One of my adult students, Amy, recommended that we check out a park in the south of the city near the lake called Daguan Park. So on Tuesday we decided to go for a wander and I’m glad we did.
Daguan park is very Chinese, in the sense that if you think about the kind of parks we have in cities in England then this is at the opposite end of the spectrum. First of all you have to pay to enter but I think this is a good thing because aside from the money going toward the upkeep of the park it means that it’s not full of teenagers or people causing trouble like you might find back in England. The cost is also low at only 3 rmb each (30p) so it’s still affordable for most people.
Secondly, the park isn’t just an open green space with a swing set and people walking their dogs everywhere. The parks in China are mostly full of older people singing, playing instruments, dancing, doing tai-chi and generally being sociable with other elderly people. It’s very different to England, it would be a much nicer thing to know that the elderly are looked after in that they still have places outside in the city that they can congregate and have fun like they can here in China.
Thirdly, as it’s China there’s no namby-pamby stuff like guard rails, hand rails and warning signs. We crossed a small bridge where you had to walk along some rectangular stepping stones as the only means of getting from one side of the pond to the other. If this were England there’d be netting, a hand rail, a warning sign and an alternate route. I don’t think this is a bad thing – don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly like the idea of potentially falling into the lake if I lose my balance but it’s nice how you can just be an adult and not be led by the hand by the nanny-state we have back in the UK. Not to mention it’s a much more interesting stone design without the guard and hand rails.
Daguan Park, much like other parks we’ve visited in China such as Green Lake, makes you feel like you’ve left the city completely and on a day like we had where the weather’s 25 degrees, blue sky and there’s blossom floating in the air all around you it can feel quite magical.
The park isn’t just for the elderly there were plenty of little kids running around too but it’s nice to see some sense of community and inclusion.