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21/05 Tuesday 06:56PM

let's walk in the park again

text. Pauline Chan .

This week, we continue our walk in the park. Here are six more examples and reasons why a park is an asset to a city and a joy to its community.

GULHANE PARK, Istanbul, Turkey - Gulhane Park is by the entrance to Topkapi Palace, near the Archeological Museum.  It's one of the largest green spaces in Istanbul, and one of the city's oldest parks, having been open to the public since 1912.  There is an impressive collection of trees and sculptures, and some of the trees are over a hundred years old. This park is has a nice, long pedestrian path flanked by tall trees where the public can walk all the way to the seaside. It provides a necessary respite from the busy tourist scene nearby that includes sights such as Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern.  When the flowers bloom, the park is a colourful sight.  At the end of the park, the furthest point from the Topkapi Palace before the exit, one can go up to a cluster of cafes and enjoy a hot beverage while soaking in a great view of the Bosporus Straits, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and separates the European continent from Asia.  Mostly frequented by locals who enjoy the park with families, Gulhane Park is not loaded with monuments, museums and other amusements but it offers a simple green environment to just stroll and unwind. Sometimes, that is all one needs.

images . www.filigallery.com .

HYDE PARK, London, United Kingdom - Hyde Park is just one of prettier parts of London, right smack in the centre of all the busy and noisy city scenery. It comprises spectacular flower gardens, fountains, lakes, the Serpentine river, fields and meadows, and inhabited by resident squirrels, swans and ducks. There is also plenty one can do at the park like horse riding, peddle boating, rowing or catch a speech at the Speaker's Corner where soapbox speakers can loudly air their honest views, opinions and criticisms on all kinds of topics, even political ones, without fear of being dragged off to court.

image . www.royalparkspressimages.org.uk/index.php/Phil Russell .

Set within the grounds are the memorial fountain of the late Princess Diana and Queen Victoria's Albert Memorial. Further down on the western side is Kensington Palace and its grounds, and to the east, you can see the Marble Arch. There are events and activities at the park all year round.  Famous singers have performed to sold-out crowds on the park grounds.  With London being the Olympics Games venue this year, plans are underway for Hyde Park to host London Live Hyde Park where sports fans can come together to celebrate the Games by viewing live events on large screens around the park, and spectacular concerts are set to take place for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games. This year Hyde Park will be a sight to remember for the resident squirrels and swans as well as the human celebrants.


image . www.royalparkspressimages.org.uk/index.php/Giles Barnard .

FROGNER PARK, Oslo, Norway - The Frogner Park, or Frognerparken, is a popular recreational area for the  art-savvy Norwegians and only a tram ride away from the city centre on tram no. 12. Frognerparken is the biggest park in the central part of Oslo with the largest collection of roses in Norway - a total of 14,000 plants of 150 species - and has an outdoor museum showcasing the sculptures of Gustav Vigeland in Vigelandsparken (Vigeland Sculpture Park). Within the park, there is also Frogner Stadium and Frogner Open-Air Bath, which is located in one corner of the park, towards Majorstua. In the corner by Frogner plass, you will find Frogner Manor House and Oslo City Museum.

images . www.visitoslo.com .   

The Vigeland sculpture park is Oslo's most visited attraction and it houses some 192 sculptures by the sculptor. A hundred-meter long bridge is adorned with granite depictions of humans at various stages of life, including Angry Boy, one of the most prominent sculptures in the park. Other significant sculptures to look out for are The Fountain, The Monolith, and The Wheel of Life. Children will enjoy the large playground which is located between the main gates and Frogner Manor House. Even though Frognerparken has a summer-open café and a restaurant, a picnic lunch will be an ideal way to soak in the scenery on a clear day.

Something not to miss when you visit Frogner Park is the Vigeland Museum which is adjacent to and just south of the park. It was once the home and studio of Gustav Vigeland. It contains a number of his works as well as drawings, sketches and photographs that chronicle the artist’s life and work.

image . oslo-norway.ca

THE LAKE GARDENS, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur has a few pockets of greenery and the Lake Gardens is the city's oldest and most central park, created in 1888 during the British Colonial era. It is in the middle of the city spreading out around two large lakes, accessible by a train station and it is overlooked by the Petronas Twin Towers. It covers about 92 hectares of sculpted landscape and heavy tropical jungle. There is a children's playground, a butterfly park that houses over 120 species of live butterflies, a bird park, and a deer park where mouse deers roam freely.

image . Tourism Malaysia .

This is a pleasant and restful park, a good place for a family outing.  One can rent boats and cruise the lake or just stroll along to discover the great variety of native plants, trees and shrubs. When the humidity becomes overwhelming, one can duck into the Islamic Arts Museum for its impressive collection of artefacts and artwork. In 2010, the Lake Gardens was renamed the Perdana Botanical Gardens and will be given a transformative update in phases to expand its collection of vegetation include new and unique plants.  Entry to the park is free but there are charges for rides on trains and boats.

GORKY PARK, Moscow, Russia - Gorky Park, opened in 1928, is located at Krymsky Val and covers an area of 300 acres along the Moskva River from Park Kultury Metro Station. During the post-soviet era Gorky Park used to be an amusement park with fun fairs, amusement rides, a Ferris wheel and displayed a test unit from the Buran space shuttle program.

images . Olga Golovko .

In 2011, the Gorky Park underwent a major reconstruction and the park is transformed into a different family recreational zone.  The park has been cleaned up, cleared of outdated park rides and now it is a place for sporting activities, aerobics, yoga, dancing, and an open-air cinema theatre. Entrance is free and the public can enjoy free Wi-Fi on a bench, feed swans in the river, see contemporary public art projects, design fairs and sip hot chocolate in one of the new cafes. There are bikes and paddle boats for rent if one needs more than a stroll in the park. Gorky Park is one of the most popular places in Moscow and it is a good place to see how Muscovites spend their free time.  In winter, visitors can ice-skate on the 15,000 square meter ice rink which opened in December 2011.

image . Olga
Golovko .

PEOPLE'S PARK, Chengdu, China - In a country as big as China where cities are massive and busy, parks play a very important role in society.  They represent a basic necessity for the Chinese to escape the trappings of the burgeoning industrial jungle.  Parks in China are large too, and lively.  Chengdu's People's Park is one such example and so aptly named because you will see that it is the people that brings the park to life. Amidst average park-goers who walk their birds in cages, tai qi practitioners, chess players under the trees, joggers and calligraphy artists brushing up on their strokes in the wind, there are people dancing and singing with passion and vigor, happily sharing their songs out loud and flaunting their dance skills confidently.

images . www.chinatravel.net / www.iexplorechina.com .

The People's Park has great historical significance.  It was the site of the 1911 protests against the Qing government's policy of handing over the railway construction to foreigners.  These Chendu protests were the precursor to a movement that helped topple the Qing Dynasty. Today the park is a popular outlet for the residents of Chengdu, particularly the doting grandparents who can be seen with grandchildren in tow. There are neat little tea houses and one such place, the Heming Tea House, sits serenely in the middle of the park's lake. While you sit and sip tea, you can get a shoulder massage or dare to have your ears cleaned by professional ear-cleaners armed with a bag of cotton balls and long, thin sticks. Tea with clean ears seem to be the way to go in Chengdu.


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