Local parks have undoubtedly become important infrastructure for residents of big cities. If New York City has its Central Park, and the city of Bogor, in Indonesia, has “Kebun Raya Bogor”, the urban district of South Tangerang, also in Indonesia, has a small park called “Taman Kota”, or simply translated as the Town Park.
Every weekend, “Taman Kota” is crowded by tens to hundreds of family members who desire to be convinced that, at least, they’ve done some sort of exercise. Early in the morning, groups of aerobic goers flock the park to join the mass event organised by sponsors. When such occasions are held, usually signed up vendors have been on standby, to display their products or offer their services. My family and I usually avoid such hectic timings because crowds make the park less enjoyable.
After 8 or 9, when public activities have normally ended and the crowd begin to subside, those are the times we would mostly enjoy being there.
I personally love to walk, barefooted, on the pathway around the park, taking pleasure in every breath of fresh air I take while feeling and absorbing the immense natural energy from the earthly soils, woody barks, tall greeneries, and glistening sunlight. At some point, the reflexiology-pebbled pathway shares my amusement. Although walking on it was bearably painful, I could feel its immediate, rejuvenating effect to my blood circulation, literally ‘feel’ the blood rushing through my veins.
My husband and son, on the other hand, take time to play football on the open spaces at the centre of the circumferential pathway. Shadowed by high-rise trees, these areas make good spots for group activities such as meditative sessions and photographers’ hangouts. Family activities, not limited to sports or exercise, are usually done in these areas. Members of the family gather on a mat, enjoying the atmosphere in each other’s company, while having sumptuous home-made breakfast they have prepared in their picnic baskets.
Children can also spend sometime playing on the “sandbox” on which monkey bars of various heights are installed.
Across the park was a beautiful, neighbourhood mosque, which also organises weekend lectures, attended by the locals. Street vendors would setup their stalls on the roadside in front of the mosque, separated from the park by a wide canal.
To cross the canal, we have to walk across a wooden bridge hung to its support by thick ropes. Walking on the bridge was another amusing experience that gives the “taste” of adventure to the whole day out at the park. But, be careful… it’s pretty easy to fall off the bridge as it wasn’t designed for safety. Do not let your children walk by themselves!
Last but not least, a day at the park is not complete without enjoying the street foods laid in rows by local peddlers. From typical “kampong” meat balls and “ketoprak” – vegetable mix in peanut paste – to modern burger-like dishes and sausage sticks, culinary outing makes a good ending for the whole day out. Despite being prepared in non first-class kitchens, presumably unhygienic, the foods are relatively delicious. The simplicity and heart-fell struggle of these small-income peddlers become the main highlight that makes us enjoy their products.
Eating out at the roadside also gives extra relaxing moment, cooling off from the “heat” of strenuous exercise. While enjoying the canal view and the sound of flowing water, one could only forget about the potentially malicious substance contained in the foods offered.
There it is, a one fine retreat at “Taman Kota”, so calming yet health-improving that I hope to do it regularly, on every weekend, with my family.