for all ages at Caowu Square
By Paul Adams Translated by S. Ying
Photos by Paul Adams & Evan Yelverton
"Just look for the giant robotic rhinos and go down." These words were likely uttered a few times in mid-March as visitors to the Annual Charity Book Exchange attempted to find this event's new venue, Caowu Square. Hidden just below street level, under the plaza in front of Hotel ONE, this small sunken area may be out of sight for the casual observer but offers enough attractions to keep visitors entertained for hours.
Upon arrival, many visitors notice that everybody seems to be on wheels, from children driving mini-cars to adults on Segway-like transporters. By the entrance to the square you'll find electric scooters and bicycles for hire, ideal for exploring the local area and part of the eco-friendly core concept driving Caowu Square's management team. Even the youngest visitors can get in on the action, sitting in toy cars that adults radio-control.
The plaza itself is a large open area with tables and chairs positioned around a raised stage area and fish pond. The venue hosts a variety of live music acts, usually more relaxed, acoustic performances that suit a typical Sunday-afternoon atmosphere, although there are occasionally larger events such as the afore-mentioned Book Exchange which transform the square into a hive of activity.
Guests can find refreshment here at Habitat cafe and restaurant, serving a wide variety of drinks and food, from light snacks to full meals. Its interior boasts a very modern aesthetic and features artworks from around the world.
Next door are a couple of boutique stores that can easily swallow an hour or two of browsing time. My Grid sells a range of mostly-handmade luxury goods, from umbrellas to soaps to handbags. Next door, the store called Green Premises (Yang Guang Lu She) focuses more on active lifestyles, carrying a range of designer bamboo-framed bicycles and accessories, as well as the Segway-type transporters and children's cars mentioned earlier. The unique nature of products on offer in both stores certainly separate them from the average department store.
The sum of these attractions, as well as other features like a children's corner with chalkboards and fish tanks, means that Caowu Square really does have a lot to offer for a family afternoon out.