I’ve found in the past that acts of spontaneity involving ventures into nature usually pay off, and yesterday’s unplanned visit to Duryu Park was no exception.
Having failed to meet up with my friends at a local market I found myself at a loose end on Saturday afternoon and decided to capitalise on the clear skies and sunshine with a walk around my local park.
Duryu Park sits conveniently behind my apartment – I can see the tops of the trees out of my bathroom window if I stand on my tiptoes. To get an idea of the place think parkland rather than park – its pretty darn spacious. The first thing you see as you enter the park at the southern entrance – other than the ever-present mountains looming in the background – is the Daegu Kolan Open Air Music Hall and a sprawling field – perfect for having a picnic and watching a concert. The field is dotted with unusual looking columns that are in fact speakers, which when I wandered around yesterday were carrying classical music across the heads of the sun loungers.
The centrepiece of the park is a moderate-sized peak that rewards the committed climber with a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding mountain range, and a broad, tree-lined corridor, which will soon be transformed by cherry blossom, circles its base with paths branching off to the numerous park facilities. On my travels I came across an indoor and outdoor swimming pool; a number of cafes that showed no signs of closing when I left at dusk; a driving range; an outdoor gymnasium, which the city’s elderly population were putting to good use; numerous badminton and tennis courts; a series of lakes; and a traditional temple.
There were kids and dogs everywhere, wearing all manner of cute outfits, including a Pekingese wearing a ballerina tutu which I sadly failed to catch on camera. About half a dozen different kids bounded over to me to say ‘h-e-l-l-o!!!’ and I ran into a group of my students who gave me a carton of grape juice and deigned to let me sit with them for a while.
In fact everyone had bicycles. Even the occasional bunch of teenage girls without boyfriends had cute bikes. I had to get in on the action.
I’d heard from my co-teacher that it was possible to rent bicycles somewhere in the park, however, by this time it was early evening so I didn’t hold out any hope that the place would still be open but went along to see if I could find a price and opening times notice. To my surprise the shop was open until 9pm and to rent a bicycle for an unlimited time it cost a measly 3000 won – which equates to around £1.70 – so I hopped on my cute rental bike and pedalled off.
Duryu Park is without a doubt my new favourite place.