Exploring Guangzhou-Dongshan Park

 

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This charming park, located in Yuexiu district of Guangzhou, was a real surprise. My husband and I found it completely by accident whilst wandering around the tranquil Ersha Island.We don’t often venture there as it can be quite tricky to reach from where we live but this time we had a special reason to visit the peaceful and elegant area of Ersha Island-the Indian Mela Festival. Organized by the local Indian community, it was a fantastic family event that we both thoroughly enjoyed. The party was held at the American International School of Guangzhou, there was plenty of scrumptious Indian food on offer and once the event was finished we decided a walk was definitely needed.

Ersha Island is an affluent area of Guangzhou known for very good schools and beautiful, if a bit run down, villas. If you’re looking for a quiet place to enjoy a walk round, start here. After a while of wandering the vehicle-free avenues, we reached a bridge that lead us to an area with an almost secretive atmosphere. From the bridge one can notice a few large and rather extravagant buildings, which as I was told, host government officials and party dignitaries. My husband made it clear that mere mortals have no access to those hotels and one will not find them offering bookings online. I remember a strange feeling of peering into a hidden world when looking at the street map and discovering that the map did not show a few of the buildings I could see ahead of me! How bizarre…

Once you pass this strange, abandoned-in-feel area, you find yourself on the banks of the pretty Dongshan Lake.

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Yes,it is another carefully manicured city park but that doesn’t make it any less attractive. There are many lovely designated paths (stepping on grass?!shocking!), bridges, and even benches to sit on-not always a given when it comes to Chinese parks.

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Some people come to parks like this to relax, stroll around, and enjoy the more peaceful (although not entirely, this is China after all) atmosphere away from the noisy and crowded streets of the city, others visit parks for a totally different purpose-to exercise. Of course it is by now commonly known that many Chinese regularly practice tai chi and line dancing but those activities are fairly limited to older generation. You’d never see a person in their 30s, certainly not one in their 20s, joining in. They may be jogging or playing badminton but I have yet to see one partake in group activities.

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A common view in Chinese parks

However, most parks do offer something for visitors of all ages and that’s in the form of exercise/play equipment, from swings to carousels to stretching machines. One can often see parents and grandparents using those facilities together with their children. I believe the equipment was installed at parks all over the country as part of some national health campaign.  Great idea! Could do with something like that in the UK!

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On the day when we visited the park, the air was very bad, the pollution at its worse but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the visitors enjoying the relaxing surroundings of this city park. I’d say this place is suitable both for families and couples, perhaps even the brave single foreigner (I didn’t attract nearly as many stares as I normally do).

Dongshan Park can easily be reached by metro. The nearest station, right outside the main entrance, is Donghu on Line 6.

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