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Beijing's park life - Chaoyang Park

By William Wang  (CRI Online)

10:59, May 29, 2012


Children cross the fountain in Chaoyang Park's Art Square.(CRI Online)


In places, the Chinese capital's lack of colour puts the beige in Beijing. It's not the greenest of cities, but at least it has a multitude of parks to offer solace to the soul. Whether you're looking for a sense of community or a respite from the urban rush, you can find it in one of Beijing's parks. Parks are perfect places to be alone, or with family, friends or lovers.

Chaoyang Park

"Stay off the grass!" demand thousands of signs across thousands of green patches in the city, causing thousands of citizens to curse in disappointment, forbidden to commune with nature as nature intended. Save the rebels who ignore the signs and plop down to enjoy an impromptu picnic. For those less brazen, Beijing does have a few places where people can freely walk, run, and dance on Mother Nature's ground, and Chaoyang Park is one of them.

In a city where space is at a premium, it's a luxury to have access to so much open green space (mostly found in the northwest corner of the park). It's true that most of the green space is of the manicured variety, but it's well-used by kite-flyers, picnickers, and health nuts. Joggers run barefoot, children do cartwheels, and the wise practice taichi under the sun's shining approval.

Chaoyang park is great for stretching out and relaxing, but it's also an important spot for sports activities. Badminton? Check. Basketball? Courts-a-plenty. Soccer? Astroturf on demand. Tennis? Indoor and out. Beach volleyball? Well… obviously!

If a trip to the Pacific Ocean doesn't fit into your afternoon schedule, the park boasts a beach with 15,000 square metres of sand, beach volleyball courts and an outdoor swimming pool. A separate stadium is specifically dedicated to showcasing international beach volleyball competitions.

Just check in with the park, as fees or registration is required to use facilities.

Or if you hate sports and just want to get dizzy without making the trek out to Happy Valley, then just visit the amusement park right there in the park. The rides are less than cutting edge, and the whole environment's a bit on the tacky side, but there's certainly enough to keep children entertained for an afternoon.

If actual nature's what you're after, up in the northern end of the park you can find the hills that have escaped the landscapers, filled with native species and weeds that go about their business there. You can almost imagine wild game padding along the dirt pathways that cut through the trees.

Just moments away from the bustling urban hotspot of Sanlitun, Chaoyang Park is the obvious place for trendies to take a break from the world of consumerism. Despite inelegant random sights like Roman columns and arches or the Sony Explorascience, there are far more scenes of beauty. Almost 300 hectares of water and greenery guarantees it.

Location: 1 Nongzhan Nanlu, Chaoyang District

Admission: 5 rmb

Opening hours: 6:00 – 22:00 (summer). 6:00 – 21:00 (winter)

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