Sunday, November 2, 2008

Uncoordinated Leisure



My friend and I had talked about going to Fragrant Hills, which is northwest of Beijing to see the leaves turn colour.

But we were put off by the massive hordes of people who descend on the mountainous area each weekend as well as the probably more than hour and a half bus ride over there.

So we decided to Chaoyang Park instead, considered Beijing's equivalent to Central Park.

It took us about 30 minutes to get there by bus and then we paid 5RMB each to get in at the West Gate entrance. What a deal.

We decided to jog around the park and took a look at the park map. The park is basically in a rectangular shape with trails inside it and the routes looked straight forward.

But when we started running, there were forks in the road and no signage to say where each route went. Worse, there were times we faced dead ends and had to backtrack.

The "main road" kept changing in design, either widely paved, or a relatively narrow path with a floral mosaic design, or with brick inlay (which are bad for running on).

We went through many detours that included running around a few ponds, the venue for Olympic beach volleyball, an amusement park area with a baby roller coaster, and an "eco-stream", that was stagnant and filled with algae.

At the same time, it was really windy, and at one point, I felt like the wind was so strong, it could almost pick me up and blow me away.

However, we were grateful to see a lot of trees around and breathe some quasi fresh oxygen. The patches of grass got my friend really excited too.

After about an hour we finally made it to the North Gate entrance, but it was more relief from frustration than a good jog or leisurely saunter through the park.

If the signage was much clearer, especially at forks in the road, then more people would probably appreciate the park. Right now it's a place people can definitely get lost in.

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