It’s a funny thing get moving to a whole new area, city or country. The local amenities you overlooked suddenly become what you miss most. In my family home back in the UK, I had a large garden where I would try and grow some fruit and veg, I would always have plants on all my window sills and surrounding my room. This completely changed when I moved to China, though I didn’t expect it would. Most of the Beijing is completely developed and urbanised, leaving little room for parks or green areas, obviously the large central parks and gardens are conserved and worth visiting but there are very few local green areas, however big or small. Gradually, through my time here I’ve managed to find a large local park, which I can get to thanks to my trusty new scooter.
My last year of university my room looked over a small park which I loved; I would wake up everyday, open my blinds to be greeted by birds and trees but at the time I didn’t appreciate it. Now, the next place I move I’m definitely going to look for a flat with easy access to a local park or garden.
I find parks so important when you’re living in a big city. You can ground yourself, de-stress, and get away from the hoards of people (perhaps only if you go at the right time).
I probably visit my park once or twice a month just to get some time to myself and get some nature. It’s hard when cities like Beijing are growing so fast, with millions of people, everything moves so quickly there’s rarely time to just have a quiet walk for an hour. The larger parks or gardens in the centre are all heaving with people, especially this time of year, so I don’t often visit those unless someone is visiting.
It sounds odd but I think parks and gardens are really important. They refresh you and ground you back to what’s important. I’ve found it’s not something I specifically plan but sometimes I wake up and all I fancy is a quiet walk around, especially when I know I have a hectic week coming up or if I’ve had a really stressful few days at work.
I start work in the early afternoon allowing me to visit in the morning. When I first arrived in China I took the opportunity to visit a few different parks every couple of weeks. Now I’ve been to the majority I’ve stuck to the one closest to my flat to visit regularly. I don’t live centrally enough for it to attract a lot of tourists so it’s generally full of locals.
Perhaps the hustle and bustle of Beijing gets to me more than most but coming from having a beautiful garden back home to living in a small flat in a six floor walk up and being on the sixth floor has made me appreciate the beauty in nature all the more. Outside my window I hear the second ring road with cars whizzing round all hours of the day, which I don’t mind greatly or notice too much anymore, but it definitely makes me appreciate the quiet, making the park my perfect ring road escape.
Another aspect that makes it well worth visiting your local gardens and parks is the community which forms around them. In Asia these spaces are used as recreation; to bring people together with a common interest. The most famous of which is probably tai chi, every Asian traveller has seen an elderly group practicing in the early morning. All these activities are so beautiful to see, especially the dancing. Singletons don’t let it stop them and continue as though they had a partner making it a truly inspiring sight to behold.
The decoration and layout of these beautiful sites tell us a lot about the culture of the area. My local park has dense bamboo forests, combined with long corridors with traditional Chinese colourful painting on the inside.
I hope I’ve inspired you to explore your local areas and take some timeout for yourself, especially if you live somewhere as densely populated as I do.
The top five best parks in Beijing to follow, stay tuned.
Are gardens and parks important to you? Do you check out these while abroad? What’s your favourite? Let me know ♥