she took her veil off and oh! It was a man! Rape jokes are so funny!
There is another play but we didn’t go because it was very violent and we didn’t want our daughter to see it.
While the play was going on I was texting with a girl that works at the park. We were using an online translator so we could communicate. I finally found out where the laser tag was and it was at a different park an hour away! The Atlantic, you lied to us!!! The girl tried fiercely to discourage us from going there. She said it was boring and we would not enjoy ourselves. I told her she did not know us, that this park was a mistake, and what we really wanted to go to was the park with the laser tag. So how do we get there?
We walked to the bus station and found a black taxi, that’s what they call illegal taxi services in China, we argued a bit on the price, finally agreed on one and he drove us there. It really was a bit over an hour away. My husband and I talked about it and I bet the reason in The Atlantic they have both parks listed as one is they never thought there would be any crazy Americans like us that actually wanted to go there.
We arrived. It was awesome! On a not sarcastic note they really did have a pretty sweet ropes course that would cost $200 to do in the US. Other than that we got fake guns to shoot Japs with as we rode a ride. Then there were tunnels to get lost in. And then the laser tag! I had never played laser tag before. I’m not much a of a gun, even toy gun, kind of gal but it was so much fun! There was another couple there with a little girl but instead of evenly pairing us 3-3 Chinese-Japanese they made the two men Japanese and the two women and two little girls Chinese.
Even though there were 4 of us we still lost. I, nor the other woman, had ever used a machine gun before and my husband was in the army. We were doomed. It was so much fun though! It was my daughter’s first time to ever play guns. She had a blast.
I still can’t believe that girl tried so hard to discourage us from going! It was awesome! My husband and I both had more fun and laughed more than we have in over a year! It was by far the best time we’ve had in China.
Then we returned to the other park where our hotel was. We rode around in a miniature tank, which I think was the highlight of my husband’s entire week. We drove bumper boats where I ran into other Chinese tourists but they didn’t seem happy about it. Then my husband and daughter drove bumper cars and I took pictures. They have a smaller ropes course that children can do and my daughter loved it. She kept begging to do it over and over again. Oh! And they have airsoft guns where you’re targets are Japanese soldiers. We did that too.
So if you want to go to either of these parks here are the real directions. Every reference I’ve found to these places online lies to you and makes it seem that they are one in the same. I think they all go back to The Atlantic original article. Anyway, it’s in Shanxi Province, not to be confused with Shaanxi Province. Take a train to Taiyuan. From Taiyuan you need to go to the south bus station. From there you take a 2.5 hour bus ride to Wuxiang. From the Wuxiang bus station you can walk to the 8th Route Army Theme Park. That’s the one with the mini-tanks, bumpers cars and boats, mini ropes course, and plays. BUT! If you want to go to the 8th Route Army Guerrilla Warfare Theme Park you still have an hour to go. Outside the bus station there will be a bunch of guys hanging around wanting to drive you somewhere. We got a round trip ride for 150¥ RMB. Apparently there is also a beautiful limestone cave you can go to in the area but we didn’t have time to do them both due to our late start. If you need more exact assistance feel free to email me.